This weight came over me like the heaviest, most comfortable blanket you could imagine. It spread out over me, and it was filled with every moment of love I've ever experienced, small or large. It was stuffed with memories from long ago. It was stitched with affection and care, with intention and thoughtfulness. As I felt it drape over me, invisible of course, three words came to mind, clear and crisp: i am loved.
Moment after moment, my YES became louder, stronger, and more resolved. I did not go to Synod with many expectations. I certainly did not anticipate the Spirit opening me up in the ways she did. Nor did I anticipate the overwhelming experience of being loved and welcomed that came my way. But this is who God is, and this is how She works.
The man in the story was so stuck in his own feelings of powerlessness that he couldn't see the opportunity for healing right in front of him. Jesus could have waited around for the waters to be stirred, ordered his disciples to pick up the man, and the same result could have been effected. Instead, he jumps right to the heart of the man's issue and tells him to stand up and walk. No waiting for the waters to magically turn on. No waiting for someone else to come to the rescue. Just get up and be made whole.
I knew of a friend who is what some call a pain top, or as many in the general culture might say, a dom. We’ll call him Pan. We were acquaintances but not very close when I reached out and asked, “How would you feel about beating me?” almost as casually as I might ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar. It was one of those moments where I internally thought, “Am I really doing this?” Going over to his apartment the first time, he began — very intensely. I had to interject, asking for a “warm-up.” I also realized I probably should give him some more info about why I wanted to be beaten, to experience deliberate physical pain in the form of floggers, canes, and other such tools of the trade.
...what good is legalism, what benefit is there to blind faith, if it doesn't lead is into right relationship with God, with self, and with neighbor? How does self-righteous asceticism make us more like God? How does lording our "morality" over others evince God's love flowing into us and out of us? Often, to be on God's side means challenging the status quo, means turning the world upside down, even at the risk of our own lives. After all, doesn't Jesus teach us that the greatest example of love we can set is the willingness to lay down our lives for those around us...
"Ash is about saying 'I'm sorry'... Ash is about making things right." Isn't that what we're told the point of Lent is: a journey towards repentance and reconciliation made tangible, palpable, in the Passion of Jesus? What better example of brokenness than Jesus torn apart on the cross? What better sign of restoration than the Resurrection?
Most often, when people experience a loss, their minds go to one of two places initially: either they start to wrestle with the what-ifs of a situation or they jump right into the details of the what's-next. In the moment of pain, crisis, and loss, it's hard for most of us to sit in that pain and bear it. To do so would be to accept that change is coming, whether we like it or not. It is often the job (and privilege) of those of us on the periphery to help contain the questions that surface. We don't have to offer answers. We just need to show up.
I hate leaving. I hate feeling as if I'm losing a relationship, as if someone I love dearly is abandoning me. This is what transition can feel like for many people. This reality makes it necessary for the transition process to be handled with care, offering space for both grief and celebration. Without room for all the emotions that become tangled up in transitions, the shifts that individuals and communities face can lead to excessive pain, bitterness, resentment, and much more.
In the grand scheme of things, we are all strong people, some more than others. Yet many perceive themselves as weak, needy, broken and irreparable. Maybe this is because very few of us know how to see ourselves truthfully. Maybe the mirrors into which we gaze are actually broken, or maybe we're simply looking into them wearing blindfolds, unable to see anything at all.