Posted in Living Peacefully

Proverbs 30

Let us ask no more of this world

Or it’s institutions and empires.

Let us only seek the One who

Gathers the wind and wears the waters as a garment.

 

Let that Truth be our only shield and refuge

From this place of exile.

We will speak of it carefully but boldly,

Our hope and redemption.

 

Let us only ask that we be faithful,

So we may know neither riches nor poverty.

Together, let us believe that our daily manna

Will sustain and nourish.

 

In this place of humility we can trust

And be faithful to the promise of Resurrection.

Our poverty will keep us mindful of the needy,

That we may be His hands alongside them.

 

Let us speak Shalom into our lives as Enough,

So that we will not consume mindlessly as

The grave, barren wombs and drought blighted land.

Let us not burn through our lives thoughtlessly like fire.

 

Instead, let us dwell on the splendor of Creation

And on our part in its care.

Let us be given to one another fully,

Even as we are fully known.

 

Let our lives always be attentive to the

Smaller things.

Allowing mustard seeds, sparrows,

Bees, and hummingbirds to occupy our ambition.

 

In this way we will live in the palaces of kings.

 

 

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Posted in Living Peacefully

Ecclesiastes 7

for Jason

 

Let us make a life together.

Now at the end of all ambition,

Pride, and shame

Let us make start as we should have done.

 

Let us choose wisdom

Looking not at former better days,

But instead choose an inheritance

Free from the anger of what might have been.

 

Let us not forget our sorrows

But know them, so that we can

Be made rich by sadness of countenance

That will make our hearts glad.

 

Let us remember our riches as we

Dig and plant in simplicity,

Counting ourselves fortunate at the plunder of

Our collective and painful sagacity.

 

Let us listen as the Towhee calls us to

Nobler paths seldom trod

When we were seeking ourselves in

Accolades, acumen and praise of humankind.

 

Let us never pass a day without noting the

Growth of our hands’ simple work

Or the nest of the Warbler

Which needs our protection.

 

Let us be thankful for crooked paths

Traveled with the best of intention

Leading us to places of

Quiet and peace.

 

 

Posted in Living Peacefully

Making Small Talk & Neighbors

 

They pulled in late on a September Saturday afternoon. The house next door had been vacant for months, and we were glad to see a truck roll up the steep driveway that is a twin to our own. It was our energetic Labrador that made introductions, immediately tearing across the short space between houses and lapping the truck in joyful circles. My husband apologetically introduced himself (and Maxine) and welcomed them to our neighborhood.

It was apparent from the dress of the mother and older girls that this family was Middle Eastern. In friendly, broken English the father introduced himself, his wife and children, and shook Jason’s hand. It was a small start to what would become an intentional relationship. It was just small talk.

A few days later, Jason noticed them piling trash at the street. Since we live outside the city limits, we have to pay for a trash service. Day after day, they moved trash from the street to their home, not understanding why it wasn’t being picked up. Jason went over, motioning and mimicking through the language barrier until he made sure they understood to call the number on our trashcan for service.

When I asked Jason how the conversation went he replied, “I just don’t want him to think we’re those kind of people.” He wanted them to know we cared, but the language barrier was so great and our conversation so small.

We noticed the mother or father walking the youngest child, who is around nine or ten, to the bus stop each morning. They would watch furtively over their shoulder and stand several yards away from the other children who were waiting for the same bus. Again, in the afternoon, one of them would wait at the stop – within eyesight of their house – to retrieve her.

It wasn’t until around Halloween that we realized their apprehension was for good reason. While working in our garage one day, I noticed some boys headed up their driveway. I thought it was unusual, but just figured they were visiting the youngest girl. Soon, I saw the boys run across my yard as if the devil himself was after them. This happened a few more times during November, until one day around Thanksgiving I heard one of the teenaged daughters step onto the porch and scream until the boys were out of sight. I ran into the yard to help, but she was distraught and the boys were gone. That day, Jason and I resolved to be the kind of neighbors they needed.

Months passed with only waves and smiles across our yards – but we were far more intentional about it then we’ve ever been before with other neighbors. Then one afternoon my doorbell began frantically ringing. I opened it to find the youngest daughter, distraught and in tears. She’d gotten off the bus to find no one at home and couldn’t get in the house. She wouldn’t come in, but did accept the use of my cell phone. She called to learn that her parents would be some soon and had gotten stuck in traffic. We sat on my front steps and talked about her school, riding the bus, and what she had for lunch at school. Just small talk until her parents arrived.

The next time her parents were gone when she got home, she didn’t ask to use the phone but just sat and talked with me. I told her that I was glad she came to our house when she needed help. She replied, “My parents say your house is a safe place if I have trouble.” I was glad our small talk was working, but I wasn’t sure if they really understood just how much we were glad they were our neighbors.

Then we got the sign.

We put out our sign on a Sunday afternoon with little fanfare. That evening we heard some noise in the yard and looked out to find our neighbors and many of their friends taking pictures of our sign with their phones. Honestly, we just weren’t sure what to think about their interest.

