on 29

May 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

This is the year of my Shalom.

In just a few months husband-man and I will launch into yet another major life transition – but this time one that we hope and trust leads us to a season of restful waters. I hope to find in it Shalom – the incredible earth-shattering presence of wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony.  A dazzling display of life to the full, complete and perfect.

So as I leave 28 and head steadily to 30 this year. Here are some of the things I want to fill my days with. I want to..

1. Learn to Surf

2. Learn to cook Indian food from scratch

3. Perform an original spoken word piece

4. Learn to code in HTML (I’m open to being persuaded there is a better first language to learn)

5. Learn to do my own makeup

6. Ride a motorcycle

7. Redo my FirstAid training

8. Learn to dance

9. Learn how to service a car and change a tire

10. Grow a salad

11. Read through the whole bible

12. Learn to play hockey

Some of these play to my core passions and some drive me far outside of my comfortability. Some are practical skills and some are  extravagant. Some use my mind, some my body, and some my spirit. Some will be learned in solitude, and will take me inside myself; some will be learned at the feet of friends and family, and will draw me out of myself.

They demonstrate in small and perhaps insignificant ways my desire for shalom in how I am with those around me, with my physical self, with the Creator, with nature, with culture, with technology, and with my own creativity.

Here’s to looking forward to 30 with anticipation not apprehension. Here’s to revelling not regretting.

Here’s to Shalom – life to the full.

 

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on cherry blossoms

February 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm (Poetry) (, , , , )

Why do cherry blossoms in this neighborhood surprise me?

As if grace is insufficient

As if hope is impotent

As if love is insipient

As if mercy cannot triumph over judgment

As if dancers cannot dance upon injustice

As if redemption is a lie; restoration a myth

As if the dividing wall of hostility were never torn down

As if sorrow will last beyond the night

and joy is stifled by the morning

As if we are not truly being changed from glory to Glory

As if only some things are brought together under Him

As if the rocks do not shout out

and the trees no longer clap their hands

As if death never lost its sting

As if the grave was victorious

As if darkness dispels light

As if the oil of gladness slips over and past these rivers of mourning

As if the fullness of Him who fills all things, leaves these streets dry and empty

As if there is no freedom for these oppressions

and the cords of these yokes cannot be loosened

As if these chains cannot be broken

As if there is no reconciliation for these divides

As if there is no provision for these griefs

As if there is no garment to cloak these despairs

As if beauty cannot replace even these ashes

 

As if roots cannot push their way up through this concrete

As if life cannot break forth unexpectedly

And be magnificantly, phenomenally, shockingly unsurprising

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on bound wrists

November 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , , )

My wrist is bound by lines and strokes of an ancient language. The form of these letters call what is not into being. The words speak to the Word. In the beginning was the word; In the beginning….God. The earth, formless and empty, darkness over the surface of the deep. The Word with God. The Word: God.

God said.

God-Word. Words-Formed. Form-Created. Spoken forth; spoken form.

These words, wrapped ever-round my wrist, are my hoped for spoken-form spoken forth. My mantra. The sounds, the words capable of “creating transformation”. Not because of any power they possess in themselves but because the Word in me can breathe them into life. In my life. They are the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.

שלום. This  shalom around my wrist, this peace, is not merely the absence of war or discord. It is not marked by what it is not. It is defined by what is present.  This shalom is wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony.  It is rich and deep. This shalom is life complete and perfect. Paid in full, life to the full. Creation as it was created to be when the Word spoke and there was light. Created restored to Creation. Creation restored to the Creator. The word speaks to the Word. He himself is our Shalom, who has made the two one, destroying the dividing wall of hostility. God reconciles us to himself through this Shalom. We are given the same vocation of reconciliation. This God-Word is given as our mantle, our mantra. It becomes the meditation of our heart, the words of our mouth, capable of creating transformation as the Word, Shalom, breathes us into life to the full, into shalom. These words, this shalom around my wrist, reminds me to seek life-to-the-full – the redemption and reconciliation – of, for and in the places I find myself, because in its shalom I find Shalom.

