Tag: Hope

30Mar

When I Think About Heaven

I imagine our gauzy sapphire of a world new again.
Snowflakes twirling like crystal confetti, untouched by smog –
Newborn flowers breathing, blooming, stretching their souls in unpaved meadows –
Deer laughing as they leap in the open, unafraid of bullets –
Turquoise waves lapping jeweled sand, ignorant of tattered plastic and toxic waste –
Pure skies, undiluted clouds, stars like celestial spotlights –
An innocent earth, inviting, intimate.

I imagine the colorful mosaic of humanity new again.
90-year-olds salsa dancing in the prime of their youth –
Children exploring the vast bounds of imagination in perfect safety –
Languages entwining around an international soundtrack of
laughter –
Sex, food, friendship, and work each a passionate celebration of
life –
Art flowing through individuals and communities like endless spring water –
Hearts bursting with enough love to light up the universe.

I’ve heard it described as an everlasting harpfest,
An endless church service somewhere in the void
With halos and wings and the insufferable weight of being good.
But someone who knows promised to make everything new;
No more death or mourning or crying or pain,
The world–this world–as it was always meant to be.

Beaming,
Breathgiving,
Beautiful,
Beyond imagination.

25Feb

Tribute

Today is the most perfect tribute to springtime I’ve ever experienced. Those of you still slodging through gunmetal winters, take a deep breath and imagine…
Pastel-tinted sunbeams bounding through your open window.
Tufts of sky-scented breeze rolling end-over-end like cotton balls at play.
Ice cream swirls of pink and white dripping from shy tree buds.
Bird chirps like flutes and oboes and tinkling celestas, piping grace notes over the mid-day traffic.
Fresh laundry line-dancing (ha!) for the joy of warmth and light and newly unfolded air.

Springtime in Texas, where I grew up, is really more a melty form of winter. The sky takes on the surly color of old pipes, leaking gray water continuously until summer hits it suddenly with a wrench. Texas never really gets cold, but its Februaries and Marches suck out inner warmth like zombies, complete with the drooling and the clammy outstretched fingers and the diseased-cow moaning. (“Uuuuunnnnnnnhhhhhhhh.” I have no nostalgia whatsoever for the sound of spring.)

This winter has been a rodeo for me… and not just me, I suspect. One of our friends told us the other night that he has two wives–a cold-weather one and a warm-weather one. I understand, though I often wish I didn’t. Surviving winter can be a fight, a constant bundling and layering and gritting teeth; it’s a struggle to unclench, a struggle to thaw. However, when the outside world suddenly softens and blooms, I feel myself relaxing. My pent-up tensions drift away on a stray breeze. I lighten up.

There may be a month of winter left, but my mind is bursting ahead into spring. I’m already thinking in terms of strawberries and open windows, flower pots and Easter egg hunts, swinging with Natalie and picking daisies with Sophie. I’m taking the heavy blankets off our bed and planning picnics, and oh, it’s a much-needed loveliness.

What springtime hopes are warming your minds today?

14Jan

Part Two

Q: What’s scarier than ‘fessing up to the inadequacies of the previous year?
A: This:

2008 is my year to experience the joy and creative sparkle of writing every day, even if the dishes go unwashed. (Anyway, dishes? Vastly overrated.)
This is my year to explode in Italian fluency.
This is my year to play with vegetables–try out new recipes, fix them in inspiring ways, have a tea party with them if necessary, and maybe even start to get along with them.
This is my year to throw out all remaining frump clothes from college and explore an edgier, more exciting look. (Yeah, sexy boots, I’m talking about you.)
This is my year to intentionally bond with my little girls, whether that means re-learning the fine art of pretend or including them in my daily chores or hugging them every five minutes or making eye contact when we talk about McDonald’s, isn’t McDonald’s amazing, can we go to McDonald’s for breakfast and lunch and supper and today and tomorrow and next week, were you aware they have toys at McDonald’s, let’s go to McDonald’s RIGHT NOW, McDonald’s has hamburgers, and why have we not moved to McDonald’s yet?!
This is my year to approach religion gently, asking my questions and opening up to the answers gradually, even if I can’t yet shed the crusty negativity built up over years of Christian misrepresentation.

And now the Beyondo part of Mondo Beyondo, the terrifyingly wonderful daydream material, the list of radioactive fantasy-goals that glow and pulsate and burn:
I dream of becoming fluent in multiple languages–Italian, Spanish, French, German, and maybe even Chinese or Russian or Icelandic or Aboriginal or duck.
I dream of writing books, publishing them, seeing my words printed and bound and carving out cozy little niches on people’s nightstands.
I dream of a future me who is confident, steady, and radiantly peaceful, always.

I feel incredibly precarious writing all this down, wondering if the limb I’m edging out on will support all my weight. But wouldn’t you know, the view from here…

…is spectacular.

1Jul

Donald Miller is the New Ex-Lax

So the title of this blog may contain coffee and clarity, but I’m enjoying neither at this moment. *Sigh* The problem is religion. (The problem with clarity, that is. The coffee problem is more likely caused by the desperate shortage of Starbucks nearby.)

Still reading?

Thanks.

It’s not just our current church, though the Presbyterians are [much] more liturgical than I prefer and find an enormous amount of foreshadowing in the Bible that I suspect may not actually exist. (“And we can clearly see that the hundred raisin cakes mentioned in 2 Samuel 16 foreshadow the glorious ascension of Christ.”) I’ve felt the same sense of utter deflation in nearly every other church service I’ve ever attended.

Admittedly, I’m still viewing Christianity through the sticky residue of a childhood in which every heartbreaking moment was called good and attributed to God. Perhaps that’s really the only problem. All I know is that I often leave sermons affected more by the absurdity of straight-backed pews, unspoken dress codes, and the word “partake” than by any relevant message.

I know that churches are really just groups of imperfect people who want to love God together. I know that many of these imperfect people radiate a rare kind of joy and genuinely care for each other. I know that church services are often built on decades, if not centuries, of tradition that has proven meaningful to many. I know that most pastors speak from a genuine desire to impart God’s relevance to their congregations’ lives. I know.

Yet when I sit in church, I find Prohibition-era morality presented as Biblical doctrine. (According to American theologians, Biblical accounts of wine refer to grape juice, and the term “drunk” actually meant “not drunk.” Just wait till Europe finds out!) I find self-deprecation taught as spirituality. I find petty issues like the sin of envy given more stage time than pressing questions about God’s identity and the point of Christianity in daily life. I find conditional acceptance based far more on personal appearance than on heart quality. I find long, lofty prayers full of words that no one but reverends and King James himself would ever use.

I don’t see curious neighbors, friends, or previously “unchurched” visitors. I don’t find church members talking about their personal troubles or concerns — especially not spiritual concerns. I rarely find a view of God that makes me want to spend eternity with him. He is the God who commanded puffed-sleeve dresses in the ’90s, after all. (Just kidding. Put down the pitchforks.)

I have no solution, but I feel more hopeful every minute I spend with people who can manage to love God while drinking beer and using language their grandmothers wouldn’t. (Just for the record, damn damn damn damn damn.) My general feeling of religious constipation lets up when I read Brian McLaren, Philip Yancey, and Donald Miller. My fingers are crossed for the “emerging church,” and I pray I can one day find my place in a group of people who are ready to rediscover God outside the box of American Protestantism.

Until then…?

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