Fellow Doubter

Last night’s storms created the best mood for reading the night away. I’ve been in mourning after finishing my last book, leaving me struggling to start a new one. However, I grabbed Rachel Held Evans’, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” from my bookshelf and her humor, contemplation, frustration, doubt, and overall faith was the perfect fit. She sits with the uncomfortable passages…something I find tremendously hard, especially in regards to how women were treated/viewed in the Old Testament; the stonings, the rapes, the ownership by men – to name a few.  My blood boils reading them or hearing people say the Bible has all the answers or is the perfect guide to life (especially traditional marriage). I want to ask, as the author does, have you read the Bible? I mean – like all of it? It is a landfill of grey areas and stories of sordid characters. Yet – I find comfort in it. Admittedly, more so when Jesus arrives on the scene and starts debunking the literalism held by the rabbis. I have long left reading the Bible in the literal sense – I had to. There are passages that still make my stomach turn but though I do believe it was divinely inspired – it was still put together by the hands of men (gender, for me, is important here). That is where I sit – uncomfortable but hopeful and inspired especially by the life of Jesus and many of the characters of the Bible.

Visits from friends, nutritious and yummy brunch at The Root, and probably one of the most relaxing yoga classes I’ve experienced in a long time produced a wonderful Sunday. I left the yoga studio and was taken aback when I first heard my voice – the quiet stayed with me longer than usual. Needless to say, grocery shopping probably was not the best choice of activity after class but this led to cooking for the next few days. Also, I booked a retreat filled with yoga, meditation, and hiking in the Ozark Mountains that will begin Wednesday! I’ll be unplugging entirely and can’t wait!

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius

Copyright: Jennilee Marigomen April 2013 Filed under lukas, whytcliff park
Copyright: Jennilee Marigomen
April 2013 Filed under lukas, whytcliff park

The Big V

alone

Vulnerability (surprise): At times I cringe at the word, what it applies, the aftermath when things go, well, not as you have planned.  Growing up in a house where my vulnerability was without control – small child surrounded by one careless and reckless adult – I grew up quickly and left this part of me walled off and for many years I only let a few pass through.  At times, I would function as the IDF, letting you through but rarely acknowledging it and some day you may have come to the crossing and found the border closed off, no passage, regardless of what your ID card said.

Along with my childhood, other life experiences have led me on the path of making everything casual and without expectation, at least outwardly. Living through the deaths of those close to me – family and friend alike – my only expectation for much of my life was to forge the path alone because ultimately that is all you have. Given for me it could go without saying that, I believe God was and is with me, however at times the dark night of the soul would reign and any kind belief in a spiritual presence felt absurd.

Funny thing is people constantly compliment me on how independent I am.  Of course, I am independent and I value my freedom and inner strength. But also, you have to understand I don’t have, nor have I ever had, the choice to be any other way. Some folks have safety nets; I have a black hole that is looming.

I promise this will become less cynical. Now to passion since I feel like they can and do go hand and hand.

The concept to live passionately has always resonated and detracted me –I understand the romanticized notion, but when you have lived through some chaotic times this is also a taboo. Living life fully I’m on board with. However, I do believe that analysis gets a bad rap. Spontaneity is amazingly wonderful and sometimes detrimental. I don’t think that your default setting should be living life without thought or concern for reality.  Living life intentionally, doing this “passionately”, being cautious yet fearless and always open to adventure – it’s all a balance (as we used to say at Eastern).  Going all in on one side of the coin is going to leave a trail of hurt within yourself and to those you are surrounded by.  Maybe I’m off here but that is where I sit on this notion yet I can see where passion towards life has taken me to wonderful and dark places, both valuable.

I have lived my “vocation” passionately and failed miserably – however I would not trade these experiences however bad, dark, depressing and off putting they can be to others. They have made me 100% fully who I am today and shockingly I like who I am. I believe walking the fine line of self-confidence, self-love and hope in your own growth is possible.

