Saturday, January 30, 2010


I was driving down a street in the neighborhood of some friends of my parents I had never met. I was trying to find their house. It was dark. Interpretation: I had no idea where I was. I'd been given oral directions, and, though I could remember them clearly, I still had the panicky feeling I was lost beyond hope of recovery. Images of Burmese Mountain dogs barking to my rescue after hours of wandering in an unfamiliar forest of unfamiliar houses flickered, like mood music, in the back of my head. I don't know why I was so tense. I hadn't taken any wrong turns.

But, I couldn't picture where I was going. Route and destination were reduced to descriptions of Rite-Aids at corners, street names, and houses with vans in driveways. Simply following directions can be frightening.

Sometimes life is like that. Even though you're going the directions you understand God to have given you, simply following feels precarious if you can't see the end... or even the route beyond a few days ahead. Despite peace, it can feel illogical and just... wrong.

After over a year of begging God's direction and months of sleepless nights... and many tears... I've made the hard decision to leave my church. The pain of personal loss... and the pain of knowing my doing so will cause pain for others... kicks me in the stomach like a mule. I've told God this doesn't fit. It feels too wrong. I'm disappointing people I love. Yet, He keeps putting barriers and signs in my way until I am rather forced to follow the directions to community in a different context.

Just as I felt insecure in my directions to the house with the van in the driveway because I didn't have a paper to clench, reassuring me I was remembering the directions correctly, it's frightening to leave behind the sense of identity that belonging to a congregation for almost five years provides. I know I'm a Jesus-follower. I know I am Anabaptist. Beyond that, all I have is the assurance that God will follow through on His promise to lead me... or turn me around if I've gone wrong.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What is Truth?

Pilate asked the question, and I wonder if his tone was exasperated. "What is truth??" I don't wonder he was befuddled. Outside his palace was a mob of people, waving their scrolls, demanding the death of the Man before him... The Man he had found guiltless. And yet, the scroll-wavers said their scrolls contained the truth. They said that, by the words therein (or their interpretation of them), this Jesus of Nazareth had committed crimes worthy of execution. 

Pilate wasn't exactly a compassionate man. I wonder if his reluctance to sentence Jesus is indicative he had a gut feeling that Truth stood before him, incarnated and epitomized in the Man named Jesus. 

Each of us, individually, is left with the same question: what is truth? We look at the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus' day, and marvel that their thinking contained such an elephantine disconnect. How could they have searched the Scriptures with such avidity and missed the Fulfillment of the purpose of the giving of those very writings? 

Jesus Himself answers that question quite nicely:

37"And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." (John 5)

In their frenzy to be right, they produced their own righteousness. They assembled, in their studying, a god that looked like their expectations of Yahweh. Could it be because they deemed the study of His words an end in itself that they missed Who He really was, even when He conversed in a human tongue? 

Though we quietly scoff at their educated ignorance, it is in our critical interest that we take warning. Sure, let's read the Bible. But let's remember that, while it is true, it is only a telescope through which we can know... relationally... paramount Truth, Jesus Christ. Though it may seem an insignificant nuance, focus [worship] is important. Very, very important.


I spent a day hanging out with my amazing friend, Miriam, one day last fall. I am disappointed with these pictures because I was borrowing someone's camera (I need a new one... my five-year-old point & shoot doesn't focus any more), and didn't realize that the ISO settings were far too high. Thus, behold grainy pictures! Oh, well. We had fun, and I had a beautiful subject.

Mim, I admire your graceful, easy-going nature...

...and the energy with which you live your life.

You can talk to anyone about anything under the sun. I admire that.

You know who you are, and your belief in yourself puts others at ease with you... and assures them you believe in them as well.

Your sense of adventure and free spirit... balanced by your strength and inner peace.
Whether we're talking about life or feeding calves, I like being with you! :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

[trivial things]

Life is comprised of years, and years of days. Days are comprised of hours, and hours of minutes. Trivial things, minutes are. If life is the grand compilation of trivialities, I want to cultivate the habit of recognizing the beauty, the mystery, the sorrow, and the humor in each of them. Missing, or simply disregarding, the moments that add beauty and texture to life would result in a flat, gray existence. When I look over my shoulder, I don't want the path I traveled to look like an asphalt road in Indiana.

