Wednesday, November 27, 2013

dark horse

i am my own dark horse.

i love that expression :: dark  horse, emerging from the back of the pack, from nothing to prominence. there's something so powerful about the image. it's sacred.

it's something i've come to realize about myself in recent days. this process of blogging has been a gradual metamorphosis, a process of flushing out what i really think about the world, about my faith, about what i want to do with my writing. i was this strange caterpillar creature, this thing that had its own strange beauty, but looked just like all the rest. and then i crawled into my cocoon and things started to shift inside.

ever since i started lifting my eyes to meet the faces around me and speaking a little braver, i've felt vulnerable in a way that i haven't experienced in a long time. i've been doing a lot of thinking, filling my mental pages with so many notes and thoughts with very little making it to paper. that's odd for me, as i tend to gravitate toward scribbling ink-notes on any scrap within my reach.

i'm starting to realize that blogging might be more of a contact sport than i originally anticipated.

so you wanna play with magic. you should know what you're falling for. 
baby, do you dare to do this? i'm coming at you like a dark horse.
:: dark horse :: katy perry ::  

i just wanted to write pretty words. i just wanted to be famous. i wanted to play with the big boys and girls who sat at their computers and sussed out beautiful words and had people gasping and nodding and whispering, "so true, oh yes, very profound."

i don't know when it got so real. i don't know when i stopped writing the surface and found myself under the water, completely engulfed. i don't know when my voice started getting louder. it's still shaking, but it's getting louder.

love is not a victory march
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

and i'm starting to realize that this rise and fall, this wave and this shift, it's normal. it's what i can anticipate now as i'm opening my shutters further. the more Light that plays on the floor, the warmer i become. it's filling me up, exploding out my fingers and toes. it's the most holy-hush i've ever experienced.

i'm becoming more and more okay with my lack of "safe faith." it was a statement, repeated over and over, almost becoming trite like a repeated mealtime prayer :: not safe, but good. but it's not just words anymore. it's my existence. i have flung myself off the cliff, and i'm falling at break-neck speed. it's a whirlwind. 

but i can smell Him in the air. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

throwing down {a poem of sorts}

{via perspective artista}
i've decided to throw down the sword, the one that they put in my hand from the minute i took a breath to see how well i could lift it. they called it Truth, but it didn't match the Words He whispered on the parchment page. they told me that was okay, it wasn't possible for me to understand. not really. they’d tell me, and then it would make sense. 

they promised.

i've decided to cut the cord, to let it go, to turn the hands of the clock back until they hit the point when i shut my eyes so tight that they knew they’d never open again. or at least, not until I turned my head in the direction of the Sun and let the wax melt away.

i don’t know when I looked down into the chalice and saw the wine turned to water because someone decided the miracle was too strong and that it burned going down. it's safer this way, they said, you must be set apart, but never let them smell it on your breath.

there's a lovely gag already fashioned for your feminine mouth, they said. it tastes like sweet things and silence and contentment. you should try it on. we made it for you special. 

but see, i’d rather be covered in dirt and know what the edge of His robe feels like than hold onto the neat and tidy pew-back and never know the way that Israeli dirt and forgiveness smells when it fills up my nose. i’d rather have them make me walk the line because the aroma of Him is so strong on me that they can tell that i’ve been even without me opening my mouth. 

that thing about gripping His robe :: it's been inside me for a long while. it's been ever since i figured out that my hand fit better inside of Rahab's than it did Mary's. i used to want to sit on the alabaster throne with my fingers clutching a scepter and clad all in white, a princess over a kingdom of my own choosing. 

but it didn't take long before i realized that the only alabaster that fit within my grasping fingers was shaped like a perfume jar. 

my tears and i found a safer lodging at His feet. 

and then He breathed. and my bindings caught the wind and flew as far as the east from the west.

i haven't seen them since. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

holy ground

{via pinterest}
it's holy ground when the darkness comes and you're sitting folding laundry and picking up dropped Apple Jacks while your husband sleeps. on the couch.

