Wednesday, January 31, 2007

today is the anniversary of gandhi's death

i bought this image for liam from sojo a couple of years ago. it spoke truth to me when i read it then, and still does today. 59 years ago today gandhi was murdered at age 79. you can read the nyt article of the account here:

Gandhi Is Killed by a Hindu; India Shaken

why is it that the voices for peace are always sacrificed by those who think they know god's way? god help us not to silence those in our world today.

thanks to will for this head's up.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

me, myself and i

INFJ - "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

Instinctual Variant Test Results
Sexual |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Social ||||||||||||||| 50%
Self Preservation ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Take Free Instinctual Variant Test
personality tests by

Main Type
Overall Self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Scale (|||||||%) results:

Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||| 54%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||| 50%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||| 50%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||| 30%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||| 50%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||||||| 62%
Your main type is 2
Your variant is social
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

thanks sketch!

Monday, January 29, 2007

wonderful, glorious me

okay, this is SO out of my range and element i just have to force myself to leave those words on the title... one of my goals for 2007 is to become more comfortable in my skin and aware of an content with my body. this is the first exercise i am doing in that vein. sorry guys, this is rather personal - read at your own risk.

a couple of weeks ago hugo had a link to a blog i have never read before, but the idea struck me so deeply i knew i needed to participate:

Zuzu has a post up this morning: Wonderful, Glorious, Me. She writes:

Let me try to open up the floor to give us a chance to do something together.

We’re conditioned, particularly as women, to be self-deprecating, to not take up space, to not revel in our bodies and ourselves. We can get 150 comments in a thread about when we realized that we were aware our bodies weren’t up to snuff; let’s see how many we can generate praising ourselves.

Your mission: list at least five things you love about your body and yourself. Five is the floor; you can always do more. And no self-deprecation! No offsetting a compliment with a dig.

this will take just about everything i have to do this. i am capable of recognizing postive things about "my self" but horrible at recognizing them about my body, so i am limiting myself to 5 things i "LOVE" (gosh that is a strong word) about my body. here goes:
  1. i have beautiful hair. it is thick, bright, unique and mine. i have had strangers stop me in public to ask me about my hair or compliment me, and even had a male friend in college ask me one day if he could just touch it. i even had a hairdresser in toronto steal my hair as he cut it. this was before the days of extensions and 'locks for life' and i was very relieved to hear that he was going to sell it and not go home and spread it all over his bed and roll in it.
  2. i am well proportioned. nothing looks out of place on me. although i am big i am shapely and rubenesque in the right places.
  3. i have great gams. i take after my mother, she had beautiful legs too.
  4. my feet are very pretty and feminine.
  5. i am happy with my breasts. it feels very weird to say that here, but that's what this is for, right?
  6. i couldn't come up with a #6 if i was held at gunpoint.
okay - your turn. guys if you've read this far and have body issues too feel free to play along. but ladies - you know who you are, consider yourself tagged.

wonderful, glorious me.

questions & answers - part three

curious servant (who is the most amazing artist) asks:
Question for you:

You write in your sidebar that you felt trapped as an opinionated woman.

It may be more true for women, perhaps particularly opinionated church going women, but all of us avoid speaking our minds.

For example... I have a number of readers who I call pharisees in my heart. Folks who feel that they are always right, that they represent Christian truth. They seem to think that their beliefs are unquestionable and are the next best thing as the voice of God.

But, I say nothing. I tell myself it doesn't matter. That I needn't stir things up. That if they want to believe that God votes Republican and believes in the death penalty, fine. Who am I?

So... to the question...

What do you really want to say to the pharisees in your own church?
answer: HA! you give me far more credit than i deserve CS! i am the one blogging anonymously and avoiding nearly every hot-button topic on my blog (except my own story that really no one can argue with now...) i have found that i am drained by argument and bickering. i have come, in my 41 years, to realize that if my relationship with a person isn't deep enough to withstand disagreement i am not going to waste my time and energy trying to convince them that they are wrong and i am right (and i am finding also in my 41 years that i have been wrong about so very much in my life, especially my theology, that i will not die for anything except that all things can be made new and redemption is real - simplistic i know, but the rest is smoke and vapours to me).

pharisees don't go to the church i go to now - where we used to be they filled the pews, but their rocks were too hard and their aim too good, so we hightailed it out of there and found a safe place where real people love jesus and each other. pharisees hate that and if they happen to stop by here they hightail it out of there as soon as they realize there is no power to be had.

i know that sounds so cynical and hopeless - but i truly believe that living my life pharisee-free is a good thing. the only time they really touch my life now is when i am reminded that god's grace extends to them too, and that they truly are my neighbor. they are the hardest for me to love. i actually have to pray that recovery prayer "god, help me to be willing to be willing" to love them, it is such hard work.

i wish i had a better answer for you, other than i put down my rocks and walked away. it's how i saw jesus disarm them in john 8, the same way he disarmed me. i long to knock each and every one of them off their pedestals and show them up for the hypocrites they are - but i realize that the energy that steals from me can be better spent building something instead of tearing something down. so i let them have their kingdoms, and i walk away.

