Easter’s Black Eye

I recently came across some Easter pictures from the year I was ten. They’re a bit faded now, but there I was, dressed up in my pink Easter dress and sporting a blue and green black eye.

Girl dressed in pink Easter dress with black eye, sad.

I was a certified tomboy (which makes the pink dress all the more of a miracle) and I got my black eye through honest horseplay.

That year I put on the expected Easter finery, hunted for eggs, ate chocolate, and went to church, all while sporting a beauty of a shiner.

This Easter, I don’t have a black eye; but organized religion in America sure does.

I am writing these words on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter – a Saturday that marks the paradoxical moment of suspended animation between the experience of death/defeat and the promise of life/victory.

In many ways, this day reflects my current location on my spiritual journey.

I’ve had a falling out with my “church” while also sensing an ever stronger pull to be part of the “Church”. There has been a “death” for me in the sense of belonging to a church, while also a promise of “life” within the greater purpose of the “Church”.

Just as religious leaders in Jerusalem called for Jesus to be executed, some leaders in today’s American church call for the de facto execution of the poor, displaced, and oppressed. They cheer as political leaders cut people off from healthcare, food, education, and safe harbor.

Screen shot of Tweet: John 10:15 in America 2018. "...@Franklin_Graham and @JerryFalwellJr answered, 'We have no king but Trump.'" #GoodFriday #Betrayal 3/30/18 7:34 AM

Other leaders remain wishy washy about whether all are welcome and accepted in the church; they debate and negotiate with those who think the church needs gatekeepers and bouncers to keep some people out. Jesus welcomed and accepted every person. He was pretty clear about it. He died for all.

Rainbow sticker over a door frame.

American church leaders have largely remained tone deaf to the heartfelt cries of #MeToo.

The American church has a black eye.

We can dress it up all we want, but it’s hard to ignore.

So, here I am on this Easter Saturday…disillusioned with a church that is seemingly drifting farther and farther away from the example of Christ.

I am probably not getting dressed up tomorrow to worship at a church.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But this coming week I am going to pack my bag, meet a bus on a lonely stretch of highway, and join with other disciples heading to D.C. to rally and call for an end to racism.

Logo for Unite to End Racism event April 2018

My trust in a church is dead, but my faith in Christ and his Church is alive and well.

This Easter I may not be in church, but I am looking forward to following Jesus.

And shiner or no, I am determined to smile.

Girl dressed in pink Easter dress with black eye, smiling.

Happy Easter.

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Teaching a New Song

 

Blackwater Falls, West Virginia.

The State of West Virginia is simultaneously heart-swellingly beautiful and heart-wrenchingly wretched – a condition she has experienced and suffered since even before her birth with civil war as a midwife.

Her mountains and streams sing a song, whispering to any listening soul that God is in heaven and all is right with the world. Her people are generous, loyal, and hard-working.

But her political and business leadership is quick to betray her natural beauty and her big-hearted citizens – selling her out to the lowest bidder, prostituting her for the crumbs and scars inflicted by those who covet but do not love her.

Her mountains are lopped off and shipped out. Her streams are filled with pollution. Her people are enlisted to play second fiddle and low-wage back-up singer to the forces that see her as an economic interest, but otherwise have no interest in her or her well-being and future.

Her current leaders rush headlong into actions that leave her less safe, less healthy, less empowered, and with less capacity to care for her people or her own natural beauty. Small-minded and visionless, they trip over each other in their fawning frenzy to please their out-of-state masters and political puppeteers.

Within the past week we have been reminded that we don’t have to accept the status quo. In a show of amazing solidarity, West Virginia’s teachers rose up together, hand-painted their signs, planted their feet firmly on the picket line and in the halls of power, and said, “Enough!”

All 55 county school systems were shut down, as teachers stood up and spoke out.

Map of West Virginia all in red, indicating all 55 county school systems were closed for the day.

This is about more than the teachers, more than the schools, more than wages and benefits.

Ultimately, this is about self-respect and the right to be respected by others.

West Virginia’s teachers are standing up for us all.

They are standing up for our children.

They are standing up, in their own way, for our mountains and streams and our individual and collective right to self-determination.

They are standing up for West Virginia’s song, buying it back one handmade sign, one chant, one set of linked arms at a time.

In fact, they are changing the tune and composing a new song for West Virginia.

I applaud them.

I support them.

I thank them.

#WVTeachers

#55Strong

#SingANewSong

Image states, "I support West Virginia teachers and public employees."

