#Inspiration

Standard

If ever families–never mind our entire country–have been divided, it’s now.   If ever we needed inspiration, it is now.

My morning meditation has been in the writings of E. Stanley Jones.  He was one influential man, an intellectual who was a missionary, speaking around the world.   President Franklin Roosevelt confided in him, as well as General Douglas MacArthur, and some peace-loving Japanese in the time leading up to Pearl Harbor.  They almost prevented the war, apparently.  In addition, he conversed with Mahatma Gandhi just before he launched his non-cooperation movement.  In writing about the war and the power of the atom bomb, Mr. Jones compared the power of the atom with the “atma,” the word for soul in the Hindu language.  He reminded us of his belief that deep down every one has a basic urge for love.  But we must choose which power we live by, the power of hate (the atom) or the power of love (atma).  He was there when it worked in India. Here’s a #quote:  Gandhi, a little man in a loincloth, with no weapons save the weapon of unflinching good will, accomplished the greatest political revolution in all human history, barring none, and he did it with the power of the atma [soul].  

This may sound too simplistic to some people.  I don’t know about you but I don’t have any power to change anything.   But when things are spinning out of control, Stanley Jones reminds us that we can choose to love.  That means, of course, choosing to be gentle and patient with people with whom we disagree.  It means accepting the fact that we’re not going to have the last word.  Maybe possibly we don’t even know what the last word is.

Jesus’ followers wanted Him to solve the political mess in His time.  He ignored them and went to the cross.  How might we follow His example?

Dancing with the Baptists

Standard

The following is a re-blog of one I wrote earlier on another site.  Since I am getting very close to offering expressive writing groups at several locations in Nashville, I thought this blog was relevant.  It explains why I am so excited to share the healing power of words with people.

This story starts last spring when I attended a conference of the National Poetry Therapy Association.  There was a little fund-raising auction, and since there were books there, of course I went to browse.  The book that caught my eye was titled Dancing with a Baptist. Was God playing a little joke?  For the truth is, I had done just about six weeks before what I never thought I’d do–go back to the Baptists.  The sub-title to this particular book is “A Love Story in Poems.”  It’s also a sub-title of my story–the love part.  The strange pull happened step by step.  One day I just felt homesick for those sweet days when I knew early faith.  Next thing, I was visiting a ladies’ tea, and greeted at the door by my sweet granddaughter, “Grandma!  I didn’t know you were coming!”  Oh, the power of children to love us back to where we never left.  I went back, and back.  I felt loved, is the only way I can explain it.

The next chapter in this love story (though it didn’t feel like love at first) was finding an old blog and realizing that I had left myself exposed.  How many churches I have joined in Nashville!  This morning, I think I heard some of the reason why I was called back.  Strangely enough, I have been re-reading a brilliant little book by E. Stanley Jones, a Methodist missionary:  Christian Maturity.  I am back at exactly the same place I left four years ago:  the difference between eros and agape love.  Furthermore, Jones quotes the very psychiatrist that I had mentioned in a proposal to do expressive writing groups.  In the 1920’s Smiley Blanton and an associate discovered the healing power of using poetry and they called it poetry therapy.  Mr. Jones, a missionary in India, quoted the same Smiley Blanton:  “Whether they think they do or not, all people want love.  Their spoken words may tell of other things, but the psychiatrist must listen to their unconscious voice as well…modern psychiatry teaches us that we fall ill, emotionally and physically, if we do not use love in this way to guide and control our behavior…”

Regardless of the excuses I may have had for leaving a church, it came down to this one thing:  I needed to love and be loved, and somehow this was missing.   The reason I was able to go back to the Baptists (though they actually don’t call themselves this) was simply that I felt love.   I blog because writing down my feelings and views about life is healing. Expressive writing is writing down our thoughts until they go deeper and deeper where that great wellspring of emotion resides.  As a facilitator, I am simply a guide, a companion on the journey.  But it’s why I believe I am “called” to lead expressive writing groups. They’re not therapy, nor are they theology, but they’re not simply creative writing either.  They are somewhere in between where Love resides.

Haiti, The Land I am Unable to Forget

Standard

Haiti, Haiti, Haiti

our little sister

the land we are unwilling to remember

the land we are unable to forget

how your people have trashed you

thrown you to the curb, abandoned your babies

walked away from your hospitals

where do the sick go now?

and yet, and yet, God has not forgotten you

you have been sent prophets and servants

your little children still play ball and dance

your people praise God joyfully.

 

Haiti, Haiti, Haiti

you have been ravished by natural disaster

and deceived by dark superstition

you have been neglected by some of your own

you walk dirty streets to carry water

you wash clothes with your hands

and you walk long distances to your jobs

you accept heat and dust without complaint

your cattle are hungry not to mention your children

and yet, and yet, you are not defeated

and God has not forgotten you

he has sent prophets and servants

your people praise Him joyfully.

