Feb 282013
 

This lent–and probably this whole life–I am

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trying to become more like Seth.

To rest in my humanity, and in my limitations… To rest in the love and grace of God…

This kind of humility leads to great freedom. And it also involves suffering—the death of that idealized version of myself that can go faster, farther, better, and deeper.

I decided to give up alcohol for lent this year, which basically means forgoing my nightly 5 o’clock glass of wine.

So I guess I’m giving up my idealized version of myself with her exacting standards… as well as the glass of wine I feel like I need after keeping pace with her all day!

It’s been hard! I’m facing the raw realities of little ol’ me, and a fair amount of restlessness as a result.

I can see now that my ‘over-functioning self’ and my ‘evening glass of wine’

are two strategies I have routinely employed to avoid suffering.

“There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way and discipline of the cross. Go where

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you will, seek what you want, you will not find a higher way, a safer way than the way of the cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your desires and you will still have to bear some kind of suffering, willingly or unwillingly….There is no escaping the cross. Either you will experience physical hardship or tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself.”

~Thomas a Kempis

Lent is a time to face suffering…like Jesus, who “set his face toward Jerusalem,” toward the cross.

And we walk the road of lent with the resurrection in view. We can face the death of our false selves and the death of our coping mechanisms…even in our restlessness we can face the suffering that accompanies this journey because it does not define us.

Thomas Merton writes, “It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”

There is no escaping the cross. And our attempts to do so make matters worse.

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So lent is the time to look death and suffering in the eye (in whatever forms they come to us). It is not a time to bear our burdens bitterly, but to practice making light of them. It is a season for learning to face and make faces at suffering, because it’s got nothin’ on us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And

Apply happy have. Kiddo

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that is what we are. ~1 John 3:1

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Nov 082012
 

It was after I bought the purple skinny jeans.

I started noticing purple everywhere. It wasn’t just Maisy’s favorite color anymore; purple had taken on a life of its own.

There was Maisy in her purple outfits, entreating me to join her in her delight with being a girl. But there was more—for Maisy, all of life involves this kind of delight. Her only priority is play. She is fully present to each new moment, utterly free and spontaneous, immersed in simple joy.

Perhaps there is no gift more precious than the gift of spontaneity, the ability of certain [people] and animals to act straight and fresh and self-forgettingly out of the living center of who they are.” (Frederick Buechner)

For Maisy, purple was on the inside too…and she was drawing it out of me…out from under the grown up layers of preoccupation, plans, and perfectionism.

And then there was my therapist in his sometimes purple sweater, listening me along the precipice of my own depths. We peered over the edge, and there was purple…shimmering under layers of anxiety and worn out coping mechanisms.

Purple became a poignant symbol for me of the place inside where blue and red come together, where a well of deep feeling and deep power sloshes and gurgles. The reservoir of our truest energy.

I began to wonder, what would it look like to live all of life from these rich depths, with passion splashing?

It scared me some, because it’s wild and unpredictable down there. And somehow along the way I’ve gotten the message that it can’t be trusted.

The refining of what’s inside us is a necessary part of maturing into

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adulthood and growing in our spiritual journey. Unfortunately, this process can leave many of us pretty disconnected from our purple.

It’s easy to live from a more surface place where responsibility, expectations, and tired striving prevail. Sometimes we’re more comfortable there anyway because our deep feelings can be too tender and our own power scares us.

As mothers overwhelmed with duties and the needs of others, how can we afford to make room for what’s deep inside us?

Yet how can we afford not to? To live otherwise is like trying to drive with the engine turned off.

All the heart, strength, and instincts we really need for life and mothering are in the purple well. So is the lovely energy of our own inner three year old—the straight and fresh vulnerability and trust, the self-forgetting confidence and joy. How desperately we need that!

“You must become like little children…” (Matthew 18:3)

No doubt, accessing

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and living from this place inside will be messy and painful at times. But all the best of who we are is in there. And I believe this is the very place in us where the love and strength of God reside as well.

What is in your purple well? What feelings and longings? What impulses and gifts?

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