Archive | June, 2010

Refilling the Well

28 Jun

I’m in the middle of reading Genesis at the moment and am discovering that wells represent a recurring motiff throughout the book. There is a need for water yet sometimes the wells dry up. And then there is water again. 

This seems a fitting metaphor for where I am at this point in time. I had no idea that my well was starting to run dry. On the contrary, I was thinking of myself as a pump that in order to produce had to stay primed.

Truth be told, I don’t know enough about wells or pumps to use this as an adequate analogy. I just know that it is time for me to refill my internal and intellectual well. And that the water source is going to come from rest. Albeit, I have to continue working to make a living but it is time to SLOW down and metabolize all that I have learned this year. To reflect. To day dream. To read and think and write. And contemplate my navel.

And most important – to be still. 

For He is the source. Of my well.

The Tortoise and the Hare

25 Jun

One of the hardest things in life is to honor one’s own pace – particularly in a world where we are all living in the rat race. And think we need to keep up. Today was a lesson in learning to listen to my own rhthyms – my own needs. 

I just dropped a class – something I haven’t done in about twenty some odd years when I was an undergraduate student. And because of the registrar’s schedule at my current graduate school, I’m having to eat about three hundred dollars in the process. A very expensive mistake that I hope never to make again. Basically, I signed up for something that I really wasn’t ready for. I didn’t listen to my gut that this wasn’t the right time to take this particular class. (We must always listen to our guts for they never lie).

I am not natuarally adept at languages but this year while in seminary I took biblical Greek for three quarters and never once thought about dropping the class. Quiting wasn’t an option and although I sweat buckets, I survived and actually did pretty well. But as the summer approached and I was asked to consider the next phase of development in biblical studies associated with the Greek language, I didn’t feel I was ready. In-depth contextual interpretation of Greek didn’t seem plausible when still wanting to solidfiy the basics. Not only that, the work load of the class was beyond what I wanted to cram into an already full schedule. 

We are not meant to run before we can walk. I am just getting walking down. 

So, I’m back to the basics. Weekly tutorial sessions with my Greek nanny who has held my hand all throughout the year. I am learning to read the Word in the original language because of my heart’s desire vs. the goal of getting a degree. And I will take exegesis next summer after a year of continuing in the language on my own. Because I want to be the tortoise not the hare. I want to finish the race instead of quit. And I want to enjoy the journey. 

I didn’t realize that when I signed up for seminary it would be a very different process than my first graduate degree. Studying psychology was serious business but studying the Word of God goes way beyond that. It overwhelms me. Heals me. Brings me to my knees. And makes me a child again. In oh so many ways.

And the best way for children to learn is at their own pace and with encouragement and joy. Halleluja!

Coming Out

12 Jun

Tomorrow my church will be having their semi-annual baptism, in which congregants who choose to take this sacrament get baptized in the Bay. I was baptized as a baby in a Catholic church so when I first heard of this event, I have to admit I found it a little weird. “Have I joined a cult?” I asked myself somewhat in fear. Nonetheless – and almost like an investigative journalist, I felt compelled to find out more. 

At the time I joined this church, I had already flirted with religion my entire life. Raised Catholic, I rebelled against this upbringing in my teens but still felt fiercely drawn to something bigger than me. Then when I found myself living with a Moslem family in Indonesia, working in an orthodox Jewish nursing home and sitting with a Buddhist sanggha during my early adulthood, I realized I still was very much wired for faith of some nature. But for some reason, I was not drawn towards Christianity as an adult.

Until I stepped into Journey Community Church. Like finding the right mate at the right time, I walked into an experience of faith that changed me forever. Without a doubt much of this experience overlapped with my mother committing suicide at exactly the same time — a topic way too complex to get into at the moment. 

But suddenly I found myself in a Christian church thinking about this guy named Jesus removed from the political circus of history past and present. And I knew this was the beginning of something that was more than just a passing fancy.  This was the beginning of the rest of my life. So I decided to get wet. 

What happened in that process was profound yet simple. 1) I felt the Holy Spirit descend upon me touching me with love and a grounded sense of ecstasy;  2) I felt welcomed by a community in a way I had never experienced in my life before and 3) I knew that my intuitive beliefs that humans are to love and serve one another in the image of Christ were magnified exponentially. 

To proclaim my faith out loud is still a little difficult for me because of the bitter taste many people associate with religion. Related, I remember the first time I wore a cross necklace, wondering what kinds of stereotypes people would project onto me – the same as stereotypes are projected onto people of other faiths – all the time and unfairly so. Yet coming out in my faith was and is an important process. It is something uniquely mine  and not for me to push on someone else – and yet I gladly share it with anyone who is interested.

Kairos

7 Jun

This photo was taken from an archaic, not so good camera phone at dusk when the lighting wasn’t ideal, plus the fog had just rolled into my neighborhood. But I took it anyway because the jacaranda trees are in bloom – a horticultural event that only happens once a year. This was my opportunity. My kairos. To capture the jacarandas in full splendor – a flowering tree that I love and which brings me joy. Why wouldn’t I capture it and sing its praises? Heck, someone at work used the jacarandas in bloom as an excuse to have a party.  

The word “kairos” is Greek and means season or time. It distinguishes itself from “chronos” – (another Greek word for time) in that it signifies an opportunity or season (as opposed to the kind of time we keep when looking at our watches). The word has been heavy on my mind not only because it was mentioned a fair amount in a sermon I heard today but also because I’d already been thinking much about the subject of “kairos.” 

I currently spend three of my work days as a psychotherapist in a senior intensive outpatient program. This is a program designed to treat seniors (ages 60 – 80’s) dealing with depression, grief and loss. It’s not the first time I’ve worked with the elderly. I worked in a nursing home in my mid-twenties for four years so I know a bit about age related grieving. Yet I am now 41 and I am working with folks who aren’t living in a nursing home. They live at home or in assisted living and for the most part, are just like you and me. Except that one woman mourns that she can’t walk her dog because her hip is giving out and another just lost his wife of 39 years (almost the span of time that I’ve been alive). They are in a “kairos” – a time or season of coming to terms with their mortality. 

Working with them puts me in touch with mine. In fact, for the last few months, I’ve been intensely in touch with the fact that my years are numbered. Having both my parents dead keeps this in mind, as does realizing that the biological clock is ticking and I haven’t had a child and might not. Time may have ran out. So how do we make the most of the season? How do we tap into what needs to be done now? Or what wonder is here now? How do we embrace the “kairos” and make the most of it for kalos (good) instead of evil or blaiseness? How do I not squander the precious time that I’ve been given?

I start by taking photos of jacaranda trees NOW instead of waiting until I buy a proper digital camera or an I-phone (because I’m sure neither will happen for a number of years). I start by going on trips (recreational or otherwise) if I have the funds and the time and the health to travel. I start by smiling every day no matter how much I might hurt inside at times. I start by ALWAYS helping those in more need than I, even if that is just to stop and say hello to the person on the street who asks for change. I start by following my heart’s love of books and learning and expression. And I start by beginning and ending my day with God – tracking His presence moment by moment in the time in-between.