such strange things.

I don’t know if you have heard, but the well-loved collaborative blog A Deeper Story is closing its doors next month. Some of the contributing writers are re-releasing their Deeper Story pieces in their own spaces, and I am joining them. I began writing for DS in the spring of 2013, and loved every bit of it — especially the opportunity to connect with the brilliant, fierce, and kind writers there. Many thanks to Nish for putting her dream out in the world. 

This post was originally published on Deeper Story on May 23, 2013. 


Hail thee, festival day!

Blessed day to be hallowed forever;
Day when the Holy Ghost

Shone in the world full of grace.

The song that ushered us in to Easter upon the first alleluia-shout leads me through the park, over a bridge, to the riverside. We, the parish, gather here, outdoors today. Today we’ve traded stained glass for leaves, a full choir for one or two shaky speakers. It’s Pentecost, when things get wild.

Well, at least, our Episcopal version of it—with folding chairs to sit in and folding walkers set aside, with vestments, with bulletins, and a Table set for Body and Blood. We’re gathered in the shade and the wind is in the trees the whole time we sing and speak and stand and sit.  I’m trying to think of that Lauren Winner quote about how only Jesus could get us together to do such strange things.

Today, though, it’s the Holy Spirit who comes with fire, who descends like the wind of creation. Today, we plan to read the Gospel simultaneously aloud, in different languages, though no tongues dance above our heads.

It’s lovely and odd when the time comes, with a handful of myriad tongues loose with scripture, disparate paces making swells and lulls with an underlying hum, just like the cicadas that will take this place by force in the heat of the coming months.

When the last language stops speaking and we’ve bookended our reading with the bolded proclamation, Praise to you, Lord Christ, I look down to realize that I’ve been clenching the edge of the picnic table the entire time, the grooves leaving marks of anxiety in my fingers. The mixed and hurried murmuring in the crowd, though spoken from a page, stopped my heart with the forgotten familiarity of the old days with phrases forced, to conjure the gift, of rally-cries, of tears streaming for healing, healing, healing in strange sounds in a land with no interpreters, the healing that never came or at least, we couldn’t see. Those were the days when falling out in the Spirit felt a lot like being pushed down by a human hand, and Tongues turned into just another pretty way to sing. The Holy Ghost became a prop to push our own agendas, that otherworldly Prayer Language another way to add our own footnotes.

I haven’t had to look back, not really, in a number of years, but here I am, enveloped by such strange sounds. And as soon as I feel smothered by them, I wonder if I’ve tamed God.

But then I steal a glance at the Table prepared in this version of wilderness by the river—I think of the Creator ordering chaos, of Christ walking and dying with us only to rise again, of the Companion and Comforter of the Holy Spirit. God does such strange things with Body and Blood, with Water and Flame, and it all still seems pretty wild to me.

I pray for my tongue to be afire with it all.

Not Just Bread, Not Just Wine.

I don’t know if you have heard, but the well-loved collaborative blog A Deeper Story is closing its doors next month. Some of the contributing writers are re-releasing their Deeper Story pieces in their own spaces, and I am joining them. I began writing for DS in the spring of 2013, and loved every bit of it — especially the opportunity to connect with the brilliant, fierce, and kind writers there. Many thanks to Nish for putting her dream out in the world. 

This post was originally published on Deeper Story on April 24, 2013. I’m resisting the urge to offer caveat now, after three semesters at divinity school.


 

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It was a few years ago now that we three were gathered with red wine bought in a hurry and cheap water crackers to carry snooty cheese. Back then, the guys brought the stories and I simply gathered them into myself, knit line by line into something I could wrap myself in for a long time to come. We were in somewhat disparate spiritual spaces then, but located here each week by a fire, by wine, by strands of Gospel-truth nonetheless stringing us together. We spun sacrament and wondered at holy judgment and marveled at the created order telling the same Story over and over again. This night as we talked, I reached over the cheese and absentmindedly broke a cracker in two.

Suddenly before me, it was as the Host, held high above the altar, split down the middle, Body broken for me and for many, wine and Blood to follow. I nearly gasped and stole a glance around the table, wondering if my companions had noticed the small transformation, but in our communion they were busy offering Grace and the fact that Christ was among us didn’t need pointing out.

I ate the pieces and took a sip of wine with an Amen upon my heart, and it was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was coming back to Shore.

——————-

            it’s just a building, honey.

