missive: laugh

Dear one,

I love your laugh.

There was a moment once, when you were completely unprotected, completely open and ready. You were safe in that moment but I don’t know that you were fully aware of it.

For whatever reason you let yourself sense that feeling or see that image or hear those words so completely that you let your laugh escape you. At first you considered drawing it back in, looking around you as if you had done something risky and perhaps…you had done something risky. And then, in a breath you let it go again. You became the laugh, it vibrated every ounce of you. You stepped out in faith that there was in fact some deep and utter healing in the laughing. You didn’t care about what you gave away just then, how loud your voice became, how it would look or sound to passersby. You abandoned your self to that moment, to that laugh.

And you know, there was deep and utter healing in the laugh. What you let out was not only an expression of joy and delight but also some of the heavy you have carried. It’s alright. There were hands to take the heavy, there are always hands to take it.

Let your laugh out more often, friend. It’s wonderful and contagious and true. We all need to share in that joy. Your joy is a gift to everyone around you.

Don’t forget

-mrs m.

bliss…

I spent most of the week at a blogging conference called Blissdom. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have figured that out, certainly.

Ok so here’s what I think- I think I let my introverted nature get the best of me far too often. Don’t misunderstand me, I love being an introvert. I identify with the watcher, the observer, the deep waters introverts swim with ease. It’s just that being an introvert also pegs me as outsider or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I make myself an outsider.

I’m drawn to extroverts, the yin to my yang, clearly. I married an extrovert, several of my closest friends are extroverts. I’ve needed this energy even as I never envied it. I don’t want to become an extrovert and yet I love to soak in these incredible extrovert friendships. Up until a few days ago I didn’t realize that I truly felt some lacking in me around this.

What strikes me about the gathering of women in this context is that I realize I’m thrown into gradeschool emotion all over again. I FEEL like I’m 8 years old when I attend large gatherings of women. I am that little girl on the playground, glad to be alone and yet terrified of being excluded. She had no idea how to connect with people live and in person. She wrote poetry in her notebooks filled with longing and lament, even then, sitting on the cold ground in the corner during recess. She sat there waiting for her moment, for some cracking in the earth to come and save her from the awkwardness of it all.

Just as me being thrown into that emotion was not the fault of the kids on the playground when I was 8, it’s not the fault of the women gathered at Blissdom that I went there this week, not at all. It was a lovely, diverse, intelligent and fascinating group of humans. Honestly. It is for this reason that I regret that I let my fear paralyze me when it came to engaging. It’s not just that, though. The lacking I feel is anchored in joy I read in them as I watched from my seat. I saw a great number of these women reaching out to one another, not seeming to be afraid of injury, using strong voices and rich words and I was taken apart. I long for that in me. I know it is there.

I’m not without humor or joy, I know this. I can channel my extroverted performer energy when I reach a level of comfort but I want that joy I saw. I want it more readily, more often, worn on the outside. And then I wonder if there is a place that will fall open in my soul one day…a crack in the earth of my finely crafted veneer when I will finally free the 8 year old and allow her to shine, brightly.

Make your own metaphor….

A while back I offered up chance for you to hone your own wikkid metaphorical skillz with “make your own metaphor” days. In light of the fact that poor “grab bag thursday” is quickly becoming a wilting wallflower languishing in the corner I thought I’d give it a chlorophyll injection and start back up with metaphor making days.

So, each thursday I’ll give you a prompt and I’d love to have you take a whack at being mrs metaphor or miss metaphor or mr metaphor in your own right. Just as a refresher on what makes for metaphor-

The basic definition of a metaphor as found in Webster:

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English methaphor, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French metaphore, from Latin metaphora, from Greek, from metapherein to transfer, from meta- + pherein to bear — more at BEAR
1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language

I’ll give you the subject matter and you must draw your metaphor (comparing this subject to something else and not using the words “like” or “as” remember….we don’t need no stinkin similie)

Here is your assignment this week…you may make it as long or as short as you would like, if you need additional paper you may raise your hand and I will virtually send one back to your seat.