it's holy ground when you find yourself barefoot on the hardwood steps realizing that you're in the place you've dreamed of being your entire life.

it's holy ground when you find yourself shaking because the honesty and the vulnerability is coming out in gushes and waves, and you're lifting your eyes to see through the veil to the Holiest of Holy places and you realize the veil is hanging in shreds and you can see His land uninhibited. and through the tears, it glitters.

it doesn't have to be beautiful to be holy ground. 

sometimes we forget that Moses found himself barefoot on the side of a mountain with wilderness spreading vast and wild all around him, and there was a bush that burned and it was not consumed. and He was in the fire.

sometimes holy ground is burning without being destroyed.

i slipped into the mentality, somehow, that holy ground was safely tucked within the four walls with a cross on the top, and that was the only place it could be found. i remember slipping my shoes off and wandering through the grass around my parents' property and thinking, this could be holy, this right here. too bad there isn't a church here. 

but it was consecrated ground from the moment i lifted my eyes up and whispered, find me here. i've been clinging to Narnia my entire life. i cried His name over the meadows and fields that spread behind my parents' house, and i reached out for Him.

i called for Him as He had been calling for me.

we declared holy ground.

{this was the first of many weekly prompts from Story Sessions. join us, won't you?}

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

no more plastic Jesus

i'm sitting on big words.

i have been a lot lately. even since i let myself swing open long-locked doors and start to let the river of Story flow out. and it's refreshing, crashing waves on the bank of my soul. but every time i bend to take a drink, i start to become afraid that i'm going to drown.

i told you all the things i wanted to tell you about my story, big pieces of me that came from years of standing in a place of not understand what it was that i believed. i wrapped myself up in what i thought was the blanket of Christianity, only to find out that it was actually something completely different, and it was suffocating me.

i was disillusioned by a plastic faith. my Jesus was dime-store cheap with a wind-up key in His back. and i was the one with my fingers around the key, watching Him toddle wherever i pointed Him. and in the process, i tied the strings around my wrists and ankles and became a wooden puppet with a hand-sewn faith core. 

when i talked about how i can't call myself a Christian anymore, many people recoiled, as i knew they would. how could i say such a thing? many people applauded because i didn't quite fit that "good Christian girl" look that they were going for, and of course, it would be better if i sat this one out. it proved a thousand points in my heart. it validated everything that i'd been feeling.

because i've watched what the Church has done. in truth, i've done more than watch. i was never a stone-thower. i made a point to never do that. but i held the coats and stood on the sidelines. i never picked up a rock, and that made it okay. i wasn't like that. except that i was.

i can't escape this now
unless You show me how.
 demons // imagine dragons 

and i refused to let myself realize it until my story matched up with the ones that were receiving the beating. and it it echoed like a howl across the wilderness. i melted.

this is what makes me want to tell my story. this is what makes me need to tell my story. it's what makes me stand up and say :: He knows what kind of woman i am. and He is letting me touch Him. 

it's why i've thrown my plastic Jesus into the trash and shut the lid. it's why i've ripped off the blue and white label clinging to my chest, the one with the scribbled Sharpie name that says, please don't touch me, you might get blood on my righteousness, and red is impossible to get out.

i'm sitting on big words. huge words. words that used to be lodged deep in my throat, in a prison that i didn't even know existed. and they're trickling out, becoming a brook, and then a stream, and then a river, bursting over its banks and pooling at my feet and there's a Voice whispering, I am calling to you. jump in. 

and this voice is Raw. Alive. Flesh.
there is nothing plastic about Him.

i'm kneeling there, beside the water, and there's mud and blood and messy wildness covering me from head to toe. and the Lion is there, breathing and real and wilder than He's ever been, crouching at my side. and He's whispering still,

it's not really drowning, lioness
when the Water is alive. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

the end of passe love

{photo via dramaticelegance}
i am a voice on the internet.

it is sacrilegious to say that i feel like being as blogger has given me a deeper understanding of John the Baptist? i can identify with the sand and the voice and the wildness, his voice echoing in a wilderness, bouncing off rocks and scrub brush in an effort to reach the ears of those who needed to hear :: the Kingdom is at hand. 

the final result of John's words were a sword that severed his head from his body. bloggers deal with words. it's a different kind of pain. 

i knew that when i wrote this post, and especially this one, that there would be backlash. it's to be expected when you put your heart on the expanse of the internet :: you're not always going to get a gold star. but there are things i didn't expect.

