girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Thursday, August 28, 2008

greenbelt blessing


'it is a very cool thing, a blessing.
it has a democracy and equality in it,
a sense of intention and well-wishing that is concerned more with the destiny of someone rather than their destination.'
.
this blessing was written during the greenbelt festival at the proost lounge on saturday august 23 at 8pm.
the blessing was read over the crowd at the end of the proost session and this is what i said preceding the blessing:
'i come from houston, texas and a community called wellspring who i write blessings for each sunday.
they are a reflection of our discussions and dialogue and are read at the close of our services.
this past year we lost a great man that i never got to meet.
john o'donahue. 
he is a man that truly understood what a blessing is and so i'd like to read this blessing in memory of him.
now, if you'd give me permission, i'd like to ask all of you to close your eyes and allow me to bless all of you as we close.'
*the theme for greenbelt this year was 'rising sun' and the colors were orange, yellow, and red.
.
blessings on you who have entered this space-
who have traveled far and near to be in this space.
let your soul sigh in this space.
let yourself be undone in this space.
let yourself feel the love that surrounds, and permeates, and brings this space together.
breathe it in and let it wash over you.
for some, this marks the beginning.
the beginning of a new year,
a new song,
a new season.
for others it is a close, an end, a period at the end of a chapter.
hopes have been sparked here.
dreams have begun here.
revolutions and relationships have arisen here.
and as a phoenix, we will descend in all the glorious shades of red, and orange, and yellow.
this time together...
this space together...
this experience together...
we will take deep, deep down into our bellies 
where a fire will burn that will take us through the next year.
until we meet again we will carry within us memories that will never leave us.
embrace what is left in this space,
and in this time soak up all that you can,
and be sent out knowing that you are loved and you are blessed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the journey continues


