Sins against the body


DSC_0153I’m going to follow a couple of rabbit trails that continue to call me. I may have lost you with the very first word in the title, but my context has and always will be Christian. I wrestle with what it means to walk in The Way. I am willing to be open with my angst, and trust in God’s grace for me.

I feel we have made some beautiful steps toward equality in the Church by lessening the burden of complementarianism, and moving toward acceptance of women as fully capable, fully functional, fully contributing humans and leaders. Of course this is still only spoken of at face value in some circles, and to dig below the surface just a wee bit a woman can very quickly grow discouraged with paternalistic leanings, with the language of the bible which is clearly and significantly rooted in a masculine cultural context.

This Her Story series of The Meeting House is compelling, and I’m going to give it a listen.  Maybe we can talk about it sometime?

Last night we had a wide ranging discussion at our house group. I asked what everyone’s impression was of the Holy Spirit…the gender identity of Spirit? We talked around it, landed on a couple of scriptures that used “he” as a descriptor. And then someone said well, I never consider gender when I consider Spirit. And someone else said perhaps it’s all just beyond our limited understanding? Yes, I get that, the paradox and mystery of the divine is often where we have to rest when we cannot find answers to our questions.

OK, I thought but did not say, what I really wonder is where is woman in the God-head, and why all male, and how open might we be to imagine a fully gendered mystery of God? We say God is Father and has female attributes and characteristics, and we say that Jesus was the Son of God in a human male body on this earth. But to say “God, our Mother” as the poem in this Liturgists podcast does, rings heretical to some, and at times to me. But why?

And then the intertwining of this topic of gender to the topic of sex, and a difficult situation in our faith community. I wonder what it means to be sexual creatures, and I think of all the damage that has been done in and through the Church around sex. I feel God is asking me to love unconditionally through these tough times, and to move past my hurt/shock/grief/anger into acceptance and loving practice. Sexual sin is no different, is it? Should it be? Are the consequences more weighty? Is is justified to attach moral outrage to some sins and not to others? So many questions…

Growing up in a fundamentalist setting, I was told that to engage in any sexual activity including sexual intercourse outside marriage, was a sin against my own flesh. That’s brutal, heavy, and set me on on a very painful journey. The same was not said about pride, or cheating on taxes, or slandering people, or even murder. Couple this type of teaching with all male leadership, headship etc., and being a woman didn’t have much going for it. And there’s more I won’t touch on.

The past speaks to the present and I imagine how in elevating sexual sin and focusing on gender differences rather than common humanity, it might set us back as the Body of Christ. Back to thinking men and woman can’t be trusted alone together, or to lead together. Back to women meeting only with women, and men gathering only with men, and this makes me so sad. Surely there are other sins that raise their heads when two or more are gathered together. Gossip comes to mind. Envy is right there too. And what about greed, and wrath, and pride? Lust is one of the seven deadly sins, but it isn’t alone.

So, how do we learn to function together in community as humans and not, out of fear, fall back into patterns of repression, segregation, shame, and discrimination? Must sex, apart from all other aspects of our human nature, be what we fear most? Can we as sexual creatures trust ourselves to have full,  wholesome, mutually contributing relationships regardless of gender?

Things I’m chewing on, wrestling with, not sure where I’ll land. Thoughts?

Lesley-Anne

I do not know, I know


DSC_0020My brain and heart are being stretched as I listen to conversations around me. Social media, dinner table, coffee shops, gatherings, it appears we are attempting to land something, to nail it down, agree on revised societal ground rules for a new way forward that rights all the wrongs of the past.

Disclosures are bringing dark to light, gutsy public unearthing of stories hidden for years. Courage is on the upswing. A groundswell of activists for social justice is rising, challenging, demanding change. Finally there will be a balancing of the scales, equality for everyone, banishment of archaic ways of thinking and engaging in the world. Everyone will find their place. Happiness will come to all of us. Suicide rates will drop. Inclusivity and peace will rein.

I wonder…

In this desire to right the wrongs are we growing closer together or further apart? Are we trading one brand of exclusivity for another? Are we attempting to erase our own history and all that it represents? What if all questions cannot be answered, and all needs cannot be met, and agreement is impossible?

Because what I’m wondering is, as one group rises up, does another fall, and not to a position of equity, but an overcompensating tilt downward? As one voice speaks, is the other silenced? I am not saying we shouldn’t ask, even demand, certain things at certain times. I’m not saying the way things are are good enough, and we should accept status quo. No. But how do we approach these issues of justice and equality in a world as complex as ours?

