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Monday, January 23, 2006

Walking Tall

I go forth today
in the might of heaven,
in the brightness of the sun,
in the whiteness of snow,
in the splendour of fire,
in the speed of lightning,
in the swiftness of wind,
in the firmness of rock.
I go forth today
in the hand of God.

Eighth-century Irish prayer

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Holy Melancholy

Last week I experienced a new space of worship within myself. As I was journeling and praying about the experience, I noticed the word "holy" at the end of the word "melancholy" and I decided to name this space within me "holy melancholy."

When I began to write this blog I thought I had better look up the word "melancholy" so that I am not somehow making an ass of myself. (There are a lot of English majors who blog!!) So. I looked it up and, of course, things grew bigger. I definitely sense God's hand in this little adventure!

Melancholy means: 1. an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression (o.k. I have NO COMMENT! What the HECK is "black bile" anyway? I feel like I may be about to drop over dead with The Plague! When was this dictionary published anyway?) 2. a: depression of spirits : depression (o.k. I will own up to this part. I have tended to be a depressed person most of my life) b: a pensive mood. (Now, that feels like it might lead somewhere... so I look up "pensive")

Pensive means: 1. musingly or dreamily thoughtful (yes, I like that!) 2. suggestive of sad thoughtfulness. (YES! I can live with that and that is descriptive of the place I was experiencing.)

Here is what happened. I was home alone one day last week (which was necessary to get me into my contemplitive state!) and I watched the movie Dancing at Lugnasa. It was one of those movies that holds the glory and the grit of our lives and does not tidy things up into neat packages in the end.

I was in the place where I was groaning out to God because it hurts to be human and I was falling in love with the beauty of raw humanity. It is the taste that I found in the slave lullabies that my daughter Zion has fallen in love with. It is the taste of fairytales.

One lullaby, particularly, strikes me here:

Watch and Pray

Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, yes --
Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, my child, watch and pray.

Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, yes --
Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, my child, watch and pray.

Yes, my child, watch and pray.

To me, this song captures the tension of the feeling of holy melancholy. The horrible truth of the words is sung in a lullaby. It breaks your heart. Melancholy becomes holy, breaking down hard and ugly places and softening our hearts to receive God's heart and to begin to SEE and CARE. (If you are interested in hearing these slave lullabies, we found them at the Ridgedale Library. The book is called "In the Hollow of Your Hand: Slave Lullabies" by Alice McGill. It has a tape with it and it really is wonderful... it helped me to come more "alive" to the insanity of slavery in this country.)

Last night I was in holy melancholy again. This time, it happened after I was helping to take care of kids in a shelter for homeless mothers and children. The beauty of the children and the ache of their situation tore at my heart. All I could do was look to God and tell him, "I KNOW you are big enough for this. I KNOW You will make ALL this right, SOMEHOW." I showed Him how beautiful each child was... "look at this one, God. Look at that one, God." That is all I could do.

So. After writing this blog and looking at these changes in my heart I am thinking that God has redeemed a section of my being. What was once a place where I went to depression and introspection has become untwisted and I am able to be in it in a holy way. Looking at the reality of now and not tidying up the bits or depressing out in hopelessness. It has become a place of prayer and worship.

Monday, January 09, 2006


So, I was reading Brennan Manning's book, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, when I came across the following quote. Manning is talking about the time Christ was in the temple and cleared it with His righteous rage and whips...

"The magnanimous Jesus who said, 'Forgive your neighbor seventy times seven,' the meek Lamb of God who said, 'Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart,' has fashioned a homemade whip and is tearing through the Temple overturning stalls and showcases, thrashing the merchants and roaring, 'Get out of here! This isn't Winn Dixie! You will not turn sacred space into a supermarket!' "

That struck me as funny, obviously, because of the book/movie "Because of Winn-Dixie" and how they actually had their church in a former convenient store.

I still resonate with what Brennan was saying -- do not use the sacred for your mundane selfishness -- but I find it holy to take the mundane and annoying (convenient stores are very annoying to me) and make it sacred!

I think that is part of the charm that I love about the story, "Because of Winn-Dixie".

Anyway, I thought it was funny and wanted to share it with you all.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hey! Alert!

Hey Twin Cities blogger friends,

Sunday nights, tonight and the next two, tpt channel 23 (or 2) is presenting a series: Walking Through the Bible.

Looks like it should/might be good. I am pretty sure there will be an archeological focus.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

We are Tooks (too - ks)

Today the children and I went walking in the woods to see what birds we could find. It was a lovely walk near the Mississippi river. We saw tons of robins. They were all over a hillside and they were eating berries off a tree. In one tree we counted fourteen robins.

The kids were so excited.

So. On the way home, we were walking up a snowy, icy huge hill; and my son Elijah calls for my attention. I turn around and he is below me. He has a yellow, red and black winter coat on. He has a green "mad bomber" hat with brown rabbit fir on his head, with the flaps open and "flapping" in the wind. He is using a huge stick that has a kink at the top, like an unfinished shepherd's crook. His cheeks are rosy, and there is an excitement and aliveness all over his face.

He says to me, "Mom! I think we are 'Tooks'!"


"Tooks! You know, what Bilbo and Frodo were! We look for adventures!"

I marveled at him and agreed with him. But the moment kept living with me through the day.


I looked up "Took" in The Hobbit:

"As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit -- Bilbo Baggins, that is -- was the famous Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits who lived across The Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while a member of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. Thy discreetly disappered, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though they were undoubtably richer."

When I read that, I turned to Elijah (who was right there, since I borrowed his hobbit book to look it up in) and completely agreed with him. "YES!, I said, "we are Tooks!" Later, we were talking about this again, and Elijah clarified that he meant that he and I were Tooks. That he does not see the others in the family as Tooks.

I am blown away by his insight into me. I realized that in my whole life, so far, I could not STAND walking on the path. I always HAD to go off the path because it was more interesting. I hate biking on paved bike trails, give me dirt with knobs and stones and some Adventure to it!!

I was struck by how I was named in community, (see H.Jane's blog here) the community of my own little, intimate family. I think it is an AMAZING blessing from God that He turns the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents (if we let Him!).

So. Today I was named. By my son. And he was named by God. And we found kinship. It really is a sweet and full-of-wonder thing to my soul.