She says this for the dozenth time into the phone last week, as I’m squeezing a lime half into my drink, half into my eye. There’s a sting in both, and it comes out in my response. We’re talking about a church in town that’s as dim and flat as an abandoned grocery store, and I’m wondering offhand how anyone can choose to enter such darkness every week, searching for Light. I’m flippant, and I’m sure she can hear the eyeroll across the state between us. I snap something about agreeing to disagree, a line that doesn’t usually have a whole lot of actual grace in it.

I’ve learned over the past few years that often, the people closest to me somehow get “theology” from me in stuttering half-bites, and it has nothing to do with being a prophet in her hometown. It mostly has to do with me being an scatterbrained pain in the ass.

But here’s the truth behind the snap: when I hear the shrugging off of designating space and elements as sacred, as something more, something unravels in me. For me to know that mysteriously and irrationally, it’s not just bread, not just wine somehow help me to breathe in the Truth that He was not just another man, just back then.

Though every common bush is afire with God, there’s something about the discrete moments of Heaven meeting Earth  that moor me, that enable me to find the rest of the world to be charged with God’s grandeur. It is the Host at the altar that also makes my water cracker and cheap wine sacred, as well as every other meal. It is the waters of Baptism that carry healing in the rain. And for me, it is a nave that helps me to look up, always.

It is special, elevated moments in special spaces that pull all the ordinary ones out of haze into sharper focus.

————————————-

I realize that this is not the case for everyone, that even with the mystery and metaphor, these things will appear stiff and disjointed for many. I realize I am in a privileged place to be able to make such distinctions. I do worry about evangelizing a Certain Way of doing these things more than Christ himself, and I know I’ve only walked my own footsteps. I don’t know if I’m arguing something here, not really, because I desperately believe the universal Church is brilliant mosaic and this is just one glass piece.

But the thing is that it was incarnational, sacramental sight that brought me back to the Incarnated Christ, and it is the Incarnation mysteriously known in sacred instances and embodied in the same kind of places that leads me back out again into the world, without end.

So I’ll probably keep showing you about this piece of tile I have, and keep telling you, clumsily, how beautiful it is, how it reflects Light.

On my best days, I hope we’ll glue ours together, finding more Image with every bit.

the same question [last month at Deeper Story].

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[Sometimes, I forget to upload this space with my stuff from Deeper Story. In case you missed it, this was last month’s piece over there. Click here for more words!]

———//——–

Later on I realized that the over there-ness of my thinking (among other things) does a lot of harm. Mostly it does harm to the people I brush skinwith every day– the people with the wrong skin color, who love the wrong people, who have the wrong job or the wrong body parts or the wrong home or the wrong….fill in the blank.

Over there is over here, friends.

But you can only be told that so much; we can only be taught so much.

Everyone needs their oh shit moment of realization.

I’ve had a few, keep having them.

But I won’t tell you, because you need your own.

Sometimes I think they are something only the Spirit can give.

——

Keep reading at Deeper Story.

It’s not you, it’s me. [or, I hate reading posts like this one, sorry.]

[if you don’t give a #@%& about Twitter, you can stop reading this right now.]

I will attempt to make this as short and sweet as possible, to be frank without over-sharing.

I am taking a break from Twitter, specifically, for a while, starting on Sept. 20th. (I have already slowly pulled away from blogging in this space and have pretty much stopped reading blogs given the onslaught that is graduate school.)

This is not (necessarily) because I think things are getting out of hand over there, or that it is a medium that is inherently broken or anything like that.

I love Twitter. I believe in it.

Yeah, I said it. Most of my in-person friends do not understand this part of my life, and I have grown tired of trying to explain it, but I can trace some really significant friendships to the forum, and I cannot express how much I have learned (especially in the last two years) from my timeline, not to mention that it is where I get much of my news (and I don’t think this is wrong). I think Twitter has the power to do good.

I just need to turn my attention away from an ever-refreshing external thought stream for a season, which could be one or two months, or this whole semester; I’m not sure yet.

I am taking time to explain this for two reasons:

1. There are people reading this right now whom I primarily interact with in that space–connections I would be sorry to lose. So, I am flagging my impending absence so you won’t forget me ;-) and to encourage you to add me as a friend on Facebook, send me an email, or drop me a line on Voxer.

2. If you are reading this and have been thinking of doing something similar, or adopting some other difficult method of mental de-cluttering, I hereby give you permission to do so– not out of any obligation, but only if you need it, out of kindness to yourself.

grace and retweets to you,

@antoniaterrazas

namaste

what I’m into, July.

