space

No Facebook.  No email.  No Words with Friends.

For ten days I will fast from electronic community.  Sound grim?  It isn’t.

I’ll be in Florida for ten days with my guy.  My agenda is to think my own thoughts and take in the thoughts of others through books and conversations.

And, maybe most huge of all, I seek to surrender myself to sun and wind and bare feet and water and space.

Somehow life (once again) got to be a race.  The “terror of abundance” that is my life is too much temptation for the likes of me.  I get to do so many things I enjoy and believe in.  The work with United Methodists for Marriage Equality is picking up, church is rich and hopping, and the faith communities of Richfield and Bloomington are starting to meet to figure out how we can be of some use to our respective communities.

There is so much to be done!

And, the land of my soul is needing a mini-Jubilee:  a time to lie fallow.

It seems a fitting way to enter Lent.  I’m not “giving up” anything (unless it is a compulsive need to busy too much).  Instead, I seek to add a dimension to my life sorely lacking.  Space savored in the sun. Space as spiritual discipline.  Space through which I can listen to the Holy woven into the song of seagull and sea.

If all goes well, I might get used to it.

 

great question

I was asked a great question the other night.

I was out for dinner with my daughter and her partner.  We somehow got talking about the part of my work that has to do with preparing couples for marriage (what a goofy statement THAT is!).

I was asked:  what did I think was the most important thing?  What makes for the best combo in the (sometimes it feels like) marriage sweepstakes?

I love good questions.

My answer?  A sense of full personhood on the part of each partner.  Let me unpack that, because it sounds impossibly grand.  Maybe because it is.

My sense is our culture and romance novels conspire to paint us a vision of relationships so epic that we lose our sense of our own unique being.  We’re pedaled the fiction that with “two becoming one” we have no need to tend to self.  Women are particularly prone to throwing their identity into their couple relationship.

The relationships that seem strongest are those in which both partners know the sacred wonder of their own being.  When they come together, they bring that gift to each other.  It isn’t always pretty or easy but it is real and it underscores the beauty of difference in relationship.

Things are cleaner when we claim who we are and what our hearts know to be true.  When we respect our own wisdom and hearts, we are able to honor the wisdom and heart of our partners.

No small trick.

But such sacred work.

Bumbling along with stuffed desires that morph into resentments just isn’t much fun.

Claiming our own being is life long work.  Having a partner in that work is gift indeed.

So, that was my answer.  Day by day I try to live it for my own self.

I’ll pray for your work if you will pray for mine!

 

alone

Cooper has been off with friends trying to find snow.  They drove to Michigan hoping for some cross-country skiing.

That leaves me.

He has made this time happen for the years of our marriage.  Truth be told, at first it felt a lot like the leaving me part of the equation was huge.  We won’t get into my inner psyche and discuss abandonment issues, but his sense of holy time away with the guys was large and so I countenanced it with a bit of grimace inside.

Through the years I have learned some things.

First, he is one smart man.  Bedeviled and stretched by the demands of serving a church and living with the quirks of blending families and his wife, he takes himself apart for some time with friends he has had since college.  They are good men.  They have lived life in each other’s company.  They are good for each other.  They laugh a lot and eat red meat.  Going on these ski trips, snow or no snow, is exquisitely important self-care.

Second, the “that leaves me” sentence has shifted.  When he goes, there is more time for me.  I am left to chart the rhythms of my days without cueing off someone else.  I am left to the quiet and the stillness of my own thoughts.  I make choices about time based upon what I want to do.  Books and walks and time alone are great gift.

I’m not “left” at all.  I’m in great company: my own.

I love my husband with a wondrous passion.

It is gift that he has the sense to take time apart.  Through it, I have found blessing.

Alone.

play

It was a three date week.

Since Cooper and I didn’t think ahead to get reservations for Valentine’s Day, we dined out on Monday.  It was snowing lightly while we wandered downtown Minneapolis.  Being out and in the midst of city life was good.  A Barnes and Noble browse iced the cake.

On THE day (Valentine’s, don’t you know) we had no evening meetings.  Amazing.  So, we took ourselves for a stroll around a lake and got really wild and cruised the deli at Lund’s for our dinner.  The place was a zoo, filled with the likes of us who had procrastinated buying for the big heart dinner.  We came home with delectables and savored a night at home.

