Monday, May 26, 2008

Grace upon Grace

I am introducing Companions in Christ: The Way of Grace to my new congregation. Nine folks signed up for this small group, and the introductory meeting last Sunday gave me confidence that it will be an enriching group for all.

If you've done this study, you may remember the first chapter. It contains Walter Brueggemann's intriguing description of grace as:

God's transforming disposition towards the whole world.

Then the text says:

Divine grace is expressed as a creative will for dynamic life and goodness, full of ongoing possibilities for transformation and renewal. God bestows on human beings the risky gift of freedom of divine love, a risk extended for the sake of transformation, for greater wholeness, for fullness of life. ... Jesus calls his disciples who will shortly misunderstand as much as they understand. Why? For the hope of transformation. Advocacy is risked by Jesus for a woman who has been caught dead-to-right in sin. Why? For the potential of transformation.... Grace takes risks---changing us into whom we may yet become.

One of the exercises for the week asks us to reflect on John 1: 16. "From Christ's fullness we have all received grace upon grace."

I have received grace upon grace. Grace upon grace.

When I feel uneasy about the myriad changes going on around me--in my family, the culture, etc.--to remember that change is inevitable. Freedom gives me choices to make about some of those changes, but in a very real sense, no matter what happens, no matter the outcome, all shall be well. I have received grace upon grace.

When I worry about the future of this nation and the role the U.S. plays in the world -- to remember that I can still influence events in my circle of relationships, and that, ultimately, no matter what happens, no matter the outcome, a hidden wholeness still pervades. Forces for good are still at work. Prayer is powerful. Peace begins within the human soul. Grace upon grace.

When I beat myself up about gaining weight and wonder, Oh, this must mean at some unconscious level I'm not happy, I'm not integrated, I'm not spiritually mature -- to remember that whether there is some measure of truth in those thoughts or not, the core truth is that I am created in the image of God. And just as I am! Woo-hoo! And God is still calling me toward wholeness, toward integrating the various disparate parts of myself, toward spiritual maturity. I've come a long way. Already. I've already come a long way. Grace upon grace.

When I allow the often-unconscious fear that 'I am neither loveable nor powerful' to dominate my behavior and I hold back from loving my husband with radical freedom -- may I remember that God never ceases taking the risk to love ME completely, with the radical freedom that is the wellspring of true joy. May I listen so deeply for God that I, too, can learn to love without fear. Only then will my marriage be the spiritual discipline that I long for it to be. My heart yearns to know the true empowerment involved in the giving over of myself such that I can love with radical freedom a man whom I believe is truly trustworthy. When I can move into that spiritual space ~ the space that IS 'grace upon grace,' and know the truth of that, and trust the truth of that ~ then will I be enabled to live the abundant life I am promised.

When my little false ego is hurt that someone did not acknowledge my contribution, did not affirm my efforts, did not seek me out -- to remember that my ego/mind is a cover-up for the authentic Katherine whose value springs forth not from compliments or popularity or achievement but from the imago Christi within me. Nothing else. And how amazing, truly breathtaking, that I am indeed created in the image of Christ. From this centered place in my being I am actually inviolate. Ah, grace upon grace.

Grace as "God's transforming disposition toward the whole world" makes perfect sense, doesn't it? All these fears and worries and concerns and little hurts are but the veil, the gossamer curtain, separating me from the greater reality of grace-upon-grace.

My transformation comes as I find the courage within me to lift the veil and move forward.

Thanks, RevGalBlogPals!

Oh, I've been away from blogging too long! I barely started reading, and already I've been inspired to further reflect on my experience last Fall (seeking authentic voice), I've laughed and wanted to copy and save (search the sea), and I've been reminded of nature's mystical beauty and how it can take us straight to God (my heart leaps). Wow.

And I have yet so many more blogs to read!! (Wish I had the time...)

Thanks, RevGalBlogPals!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Family changes this summer

My daughter-by-marriage Beautiful Genuine Drummer Girl (I need a new name for her since she is no longer interested in being a professional percussionist!) has finished high school. Yippee! Friday was her last day.

I picked her up from City to the South yesterday. My inlaws, her grandparents, and one of her cousins, are in the air as I write, flying here to be part of the graduation ceremony next week. We're having a big cook-out in her honor tonight.