When the doorbell rang the next afternoon, I assumed my friend had gotten off the bus to an empty house once again. When I opened the door, I found two of the daughterstreats with radiant smiles. With arms extended they offered me homemade pastries and this explanation, “We made this for you to say thank you for the sign. We want you to know what it means for our family that you are telling the neighborhood you are happy we live here. These are from Egypt, our home. We made so you know we are glad to be neighbors. We have never seen a sign like this. Why do you have it?”

I told her that we belong to a peace church and that many of us were putting these signs in our yards. When she asked what I meant by peace church, I went on to tell her that we believed in truly loving our neighbors in word and deed. Then, I told them what we believe following Jesus means. They are Muslim, but they smiled and said, “This is what our world needs now.”

We continue to make small talk. Last weekend, they asked us to get their mail while they are out of town in May – at least we think that is what they said.

We’ve made small talk. It’s a small sign. These have been mustard seed moments. Loving our neighbor in small ways that make a big difference, at least on our street.

Posted in Living Peacefully, The Autism Gospel

Healed on the Sabbath

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it?16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”17 As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. [1]

 

Part of my son’s diagnostic story is that I was once told he would never read, write, or speak. When I report this at IEP meetings, educators often have one of two reactions. Often they smirk and comment on the fallacy of shortsighted clinicians who shut doors too quickly. Others smile sympathetically in realization of just how much work it must have taken to get where we are today.

Today he reads. He writes. He speaks.

For as long as we have been doing it now, it still never gets old to hear him read aloud, or better still to hear him read something that he himself has written. I think this is a small gift I receive for all the tough nights along the way. But nothing – absolutely nothing – thrills my soul like hearing him read God’s Word during our Sunday worship services.

sabbath1
Printing his scripture out in a dyslexic friendly font makes him feel more comfortable.

Our church customarily invites Noah to be a part of our worship in this way. This week his text seemed particularly poignant. Luke records an encounter on the Sabbath Day between Jesus and a woman with a long-term illness. While the thrust of the passage is Jesus’ defense of healing this woman on the Sabbath, it was other wording in this passage that caught my ear when read in my son’s voice.

“Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.”

Other interpretations of the Greek ἀπολέλυσαι (apolelysai) read “removed,” instead of healed or freed. In the place of infirmity of illness, a near definition of ἀσθενείας (astheneias) is “weakness” or “limitation.” This could easily read “you are removed from your limitation.”

You are removed from your limitation. And in that there is healing.

20160821_102818
Noah starts his Sundays with a walk around the farm where he greets the animals – especially Smudge the Pig.

I feel that we are removed from our limitations each time our church seeks to include Noah in leading our service. Because the truth of it is, his reading isn’t polished at all. His fluency is so choppy that you can’t really follow along. His speech impediment makes understanding him difficult as well. Our limitations – disability, illness, weakness – are still present. But for just a little while, he is removed from them.

And we are healed on the Sabbath.

 

[1] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Lk 13:10–17.

Twentieth-century novelist Georges Bernarnos said, “Every particle of Christ’s divine charity is today more precious for your security — for your security, I say — than all the atom bombs in all the stockpiles.”

Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals p.258

National Security

Posted in Living Peacefully

Stillness…A Holy Habitation

It’s been over a year since my last post – one of the toughest years of my life. Those who’ve walked alongside me in my journey, realize the significance of that statement. Very little about it seemed “holy.” When it was time to renew this blog/domain, I made the decision not to renew it immediately. There were several reasons why…

  • I’ve got family who will follow this blog with the specific intent of discrediting me, and anything said here. They’ll say I’m a terrible mother and “Christian.” Don’t worry – those comments won’t be approved so you won’t read them.
  • I’ve wondered if I have anything left to say. Can I say anything else about Autism and our journey? Do I have any wisdom left to offer? Honestly, our life since diagnosis has shaped my theology in such different ways that it sets me in opposition with others more often than in agreement.
  • I’m just tired of running toward achievement, disappointing people and then walking back with my head down. I’m just ready to be still.

Faithful followers and readers of the blog might inquire how Noah is doing. I’m happy to say that he still surprises and encourages us daily through (not in spite of) his Autism. But this year has been really difficult for him as well. He lost ground that we were beginning to think he would not recover this time. Often we have felt alone and without a refuge for Noah and his needs. But once again, the combination of faith, love and a generous sense of humor has seen us through a dark night of the soul.

In the end, that was what helped reverse the decision to shut down the blog. I believe in our role as Christ-followers to serve as prophetic witnesses to our communities and wider culture. Our neuro-diversity has certainly set us in a counter-cultural place. Sometimes it seems to hold us there. But over time, I have come to see that as “gift” more than curse.

But through our struggle we have found peace. Noah pursues peace and sees goodness in unlikely places. As a faithful a witness to The Resurrection, Noah inhabits an existence where Jesus has truly ended war in the midst of struggle. As a family we strive to live peaceful, simple, and sustainable lives as witnesses to what we believe Resurrection Life will be when Jesus restores a new heaven and earth.

So in the tradition of the prophets that have gone before me, I think I’ll continue to speak and write. No longer running toward career or from criticism, I am happy to be still and proclaim the “good news” we have received. Stillness, after all, is a virtue.

 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah] Come, behold the works of the Lord,how he has wrought desolations in the earth.He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,he burns the chariots with fire!

Be still, and know that I am God.I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah] [1]

 

[1] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Ps 46:4–11.