Hello, goodbye. Amen.

IMG_1458Lord
I want to be okay,
with endings
and with beginnings.

Lord,
every yes
brings at least one
no

we speak of you as
the God who offers us
an eternal
yes

we
remain silent
as to your eternal no’s.

yes I will be your God
and no more destroying with
deluge

yes I will let the children come to me
but no one who does not become like them can enter
my kingdom

sheep yes
goats no

no you cannot serve both God and money
and any one who puts her hand to the plow and looks back
she is not fit . . .

and no Jesus could not stay past his ascension
while yes the Spirit has come to remain with us

Though you are God
even you submit to yes and
to no.

I am not good like you.

yes I want three children once they’ve cleared
adolescence
yes I want two children, so that I have time
to write and be by myself
yes I want to always share this good job
and yes I want to stay home and write
and parent two
and three children
and write a dissertation
and live slow
and make make yogurt
and garden.
no to sewing.

Yes I want to live a prophetic alternative
Yes I want God
and I want money
and I want a new dress from Anthropologie

No I am not yet enough like you.
Teach me the ways
of yes and no

who can live in the city and the country?
who can stay in the boat and walk on the water?

how can i with fleshed arms hold all possibilities
If You as spirit cannot?

how can I live in yes
without grieving the no?

Who can salute the morning
without
tucking in
the moon?

On parenting . . . if you can call it that

Tonight I was actually breathless when I read the last line from the last bedtime story to a particularly stubborn Miriam.  I had nothing good left to give her, nothing good except my apology.  Miriam?

Yes?  (She twinkles a smile at me.)

I’m sorry I got so frustrated with you tonight.  Will you forgive me?

(Big smile.)

I forgive you, Mom, it’s okay.

It only took me two and a half years of parenting to get so angry that I caught myself wishing my dad were alive so that I could tell him, “I blame you less, Dad for your mistakes.”  My dad had his own particular failings as a parent.  He was verbally abusive.  He was narcissistic and distracted and an addict.  But he was also the parent of two girls, just like me.  So tonight, after I scrubbed the dinosaur kale smoothie off the floor and the chair and three different walls, after I tended to the bloody nose, and after I wiped the blood from the stairs and the kitchen drawers, and after I unsuccessfully scrubbed the yellow crayon off the wall, and the built in cabinets, and after I apologized to Miriam for having lost my temper, after all of this, I know now that my dad wasn’t only a horrible parent, he was also just a parent of two girls, one who I imagine was particularly stubborn.  And so if you can hear this,

I forgive you, Dad, it’s okay.I have 2 Girls

Wormy Realty

Nate and I are trying our hardest to buy the house immediately next door. It’s been a bad rental scene for four years, folks peeing off the back porch, peeing in the garden, you name it, they’ve peed there; and since it’s in foreclosure, now is our chance. Besides hoping for better neighbors we are concerned to get in people who won’t turn us in for our six hens, who don’t mind our gardening right up to their house, who like the idea of us bringing in bees. We have friends, good people, faithful people, radical disciple, kingdom people who have shown interest in moving in, who have kids who love to hunt for worms with our girls. We love these people and can’t imagine it actually working out, but it might. We’re willing to not make much money if it means getting them in the house, I’m maybe willing even to lose money, since there’s certainly real value to us in having people like them move in, people who would help us live more faithfully into the ways of God’s Kingdom. We put in an offer, hoping the bank would bite, instead they paved the way for a bidding war by giving others seven days to bid in.

Now the reason I’m writing? I’m behaving like a total freak, more like a worm than a woman. As endless numbers of cheap suits step out of their SUVs to asses this investment opportunity, I’ve corresponded by flying out the front door, half-crazed with a half-dressed baby on my hip,
just to watch,
and then, well, just to ask them if they are buying to live in it or to rent,
and then just to tell them as many horrors as I can come up with
that are true about what’s wrong with this money-hole of a house,
if you can even call it that–
you might want to wash your hands, sir, as you’re leaving, cause who knows. . .

After a few of these encounters, I felt slimy. And so it turns out that even if it’s so that I can learn how to walk in The Way, being creepy is no good, my real estate shenanigans might have even been sinful because I kind felt like I needed to shower, or to confess– i’ll get to that. Real Estate Business, I’m learning is all about being shrewd and playing the game and I’m not up for it.