i guess if i didn't have this nurturing community of broken people i have here it might be worth the energy to try to change something, but the times i have tried i realized that the relationships i was earnestly trying to restore were not equally invested in on the other end of the equation. and to me that is truly the measuring stick i use now. is this a 'drive by troll' slinging ick on my blog, who will never hear my story no matter how hard i try, or are they really a friend that i have offended or need to challenge to allow us both to grow in grace?

curious servant - you are such a conscientious soul, so kind and wonderful at creating community on your blog. i can imagine that trolls and pharisees would invade your thoughts and heart far longer than your face was turned to your computer screen, and linger in your memory well past any interaction at church lasts. you are the heart of the church, and far too often that heart breaks or is broken wide open by the casual, or sometimes even intentionally hurtful comments of others. i cringe to think of how many times i have wounded those merciful souls like you with my judgmental comments or cocksure remarks.

you see, deep in my heart lives a pharisee that i must kill every day. every single day.

the only thing that changed this heart, this pharisee heart of mine was falling flat on my face and being picked up by those with hearts like yours. love, not arguments softened my heart. peace, not war changed my theology. silence, not words gave me time to think. to those with love, peace and silence i owe my eternal gratitude. because my name is bobbie, and i am a recovery pharisee.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

question and answers - part two

one of the bloggers who always makes me think outside the box, kristen noelle asked:
Have you had a chance to visit any soup kitchens? If so, what kinds of thoughts or feelings were evoked?
i remember visiting the famous "Pacific Garden Mission" in downtown chicago as a teenager. it was a very "us and them" situation to me at that time. the smell was overwhelming and all i could think of was how long before we got to leave.

facing my own addictions and living under crushing debt and in a situation where we had no options but the food back during our first time in ministry i realized there is no "us and them" in my life. we were one bad debt away from loosing everything. we probably wouldn't have been homeless as liam's family would have taken us in, but i know that the church we were killing ourselves for wouldn't have stood by us at all. they promised us when they hired him "part time" that we wouldn't starve. i think they invited us to their homes about 6 times in 30 months and like i said we were eating out of the foodbank. we starved in more ways than one.

this was where the seed was planted for this ministry dream. we had sold our house at a loss, moved away from family, had 2 kids under 4 and all we wanted to do was 'serve jesus'... in no time we were in a deep financial hole. as we slowly climbed out of it i remember being at the grocery store and seeing the donation boxes for the foodbank. a penny dropped and i began to ponder a better way.

at the same time i had begun reading henri nouwen. he wrote in one of his books (i think it might have been reaching out, but i can't be sure) about the idea that our western world is so full of people talking about doing things and never really getting things done. i knew i was one of those westerners. i hated that about myself. so i decided to take his advice. he called it 'furnacing' - allowing our ideas to be ours and god's and to spend time thinking about them instead of talking about them, and pouring the steam created by the excitement back into to project and allowing that to propel us farther on in the doing.

it was then that i decided to begin to furnace the idea of the foodbank. i worked on it in secrecy for 5 years. it became a wonderful dream, i designed logos, brainstormed contacts and prepared it all to the point of not having anything left to do except hand it away.

i told god that it was ready and i was willing to give it to anyone to do - (this is a HUGE project, not just a single foodbank, but a total revamp for feeding people with dignity and creativity). i told god i would wait until he told me who to hand it to.

it wasn't a month later that he did. he told me to give it to tony campolo. i laughed out loud. i knew i had misunderstood. i keep waiting and nothing else ever came. tony is one of my heroes. i literally would have followed him around the country with a little notepad writing down everything he said. i had never heard anyone speak so clearly about the heart of god, helping those in need and actually putting feet to the gospel.

i knew he would be at the national youth workers convention in pittsburgh that year, so i told god "fine, you won't give me any other names, then you have to work this out - you have to introduce me."

i went to every one of tony's seminars. after each session he is so kind and he stays to speak to anyone who will wait. i would stand to the side and so many pushy, male (sorry guys) youth workers just had to tell him something or other. i just couldn't get a word in edgewise. after the second seminar i looked at the front row and sitting there was peggy, tony's wife. she is a dear, sweet, spunky woman and i decided to make her acquaintance.

after introducing myself i asked if she could tell me how to get his attention. she told me that one page typed, no more, sent to his office at the school with an overview of what i wanted him to know would be the best way. i thanked her and left him to the swarms of pushy youth workers.

that same week tony's son bart's ministry, mission year had a booth in the exhibit hall. one of the goals of exhibitors is to get addresses for their mailing list. to do this a lot of the booths give away free ipods, laptops, gamecubes, etc. well mission year was having a 'free lunch with tony campolo'. i saw that and thought 'okay god, i'm calling your bluff, if this is real (and trust me i doubted it with nearly ever fiber of my being) i need to win that lunch.

