Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Best

This is going to be a strange review.

I'm not really going to tell you what this book is about. You could see that on amazon

What I will say is that I hardly got through the first chapter before I had to put it down for a good cry. I mean a Good cry.
I could see right where this was going. I could see the truth of the story all layed out in front of me. I could tell that Lisa Samson was writing from her heart, from the past experiences of her life. Lisa has met some really wonderful people in a soup kitchen. She wrote of them in her blog "streets with dwellings" which I read up off and on all last year. But that's not what made me connect with this book at the first word. It's that I was relieved to hear a story that could capture my imagination as to how to begin the release from a self-pleasing life to one of deeper purpose and intention. (Oprah's not the only one who likes that word.)

I like this book.

I used to sing Kelly Willard's songs. One in particular that I can't even remember the name of; but amazingly, all of the words came floating to the top of my memory after I read Lisa' book last week. This song, for some Holy Spirit reason, made me weep every time I sang it. It describes what I was, what I am and what I want to be. Kind of like Lisa's book, Quaker Summer. Want me to sing Kelly's song for you?

I know a lady, who lives in a very beautiful home.
Her house was full of the most expensive things a man could own.
But her heart was empty, so very empty, deep within.

I know a lady who humbled herself before her Lord and King.
Her heart was willing to bow down and surrender everything, everything.
Her heart is full now, righteousness, peace and joy dwell within, Halleluiah!

She heard him say
Come unto me all ye who labor
Ye heavy laden, come and find rest.
Cause if you loose your life in this world
You will find new life in Me
Are you willing to give up the good things
for the best?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Beautiful Face

I stared at the picture on the back of the truck. The faces of a man and woman encouraging me to apply for work as an ice cream salesperson.

It's hard to take a face seriously when they are everywhere.
A face is a powerful image.

The same face was looking at me from the back page ad in the magazine I was reading this morning. A stock photo! Of course! And here I had been lured into wondering if this gentile face of a 20-something woman was happy in her work. See how gullible I am? I began to imagine that because she was so good at ice cream, they had taken her picture as a reward!

We all value a beautiful face.
This magazine just helped me apply the magic of make-up to my 44 year old face. A face that has seen better days and that will gather more history that may or may not be interesting to those who greet me. Because isn't a face an introduction? Doesn't it tell us Right Now whether a person is desirable? Well, I wanna play! So I pamper the face. As my daughter and I say in unison, "Make-up is my friend"

And like all of us, I struggle to drop out of the game. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of being shallow. I'm tired of shallowness. So I do my best and forget the rest.
I've been working on a poetry zine for Freedom Day. It's a mild publication of a heavy subject. I worry that it's not attractive enough. Will people buy a copy?
I made an art quilt to show on Freedom Day. What will they think? Is it pretty? Does it look good? Why do I need it to?
I think I need it to because we value beauty. Often beauty comes from a mixture of grace and pain. And we value the coating of beauty rather than the essence of beauty. I struggle with it.
I have been praying for courage lately. I ask all my friends to pray courage for me. It takes courage to value essential beauty, the kind that is of substance rather than a passing glance. I think of Henri Nouwen who studied the Rembrandt painting for a year as the copy hung in his office. Out of his long gaze came a fruitful insight.
The value of a face is the value of the life it invites us to love.
Love, Come to us and deepen our love of Beauty.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Body is a Cage

Have you heard Arcade Fire's Neon Bible?

Oh my.

..."set my body free
... set my spirit free"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"the identification of the culture with the church, with the evangelical church, makes us prone to an idolatry of nation. That's so pervasive it's almost impossible to carry on a conversation about it. America's founders left Europe because of nationalized churches. Now we've got one of our own, and we aren't even aware of it. So the nationalism combined with the pervasive consumerism are big problems for the American church.

We go church-shopping; we demand services of the church. The scary thing about this for me is that the vocabulary stays the same. We use all the right words, and we still keep all our doctrines in the evangelical church, but the context has changed so radically that they no longer mean anything."

Eugene Peterson
interview from Radix magazine

Monday, March 05, 2007

Svetlana's Journey

I just got home from being at an event at Cal State Fullerton: Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery in Southern California

The power of film once again. From Lilya 4 Ever to Trade (coming in August '07) to Svetlana's Journey, I am glad that the power of story can still move me.

I exited the large room before the crowd started the question/answer period so that I could let the effect of the movie settle more deeply. I am not about to waste the emotion. I don't want to get over it.

Funny that I hadn't remembered them until tonight. I had seen numerous young girls like this one before. Before I had seen any film. I thought back to the day we entered the juvenile girls prison in Melitopol, Ukraine. It was 1994, yet I realized only today who I had met. I had seen some of these same girls. I have met these young children who had their lives stripped from them. They had been incarcerated for all manner of violent crimes. But who had taught them? Who had created the circumstance for their desperate acts?

So much around us to numb us. Yet I won't forget them. I won't brush them aside. I thought of them. My memory of them froze them in time, yet they live on. Have any of them survived? Are any of them living free; a life worth living?

I'm sorry I didn't understand, maybe a mercy for me. But an injustice for them. What could I have done then? Nothing. But now it has served it's purpose through memory and it's serving a purpose for others like them. The thread of justice began to be spun in me from a very long time past. A thread that can never break. It must never break.

So we are writing our protest. We are writing the vision to fuel the new movement of abolition. I may be still at times, but I will never be silent again.

I invite you to join us.