Tuesday night is her Senior Piano Recital (she's majoring in piano at her local community college, with her eye on transfering up here to a major university after one or two years), and Wednesday evening is GRADUATION! After that, I'm not sure when we'll see her. She has a job and she is moving into her own apartment in City to the South.

Last night we went to Target and bought her some things for the apartment, and this morning we went through some boxes in the attic--dishes, pots and pans, etc.

Young Man with Integrity has moved out -- well, sort of. His room is not cleared out yet, but he's taken an apartment in a little suburb not far from here. Which means he's taking some of the attic-stored dishes and pots and pans as well.

Lovely Passionate Feminist is here for the summer (thank goodness!). She has a good summer job and will finish her foreign language requirement through some summer classes as well.

Big changes.

Good, but it'll be an adjustment, for sure.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Merton: The bottom dropping out of our souls

From Thomas Merton:

When psalms surpise me with their music
And antiphons turn to rum
The Spirit sings: the bottom drops out of my soul
And from the center of my cellar, Love,
louder than thunder,
Opens a heaven of naked air.

I send Love's name into the world with wings
And songs grow up around me like a jungle.
Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes
Your Spirit played in Eden.

Zebras and antelopes and birds of paradise
Shine on the face of the abyss
And I am drunk with the great wilderness
of the sixth day of Genesis.

The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to "be" once again, as it did on the first morning that ever was.

As we worship God this morning, may the bottom drop out of our souls, and may we, too, send Love's name into all the world!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

News of the week

Yikes, what a week I've had. I promised myself that with a part-time job I would actually work part-time, but that didn't happen this week! Not by a long shot. Every day, including Saturday, it was dawn to dusk.

Good things, though. We've started a Prayer Sponsor Ministry, linking adults to pray for each child and youth in our church. I prepared some resources and put them in a packet, along with each child's profile, photo, etc. And then I prepared a little "certificate" for each child, so they would know who was praying for her/him daily, along with the pray-er's photo. Easy, but time intensive.

I played "The Prophet" in my church's drama group's presentation this morning. In place of the sermon, we did a little play for Pentecost. This acting thing (so to speak) has been my move-out-of-my-comfort-zone project this Spring, and it's turned out to be fun.

I decorated Adventure Village (Sunday School rotation model) for the children. Pentecost. All fun red and orange colors. Again, easy, but time intensive.

All-day Board meeting for a non-profit agency yesterday. It was planning session, and it was run quite well, so it wasn't as awful as these things usually are, in my experience.

I had several counseling/spiritual direction sessions, too. A couple of the sessions were with people calling in crisis so I didn't want to delay seeing them.

So, it's been a non-stop week, and this coming week will be the same with several projects all coming together at the same time. I told the senior minister this morning that I'd be taking quite a bit of comp time! And I will! And I will do it guilt-free!!

And now in other news.....

Beautiful Genuine Drummer Girl is GRADUATING! Oh my. It's just amazing. D and I drove to City to the South this week to see her win SIX awards during her high school's AWARD NIGHT. She won the Outstanding Student in Theater--that was the one she really wanted---plus several academic achievement awards. We are SO SO SO happy for her!

Lovely Passionate Feminist is home from college for the summer. What a joy it is to have her here. Although she doesn't yet know her grades, she's had yet another super semester. And she's already got the same job she had last summer, as a server at a local movie-plus-dinner place. Tips are good, we know from experience!

And Young Man with Integrity is about to finish his teaching job. This summer he's looking for an apartment and a new job--he'd like an entry-level flunky job in a law firm, I think, and then go to law school next year.

Oh, and we had our dining room redecorated. I love it! I've wanted a new dining room from the moment we moved into this house and now I finally have it. We put a beautiful white embossed wall paper on top, then the chair rails, and painted the bottom part of the walls a rich navy blue . I knew I would like it because I copied it from friend Life Giving's dining room. Every time I walk into that room now, I smile. That, plus, the new DECK that my husband has finished out back and I feel like we have a new house!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Disappointed in Wright

Well, I have to say that I'm disappointed in Jeremiah Wright. Except for the Moyers' interview, Obama's best interests are not being served. He should have stayed in the background.