We find comfort in the forgetfulness of the self and the presence of children.

(lessons from Elizabeth Goudge’s anthology entitled “A book of comfort”)

“And so of the making of books there is no end, and of the making of anthologies there seems particularly to be no end because we are all anthologists… Anthology making…is self-preservation, for where should we be in our bad times without the treasure stored up in our minds?” –Goudge


 

TRANSPARENCY:

In matters of truth or education, I am analytical, objective, and skeptical. In matters of the self, I am sensitive, wary, and over-attentive.

My least favorite thing about my personality is my sensitivity. I’ve learned to welcome criticism when looking to improve on things (esp my writing), but when I’m unprepared for negative words, they cut sharp and I feel suddenly three feet shorter. We can joke about how I spill everything, how jumpy and scattered my mind can be, or how I drop my phone more than any other human being on the planet–I find these things frustrating yet funny parts of myself. But when subtly criticized for something I’m self-conscious about and trying to fix, I crumble.

I was reminded tonight that comfort comes in the forgetfulness of the self. And quite frankly, that changes everything. If I were not so concerned about masking the things wrong with me, they wouldn’t feel so tremendous when brought to light. I am an extremely self-aware person and I fool myself into thinking I’m the only one who can see my flaws. I feel free to surrender/ chip away at my flaws as long I can do this while hiding them from everyone else. I know I there is much work to be done in me, but I can’t stand the fact that other people know it too.

What I’m learning in all of this is that I need to realize the people close to me recognize my flaws and love me despite them. I don’t need to hide my errors, or only open up about them when it’s all been resolved.

But mostly I’m reminded that we are all in process. We need to allow ourselves and others enough grace to be in process. There is comfort in the forgetfulness of self and freedom to be on a journey without having arrived.

If that isn’t comforting, I don’t know what is.

 

 

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We find comfort in the forgetfulness of the self and the presence of children.

I sleep with fireflies

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I know I will wake with winged
decay in white sheets,
but at night relentless
blinks remind me of
curbside bentgrass beds, of
10-cent lemonade stands, of
lamb’s ear.
At morning, I will sacrifice their wings
on the shrine of loneliness
for as bare feet on hot dust as
knees on pebble driveways as
palms sweaty from clasping too long
I fear that loneliness will come to say:
you were left
you are unseen
you are conquered.
But for now,
I am not lonely,
I sleep with fireflies.

(Someone told me yesterday that he likes my poetry. That’s the only reason I posted this poem. )


Continue reading “I sleep with fireflies”

I sleep with fireflies

When applying to get a Masters in Theological Studies

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wear your “reverend” shirt and listen to dumb but lovable hits from middle school while filling out the mindless info about yourself (I’m thinking Shakira, Destiny’s Child -esque songs)

Also, pinch yourself because God has planted a slow-growing desire in your heart and now it’s coming to fruition (maybe). Pinch yourself again because you don’t actually know what God is going to do with this slow-growing desire. Pinch yourself then pray because you’re not sure that you’ll ever be spiritually mature enough to instruct people about God and you’re afraid of drowning faith out with knowledge (the struggle will be a good one). You have no idea where you will be in a year or who you will be doing life with and you’re taking the first step in figuring that out but it switches back and forth between PRAISE GOD A NEW ADVENTURE, and, wait, life in Nashville is great and idk if I want time to keep going.

Pinch yourself again, because you’ve been living in Nashville for almost an ENTIRE YEAR and this is the longest you’ve been living anywhere since you were 17.

Remember when you discovered that Religion & the Arts was a minor, but were torn between minoring in religion and minoring in nutrition. Remember the first moment you told a friend that maybe you’d rather get a PhD in theology than in english. Remember how you were the only one who was surprised that you wanted to attend Div school. Remember in third grade when Mrs. Kadeg taught Bible class and your head was down the whole time listening as carefully as a 9-year-old can and highlighting every single word she read because “it’s the Bible so it’s all important” (also because you had just discovered highlighters come in colors aside from yellow).

Then put on better music and stop procrastinating writing your personal statement, because you have no idea how to write the reasons you want to study Theology in 500 words or less.

When applying to get a Masters in Theological Studies

HANDS ARE MARVELOUS—FULL OF ENDLESS METAPHOR

Hands in particular are as revealing to her as faces.

-Rosamond Bernier writing on Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois “Variation for Four Hands and One Foot” 1994

My fascination with hands began on a Tuesday.
We were sitting legs-crossed in sweater vests and khaki skirts while overdramatized clips of hands flashed across the screen. Each clip was labeled with a sin such as “stealing” or “pornography” (the awkwardness was palpable). After several of these sinful hands were displayed, Jesus’ pierced (caucasian) hands lit up the screen. We discussed atonement and then went about our day. But (for once in my life) I quickly forgot the theology and began noticing my own hands and the hands of people around me.


At 16, I visited St. Peter’s basilica and cried at the Pieta when I saw Mary’s hands holding Jesus’ dead body. It was the first time a piece of visual art that grabbed my heart so as to make me still and to make me cry.

At 19, I visited the Tate Modern and was struck by Louise Bourgeois’ “Variation for Four Hands and One Foot”.  I saw it in the lonely hour, when I would have given almost anything to be touched by someone and I clasped my homeless friend (Christy)’s hand more for my sake than her own.

At 20, I began trying to write poems. Every poem about love was driven by hand metaphor: joy at the pressure points, thick thumbs and thin index fingers, double-jointed eccentricities and the relief of holding someone.

Then, at 21, I wrote about the loss of hands that didn’t quite fit; The grace of a friend’s hands holding my face.

These memories stick out to me, but as I begin to reflect, more memories come. There was that song where the bridge goes “all I can picture is held hands coming apart” that I played every time I got the keyboard to myself (sorry everyone). There is the fact that I could describe to you the size and length of fingers of the ones who are or who have been dearest to me. There is the beauty and humility that came with learning to pray with my hands.

There are many reasons I love hands so much. Hands hold and touch, they show and write, they cling and they let go.

But as for my nails, they are always chipped. Even when I went through a short and awful phase of black acrylics, I would begin chipping away at them in a week. I go in phases with rings, and although each ring is significant, I lose them like it’s my job. I have a huge scar on my right hand from a large wart that I had burned off several times when I was 15. I think my hands are beautiful, but they are not well-kept. Hands without scars or marks feel dishonest to me because I think we are meant to live life with our hands.

We have done both wonderful and horrendous things with our hands, and it matters because the physicality of our life is essential to God. It is essential that Christ became a man, not a set of rules, so that he could hold children and touch lepers. Our God had hands. And he has also held the faces of the ones he loves and knows everything about the hands of those who betrayed him. And I believe that to be the hands and feet of Christ is both literal and metaphorical. We must feed, heal, hold and free as he did.

But also, we must know that when we are at the place where words fail to capture either our grief or our joy, a hand extended is the very hand of Christ—providing love and peace that surpasses all knowledge (Eph 3:19, Phil. 4:7)

HANDS ARE MARVELOUS—FULL OF ENDLESS METAPHOR