WHERE DID JULY GO YOU GUYS. gone. just like that. yikes. Well, it was a good month, so here we go–

music:

I’ve been listening to this playlist again a WHOLE LOT, and have become way obsessed with First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou.” I know, I know, I’m late to the game.

book stack:

  • God and the Gay Christian, by Matthew Vines. To be honest, I downloaded this audiobook with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by Vines’s reflections, research, and communication. I see this book as being a good meeting ground for “liberals” and “conservatives” alike, though I hate using those words, especially since I think this book pushes those boundaries. [example: Vines identifies as a gay, LGBTQ-affirming Christian (HOW LIBERAL), but draws heavily from the Bible in his arguments, and holds to the ideal of saving sex for marriage (HOW CONSERVATIVE).] Though I am not the most qualified to review this book, I found it a refreshing read, and would recommend it, easily.
  • Another pleasant surprise was The Voice of Matthew, a retelling/paraphrase of the gospel of Matthew by Lauren Winner. I was a little skeptical of the whole project of The Voice series, but loved at least this selection of it. I used it with the youth kiddos at VBS and I think it worked really well.
  • A Prayer Journal, by Flannery O’Connor. This little book has been life to me this past month. The whole thing is barely 40 pages, but worth. it. Not a page goes by that I don’t write something down or tweet about it or text a friend. As I told someone recently, “she prays like I do, just far more beautifully.”

blogposts:

  • A Black Mama’s Dreamby Osheta Moore. “I worry that the stereotype is preferred over the authenticity of my vulnerability. I worry that this fear of being the “angry black woman” muzzles my mighty roar and my fierce femininity.”
  • even though it should have been in last month’s post, I can’t miss Recovery Room: First Communionby Seth Haines: “In that moment, something literal happened to the metaphor. The bread and wine came alive, and I remembered Jesus’ promise, savored it, let it linger.”
  • We are Not Alone, by Rev. Jes Kast-Keat. Ok, a sermon not a blogpost but it’s ONLINE ok? and thank goodness because this was what I needed to hear on a cloudy afternoon driving to Nashville.
  • I LOVED the flash-blog on #faithfeminisms (“a collection of voices reflecting on faith and feminism”) that popped up one week in July. I have it saved so I can work my way through all the posts, but the following two stuck out–
  • Loving Eve and Ham, by Austin Channing. “My feminism began the moment I learned the Bible was not shaming me. If the Divine was not ashamed of me, I need not be shamed either […] My feminism will always live at the intersection of race.”
  • Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be “Allies”, by Abi Bechtel. “Sometimes the best way a privileged person can act in solidarity with oppressed people is to have the hard conversations with fellow privileged people so that the oppressed people don’t always have to do it.  […but also] share the mic.” I also loved her 30-second blurb about body image and feminism and faith.

just-good:

  • We are the 15 percent: a crowd-sourced collection of portraits of American interracial families and marriages. As the child of an interracial marriage, I am grateful that this exists with such variety, toppling expectations.
  • basically everything The Militant Baker does lately. She writes on radical body acceptance and it.is.doing.good.things. check her out.
  • What I Instagrammed vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life is a Lie, by Olivia Muenter. Hilariously self-deprecating. “I eat healthy food and surround myself with flowers, because my life is centered around positive, beautiful things that are filled with light. I like to describe myself as a hybrid of Olivia Palmero and Oprah. I only eat on plates that match the week’s bouquet.” This post inspired this set of pictures I posted on the web:
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  • Project Bendypants: Practicing Yoga While Fatby Tiffany Kell. Tiffany shares her troubled relationship with yoga, much of which I can relate to, though I think I have had far more good teachers than not. “But you know what? If we only go where we’re welcome, we’ll leave a lot of doors closed.”
  • In that same train of thought, I discovered the Curvy Yoga site this July. I especially love the page of free videos re: pose modifications. game. changer.
  • this:

to wear: 

  • So, when my family was in town, we stumbled into a Torrid (my first time to be there in a while). A few hours and a number of coupons later, we walked back out with some clothes for the upcoming school year (for which I am very grateful—my goal is to wear Real Clothes (ie Not Leggings) more days than not this semester.) I am also grateful for the body-positive atmosphere created by the manager and other ladies working there (of all shapes, sizes, and styles). Often stores that cater to ‘plus’ sizes are the least affirming, but Torrid’s motto #wearwhatyoulove pushes against that, and I think it’s powerful. I also recommend their instagram account. Aside from the few links I’ve just shared, here are a few of my favorite pieces. (THESE PANTS ARE MAGIC)
  • My friend Pilar (aka PALAR. check her out– she’s “on the internet.”) gifted me a few NYX Butter lipsticks and I am obsessed. My favorite shades are Hunk and Mary Janes (both brighter than the swatches show.) I could go for days about these–they’re soft, don’t dry out, and are packed with pigment. Also–they’re on the cheap.
oh hello. this is me, wearing 'Hunk."

oh hello. this is me, wearing ‘Hunk.”