 Now the uplift…

Over the years, I have learned that I have an amazing community of friends that have decreased the black hole and allowed me to become comfortable with acknowledging and embracing my vulnerability.  Furthermore, the phenomenal example that my grandma laid out in front of me – her strength, courage, and perseverance despite the circumstances consistently remind me that I can and will make it. That is ok to ask for help – which isn’t a sign of weakness nor co-dependency, but true community. We are to lift one another up because ultimately we are reliant upon one another and creation.  We, as beings, cannot live this life alone.

All and all vulnerability and I have comes to terms with one another – in a passionate embrace of a life lived through loving kindness and regard for yourself and all beings and creation. I have become more open to the idea to being present and curious for the right now – allowing the past to be my story, the future to be untold.

I live for the present moment with a logically driven, emotionally open heart.

At least on most days.

Oh Ralph

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”  

Ralph Waldo Emerson

IMG_0847
Lee Mtn – Dover, Arkansas

Beauty is within us and until we recognize this the beauty of the world will only be blur of colors or obstacles to maneuver through – arriving at our destination as quickly and blindly as possible. We will only be carrying hurried images rather than the amazement of the world.

I’ve tried to learn to stop. Of course, I’m wonderful at times and other times I’m screaming at the driver in front of me to “MOVE!”

This to say, I’m speaking more to myself than to anyone else really.

I’m becoming a lover of myself but not in the arrogant mindset that permeates our society.

I love my flaws and strengths.

My passion that can override logic.

My gratitude for this moment because of those I’ve lost.

My unconventional upbringing and who that has formed me to be.

My red face that burns whenever more than one person looks at me.

My doubt in what I believe.

My grandmother-like qualities – 4:00 dinner, bed by 9:00, inability to fully function until I have 2 cups of coffee in my system.

My idealistic hope with the acknowledgment of my once ( and still sometimes) cynical mind and heart.

My excitement in multiple projects – meaning sometimes I only finish one of ten.

My family of friends – blessed beyond measure for the souls in my life.

My God – the incomprehensible and unconditional love that flows freely from the Holy Trinity.

Ok, well that is a lot of “My.”

I hope that you find the  time to embrace all aspects of yourself.

Loving yourself  helps you fully love another.  I think it is somewhat impossible to really love another person if can’t love yourself.  I know…this is something you have heard multiple times. I’ll admit this was a hard lesson that I may have to learn again.

Learn to stop and see the beauty in your soul. I believe this will enable your eyes and heart to see the beauty surrounding you.

Rumblings – Let Us Pay Attention

 The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

– Rumi

For those who pray, send good vibes, fast, meditate, anyone of a faith or mere faith in humanity – Please pay attention to the upcoming visit of Obama to Israel/Palestine. There seems to be rumblings on both sides.

Can we unite together for peace?

Can we fast together for the violence and the occupation to end?

For the freedom of the Palestinians to become a reality?

For us to recognize the light in one another and bow down to each other out of loving kindness?

There are beautiful nonviolent movements that have continued to carry on on despite the firing of tear gas, bullets, and the beatings from IDF forces and settlers – these are comprised not just of Palestinians, but of Israelis, Americans, Europeans, and so on. These movements are filled with men, women, and children seeking peace, freedom and a recognition and end of the horrible atrocities that have continued since 1948.

I know this opinion, especially in the South, is not highly looked upon (quite the understatement). I’ve been labeled – anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, anti-American and ignorant.

But I have faith in peace, I have the understanding and belief that we are all interdependent of one another – that when one weeps and mourns, we weep and mourn with them.

I refuse to remain quiet or believe that I can do nothing.

My faith calls me to love both sides of any conflict. (Oh this is hard…)

My faith drives me to seek equality for all humanity – and creation.

My faith leads me to the belief that another world is possible – that upside-down kingdom where we all will join hands and rejoice in peaceful unity regardless of our difference.

Let us pay attention to this visit, to the continued struggle to Free Palestine and let us acknowledge there is something each of us can do.

P_A_L_E_S_T_I_N_E_by_Free_Palestine

A good op-ed article in NY Times : Peaceful Protest Can Free Palestine

Friday’s Tears

Copyright by Ryan Lee
Copyright by Ryan Lee

Last Friday I hit a frustration and irritation wall that left me casting bitterness towards a group of people. (It was probably a good thing I had taken a Sabbath from all social networking/media for 48 hours during this time.)

