Monday, June 15, 2009

FYI



Just thought I'd mention that Dwight Friesen, one of the professors at MHGS just published his first book. You can check it out here!

Faith as small as a mustard seed

I'm attempting to focus on sticking with my feelings lately as opposed to retreating to my familiar strategy of thinking. So I'll leave you with some thoughts by Roger Housden from "Ten Poems to Change Your Life" on Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" (I posted it here before) that have left me tingling with sensation all over:

"Of course, conventional wisdom will call you mad enough for even thinking of such an adventure - all the more so when you start out in the middle of the night. Yet the true journey of your life requires a kind of madness. After all, from the standpoint of your old life, you may be throwing everything away for nothing. You do not even know what you are headed toward. Yet the first step can only ever be taken in darkness. You cannot know where it will take you. You cannot plan for this sort of journey because the entire undertaking relies on the unreasonableness of faith. Faith is unreasonable because it rests on no tangible evidence. It is beyond even belief. The person of faith does not expect everything to turn out the way they want it to; they do not expect some higher power to pick them up when they fall. Their faith is beyond belief and even beyond hope. It is a faith that comes from gnosis - the knowing that has no need of information."

Might I ask what your visceral response is to his thoughts on faith? Stick with the feelings...not your thoughts.

~S.

Monday, June 8, 2009

pictures and prose no. 1


Hands

They grip a book firm and then tight
his fingers turn pages night upon night.

Eyes filter the page, he reads and takes time
to render each word and unmarked sign,

A mind searching for meaning, then
looking to find truth and understanding.

Fingers follow each sentence, start to end,
his hands flip the page at the corners bend.

Words tell stories that fill his cluttered head,
and remind him of dreams he’s left unsaid;

Of one day building his house in the sky,
a house built by his own hands; a paradise.

I want to know details of his hidden dreams.
Is it a house of stone, or of wooden beams?

Show me pictures take a thousand words or more
tell me why your hands are wounded and torn.

His lips part to speak the undeniable story,
a voice rings strong, a tale of truth and beauty:

"If I could choose - not beams, wood or stone...
I would use my hands to make a house into a home.”

Krista Fleming 1996
picture, cir. aug. 2007

Monday, June 1, 2009

filling up the spaces

lauren, i was thinking of your art from the last bring me to life, the one where you painted an entire canvas during one song and they had a video strung from above you so we could see your strokes. that was an amazing addition to the bring me to life series.

the thing that i was focusing on was the fact that you held us captivated and curious as to what you were creating because you didn't start with the object, but you started painting around it. by filling in the other, your object was made obvious.

i've been thinking about the idea of how we begin to create things; things like change, movement, transformation, etc... for anything i've tackled, i've started by outlining the object and then filling in the other. for instance, i've said, i'm going to be a runner. so, i'm going to go out and buy some running shoes and good clothing and then i'm going to get a treadmill and set a schedule, and then...oh, by-the-way, i'm going to start running. it seems backwards somehow. like i'm trying to force things to motivate me, instead of the things coming out of my motivation.

so, to use the illustration of lauren's process of creating the beautiful dancer for the bring me to life performance, this is what becoming a runner would look like: go out and run once, then do it again, then maybe your shoes wear out, so you get new ones, and then maybe you want to go further, so you check out a book, etc...

i guess i just want to stop with the outlining and start by just filling up the spaces. instead of waiting until everything is perfectly clear, maybe just moving into the blank with something...anything.

i just so desperately want to take on some shape or form other than what i represent today and i'm trying to do that by outlining what i should be instead of filling up my moments with meaning.

so, i guess nike had something with their just do it slogan...

k.

Muchness

I have just a few minutes before I need to finish an assignment and head off to class for the day so I thought I'd attempt to briefly mention all of the thoughts that have contributed to the "muchness" of life right now. I only have about another month of this crazy summer schedule before I can rest and prepare for my final year! Considering that I haven't had the time to sift through all that's in my head and create a cohesive post, a little list action will have to do for now:

1. I've been attempting to read a book by Rolheiser titled, "The Holy Longing: Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality". I haven't made it very far for two reasons. First, there is so much depth to the content and I can only hold so much at a time. I find myself mulling over the metaphors and peering through them to find new meaning and understanding in various areas of my life. And second, I'm reading it in my spare time - which is extremely limited in this season! Anyway, a couple of ideas from the book have really struck me and so I thought I'd attempt to summaries one concept for now and return to a discussion about this book at a later point. I knew I would love this book when I first read the dedication to Henri Nouwen which referred to him as our generation's Kierkegaard. Seriously - the two thinkers who have toyed with and nurtured my heart since my conversion just over 13 years ago - I was enamored before I even began the book.

