"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Place for Everyone

Last night, DH drug me to a drum circle. (Ok, maybe not drug-- it was a beautiful night, and the Fourth Friday celebration downtown is always lots of fun.) Before you get a funny image of a traditional drum circle with the fire dancers and all that, this is not one of those.  It's held downtown in what used to be the markethouse-- just good, clean fun.  Not being terribly musical (read: uh, God definitely didn't give me any musical talent), I was prepared to go and watch and be a good sport of a wife while my husband beat his little heart out.  But I forgot how much I love drum circles.

The children's home where I worked during my first call held quarterly drum circles.  This man with lots and lots of drums and percussion instruments would come and help the kids get started. And without fail, these angry, beligerent, lovely young folks were transformed into mesmerized musicians.  It was a miracle to behold.  But that's not why I loved them (or apparently love them still).

I love them because of the community aspect they bring.  All the instruments are held in common and are available for all to use.  Even the little girl who couldn't quite hold the djembe upright and sent it crashing to the concrete floor, as my husband watch happen to his.  But that's just part of it.  Because there's a very deep sense that all are on equal footing and that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, from the most experienced to the least, has something to offer and add.  No one's instrumments are too good or precious to be used by all (though I suspect that the rare gems of instrumments were left at home.) Kids didn't have their hands swatted away, nor did they hear, "Don't touch that!"

 Drum circles draw out the best in everyone, because everyone can find a place-- even awkward flute kid who might have been lacking in social skills, even the slightly greasy looking teenager who came and parked his bike in the middle of the gathering, even rhythmically challenged me.  (And had I not been having a completely lovely time taking pictures, I might have even been brave enough to join in.)

There was something holy about that group of people that were otherwise strangers.  Some were business-folk, some were radio guys, some were middle aged and very well dressed women.  But all heard a common beat emerge as lots of collective beats became one.  And all who found themselves drawn together by that beat  were welcomed and discovered that they had a valuable place in the ongoing song.


Oops.  Several weeks ago I wrote a post entitled "Everything is coming up...tulips!" Only that is definitely not a tulip, but a lovely, frangrant, unexpected Blue-thingamabobber.  (If someone knows its actual name, I would love to know.)  I planted lots of bulb flowers last spring, and it's been lots of fun to watch these green sprout things start poking their heads out of the soil.  Bulb flowers definitely aren't the instant gratification sort of flowers, but more the surprise-you-when-you-least-expect-them sorts.  If the mean (though very cute) little moles didn't eat all the bulbs, I expect that I should have some Irises and Tulips and Jonquils coming up too, but I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Strong, hearty, growing beneath the surface bulb flowers make this girl awfully happy (and not only because it seems like they can survive even my awful gardening skills!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to Ordinary Time

I feel like I should be ashamed to admit this, but I just took down my Christmas tree this morning.  I've never ever done that-- I do try to be very liturgically minded and wait until the Epiphany because that's when Christmas is really over. But I do not ever wait until almost February to move away from Christmas.
This year, though, I just couldn't bring myself to take it down.  (Though I did take down the outside decorations so I wouldn't be that crazy lady that the whole neighborhood gossips about.) But my tree and inside decorations were my last vestage of a little un-ordinary time magic.  The weather was so warm that it never really felt like Christmas (I still haven't even unboxed my sweaters, and the flannel sheets that I tried for a week were back in their box a week later.) And besides, there is something a little lonely about living in the country at Christmastime.  The only Christmas lights I saw were ones I paid money to see, and I guess that made me a little sad, because it felt like we were the only ones who noticed that it was special time.

But now it's really back to the ordinary time that occupies so much of our calendars.  It's a strange time of waiting because the snowflakes that I usually use to decorate during January feel completely inappropriate. But it doesn't feel quite right to adorn my house with spring flowers yet either.  It's waiting, in-between, sort of time.  Made holy and special and delightful not by the events on the calendar or the confounding weather, but by the little everyday delights like being able to open the windows and bask in the gentle sunshine.  Ordinary yes, but also filled with great potential for the extraordinary.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Everything is coming up...tulips

I'm not a gardener.  In fact, I'm pretty sure God must cry when I plant things because I'm more likely to kill a plant than I am to nurture it on to abundant life.  So I guess it always surprises me when I see God at work in my "garden". 

But it always strikes me as holy when I see something taking root and... living.  I guess because I know that I had nothing to do with it.  Because something was going on without my knowledge or supervision. And because no matter what the winter has been like, spring always seems to come. 

(I wrote about my experience planting things last spring. You can read about it here)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Before the dawn

[Written after a very early morning when I went to pray with a congregant before surgery]

It's darkest before the dawn, or so they say.
Before even the surgical waiting room has been opened, or anyone is ready to wait.
Before she has been taken back.
Before the visitor's desk is staffed, or the parking deck, for that matter.
Before the cafeteria has opened.
Before the nurses are fully awake.
Before the rules are thoroughly enforced.
Before the sun (or son) has started tinting the world a lovely shade of pink.
It's darkest then.

But it's there, in the before, that God feels closest.
Because the light of love is waiting to break in.
And for the ones, waiting and watching,
the great divide between heaven and earth seems a little thinner.
Because we need God just a little more,
and we're a little less guarded and a little more vulnerable.

It's darkest before the dawn.
But not really.
Because in that great darkness a voice gently whispers in my ear,
"I am the light of the world.  And the darkness has never, will never, put the light out."

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Picture a Day keeps the grouchies away

A Picture is worth a thousand words--or so I hear.  And as a photographer, I believe it.  And I've even made resolutions to take more picutres, but until now it's just been awfully complicated.  Oh, I've got my camera and lenses all in one always-packed bag, but who wants to lug all that around.  It's great for "serious" photography, but sometimes a girl has to be in the mood for all that.  I just wanted to take quick photos and record my (fabulously interesting) life for posterity sake.

Enter Iphone (which I love for many, many reasons).  It has an 8 megapixel camera (which is almost as good as my "serious" camera), and it's handy.  No lugging anything around.

So I did it.  I signed up for a photo-a-day project that I've seen other friends do.  And so far I love it.  I worried that it would become for me "just one more thing" but it's been a great experience.  It's helping me keep my eyes open to beauty and love that is all around me, and record the things that make me happy.  I'm again noticing things like the way the light dances, or the exact smile on my puppy dog's face. I'm finding a way to tap into my oft-ignored creative side, which will hopefully lead to other creative endeavors in other parts of my life.  You can keep up with my project here if you'd like.  But if you can't stand to wait for the time it takes to open up the page, here's a preview (mostly from my blue-sky day sort of walk this afternoon.)