 

Haiti–the land I don’t want to remember

Haiti–the land I am unable to forget.

 

Just returned from a trip to Haiti and MyLifeSpeaks mission where God has indeed sent prophets and servants Mike and Missy Wilson and their family and staff and volunteers to rescue the most vulnerable.

 

 

 

 


					

Thank You to the Brits (and Remembering Bud Roberts)

Standard

Having just finished reading Story Catchers by Catherine Baldwin and thinking about how I want to share my stories, and help others share theirs, I told my oldest grandson (riding in the car with me), “Ask me anything!”  Silence.  Somehow the subject of my living in England came up, and he said, “I didn’t know you lived in England.”  (He’s almost 14; I clearly am not doing my job.)  So here’s the story.

Having begun theological school at 50, I soon had two opportunities–to marry Bud Roberts and to take a ministry internship with the British Methodist Church.  (They don’t put British before the name, of course.)  Neither Bud nor I had grown up in the Methodist Church.  New alliances all around, and that, I’m afraid is an important part of the story.  I was so full of zeal, I never “did the theology” nor did I take care to work the politics, church politics that is.  I was clearly without support; Bud suggested that I align myself with his denomination, and I inquired into this the summer before we left for England.

Within the year, living on the Isle of Wight and doing ministry together,  we discovered that Bud had cancer.  With no questions asked, the Brits operated on Bud right there on the Island without cost to us.   With his sense of humor intact, he wrote a booklet, “I Left My Kidney on the Isle of Wight.” We returned to the States (and to his church’s seminary). But the cancer was spreading and there was no hope for his recovery.  I asked Bud what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, and he said he wanted to be back in a church in ministry with me.  But the supervisor I went to seeking a placement said rather coldly, “I know of no church that will take a woman.”

So there I was:  my husband was dying; I needed a job; my new church had slammed the door in my face.  I called the Brits, and did they come through.  They created a job for me (it was close to the end of the church year); gave us a manse (a beautiful home) and surrounded us with praying people.  Eventually Bud died in a hospice, extremely well cared for.   I went back to that hospice after my return from Bud’s service in the States, and found a man who I suspected didn’t know my Lord, and introduced them!  I could imagine Bud and that fellow in heaven laughing about the way they met.

Of course I’m thankful to my Lord for giving me strength to endure all that sorrow (and for helping me when I made a mess of things).  But also I’m very thankful to the British Methodist Church for their love and generosity in caring for both of us.  Bud died July 30, 1998.

PS  I’m using this blog for prose and poetry, now.  The other one wasn’t easy to find.  I’m sure there’s a quote somewhere about all life being poetry, anyway.

 

 

 

 

SIR, I’M ASKING

Standard

What did he mean, that man who asked me for water?

“If you knew who it is…you would plead and you would get – living water.”

What did he mean, and why did he seem to look into

my eyes and see everything about me?

I am exposed, and yet–

How did he know so much about me yet there was no

judgment in those eyes,

brown lasers of mercy.

What did he say I could have—living water?

Never be thirsty                     again?

Dry?  Oh, yes I’m dry—parched, split, bleeding.

Could he—that man with the laser eyes–Jesus–

A man, yes, but what kind of man?

Not the kind I’ve known.

Water my soul?  Quench my thirst?

He said to ask; that’s what He said—ask.

Well, I’m asking, Sir.

No, I’m begging.

If you can wash, cleanse as you said

Oh Lord,

rain

down

on

me.

WHAT DOES A CHRISTIAN LOOK LIKE?

Standard

been through the fire, pure gold

tells the truth (no deceipt)

lover of God and lover of people

student of the word of God

lets it cut to the heart and root out bitterness

lives with his wife attentively, lovingly

lives with her husband joyfully, prayerfully

knows he’s chosen, called out

knows she’s a daughter of the Most High God

forgives easily, is gracious

effective in prayer

knows he’s rescued from darkness

knows she’s redeemed from the slave market of sin

zealous to do good

not timid or fearful

full of power and love and a sound mind

content

joyful, prayerful, thankful

laughter bubbles up

full of faith, peaceful, not anxious or worried

strong and wise and equipped with spiritual wisdom

united, a bridge builder

tender-hearted, well mannered; rejoices in another’s success

able to endure all things; more than conquerors over difficulties

joined at the hip to a loving God

tells people eagerly what they have found

confident in prayer and trusts God for the outcome

humble, compassionate, merciful, pure, peaceful

takes up their cross and follows Jesus.

 

(The preceding list is a summary of the New Testament description of a Christian, taken from all books but starting from the last one, Revelation.)