right now i'm in the car with shannon hopkins and jonny baker  baker and we're driving to bath to visit with jon birch. these three have got some work to do on  proost  and so, despite just coming back from greenbelt, we're on our way at 8am. 
one of the places i wanted to see outside of the stops on 'tessera' or the training trail i'm on was bath. luckily, one of the proost publishers jon birch lives there.
when i found that out i thought i might have to skip bath because of who i pictured jon birch to be-his asbo jesus website seems a bit harsh and critical. i guess i just assumed jon birch would be just that, but instead he's kind and hilarious. 
so, here we are...and i get to see the home of jane austen.
.
i suppose it's time to be clear about why i want to stay in europe for the next couple of months and i think i need to tell most of the greenbelt festival story.
this will require this post to be rather long, so bear with me.
when i arrived at the feig feast on thursday night and then the first day of greenbelt i was self-conscious, embarrassed by my blessings, and kind of cowered when i came around all these people i was star-struck by.
it's not that i wasn't proud of wellspring or the fact that i can string together lines to create a blessing, but i guess i just didn't seem them as a big deal.
one of the first things that happened was john o'donahue.
well, he didn't happen-unfortunately he passed away this past january.
he's a past greenbelter and so greenbelt did an article on who he was in their 'big book'. they publish the book to help us newbies find our way around the madness that is the greenbelt festival.
o'donahue's newest book is titled benedictus: a book of blessings
ironic.
i need to track down that 'big book' so i could tell you exactly what it said, but all in all, the man nails what a blessing is and says it much more eloquently than i do.
i wish he had been alive so i could have sat him down.
i think we would have had things to discuss.
and when i said in my last post that i felt validated more than ever in my life, that needs some explanation too.
i suppose that the parts of me that felt they needed to cower or to be embarrassed were extricated from their hiding place.
i was forced to face what i've done and realize that it is good.
the first night there i sat in an interview with proost and got a chance to explain where the blessings have come from and why they're written.
people sat around in a dimly lit meeting room, sitting on huge pillows with jonny baker's son, joel, DJing. 
the whole thing was really groovy and i felt my cool factor rising. 
(just kidding)
it was a hard thing, to read those blessings out loud.
mostly because i was afraid people wouldn't get it.
those blessings were written for a people in a community from their discussions and their feelings. they are wellspring. how could i expect anyone to understand?
(which, kind of seems like many of the stories from the bible-perhaps some things just can't translate)
but there were people that loved the blessings regardless and went out right away and bought the book-that makes me blush.
the next couple of days i spent working the proost stand-selling people the database and selling  myself. i was forced to tell people why they should invest in proost, and i guess why they should invest in me. it's a funny thing.
on saturday night was the proost lounge-several people on the proost label sang, DJed, read from their books...
and at the end i read a blessing.
before greenbelt started i asked shannon whether greenbelt was the end of her year or the beginning of her new year.
she said it was the end of her year.
in the blessing i wrote of how to some greenbelt is the beginning and to some it is the end (among other things)
but at the end people really got what a blessing could be.
so many people helped me see how interesting a blessing is in literature and just how profound it really can be, especially if you do what i did before i read it out loud-i asked permission to give it.
people found that interesting, that i should ask for their permission.
there's much more to say about blessings, 
but i need to get on with the story.
the last night of greenbelt shannon, her friend shelton green who attended and stayed with us, jeff waldo from houston, and i all went to friday's for dinner.
i was in need of some american food and was starting to miss home.
during the festival i had tried an english pie (lots of meat and potatoes), a pork and apple chutney burger (andrew jones' favorite and one of the reasons he keeps attending greenbelt) along with lots of other foods and i just needed some chicken tenders and honey mustard.
that night i was in the shower (my favorite place) and i found myself in an almost out of body experience...i have been watching myself go through this whole trip.
i suddenly realized that i liked myself and wanted to be me (an interesting thought that some people might not understand),
but more than anything i saw that my life is 'big'.
if you've been following along you may have heard me speak of other people i know in this manner-other people that i think have 'big lives'. who do great things, are making an impact, who are changing the world, and people i want to be like or at least resemble. not as a way of not being myself, but in the realization that i want some of what they've got.
i hope that makes sense.
so anyway, in the shower i realized that i have a big life.
i have talent, i have ability, i have things i want to do and i can do them without fear.
i realized how much my posture had changed throughout the weekend.
i had been massaged into a posture of confidence and love for myself and what i do.
in that exact same moment two other things happened:
1) i realized that i didn't have to use my relationship with ryan to define who i am/was.
i think over the past two years i've been allowing my relationship with him to help identify who i am and validate who i am. when i realized my life had become big, i was able to let the hold i had on ryan and our relationship go...which led to the second thing:
2) instead of needing ryan i am able to love him for who he is and not what he can do for me. i can choose him and love him without needing him the way i desperately did.
he and i have stayed in communication and have many more conversations and growth to go, but i was able to see all of these things in one moment...
and i cried,
but i wasn't on the bathtub floor being washed clean anymore.
it was different and inside i feel different.
in addition to all these realizations, i saw that i need to tell this story of my journey but more i need to tell the stories of all these places i've been.
not as some kind of a documentary or text book,
but as a story of connection and family.
i want to tell shannon's story.
i want to tell wellspring and harbor and our friends in houston's story.
i want to tell as many of the places i've been stories', but with permission and humility,
but i want it to be my story too.
i want to tell the stories of these people who have validated me in the past, 
and now in this new place like at greenbelt, 
but from the beginning with wellspring church  when the beautiful ken shuman gave me an 'internship' and when i met ryan and harbor and they allowed me to tell my story. 
i want to tell it from the start and i know i need a couple more months to visit some more places so it can feel finished (if it ever does).
we'll see how all that works out, but it feels as though i have a mission i need to accomplish.
it may not be a book and something else may come, 
but that's all i've got for right now.
i just know i need to write all this down.
sitting in greenbelt it felt as though there is revolution within the 'emerging-missional' revolution that is coming and it has something to do with my generation or the generations close to mine.
more things are changing and need to change.
i dunno, i just feel it.
pete rollins in some of his lectures used the term 'retroactive thinking':
it's thinking backwards.
the examples he gave are like a parent who, before having children thinks 'sure, maybe i'd like to have kids. whatever', but then once they have a child they realized that they don't know how they lived without that child.
the same is with people in love-they don't know how they survived without their partner but once they meet them it's as if their presence existed eternally.
pete rollins started his community out of a response or a need.
that's why i wrote the blessings,
and why i want to write this book.
i'll find the reasons and justifications and the beautiful eloquence of explaining it later.
right now i just need to get all of this out of my head and my heart.
i need to vomit it up and making sense of it will come later.
i just need it out of me.
.
so maybe that explains some more of why i think i should stay across the pond a big longer.
i need to email people and probably do some more explaining.
i don't want people to feel abandoned, or alone, or as if i'm never coming home...
because believe me, houston is home.
i can't stay here forever, but a couple more months already feels like they will fly by.
if i was to go home, i'd probably get a job to bide time until i figure out what i'm going to do since this training trail,
so instead i figure i'll just stay here.
there are jobs and money i can make.
writing and advertising for proost and shannon's got some 'sweet notions' shows she needs help with (she's working with a couple huge companies)
and i've lived off of $1,000 or 500 pounds...so surviving is becoming easier. (i'm learning to budget dad! you should be so proud!)
so i know i can survive and last a few more months,
but i miss home.
i miss the people that make houston home.
but i hope this really does clear some things up...
we'll see.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the festival