Your prompt today is “Describe your morning”

I’ll model this for you briefly:

From a long way off I can hear the oncoming storm. It begins with rumblings, early, before the sun shows it’s face to the sky outside my window. In this darkness my bed becomes the trembling earth below the lightning strike, the ground below the thunder, while electricity collides with air and four small bodies vie for the space inbetween.

You’ll be graded on this but don’t worry, I grade on a curve.

volcano…


The thing about Mount St. Helen’s is not that it erupted but that it erupted with so much more force than was expected. The mountain was watched for years. There were signals, there were signs. For days, weeks even, the mountain was watched closely. Residents were warned, plans were made. That it erupted was not a surprise.

I went to Mount St. Helen’s last summer. I looked at the photos and read the stories. I thought, in that moment when I was moved to tears that what moved me was my memory of that eruption. I thought that I cried because I remember sitting my classroom at St. Teresa of Avila grade school and hearing about the catastrophe, being moved by it, sad and shocked.

I thought as I watched the video of that day again last summer that this was the place it touched in me but today I wonder if there is something else. I wonder if it’s because I am the volcano.

I have always been described in my best moments as “even keel” or “steady” I have even been called “wise.” These things may all be true of me and yet I know I am the volcano with the face of a mountain. I can feel the heat deep inside me, it resides in the pit of my stomach. I feel it bubble up into my chest where I choke it in my throat. My anger begins as the rumbling in the fire pit, molten lava needing a place to go. I say, “I am angry” because that is how I know to vent it. I am words, it’s my thing. I articulate my anger, express my underlying insecurity and sadness, my hurt and my pain. I can say these things. It is remarkably effective in keeping the volcano contented, for a while. As my life has become more complicated however I find that articulation is often not as effective as it once was. My articulation of my anger is often not enough for me. It’s not enough to speak, I must feel that I’m also heard. So often these days I am overwhelmed, out voiced, unheard.

My articulation of my anger is smoke coming from the mountain, ash rising into the sky. It is the air vent to the furnace below and it needs oxygen, it needs feedback. When it does not get feedback I produce fear and the fear is toxic fume. I don’t know when it shifted in me, this need for call and response. I’m not sure that even the response would be enough, frankly to disrupt the cycle brewing…it could be superstitious wishful thinking, the throwing of a virgin into the pit, hoping to appease the anger gods.

I do know that I will erupt and often when the pressure builds, spewing forth rock and fire. I try to press it down inside me and I cannot. I am beyond that. The tragedy of my eruption is not the loss of beauty in this mountain, though, it’s the loss of life around it. It’s those close to me, those who will not leave because they know me, because they care for me. This great mountain holds a family in its arms, it cannot afford the loss.

And in the end, the thing about Mount St. Helen’s eruption in 1980 is not that it erupted but that it changed forever the face of the mountain and all the life that surrounded it.

I don’t want to be the volcano, I know this about me and as I often tell you (and I mean it) I really am working on that. I want to be better, do better, than I am now. My great hope is that in the meantime, in the wake of the explosions and fires that my life will echo that of Mt St. Helens…that life will spring up again at the foot of the mountain, torn open at the top, pressure relieved and rumbling gone.

and now…this…

The first Mrs Metaphor must indeed be Emily Dickinson….queen of looking deep into the quotidian, she’s an idol of mine, I admit. Emily was an outrageously prolific poet. In a way I think she took everything into herself and translated it for us into the language of the poet. Everything was poetry to her and so, she wrote it down. I recognize in her some deep weighty sadness this ability requires. Today, in celebration of “the moment” I am posting one of her insights, written as poetry. Let it settle into your soul a little…maybe as you make the bed one day this week:

AMPLE make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.

Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.

-emily dickinson
from http://www.bartleby.com/113/4063.html

missive: moments…

Dear one,

Out of 1440 minutes in each day how many moments do you count?

