Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My hope is painfully intertwined with waiting

I am not complaining.
I am so very grateful for the hospitality I have experienced.
Still, it hit me today:

I am homeless.

It is frustrating. I am only 2 and a half weeks in. If I get hired for a job tomorrow it will still be weeks before I will have the money required to pay a deposit to move in anywhere, and there is nothing I can do about it.
So I wait.
I wait to hear if the job that I want wants me as badly as I want them.
I wait to see if anything else opens up.
I wait on the Lord.
I wait.
I have a bed, keys to a friends place, places lined up so that I can move once a week for the next few weeks.
And I am waiting.
Waiting to know if I need to move to another city.
Waiting to know how I will find the money to pay my bills.
I am waiting.
Hoping that I am not a burden.
Hoping that I am learning and growing.
Hoping that someone will see that my ability to learn a skill trumps my lack of experience.
Hoping that a job that fits the years of experience I do have will open up.
Hoping that when this is all said and done I will be stronger, and more able to serve others than I am today.
Hoping for the day I take my friends out to say thank you.
Hoping and waiting are painfully intertwined in my world.
Still I anticipate the redemption of this moment, even as I already see that it is being redeemed.
As I used to sing at UBC on a great many Sunday mornings:
"Rescue is coming." (DCB)
Still I will tell you, even as I hope for it I wish it was already here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Please Don't Miss It

walking down the beach, with a gate that implied intention and direction
I realized I was not going anywhere
So I slowed down
wearing my flip flops, as I walked along the sand
I realized they were protecting my feet from the feeling of sand between my toes and I did not need or want the protection
So I walked barefoot
running from the waves as they began to splash at my feet
I realized there was no harm in getting wet
So I waded in
Finally I realized that I was moving to fast to enjoy the moment
So I stopped walking
I sank my feet into the sand, sinking deeper with each wave, allowing the water to splash up to my waist - still careful not to get my white t-shirt wet
I realized standing there wet and laughing, cold water rushing up to my knees, looking out at ocean as far as I could see, watching surfers ride the tiny waves, this is life
I spent the morning with the blinds closed sitting in the living room fighting the demons in my head, reviewing job descriptions, pondering the right words for cover letters that I fear will not receive any response, wondering if all my feminist jargon is simply a cover for the fear that I will never be the powerful successful woman I imagine that I am, arguing with the voices of my conservative past that tell me only lazy people can't get jobs, hoping that I am as hard of a worker as I think I am, hoping that I am not a failure, believing that God will provide for me and that this too shall pass.
I spent the morning hiding from the sun and the waves, because my weary soul was too exhausted to even aspire to more than staring at a computer screen dreaming that I might get one of these jobs that I am applying for today. I realized that all this internal conflict was entirely unnecessary and it was not getting me anywhere, if any of you has ever fought with me you know that my arguments are not always rational and this morning my irrational thoughts needed to be silenced for a while.
So I left the house, walked out into the water, breathed in deep, and realized that this is life
It is beautiful, complicated and intense, and as I sat hiding from it this morning I almost missed it.
It was as if God was whispering to me, 'Please don't miss this, these are the moments that will define and shape you, these hard times are the times when you will grow in faith and trust and strength, this is how you become the woman I have created you to be, with each small realization and each change you make in response to my urging, that is how you learn to live. This is life, please don't miss it.'

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Lord's Prayer

A week ago my ReIMAGINE group gathered to hear the stories of Melanie and Julie as they returned from Africa. As we closed the night we prayed for them and for Africa. Below is a version of the Lord's Prayer I rewrote for the night.

One thing I love about prayer is that I believe it is more about us being opened to God to allow God to change us than it is about us getting God to change. As I started to read the prayer I wrote, tears filled my eyes and I had to change some of the words I wrote. I felt God tell me to pray a prayer with more love and grace for my own community than the words I originally wrote. Honestly, as soon as the prayer was over I had already forgotten the exact new words that I had spoken- so this is the almost version of what I read that night.

Our Redeemer in heaven,
Reconciler is your name,
May your Peace come, your desire be done,
in all nations as it is in your presence,
Provide every stomach the sustenance needed, food and water,
and teach us to be grateful for enough,
Forgive us our judgment and humble us to love others,
Lead us not into indifference,
Rescue us from pride,
For Thine is the presence, hope and the renewal, for all time
forever and ever
Let it be so

So this is my prayer for Africa, for the world, for my community, and for myself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A slightly Different Take on the Woman at the Well

Slut or Survivor?

Sitting in church this morning I listened to a well crafted sermon that a few years ago I would have taken in with no question. This morning it made me cringe a bit. This is not to say that I find fault with the pastor that toiled over the text to create the lesson he taught. It is more a commentary on how we have been taught to see the women of the Bible. With that said I want to express some of my thoughts on the nameless woman at the well. A woman so rejected by society that she came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid their judgment and still he has been judged in almost every reading of this text for 2,000 years. I would like us to show her the same grace Jesus did and consider that maybe, she is a victim as much as she is a sinner.

John 4:16-18 (NIV)

He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

17"I have no husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Reading this passage all my life I have read this word between the lines:

Obviously she is of low moral character, right?

What if instead I read between the lines:

In a society where women have no control over their married lives she has been abandoned by 5 men, used and thrown to the side. After each man she found a new one in hopes that this one would stay, this one would treat her well. After each man she wondered: where her next meal would come from, where she would sleep that night, where she would be able to get clothes. In a society where practically the only paid work for women is prostitution she has chosen not to sell her body. Instead she has found a man willing to provide for her, but he is unwilling to marry her. She has accepted this arrangement. After all she has been through, what use does she have for a marriage contract when 5 men before have broken that contract?

On top of all of these emotional crimes against her the other woman have rejected her and gossiped about her. Imagine the well side conversations: "I wonder what she did to run this man off?" "Maybe if she took better care of herself her men wouldn't leave?" "Did you the last man she was with? Wow, what a looser. She must be desperate, pathetic."

Then one day she meets Jesus. He speaks to her. He knows her pain. He speaks the truth. "You have had five husbands." We read this statement as an accusation, it sounds like an exposure of sin. What if instead it is a consolation? Instead of hearing his knowledge as judgment, what if He is looking at her saying with compassion: "I know you have been rejected, I know you have been heart broken 5 times over, and you have found food and shelter the only way you know how. I am your savior and know how to love you. I know how to care for the broken and rejected. I know your pain. I want you to know that despite all this I still think you matter. All of those men have left you, but I will not. I know you are living in sin, but I will not reject you for your choice. I know society has cast you to the side, but I have chosen at this moment to speak with you, because I love you."

In the passage John does not give her the dignity of a name. Still, she is one of the first preachers to her community. Her town comes to know their Messiah because the Messiah believed that she mattered. I do not want to give her undo sainthood. I do however, want to propose that when this story was recorded John was not intending to ensure that she suffer the rejection of all Christian society. I believe that in our current treatment of the text we judge her in a way that grieves the heart of God. I believe that we are unjust when we treat a woman who has suffered as much as this woman as a criminal. Instead, we should love her as a victim, that is healing and loved by her creator. We should see her as the voice of truth running back to her home to share the love of Jesus with the very same people who had rejected her.

We have for thousands of years re-victimized a victim. With respect to this woman that is nothing short of a survivor, I would like us all to reconsider the way we see the 'sluts' of scripture, and while we are reconsidering our view of them lets rethink the way we treat the survivors we know.

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