celebrating women

(This is inspired by the women in the St. Croix Vineyard communion, circa March 2018.  And, a seed from Emily Dickinson):

I celebrate women’s handiwork,
the stitching and the mending,
turning a collar, hemming up trousers,
stitch by stitch… we speak,
speak through the connections we make,
fold of frayed edges, and pin, to mend.

I celebrate the ones who practice listening:
what powerful speech straining-to-hear is.

I celebrate the women who dig into this earth’s soil,
coaxing robust growth

I celebrate the women who carry water
who stop us in our tracks to say
look, this water, this is life. Take care of it.

I celebrate the women who do not scorn
all the hidden stitching that makes life …life.

I celebrate the women who create aromas …
food is communion.

I celebrate the woman who dared to write the line
“my life had stood – a loaded gun”
oh Emily Dickinson: so unladylike!
Writing from your corner,
lobbing silent and sure implosions
as your keen eye views the world around you;
word by precise word, you speak.

These words and ways:
eloquent
as the wind amongst the trees of our lives.
a solid mass gathering under the transience of talk
this gathering of hand work that plays.

I celebrate the women here,
those hands that tickle the ivories
strum the guitar
gathering us
weaving us into a song:

together as lament, as praise, as glory, as cries.

– Agnes Kramer-Hamstra

 

word become flesh

….Good is the body, from cradle to grave,
growing and aging, arousing, impaired,
happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,
good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,
glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,
good is the body, for good and for God,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

  • Brian Wren, from Good is the Flesh (ed. J. Denton, 2005)
    for the whole poem see here.

paying attention

On the night I am remembering, [my father] told me to pull the pale blue blanket off my bed and bring it to the deck. The air was sweet and cool. The sky bristled with stars. After my father had folded the blanket in half, he lay down on it with his hands folded behind his head. …. If he explained what we were looking for, I do not remember….All I remember is lying there beside him looking into a sky I had never really looked into before, or at least never for so long….

More and more stars fell as the night deepened. Some of them made clean arcs across the sky, while others disappeared before they had gone halfway….

I learned reverence from my father. For him, it had nothing to do with religion and very little to do with God. I think it may have had something to do with his having been a soldier, since the exercise of reverence generally includes knowing your rank in the overall scheme of things. From him I learned by example that reverence was the proper attitude of a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience. This world included people and places as well as things. Full appreciation of it required frequent adventures, grand projects, honed skills, and feats of daring. Above all, it required close attention to the way things worked, including one’s own participation in their working or not working.

– Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

[thanks to Agnes for this passage which will be the first of a few from Taylor]

more with less

The ancient Celts said, “The one to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.”  They understood something about simplicity.  Subtraction is about laying ourselves bare before the Lord.  In fact, Jesus said that we must give up all our possessions to follow him (Luke 18) – that’s very bare, but when we do it, we experience more.

Living more with less is also demonstrated in the mustard seed (Mt 13).  Most people look at a mustard seed and don’t see much.  But when we’re living in a more with less perspective, we can look beyond what is immediately apparent to see the fruitful plant it may one day become.  This posture leads us to celebrate what is present instead of grasping for what we lack.  It sees us letting go with one hand while receiving with the other.  It is a mindset that allows us to revel in God’s presence wherever we see him and leaves us living with a festive sense of enough in the Kingdom of endless possibilities.

– SSU alumnus, Andy Wood, in a post from the Vineyard Justice Network

spiritual pornography

Gratitude and affirmation are in short supply. Sadly, I must admit that I am not only ingratitude’s victim but also its perpetrator. Often I have shrugged off gratitude while embracing discontent. Usually I can justify this in the name of “vision” or “unmet potential”….

How many times have I wished I were somewhere else where God was REALLY moving? how many times have I longed to be in a more beautiful place (with mountains or an ocean) and abandon the urban neighborhood where I live? How many times have I fantasized about the perfect fellowship where everyone got along like a perfect family. What this boils down to is spiritual pornography… creating a mental fantasy of a perfect place or people and not recognizing the good things all around me. This spiritual porn is my nemesis. It’s poison. Thankfully, the antidote is available and accessible: equal parts of gratitude and affirmation.

– Kevin Rains, quoted by Christine Pohl in Living into Community