How often do you stop and just drink in one moment. Do you take time to notice the scent in the air? The smile on the face of someone close? The sounds outside your window?

These are moments worth noting, simple things, simple events bringing up complicated and long lasting feelings. Each of these is the echo of eternity, the hum of the earth below your feet, drawing you in, rooting you. Consider that each moment you encounter and drink in is an elixir stored up in you for later giving you peace in the “now” and strength for the “not yet.”

Take the time to recognize these moments…to stand in the sunlight pouring the window as you stand at the sink, the listen to the sound of your children playing in the other room, to stop the busy-ness of your day for a few of your 1440 minutes and just be there, be present, taking an emotional snapshot of a fleeting, seemingly inconsequential moment. It’s important, it’s vital.

don’t forget

-mrs m.

solving for x…

I wonder what life would have been like if no one had ever thought to invent algebra.

I haven’t taught algebra yet to any of my children. I mean to say that in our unschooling lives I have yet to crack open a book on algebra with them at the kitchen table.

I’m avoiding it like the plague, at least formally.

There may be no way around it. Up until now I’d secretly hoped some great anti-algebra theories will surface in the next year or so before Riley’s “high school” years hit. If there was any reason I’d hope the Mayans might be right about that calendar thing it would be to avoid teaching Algebra in 2012.

So because I’m stressed about the idea of teaching of the dreaded Algebra I thought it might be helpful to find metaphor in it, you know, to soften the dread a little.

In doing a little research on it, I discovered some really interesting things. First off, the concepts of Algebra have their roots in Ancient Babylonia but the firmer points were developed around 820 AD by a Muslim mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi. The name “algebra” was taken from the title of the book he wrote about this new branch of math around that time. It’s considered to be the cornerstone of most modern sciences.

I’m told that Algebra was created because they needed a language to describe something they had no words to describe. In essence they invented it. They invented new “invisible” numbers in fact, to describe that which they could only experience but not explain. Up until this point it was Greek concepts of math, namely Geometry, which ruled the day where math was concerned.

So essentially we move from this very physical, tactile form of mathematics to this new thing, this cerebral and probably somewhat mind blowing concept of seeing daily, quotidian things in a different language, a language of numbers. We moved from the visible to the invisible, the seen to the unseen. At it’s essence Algebra is a way to describe things we do every day, the quotidian, in the language of numbers and equations.

That’s impressive. No, seriously, think about it. Al-Khwarizmi in 820 AD sat down and said to himself, I know that this task happens every day. The fisherman gets up every day, he knows the winds, he knows the sea, he knows his boat, he knows the season. This man’s livelihood, his very life and that of his family depends on this knowledge. The fisherman solves for “x” every single day. “If I do THIS….then THIS is the projected result.”

Some might say that what Al-Khwarizmi did was to take life and complicated the hell out of it. I know I thought that when I was in High School. Now that I’m Mrs Metaphor, I’m not so sure.

Now that I see things through metaphor, to the point of annoying everyone around me, I think I totally get Mr Al-Khwarizmi. I think he may have been an artist at his very core. Rather than understand his work and that of his peers and his successors as some long term plot to drive right brained people such as myself completely batty I think I can now appreciate better the deeper implications of “solving for x.”

Lord knows I spend hours thinking about the deeper implications of the quotidian. Every load of laundry is more than a load of laundry. Every action I take and every word I speak in the most ordinary realm has it’s effects on the rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of the month. Al-Khwarizmi and I would have some very cool conversations about this I’d wager although I’m pretty sure he’s lose me about 10 minutes into it. He’d lose me because he was brilliant, obviously but more because he’d be speaking a language HE developed. He made this way of speaking. Mathematicians spend years learning this language even now. It’s akin to theology students learning ancient Greek and Latin or Opera singers studying French and Italian. It’s foundational to understanding the deeper concepts of a craft. It is above all else, a language, which is why it’s so bloody frustrating for those of us who only have reason to speak it once in a great while.