:: i didn't expect to be told that Jesus didn't want me anymore. 

it's culture shock to hear words like that, be it from a stranger's anonymous mouth or from lips that have smiled at you in friendship time and time again. it's hard to wrap your mind around, hard to appear strong when your mouth is opening and closing and your brain is spinning and the tears are coming without permission.

i grew up in a place where the words Jesus loves you was repeated almost without meaning, to the point that it became as parroted as a lunchtime prayer. it had purpose, of course, to comfort and assure and fix the broken hearts that surrounded us. it was almost part of the liturgy :: stand up, sit down, pass the plate, Jesus loves you.
{photo via dramaticelegance}

i wonder when we stopped believing the chant. when did the fact that we are loved become so passe?
when did it become easy to tell the ones that we disagree with that maybe it's good that they're running, that they're scared, that they are turning down torn and battered labels because He didn't really want them anyway. when did that happen?

it's killing me.

i'm not sure when love became synonymous with damnnation within the Church :: to be used with care, only in appropriate situations, but most often directed toward those who are headed toward a path that doesn't "look right."

maybe the path is a little bit darker because His wings are spreading a broader shadow.

i'm over the debates of whether heaven is meeting earth unforseen or sloppy wet. i would so much rather drown in the sea that whispers against the sand, oh, how He loves.

even me.
especially you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

i want to tell you

{via pinterest}
i want to tell you my story. but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that my parents tried, that they were wonderful people who heard a word and let it twist inside the wrong direction. i want to tell you that i still love them, and they still love me, even though i'm still healing from some of their raising choices. i want to tell you that they're changing too, and they're not the people they used to be anymore either, that they're beautiful people with His hand-print etched deeper than it ever was.

but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that i grew up in purity culture where modesty was more important than personhood, where my worth as a woman was measured by the length of my skirts and the height of my neckline. i want to tell you that i followed blindly because i was too scared to take my sunglasses off inside the Church.

but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that i courted my husband and we have so much regret from the way we were guided into love. i want to tell you that i look back and i think, why didn't i just kiss him a thousand times before i finally took a breath of courage, and why did the fear have to come so strong afterward? i think, why didn't i press that Joshua Harris book back onto the shelf and whisper, it's okay. i'm going to hold his hand and we're both going to chase the Lion instead of legalism...why didn't i?

but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that i found a way back into love surrounded by a tribe of women who helped peel the duct tape off my mouth that the well-meaning Church slipped over my lips when i wasn't looking. i want to tell you that i've sobbed my eyes out for the nearly twenty-one years lost in blindness before i dared to look straight into His eyes and whisper, i don't know You. but You know me. 
{via pinterest}

but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that i realized that i was a Jesus feminist when they placed my daughter into my arms and i looked at her face and thought, i can't let her endure what i did. i want to tell you that stepping out as a feminist was like my own personal closet with helpings of shame and grief that came alongside the breathing.

but i'm scared.

i want to tell you that i love you. i want to tell you that i love Jesus. i want to tell you that i see Him as a Lion because He isn't safe, and i can't do safe faith anymore. i want to tell You that i'm messy, and so is Jesus, and that's why i can lean on Him so fully, because i'm not afraid that me will rub off on Him. :: if anything, He's rubbing off on me. 

and like i've said, i'm scared.

but i think i'm going to tell you anyway. because He has made me a wild thing, a lioness renewed with the wings of an albatross at her back.