so tonight was the last night of the greenbelt festival, and i literally feel like my brain is going to explode.
i have WAY too much thinking and feeling going on but it has been amazing.
i've gotten to walk in the shadows of people like shannon hopkins and andrew jones, and in the process i've met amazing people that are really in the middle of this whole 'emerging-missional church' conversation.
i've had to pinch myself. it's kind of an out of body experience and i'm kind of jealous of myself.
i met brian mclaren (people over here in the UK don't really think he's all that great, but i almost fell over myself)
and pete rollins (who literally changed my life every time he opened his mouth) invited me to come and visit his community in northern ireland.
we walked around in mud and with thousands of people.
i read a blessing over a large group of people and had several folks come up to me throughout the rest of the weekend and tell me how great it was and even bought the book.
i've learned more about why i write blessings and what they mean just by having people mirror back to me who i am.
i've been validated, encouraged and invited more than ever in my life.
i've sung hymns and carols in the organic beer tent with a bunch of christians and wondered why the hell america would never fit with this kind of amazing, intimate community.
i've laughed hard and been totally exhausted.
i've had great conversations with brilliant thinkers and random waitresses that have helped changed my life.
so much of this will have to be processed throughout the next couple months...
i've been invited to stay here until december or the new year.
i think i might just do it.
holy shit. what an amazing weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

glocouster cathedral


last night i attended the 'feig feast'.
it was the opening event for a group of about 80 people that are doing new and different things within the church.
they intentionally meet a couple times a year and meeting up before greenbelt worked out for most people, so why not do it with a community that gathers in a cathedral? 
it was lovely. 
the cathedral is immense, was dark and lit by candles, and smelled of faint incense. plus, it just so happens to be one of the filming locations for harry potter.
the food was also great but getting to see old friends like mark berry and meet new ones like jonny baker was even better.
around 10pm the community that meets in the cathedral, feig, invited everyone into a part of the cathedral that had a labyrinth set up with candles which they accompanied by some hand drums and other beautiful instruments i've never seen or heard before.
before we began the labyrinth, one of their leaders said something to this affect to us:
'be aware of your breathing and find your inner rhythm.
place your two hands up on your heart and feel your heartbeat.
before stepping into the labyrinth, pause before you enter as though you are pausing before you enter space with God.'
we all took our shoes off and spent time in silence walking the labyrinth.
now, i have done a few labyrinths before but none that touched me like this one.
i found myself at first afraid to enter...
who can prepare themselves to enter space with God?
but i did.
i traveled through the maze with about 30 other people.
sometimes i had to slow down because someone up ahead had stopped.
sometimes i had to step out of my path completely so that i could avoid running into others coming from the other directions.
sometimes it was like a dance and i avoided other people coming toward me with grace and allowing them the room to pass.
other times i would fumble around or someone else would bump into me.
sometimes i was close enough to smell the stranger next to me.
other times i became totally aware of someone coming close behind me and would suddenly become alarmed that i was going too slow and had to resist the urge to speed up.
sometimes as i walked around the rings i would notice the same patterns of people circling with me and felt better that someone, though a stranger, was traveling with me.
sometimes i would get lost in all the lines or someone would step across my path and i would panic wondering if i had somehow lost my way.
sometimes you traveled the labyrinth without seeing anyone in your peripheral vision.
sometimes the path was more lit than in other places.
sometimes i could feel the rhythm of the drums and the rhythm of my steps in sync,
and other times they were not.
and then there came the time that you finally made it through the maze and entered into the center of the labyrinth-
i found myself resisting it when it was time for me to enter the middle...
'no! i'm not ready yet!'
but i entered anyway and stayed in the middle for awhile,
just closing me eyes and trying to settle myself in.
after leaving the center you don't just head out of the labyrinth...
no, you go through the whole process again.
first you work your way into the center,
then you work your way back out.
the same anxiety happened when i realized i was about to exit the labyrinth-
'no...i'm just not ready yet'.
it was an amazing analogy to the 'undoing and putting back together' process that i've been going through and also for my image of community as well.
and even though it was truly just a big sheet with beautiful lines printed on it...
it was still a powerful moment for me.
did i mention it was in a cathedral in england?
.
last night i stayed in shannon's friend's flat.
(i know, i should be out camping but it's supposed to rain all week and i really do enjoy showering)
so we'll be here and traveling back and forth to greenbelt.
tonight i'll actually be speaking about 'a book of blessings' that wellspring and i produced and i'll do a little reading from it.
i think i'll probably be nervous and embarrassed, but right now i'm just so damn excited that i'll be attending greenbelt!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