you had to be on site during the draw to win. i found out when i got there there would be four winners. they picked the names and the final entry wasn't present. i was so disappointed. i really wanted it to be real. the girl reached into the bowl and pulled my name out.

i got to have lunch with tony and peggy, and three other very pushy youthworkers (i know you all aren't, but how could someone sit at lunch with tony campolo and decide that what they had to say was more important than what he or peggy had to say?? they commandeered the whole conversation) but i didn't care. i knew the lunch wasn't the time to get his attention, i just wanted confirmation. and i got it. i knew that when i said "i am the red haired woman you had lunch with in pittsburgh" he would know who i was.

i got home, typed up my one page, put it in a big, official envelope and mailed it away. i dusted off my hands and thought "good, now that is DONE". about 10 days later i had a letter from tony telling me that he loved my idea, i was to put together my board and enroll at eastern for their module masters degree in microbusiness where we would make this the project for the year and get it off the ground.

i shook, i cried, i called those who were in my tribe. i was dumbfounded. now i had to talk to my husband. in his defense (which by the way, he has repented of all of this, but at the time it was dastardly indeed) we had just moved to a new, huge church and had two pre-school aged children. he nay-sayed and bemoaned the possibilities that this could be real, that this could be god and that this could be for me. with my background i had two HUGE hurdles to overcome, patriarchy and the silent god. if the 'head of the household said no it meant no' and who was i to think that god really spoke to me?

i folded. i had no idea how to tell him i wasn't who he thought i was. it must have all been a mistake. the door slammed shut and i never even wrote him back to at least say thank you. it is the biggest regret of my life.

but i know that god is the god of second chances, and this idea really has legs. i don't know if it is for now, and looking back it probably wasn't for 'then' either - but it is really good and god did speak to me, and one of my heroes spoke truth into my life in a way i will never forget.

so while it might not ever look like i dreamed, the seed to feed the hungry has been placed deep within my soul and i know that it is a call on my life. thank you kristen for your question and encouragement. i need it. it's a lonely call and not immediately gratifying. you can see from above that i get easily discouraged. i need stamina and steam and a tribe. if you are the praying type please pray for me. i truly long to fulfill this and put it into the hands of those who can take this dream and make it a reality.

Friday, January 26, 2007

weekly links-a-lot

i decided that since i spend a lot of my time reading on line that i would begin to highlight the great stuff i've found this week:

the summer of 1982

last night we sat down with the family to watch 'the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe' together. it was a borrowed copy and as i put the dvd into the player 'mrs. robinson' started playing. i fiddled with the remote and nothing was working, the dvd wouldn't start and it took me quite some time to figure out what was wrong.

the family we borrowed the movie from is a huge, high paced family and i guess someone stored 'simon & garfunkle greatest hits' in the narnia case. our kids were sorely disappointed. i on the other hand was thrilled. instantly i was transported back to 1982. i must have listened to that cassette tape 1000's of times that summer on my walkman.

i can remember wishing my name was emily, being so desperate to find the novel that detailed the rest of the story begun with scarborough fair, and longing for the day i could road trip across america. but it was the boxer, i am a rock and bridge over troubled water that so deeply soaked into my soul. i felt understood for the first time in my life.

i was not alone.

i have added the cd to my itunes. i don't usually 'borrow' music, i feel strongly about paying for it and don't think i'd enjoy it if i did - but this cd is one i paid for at least twice, once in vinyl and once in cassette tape - and it soaks over me like a warm summer rain.

so today i sit and soak in the beauty that is the greatest hits. i would argue some of the greatest songs ever penned.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

my monolith

okay, i think i have figured out what the blog silence is caused by. the things i am working through right now are so personal (like anything could be more personal than blogging about your sexual addiction??) that i feel silenced by them. it's really because this stuff is "one flesh" stuff with liam and i, and not just my stuff. i have had, and do have, his permission to blog about/talk about all of this for months - but it is so intimate and deeply tied into the "us" of the one flesh that i struggle to put it into words and fear that i am not just telling my story, but his.

i am just so desperate to untangle all of it, that i've decided silence isn't working for me right now, so maybe blogging will. or i might just write it all out here and hit delete, i don't know.

the cartoon below this post is a good representation of how i've been feeling. AA talks about the big pink elephant in the room that the family pretends isn't there. i can imagine if you're read here long enough you know that living with me is hardly silent or that i allow things to go untalked about. so there is no elephant that we avoid, but there is this monolith that seems immovable and i have grown weary and disheartened pushing against it, bashing my head against it and stubbing my toes on it.

i have admitted before that i am codependent and co-addicted. both liam and i have admitted we are both addicts and our lives are unmanageable. he has also admitted that he is depressed. he hasn't done anything about either of those things, but they say admitting it is the first step. the problem is that i have not realized before the level and depth of how enmeshed i have been into his life and non-existent in my own.

the psychic surgery required for this kind of amputation is brutal and i am not navigating it well. i remember jeff writing of his recovery in alanon that he wanted to learn to care about deb, and not for her. me too. i just have no idea how.