So, here are some recent trivialities:

Raccoons do live in the city. At least, one does... and still does, thankfully. I nearly hit him on Broad St. After swerving to avoid him, I ended up in the turning lane because I was craning my head to try to catch another glimpse of the big guy. "Oh, my word!! A coon!" And then I laughed at myself because I sounded like such a city kid. Not too many years ago I went coon hunting with my dad. Now, I almost wreck my car because I'm gawking at one.

I had the urge to make a loaf of bread today. I haven't done that for a long time. The smell of yeast, kneading the smooth, warm dough... the satisfaction of watching people eat thick slices of the crusty, golden magnum opus... Instead, I taped the cardboard box, labeled it, and sent the lovely whole-wheat flour to a customer in New Mexico.

I like one-way streets. I can parallel park faster when I park on the left side. Does handedness affect this?

Every time I run from the office to the store, I can't help but sing Bob Marley's "Sun is Shining"... ever notice that sunbeams have personalities?

I heard a dispatch on the scanner today to my street "for an emotional problem". "Twelve-year-old child, out of control and violent. Threatening everyone." Later, "[We are] relocating child to New Jersey." I don't know the kid, but I feel a loss on the street tonight. God, please send someone to care for that kid...

Riding an elevator alone makes me feel like I could step out and be anywhere in the world.

A sober little girl with big blue eyes regarded me with extreme caution as I carried boxes into the Post Office. While her mom talked to the postmistress,  she never took her eyes off me or changed expression. The first trip inside, bearing a stack of boxes, I smiled at her. No expression change. Upon my next entry, I made a goofy face. No expression change. Hysterical.

My friends are amazing people. Isn't it miraculous, that a phone call can make you feel more... human... and the world a warmer place?

Tomorrow, I leave to spend the weekend with an enduring sisterhood. Here's a mystery: how did we go from sleepovers at 16th birthday parties to doing such grown-up things as getting married? Help!

It's amazing to me that we've stayed so close, even though we scattered. The trust and sheer enjoyment of our group isn't dependent on presence or even constant communication.

 We've seen each other through so much that we don't even need to be told that, when needed, we'll be loved, supported, and most assuredly laughed at.

Oh, morning, hasten thy gilten feet upon the horizon! Yeah, sun, that means come back up soon. Because I can't wait to see these people.

Bessie & Jesse's engagement pictures make my face hurt from smiling. I love seeing my friends so happy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"He fills the hungry with good things..."

Missio Dei's reflections for this evening brought me to praise...

Call to Praise
After a time of reflective silence, proclaim:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Psalm 107:1-9
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.

They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for humankind,

for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

John 6:1-14
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take almost a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Meditate upon this, the fourth of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel of John. Reflect upon how this miracle reveals his glory.
Simeon’s Song
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Closing Prayer
Father, provide for the hungry in our neighborhood—both those with empty hearts and those with empty stomachs. We offer to you everything we have—though we have few resources—for your purposes. Multiply our humble offerings to serve the people of the neighborhood.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I had a dream the other night, when everything was still, but it wasn't about Susanna a-comin' down the hill. No buckwheat cake was in my mouth, but tears were in my eyes. Said I, I think this was from God, and I'll tell you how and why.

Alright, enough with the parody already.

A few nights ago, in the lands past the hypnogogic portals, I was up in my third-floor room. I heard music being played outside, but that is a city normality. I didn't investigate until a trumpet rose and the noise grew successively louder, picking up momentum like a wave rushing in to shore. Running to the window overlooking the back yard, I saw our yard packed with neighbors. The very air was charged with expectancy and a kind of pure joy that felt vaguely familiar, though I couldn't remember it. My entire being was homing in on what it knew to be its destiny, the reason for which I was created. I stared, wide-eyed and gasping, at the vacant spot in the center of the yard. Though I was the only one inside, I felt a tangible solidarity with the crowd in the yard, as if we all were holding hands as we watched a white radiance illume the vacant spot. It grew in size and intensity, pulsating with beauty, until my heart ached from bearing it. I knew that feeling. I'd felt it many times before... the almost physical pain of my heart being so filled with the beauty of a sunset accented by a single silver star, or the chords of a musical movement, that my heart seemed to be straining at its bodily restraints and I could neither contain it nor release it.