days 30-37

today i head over to the greenbelt festival!
i have been super excited about this part of the trip-
i'm excited to simply attend a festival (i've never been to one),
to see my friends that travel from all over europe and the US,
to hear interesting people speak,
hear some new music,
and, of course, to see wellspring's book!
i was sad to leave orkney though.
i think scotland has a little piece of my heart now...
that place is breathtakingly beautiful.
i'm trying to keep up with my pictures uploading though i've fallen behind.
you can see most of them here on my flickr .
in continued fashion, i think i would choose 
RHYTHM 
for orkney's word...as many others have done before me.
my friend mark berry can tell you much more eloquently why that word sticks out for orkney-
the island is surrounded by the tide which has its own daily rhythm,
but then the people there do too.
the island is small and people do things their way...
they even have a fabled 'sing-song' way of speaking that few foreigners get to hear.
and of course the jones' have their own rhythm...
with 7 people living in a 3 bedroom house
(excluding guests like myself)
you learn quickly how to survive and how to be a part of such a fun, boisterous group.
i loved it there, and i loved them.
they have 5 great kids-
sam is the only son and is the oldest.
he's finishing up with his high school levels and is contemplating what step to take next.
he wants to work with theatre, and believe me, the kid is good.
then there are the two oldest daughters-elizabeth and abigail.
they are both in their early-mid teens and are great girls.
i enjoyed sitting around talking with them and being shown the city through their eyes.
and then there are the two little girls-
hannah and tamar.
hannah works on her own rhythm-every once in awhile she'll steal away from the family and spend time throughout the town...
the family has a history of contracting head lice because hannah makes friends with everybody.
and i love her for that.
(i was lucky enough to get away without the lice)
and then that leaves tamar:
she has recently turned 6 and makes sure everyone knows it.
i think i like her best because she asks the 'why' questions that i so often do and get teased about.
i loved sitting with her and entertaining all the questions she had...
and of course, everyday there was a new 'what is your favorite ____?' question.
i loved those  questions: 
what is your favorite color?
thing to do?
book?
movie?
it was great fun being with all of them.
i also enjoyed their mum, debbie.
she has recently begun a new family venture called the sorting room.
she is a great potter and does lovely work.
i loved just watching her throw a pot of clay or hearing her talk about just how alike we are to 'pots of clay' as the bible describes.
she said that each piece of clay is different from the others and you really have to be aware of that when working with it. the move of each hand seemed both graceful and in careful mastery over the clay and i can see just how poetic it all is on such a grander scale.
i also got to spend time with the  tallskinnykiwi!
i had given up thinking about 'emergent' and 'emerging' before i headed out on this journey.
i was ready to be done with all that, but andrew jones relit a fire and introduced me to some great thinkers.
i had a good time just sitting around with him in their kitchen as day turned to dusk as we talked about life and spirituality.
there was also another american girl there named jenna.
she also has short hair and is on her own journey.
she's just turned 20 and is trying to figure out just what she wants to do with herself.
i enjoyed sharing a room with her and was stretched by the presence of another young american traveling a similar journey.
funny how we can work things out in ourselves with just the smallest of encounters.
i do think, however, that i need to add another word to orkney, and it is:
PILGRIMAGE.
that place took me three days to get there the first time and a full 24 hours of arduous journey to get back down to london.
it will always be one of the hardest trips i ever embarked upon,
but also one of the most worthwhile.
i know i will continue to process as i've done with each group and i will continue to realize more and more about what i learned, but that is just a taste of what life was like with the amazing jones family.
right now i'm working on finishing some projects for shannon before we head out to greenbelt,
and i will try diligently to blog while i'm there!
tonight is the feig feast...
tonight is the night before the festival actually starts so everyone that is coming to set-up, or speak, or is doing something new in church life is welcome to join.
we're going to have a big dinner in an old cathedral
and my favorite line on their email was:
'what to bring: if you can stretch to it, a bottle of wine to keep stocks at the levels our Lord would expect'
i think that's hilarious and i am super excited to be a fly on the wall around all these great people! wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