it would be easier to hate him, to be apart from him, to sever everything and have distance. years ago i became very enmeshed in my sister's life. i stepped into the role of 'mom' after our mother passed and our relationship became very unhealthy. she married and i was able to disengage myself from the codependency by totally removing myself from the relationship. i can't do that here. i don't want to do that here.

but i don't know how to make better, healthier, consistent choices that are lasting. i have moments of strength, decisions made and steps taken to remove myself from his gravitational pull, but then i get weak, he gets needy or i am just plain old lonely and i get sucked back in. it's like there isn't time for the wound to heal before we re-attach and have be to surgically removed again - the pain is excruciating.

and it's now come to the point where it is affecting my own addictions and abstinence. food has become a comfort again and i am so afraid. the frustrating part of 'dysfunction' is that it 'functions'. it is sometimes attractive and seems necessary to keep the rest of life moving forward. it's like settling for the lesser of evils just to keep the others at bay. does that make sense?

i can see here how and why couples divorce to solve the enmeshed issues. i know it isn't any less painful, and probably more, but it seems like the distance would make getting healthy a bit easier.

the familiar signs and red flags of liam's addiction have been waving in the past month and i am in panic mode. i am like an acrobat waving my arms back and forth, trying to figure out what it is that i can do to restore the lovely balance we had found. i am always the compensator. the one who levels off the teeter-totter trying to make sure i don't get dropped on my butt or end up hanging in the air all alone.

gosh i'm tired. and confused. and lost. and sad. and so very, very sick of it all.

the good thing is we are still talking about it. it's not happening unknowingly. it's not going to sneak up and bite me in the ass next month, but it doesn't seem to be making it any easier.

the other good news is that i have found support. well, actually support found me. one of the women at our church heard my sermon on cd and knew the 'lingo' i used probably meant i had once done OA. she screwed up the courage to email me and we met last week to talk. we meet again tonight to talk and pray. and next week we begin a support group to talk about our food addiction. ironically she lives in the apartment downstairs. god's sense of humor still astounds me sometimes.

so all is not lost, but dang i'm tired. writing has helped. i know we'll find our way through this, it just seems so dark sometimes.

the monolith

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Monday, January 22, 2007

monday, monday

so sad to hear about the death of denny doherty. only 66.

no time to post real stuff (not that i have been lately anyway)... we're taking friends to the 'big city' airport today. liam is coming with and i am looking forward to a nice lunch, hitting the art supply store and the health food store to find some lovely tea. these cold night here have me yearning for something warm to drink and my tea supply has gotten down right depleted.

hope you have a wonderful day!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

daily comic alert

artist jason shogreen blogging at youyesyou has been making me laugh and i thought you might enjoy adding him to your rss feeders for a daily smile.

this one is perfect - jason, i want a t-shirt!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

question and answers - part one

Amy A of pretty shiny blog

I think we are all at a loss for words.

A question: Have you done anything crafty or artistic you would like to show us?

Another: Do you think about writing a book at some point?
oh how i wish i had lovely images to post here for you to see... i don't think i have done anything since lent last year, and i have posted those... i'll try to find the links.

i have been pondering my home to see if there is something that is creative, but not "art" that i might show, and came up with my daughter's room. when we moved here we promised our kids that we would give them real, decorated rooms with a theme of their choosing. our pink wanted a funky tween room with a canopy - so i have spent a lot of the last 6 months working toward getting her room finished. and it's all done except her dresser needs painted, and it's just to dang cold to do so... so, here is a picture of pink's room:

and yes amy, i dream of writing daily. i have two real stories furnacing, one by myself, and one with liam. i spend much time dreaming and planning, and very little actually writing. i am struggling with dialog and how to write it so it doesn't sound so stilted. every time is sit to write i cringe at the dialog and end up so discouraged i stop for long periods of time (enough time to forget how actually bad i am at dialog...)

i have some books set aside on my wish list on amazon that might help me with this, but i think i have a lot of fear of not really being able to pull it together that sits in the back of my head and mocks me when i get close to actually putting 'pen to paper' as the saying goes...

thank you for taking the time to engage amy, it's helped to just have a direction to head today! hope you find your words too!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

words like ice

i'm not sure why, but my words have frozen here. i know you've noticed.

i regularly think 'oh i need to blog on that' or 'that would make a great post' but i sit down to write and it's gone.

last week was amazing, a lot is starting to come together here for me. so being busier and tired may have something to do with it - but it might be something else.

i find that questions are really helpful for me to write on - anyone? anything? please, ask away - i'd be happy to answer and have something interesting to post about. it's freezing here in more ways than one. maybe a question will thaw the ice around my words...

