Friday, September 30, 2011

wailing and keening

Wednesday night, my little one faced the pain of grief. His little fish, bought with his own money, died. It's a fish, right? We all know this happens to fish, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
But to a five year old, this was a great tragedy. Red Goldie Fin was in a bowl next to his bed. He was a companion at naps and at night. And this week my son had to attempt to understand the fact that musicians and poets and philosophers all attempt to grasp- death. Burying his head in his pillow, he wailed. It broke our hearts just to hear him.
I was taken back to the other deaths I have been near. And the sound is the same. The great keen that comes from the guts of someone who stands on one side while one they love has crossed over. That pain, that raw agony of the heart.
I so much wanted to take away my little boy's pain, to quench the burn of mourning. But it couldn't, and even if I could, should I? For the short-lived grief he experienced was a primer for the losses he will inevitably face in life.
We sing of Christ "conquering death by death" and see icons of the harrowing of Hell. The one who is in us and around us has looked at death square in the face. He has wailed, mourned and keened with us. And He has gone through death and brought life out on the other side.

** The picture above was taken at my 5 year olds insistence. He has a printed copy of this on his wallet to carry around with him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why I go to church

I have always been behind the times. I just got my first ipod last year, I'm still not on facebook, I haven't caught on to sushi.

But there is one trend I am seeing among many friends and family and all over the nation that I will just sit out. People are giving up on church.

USA today went over the latest statistics and they are pretty telling. (Boo to the USA today editor that missed the use of "their" instead of "there") But I don't want to talk about the numbers, I want to give my own manifesto on why I get up, get us ready and go to church each Sunday.

There are a hundred things I love about church and some days I love some more than others. Some days I am comforted by the conversation with friends. Some days those same people are making me pull my hair out. Some days the prayers and hymns lift me from my struggles and point me to heaven. Some days the choir is very off tune and grates on my nerves. Some days the sermon is the exact thing I needed to hear and some days I am planning out our weekly menu in my mind and don't hear a thing.

But the one reason I go and tell my children we must go is. . . God is there. This is where sometimes protestants just can't get it. For somewhere along the way the sense of sacred space has been lost. God is not just in the four walls of a church, indeed He is "everywhere filling all things". But in this set apart place with an altar, the blood, the body and the multitude of saints bearing witness- God is there.

Growing up in the Bible belt with well-known Christians all around, I have heard just about every controversy there is. People within the church have committed every kind of sin and atrocity and have left lives in shambles in their wake. But fundamentally, the church is about more than the sum total of the people in it. If it were just about being with the "right" people, we would be better off at a rotary club meeting.

But church is about One who is above us and in us and around us. We go like the woman at the well, for we are thirsty and this is the source of water. We can take the water with us anywhere we go, but this is where we can receive it from the wellspring.

I am writing this not to condemn anyone who has been turned off from church. I needed to remind myself today as most of the liturgy I was grumbling in my heart. But ultimately, our healing from the hurts from those in the church comes from the Great Physician who's hospital is the church.

Friday, September 16, 2011

a plug for parenthood

If you havent seen this show, go see it now.
Season 3 started this week.
It does something that I dont know if any other show does right now.
It celebrates marriage and family while at the same time it is very very real. No sappy sweet dialogues here. It has very real people that mess up then try to do the right thing. It has parents worrying over what is best for their child. It has teenagers trying to grow up too quickly. It has grandparents being there as the rock and listening ear without interfering too much. You will find that you genuinely like each character and likely empahise with the one that reflects your stage in life. It is not a show about a christian family, so there will be things you dont agree with. But, it is a great show to show how we can love others more than ourselves in the everyday choices of life.

Plus, you get to experience Zeke, the grandfather, who has wonderful lines like "Never flip another man's burger."

Friday, September 9, 2011

greiving again for the first time

I was not here when 9/11 happened.

I was living overseas, in a country where life went on much the same as before.

When I first heard the news, I was in a meeting and a friend called and told me in a mix of languages that planes had crashed into two tall buildings in New York. I thought she was mistaken, that the news hadn't gotten it right.

We had no television, so the images I saw were still photos that looked like the old movies with pie pans on string for UFOs.

It wasn't until December 2001 that I was back in the states and saw real video of the planes crashing into the towers. Unreal. That was the word that stuck in my head.

So now, living in the USA, I feel like the truth of what happened that day is hitting me for the first time.

I am figuring out how to tell my child who is old enough to know, even though he wasn't yet born that day. How do you say that something worse than a nightmare actually happened? How do you make him feel safe and secure while telling of such horrors?

For my memorial service, I will be baking a pan of brownies for our local firefighters. In some way it is a remembrance and a prayer as I grieve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the dreams God gives

One son is the bookworm. He devours information, jumps up and down with glee at a turn in the plot of a favorite story. He will shock you with his knowledge of animals. He is learning Spanish for his trip (someday) to the Galapagos Islands. He is contemplating what National Geographic would like for him to study in college so he can work for them.

The other son is poetry in motion. The first time he held a bat, he knew how to swing it like a pro. If he wants his body to do something, he usually can make it do it. He never just walks- he runs, skips, rolls. He has decided he wants to be an expert in a sport when he grows up. He doesn't know what sport, but he whatever it is, he will be an expert in it.

I look at my sons and I am reminded that God gives us gifts and with those gifts he gives us dreams. He shows us a bit of what he sees in us and in our future. And even though I often feel I am living a dream with my wonderful family, I know there are things I cannot see that God has planned. Sometimes I need to look at myself again and see what He has put in me and what He dreams for me.