Learning to Hold Space

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This morning I lit a candle, watched the sun rise on one horizon while the moon refused to hang it up for the day on the other. She just sat there, caught on the mountains, hung up on the pine trees. The sky scalded pink and blue.

I was praying into the day ahead of me. Holding space in my heart for the ones waking with immense pain. Today is going to be a tough one. I am always learning how it  is that one grieves well, how it is that one learns to sit in the spaces of lament and sadness and let it be.

If you know me, you know I wear rose coloured glasses. I am a hopeful one, a builder, a maker, a changer. If I don’t like it, I will work to turn it around. I am foolish enough to believe we have the capacity to change near anything. This is what it means to be part of Kingdom come.

But.

Then there is grief.

Grief stands still and there is no changing it. No rushing it. So we learn to sit in it. To let it be.

Yesterday I asked you to step into your gifts. I mean it.

Today. Will you look around your life and consider who are the walking wounded? Who are the ones waiting for you to just walk in and join them in their sadness. To sit with them in their woundedness.

This is one of your best gifts. Most will not show up. You can.

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I sat with my eyes full of tears for more then an hour today. I watched sisters and brothers fully empowered, fully equipped by the God of the universe. I watched them bless us all by operating out of their gifting. By the simple fact that they stopped ripping off the rest of us and stepped up in obedience.

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Yah. You heard me. If you aren’t stepping up and into the gifting God has given you; You are ripping us off. You are stealing from the church. To be honest I think it is worse then reaching into the tithe box.

You were gifted not for your own tiny kingdom. You are gift to planet earth and you have a task.

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My husband preached the house down this weekend. He would be stealing if he didn’t make the sacrifices he does to serve this community. I would be stealing if I did not free him to do it.

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As blessed as I am by people stepping into their gifts; I have seen the opposite too. I have seen God pour out this reckless blessing, miraculous gifting into a man who refused to walk in it. Do you know what happens? God takes it back.

It isn’t that he is punishing you. It is that this gift is for HIS glory. Not yours.

The world is waiting for you to move with the power of your gift. With His spirit alive and active. With your pride surrendered and your motivation lazer focused.

Walking in your gift is not easy. It is blessed.

It is not without opposition. It is with triumph.

I have felt the torture of stepping out of my place. Of stepping out when I know I was called to step in.

The beauty is that you can always step back in.

We can’t wait for it. We dare you to move.

 

For this amazing day…

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I am sitting on my porch. It isn’t spring perse but a girl can dream. I am wearing my sorel boats, a hoody, flannel pajamas, a down blanket on my lap. I am a sight for the sore eyed (but like actually sore, like the kind of sore when you almost can’t open your eyes…like when you are having an allergy or you get light sensitiviy when you have the flu).

Today the birds are back. The red flair of the wood pecker flashes around the tree, the gray jay is here and teasing my dog, stealing his food. There is some screaching from the cluster of trees near the playhouse. I have trouble identifying it at first but the stellar’s jay shows herself soon enough…navy blue plume flashing in the February sun. The great gray owl was here last night, hunting from the garden fence. One could miss such things if in a rush.

It is a new season but everyone is picking up where they left off. I am putting dog food on my porch railing with the precision of a surgeon, as if this is all I have to do today. Come just a little closer Gray Jay, with your cartoon eyes, let me look at you.

My dog just lumbered out of the cluster of trees we call Fairy Hollow. He is chewing something that looks like a small animal pelvis. I am not asking questions.

I am not asking questions.

I am not trying.

I am not.

This is living Lent. The acknowledgement only of the things we are not. The peace that comes with this stance.

At Easter, we will acknowledge our Power to triumph on death, and to be the hands and feet of a resurected God.

But for now. Join me in the peace that you can rest, the earth is not spinning on your labour.

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From Ashes

This morning I watched as the sun rose and the sky turned from black, to purple to the brightest pink. It did not last. I could not slow it down. I wanted to wake the kids to come sit with me but I knew that I would miss it too if I left my window seat.

Ashes to ashes. From dust you come and dust you will be.

Today I spoke with a colleague and he said to me, “most of my life I can look around and realize I am the most powerful person in the room. And then 12 hours later, I feel like I have no power at all, that someone else is making all the decisions for me”

So say we all. It matters not what sort of authority you wield…you are the subject of this story and you cannot slow the earth spinning round the sun. You cannot control that human beside you. You cannot delay your aging or avoid your impending death. You do not get to write the ending.