Monday, January 15, 2007


time has a beautiful (and horrible) photo essay of mlk jr's last days here

snow, real snow!

i do live in canada! ha!

the forecast said today would have snow, but i don't think any of us believed them anymore! the kids went to school, but got sent home early. it looks like we might have enough snow soon to actually play in!

winter foods

yesterday we were on a search to use a kitchen gadget we picked up at a garage sale this summer. when we first bought it ($.10) we thought it was a grater. but upon getting it home and realizing it wasn't at all sharp we began to search for what this gadget might be.

we decided it was some kind of a noodle maker. yesterday i had some lovely stock made and i remembered hearing the word 'spaetzle' so i googled the word, looked at images and found out that yes, we indeed had a spaetzle maker. it is a brilliant little tool that drops the noodles right into the pot of soup and makes a yummy addition to our culinary skills.

here's the recipe we used (althought we halved the flour w/ whole wheat and it worked nicely): spaetzle recipe

we also had picked up some lovely little squash and had no idea what they were called or how to prepare them. another google search landed us on this incredibly resource site (especially for those of us who have no mom to call with our questions!). it's called cook's thesaurus and they have pictures, descriptions and a multitude of information, helps and tips. i thought you might find it as useful as i have.

cooks' thesaurus

i also want to highlight our friend stephanie's yummy recipe for a spinach, rice & sausage dish that sounds extra wonderful!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

can anyone say intervention?

will's connections from last night's speech ring my bell this morning:

willzhead: Reaction to Bush Speech

can anyone say intervention?

will's connections from last night's speech ring my bell this morning:

willzhead: Reaction to Bush Speech

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

i thought god grew tired of us

sundance film award winner about the lost boys of sudan, 'god grew tired of us' is about to be released, you can see the incredibly moving trailer here:

god grew tired of us

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

make affluence history!

oh this is brilliant. bart campolo just blogged on geez magazine's new 'sponsor a child' program for rich kids.

seriously. it's brilliant culture jamming.

make affluence history.

cross cultural contact between your child and a family living in poverty. open up the world. change everything.

i've already signed up pink and buck.

we now return to regularly scheduled programing

it has been 18 days, wonderful days, but 18 of them - and my kids are FINALLY back to school! yippee!

if i owe you an email or you have responded kindly to my posts of late please know i have not been ignoring you. i want to write back in a way that responds to what you have said, not just gets you an email back. and i haven't had either the time or the mind space at the same time to do so. boy i can't wait until my office room is renovated. it will make it so much easier to read and write without having to be in the center of family life.

my son has decided that he is not a big fan of me writing about him. i made the mistake of telling him a story i remembered as i categorized some of my old blog posts. he was mortified. it moved him to tears to know that i had written these things about him. he and i have come to an agreement that i will talk to him about things before i write about him and get his permission. ugh. the past week of his life has been monumental. i told him last night as we prepared for bed that i wish we had determined this next month so that i could post about him and all of the amazing conversations we have had. i guess they're just for me (and him)... oh well.

i always seem to forget how much i love routine. i'm finding that i especially appreciate it when that structure is outside of me. mysteriously i respond well to it. having the kids back in school now i'm hopeful that i can get on top of the things that have gotten on top of me for the past week or so. getting the laundry done, the decorations down and have life return back to it's regularly scheduled programming will give me great joy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

the benguines

i have stumbled across one of the most inspiring spiritual ideas i think i have ever found and cannot seem to find any tangible information on this subject. there was an intentional community of women in the early 1200's called the benguines. i had never heard of them previously and am searching for any links, books or articles anyone can provide. there is one piece of art entitled the benguines at prayer and an article on beatrice of nazareth that i have found, but there is little else online.

i am going to quote here bits from the book i've been reading by david james duncan called 'god laughs and plays' (pgs. 96-99) and hope nobody minds. i have so few icons and spiritual heroes to emulate. these women and their passion stirs my own. (i have left out the political references duncan uses as i don't find them helpful for my purposes here.)
"A sustaining spiritual community would be a self-sustaining physical community rooted in its own particular soil and watershed, with its own idiosyncratic expression of universal spiritual truths. To my mind, such a community might look a bit like an Amish community, physically, if it was rural. But an ever better model might be an updated version of the medieval Beguines.

The Beguines...were communities of what I would call "feminist mystics" that rose up in the Rhine Valley before and during the time of my greatest Christian hero, Meister Eckhart, and spread all over Europe. The Beguines had several great leaders - all of them women, all experiential mystics - and many powerful allies in the church, chief among them the incomparable Eckhart. The Benguines had a daily devotional life which was taken very seriously, but differed from the life led by nuns in that they lived comparatively free of the church, and right out there "in the world." Beguine women lived on their own private property, not Roman Church property - which was stupendously freeing for them, and they prospered because of it.

Their independence was fierce, but so, in the spirit of Christ, was their generosity. They raised their own food, they educated the local children, they took care of the sick and dying, they took in orphans, and, like Echkart - they read and unpacked the Bible to everyday people in their native tongues, so that the example of Jesus could be understood and emulated by all. Their communities were both self-sustaining and woven into the society at large, and they were of huge benefit to society. Yet they were based on experiential mysticism - or, to use your term, "the communal expression of spiritual wonder."

