_DSF3062Acceptance is simply the recognition that things have changed and will never be what they were before. This is how we find the strength to journey on. We accept the truth of what happened. We accept our hurt, our anguish, our sadness, our anger, our shame, and in doing so we accept our own vulnerability.  – Desmond & Mpho Tutu, The Forgiveness Challenge.

It’s been almost 12 years since my husband Lee died. But only in recent years have I accepted that I will never be the same as before. In many respects, that is a very GOOD thing – I am more easy-going (scary thought, huh? What WAS she like before!), more driven to artistic expression, more in awe of the world around me.

I am also more fragile, more easily frustrated, more easily broken. I am still learning to be gentle with myself, and to safeguard myself against those who are strident.

It’s a spiritual journey, walking the path of my broken, stumbling, dancing, laughing, crying, fragile self. As I learn to accept the truth of my journey, I grow stronger. And, I hope, more content – with myself, with the world, and with the path.

To Begin to Forgive

I started Desmond Tutu’s 30 day forgiveness challenge this week. It must be rocking my subconscious boat, because since I’ve begun, I’ve been easily angered, swiftly upset, quick to tears and cranky words.

I think that means the challenge is doing the work it needs to do. At least, I hope it does. That it doesn’t mean, five days in, I’m already failing.

I know that, despite the hastily aroused emotions, I’ve been feeling more like I’m being led, and less like I’m adrift without sail or rudder. The seas are choppy but not too stormy: drizzle, not deluge.

Is this how forgiveness begins?


If you’d like to join the challenge, click here: Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge

No Sneaking Out to the Field

wheat field

Forgive. We know this word. We recite it in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our sin, as we forgive…” We hear it in Peter’s generous offer to forgive his enemies 7 times – and Jesus’ ridiculously abundant response: “No, 70 times 7.”

This word (the Greek word is aphete) is also used in a place we do not expect. It’s watered down by most translators to permit, perhaps because, like Peter, they feel permit is generous enough.

Remember the parable of the good seed and the weeds? It goes like this:

A farmer sows wheat seed. In the night, an enemy sows weed seed in the same field. His crop starts to grow, and so do the weeds. His employees are dismayed, and ask if they should go pull out the weeds.

The farmer responds, “No. If you pull up the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat right along with it. Permit it to grow alongside until the harvest, and then we’ll separate it.”

  • As an aside: this is terrible practical advice. Anyone who’s planted a garden knows you have to keep it weed-free if you want a harvest. Clearly, it isn’t meant as farming instruction. Though, as literally as some take other parts of the Bible, I wonder that they don’t insist upon this, as well.

Back to the parable. We have understood the parable to mean that error (sin, evil) will be with us until the end, when God will separate good from error. We can – and should – try to remove it, but we won’t be totally successful until God returns.

Except that this isn’t what the parable instructs – AT ALL. First of all, the word we translate permit is aphete. That means, we aren’t supposed to permit the error among us, the error around us, the error within us. We’re supposed to forgive it. To EMBRACE it. Because we’re supposed to understand that when we try to remove it from our midst, we damage each other and ourselves.

Wha-what? No. That can’t be right. God cannot be telling us to allow, embrace, forgive the bad/wrong/evil in our midst. What about accountability? Restitution?

Ummm. Over 2000 years ago, a shadow fell across the ground in a place called Golgotha. It still falls across this page, across my/your life, across the world. This cross-shaped shadow reminds us that sacrifical forgiveness and godly love have been demonstrated to be the Way, and that we are called to live the same Way.

Without sneaking out to the field to pull ‘just a few’ weeds.

We Don’t Do Karma

Jacob Wrestles the Angel, by Arthur Sussman
Jacob Wrestles the Angel, by Arthur Sussman

It’s been more than a month since I last posted. I moved both home and office in September and October. I experienced financial tribulation. (I’m always so optimistic about how much it will cost to move. This is one scenario where pessimism might a better choice. Although then I might never go anywhere at all.) While I reconnected with some of my loved ones, I said goodbye to others. I traveled and I worked. Stress abounded.

My prayer practice was irregular. It would have been easier to maintain a center if I’d been more disciplined about altar time. Wish I could really LEARN that lesson. Still, in the midst of the maelstrom, I found myself, like Jacob, on the road wrestling with God. I emerged not with a limp, but with a renewed commitment to pursue ordained ministry. Why? Because I was reminded that my life centers around my desire to reach out to others and show them the Divine in the universe and in themselves.

After searching my heart and soul, looking at other denominations and other faiths, I am certain of my call. I am ridiculously in love with with this guy who walked the earth 2000 years ago. Call me polyamorous, because I want to share him, not in a “have-you-found-Jesus-as-your-personal-savior” way, but in a “OMG-did-you-hear-what-he-said-isn’t-he-dreamy” way. Ewwww. Saccharine. I know. But there it is.

It makes me sad that because of well-meaning but theologically incorrect Christians, many people are turned off even by the mention of his name. That’s heartbreaking. It’s like being turned off by the mention of Buddha or Mahatma. Like them, Jesus had game-changing ideas.

His best one is forgiveness. In Episcopal and Lutheran churches, we do this ritual every Sunday. Put simply, it’s called DO-OVER! (AKA confession and forgiveness.) You see, guilt and shame cripple us, prevent us from being our best selves. But Christianity (another touchy word) says, “You’re forgiven. Let it go. Move on.” It’s a do-over. Christians don’t do karma. We do love and forgiveness. That’s radical.

Speaking of love, Jesus  had some pretty interesting ideas there,too. “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you…just as your heavenly Parent shows love to everyone, so must you.” When someone irritates me, hurts my feelings, doesn’t appreciate me – my response can be, not anger or irritation, but love. Jesus says, “Someone’s hurt you? Love anyway. Love especially.” How is that even possible? But when I take his words to heart, my life is transformed.

I’m sometimes asked, “How can you possibly believe that? And why would you want to?” My response is that my life is better for believing.  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve talked about what I DON’T believe with regards to traditional Christianity. I’d been trying to decide if this disqualified me from pursuing the priesthood. I’ve been reminded that it’s not my decision, so I’ve placed the call and I’ve committed to preparing the paperwork. We’ll see what happens next.