Sunday, January 20, 2013


Dancing Queen
          When I get lucky and the stars align right, I get to indulge in a latin dance class on Saturday morning. It’s taught by a former Broadway dancer who walks with the grace of a panther and dances as if he were a fluid medium. It’s a joy just to watch him and intimidating to try to mimic. In the class, no matter the mood I enter, I lose myself during the hour. It’s meditation in movement where all else fades away to feelings of being one with the world. I’m no longer a mother or writer or friend or anything. I just am. 
        What a relief to just be. 
        I have a friend whose son committed suicide. She was so deep in grief, she couldn’t cry, afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop, that she would drown in grief. She started taking a dance class and the tears began to flow. The body has its own wisdom and ways of knowing - its scars and wrinkle lines. Our ego brains think they are so smart, but it is our bodies that do the feeling, that do the living if we can only just connect. 

I made soup tonight
and all my ancestors danced
in the pot, with the barley
the beans, the knuckle and neck bones,
enriching this brew;
Here women joined 
love and ancient wisdom, the knowledge
salt and pepper bring; secrets
that are ritual and legacy.                        ~Elsa Garcia

        My grandfather was the soup maker in my house as I was growing up.   He loved to make soup using leftovers from the week, bits of chicken, ham bones, vegetables and anything else that struck his fancy. Sometimes delicious, sometimes completely inedible, Grandpa's soups were always an adventure, never tasting the same twice.  The rich aromas of stew and bread often filled our house, a promise of nourishment and love.   Every time I make soup, as I am adding bits of this and that, trying a new spice or vegetable combination, I remember my grandfather in his kitchen, standing over his old soup pot, stirring, tasting, and nodding.  I can still smell the love.


      Cleaning out a closet yesterday, I found a lot of papers that must have fallen out of some of the dozens of notebooks and folders I was storing there. Notes from nearly a decade's worth of college and graduate classes just seem like too much knowledge to part with, and so I have never had the heart to get rid of them. When this particular paper fell into my hands, I was grateful for such sentimental hoarding. This was the very first written assignment from my Introduction to New Testament class, nearly ten years ago. What I wrote is not what brought tears to my eyes. It was the comments in red ink, written by my professor, Dr. Goodman. Just a few days ago, those of us who loved him marked the fourth anniversary of his untimely death. Reading his notes on my assignment reminded me of so much that I miss about him -- his humor, his insight, his encouragement and affirmation, his challenges to think more deeply and ask more questions. It is no overstatement to say that Dr. Goodman profoundly changed the way I read scripture, the way I write, the way I understand God, and the way I see myself. In the wake of his death, I was angry with God and questioning everything I believed about God. Eventually anger gave way to gratitude, as I realized what a gift it was just to have known him. As I wrote a few days after his memorial service, "A God who would give such gifts could not be evil or cruel or even indifferent. Such a God would have to be worth getting close to, worth loving." Even after his death, Dr. Goodman was helping me find my way to a functional theology. I think I'll be learning from him for a long time to come.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Beginnings

New Year's Resolutions

I resolve to gasp at the colors of sunsets,
to love the people I love just a little better,
to lose the weight of hurts and disappointments,
to write more,
to laugh more,
to whine less,
to give thanks every day,
to embrace passion,
to push through fear,
to believe things can change
and to work for that change,
in the spirit and power of the One
who is always making all things new.


Pond Therapy

       The above photo depicts a dark pond with swirling algae and mirrored tree images - a type of pseudo Monet abstract.  I watch the swirls slowly change shape and size and realize I find it comforting as a Zen symbol of remaining fluid to life’s changes. New research by Harvard researcher Daniel Gilbert suggests that people generally fail to appreciate how much their personality and values will change in the years ahead — even though they recognize that they have changed in the past. I think this is fascinating, this human tendency to always think we’ve arrived or have everything figured out when our recreations of ourselves happen throughout our lives. 
       Dating again after 25 years is bringing this painfully home to me. It’s like change on steroids - the kind of change you experience in your early 20s. I’m having to be open to being sized up and sizing up other people with histories, likes and preferences of their own. A friend of mine jokes she'd never divorce her husband because it took too long to get him trained. Another friend stays single because she doesn't want to have to change.

       I figure the change is coming anyway. I open my arms to the movement. 
       And hope I don't drown.


What I am suggesting here is that everything in your life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only you recognize that you do have within you the grace to be present to each moment.  
                                                                                ~ Macrina Wiederkehr

     It's time to make a New Year's resolution, to turn over a new leaf.  Friends are resolving to "eat less, move more,"  to get in shape,  to finally get organized. Maybe I was feeling tired on New Year's Day, but my resolution this year is simply to live from a deeper place.  To slow down, breathe, pay attention to the moments.  It's not a measurable goal.  It's not very specific.  At least two people have asked me "But what does that mean?"  
      I've come to realize that writing this blog is a spiritual discipline in and of itself. Whether it's been a holy week or more of a hell of a week, I'm forced to write something down.  I have to find a moment of seeing the holy in the frantic busy-ness of life.  Some weeks, when I really think I've got nothing, a moment always opens up - but only because I am desperately paying attention.  For me, writing helps me to live from a deeper place. Writing forces me to put wispy fragments of thought into cohesive sentences and to think more intentionally about the ordinary fragments of my life. 

       As we begin a new year here at Ordinary Wonders, Dawn, Stacy and I thank you all for sharing our moments.  You keep us going!