But this... THIS superseded anything I knew.

Hands and feet formed from the misty luminary. The light grew brighter. It was whiter than any light I'd ever seen, like the LED Christmas lights in comparison to the traditional clear ones, only this light was warmer. The mist solidified into a Man. I knew His face. So often I had longed to see it, and yet now it looked so familiar. Every stress in my body and soul melted. Jesus. He had come. My mind spun as pictures flashed through my head like a slide projector at full speed... all the things to which His coming signaled an end. Overwhelmed with relief and overcome with love, I realized I was crying.

I was about to step through the window, somehow knowing that I wouldn't fall the three stories to the ground, when sudden panic stopped me. This meant the end of life as I've known it. I hadn't had time to do so many things... dreams I've had since I could dream... people to whom I wanted to show His love. I hadn't gone to Uganda. I'd never rocked my own child to sleep. I hadn't been called "mommy" by a child who had known homelessness and poverty. Grief over these losses was soon drowned in terror. Had I done enough? Sure, I've done some things, but I knew full well that I had done them imperfectly. Had I really loved this Man with all my heart? Would He accept me?

Everyone in the yard was moving toward Him in rapt awe. Their faces glowed as Jesus looked, His own face radiant with love, at each person. Without His even looking at me, I heard His voice in my heart.

"Do you trust Me, Becca? Do you trust Me to have fulfilled the dreams you didn't? Do you trust me with the people you tried to love? Do you trust Me to redeem you, despite your silly pride? Do you love Me?"

"Yes, Jesus. I do." My face was wet with tears. I abandoned myself to Him and stepped through the window...

...and awoke in my bed, warmer than my quilt could account for.

Today, days later, I catch myself smiling goofily for no logical reason, laughing from the bottom of my soul while playing "smash-your-face-in-a-couch-pillow" with Kirsten and Brennan, and marveling at the beauty of the ice in the crevices of the cracked sidewalk. Yup, I'm in love with Love... all over again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

saturday mornings

watching the cars drive by
and the people walk past
below my window
i see You in the sunshine
and in the beauty of their faces
and i am content
to sit here
with You

alone, and yet not
i love saturday mornings

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mythic Birds Waltz

Kronos Quartet - Mythic Birds Waltz
Found at abmp3 search engine

I heard this piece performed live a year ago, and have been fortunately unsuccessful in forgetting it. Very happily, I found a free MP3 download here. Sorry, no reviews forthcoming... how do you offer a synopsis of something that defies knowledge and yet enlightens?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jemglyn, the Spider (Part 2)

The sun was as high in the sky as it always was at noon. Jemglyn perched on the web she has repaired that morning as she had watched it climb. A fly droned about, and Jemglyn turned her gaze from the sun. The fly hovered momentarily before Jemglyn's eyes, its translucent wings tattooing the tepid air. Instead of the hunger she expected to feel at the sight of the fly, Bweakulb, who had been more silent than usual for the previous week... or two... (Jemglyn wasn't sure which) arose somewhere in Jemglyn's abdomen. Jemglyn involuntarily did something that had never been done in all the history of spider-kind. She raised her eyes, and met those of the fly. Mirrored in their multi-faceted iridescence, Jemglyn knew. She knew what Bweakulb had been trying to tell her since she was old enough to put a name to him.

Jemglyn dropped her gaze to her web. She thought she should be relieved to have discovered why she loathed it, but the gravity of the revelation hit her like the raindrops from which spiders always take refuge for fear of being knocked from their webs. A fitting analogy, she thought. Beautiful, earth-renewing, and yet powerful enough to completely alter the happenings of one's day. Somehow, Jemglyn knew that possessing her discovery would require more energy than did the long trek back to her web after being shot to the ground by a diamond raindrop.