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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Diamonds and Cells

Well. I have been noticing, over the past year, something new to me. I think it has to do with the place of transition I have been in for awhile. We still go to Open Door, but we are not "of it" like we used to be. I work at Abbey Way, and we (as a family) are planning on becoming part "of it"; but the time is not yet. So, I feel myself, lately, in the increasing tension of straddling two worlds of church life. It has been getting increasingly difficult. They are each, in the words of Dallas Willard, a "row of the garden" in God's Kingdom, and I am noticing how difficult it is to let them "be" the rows that they are.

This actually points to a bigger process that I have noticed happening within me as I have been walking in this place of threshold. I come out of a legalistic, rigid evangelical background. This is not to say that all evangelicals are rigid and legalistic, this is just to say that I come from that environment... where faith was fed with a lot of fear. I have been "waking up" from this "condition" for awhile... and it has been really weird! I have been amazed at how narrow my life has been and how wide and inclusive it is becoming... I feel like I am learning to breathe... to breathe with my whole body/being.

Well, one of the things I have been noticing, thinking about in this process is the diversity of God's Voice... the voice of His Body... us; the Church. I will be somewhere and hear something and I will think, that is another strand of his voice... Because I am so pictorially oriented, I began to think of the church (the church broader than walls) as a diamond with many facets cut into it. The core of the diamond is the same and yet each facet is an expression of that core. I started to see how each cut of the diamond makes it more beautiful... so, my Benedictine friends at St. Ben's are one facet, Matt Patrick/Ashley Mallette/Joel Hanson songs at Open Door are another, Abbey Way worship is another, Bono another, J. Philip Newell another, Krisa Tippet of Speaking of Faith... and on and on.

I received, growing up, the impression that multiplicity is bad, wrong, even evil... that the fact that there are so many denominations and churches is not a good thing... But now, that view is changing.

Recently, the diamond picture shifted for me. I was meditating on these things and I felt like God shifted the scene for me. It was like he said to me, "Jaime. Cells divide! It is right and good that what started as a single cell is divided and divided into more and more specialized cells. That is how I made the human body!! Each cell has it's own 'row of the garden' to attend to to keep the whole body healthy. It is when a cell turns and tries to make other cells become like it's self that things fall apart. Those cells are called cancer."

From that I now feel that it is the devisiveness between churches that the scriptures admonish us against.

So, in this place I am in today, in this week, I am asking God to help me to learn how to let each cell be it's own special being in His body... and to glory in the abundance and multiplicity of God's creation.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year's Contemplation...

After writing my previous post, I sat down to "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard... I found the following quote within...

Here is my invitation into a New Year's contemplation:

"Have we rowed out to the thick darkness, or are we all playing pinocle in the bottom of the boat?"

Been A Year of...

This last year has been, for me, a year of learning to go into the darkness. In various ways, I felt God showing me, teaching me that Christ goes into the darkness, heads towards the "muck" of life... he does not lift his skirts and go away... he dives into it and brings us through it.

So, the year was a year of turning my inmost self. Becoming sensitive to when I am "lifting my skirts", backing away from something difficult and instead moving towards it and trying to remain present while I do it.

Today I found this on Inward/Outward. Really, it is getting embarrassing how much I am putting their stuff on this blog. But what they have been sharing has been speaking to me... the poem reminds me of the story of a person asking Mother Teresa to pray for them that they may have clarity in their situation -- to which she replied, "I will not pray for clarity, but that you may trust God." So, here you go.

Better Than Light
M. Louise Haskins

And I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
'Give me a light that I may
tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go out into the darkness,
and put your hand into
the hand of God.
That shall be to you better
than light,
and safer than
the known way."

Source: Unknown

Lord, may I learn to trust your hand in the dark. ~J