In the opening chapter, Rolheiser addresses the lifeblood of our soul - the creative energy, fire, desire and power that is the force of life. He goes on to reveal that many people are divided because of how they utilize this life force. Janis Joplin, a rock star who died from a drug overdose in her twenties, is the first example he offers to illustrates his point. Janis Joplin willed many things. Her desire was for the muchness of life - all that there was to offer. And she became exhausted as a result of expending all of her resources on fulfilling all of her erotic desires. Mother Teresa exhibits the opposite form of spirituality. She collected all of her energy, fire, creative potential and funneled it toward one thing - to serve the poor in an effort to advance God's kingdom on earth. Princess Diana, on the other-hand, according to Rolheiser enjoined both the erotic and the spiritual. He writes:

"Spirituality is about how we channel our eros. In Princess Diana's attempts to do this, we see something most of us can identify with, a tremendous complexity, a painful struggle for choice and commitment, and an oh-so-human combination of sins and virtues. Spirituality is what we do with the spirit that is within us. So, for Princess Diana, her spirituality was both the commitment to the poor and the Mediterranean vacations...and all the pain and questions in between. Hers, as we can see, was a missed road. She went neither fully the route of Mother Teresa nor of Janis Joplini. She chose some things that left her more integrated in body and soul and others which tore at her body and soul. Such is spirituality. It is about integration and disintegration, about making the choices that Princess Diana had to make and living with what that does to us...Spirituality is about what we do with the fire inside of us, how we channel our eros" (p. 11).

This definition of spirituality has given me much food for thought lately. I've been wrestling with what it means to move towards integration. I'm asking myself questions like, "How am I currently channelling my own eros?" and "Where do I hope to channel my eros?". I'm examining the elements of the erotic and the spiritual in my own life. I'm gaining new insight with regard to Kierkegaards concept that to be pure in heart is to will one thing. What is the cost of willing one thing? What is the cost of willing many things?

This morning, as I was folding a laundry basket of clothes I saw an interview with Prince Harry on the Today show. Many have commented on how much his character seems to resemble his mothers. Matt Lauer asked him about the "muchness" of his life - his life as a soldier, his royal experiences adorned with tremendous wealth, and his dedication to living a charitable life - and how he is able to live as one person in so many different capacities. Prince Harry responded stating that he often feels as though there are three people living inside of him. Are we all just wrestling for some sort of integration in our lives?

2. My third round of praciticum is stirring things up quite a bit in my life. It is amazing how much you can learn about yourself when you explore with others how your presence affects them and how their presence affects you. My most recent discovery (though it may just be a sort of re-discovery) is that who I am with others is typically determined by my own perception of the needs of others. I either become the person in whom I think I must be in order to serve a need or if I can't assess a need of some sort then I retreat out of fear. If I can fill a need - and by so-doing, become a necessity (or quasi-necessity) to another then I feel safe with them. I presume, then, that if I am useful to another, they will limit the potential harm for which they are capable of causing me. The implications of this pattern of behavior or massive. And anyone who knows of the events in my life, it is not difficult to understand why I have developed this style of relating. I am handling this re-discovery in a manner that feels quite different from my normal masochistic ways. I am not intent on changing how or who I am. I am not punishing myself or tormenting myself for all the ways in which this pattern of behavior has contributed to interpersonal struggles and the absence of true mutuality. Rather, I am simply allowing myself to "be". I am embracing the self-awareness without condemnation. Of course this is how I function in relationship. Somehow just knowing this...and not attempting to force change (which is really not change at all)...is altering how I am. If that's not a paradox then I don't know what is.

3. I watched a movie recently that I was quite disappointed with. Have you seen "The Reader"? Though Kate Winselt and the young boy who star in the film are amazing, the story was quite difficult for me to buy into. I don't won't to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't yet seen it and still plan to watch it at some point so I'll be vague. Aside from the difficulty I had with being convinced of the storyline, the entire movie reflects how isolating life can be when we don't have a place (be that a community, family or significant relationship) to explore our own stories. We need one another to understand our lives - to understand who we are in the context of this great story called life. Without the connection, our lives become wasted and we are merely walking zombies.

That's it for now. I think the jumbledness and the muchness of this post paint an accurate picture of my life right now!