I step into Lent and I think about how I can’t stop this sinful heart either, how much I wish to be better than I am.  I can’t hold my tongue. Cannot calm the tempest of my heart. There are so many things I covet. I wish my compassion didn’t run low on so many days…

Some people consider this depressing. The atheist Bertrand Russell once wrote, “When you hear people in church debasing themselves, and saying they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings.” I think his pride and arrogance is a bigger risk. I work in some of the most obscenely power soaked environments on the planet with some great thinkers. I have found it to be the epicenter of delusions of grandeur. I have seen more men crushed there then anywhere else on earth. Being your own God will choke you on your pride.

So what then? How do we spend these few moments from ash to ash? I think the metaphors are all there.

BURN bright with the passions and promises you have been given.

SHINE like a lamp on a hill, and be a beacon and a restorer to the city that you have been called.

HEAT the spaces around you with the love you have already been given.

These are our short and only days. How will you burn?

 

 

What keeps you afloat?

Tomorrow lent begins and while it isn’t traditionally practiced in my denomination, I pay attention to, and follow the Christian calendar. I think there is a lot to be said for the rhythms and disciplines that keep your head above water when you start to sink. When you can no longer tread the depths and need assistance with the buoyancy of your faith. When you don’t know what to pray, sometimes a book of prayers works. Pray the psalms when you can’t find your words.

That is what lent is for me. It is the season in which I ask myself, what is it that is keeping me afloat? I challenge myself to remove anything that could become my first or only and ask ‘how am I facing up to this life’?

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Recently I have been thinking of all the ways I cover for God. All the ways I tread water with dying-flesh strength instead of floating on the generous gift of His spirit. There are so many ways I seek the applause of man instead of the clear and succinct well done.

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Whenever it is that I start to tread water in my very own strength, when I start to believe that I am really nailing this life, whenever I achieve some success, without warning my insecurity rises up. Whenever I attempt to build my reputation I disintegrate. I can only really thrive when I am under the thumb of God. The truth of it is I am entirely too small to be the centre of my own universe, I create a black hole, collapse in on myself. Keep back or I will take you with me.

For me, this lent, is not about removal but renewal. This Lent it will be about all the ways I am taking my life, my pain and my pride to Christ. I will crucify it with Him and for me the only way to do that is pen and ink.

So for lent…join me here

More than a Scavenger

DSC_0225Before I moved to the woods, I believed bald eagles to be noble fisherman, mighty hunters. I had only ever witnessed them darting from trees over Shuswap lake, pulling out salmon, congregations of them at the river head waiting for the spawn; Sitting like royalty on the edge of the Kettle River, curved beak pointed toward us, keen eyes watching us cooley as we floated by.

Now though…Now I see them mostly sitting at ‘road kill corner’, the place on Highway 33 where the wildlife dies. We most often see the dead white tail deer, though once there was a small black bear, an elk, more. And now we see the eagles there too. The animals cross over there, from the good eating on Black Knight mountain on down to Mission Creek for water. Eagles have become, much less the noble creatures I once believed them to be. Now they sit and attack the vultures, get chased by the murder of crows who make this home. Watching an eagle rip into a deer carcass has changed the image for me.

Why does he eat maggots? Does he not know he is the top of his food chain? The mightiest in his family? How did he forget?

He chooses what is easy…that is all. Don’t you?

Don’t you, so often, choose what is right in front of you, the path of least resistance? Don’t you, sometimes, choose just what gets you by instead of what raises you up? How often do you revert to your base instincts?

How often do we let our fear rule when Christ should?

How often are you picking off of dry bones when you should be sitting down to a feast?

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These days, I can barely read the news, so many giving way to the worst of themselves…letting fear rule. It was no mistake that we are told to ‘fear not’ more than we are told anything else. This world can be/is always a scary place. We were never told it wasn’t. We are asked to be brave anyways. To let love rule.

Rise up. Rise up and be a force of Love to this desperate world. Rise up and join the prince of peace. Rise up and care for the widows and orphans. Rise up and do the thing you were made to do.

Please don’t settle for a life of fear…

You are called to be so much more than a scavenger.