  • ok now time for a notsocheap lip option. Leigh Kramer passed on her sample of Cynthia Rowley’s lip stain in ‘Valentine” and I am obsessed and I just lost the little thing so now I probably will buy it for real. Again, points for great color, soft, non-drying and long lasting. I think it is worth the splurge.

 

moments:

  •  A July 4th evening with a fire and real talk and sparklers and s’mores and chicken and corn and watermelon and fireworks that made all the cows really, really upset.
fellow intern goofballs

fellow intern goofballs

  • Alia and Brandon looped down to Durham on their own 4th of July trip out east. I got to introduce them to a few favorite places around town, and I am honored to say I will be Alia’s maid of honor next year. I love hearing about their dreams for the wedding (and just life in general. these two are amazing) and keep cracking up at the fact that in the 10+ years we have been friends, Alia and I never talked wedding details together. This will be a beautiful adventure, I’m sure.
  • July’s biggest task at the church I am working with this summer was Vacation Bible School. Amidst my own personal flashbacks, I taught the lessons for the youth each night. We read stories about Jesus’s dealings with “all the wrong people,” breaking boundaries, bringing in the outsider, reaching into brokenness and shame. (with the stories of the hemorrhaging woman, the centurion’s daughter, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Zacchaeus, they didn’t give me a lot of choice! haha.) I had a sweet group of kids from 6th-12th grade, and even though story time was CERTAINLY IMPERFECT (OMG I cringe at certain things I said), it was an overall good experience.
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“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

  • I took a whirlwind trip to Nashville one weekend on a semi-whim and got to see some favorite people who I just happen to know from Twitter. Which may never stop being a totally weird and totally wonderful thing to say. Ben, Hannah, Stephen, Emily Joy, Keegan, and of course the amazing Leigh, I am lucky to know you.
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@softlysoaring, @thesettingsun07, @keegzzz and @antoniaterrazas.

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me ‘n @hopefulleigh.

  • My grandmother, my mom and my sister made their way to Asheville to visit me for the week! Living across the country, it seems like I’m in a season where I only see my family twice a year, so I was so very grateful to be able to spend a lot of good time with them, which involved buying books and shoes and eating AMAZING food — that’s just how we roll. I come from a tribe of powerful, funny, smart, kind, generous women and I’m just happy I’m invited to the party. I know I’m ‘grown,’ but saying goodbye is still hard each time.
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I lost them and found them in the kids’ books. Literacy specialists for life.

one of many sister selfies with my teenage sister

one of many silly selfies with my teenage sister

  • The latter half of this month prompted some exploring which prompted pictures, because I have realized how much I am going to miss living in this part of the state when I move back for school next week.

blue ridge times a walk in NC

 

What I wish I was into:

  • getting ready for school to start. lalallalala denial.
  • budgeting.
  • taking the leap with a dramatic hairstyle change. I have been talking about this for about a year now.

Ok, your turn. No, really. What has been going on with you this month? What have you been reading/wearing/doing/whatever? 

the seed has been planted [at Deeper Story].

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“The difference between me and you, baby,” Val said, arms hoisted behind her head, growing more tired after putting half her hair in twists for the night, “is not our situation, age, or race,” she finished, pointing to me, the fair-skinned wide-eyed housed twentysomething intern. Everything Valerie isn’t.

“I am walking in the light,” her eyes dimming a bit as she says this, “oh I know. I have that deep sadness too.” And I believe it. She laughs,

“But you are supposed to be here, what, babysitting me?” She’s right. The mattresses on the church basement floor bear witness to this. The ministry is about radical hospitality to those I’ve mostly prayed for, not eaten with. This is a holy grammar, but the shards of our mutual discomfort remain–some of us wear gloves, some share inside jokes. Valerie decidedly breaks  through our antiseptic dealings with one another.

“I am walking in the light,” she repeats, and I believe it.

She really doesn’t explain what means, or even if she thinks I am really altogether in darkness, though that is how I have described some of these months past. In the back of my head is that bright shiny happy CCM song as she talks—

I want to be in the light as you are in the light

I want to shine like the stars in the heavens oh OH…

But she’s right. She’s just so damned radiant it’s hard to look away. She keeps looking at me, smirking a little bit, and lays some things out for me.

—————//—————-

Keep reading with me over at Deeper Story? Yoga, Taizé prayer, etc. guaranteed.

Click here to read the rest.