Monday, October 08, 2007

Sometimes... Random Thoughts on This Monday Evening

Silence is the best answer.

Love is the only gift I can offer.

A hug makes me feel much better.

Tears are the best cleaning solution.

Running away is the best way to deal with it.

Taking inventory is the best reminder of life's blessings.

A smile is the only alternative to weeping.

My journal is my only friend.

One pastor friend used to say, "Stop questioning your reality. Question your fantasies."

A wise teacher recently said, "Nothing is ideal."


I have found it hard to maintain high spirits this afternoon and evening. Earlier in the day, I had a long talk and took a short walk with a dear friend who is hurting, feeling overwhelmed with work, and wondering how she is going to resolve the myriad problems she is facing. I have thought of her and prayed for her often this evening.

What can I do to help her?
What burdens of hers can I carry?
How should I pray for her?
How should I pray for the many people I know who are in pain, afraid, lonely, wondering when the sadness, the fear, and the drought (physical and spiritual) will end?

Here I sit in my study in the unrelenting Charlotte heat (is it really 90 degrees on October 8th?), wondering what to do, what to say, how to think, and how to pray. I look at my bookshelf in the hopes of finding the perfect book with the perfect quote and the perfect answer for all that ails me, my friend, and the world. If only it were that easy...

Maybe it's easier than I thought. There is one section of my non-fiction books that is shelved in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. The following list of titles is captured in the order in which they appear on the shelf. (This is not an exhaustive list, mind you, but these are the titles that caught my attention tonight.)

Journal to the Self
Living the Questions
Beyond Codependency
Finding your Way Home
Sex God
Simple Abundance
Loving God Through the Darkness
The Sacred Romance
The Journey of Desire
Eat Pray Love
Being Peace
A Testament of Devotion
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
First Light
When the Heart Waits
God's Joyful Surprise
Operating Instructions
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Plan B: More Thoughts on Faith
Grace (Eventually)
Practicing His Presence
A New Kind of Christian
The Story We Find Ourselves In
Searching for God Knows What
Through Painted Deserts
Amazing Grace: A New Vocabulary of Faith
The Cloister Walk
The Quotidian Mysteries
Can You Drink the Cup?
Clowning in Rome
A Cry for Mercy
Here and Now
The Inner Voice of Love
Life of the Beloved
Making All Things New
Show Me the Way
With Burning Hearts
With Open Hands
My Monastery is A Minivan
Leaving Church
The Bridges of Madison County (a juicy novel thrown in to remind me that I am human!)
girl meets God
Mudhouse Sabbath
Dangerous Wonder
Messy Spirituality

Perfect. The perfect list/metaphor/answer to so much that is ailing me at the moment. So many words of grace, encouragement, and challenge.

From start to finish: I am moving beyond codependency towards the God who created sex and romance and desire and laughter and joy in all its forms, eating, praying, loving. There is room in my life for His joyful surprises and a desperate need for operating instructions. So many thoughts on faith because I DO want to be a new kind of Christian, one with my questions and doubts and wanderings in the forefront of my life. I do not want to spend my life sitting in one place, but rather searching for (only) God knows what through painted deserts, dry cities, and quiet cathedrals. I am on a cloister walk, seeking a new vocabulary for the amazing grace that gave birth to this new kind of Christianity, with my eyes wide open for the mysteries embedded in all the quotidian demands of my life.

Here and now, I wish I were clowning in Rome, but because I cannot do that I will walk though my life asking Christ to show me the way, to keep my heart burning and my hands open to receive all that He has for me. On most days, my monastery is not only my minivan, but also my kitchen counter. I have been known to find sanctuary in the aisles of the supermarket, on my knees scrubbing the floor, standing over a hot iron, and kneeling beside my children's beds at night as we bid each other farewell until morning.

Will I ever have the courage to leave church for a while, to be the girl who meets God in the coffeehouse on the sabbath day, filled with silent and dangerous wonder for the mess that is my spiritual life???

(Can you say all that three times fast?)

If you scan this photo carefully, you can see some of the elephants in my elephant statue collection. I hope to have 25 eventually... from all over the world. The books on the top right-hand shelves, the ones that all look identical, those are filled journals. Those volumes cover the years from 1998 until the present. Since capturing this photo last November, I rearranged the shelves, shifting the journals so they fill the top left shelf as well, and adding more of the books that I needed within arm's length of my desk. Perhaps I will take an updated photo of my study...


Lisa said...

Wow! All those journals! How neat.

Not surprisingly, we have many of the same books :-)

I'm in the process of rearranging my bookshelves right now. Oh, to have the time and attention span to digest all the wisdom those pages contain.

By the way, I've left church...going on three years or so now, I guess. And I do not regret it one bit. My sense is that you will know when and if that is the right decision for you.

As always, thank you for your honest emotions and eloquent writing. I will pray for you and your friend.

Anonymous said...

Bookshelves and books-- they hold clues we seek at times in the pages we read written by other people hearts. But your writng your own book.

Your following your heart. Isn't that the best road map to life. And speaking for myself at least, my life is mounds of paper piled high and stacks of books(just a list of few things I have lying around).

Drivng an on empty highway maybe when God whispers in your ear.

Amy said...


I just did a major cleaning of my bookshelves, donating many books to my son's school's fundraising book sale. No spiritual books were given, as I can't part with those. You and I share many books on our shelves! I'm picking up a book today at the library called "The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape." It was recommended by a friend. The author, Phyllis Tickle, is an intellectual woman who has questioned and struggled with a lot. The book is her spiritual autobiography. I'll let you know how it is.