And, wonder of wonders, on Thursday we were again without evening meetings to contend with.  We were gifted with tickets to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert.  Daughter Leah knows of my love for soprano Dawn Upshaw, so we found ourselves in downtown St Paul.  Again, we had time to wander a bit before being treated to a crystal clear voice and an amazingly heart-connected ensemble.

We found ourselves a bit giddy.  Shared meals, time to be and time for reveling in the Twin Cities we call home was grace.

Today over lunch with a beloved friend, we found ourselves naming the scarcity of play in our lives.  Competing claims on time and energy somehow put frolicking on a back burner.  That’s just dumb.  It’s hard to claim fullness of life when it seems the main objective is keeping way too many balls in the air.

As for me, I’m thinking I’m on to something.

The question is, what’s next?

I’m ready to play!

 

loss

Anywhere people are, pain is there too.

Somehow it is surprise, this reality.  The notion is that if we buy the right products, have clean fingernails, and refrain from making unfriendly hand gestures at other drivers (or whatever your personal list of coloring-inside-the-lines good is) pain will forget our name.

It doesn’t.

I have been blessed with real conversations this week with people who are willing to name their pain.

It is no small thing, this sharing.  When we allow others to hear our hearts and our hurts, we’re gracing them with our trust that they will hear our hearts without taking over, and that they will breathe with us and bear witness to the fierce hurts that mark our souls.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the midwifing of tears.  They are a birthing of sorts, are tears.  They let us know the places of broken within us and around us.  They testify to the alive thing that is our heart.  They well from the juice of our being and sometimes they must have their speak.

On this day, I feel a call to pay homage to those whose tears fall.  Bless you for your courage.  Thank you for your trust.

The water you release is part of the human that you are and oh, you are not alone.

The Holy is.  Your fine soul is.  Your community is.

Loss is.

 

kin!

Just as church was about to begin last Sunday, I noticed a face I hadn’t seen before.

This woman caught my attention.  Not just because she was new.  There was something about her that called to me.

As she went through the end of service greeting line, she was full of energy and excitement.  Pastors like to see that after worship.

What she said was amazing to me.  She explained that her great grandfather and mine are the same man.

She is kin.

We made a date to grab coffee and figure out the connections.  I met her for the second time this morning.  It turns out that she knows many more of the pieces of my family story than I do.  But what she came to figure out was that my dad was “Mickey” and he officiated at her wedding, among other things.

We talked about “Macaulay” traits and quirks and about the ways she sees her mother in my face.

Wow.  Living not two miles from my church is a woman whose story I share at a cellular and anecdotal level.  The intersections of our lives is amazing, down to the nickname her husband uses to refer to her:  “Bitsy”.  I went by that name for forty years.  It was a name given me by my father, he of the Macaulay penchant for words and expansively lived life.

We have much to catch up on, this new-found kin and I.

But for now, I am content to live in the wonder of a woman who found her way to the church I serve.  In her presence I remember, name, and share the bones of heritage.

This world is wide.  Kin, both biological and spiritual, arrive when we least expect them and perhaps most need them.

I’m feeling woven into the mystery of the Holy that shines from us each, lighting our way home.

stepping out

Sometimes I look around me and realize that I live a church saturated life.

So tonight, I’m stepping out!

I am co-leading a pilgrimage to Ireland next September.  For ten days, I will travel with 30 people to experience the “thin places” in Ireland.  We will trek mountains and wander around ancient monasteries and soak in the Holy we experience in each other and the ancient.

I am doing this pilgrimage in part because of a sense shared with me by a healer I encountered.  She intuited that I am a singer.  True, that.  And, she said, I needed to go to Ireland to discover the song of my people.  I shared with her that I am descended from Scots.  Her response was that my people may have immigrated from Scotland, but that at some point my ancestors were Irish.

Ireland, she said, was calling to me.

So I am listening to that call.  Imagining the trip is already soul gift.

And, tonight I am immersing myself in the nuances of that call.  A dear friend and colleague who is one of the trip leaders sent me a flyer from the Irish Music Center in St Paul.  It turns out they are offering a Irish Song class there over a number of weeks.

We are going.  I am going in order to learn the songs and use my rusty vocal cords.  And, I am going because I expect that in that circle I will encounter an elemental sacred hum not orchestrated by church.

I’m stepping out and into a new thing.

It’s already good.