Christmas

christmasstar200.gifAs we hear the familial Christmas story, let us open our hearts to the images which speak to our lives.

Each of us could travel a long and weary journey, only to find that when night falls there is no room at the inn.

Each of us could be a shepherd, patiently caring for those who need us, who depend on us.

Each of us could be a king, in search of the holy, ready to offer our gifts.

Each of us might sometime hear angel voices, singing of a glory we have yet to know.

And surely, for each of us, there is a desert to cross, a star to follow, and a new being within to bring life.

-Anne Fields

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randomness

Random fact #1:

blogstatsAs of this evening my blog has received 1,111 page views since I moved it here to wordpress. I think that’s pretty cool. And now it has received one more – yours!

Random fact #2:

YAK logoThe December episode of the YAK podcast – “Is Peace Possible?” – is available for download here. If you have some feedback, good or bad, about what you hear, or if you’d like to respond to the podcast, please send an email via the site, the team would love to hear from you!

Random fact #3:

Life is slowing down a bit, and I like it! I get to take all of next week off from work. And, in the next couple of weeks, I get to make some decisions about what I’m going to do instead of going to school this spring. Any ideas? Seriously. I think I want to do lots of random things. If you entice me enough, I might even come visit you, wherever you happen to be.

learning to relax and kiss the rain

TofinoI spent last Wednesday to Sunday on vacation in Tofino with my family – mom, dad & sister. We decided that this year, instead of giving one another gifts at Christmas, we would take a vacation together, giving one another the gift of our time, the gift of shared memories. It was a really fantastic time. We stayed in a little log cabin on edge of the the shore of a sheltered cove. We listened to crashing waves, pattering rain, and our own crackling fire in the big stone fireplace.

Winter on the Pacific Coast is a fantastic display of the raw beauty of this rugged place. The fiercely huge waves and driving wind were vivid reminders of how powerful the natural world can be. Water was the dominating feature of every landscape we saw, from the majestic snowy mountains we climbed through to get to Tofino, to the rushing waterfalls at the feet of those mountains, to the ever-present drizzle or drive of rain, and then that breathtaking ocean as the culmination of this captivating world of watery chaos. I was overcome with awe and humility at the mirror-like beach of water-covered sand, at the huge waves, at the speed and unpredictability of the water as the ocean poured in closer and closer, reminding us of who/what was really in control of things as we explored the beach.

The most unexpected part of the journey was that I really didn’t know that it would be so difficult to relax. It actually took me a couple of days to really settle into relaxing. Perhaps if I’d left my computer at home, not brought any crochet projects, and abandoned all books, I might have relaxed more quickly. My biggest lesson in relaxation came when I had a massage on Friday afternoon.

During the massage I found it was very hard to completely let go of my body, let go of control. I’ve been learning lately about letting go in my mind, about allowing everything to be as it is, I have learned that one can’t actually actively “do” this, because it isn’t really a “doing”, it’s more of a “being”. And yet when it came to letting go physically, I somehow forgot everything I’d learned and tried to actively work on relaxing and letting go. My mind did a fantastic job – when I needed something to help with letting go, I sent it out to float in a bed of kelp in the deep dark green harbour across the street from the spa. But my body just could not figure out how to release control. This is something I’d like to learn more about.

I think the best I did at just allowing things to be as they were physically was the next day at Long Beach running down the beach in the cold wind, allowing the hail to pelt me, madly exploring through little trails atop a big cliff, not knowing where the edge was or where I was, drinking in the beauty around me, becoming so acutely sensitive to the particular place I was in, that every sense was heightened and every sensation magnified – like the faint but intense heat of the sun I felt as it broke through the clouds (like in the picture above). It’s like being next to a lover in that moment of intense arousal when each breath from their mouth blows across your body like a wind and each touch is like a thousand fingers lovingly kneading your flesh. So the wind runs its fingers through my hair and the leaves caress my hands, my fingers massage the damp moss and my lips gently kiss the rain. And in that moment I finally let go…

why is Shannon so happy?

In no particular order, the Top Ten Reasons Why Shannon is So Very Happy:

1. She has a warm bed & good food.

2. Last night she and some school friends gathered for a potluck where they healthily ranted about school and churches and started dreaming-up possibilities for how things could be different.

3. She is getting a real vacation this week in beautiful Tofino.

4. She is getting a massage this week while on said vacation.

5. She has a great job with lovely coworkers and meaningful work.

6. A very good friend is going to have a baby any time now.

7. She has another date tonight with a very nice guy.

8. It’s the Christmas season.

9. She dropped all of her classes for next semester yesterday (yes, this is a good thing that makes Shannon so very happy).

10. She is blessed with many lovely friends and a dear family.

bound to the city

A brief reflection inspired by John Caputo’s On Religion:

In the radical Yes to possibility is the implicit sacrifice of status quo, of normal, predictable existence. When we open ourselves to the possibility of love, when we make ourselves vulnerable so as to live the Yes, we are taking a risk, making ourselves uncomfortable, binding ourselves to the passion of God – a passion which, at least in the Christian tradition, leads to The Passion, namely a hill, a cross, a conviction, a crucifixion. The Yes is a path so uncertain that we risk nothing less than everything. Any “religion” that demands anything less than everything ought to arouse suspicion. “We are supposed to be crucified to the world” says John Caputo in On Religion (54). This is a path where victory is always ironic, triumph always suspect.
Here, at the end of Christendom, we who find ourselves in the so-called “mainline” churches are discovering anew what the cruciform path looks like. Could it be that from the belief of victory through death, we too, in our triumphant religion, have inevitably reached the point where we must allow Christianity itself to be crucified as/with Christ? Ought the task of churches really be “survival” or “growth”? I would argue that a posture of openness to possibility, embodied in and through radical hospitality, is our proper work in the world – not survival or growth. We must allow ourselves to be humbled, levelled, bound by the love of God.
The city is perhaps one of the best examples of where radical hospitality is most needed and where it is put to the greatest test. There is no more important place for “religion without religion” (Derrida), for religion without the dogmatics, victory cries and dominations. Today we are called to do theology – and likely implicit, not explicit theology – in all of the places where justice must be enacted in the city, where devoted service is needed.