Welcome to Season 4

Welcome to Season 4 of Weekendswell.

Just to recap: Season 1 opened with the lead character standing inside a torn-down house. No longer protected by a castle of certainty, he was exposed to new ideas and people. Blinded by sunlight across the camera lens, you could feel the raw fear in the morning air of those early episodes.

It seems he had built those walls to divide the world into Us and Them. But when one of us became one of them, the whole facade came crumbling down. Why were there two tribes in the first place, he wanted to know – and why such a big wall between us?

There was angst and anger and uncertainty.

Season 2 turned that passive uncertainty into an active rejection of certainty. Watching along, we wondered if the house would be completely destroyed. Or was it to be a thorough cleaning? Either way, we watched in horror as everything was put out onto the driveway for examination.

But then, there was a turn:
Continue reading “Welcome to Season 4”

Pleasing Others

I’m in the midst of a job change now after nearly 10 years, after somehow working my way into the Committed Club.  You know the Club, you’re probably in it too.  The Club is for people who go above and beyond, even when no one is looking, in order to please…. who exactly?

White Women, serigraph on paper, by Hannah Hislop
White Women, serigraph on paper, by Hannah Hislop

Even after giving notice, my manager is still pouring on the requests and I am still – still – trying dutifully to fulfill them, on my way out the door.  But instead of writing about his high expectations, I once again have to own this – this is me and now that it’s happened in two significant parts of my life, it’s clear that I am the common thread.

Yet another strand to unwind from this spool of yarn deconstructing all over my floor.

I did the same as a volunteer.  My organization of choice just happened to be the church. Now that we have attended a new church for a few months, Continue reading “Pleasing Others”

The Wall

It’s time, again, to go out.  Out beyond the known walls.  This has meant so much more than a Sunday change.  It’s about hearing new voices, meeting and listening to new people, reading new authors, engaging and participating: not as one with an agenda but as one who has a lot to learn.

I could have written this as a 21-year old finishing college, and I daresay I did. I went off my security grid and into a gritty part of LA, listening to lives as different from my own as I could imagine.  Teens in the neighborhood didn’t give a damn about Continue reading “The Wall”

The Hovering

It’s been a stretch of formlessness creatively, waiting for change to spark.  More creative input than output.   After writing about and for change, it’s been good to drop the agenda and just breathe.

It could seem empty unless I close my eyes and see the change already at work, hovering over the waters.

Inhale, exhale.

Every creative year has a winter season to draw inside of, stretching out on the hearth of weekends at home.

But meanwhile I’ve been storing up, recharging, reading, refilling.  I went downtown to the women’s rally to listen and register my presence. I set aside MLK day, dressed, and drove, but the march was cancelled, and I was called away last minute anyway.  I served penance by reading Bryan Stevenson’s disturbingly truthful book, Just Mercy.  I devoured Susan Cottrell’s Radically Included, showing the weight of scripture on the side of love and inclusion.  I heard Rob Bell and his better half Peter Rollins give a talk downtown on their Holy Shift tour.  I read the 50 chapters of Genesis in large chunks, jotting questions and criticism in the margins.  I saw Jose Gonzalez in nearly total darkness singing his classical guitar to life with songs from his Vestiges and Claws album.

Reconnecting with friends and nature and taking life in – it’s been a time to breathe and be free from the self-imposed pressure of producing.   It’s not just recharging the batteries, it’s rubbing an eraser on the copper contacts and checking their flexibility to connect to new things.

During this time, I also attended a church service on racial reconciliation that shocked me when its repentant tone revealed a new posture of listening.  Straying from previous formulas, a new approach was taken with new voices being heard.  Change.  A part of my heart was healed when I saw leaders listening to young female and male voices of color, asking about their experience, reading up on Civil Rights history, and finishing with the confession, “How could I have not known this before?”  It’s a question I have had to ask my straight white male self a lot.

The service gave me hope that change is possible, but also that we are not always in control of it.  In Judeo-Christian terms this changing work is often ascribed to the “Spirit” – and this word has well-filled the gap between what I can explain and what I cannot.  We do our work, but sometimes it requires more than our work.

When I have changed through moments of tears or seasons of healing, I close my eyes and see the Spirit hovering over the waters, patiently shining light into the darkness of the deep, waiting for the moment of change.  And there are many:  a loss being grieved, rich times of community over a meal at our home table, the freshness of life sucking in first breaths, taking the bread and wine together in worship, summer light across the ocean – all form something from emptiness, in a way that does not add up given only the visible ingredients: 

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Change has been a persistent theme.  I was writing about change but also in orderto change, to understand what I needed to leave behind. Perhaps I also fancied that by putting the right words together in the right order, I could trigger change in others.  But while there is a lot I can do to change myself, I cannot much force change in others.  I only have power over visible ingredients, but true transformations seem to require something more.

For those of you wanting, waiting, and working for change, remember this.  Your vision of community may not have arrived, but the Spirit is hovering.  And as you work, She is working in you, just as in me.  It’s normal to feel alone because the hovering is often invisible, working in the darkness.

I have to admit something:  While I was overjoyed to see the transformation in that reconciliation service, I later lamented that I had not done more to bring it about.  For a cause so rooted in my heart, I had not spoken up enough about it.  But wasn’t I supposed to care more that the change came, than whether I was a part of it?

Pride: I’m too scared to speak up first, but too competitive to accept being second.

Mercifully, a friend pointed me beyond myself: the change that triggered both joy and lament in me – that change was evidence of something more hovering over the surface, not something I could have accomplished with any amount of speaking out.

We can feel alone because our transformation timelines do not always line up.  Artists are people who generously communicate their transformation so we would know that we are not alone.  These have meant the world to me.  Very often Artists do feel alone but find the guts to share it anyway (think Van Gogh’s colorful, emotion-filled work).

We need to be Artists to each other, taking the risk to tell others about our depths.  Yet this story of Genesis-beginnings, hauntingly portrays something more:  We are not alone in our efforts to change. 

Read it again:  even in the depth of our darkness, there is a hovering over us, waiting for the time to be right for change:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

(wait for it)

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

♦ weekendswell ♦

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The Half-life of Reform

Walking westward, finally closing in on the spires guiding me like the Bethlehem star, I was in for a disappointing surprise…

“I keep thinking what good wine and beer I have at home as well as a beautiful wife, or should I say boss?”  Cranach-Luther

The town of Wittenberg is a thousand years old, but took nearly half that time to produce the famous reformer who wrote this about his wife.  The half millennia since have seen Martin Luther’s thinking spread worldwide, including the little church in Florida via Scotland where it set the tone for my upbringing.  By that time Continue reading “The Half-life of Reform”