back in london

yesterday at 5am i boarded a ferry,
then i had two bus rides (one was an overnighter),
and at 7am this morning i arrived back in london.
but, of course, i got myself lost around london and with everything that could possibly go wrong...going wrong...i finally got to shannon's at around 9am in one piece.
i know i haven't blogged in awhile, mostly because my trip to orkney was so huge,
but i promise to write more later.
it was a great trip,
but i am so ready to climb in bed.
tomorrow: greenbelt!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

24 years

this past weekend was one filled with travel!
on saturday i left my friends in prague and began the looong pilgrimage to the orkney island north of scotland.
on saturday i had two flights-
prague to london,
and london to glasgow, scotland.
in glasgow i met up with my friend shannon and got treated to a great stay in a hotel.
she had a ticket to  the fringe festival in the evening i arrived and i really enjoyed just getting to take a long, hot back and relax a bit.
on sunday shannon and i spent the day processing and working through this past month along with some anxiety i've been dealing with (more on that later) and she helped me get the rest of my trip sorted.
i'm certainly getting better on getting my travel stuff together, but the travel to orkney is unique and i was so thankful to have her help me navigate it.
later sunday evening shannon took off back to london and i began the bus ride up to inverness where i stayed in a hostel for the evening.
now, hostels in the UK are totally different than the states.
it was clean, there were young people everywhere, and very safe.
the only downer was the snoring going on in my room.
other than that, it went well and cheaply (the best part).
when i woke, i instantly began thinking through the things i needed to do before my next bus ride but suddenly remembered...TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY. and i smiled.
after checking out of the hostel i bought myself some food for the day and began the short walk over to the bus station where i had come the night before.
on the way i asked a woman whether i was headed in the right direction, she told me to just follow her...she was on her way there too.
we chatted on the way and finally made it to the bus station where i went inside and had a seat.
i was feeling kind of lonely and it was nice to have had some audible conversation with another human.
after buying her ticket, this lovely woman came back over to me and asked when my bus would be leaving-i told her not for another hour and half so she invited me to come join her for tea with her friend at a cafe right next door that is run by special needs people.
of course i joined her and she was lovely enough to buy me tea for my birthday.
i almost cried.
shannon had told me that she hoped God would do something special for my birthday and in the back of my mind i wondered how that could happen in a hostel but thought maybe the view from my bus would be my treat,
but of course, God gave me lee and her friend mary to sit and chat with.
they had great stories to tell and i was so very, very thankful for the encounter.
the rest of the day was spent on the bus and then a ferry boat ride across to the orkney island.
i also got plenty of facebook posts, emails, and e-cards wishing me a happy birthday and although i couldn't be there with my family or friends, i was still gifted with some great presents orchestrated for me.
.
yesterday mr. andrew jones, who is indeed a  tallskinnykiwi, took myself, jenna (another american visitor from the states) and two of his daughters out to check out the island.
i've got to tell you, i think orkney is the most beautiful place i have EVER been.
(click on the picture above to see a much bigger photo)
i no longer wonder why in the world they live so far away.
today i'm working on some projects for andrew and shannon along with just enjoying the chilly weather (it's 55 degrees here at noon) and the great company with their 5 children hanging around. 
yes, happy happy happy birthday to me.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