I’ve witnessed online interactions within animal rights forums where passion and love for voiceless beings morphs into murderous hate toward any perpetrator of ill will or action towards animals. I’m equally horrified by the crimes and the suggested punishments. Trolling? Maybe? What we do with our anger matters, doesn’t it?

So I’m wondering if rich white maleness is identified as a pervasive evil, what happens to them, what will we do with them? If all corporations are bad, greedy, and run by RWM, who will supply our beloved stuff? If all media lies, who will be the purveyor of truth? If all developers are tree butchers, land grabbers, with no social conscience, where will we all live? If money is evil, how much shall we each be allowed to have and remain righteous? If academic institutions preclude certain world views and topics, what of freedom of speech, and where will higher thinking take place?

I am concerned as I do not see gracious mutuality within complexity, but hints of new ways to qualify, label and ultimately destroy that which does not conform. Doing bad things to an identified oppressor and calling it good, does not make it so. Does it? These are incredibly complex issues, aren’t they?

I also find a wide gulf between the hurt feelings of today’s students on N. American university campuses, and, for example, the students who protested in 1989 in Tiananmen Square. Don’t think me insensitive, rather I’m truly asking what are we becoming? Was I being honest or wise with my kids when I told them how extraordinary they were at art, music, sports, everything! Were they truly? What about “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Have we lost our perspective as we gain emotional intelligence? Is it actually possible to keep all the difficult, dark and hurtful things at bay if we legislate it to be so?

Remember Finding Nemo, the scene with the seagulls crying mine mine mine? I have to wonder if personhood and my right to feel safe, heard, understood, accepted, desired, intelligent, capable, right, could be a taste of me me me? While a healthy self image is a good thing, where it tends to go off the rails is when I discount anyone who thinks differently, anyone who has the audacity to hurt my feelings or reject what I have to offer. Where did I ever get the idea that I can customize my world like a playlist on Spotify?

I know I’m not the only one asking. Still I’m asking. I do not know the answers, and the questions continue to rise up.

Academics and intellectuals are providing healthy discourse for consideration at great cost to them (see articles below), while I simply try to articulate my sense that there are mysteries that may not have answers. Fr. Richard Rohr describes a non-dual world view, both/and rather than right/wrong. Rohr holds out that the way to peace is through acceptance, love, and non-dualistic ways of engaging in life. Rohr says unless you come to terms with dualism, you will just process any new ideas with your old operating system:

“The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. Dualistic thinking works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or the immense subtlety of actual personal experience. Most of us settle for quick and easy answers instead of any deep perception, which we leave to poets, philosophers, and prophets.”
Richard Rohr, The Dualistic Mind

More and more I’m seeing the both/and woven into my life, but it is not easy to understand, and not easy to not know the one right answer. I push back against updating my old operating system. It is not easy to not strive for rightness. But I think it may be more true.

“Then how can I know which is the right one?” Aye, there’s the rub. We can’t. But one thing I’m learning is that I do not always have to be right. Or maybe we can look at two different interpretations of a story and understand that they are both right.”
Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock that is Higher

And so I have to wonder if the core desire to deconstruct old ways with hopes of establishing a new order is an old, binary, dualistic approach? Might we again be at risk of recreating the issues of prejudice and exclusivity, only with new people groups? Is there actually, really, only one way? I wonder if there is a new way that is truly new?

Consider what I see may be the both/and in;

freedom of speech and the offence culture

scientific fact and mysticism

perfection and grace

art/beauty created by monsters

art/beauty created out of atrocity

public safety and personal freedom

true love and speaking the truth in love

the common good and the evil that is common

reconciliation and forgiveness

the power of silence

Articles I’ve had the privilege to read of late, and for your consideration;

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/12/06/the-warlock-hunt/

http://nationalpost.com/opinion/lindsay-shepherd-wlus-interrogation-revealed-how-university-has-lost-sight-of-its-key-purpose

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/11/20/art-monstrous-men/

How I Learned to be Afraid of Men

https://www.ravenfoundation.org/montessori-remedy-plague-sexual-harassment/

Videos and articles by https://jordanbpeterson.com

And another really, really great article which I cannot find at the moment…

 

 

Truth be, I do not know much. Yet I know something. I’m paying attention to the niggling feeling I have that we are not resolving complex issues in a way that will ultimately lead us to a better place, because the old operating system does not work. And I’m attempting to put my feelings into words as I watch and listen and ask and wonder.

