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

New poems


DSC_0275

2017.3

She will do what she will do

no matter what words

your lips form into love knots,

no matter how long you stand

with your arms wrapping her sorrow.

There is nothing she will not do,

nothing held back. She is quicksand

seeded with landmines.

You must not walk here. Run.

Don’t look back. You could never save her.

Merciful Jesus, won’t you

gather her up like broken bread?

There is more than enough

to feed a multitude.

LAE2017

 

 

2017.4

The miracle would be…

the miracle would be going back,

to before we did what we’ve done

to each other,

back to kindness, and loving

exactly how you came to me

raw and imperfect,

magic and raucous,

before I dreamed up all the ways

I might mold you

into something less mighty.

The miracle would be

waking up and discovering

heaviness dropped in the dark

and a wheel within a wheel, turning,

like a movie’s opening

repeating, repeating, repeating

the part where she

notices him, just briefly,

then carries on. The moment where

what happens next

is anyone’s guess.

LAE2017

Homework notes…


pe-hi-anne-shirley-sullivan

 

Lately I need a little more help. I’m seeing someone who helps me focus on values, aspirations, problems and issues that need be addressed, and new ways of doing things. It’s not the first time I’ve sought counselling, and each time I engage I find it good. I go in feeling nervous, I come out feeling lighter. I desire change.

My homework this week is to identify 5 women I admire and the reasons why. I thought, why not do this here and then open things up to discussion. And an invitation for you to do the same exercise, if you wish. These women can be historical, fictional, family, or friend. And men, identify 5 men. Or, open it up to 5 individuals… men or women, I don’t think it matters that much. Or, does it? Anyway…

5 Women I Admire:

1. Anne Shirley (as in Anne of Green Gables). I am attracted to her spunky, out-of-the-box personality, her way of testing boundaries, her committed devotion to her bosom friend Diana, her outspokenness, her marginalization yet stick-at-it-ness and make-the-best-of-it, her love of flowerly language and books, her way of rising above pain and circumstance and sticking to her guns. I was that girl. I still want to be her.

2. Christina Cook (my maternal grandmother) who spent 25 years of her life as a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, her every personal and functional need taken care of by my grandfather, Jimmy. I am attracted to Chrissie’s strength, her resilience, her way of being strong and in charge within herself, not afraid to ask, not afraid to speak, give opinion. She loved the details of life, paid attention to the people around her, and watched All-Star Wrestling every Sunday. Her faith was a solid, and for the most part unspoken, foundation. The love relationship between her and my grandfather was beautiful to see.

3. A woman who shall remain nameless here for privacy reasons. An intelligent, accomplished, energetic, alive, bright spark of a woman who loves with every breath in her body the people in her sphere of influence. Her capacity to remember things, to know the deep things about so many different people, astounds me. I love her heart, her passion, her way of making a contribution equal to that of her husband, who is also a man of great impact. Their marriage is something of curious attraction to me… I want to know how they do it. They seem to do it so very well.

and now it’s getting a little easier, and I only need 2 more…

4. Another woman who will remain nameless for privacy reasons. And it doesn’t matter her name, more who she is. She is a rock. She is grounded in her faith. She has proven this over a number of years where she carves out time to meet with the one who loves her most EVERY day. (well, maybe she misses sometimes, but most days). She takes her pain to God. She gets her strength from God. She is able to talk about the most difficult of topics with a grounded love and empathy and compassion that can only come from God. She takes time to reach out to the hurting ones, even when she barely knows them. She prioritizes people over things, over tasks, over everything. NO, she is not a fictitious person, she is very, very, real. She takes care of her friends, her body, her home, her spirit, what she has been given to care for… very well. She is well balanced.

5. A young woman who will remain nameless for privacy reasons. What I admire most about her is the combination of incredible ability with humility. She has many areas she excels at, yet she shows no indication of her ego getting in the way of her heart, or of attitude seeping in. It is beautiful to see.

Well, that wasn’t as hard as I thought. I think I could keep going and maybe I will.

6. Eowyn of Ithilien, Shieldmaiden of Gondar (LOTR) as a female, heroic, strong, capable woman who finds her role in the bigger story BECAUSE she is a woman, not in spite of being female. She is ‘no man’. And because of this, she overcomes the evil witch king. She is an overcomer. And I guess I could honestly say I am attracted and I admire every strong female role in every movie I watch. Hmmm…

For now, please join in. Who do you admire most. Why?