צדק. This tzedek around my wrist, this justice, is not merely the absence of corruption or oppression. It is not marked by what is not. It is defined by what is present. This tzedek is right standing,  righteousness, generosity, equity, concern, mercy,  reparation, restoration and redemption. It is rich and deep. This tzedek is a life of right relationships. Righteous, relationship to the full. Creation as it was created to be when the Word spoke. Created restored to Creation. Creation restored to the Creator. The word speaks to the Word. He himself is our Tzedek, our justice, our Righteousness rolling down like rivers, like an ever-flowing stream. God maintains our cause, acting justly and mercifully toward us. We are are given the same vocation of justice. This God-Word is given as our mantle, our mantra. It becomes the meditation of our heart, the words of our mouth, capable of creating transformation as the Word, Tzedek, breathes us into right relationships, into tzedek. These words, this tzedek around my wrist, reminds me to seek relationships enacted in fairness, generosity and equity. To pursue justice and love mercy. To pursue reparation and restoration of, for and in the relationships I find myself a part of.

My wrist is bound by lines and strokes of an ancient language. The form of these letters call what is not into being. The words speak to the Word. These words, wrapped ever-round my wrist, are my hoped for spoken-form spoken forth. My mantra. The sounds, the words capable of creating transformation. Not because of any power they possess in themselves but because the Word in me can breathe them into life. In my life. They are the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.These words bound as symbols on my hand remind me not just to be peaceful and to be just but to do shalom and do tzedek. To seek to enact the wholeness, harmony, and fullness of life given through Christ and to pursue right standing, fairness, generosity and equity in all my relationships and spheres of life. 

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on passivism, pacifism and peace

June 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm (Things I'm thinking about) (, , , , , , , , , )

I buckle my helmet, check both ways, and pull out slowly into the intersection. As I do a car comes out of nowhere, breaks hard and I swerve. We miss each other and I pull around so I’m on the right side of the road. And then I am assailed by the swearing, the shouting, the angry words pouring out of the car towards me. I am called names and the driver threatens to kill me, moving to force me off the road as she does so. I pull onto the sidewalk and she gets out of her car. I keep cycling. She catches up with me at the next intersection where I wait for a red light. As I make to cross she whips her car in front of me, cutting me off. I avoid eye contact but the barrage of hate directed toward the “f-ing white bitch on the bike” crashes into me. I wait silently and as she pulls off she swerves in again to hit my front wheel. She speeds off and I cautiously cross. I’m shaking and a tear runs down my cheek. Once again I am caught up in the dramatic and chaotic fallout of an emotionally volatile and unstable community. Still, nothing prepares me for it. Nothing prepares me for the fight that breaks out in the street, or the sounds of domestic violence coming through the walls, or the mother telling her child she wished he was dead, the erratic discipline, the man who corners me and threatens me on the street, the gunshots, the threats, the hate, the degrading names and the aggression that permeates the fabric of these relationships.

Several weeks back I wrote on things I have confused over the last few years. Hidden in the middle of that list was this one: “I have confused Not hitting people with Non-violence”, a confusion which came to a head one day as I sat in my room listening to a neighbor’s misogynistic rap. At that time, my interaction with violence – or the ever-threat of it – changed. Non-violence, pacifism, and peacemaking become less theoretical and more personal; no longer abstract, because my relation to them had become embodied. So I asked, how do i do non-violence, how do i practice pacifism, how do i be a peace-maker when violence – the threat, the call, the power of it – is tied inextricably to my being woman. Or my being white. Or my being young. Or my being out of place, a stranger, a foreigner. Or my living, walking and breathing in a violent neighborhood. Or my being hypocritical, abounding in wrath and lacking in mercy.

Here is the complexity of my interaction with violence and non-violence. I trick myself into believing that not raising my voice or my fists is a non-violent response to frustration and anger. I ignore the rage, wrath and fury that simmer within me. I don’t scream at my neighbor but I hate her nevertheless for the torrent of aggression she directs towards her kids from sun up to sun down. I think of the things I would do if I had the “courage” – I secretly hope she leaves so I don’t have to deal with the contradictions her violent stagnation causes in me. I come to believe that passivism (not doing anything in a violent situation directed toward me and not doing anything with the violence within me) is an adequate replacement for pacifism (that fundamental opposition to violence that reveals itself in demonstrative non-participation in violence and counter-commitments to establishing and maintaining peace.) I am caught in this hard space, somehow believing that not seeking retribution is the same as seeking mercy. Saying you are non-violent and lowering your weapons is dramatically and fundamentally different from disarming yourself, your attitudes, your heart, and your spirit. Not participating in violence is radically distinct from participating in peace.

How then do I practice peace and engage in pacifism? How do I make non-violence less a way of thinking and more a way of being? How do I ensure these things begin in me, but don’t end there?

How do I seek the peace (the shalom, the wholeness,the reconciliation) of the city (the place, the neighborhood, the community, the relationships) I am placed in, recognizing that my shalom is inextricably tied to its shalom, my peace found in its peace (Jeremiah 29:7 paraphrased).

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