the sky pushed

I settled on the couch in the foyer…giving us each readying space. Something about the light, the breaking and mending of the clouds, steel-blue in the coming evening, held my gaze. 40 foot glass walls framed their flight across the sky about me. The world moved ( apart from my help.) Rachel Held Evans, a native of Birmingham and an admired post modern voice, wrote a post this week that resonated with me. In it, she shared her struggle with what is foolish and unproductive and just totally unhelpful that we in the church seem to think matters, at all, or to anyone outside our walls. And… her need to just do what she can, to live better.

That kind of pondering and protest absorbs a lot of my energy…sometimes too much. I compose arguments which I dream of posting for my pond of readers or about the edge of some sea at another’s blog…when offered. I rant internally, sometimes outwardly as well, but as I relayed to Rachel, a winning, but weary lieutenant of our time whom I follow freely… “Good things are coming cross our skies…things not of our doing, but surely of our dreams.” I listened to Hannah, 18, practice runs of songs that she has learned ( this week) or has written and will, no doubt, rearrange as she musically meanders about this court of her peers in minutes. I am sensing the sobriety and joy in her spirit, a co-mingling not consummated in mine. I know the night will be nakedly raw and real, and I asked myself  WHY do we ( old ones) always have to go to them for that?

The sky pushed the clouds before me, they spread, fanned-out a bit, but they did not push back, resist, reroute their own direction. I could see them well; 40 x 40 is a pretty big lens. You’d think I could not miss the message.

I wrote out my sermon for Wednesday, last night. It is competent, ordered, structured, the metaphors match the content. But, I don’t feel the edge of apprehension just before intimate connection. I don’t sense my words – my person extended, like cloud: as steel but blue; broken, mended, carried. I feel like I wrote it…it seems sound and solid and something I don’t need in my depths to hear, either.

So, tonight, I will sit high in the skyline with those young-guns who dwell there and stand in that wind and be reminded how to ride, not resist and rewrite that sucker.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “the sky pushed

  1. I’m not sure that I understand what you (or anyone, for that matter) mean by expressions like “nakedly raw and real,” or to “live more rawly.” I hear those expressions sometimes, usually in a Christian small group or by a pastor or youth speaker (less lately, because of where I’m living), but I’ve never understood it very well. I used to just guess (I spent a lot of time and energy guessing about things like that), but since then I’ve learned that it’s usually better just to ask. So, what do expressions like that mean? What are you looking at in a nakedly raw account of someone’s experience, or song, or poem? What are you looking for in your own expressions that would show that?

    • Thanks for the question, Molly. I am so glad you are still stopping by…I’d have given up on me and my sporadic writing long ago. Worship experiences of any variety can easily become nothing more than a pleasurable or even comforting experience for me. ( Not that comfort from God or even the gathering of people, the church, is a bad thing.) But, there is a peeling back – a revealing of heart: fears that truly drive me. postures that protect me form growth and honest interchange with others, all manner of hindrances, that often for me, occurs in a “worship” format – or in a still or set aside format, if I will allow it. Maybe this is a regular part of your life as a more introverted and self examining person. I hope I have not mischaracterized your writing. I think for me, rawness is more about the words of the songs than the music…that they are designed to open us up to that examination. Sometimes, they merely speak to those necessary requests of God ( helping us well ask for understanding and revelation of His love.) It is not about the loudness or the skill of the musicians. It’s the difference between a Gungor song and something lyrically cheesie on Christian radio. One helps you dissect and connect with your heart, the other just rhymes, sort of, and talks about Jesus in some pithy manner.

      So for me, it is the processing that leaves me raw, not the external inputs or responses on my part. Vulnerability to the process is clearly a component. But, that doesn’t mean I must fall of the floor or weep or any of that stuff to engage in such. I think that often prohibits the process, gives the pressure to reveal real doubts, fears, prides, etc. premature release and prevents necessary excavation.

      Hannah, is really good at expressing those kinds of questions, thoughts, prayers in her music, prayers as she leads…

      Don’t know if this helped at all. Sorry about the lingo. I”ll do better.

      BTW, at my book club last night, a group of college kids, we were taking about the beauty of orthodox theology. Some of them asked for some books, articles, etc. to read to learn more. I would *love *to gain more understanding as well. I relaly enjoyed what I have read. Can you help me with some titles?

      I would be excited to read and share from them.

      Kim

      • Thanks for the reply. Sporadic writing was what RSS readers were invented for 🙂

        I had never heard Gungor before, that I know of, so I looked them up on youtube: very thoughtful and lovely.

        I had to read your reply a couple of times, and then think about it, and sleep on it, and think a little more, because I think that I sort of understand, but not really — not really, because I don’t know that I really do what you’re describing in worship, or not intentionally. So then I have to wonder: do or don’t I do that, and if not, why not?

        And I think that what we say in worship and what I pray secretly before God are not quite the same; in some ways are very different — but not in a dishonest kind of way, but in a way that’s difficult for me to account for. I’m not going to be able to do so here. Anyway, thank you, I sort of understand a little bit.

        As for Orthodox writings — what kind of thing were you thinking of?
        There are, of course, the Church Fathers, who are foundational but difficult (I haven’t read them much for that reason).

        Among recent writers:

        St Nikolai Vilomirivitch wrote beautiful poetic theology, especially in his resurrectional akathist and Prayers by the Lake .

        Elder Sophrony of Essex and his spiritual son Elder Zacharias wrote beautifully; I especially His Life is Mine by Elder Sophrony

        Frederica Matthews-Green is much easier to read than most of the others, because she’s a journalist, and because she’s a modern American she explains things (especially cultural things) that many other writers would simply assume; the only one I read attentively is Facing East

        For The Life of the World by Fr Alexander Schmemann is excellent liturgical theology; he is especially good at explaining what we mean by things like symbol, reality, and sacrament. (His best books are all liturgical theology, and this one is specifically about the Liturgy, Communion, and how man is essentially “a sacramental being”)

        Fr Stephen keeps a very good blog; he is especially interested in problems of theodicy — redemptive suffering, “His power is made perfect in weakness,” freedom to reject God, so that we experience even His love as anger, and so on. (he also recently linked to a good article about Christ’s descent into Hades

        We say that we believe what we pray, and that our theological tradition is as much in prayers as in prose; I don’t know an especially good collection of our best prayers (they’re usually assembled by kind; services, prayers for the day, for saints, seasons, and so on), but this akathist is especially well loved:

        I hope those are a little helpful

      • Thank you so much for the sources, very helpful! I have read a couple of interviews with Matthewes- Green. Enjoyed them. Her book does seem easy enough in style for me. I will start there, but I will access more of these as well.

        BTW, I think you are incredibly thoughtful and articulate… you help me.

        KIm

  2. Kim, I will neither be articulate, nor incredibly thoughtful – but I will say that I could see the sunset the way you pictured it – and I don’t even know what a 40 x 40 lenses – but I get the point. And I’m thinking your revised sermon will be full of Son. Sorry couldn’t resist the pun. Great – and now I’m rhyming! Better leave before I do some real damage 🙂 God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours.

    • Thanks for reading and the comment, Craig. The two exterior walls of our foyer in the youth building are framed glass. 40’x 40′. One can see a lot of sky through them.

  3. “It is not about the loudness or the skill of the musicians. It’s the difference between a Gungor song and something lyrically cheesie on Christian radio.”

    I’m so thankful that you’re a Gungor-type friend (and human being). I’m so thankful for your heart and your writings.

    SERIOUSLY time for coffee…or hot tea…or whatever you’d like. Time for community.

    Love you, my friend.

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