big girl

a quick word on growing up:
i am learning that nothing quite makes a person grow up like sending them to another continent and telling them to figure it out.
you are forced to ask for help.
you are forced to rely on yourself and on whatever resources you can conjure up.
you are forced to find your way from A to B
and to stay alive.
you are forced to create budgets and schedules and to plan, plan, plan-
and to soak in every damn moment because soon it will be gone.
i don't know that there is anything quite like it. 
in addition to this, you learn so many things about yourself.
you suddenly become aware of fears you never knew you had,
of thoughts that fly around,
of every aching muscle from carrying the weight of travel on your back,
of all the people that you miss and wish you hadn't taken for granted.
so, i want to say thank you to my parents for allowing me to take this trip.
i know that i have written quite a bit on my parents here on this blog...
i have analyzed, judged, and written without censure about them.
part of growing up is admitting when you get it wrong,
and i need to apologize to both of them for not giving them enough credit.
they did the best they could...
and i hope they did alright with me.
i think they did.
i have never said thank you enough to them.
i am lucky enough to have two parents that actually love me...
and i'm starting to think that isn't as common as i naively believed.
and so, to mom and dad...
i'm sorry.
i love you.
thank you.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

prague

i've been thinking of what word i would have called germany.
of course 'EFFICIENCY' would have been the stereotypical answer and i think that's true for most of germany...
but for my friends at kubic, i choose
COMMITTED.
i explained most of it in my last blog,
but that group of people really is committed to the best of things...
each other, God, the future. all of it;
and they are open-minded and willing to try and listen.
.
i've been in prague for 4 days now and on saturday i will head back to the UK.
my trip up to orkney will be a pilgrimage in itself:
two flights, a train, and a ferry just to get to the jones' home.
oh, and it's going to be 55 degrees there...pretty chilly.
prague has been an interesting place.
my first day here was spent helping move an office.
there is nothing like physical labor to get a person out of their own head.
you focus on the flex and strain of every muscle rather than the swirling in your head.
i'm grateful for that.
the people i am staying with are great-
sasa has been working for 10 years now on translating the bible into modern day czech (their last translation is around 50 years old)
he's done it piece by piece and in a few months they will be done with the entire thing.
here you can watch a documentary that was done on the project.
i have learned a lot by sharing theology with him-
i haven't talked theology in awhile.
i kinda felt like i was back in school!
he and katka have four kiddos, two of which are adorable little boys who keep asking their mommy 'what is that girl saaaying'.
they are cute and shy.
their daughters are 18 and 15 and are out of town so i haven't gotten to spend any time with them.
more than theology, i've had conversations about politics and history.
i have learned more about communism and eastern europe in 4 days than i did in high school.
if i had to choose a political stance i would call it 'juli socialism':
i want people to want to love and give to one another.
sigh. i am an idealist.
and sitting back in my sociology classes i thought that marx was a pretty smart guy,
but being here i'm thinking again.
you can see the remains of communism here.
people are detached and there is this undercurrent i feel of anger and bitterness.
around 2/3 of the population is atheist,
and if i had to pick a word for prague it would be
RESIGNED.
these people have had catholicism, protestantism, communism, etc. all shoved down their throats and they've been told they better like it, or else.
and i think they're just...tired.
you can still see bombed buildings and bullet holes.
and yet the people i'm staying with are extraordinarily optimistic. 
their 'community' (if you could call it that) is comprised of individuals that only have one scheduled meeting a month in an art gallery.
other than that, they hang out whenever events arise: birthdays, parties, bbq's.
but it's a different place here and intimacy is a rarity. 
i feel honored just to have been let into these people's homes and into their stories.
and i am falling in love with this sad city.
the architecture, i'm told, is some of the best in the world and i believe it.
i have loved photographing prague and i will be sad to leave.
in addition, most of my anxiety about traveling alone is beginning to recede. 
for awhile there i thought i was going to have a full-blown panic attack and i've been unable to sleep right before i travel to a new city,
but several times now i've gone out and done things on my own.
and i haven't gotten lost once!!!
i am usually so very directionally challenged,
and so i'm proud of myself.
i really do feel like i'm turning into a big girl.
and it's hard to believe i've been overseas a month...
and still one more month to go.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