The church of the day, however, the STRUCTURE, was a Rome-based patriarchy uncomfortable with the existence of women at all, let along self-giving, heroic, Christ-adoring women who expressed their spiritual wonder in the striking manner of the great Beguine mystics - or any women mystics. Here's Pope Gregory the XIII holding forth on a certain mystic, for example: "Theresa of a filthy and immoral nun who is indecent in the highest degree and simply uses her busy an excuse for indulging in her dissipated lusts."

The passion, power, and beneficence generated by the Beguines showed good ol' boys like Pope Greg to be the power-drunk misogynists they were. Which enraged them. So down came the Iron Bible of the Inquisition, ka-thunk! The Beguines and Beguinages were crushed mercilessly, their greatest leaders imprisoned or burned at the stake, their brilliant mystical texts and poems and songs of love burned with them, their mercies and loving service revoked, the poor and sick whom they'd served turned back out on the streets, their homeless followers sent to nunneries or ghettos.

The Beguines' teachings and joys were so mercilessly eradicated that I'll bet not one in a thousand modern Christian (he uses Adventist) women have heard of them. And this haunts me. I can't help but feel that if women in Europe and the Americas had been encouraged to study and celebrate the lives of communitarian example of these loving, creative females of their own Christian tradition - the "filthy and immoral nun" of Avila, Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechtild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porette (burned at the stake by men for her beautiful love of God), to name just a few - we may have gotten a better handle on what my Korean pen pal calls "the REAL ONE BEING deep in their each one's heart,"...

...In the five centuries since the destruction of the Beguine communities and posthumous excommunication of Eckhart, mysticism has died as a popular force within Christian culture. I believe this loss of mystical vitality goes a long way toward explaining how Christianity has become so splintered and politicized, and the rest of the Western world so secularized. Without applied mysticism and Christ-like giving and living saints and angels and heroic poverty, chastity and obedience, Christianity becomes rote, heartless, and BORING! People sense this - the idealistic and gifted young, especially, sense it - and leave the faith.

What excites me about this state of affairs is the fact that divine desperation sometimes drives people to acts of great spiritual creativity. And, so far as I can see, there is no longer any Inquisitorial-type institution in place to prevent Benguinages, or something very like them, from forming once again. The tribes' recovery efforts and the Celtic and Breton resurgences show us that the five-hundred-year distance between us and the Beguines is not unbridgeable.

Especially not if, as I believe, we have no choice. I feel, I've always felt, that American and European women are exceptionally spirited, and that our men become lost, evil or just dull as hell without them. I'm sexist in this way. I sense that, in the next hundred years or so, Western women are going to do amazing things in terms of "communal expression of spiritual wonder." And Western men and the world will end up in wildly better shape because of it. Our lack of community is intensely painful. .. Without genuine spiritual community life becomes a struggle so lonely and grim that even Hillary Clinton has admitted "it takes a village." I meet a lot of men and women who want to do something about this - but the women tend to be more fired up about it, in part because the best qualities of women are largely banished from the mainstream industrial culture, in part because most women are not so big into beer, chips and football."
dear god, may i please have some of that divine desperation.

when did i move to the south?

all right, we are supposed to be in canada, eh?

i peeked out the window this morning after the alarm went off just to see how bad we got nailed last night. there was less than an inch. oh well, somehow we here on the east coast have gotten vancouver's weather this year.

so i made coffee and started to read blogs while it brewed. i decided it might be a good idea to call the cancellation/delay number for the school before i woke my kids up, and i expected a possible delay.

nope, they canceled school. wimps. granted the forecast was supposed to be horrible. i think everyone keeps holding their breath waiting for the other snow boot to drop. not today. at least my children will be gloriously happy with this gift from the school board.

they'll be out there like those southern kids trying to scrape together enough snow to possibly make a snowman or a few snowballs. great white north my eye...

i'm stealing this manifesto

RWK is so generous i don't think he'll mind:

The 'Following Jesus' Manifesto
  1. Stop talking about Jesus. Just stop. If we loved the people around us half as much as we say we love Jesus the rest of this manifesto would be entirely redundant.
  2. Live a secret life. Invest the time, effort and vulnerability necessary to delve deeply into the scripture and prayer. Spend long periods of time in stillness. There is no shortcut to this, there is no other way. Without a deep and secret life we soon find ourselves talking about Jesus instead of being like Jesus.
  3. Stop pretending. I'm a Christian, and I suck. So do you. Let's get that out of the way, shall we?
  4. Give more than you get. There will always be more than enough.
  5. Be present for those around you. Following Jesus has nothing to do with your work, your resume or your income. In fact, nothing that matters does.
  6. Treasure broken-ness. Our broken places are sacred spaces in our heart. Honour them. Value them. In doing so you love the unlovely, publicly declaring the beauty of God's image in everyone. Greet the broken with comfort and cool water.
  7. Throw a party.
  8. Know Jesus well enough to recognize him on the street. This is rather important, because he can always be found on the street - and he usually looks more like a pan-handler than a preacher.
  9. Accept ingratitude and abuse as a fixed cost. Embrace them, and then go the extra mile.
  10. If you follow Jesus, you will anger religious people. This is how you will know.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

wonderful belly laugh

watch this!

