Stretch Marks

Stretching: autonomy against all odds. Autonomy within community.

 

Cheese balls. Rice Krispy treats. Fresh bread. Thick-cut bacon. Eggs from the market.

 

How is one to practice self-control in such a situation?

 

Self-control is a fruit of the spirit. Self is a hungry creature.

 

As Madame Guyon writes, “the death to the self life” is necessary:

 

“From this time [of the Holy Spirit’s flooding her soul], I found myself in the enjoyment of liberty. My mind experienced a remarkable facility in doing and suffering everything which presented itself in the order of God’s providence.”

 

I feed my desires, and they grow ever larger.

 

I suppose the easier thing would be to integrate into community that has shared values.

 

But then, Madame Guyon was no nun; she was married (fairly unhappily) with children.

 

The death of her son, then father, then daughter, then husband brought her closer to God.

 

She did not remove herself from the world. Living in the world purified her, through trials.

 

“This transformed soul,” writes Fenelon, “does not cease to advance in holiness… Its life is love, all love; but the capacity of that love continually increases.”

 

Does that love mark me? Is it noticeable? Is it less conspicuous than my consumerism?

 

George Fox wrote, “The Lord had said unto me, ‘If but one man or woman were raised up by His power, to stand and live in the same spirit that the apostles and prophets were in, who gave forth the Scriptures, that man or woman should shake all the country in their profession for miles around.’”

 

Might God raise up another leader for an American revival?

 

Shall we become a people of prayer?

 

And it is no longer important whether I live or die; whether I teach or am trampled.

 

Does my desire for God outweigh my desire to treat myself?

 

John Fletcher preached: “O for the fulness of the dispensation of the Holy Ghost! Pray, pray, pray for this! This shall make us all of one heart, and of one soul. Pray for gifts—for the gift of utterance; and confess your royal Master.”

– Sister Still

The Strawberry Moon and my Mother

This woman of 6 horns

Strike that

Double it

Twelve.

Clothed in dignity

and honor

Laughing at the days to come:

Her children in scarlet.

She sits quietly

at home.

Interrupted

Only

Every other minute

By a call

or correspondence

Of one kind

or another.

A smile that expands

and fills the room.

My mother.

Together

we gaze at the moon.

– Sister Still

Jesus on the Landing

In the morning, on the landing, I meet Jesus with a gun to his head.

 

It is my favorite painting.

 

I remember the large lady on a bicycle at my aunt’s house, beautifully mounted.

 

My cousin did that, with markers, all in the front garden while ensconced in her wheelchair.

 

I like the large lady.

 

But not as much as this self-sacrificial, suicidal Christ.

 

The artist is a Messianic Jew who regaled us at Sedar with schoolboy stories featuring skivvies.

 

We laughed so hard we cried.

 

Then we ate the horseradish and cried even harder.

 

Jesus is on the landing.

 

My whole life revolves around Jesus.

 

My life has been transformed by Jesus.

 

So how is it that I still eat hamburgers, wander the city on foot, and feel confused?

 

Mere mortal, you follow in the footsteps of your Master.

 

Jesus, did you feel confused?

 

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam: You make dry bones rattle and come to life.

 

I was dead, and now I live.

 

But this means striving, not spiritualism. This is flesh-and-bones suffering till Kingdom Come.

 

The paradox: The first will be last.

 

No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and to receive eternal life in the age to come, said Jesus.

 

I confess I look forward to the age to come. I confess I do not always desire to be on this earth.

 

I set my face like flint, ready to pull the trigger, waiting for Jesus-on-the-landing to say, Go.

– Sister Still

Show us the Father

I laughed so hard last night with the Lord that I knew it was His Joy welling up in me.

 
I rolled on the floor of my attic nook and enjoyed the unstoppable flow of the Spirit.

 
I know that He has done great things; that he has answered my prayers. If not, why the joy?

 
I walked on the boardwalk with my friend and we viewed what was on offer in the gallery.

 
There was a special, temporary exhibit at the pond: flakes of gold so light they were floating.

 
The lake shimmered and I cried because it was beautiful.

 
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

 
All that I have, all that I am: this I give to You. Lord, have your way with me.

 
No regrets.

 
Espiritu de Dios: Llena mi vida, Llena mi alma, Llena mi ser.

 
I had been fasting and praying for North Korea when my nephew brought me a mini taco.

 
“Did you microwave this yourself?”

 
A very pleased smile; a nod; twisting hands.

 
So much for fasting.

 
A drive with an Arabic soundtrack brings me back to the past and helps forge a new future:

 
I am ready to be on the road once more though better friends I’ll not be knowing.

 
Music might provide continuity on a journey with halting stops, starts, and break-downs.

 
I could tell my mother I would hear certain songs and she would be sure to listen too.

 
We would have that connection, just the way we do when we read the same things.

 
I know it is important for the people we leave behind to have a sense of association.

 
The night will fall and each will return to his home: me to mine; you to yours. Alone.

 
Our paths cross; intersect; and diverge. Someday I hope to see you again, again for the first time.

 
In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not true He would not have told me so.

 

– Sister Still

For those looking for some songs to share, check out

‘Holding Fast’: A Free Album Curated for TGCW18 20180531_051958.jpghttps://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/holding-fast-free-album/

Still Standing

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“You believe that every one should worship God in the way revealed to him. But that is not the way of this country. The way here is for all to do alike. I am despised because I do not wear shoes, because I do not cut my hair, and because I have visions. At home, in the old country, there were many like me, who had been touched by God, or who had seen things in the graveyard at night and were different afterward. We thought nothing of it, and let them alone. But here, if a man is different in his feet or in his head, they put him in the asylum.”

Ivar, from O Pioneers!

By Willa Cather

 

(PS This is not your ticket to go crazy. – Brother Bumblebee)

Happy Memorial Day

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“You believe that every one should worship God in the way revealed to him. But that is not the way of this country. The way here is for all to do alike. I am despised because I do not wear shoes, because I do not cut my hair, and because I have visions. At home, in the old country, there were many like me, who had been touched by God, or who had seen things in the graveyard at night and were different afterward. We thought nothing of it, and let them alone. But here, if a man is different in his feet or in his head, they put him in the asylum.”

Ivar, from O Pioneers!

By Willa Cather

 

(PS This is not your ticket to go crazy. – Brother Bumblebee)