I’m certain I’ll spend more time here as we climb hopefully into the era of “high school” homeschool around these parts. In the meantime, I’ll stop here, knowing I’ll be solving for “x” all day but knowing just enough to get me out of bed and into the boat for another day of fishing.

work…

I don’t know about words like “salvation” and “saved.” I don’t know what those mean in this post-(insert culturally relevant trending word here) world. I didn’t know what they meant in the modern world or the ancient world. I was raised Catholic. We didn’t talk about being “saved.” I have no idea when this first rose up in the vernacular. I have strong likable theologian friends I could ask it’s meaning, I probably will ask them next time we find ourselves in the same space at the same time.

Truth be told it’s a phrase that only causes me to react with much grumpiness and disdain. This idea held by so many in the christian faith that 1)it’s about getting in and 2)it’s about saying the words to get in.

I have no idea. I don’t understand faith as being a thing which requires a one time admission fee. I also do not understand the idea that my admission might be revoked, that there is some divine fine print on this ticket. I don’t understand it and I don’t buy it. I’m not buying THAT ticket.

Now, just to be clear, I’m not asking you to agree or disagree or confirm or deny this thinking. I’m quite content with my perspective and in my opinion for as long as one is content with one’s perspective it’s unlikely he or she can be convinced of adopting a new perspective. If this view stops working for me then perhaps I’ll entertain another view but until and unless that happens, I’m just telling you what I think and that I’m not struggling with that.

My struggle ISN’T that other people have this ticket punch view of God’s work in us, our belonging to Him. My struggle ISN’T that they make it sound “easy” to get “salvation.” It’s not really the terminology. It’s the idea that following Christ is formulaic. You say this prayer and you’re in, then depending on which flavor of christianity you choose you stay in forever or can lose this “salvation.” I disagree. A lot.

Relationship with God is relationship, not contract. He is Creator, not corporation. The beginning of our understanding of the real-ness of God isn’t in saying words, it is in HEARING them. I believe that God speaks constantly to us, cradle to grave. He never stops speaking, that simply does not happen in my estimation. That we stop listening, as the mood suits us is more accurate in my estimation. The ball is firmly in our court. Maybe that is where the whole “saying the words” gig started, I dunno. There is power in saying words, I believe that. I’m all over that action. And yet, friends, so often what saves us, most often what saves us isn’t what we say but what we hear and what we heed.

Once we hear and heed the good words we get from the One who made us we have a choice to make. Actually, we have a load of choices to make…every day…every moment… Each word we give to someone is a choice, each action we take, the smallest action is a choice. It’s the sum of our words and our actions that shows our real character after all. It takes time to build this and it takes a lot of hard choices. I talk about faith as being a marathon but it’s weight training for the soul too. One session doesn’t do it. The decision to JOIN the gym is a statement of faith but it ISN’T the strength you seek, it ISN’T the health you desire. It’s the hope of those things, yes but it’s not even close to being enough.

I could rant this way for hours and I’m sorry for that, the ranting I mean. I am cultivating an attitude of love, I promise. I am working on turning judgement away in favor of embracing even those with whom I disagree. And you know….it’s HARD WORK. That is the nature of this faith, embracing and loving those with whom I disagree and dislike is the work of this faith. I suppose that is why the idea that the path of the Christian is individualistic and contractual is so distasteful to me. It’s a “bait and switch” method of bringing people into a story without disclosing the gravity of this choice.

The choice to follow Christ is not as easy as pushing the Staples button, the choice to follow Him is every day reaffirmed, every moment rearticulated. It is difficult as it is rewarding. It’s struggle if we do it well…it’s in the struggle that we find the reason we began, the reason we go on. With each new struggle and each new engagement we find the voice of God is clearer in us, more recognizable from the multitude of voices that press in from all sides. The voice of God is stronger each moment we push away the resistance from deep inside of us in favor of being healthy, being faithful. This is the reward and it’s work.