via neatorama

freedback: you tube

dear google/you tube,

as times people of the year i congratulate you - now please, do something for your viewers. using your site is customer unfriendly and can be irritating. when you know something exists it's wonderful - but when you are just browsing it is impossible to weed the dross from the gold.

the opening page of should not be unrated videos. if someone wants to see the disgusting video of sadaam hussein being hanged they will know how to find it - i should not be subjected to it if i do not want to see it.

your front page shouldn't have striptease podcasts and items that have not had the time online to be flagged as inappropriate. i am not asking you to remove these - just separate them from those of us who don't want to be exposed to that kind of crap.

it would also be amazing if the viewers could readily access the really funny, interesting or highly rated videos without having to weed through the losers.

allowing someone who uploads their video to 'rate' it g, pg, r or x would let those of us who don't want to watch nudity or violence avoid it. this isn't censorship by you, just the producer of the video participating in the ratings by choice. it wouldn't be hard and fast, but it would allow those of us who don't want exposed to trash to easily distinguish it.

anyway - great product, just need to tweak it's delivery.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

your voice is powerful and strong

"...your voice is powerful and strong..."

those were the words i received in an email last night from the director of the documentary project i participated in before we moved here. it is almost finished and my story has made the cut. i am exhilarated. i couldn't be happier at the idea that somehow my 'small' story might reach and help others in a far wider spectrum than i ever imagined. it's amazing to me to realize that it's going to be coming 'out of my mouth' and not my fingers. does that make sense?

film is a far different medium than blogs - the legs on this are so strong and far reaching. i truly am amazed that this has all happened.

my story
will be along side of those who endured 9-11, hurricanes and global tragedies. it hardly seems possible. i honestly figured that the director, kind and sincere as she is, was just humoring me, using my story as filler just in case the other "real stories" didn't pan out. to find out last night that mine did has filled me with extraordinary emotions i am quite unfamiliar with.

i will be blogging on this in the future from my 'named blog' as i now cannot escape that my story, my face, and my name are going to become 'public knowledge'. it might be too easy to link "me" with "me" otherwise. it won't be the end of the world if that happens, it just might be easier if it doesn't. i just wanted you to know as you were all so supportive before, during and after the filming process.

your voice is powerful and strong... ironic isn't it?

redemption is a beautiful thing.

the next steps

thank you for your support - i felt it. the meeting(s) went really well, very different from what i hoped/feared/expected - and that is really good. i think my biggest fears, which i expressed to him, was either being shut down or sent out - too small or too big - and i got real, interactive questions, wisdom and encouragement. what i liked best was that he pushed me, he didn't just listen and say 'go for it', but he challenged some thoughts i had, taught me about the community and really interacted with me on this.

a lot was redeemed for me just in the dialog and interaction. i also talked about how freaked out i have been by men in authority, especially spiritual authority and how far too many times in my life that kept me silent. just talking to him in and of itself was a huge step for me, and having him really interact with my thoughts was so honoring.

he did say that he has seen so many 'idea people' just be that and only that - idea people. lots of talk, little action. and from my own life i can see that is true - so the HUGE idea wasn't where he resonated with me, he did though encourage me to begin testing the call, begin to see if it's real, if it works and if it's really a good fit for me. i liked that, i guess i just assumed since it made me so uncomfortable it must be from god. i don't think i would have made this one up. it's not like hearing the call to beach ministry or something. there really isn't anything glamorous about serving the poor. but knowing that i can say 'no' is quite empowering. it takes on a different perspective, i am not a slave to it, but a willing participant.

he also talked about the dynamics between the local churches and how a lot a time and energy can be burned up in the creating of the networks. he encouraged me to get to know the people who are already doing the work and get a feel for what exists already. pastors in our community are quite transient, so i think i'll need to be a bit more subversive and find those in the community who have this passion instead of the power structures who come and go.

there are three women who are doing really good work in the community already and he encouraged me to shadow them for some time. two of them are already good friends at church, and we have already begun talking about the work they are doing, both through the church and in the community. the other woman is the head of the local food bank, so i'm going to volunteer there to get to know her, the people she is helping and the community itself. this will fold beautifully into the work liam is already doing in town as part of his job.

i left feeling like i had real, tangible goals. i feared i would leave feeling overwhelmed and drained, even before i started. i don't. i am hopeful, excited and looking forward to getting my feet wet.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


today i meet with my pastor. it was supposed to be yesterday, but my daughter and i couldn't find anywhere for her to go. so we had an amazing time together instead.

i just want to get my head together for today, so i'm blogging it here.

this past year god has confirmed that there is a call specifically on my life, not to serve my husband, or his call, but something distinct and separate.