Lesley-Anne

Eowyn+in+battle

It’s Mental Health Week (and how hard it is to explain how you feel when you are depressed…)


DSC_0005So, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada… May 6 – 12, 2013. And I feel a lot better about celebrating mental health than I do admitting or even accepting that my annual seasonal disorder (SADD) and hormonal fluctuations post partum and menopausal might be a form of ‘mental illness’. Very hard to come out and say that.

Why is that? Is it because there is still so much bias, misunderstanding and confusion around the phrase? Is it because it’s just really embarrassing to say “I’m mentally ill”? (Why is it easier to say (and only to some safe people) “I’m feeling a little depressed”?) Must we identify it in order to deal with it properly? And with medication? And with counseling? And with lifestyle changes that include health of body and spirit and mind? And with the support of those who love us? Yes, to all of the above.

Other than that I don’t have a lot of answers, but I’m willing to admit I struggle.  I’m willing to cast my lot in with all those who share the burden of psychological angst, times of overwhelming despair, and one who has considered not being as being better than prolonged being in this emotional state.

It’s far too complicated for me to explain my whole story, but know that I live with depression, struggle with coping, and I’ve come to recognize it as part of who I am. I am a person of faith who has doubts and darkness. I have the hope of Jesus and yet live in periods of hopelessness. There are others like me in my family. We talk about it amongst ourselves.

This attempt at bringing a little light into a dark place was written in April 2009.

The glimmer of hope is at the very end. It’s usually like that…

So yesterday about this time, I was feeling like my world was caving in along with my chest. Perhaps a little over-stressed, I had a feeling of unexplainable impending doom that was physical, and it was beginning to take over my mind as well as my body.

I stood by the sink after a morning of trying to get some of my menial household chores done, and heard a voice in my head say, “maybe you should just go and check yourself into the hospital”, as clear as day. So, I thought about that for a little while, wondering how that experience might pan out for me?

Hi, I’m here to check myself in.

What for?

Well, it’s that I just can’t seem to pull myself up by the bootstraps, you know. I can’t seem to find my stiff upper lip and suck it up princess, if you know what I mean.

I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean. What precisely are your symptoms?

I guess you could say that I feel like there’s nobody I can talk to about how I feel, and that I feel like I’m too much for everyone that I might have talked to if I could have found someone.

Are you in any pain?

Well, if this pressure on my chest, and the heavy thing that’s sitting on my head counts, then yes, I guess I’m in pain. But not a sharp stabbing pain, more like a dull repetitive one.

Are you on any medications?

No, and I don’t really want to be, and that’s why I’m even afraid to tell anyone how I really feel in case they suggest drugs might be the answer. I guess there’s the ‘Maccaroot’ supplements I’m taking… to balance and energize me… but I don’t think that’s working.

So, what precisely can we do for you ma’am?

Well, I thought maybe I could just sign in and curl up in an empty bed somewhere until I feel better able to cope, find some energy again, and maybe find a friend that I could talk to. Would that be OK……?

At this point I realize that my idea is lame, and I haven’t got a chance of convincing medical staff, nurses or doctors that there’s something wrong with me any more than I did two days ago when I tried to explain myself to my husband.

So, I continue to stand by the kitchen sink until the phone rings, goes to the answering machine, and I recognize the voice as someone who might just be able to relate to part of how I’m feeling and I dry my hands on the towel and pick up the phone.

Hi……

Good Friday 2011


Grace Redeemed

Sleep eludes me.
My spirit engulfed by guilt, grief and loss,
I rise before dawn
and walk to the garden alone,
seeking solace,
seeking peace.

The garden is cool, and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air.
I seek out a quiet place,
and lose myself in thoughts of you.
Your words, your touch, your eyes.
I don’t know if I can carry on alone.

The events of the past week play out in my mind.
From joyous celebration to sudden death.
And I,
weak willed bystander,
fair weather friend,
watched from the sidelines, powerless to help you.

I fall to my knees and pray for absolution.

I feel a presence before I hear a sound.
A stranger is here, standing close beside me.
“Who are you?  What do you want?”, I ask through my tears.

A long moment’s silence and then he speaks.
He speaks my name.

I look up in confusion.
Is this someone’s cruel trick, or a ghost?
He should be dead in the grave,
but there is no denying the voice;
His sweet voice.

I rise to my feet, and look
into the eyes of my beloved.
He touches my cheek with warm fingers,
forgiveness in his smile.

Grace restored, I enter his embrace.
And then, with the lightness of burdens lifted
I turn, laughing with delight, and run to tell the others.

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2009