I’m going to say something that is glaringly obvious: Building community is tough, gut wrenching, and counter-cultural.

We easily speak about community, our internal longings for this Beloved community where we can share our deepest secrets (picture Little Women attic style with the inclusion of the strange neighbor, Laurie) and find rest for our tired souls. Yet, when it involves action many shy away or then claim that they are “private” or prefer a personal relationship with God or honestly, don’t give a rat’s ….. about doing anything outside of their normal routine.

I was very thankful for the miraculous family of 5 that loaded up their 3 kids and traveled across town to share a meal with their sometimes grumpy and stress filled godmother. They saved my sobs that evening.

Here is my confession: My pride was damaged. I had placed myself out there for all the world to see and in my own mind I had failed. Failed at engaging others into spending time with people they barely know to share a meal. I was trying to just offer a space and not use any persuasion as my priest so challenged us on Ash Wednesday. I made this whole thing about me, me, me.

All and all it boiled down to being hurt and losing sight of the reason for beginning this discipline.

My ah ha! moment came during savasana on Saturday morning when my lovely yoga teacher shared the following words:

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

― Rumi

I had stopped acting from my soul.

I had stopped feeling overwhelmingly grateful that even one person walked through my doors.

I had forgotten the reason – to build community (however small) and to learn hospitality. To allow God to teach me instead of plowing my way through what I thought should happen.

This Friday, I hope that if tears flow they come from the happiness of having beautiful souls in my life and the fact that I have food, warmth, and comfort to offer another person – a brother or sister. As well as, the understanding that I have a God that remains within me during times of absurd self-absorption and misguided direction.

 

 

Toxic: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful

Definition of Tox-ic:  

: containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation
2: : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis
3 : : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful 
4: : relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market
Over the past year I  found myself living in two relationships (neither involving family members) that were toxic; one that was exciting but harmful to my soul’s true longing as well as others and the other one that had been maintained due to my inability to speak truth into it and acknowledge that the feelings I had were not that of the other person.

I caused hurt in both individuals.

I wish the hurt, anger, and wounds could have been avoided and looking back I acknowledge that I could have at least eased some of the pain, especially to one individual.

This week I’ve thought of both of these relationships often due to recent conversations that involved their names or to continued reaching out by one of them. My heart aches thinking that I’ve left any bitterness in someone’s mind, that I’ve left the idea lingering that I think they are a “bad” person — this is not true.

Our journeys together were and are over.

We did not bring peace to the world we lived in, rather a toxic, often surface level with heated emotions existence that willingly caused harm to more people than we even wanted to grasp.

One should have never begun but that is a lesson learned in itself and the understanding that I need to find rest in God for these tempestuous emotions.

The second ended without the comprehension of the other person involved. The relationship founded enormously on the other person’s life, initially with my full consent. This turned into draining conversations that left me avoiding phone calls (admittedly not correct way to handle situations) and interaction.

These statements are not intended to mean that I am guiltless in the toxicity of these relationships. I was an active participant and I fully believe that the mixing of our personalities and current situations in life were not life giving — this not making either of us “bad” individuals.

Though good has come from these relationships.

I’ve become a stronger individual that seeks a community of lovers of kindness, action, and accountability.

My truth telling in relationships of all kinds has deepened and my initial status quo mentality has been transformed: redefining and deepening relationships.

The maintaining of daily, immense gratitude for my friends which stayed the course even when I fell into the dark night of the soul for many years. Thank you for loving me when I deserved it the least and for watching me grow with encouragement and without judgement.

My community has flourished since I found love for myself, renewed love for God, and for life in general.

I hope the lesson I’ve most learned by both of these relationships is to live my truth while remaining gentle with myself. 

Image

Somewhat unrelated quote and link to an affirming article:

“In the meantime, trusting that he knows our needs, can we cast off society’s stereotypes, the shame and the pressure and the judgment, and live FULLY in our own bodies, not needing any other human to make us complete, trusting that if Jesus could do this life alone, we can too?” Excerpt from In which being Single is something to celebrate written by Emily Wierenga