Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm reading a small book called TheReturn of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. We know the circuit of the story -- restless boy, asks for partying money/early inheritance, drunkenness, women, pigs, awareness, return, embrace, fattened calf, surly older brother, reprimand.

Rembrandt painted this parable. Nouwen became obsessed with his painting, staring, electrically, studying, contemplating. He unfolds his connections, God's punching, in this book.

Nouwen speaks of how we're all like the prodigal son -- not happy until we're home, until we have the heart for home, until we reach our father's arms who welcomes our wandering.

He speaks of how we're all like the elder son and ends Chapter 4 with this quote: "Both [elder and younger son] needed healing and fogiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father. But from the story itself, as well as from Rembrandt's painting, it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed home" (66).

There's pride. There's anger. There's "what's mine is mine." All are reasonable. All don't allow a growth but a tightening. I can imagine the continued looks of animosity between the two brothers, building even though the younger desires a new life. Will this conflict run him off again? What happens when the father dies?

What do you do when a family member is jealous of your choices which has caused you pain and sacrifice to make as you turn on a better path?

Perhaps embrace that person? Perhaps define your territory as one which involves love but peace? Perhaps take their pain and carry it? Perhaps focus only on God's delight in who you're becoming through him?

I am relating to this story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I always do such a thing => ignore the blog, write, and then wish to write again and again before the long silence. The space of time, right now with the sun shining into my beautiful office room where my mandolin and guitar are splayed in light, is right; I have some minutes before I drive to retrieve my son from a rare playdate. He wouldn't like me to call it a playdate now that he is seventeen, but the mothers coordinate it as dates, times, arrangements still are elusive.

Anyway, it's a beautiful December day; some kind of pollen is blowing in the air; the green grass is waving to defy winter. Defy on. I'm in love with the potential in my flower beds as the sun pulls upwards.

I am wondering about something as pleasure brims: I am wondering about guilt. At times when I enjoy my surroundings and my easy living, I feel it. I think of others and feel for their lack. I think of my friend whose children are gone over the holiday and a new wife has appeared; I think of my student who just lost a grandfather; I think of the tired mother at work; I think of the parents and kids who just burned up on Christmas day during a house fire, or the . . . , or the . . . ; headlines scream and rant and let you know that your sunny room full of musical instruments is not everyone's experience. You are not all there is; it's good to have peace and to have "safe pasture" but one should not live for only this. (Did you see how language lapses into "one should" as if the deep voice of parents are still monitoring?) I sadly think we seek this and nothing much more.

However, guilt has a shelf which can be useful. Love doesn't need one but is often left up there with guilt, shame, fear, selfishness.

Did an unnecessary shadow fall upon my room? Can't I just enjoy? Yes, yes, yes! and yes can lead to an extension outside here as well.

It's a dilemma. One of my old friends thought one should just live for one's experience only, which is the highest form of living. It always sounded like a self-centered philosophy to me. Yet, my codependent urges to help or fix or feel something for someone has also interfered and made my living for others complicated and ridiculous.

For now, I am going to enjoy my sunlit musical room; however, for me, I desire a deeper awareness than just this, one that involves sympathy, compassion, wise discernment, and love in movement, not in isolation of my own self-serving joys -- although I am thankful, God, for the joys that each human being, regardless of loss, hardship, have available ==> your potential in the soil, your sunshine of pull.

May we all respond and feel the joyful freedom it gives. Selah.
Two days after Christmas. I would like to give a shout out to my friend, NP! When she, a most contemplative, brilliant, analogy-maker writer, creates her own blog, I will try to put her on my blogroll, which has not been edited for a while, due to remiss, ignorance, forgetfulness. Yet, it's good to keep old blogs regardless if they are used any more -- they were a stage for me, when I was home alone with a son who needed lots, a teenage daughter who broke us down, an escape needing a depository, a way to make new, smart friends, a room with a view to call my own. Blogs, an interesting room with a view. Now, we have Facebook where epigrammatic, superficial, or agitated sentence blurts are the norm. I don't think I would ever say, "Yay, Mizzou!" on my blog which I have many times on Facebook. It seems important to share team wins with others, immediately getting those gratifying thumbs-up. We're in this together, right now, in real time -- no need to pretend that anything else matters in our life right now other than a Tiger victory!

With a blog, one must be more thoughtful, perhaps that's why I don't write as much any more. However, I still do think. I still do wonder. I still hold open my hands for understanding regarding relationships, hope in God, a child with high functioning autism, a daughter who has turned the corner, and sees me now as a person. Life is good. Age is good. I can still run three miles, although running away from things doesn't matter as much as it used to, thankfully. God has broken me of that, still with the freedom to make my own choices and reap my own consequences, though.

My friend NP, the brilliant, contemplative, analogy-maker, beautiful writer, shared a video link by Brene Brown who is a researcher on shame which I watched today. In it, she says one of the keys to being happy is having the courage to accept your own imperfections. I've gotten better at this through the years, still walking the path into knowing that the outlines of perfection are illusionary blurry lines which mess with my perceptions and cause me angst. I am accepted the way that I am, created, loved, held together by the encompassing Grace of the land. I can relax and relax more into being imperfect but worthy of love and acceptance.

Yes, I wish I was better at things: loving, accepting others as they are, forgiving, hoping, believing, being more like Jesus, that historical and exemplary figure => for this I lean into the source and dip in my cup. And, dip desiring the dip.