i had assumed by default, i guess that i was just supposed to serve 'along side' liam and whatever church he was at. this past year or two of being apart from ministry has made that clear for me that there is something more.

i also know, for myself, and assume for liam, that this past year has been a transformation of that call. i am not called to serve the church, but the poor. it has been painful to learn. the church can be glamorous, and teen agers are way more fun.

really god, the poor? yes.

so today i am talking to P (it's easier to give them some kind of 'name') about serving the poor in our community.

in the past 18 months over 12 families have been relocated to our community here, all have been in some ministry of sorts and are highly skilled and passionate. for a small town and church that makes it clear that god is doing something. we've all be talking about what it could be. in my discussions i had narrowed it down to two distinct things. a soup kitchen and a youth center.

i would have been willing to put my energies behind either, as i feel passionately about both. but within the past 2 months the confirmation for me has constantly been steering me toward the soup kitchen (man do we need a better name for this - any suggestions?)

this flows into the vision that i gave to tony campolo years ago and i am wondering if these could be the seeds of that. i am fine if it is not and know that feeding the families in our community is more than enough. but i am convinced that if done well duplication can be done so that other communities can follow in our steps with a firm plan instead of having to reinvent the wheel each time.

i spoke with erin (she is as incredible in person as on her blog!) a lot regarding my fear of committing to something so HUGE, having so many depend on me. she reminded me that my role in this could be just a slice of what is required to put this together. that helps me a lot.

i just know that the poverty, generational poverty in our community must be broken. it must be addressed. the need here is so great. i am hoping that the church will stand with me in beginning to navigate funding, political assistance and programs and stepping into our christian community as a whole and finding like minded people on both sides of the border to begin to join together to care for those who need these most basic of services.

our church already does incredible work for the poor here. i believe that this will go hand and glove with the passion they have for our community already.

i just wish i wasn't so freaked out about this meeting. i think it has more to do with past history than present reality. i know i'll feel much better when it's over. or maybe i'll be incredibly overwhelmed then too... :P

i just know that i'm supposed to be obedient, to walk this to the next level, whatever that may be. i would really appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

dear lisa

dear lisa,

i was so moved by your post called 'this year i want to be a real writer' and just loved the fact that you were going to honor your work by giving yourself good tools and a wonderful work space, but i was so saddened by those that spoke of the hurt caused by thoughtless critics and wounding words.

i stumbled across this chunk in a book i'm slowly moving through for review and it said so beautifully the words that i want to pass on to you.

i for one do not want to live in a world where the novelists have been swept off the face of the earth. you tell my stories. you do important work. you keep me sane. please know that i think that the work you do is some of the most important on earth. you make us gentle and cause us to think. david james duncan says it so much better than i do in 'god laughs and plays':
"One of our greatest human traits is compassion, which means, literally "to suffer with another." But this high art is seldom born in an instant as a response to watching the TV "news," or even in response to firsthand experience. More often compassion's seeds are sewn via preliminary magic known as empathy. And empathy begins with a fictive act; What would it be like to be that black girl four rose in front of me? a little white girl wonders in school one morning. Her imagination sets to work, creating unwritten fiction.

In her mind she becomes the black girl, dons her clothes, accent, skin, joins her friends after school, goes home to her family, lives that life. No firsthand experience is taking place. Nothing "newsworthy" is happening. Yet a white-girl-turned-fictitiously-black is linking skin hue to life, skin hue to choice of friends and neighborhood, skin hue to opportunity and history. Words she used without thinking - African, color, white -- feel suddenly different. And when her imaginary game is over they still sound different. Via sheer fiction, empathy enters a human heart.

To be a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, is to immerse oneself in unstinting fiction making. Jesus's words "Love they neighbor as thyself," to cite a famously ignored example, demand an arduous imaginative act. This deceptively simple line orders me, as I look at you, to imagine that I am seeing not you, but me, and then to treat this imaginative me, alias you, as if you are me. And for how long? Till the day I die!

Jesus orders anyone who's serious about Him to commit the "Neighbor = Me" fiction until they forget for good which of the two of themselves to cheat in a business deal or abandon in a crisis or smart-bomb in a war -- at which point their imaginative act, their fiction making, will have turned Christ's bizarre words into a reality and they'll be saying with Mother Teresa, "I see Christ in every woman and man."

True, the ability to love neighbor as self is beyond the reach of most people. But the attempt to imagine thy neighbor as thyself is the daily work of every literary writer and reader I know. Literature's sometimes troubling, sometimes hilarious depictions of those annoying buffoons, our neighbors, may be the greatest gift we writers give the world when they become warm-up exercises for the leap toward actually loving our neighbors. Ernest Hemingway's is the definitive statement about this. "Make it up so truly," he said, "that later it will happen that way." This, I dare say, is Christ-like advice, not just to those practicing the art form known as fiction writing, but to anyone trying to live a faith, defend the weak, or sustain this world through love."
please keep introducing us to our neighbors lisa. it is possibly some of the most important work on earth!