*deep breath* 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

standing with the five

{via PerceptiveArtista}
two years ago, a soul-sister reached through the letterbox and pressed a book into my hands. the title spoke a name so often spoken with accusing acid within the church :: Havah {Eve}. 

i got lost inside that book. it wove a familiar story into a new pattern and wrapped itself around my shoulders as i wept. it's always the way when you're reading something well-known, where you know the ending like the back of your hand, but somehow, you think if you beg a little louder, things will change. 

:: but they never do. 

she's one of those women that gets a lot of grief from those of us who have carried their stories in our pockets from the early Sunday School days. we point 21st century fingers back with 20/20 vision and wag them back and forth with clucking tongues. tsk tsk tsk. she should have known better. 

all we see is the bite-mark, the belly curved with her father-in-law's unborn twins, the rooftop bathtub. and so we toss our heads and murmur, we can learn from them. we must not do what they have done. i would have never...and we find our paths crossing with modern day women just like us, just like them, and we cross to the other side of the road. 

but we leave the biggest part out :: the mother of He. 

nothing they did erased the lineage of the Lion from their blood. nothing they did made them untouchable or unworthy in the eyes of the One who would one day touch the hand of the broken, bleeding, unclean ones and whisper daughter. 
{via PerceptiveArtista}

you will hear thunder and remember me, and think: she wanted storms. 
the rim of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson. 
and your heart, as it was then, will be on fire

:: Anna Akhmatova

a wise friend of mine spoke to my heart this week :: how can we love the ones we avoid? and it made me gasp aloud. i see so much of me reflected back from the eyes of these scarlet-lettered ones. but He tugged and tugged at the sewn-on letter and let it unravel, wild and loose, and tied a scarlet thread into their hair so that the world can see their eyes. 

there is so much existence in Him. i've said it before, and i'll say it here again because i cannot remove this reality from my heart. He is not a statue of marble, rigid and cold. He is breath and blood and Light and Wild. He is touchable-sacred. 

i'm finding my place at His feet, curled up against His warm side. there's me, and there's the five women from His line with their woven stories wrapped around their shoulders. and there's you, too. 

i am telling my Story. 
right beside theirs. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the start of the melting

{via pinterest}
i remember the day that i melted. i think i will always remember. it was the very first day that i dared to question what was laid in front of me. i was seventeen with eyebrows tinged white from the missionary mime make-up. it was merely days after the quietest moment of my life. my toes were on foreign soil, in a land that has forever woven a spell over my heart.

it was the night of the talk. you know the one. we were gathered together, boys and girls and men and women. the words spoken to us were inspirational. at the time, they conjured something different than they would now. it was a type of shame, it made us blush. but we knew the drill :: we'd all heard it before, and the feeling it brought was familiar. they talked about shirts too low and jeans too tight, they looked us dead in the eye and told us to protect our brothers.

they taught us how to hug, arms draped around the shoulders from the side, never too long. they taught us about closed doors and warnings and dreaded plane trips home should we embrace too long, should a boy-toe ever enter the room of a girl. 

and then the talk ended and the mood changed. there was laughter and friends chatting during a short break, an appropriate hug exchanged here and there, but everyone was careful. it was ingrained. we knew what to do.

and then came the mention of the yearly mother-daughter cruise. there were cheers. there was excitement. and then the lights dimmed and the slideshow started to roll. and something inside me melted like wax.

the fabric was bright. blues and whites and yellows and greens and pinks. typical bikini colours. it was a cruise after all, all full of mothers and daughters bonding together. and they were on a ship in the ocean, and BarlowGirl was singing, and the girls were wearing bikinis.

i felt his hand on my shoulder, my friend, my heart-brother. i remember the look in his eyes, the way he whispered with head buried in hands, peering up at me through his fingers,

are they watching me? is this a test? i don't know where to look.

i remember when the lights came up and the burst of courage filled me. i was seventeen. i had never questioned anything before, not like this. but i couldn't let it go. i couldn't forget that look in his eyes.

with shaking fingers, i walked to the woman who ran the show, the one whose face we all knew, the one who smiled at the door each morning and spoke God to us each night. i touched her arm and took a deep breath.

