There you are

There you are

This morning I awoke from the loveliest dream I can recall for some time now.

Betsy and I were walking in London and noticed a happy crowd gathering along the Thames. As we drew closer we could see hundreds of inner tubes with smiling waving people were floating down the famed river.

I slowly noticed that the inner tubes were linked together with rainbow colored cords, each carrying a person dressed in spectacular attire not at all as one might be for a lazy float down a river. Slowly, a Pride float came into view just behind the throng of floating revelers.

I quickly maneuvered closer to the river bank, squeezing between joyous people of every shape, color and sequin. I came to a high fence perched just between the party on the banks and the party in the water.

As I stepped on the bottom rail to get a better view, it was then that I saw – no, heard first, then saw – an all-female, Irish choir, draped in gorgeous green robes, singing in the most spectacular harmony just three words as each float approached …

There you are.
To greet the drag queen float –
There you are.
To welcome the leather float –
There you are.
To embrace the old hippie lesbian float –
There you are.
To celebrate the arrival of the voguing float –
There you are.

The air was filled with the most amazing harmony –
There you are.

And I began to weep. No – ugly cry.
In my heart I of hearts, beyond the dream, before and after time, I heard the words.
There you are.

When I woke up the next words that occurred to me were from that great hymn…
I once was lost, but now I’m found.

That’s it, isn’t it? To be seen, fully seen by someone who loves and has been looking for you –

As the morning light peeked through the shades, memories flickered of playing hide and seek with my mom when I was little. The sound of her voice, the look on her face and the knowledge that she really wanted to find me when she said “there you are!”

The memory of that feeling is what makes the dream so complex since later when she could see me for who I really am, that wasn’t the sound of her voice or the look on her face. Now that she’s gone, I’d like to think maybe, just maybe, the choir in the dream was her voice filled with love again.

There you are.

Don’t we all long to be fully seen, found when we are lost, embraced when we are fully inhabiting our own humanity?

There you are!

To love and allow ourselves to be loved

To love and allow ourselves to be loved

I’ve become rather obsessed with walking. In the midst of the pandemic, there’s not much else to keep my body and mind moving, so I started walking, and reading about walking, and watching films about walking and even blogging about walking.

And, Lordy, my 52-year-old feet hurt! Every weekend I go out and walk 10- 20 kilometers, through the villages, parks and polders of Holland and even the first segments of the 500 kilometer Pieterpad! So, when my friend Linda invited me to share a reflection with my amazing church back home for Lent, I knew right away that I needed to write about Maundy Thursday.

“Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world … And during supper Jesus … got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ … After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. ….”. – (John 13:1-17)

I imagine being in that upper room, simmering with the sumptuous smell of food and the babble and buzz of my dearest companions, talking about the events of the past few weeks. Some conversations are boisterous with excitement, anticipating the Messiah’s triumph over the oppressive Empire. Other conversations are haunted whispers filled with fear about the rumors that His life – our lives – are in danger. I imagine sitting there, with my aching feet, cracked and worn from walking in and around dusty Jerusalem, with the other men and women who call Jesus rabbi, teacher – Lord. I can feel the confusion rise as I see him remove his outer robe, wrap a towel around his waist and approach one of my friends with a bowl of water. This is totally upside down – I should wash his feet!

Did you know that in the Gospel according to Luke there are three women named as disciples of Jesus? Three women identified by name: Mary, called Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, and Susanna, in addition to many others.

So when Jesus washed the feet of all the disciples, that means he quite likely washed the feet of the women in the room that night as well. If Peter was shocked at Jesus washing his feet, did he look away at the sight of his Messiah kneeling and taking in hand the naked foot of a woman? That foot is my foot and your foot – wholly loved and washed by Jesus in a vivid reversal of all that society tells us is the proper form of relationship and leadership.

When Jesus kneels and washes the feet of his companions, he is sharing an embodied parable about the extravagant love of God and the radical hospitality of God’s kingdom. It is a parable full of bodies, real flesh, touching and honoring real flesh.

And it is an invitation, a mandate in fact, to love one another and allow ourselves to be loved. It is the Gospel in the very real, fleshy world that we are called to participate in through acts of service and a posture of heart that renders everyone, everyone, everyone a beloved guest in the hands of a tender God.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ― Teresa of Avila.

The fog of fear

The fog of fear

March has come in like a lamb here in Holland. As is often the way on the cusp between seasons, a thick as snert soup fog was draped over the tilting houses and the cobbled streets as we cycled to work this morning. So we took our time winding through the sleepy city, being careful to not careen into a canal or other commuters making their way to through the murky dawn. As we rolled past the shrouded polders and pastures, I recalled that just yesterday I’d walked the same path and the sky was Delft blue, the landscape dotted with crystal clear livestock and resting swans.

I took a hand off my handlebars and tried to grab the fog. It is real, it is here, but I cannot grab it, I cannot hold it. And my musings about unlearning fear returned… I wondered, maybe fear is like the fog? Real and at the same time mere vapor. Yes, fog can pose real danger – to visibility, to compromised lungs, to a perfectly coiffed head of hair – but fog can also be beautiful and, as far as we know, it is always temporary. 

When fear settles on our shoulders and clings to the fabric of our being, we can forget the clear day before or be unable to imagine a potentially clear day tomorrow.  I’m not suggesting that we dismiss the fog, no quite the contrary. We have to acknowledge and move through the fog, with careful intelligence, clothed appropriately (they say here that there is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes), going slowly to observe our surroundings, adjust our trajectory and hold onto the the knowledge that the sun is still shining even if we can’t see it. 

What is deeply troubling me is that it seems like the powers that be profit from perpetually having their hands on fog machines to cloud our vision of a beautiful world. Maybe it is because we are on the cusp between seasons – between the old paradigm of greedily, violently hoarding power and a newer, more compassionate reality where all of creation can flourish in freedom.

My question is, how do we move through the fog – how do we discern what is truly dangerous to our personal and collective lives and what is merely vapor? How do we hold onto the memory and hope of a sun burning brightly?

What do you think?

Wood Wide Web

Wood Wide Web

I hope you will take a nice long walk just to look, really look, at the trees that inhabit the community where you live.
“But the most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive. Only some stumps are thus nourished. Perhaps they are the parents of the trees that make up the forest of today. A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods. Scientific research aimed at understanding the astonishing abilities of this partnership between fungi and plant has only just begun.
The reason trees share food and communicate is that they need each other. It takes a forest to create a microclimate suitable for tree growth and sustenance. So it’s not surprising that isolated trees have far shorter lives than those living connected together in forests. Perhaps the saddest plants of all are those we have enslaved in our agricultural systems. They seem to have lost the ability to communicate, and, as Wohlleben says, are thus rendered deaf and dumb. “Perhaps farmers can learn from the forests and breed a little more wildness back into their grain and potatoes,” he advocates, “so that they’ll be more talkative in the future.” Opening”
― Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World

Taking Up Space

Taking Up Space

Women, you may take up as much space in the world as you require.
Of course with the right to take up space, we also carry the responsibility to be mindful and make space for others, especially when they might otherwise not have had the same historical invitation.
But, we do not have to shrink or apologize when the space we take up is uncomfortable for those who have historically, and to this day, never had to concern themselves with how much space they take up.
photocredit: unsplash/Gemma Chua-Tran