 

Perpetual Intention

Two square cubes and three rectangular blocks.

From these simple objects, I mark each new day.

The rectangles display the months of the year, one month per side.

The squares display numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6/9, 7, and 8, from which each day of the month can be shown in its turn.

Wooden calendar in front of books on a bookshelf with the month and date blocks spilling out.

Twelve months…a repeating pattern of days of the month…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 (sometimes), 30 (sometimes), and 31 (sometimes).

My perpetual calendar – a gift from my sister many years ago – can show each day, but only if I intentionally move the blocks around to show the correct date.

Some years it gathered dust on a shelf.

Some years I changed it once in a while but mostly forgot.

Lately, I have become OCD about changing it daily.

It’s really just a few pieces of wood with some writing on them.

If I forget to change the blocks for a particular day’s date, the day still happens.

But the intentionality of changing it…of saying “here is a new day”…means something to me.

Each new day deserves its own intentionality.

I WILL acknowledge it’s a new day.

I WILL be intentional about making the most of this day.

I WILL pay attention to the small, everyday, simple things.

Intentionally WILL.

It’s not about a bigger, longer, better “to-do” list of intentionality.

It’s about taking stock of the basics…not letting life’s “to-do” list of busy-ness crowd them out.

The basic building blocks of a “day”…a “month”…a “life” are extremely simple.

We are the ones who make it complicated.

Perpetually.

Wooden calendar in front of books on a bookshelf.

Writers Read

In the foreground, an open book, cup of tea, lit advent candles, and a Christmas tree in the far background.

2017 has been a tough year for writing.

It has been a tough year.

I’ve done tons of worrying and stewing, but not much writing.

Just. Could. Not. Write.

Luckily…

Writers read.

This year, during my own dry spell as a writer, I ramped up the reading.

Here’s a list of the books I read this year.

My goal for 2018 is to maintain this pace of reading, but also revive my writing mojo.

Feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments.

In the meantime…thank you for including my blog in your reading list now and then.

I wish you a very Happy New Year.

-Sarah

*Note, I have added links to Amazon for reference, but the VAST majority of these books I read for free through our local library and the Overdrive app.*

The picture shows 60 book covers - one each for the books listed in the blog post.

Imperfect Purpose

View of a couch from the arm towards a worn out seat.

I sit on my corner of a broken down couch

and ponder the state of the world.

Beauty and bitterness

Love and hate

coexist together as swirled

strands of a common theme

of humankind and human-unkind.

Damaged.

Yet somehow continuing

the timeless pursuit of meaning.

The world, the couch, and I share a fate

of maintained utility amid brokenness.

Imperfect.

With purpose.

Hopefully good for something.

Haven for Healing

Angry Birds bandages, Neosporin, and an arm sling.

I once belonged to a church whose vision statement declared it existed to “share the joy of knowing Jesus” and it was a “haven for healing and a training center for ministry.”

I felt and was quick to share the joy of knowing Jesus and I actively participated in the training for ministry, but the “haven for healing” part did not resonate with me as something I personally needed. For me, it represented my hope that others who needed healing would feel welcome among us.

That was then.

Now I am the one in need of a haven for healing.

I believe in God.

I trust God.

But I have lost faith and trust in the church.

My heart is wounded and in need of healing, but the place I would normally look to as a haven for healing is, in this case, the source of the injury.

I know in my heart I need and want to stay connected with a community of believers, a community of Christians who experience the joy of knowing Jesus and the drive to share that joy with others; who thirst for continued study, growth, and training for ministry.

But what do I do when connection with a community of believers, a community of Christians, is the source of the hurt and pain?

Back then, I was one offering joy and healing; now, I am one seeking it.

I seek a haven for healing.

I know there are people in communities of faith ready to offer that haven – even people within my current one – but I am still feeling off balance and – frankly – more than a little burned. I am not yet ready to trust again.

I am struggling with trusting anyone – even well-meaning people – with my broken heart.

I seek a haven for healing.

I hope and pray I find a way to place trust in a church community again, but for now my focus is on God – in whom I do still have faith and trust.

The journey continues.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

 

Psalm 23: 1-3

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

 

Psalm 51: 10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

 

Psalm 147: 3

He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.

Atomic Haiku

ShadowsAtomic bombs here

And some atomic bombs there

Which nut will fire first?

 

Americans love

And North Koreans love, too

Why harm the people?

 

Donald and Jong-un

Do not speak for the people

Let’s lock them both up.