For what it’s worth, these thoughts, and a poem,

Lesley-Anne

How Did We Get Here

When it becomes intolerable to hold a differing opinion and have the audacity to speak of it, if nothing other than a satiating of me-ness feeds my hunger. When I see your you-ness with the phantom of hate lurking in every word, when your tongue is tied and your pen is cramped in your atrophied hand. When your love conforms to a theology of diction, then we will no longer be safe, my friend. Safety is not sameness. I cannot promise to be a safe place, I can promise you I will need your grace at some point in this relationship, because I will not be safe. Save me from me. I don’t understand what you require of me?

Shall we trade in our luminousity, abandon the teeming sea of wild thought for the tepid waters of only that which we agree on? Is that safety? I do not believe compromise of either one of us is a foundation for true love. Love does not win here. We will be less than more. We will be less than our identity of beauty and uniqueness that we celebrate, can we celebrate instead of legislate to be? What will we talk about when we agree on everything? No need for speech seasoned with salty kindness, or wisdom that offers itself through experience of terror and of grace. No need for forgiveness, or patience, when we weigh every word count as watershed and cannot speak for fear of what will be misinterpreted.

How shall we speak? What shall we say of value or of truth and how will I know you and you know me if we only say what makes the other happy? With the dull roar of truth in our ears we will bite our tongues or swallow them while gagging on our inauthenticity, our lack of integrity, or please just brainwash me, so I no longer have to struggle with this issue of only saying what is acceptable or thinking a certain way, to fit in, to conform, to be uniform… borg… I will be assimilated… No!

No, I do not believe that will be my destiny, the end of my individuality! Just as the big bang is still heard in deep space, just as the universe continues to be formed, so too our thoughts, our words must rise up and escape our mouths, no matter the cost. What say you? What say me?

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2017

Birthday Gifts


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What is filling my soul this morning, the anniversary of my birth, so long ago;

Well, finding this silly picture that makes me look like a birthday fairy queen, I guess…

And this…grounding me, confirming I know nothing, but…

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: 1999), 79.

And this;

  1. relationships that continue to ask of me…and give to me…and the beauty of discovery within the complexity of life with people, these gifts that I will never truly understand and yet there they are, talking, breathing, working, living alongside me and I get to be with them all…
  2. anticipating the arrival of my son, and the intersection of 5 lives over several days…oh the anticipation of all that…
  3. a unexpectedly delicious poem, written by my lover, posted to Facebook.
  4. the dog, coffee, porch, quiet, sunshine, bluebird day, time, space, lingering…
  5. messages of love on social media
  6. challenges and considerations…each day to choose what is important, what is vital, what is life giving, and what adjustments must be made to live with integrity
  7. creative energy…that vast stream of Creator God’s creative DNA that flows and overflows in me with thoughts and ideas and possibilities and just enough courage to try something new…
  8. health, dreams, desires, all those elements that make up a life and are often taken for granted and yet are foundational to living well…
  9. writing, always writing, listening to the inner voice speaking and writing, playing with writing, writing with people, reading and writing, writing, writing, writing…
  10. the audacious pink thread of The Trinity woven through the simple fabric of my life …often hidden, sometimes apparent, but there…oh yes, there!

Gift. Gift. Gift. All gift.

Undeserved. Thankful. Gifts held with the knowledge that this may be for a day, a month, a few more years. Breath held for a few seconds, then breathing, breathing, wondering…what happens next?

Lesley-Anne Evans, July 29, 1962 – ?

 

 

 

Possible, probable, or mystery?


DSC_0184I received a letter today after receiving a phone message from a stranger. She told me that she had a letter addressed to me from an address I last lived at in 1999. The woman now owns and rents out the cute old house we used to live in, and the letter…the letter…

I went by her house today and picked up the letter. She told me beforehand that she had opened it, by mistake, was just busy and didn’t read the name before tearing into it. She apologized. The letter was taped closed.

I went back out to the car, looked at the airmail envelope and the value of the stamp and noticed no return address. I thought how it’s been some time since postage in Canada was 43 cents. I drove away, pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store, and opened the letter.

Two pages, typewritten, and hand signed. I read the words slowly. I read them again, noting the telltale signs of time of writing. “seeing photos of you and Bob and your wee lad” and “He has given you one of the greatest of all blessings, a dear wee son…” and further on “God bless you – all three”. We are “five” now and have been a family of five since 1996 when our second son was born.