germany



days 20-22 were spent with my friends from the kubic community in karlsuhe, germany.
i am so thankful to johannes for opening up his flat to me and getting me connected and involved with all the neat things going on in karlsuhe.
i met most of the kubic fellows two years ago whenever this 'training trail' that i'm on first began being formed.
i'm pretty sure the first time we met they hated me because i always told them to smile,
 they never smiled...because their german. 
(just kidding)
but now we're great friends and i got to make some new friends as well.
.
as an update, for those of you who met the germans, 
dennis and his fiance mirjam will be married in two weeks!
in addition to them i got to see daniel, his wife and his two little kiddos.
i didn't get to see bjorn or mark r. but heard they are doing well.
.
so, on friday i arrived and johannes took me to meet yet some more kubic guys (i was beginning to think they only had men in their community-ha!)
we got into some great conversations...
kubic is different than any of the communities i've gotten a chance to visit-
there are aspects of their church that i have only heard about in fairy tales...
they really do use the gifts:
some speak in tongues (johannes was brought up in a charismatic pentecostal church),
for a time they actually had a part of their service dedicated to prophecy (which seemed kind of like a time for encouragement but goes a step further), and now they are making the move to be a pastorless/leaderless church,
but if you asked mark reichman, he would probably say they've always been leaderless.
i asked johannes what 'kubic' meant and he said it's just like our cubic measurements, only not of a room, but the height, depth, and width of God.
i dig that.
they also own a coffee shop/cafe/live entertainment venue called 'nun' which i was told is a poetic form of the word 'now'.
right now is the traveling season for europe and the coffee shop/cafe is having trouble staying open, and so kubic has formed a team of members to decide what the fate of the cafe will be.
they have options-wait out the travel season (there is a place right around the corner that is being built for college kids and would be a perfect audience for nun), or they could sell.
sell to someone that has no affiliation to kubic or perhaps get someone invested in kubic to buy.
they have hard decisions ahead. this seems to be a really interesting time for them, and i can only imagine that it is taking all of their energy to remain engaged.
so friday i met marcus, martin, and grotz for a drink (i tried german beer!), then we took a walk around the city and i actually got a lesson on photography from martin (he is a great photographer).
the next day johannes and i had a great brunch at a very neat little cafe-it reminded me a lot of 'empire cafe' in houston if you know the place.
then we hung out, read magazines and books, and then headed to kamuna!
before we headed to kamuna i tried what johannes considers the most prevalent food for germany at the moment-turkish kebab.
now, when my family made kebab each person got their own metal prong that they stacked their choosing of meats and vegetables on and then it was grilled.
real turkish kebab is that, but is shreds of meat from a huge piece of meat on a spick that is then put into a huge tortilla with veggies or whatever you like. (it's like fogo de chow meets chipotle, again, for those of you from houston)
kamuna is a night in karlsuhe where all the local museums stay open until around 1am for people to come and visit. 
we got to see some special art installations and there were tons of people!
we visited two out of the many museums-
one had a 'design+emotion' installation which was great fun,
and then another that is fully art+interaction based.
by the end of the night i was not only physically exhausted from the walking and talking,
but emotionally exhausted from the sensory overload.
on sunday we went to nun for brunch and hung out with some of the kubic gang and then later that night met them for their 'service' as they call it.
their service was in german but johannes was nice enough to paraphrase and translate for me.
each sunday they follow the local lutheran church in their outline-the psalm and the reading for the day. then the group discusses. 
from what i understood, these people are really intelligent and thoughtful people.
i'm sure some, just like in most churches, just want to be 'fed' their spirituality, but most of these people really jumped in their and seemed to have great thoughts.
they also spent time in small groups finding out about each other's weeks ahead and how they could really help-not just pray, but really be involved and accessible to the others in the group.
then we went out for drinks with some of the guys again in one of the local 'beer gardens'.
it was delightful.
there are lots of things i think i've learned from this group...
they really are open to conversations from people on the outside.
they are not your stereotypical german group-they don't do everything for the sake of efficiency.
they really want to experience God and not just talk about Him/Her (and that includes getting in on the gifts of the spirit-even if that does freak me out since i've never really seen it...and no, unfortunately there was no prophecy or speaking in tongues while i was there)
they all really want what is best for the group-with the cafe and for the future of their church.
they all seem to want to really be a part of kubic and not rely upon leaderish people like mark to do the work for them, but know that is a really hard process and has its ups and downs along the way.
yeah, i like them.
as johannes said, the one thing that can be understood in spite of language is emotion.
i saw that in the museum of 'design+emotions' when old ladies were shocked at the display of poop or the gnome that was hanging by a noose from the ceiling, then later in the intense conversations around what to do with the cafe-i didn't need to know the exact words, i just knew people were passionate,
and then during the 'service' when daniel's little daughter started laughing because the group was laughing-she didn't know why we were laughing, she just laughed too (it reminded me of little karis at wellspring...and made me miss my own families back home).
all these times, i realized that you don't need to know a language to understand that people feel.
that is beautiful to me.
i'm sure i will think of many more insights that i have gained from this great group of people,
but this is good for now.
today i am in prague after a long 8 hour train ride.
and that story will have to wait until tomorrow.
but i do hope that all my friends in houston are doing well...
it looks like there's another hurricane headed that way and right now it is 3am and i'm sure most of you are fast asleep.
my thoughts are with all of you...be safe.