And then to top it off, tonight at the block party I was asking one of the monastic brothers who live behind us if it would be inappropriate for me to ask God to keep the brothers in the neighborhood, he said, “well that all depends on your theology of prayer doesn’t it?” The thing is, I was just being cute, or nice or something, trying to show my gladness for their presence in our lives. But Mike took me seriously, he always does. And in his response, I realized that I’ve been praying to God this week with a Santa Claus theology.

God, ehem, gimme that house,
you know I’ve been good,
or you know that if I get it it will help me to finally be good,
Gimme that house, God.

O for cryin’ out loud! I talk a pretty good talk about living into the kingdom and about orchestrating my life so that I can finally have enough support to start doing it and then I realize that right in my backyard, literally, live Mike and the brothers who welcome us into their daily worship and who live a radical obedience joyfully and who pray fervently in the spirit for me and my tribe and who throw birthday parties for my children.
Lord teach me to pray like my brothers,
not to a Santa Claus god
but to a Crucified One.

"Miriam and her brothers"

Miriam and her brothers

The Last Dance

The Last DanceI just ran across this photo of the last time my father and I ever danced.  We danced in the Arocha Conservation Farm’s 100 year old barn.  I, newly married, he, losing a battle only he knew he was fighting to cancer that would have us at his funeral exactly 365 days after this photo was taken.  This photo was taken on the night of my wedding.  This photo was taken on my 30th birthday.  This photo was taken on my father’s birthday and this photo was taken on the first birthday my father and I ever knew we were celebrating together.  A few months prior he received information that allowed him and my mother to finally calculate his real birthday and not the one the social security office had given him when he became a US citizen.  His birthday, they discovered, was the same as mine.  I remember sitting in the chair, the same one in my living room now, in my basement bedroom in vancouver when they called to share the news.  It was the same chair I sat in to call and tell them I thought I’d be marrying Nate and the same chair I probably sat in to tell them that I wouldn’t be marrying him after all.  Except we did get married.  Except, had I known at the wedding that this would be my last dance with dad, I would have danced like I was enjoying myself, and I would have remembered the song.

More like Jerusalem

Miriam caught me sneaking a thin slab of dark chocolate last night.

“Mom, why are you having caffeine now? . . . I want some!”

“Miriam you can’t have any because it’s too late and you won’t be able to sleep”

“Why do you get to?”

“Well, because I am old”

“You’re not old!”

This was welcome confusion on the part of my just turned three year old.

“Well then what am I?”

“You’re new.”

Halleluiah for the eyes of my child who is learning the English language, but not so well that she yet understands that

houses and and purses and macbooks and jean jackets and cars can be new

but people,

we can only be young or old . . .

as with Jerusalem,

whose crumbling artifacts dissapear into the rubble of war and time

old skin, shall never be younger

never stretch plump round warm infant thighs again.

I shall never lose the mark over my right brow where I scratched at my

chicken pox

or the scar on my hip where I spilled from my bike on the red gravel road

too far from my home for anyone to hear me cry

no

my skin will never, unless i pay for it, move taught over my abdomen

as if i myself had not born new life inside

twice.

yet

I am not constantinople

or brussels or rio

or new york

I will not be old and gone forever

i am more like zion

and so i do not care

if the earth is young or old

and i’m glad to wear the signs of

the familiar furrows made permanent

as i think towards hope

and grow weary,

Because Miriam is right.

Jerusalem and I

and the earth

with all her secrets

shall

be

made

new.

because I want to hear myself think, even if i don’t like what i hear

Lucy is awake first, and her impetego is on the mend.  For being supposedly “adaptable”, I’m certainly less able to roll with the punches than I would have thought.

Since, I only have so much time before Lucy finishes pulling it all out of my closet. . .

I’m doing this because I want to start saving my thoughts, because I want to remember what it feels like to write, and to think a whole thought, and I’m doing it because I finished my ordination requirements on thursday so I am doing this because I can and I’m doing this hoping no one will see it so that i don’t have to be critical or edit or put on a fake face but I’m doing this knowing someone might see it so that I don’t revel in my own crap for too long, so that I don’t start writing like I’m emailing (as in with crap grammar) and so that it can still be practice just in case I do want to write for real eyes.   So I don’t know if this is my journal or scratch paper but here we go.

Oh, and I can’t believe how angry I can get with a two year old.

Oh, and I finally felt the desire to sit and pray, but I started this blog instead.  Careful, Aminah.

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