Sabbath ramblings...

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a quote by Barbara Brown Taylor and immediately snatched it up. I was certain it would be used immediately. Reality, however, has been different and these sweet words have waited patiently within my computer for a proper airing. The right time. Or something.

That seems to happen a lot with me - I hear a great joke but file it away for a few months, I find wonderful recipes but wait for the "right time" to share them - same, too, with poems that get collected or cut out only to be filed away and sometimes forgotten. Last night I stumbled over Taylor's sweet words again and they still ring true - especially on my Sabbath.

We are lovers of a God who specializes in turning the world’s values upside down. We are followers of a Lord who waited tables and washed feet. We are heirs of a Spirit who has power to revive the whole creation, beginning with us, but only if we will allow it - by giving up all illusions that we know how to save ourselves and begging God, one more time, to show us how it is done.

One reason we run from God’s wisdom, I think, is because we do not know how to behave once we have surrendered our power. Do we just go limp now? Probably not. We should probably go on trying to be the best we know how to be, using the best tools at hand. We just should not fool ourselves into thinking that we know what is really going on. It is entirely possible that some of our proudest achievements are embarrassing to God, and some of our most dismal failures please God very much.

There is simply no way of telling, since our wisdom is so different from God’s wisdom. The only thing we can be sure of is that everything we offer up is eligible for the transforming power of God, who loves nothing better than bringing the dead back to life.

Bringing the dead back to life... this has so many possibilities, yes?

+ The NY Times ran a story this morning about a group exhibition currently at the Chelsea Art Museum: Iran Inside Out. Like the current novel, Censoring An Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour, these artists are striving to up-end cultural stereotypes along with the expectations of fear so that the humanity of the Iranian people - particularly women - are restored to life.

+ The late, Denise Levertov, in her final collection of poems, This Great Unknowing: Last Poems, speaks to this same upside down and life restoring gift like this in "Once Only."

All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we'd do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every initiation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did happen in our lives, our stories
are not drab with its absence: but don't
expect now to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body-halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.

As this Sabbath starts to take root, I am drawn to the words of Douglas Coupland - writer and techno-geek who coined the expression GEN X - from his little book, Life after God:

Now - here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you heart these words. My secret is that I need God - that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.
Me, too... "For the only thing we can be sure of is that everything we offer up is eligible for the transforming power of God, who loves nothing better than bringing the dead back to life." (Barbara Brown Taylor)
(credits: "are we ignoring jesus" @ photo from aaran gallery, tehran in ny times, july 24, 2009;


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