Monday, February 27, 2012

what i want more than shoes

Six months is a long time to fast from buying new clothes, but I learned a mad lot.

I learned that consumerism is stressful. Not giving myself the option of cruising through clothing sections in stores was actually really freeing. I hadn't realized how much mental pressure the vague, have-to-measure-up agenda is. Measure up to whom? I really don't know, now that I think of it. As if people will like me more or less because I have new things. As if. I enjoyed the clothes I already have a lot more because I simply wasn't looking for new ones.

About halfway through, I realized that maybe I was getting off easy with the whole liberation-from-buying feeling. Maybe the biggest good fasting does for us is in teaching us to appreciate, to want, to desire, and not to possess. So I started trying on shoes. Looking at clothes. Several times it took every amount of willpower I have to walk out and leave a "so ME!" thing behind. But one of the things I wanted to do with this fast was to sacrifice my "necessities" to give to people who don't have literal necessities, not to stifle my appreciation of beautiful things. Giving out of a heart alive to desire is a lot deeper, more personal, than giving from a heart that is somewhat disengaged. Maybe this all sounds like a strange, torturous, and still somewhat consumerist regimen, but it softened my heart to the needs of others.

Now that my fast is over, I've been wondering how to mark it. In wondering, I remembered a dream I had when I was a kid. I wanted some real, soft-soled, leather moccasins. For some reason, I identified hugely with Native Americans from an early age and spent hours in the woods, making shelters, pottery from mud, bows and arrow, and practicing silent walking. I lived with Naya Nuki and other Native Americans in books I read. Much later, two Native Americans were discovered in my ancestry, which is a source of quiet pride. :) Once, I was describing to my friend Bessie the deep connection I feel to nature and the earth, and she looked at me strangely and replied, "I'm glad you're a Christian." True dat. It would be easy for me to be a bit pantheistic, believing that God is contained in nature instead of the bigger truth that God is in nature... but so much more encompassing. But this isn't a theology post. I was talking about moccasins. I'm so excited about these:

A little hippie. A lot Native American. They're perfect. So they might not be the latest style or anything, but I'm thinking they will look just adorable with my muslin dress with the crocheted lace on the gathered skirt. And, as much as I love shoes... I can't stand them in the summer. I'd go barefoot everywhere if it was socially acceptable. Moccasins are the closest thing to barefoot you can get, pretty much. Happiness.

So ends my clothes-buying fast. How to buy now? That's the question. This morning, I was ogling these lovelies:
...and how cute are these yellow flats?
They would be SO perfect with my grey dress! And every woman needs a pair of nude heels:

As I was busy composing a WANT list in my head, I stumbled upon this picture:

My eyes burned a little from humbled tears and my next mouse-click was to MCC's website to donate money for shoes for an HIV-positive child in Uganda. I want to keep changing. I want to BE the change I want to see in the world. That desire is far bigger than my want for shoes.

resurrection love

[from the top of my book case, signs of spring]

"so even as we see the horror of death,
may we be reminded that, in the end,

love wins.

mercy triumphs.

life is more powerful than death.

and even those who have committed great violence
can have the image of God come to life again
within them
as they hear the whisper of love.

may the whisper of love grow louder
than the thunder of violence.

may we love loudly."

-shane claiborne, in Jesus for President

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I was doodling while ruminating a Dorothy Day article on war...
...and thinking how violence is idealized
and called Necessary
in politics
and street life.

Another way, another world
is possible.

I think I feel another Restorative Justice post brewing;
stories I've seen that are worth the telling.

Be brave in your world today.

[save and share my doodle if you want]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love never fails

"...if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." 

Sacrifice makes no pretense of ease. Shedding not only excess, but perceived necessities, to ease the pain of needy people isn't exactly something we're all flocking to do. Because it is hard. It hurts. It unmasks the face of our own vulnerabilities and exposes to naked eye the fears we bury with fun and things.

But sacrifice is easier than martyrdom. No possession casts a shadow on the prospect of landing on a beach and facing the spear of a headhunter, willing, like Nate Saint, to give all that is yourself to break open astounding reality. Love is here. And you are found. 

Still, martyrdom is a once and done deal. Heaps of courage and selflessness are required to die for Love, but might it take even mountainous heaps to live in it?

"Love is patient, 

love is kind and is not jealous; 

love does not brag and is not arrogant, 

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, 

is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

bears all things, believes all things, 

hopes all things, endures all things." 

Every day. Scrubbing boots, talking through nightmares, saying "no" and holding accountable, giving hugs, applauding progress, teaching the same lessons over and over, and still occasionally (or sometimes for weeks at a time) receiving disrespect, name-calling, yelling, and punches. I end up rubbing my nose in the filthy rags that are all that remain of my own loving skills. 

And I wonder how in the world any of my feeble efforts can make any shade of difference. Can the Love that knows no limits stretch around my world, when so much spills through the cracks of my brokenness? 

But love is from God. And God is Love. 

On the best morning of the past week, one of my teens walked, penguin-like and giggling, back to the office where I was finishing med pass. "Becky, what would you do if I always walked like this?"

"I'd still love you, silly!" 

Back in the next room, she laughed to her sister, "I asked Becky what she'd do if I always walked like this. And she said, 'I'd still love you'." 

Her sister's quick response stung my eyes with tears. "Becky will ALWAYS love you. Except when you swear. But she still LOVES you. She just tells you to stop." 

It stole my breath. This unhesitation from the girl who made me bite my tongue and use every coping skill to not swear myself while I confronted her for things far less desirable than swearing? "Jesus, be here." That's what I'd asked, but I didn't know she'd seen anything more than me, not letting her do what she wanted. Me, clutching desperately to the very tail of my patience. 

But she had seen Love.

Maybe my love isn't all I have to give. Maybe God is its source. 

Maybe the source torrents out when my reservoir trickles dry. 

Maybe, just maybe, this

"Love never fails."

[All quotes from 1 Corinthians 13]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

my prayer for this morning

"Sweetest Lord,
make me appreciative of the dignity
of my high vocation,
and its many responsibilities.

Never permit me to disgrace it
by giving way to coldness,
unkindness, or impatience. "

~ Mother Teresa