Just now I google stamps in Canada 1996 and see…45 cents

And a little more digging around and I see the stamp…issued for 43 cents, December 30, 1992.

The letter is dated June 15, without a year noted. But our wee son was born in May, 1993, so it could be from June 1993, or a stamp saved and used in June 1994, or June 1995…because by June 1996, we were a family of four.

Could this letter have been in transit for 20 plus years? Is this even possible?

Could I have received the letter while still living at the old house and left it behind when we moved? I can’t recall having read it before, but sometimes I have trouble recalling my PIN! Probable, I suppose, but why would multiple owners of the old house, and multiple tenants save this letter over and over again rather than recycling it?

What am I to think? What does it mean?

An old family friend, a mentor all those years ago, the writer of the letter is long passed from my life and from this world. I wonder how many years he has been gone now? I text my brothers and ask them.

What is it he had to say over 2 decades ago that I am to pay attention to now?

And so I will sit with the letter, and ponder the question… what is it God, that you would have me see?

And at the same time, shivers that this is happening…and the memories of that time…the people…a reminder of someone good, kind, and gentle who took the time to write a letter.

This is just a wee note to renew acquaintances, for I so well remember you…

Sincerely, in Him,

Alan

Small


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My faith is small, or maybe the way I live my life is small, and ordinary. In small things I find God: his presence, his provision, his orchestration, his glory, his love.

When I recognize God in my life, it usually comes in the form of just enough rice or just enough flour, or sun breaking through cloud before sunset after several days of depressing grey, or a poem just right for the moment, or the colour of a pair of mittens matching a child’s snowsuit I’ve never seen before, or the heart shape of trembling aspen leaves strewn along a creekside pathway. God is in the shade of orange kelp on sand. God is in a small child spinning in a pink tutu. God is. I have come to notice God in all the details.

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I believe my Grandfather taught me to see God in this way. When I was very young, Grandpa walked me around his garden on summer evenings, our hands clasped behind our backs, each flowering shrub like an offering, a miracle he had discovered and wanted me to see. “Look at that” he would say, gazing deep into the centre of a Hibiscus bloom “have you ever seen a design like that?” “Rosa, Spiraea, Forsythia, Weigela, Hydrangea…” he repeated over and over until I knew them. Name these plants, see these small miracles. He was the same about song birds. His curiosity and joy of creation spilled over and captivated me. Little things. Seeing small. Seeing God.

Not that I don’t dream big. I love to dream and drink wine and talk about ideas. Not that I don’t dive into big things, because I do. But the dreams and projects and ideas must quickly settle into a series of little steps to realize the bigger picture. And maybe it’s not the big thing that matters as much as the little things that take place along the way. Usually, that means the people, conversations, conflicts, resolutions, and love. Each little interaction, each small encounter, mattering so much more than any end result. God is in the details of people too, I find.

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My faith is small, and wildflower and honey bee sized. My faith is my search for tracks to hang gallery hardware on the wall and finding them no more and no less than I needed, and my faith is the width of several old doors that now cover windows, in exactly the right width for the openings. My faith is sometimes the size of these three words…”I don’t know”. My faith is the sound of my daughter’s joy that she drove stick shift for the first time over the winding road to the Pacific Rim, and back. Safe. Back. My faith is light and shadow, juxtaposition of words on a sign against audaciousness of spring blooms. God is in each one of these small and sacred things.

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My faith is small.

My faith is small, and simple.

My faith is small, and ordinary.

God is there.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said “God is in the details.”

God is.

Lesley-Anne

Time, a poem.


DSC_0069Time
 
I watch the last winter Junkos
gather at the feeder my son filled before he left.
Soon they will fly north for summer.
On the new house construction behind us
the roofers walk the hips and ridges
without safety ropes, nail-gunning shingles
without incident. When the roof was white with frost
they tied themselves down, just to be sure.
I might have done the same, tied him
to me with advice or questions, my preference
for his BB gun, his childhood. But it was well
past time for Spring, and I imagine
he already sensed the enticing green
fatigue of 05:00 hours, heard new voices
promise vital things. My voice
like friendly fire, something
best kept in the back of his mind.
 
LAE2017

What the heck


FYI: Rant ahead…

Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?

And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?

It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.

You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t!  You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.

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Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?

Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?

I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?

And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.

My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!

As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!

Sigh…rant done…

LAE