Friday, August 01, 2008

so very great

'THE GREAT UNDOING'
that's what i've decided to name what i've been going through over the past year or so...
i've been unraveled by something much bigger than myself.
it has been the scariest most painful time of my life.
i descended into myself and i went down kicking and screaming,
and yes,
i found myself many a time laying in the bottom of the shower.
i definitely did not take my undoing like a champ.
no, i pulled others down with me as i was drowning,
i blamed and sought to make others wrong,
i played the victim,
i hid, withdrew, lashed out, hurt...
and i did it all with the style & grace of someone being driven totally insane.
i became a crazy madwoman and i drove others crazy around me.
.
'he’d already been watching me fall apart for months now, 
watching me behave like a madwoman (we both agreed on that word), 
and i only exhausted him.  
we both knew there was something wrong with me
and he’d been losing patience with it.  
we’d been fighting and crying, 
and we were weary in that way that only a couple whose marriage is collapsing can be weary.  
we had the eyes of refugees.'
(eat, pray, love)
.
yes, i have had the eyes of refugees,
but now something seems to be changing as i've embarked on this journey,
and it's changing in the way that only travel seems to be able to cure.
as my friend johannes said...
i needed to get out of there.
i needed to get up from the bottom of the shower.
and so now i find myself in a new place
(germany, as of today)
it's kind of scary because i don't know how to be.
i've been that crazy madwoman that was grasping for any type of control,
gasping for air and clinging to anything that looked like safety.
so i call this...
'THE GREAT PUTTING BACK TOGETHER'
my body has laid there open and exposed long enough,
and now it's time for this sweater to stop unraveling.
i don't know what you believe about the whole 'dying to yourself' concept,
because for a long time i thought it was...to be frank...a load of shit,
but i think it happens several times throughout life.
this will not be the only time i descend into myself,
the only time i let go of the juli that wasn't really intended,
the only time i experience deep pain that causes massive change.
no, despite my own black-and-white thinking,
i am not so foolish as to believe i am done with this.
i will continue to die to myself, 
and maybe next time with a little less struggle.
(just go read fenelon...i can't even begin to quote him)
i'm starting to believe that there really are king's horses & king's men that can put juli back together again.
and it feels a whole lot better.
.
and he set me on fire, and i am burning alive.
with his breath in my lungs i am coming undone.
and he set me on fire and i am burning alive.
with his breath in my lungs i am coming undone.
and i cannot hold it in 
and remain composed.
love's taken over me 
so i propose letting myself go.
i am letting myself go.
you are my joy.
you are my joy.
you are my joy.
you are my joy.
-david crowder
.
how can i be on fire and be coming undone at the same time?
"abba lot went to see abba joseph and said to him, 
'abba, as far as i can,
i say my little office,
i fast a little,
i pray and meditate,
i live in peace and as far as i can,
i purify my thoughts.
what else can i do?'
then the old man stood up
and stretched his hands toward heaven.
his fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him,
'if you will, you can become all flame."
yes...i am burning alive.