Faith, Generation Hug, If I Were Preaching, Mothering

Loving Ferociously

At Confirmation class the other night, we did an exercise called Spiritual Gifts Bingo. I'm not sure I ever understood the rules as laid down in the teacher's book–my co-teacher has taught this for so many years, I get to skate on some of those details–but what we did in practice was go around and suggest to one another which of the gifts listed the person might have, and if they agreed they put their initials in the appropriate square.

I loved seeing the reactions of the students when I suggested to them they were "fair" or "empowered others," the smiles that crossed their faces in surprise or appreciation. I liked the things they thought I might be: "caring leader," which I accepted, and "patient," which I did not. Sometimes I'm patient…but not always. I'm quite patient with them, but generally not at all patient with myself.

And I wonder if these aren't things so programmed into us from early life that they are nearly impossible to change, at the same time I would, no doubt patiently, encourage the Confirmands that our faith is all about the possibility of transformation.

A long time ago, so long ago it seems like another life, I moved to Maine and started attending a church where they used Inclusive Language for God. What that meant most of the time was leaving out the masculine pronouns. We still sang from the very old-fashioned Pilgrim Hymnal (which I love in many ways), but our Doxology spoke of Creator, Christ and Holy Ghost rather than Father and Son. Coming from a Baptist background, I didn't have much experience with liturgy, so that part didn't throw me. 

But later, later, I realized there were people around me thinking of Goddess rather than God, of Mother rather than Father, and I had to grapple with my understanding of God. It was the beginning of a long period of transformation, a spiritual turning point with no apparent destination at the moment the turn began. I came to love the idea of God as Mother, and eventually I moved onto a place where I could see both masculine and feminine characteristics in the First Person of the Trinity, but to have neither of them feel very important to me.

Jesus, however, remained a guy.

George_HenWithChicks_Large  Today I talked with a group of women about the feminine image of God in tomorrow's gospel lesson, when Jesus speaks of feeling like a mother hen, wishing to gather her chicks beneath her outspread wings. I shared a Barbara Brown Taylor piece from the Christian Century that pointed up how brave the hen is as she defends her young with nothing but her body. She has no weapons to use against the predators. She puts herself in the way to give the little ones a chance to escape. 

I struggle when I hear of the triumphal theology that some contemporary Christians have, the kind that says Jesus is the buff defeater of evil. 

No. His wings are spread, his chest exposed, his life given vulnerably, going down without a fight. 

It's a ferocious love, that willingness to sacrifice yourself, to be hurt yourself.

At the end of our session this morning, I asked the group, and I'm asking myself, to look around us this week and see who or what needs our ferocious love? Now, I'm not suggesting we can be Jesus. We can't. Everyone in the room identified with that image of the protective mother, of doing that protecting, and I'm pretty there's a place for us to employ it.

But I'm not sure I've ever been on the receiving end of such love in this life.

And in a phase when I am quite impatient with myself, I wonder if I don't need to show it to me, to fend off my own predatory perfectionism, to own my vulnerability as a shield instead of a weakness.

Children, Generation Hug, Grrrls, Psalms


Today I got an email from LP during school hours, which seemed unusual. She titled it "Passing Time."

The school has been on lockdown since 9:30. We don't know why, but I'm sure we're okay because the principal made an announcement about ten minutes ago, telling the teachers to check their email. Everything seems to be under control. My whole math class is crammed into one corner of the room. I'm using my new netbook to write this. BORED. And hungry. And my feet hurt. My back is okay, though. Anyway, I love you!

The ordinary concerns of the day slipped into the background as I looked for news on the local paper's website. Suddenly I understood why there had been no answer when I called the high school, hoping to arrange an early pick-up for a doctor's appointment. 

I heard from her again.

The vice principal came in and searched us, but we're still on lockdown and don't know what happened.

Soon after, a friend posted the link to my Facebook page, explaining there had been a threatening note left on the wall of a bathroom–a specific threat, they called it–and Pure Luck called to report a robocall from the high school explaining the lockdown. 

I think the last lockdown they had at Downtown High School was on 9/11, when someone appeared to be brandishing a weapon in the general neighborhood, and it seemed like a good idea to keep everyone inside.

In both cases, it wasn't a real emergency. The person with a weapon didn't actually have a weapon. And today, after a thorough search, school officials found nothing. 

LP says they missed her backpack. I hope that wasn't just Goody Two-Shoes profiling, but an actual oversight. She also says the vice-principal was a nice lady who apologized for patting her down.

Most of the girls in high school these days aren't wearing anything bulky enough to conceal a weapon, in my humble opinion.

They let the kids out at 12:30 and sent them home. When we finally saw each other, and as we sat in the waiting room at the doctor's office, I asked how she was, really? It's hard not to imagine the worst case scenarios we've read about in other schools. Could there have been a student running around the halls with a gun? But LP said that although she imagined the bad things, she had a sense that her life was not over, that she had more things to learn and do, that it would not end this day.

In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. (Psalm 71:1-6)

There are several people in my general circle of church and friends in a kind of lockdown right now, holding for more information, feeling inspected or searched, wondering just what the future will hold. When I read a Psalm like the one above, I don't fall back into a child-like belief that God will rescue me just because I am a good girl. I know too much for that, now. But I do feel the comfort of knowing that on a day when I am crammed into a corner, crowded by others, waiting to hear the outcome, wondering what lies beyond the door, I am not the first person to talk her way through it by calling on God. 

Children, Generation Hug, Men At Work, Photos

Mutton Chops

#1 Son's status update on Facebook last week read:

The Chekhovian muttonchops only continue to grow more potent. 

And here they are: 

Three Sisters trip 001

And here we are after the show with his girlfriend, Poesy. 

Three Sisters trip 002

(Thank you to kathrynzj, who took the pictures. If you're friends with both of us on Facebook, you can find more there.) 

At dinner, kathrynzj said to Poesy, "I understand you're a poet."
"Oh," she answered. "That's just how I pay the bills. My true passion is being a paralegal." 


The trip was great, the play was wonderful, #1 Son marvelous as a PTSD-stricken Russian inclined to making, as he put it, "deranged bird sounds."
I would encourage you to go see it, but all the performances next week are SOLD OUT!!!