I Lose, and I STILL Win!

Kristin at Liberation Theology Lutheran held a book giveaway, and even though I lost the drawing, she STILL sent books. I'm so, so excited. A lovely brown paper package (no strings-- the post office frowns on that these days) arrived last week with Brother Benet Tvedten's How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's New Monasticism, and Marva J. Dawn's Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. (As these lovely books found me via the biosphere, I plan to give back by sharing about each of them. ) Thank you so much, Kristin!

These books are such a timely gift. The simplest, most distilled version of of my call that I've been able to come up with is "hospitality," and as I return to discernment (not the official, denominational kind, but the nagging internal kind), I'm drawn to monastics (particularly Benedictines) for guidance.

Surely there will be more to say about that at a later date.

Books and Horizons

A friend asked me about a month ago if I knew anything about Malcolm X, and I didn't. That's not exactly accurate: I knew that Spike Lee made a movie about him, and that he was a controversial African-American man in the 1960s (though I didn't know why).

I picked up Malcolm X's autobiography at the library, and committed to getting back to my friend with a little more knowledge. I notice the irony now, because I think Malcolm X himself would have said I had an awful lot of nerve giving my (white woman's) opinion about his life to a black man.

This may be the most vivid autobiography I've ever read. Malcolm X shared frank details about much of his own life, and fierce opinions about race relations in America. Even when I didn't agree with his assessments, I appreciated how his experience formed them.

I found him a very, very hard man to like. Early on, I got the impression that he pushed away a lot of people who sincerely cared for him. Later, I was uncomfortable with his unquestioning devotion (I'm uncomfortable with anyone's unquestioning devotion) to Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. I was annoyed by the way he dismissed those who disagreed with him as being blind or stupid. I hated the way he talked about women.

But on the other hand...
He loved learning, and reading-- there was a vulnerability about his love of study that endeared him to me. He made some points that were incredibly sensible (albeit uncomfortable). And later, when he visited Mecca, it was such a transformative experience for him. I was touched by the wonder he let himself feel, by the opening-up he allowed. I'm really glad that I held on through the end of the book, because he grew, and it was extraordinary to watch. I think there is nothing more miraculous than watching people grow.

I love reading other people's stories, and I'm grateful that Alex Haley and Malcolm X worked together to let me see a bit of life that I otherwise never could have glimpsed. His world is entirely alien to me, and it's such a gift to be able to explore other worlds. There's a good bit on which we still don't agree, but I find an awful lot of joy in those days when I'm able to love those with whom I don't agree.


Wednesday Prayers: For Students

Lovely Stratoz so frequently mentions that he's praying for his students (whether that's for his patience or their edification, I've never been sure). Many of my dear ones are either students or teachers (or both!) and this week I'm praying for them. Our local college students are back for the spring semester (and experiencing their first outbreak of bedbugs... ugh).

I saw my spiritual director this week, and that meeting has me thinking about how long it's taking me to learn some sacred lessons.

So while you're teaching or learning this week, I'm holding you in prayer. Are there any other ways I can be praying with you?


Wednesday Prayers: Thin Ice

I was praying at bedtime earlier this week, telling God how uncertain the future seems to me right now.

I feel like I'm walking across a lake that hasn't completely frozen, and with each step I'm holding my breath, listening for cracks.

As I prayed, it seemed that a startling thing happened: God laughed.

Not unkindly, but with perspective and good humor. Did you forget I can walk on water?

Oh. Right, then.

I still know the ice is likely to crack. But I'm not going to fall through.

Share your concerns (or comforts) in the comments, and I'll hold them up (while I'm being held).


Wednesday Prayers: Goldfish Brain

Hey, y'all. I'm feeling good, but noticing that I have zero attention span while recuperating. So, if I can be praying for you, leave your petitions in the comments. In the meantime, I'm going to sit here and stare at the carpet.


Wednesday Prayers: On the Mend

Surgery last week went so well that this week's prayer is one of gratitude.

We thought I was going in for a meniscus repair, but instead the surgeon found some plica floating around in an obnoxious way. (I didn't know what plica was either, and let me save you the trouble of a Google search by reducing it down to "knee debris.") He took out the plica, and I hobbled out. (Well, after I woke up from the anesthesia.) I'm still a tad sore, and I don't quite have full range of motion yet, but recovery is SO MUCH EASIER than the other thing would have been. I expect I'll be running by February, rather than by April, so I'm thrilled. (Well, thrilled, and guilty: I feel bad that loving friends have been so supportive when it turns out I don't need that much sympathy after all!)

Are you offering up any gratitude for things that are better than you expected, or do you need some prayers that things mend? Let me know, and I'll include my prayers with yours.