"i'm sorry. but that didn't seem right. not after what you just said. all those girls in bikinis, the guys were confused. i was confused. i don't understand. it felt wrong."

i knew what i was expecting. i was expecting an answer, an easy one, some sort of explanation as to why. but she looked at me and pursed her lips and said, the Devil likes to cause turmoil at times like this. we don't need that kind of attitude here. 

i cried that night into my pillow, my roommates gathered around me with their hands on my back. it didn't feel right to them either. they told us not to look, they told us to keep our eyes closed and bodies covered. they whispered shame but screamed contradiction in our faces.

but what could we do? we were just teenagers. we were just girls.

i was so confused, everything all twisted up inside. was this what purity meant? i always thought it was something holy, something bright and white and glorious. i didn't know it then, but this was the start of my uncovering. my casting aside the millstone and taking a lighter yoke on my shoulders.

at the airport, two days later as we all winged our way from South America to long-missed families, my soul-brother hugged my neck.

i've never forgotten.

this is why i'm a Jesus feminist.
this is why i fight.

slow-stepping out the shadows, allowing the dark soul-night to teach me something. i'm learning how to put a face to the shame, slipping a voice against the palm of the voiceless.

{this is a piece of my journey. join with the wild mystics for a deep journey into the dark night}

Monday, November 4, 2013

sufficient wildness

it's official. i've decided that this thing of being gutted is apparently what i'm supposed to be doing. i never intended for my thrashing journey to become this public, this observed by the world around me. in some respects, each post i've written and each personal snapshot that i've shared has caused me to withdraw, to pull back into myself and against His wild mane.

it's not that i'm withdrawing fully. if anything, i'm drawing close for shelter, for comfort. it's remarkable how my path is straying closer and closer to the Lion's keep while those around me seem to feel the need to pull me back to the "right path." it's answering my questions, in a funny sort of way.

there are words that He spoke, words about a gate and wide and narrow paths. someone recently spoke to me on a friend's Facebook post about wildness and Christian mysticism, and i made a remark to this stranger who was taken aback that God might just have wild things.

i've quoted Lewis before in this place, and i'm going to say it again because it's the epitome of what i believe :: safe? of course He isn't safe. whoever said anything about safe? but He's good. He's the King, i tell you. 

do you know when you walk a wild path behind a wild Lion, you're going to get dirty? and there's going to be leaves in your hair and blisters on your feet and stained berries in patterns down your arms? and there will be tears in your eyes, but they glisten and reflect the light right back, so you're never blinded. He has a bottle for each drop, and He keeps it close. not to look back and gloat in your suffering and your weeping, but to work into the watercolour palate and smear them across a canvas :: see, I am doing a new thing. 

the more i write, the more fingers point, telling me that i'm not "doing faith" the right way. i've sat on those words since the minute they were spoken to me, agonizing and pacing back and forth within myself. i was at the water's edge, panting from self-exertion. i started to wonder, to worry, how could i love Him and still please all these others around me.
it simply wasn't working.

and that's when i discovered that His mane was wild with a few dreadlocks of His own. there is so much existence woven into Him. somehow, i keep forgetting that He is Man as much as He is God. His growl echoes in my heart :: if you had felt sufficient, it would have been proof that you are not. 

and so this withdrawing is not hiding. it's not an attempt to get my clothing in a line and my shoes on the right feet and my face appropriately hidden. oh no, it's allowing Him to breathe Life into my lungs and to refuel me in a way that only He can.

i'm still thrashing, diving deeper and splashing until i'm soaked, even to the ends of my hair. and i'm going up the path, riding on His back, inhaling the wind.

and the path behind is littered with broken chains.