the f-bomb synchroblog.

That’s right.

Feminism.

It’s a topic I’ve been dancing around behind the scenes for a while now: behind the scenes because, well, feminism is another f word in my neck of the woods, but for a while because I really have been walking around with feminism in my pockets for years, since before I was aware of it or knew how it intersected with my faith.

So. I am thrilled and terrified to announce that next week, I am joining in the three-day synchroblog cohosted by three amazing bloggers on the subject of feminism.

feminism

Prompts and links:

  • {Day 1} Feminism and Me: On Tuesday, February 26, link up at J.R. Goudeau’s blog, loveiswhatyoudo.com, and write about these questions: What is your experience with feminism? What’s a story or a memory or a person that you associate with that word? Why does it have negative or positive connotations for you? How do you define the term, either academically or personally? What writers have you read whose definitions you want to bring out? Or, if you don’t have a definition, what are some big questions you have?
  • {Day 2} Why It Matters: On Wednesday, February 27, link up at Danielle Vermeer’s blog, fromtwotoone.com, and write about these questions: What is at stake in this discussion? Why is feminism important to you? Are you thinking about your children or your sisters or the people that have come before you? Or, why do you not like the term? What are you concerned we’re not focusing on or we’re losing sight of when we talk about feminism? Why do you feel passionately about this topic?
  • {Day 3} What You Learned: On Thursday, February 28, link up at Preston Yancey’s blog, seeprestonblog.com, and write about these questions: What surprised you this week? What did you take away from the discussion? What blog posts did you find particularly helpful? What questions do you still have?

Be sure to read along as well as link up your own posts as they relate to one or all of these topics. It’s going to be big and messy and wonderful, and I can’t wait to see where the conversation leads.

Oh, and use #femfest when you’re talking about it on the Twitters.

So happy Wednesday, and here’s fair warning about the F bombs around here next week.

Cheers!

so i say it humble.

Tomorrow, if you ask me what I have to say as a young person, you might get a different answer.

Today though, I’ll readily admit that most anything I have to share comes from a place of uncertainty.

If you asked, I would tell you that the things I know are few.

[But maybe it’s not really uncertainty after all.]

I might quote my favorite line from that Sleeping at Last song:

“I don’t have all the answers, just a little light to call my own…”

[I even wonder about that line sometimes. Is “light” capitalized? And what does it mean to call it mine?]

I might tell you that this not-knowing is OK, that after all, my faith hinges on a small word that starts with “m.”

And now we proclaim the mystery of faith– Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

[Every Sunday, I say the verbs punchy, like a protest, in the face of everything I see. ]

I would tell you I recite the creed in chorus, knowing that every line that begins with “I believe” does not always mean the same thing as “I understand.”

[I pronounce it week in and week out, so it is in my heart like a catchy song, an earworm I hope I never lose.]

But they are “I believe”s I cup in my hand, stealing peeks between my thumbs whenever I get a chance. Sometimes, they are big enough to swim in.

Besides that, I’m not sure about a lot. I’m not sure why some mamas cannot have the babies they ache for, or why the earth is full of violence. Most days, I don’t know what church is all about or the ways in which the Lord speaks to you or to me. I couldn’t tell you if it is better to be excellent for the sake of Christ or a servant of the least of these. I don’t know exactly how to be a champion of the poor and save the planet, too. I don’t always know what to do with the fact that the word that translates to “steadfast love” in scripture can also mean “rebuke.”

I do not mean that the questions do not have answers, that the Truth is beyond our grasp. I only mean to say that I’m not there yet, that maybe none of us are, and so if I say anything, I hope to say it humble, and I ask you to do the same.

I pray for Grace to bridge the gap, to change my heart and make it one of wisdom. I pray that one day I will have enough gray hairs and good stories to temper these wild wonderings.

So, now and forever, I stand and say the “I believe”s, knowing them to be true.

And I remember the rest of that Sleeping at Last lyric:

“A speck of light can reignite the sun and swallow darkness whole.”

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Though this post is perhaps less than what I promised last week, this is the one I count as contribution to my dear friend Preston Yancey’s synchroblog directed to young people.

[However, I may be the only one who cares about the distinction.]

Please, please read the beautiful words others have written, by clicking the image below:

 

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writing young.

It’s kind of a funny story. I meant to sit down and write a post for Preston Yancey’s synchroblog, but somehow I ended up writing about it, around it. Here I share a tiny piece of the mosaic of hangups I have about writing, creating. I share this now, with the promise (eek!) that I will actually answer P’s prompt before the synchroblog ends. 

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She orders an omelette, and I’m not sure whether I should warn her that the restaurant we have come to for this Pulitzer-winning-author-student breakfast is notorious for overdone eggs and slow service. Not only would her meal be mostly brown, but cold, too.

I decide against it. I’m nervous, and there’s no way I’m telling Marilynne Robinson what she should order for breakfast. I’ve already made a fool of myself by bumbling through a conversation about Nicholas of Cusa, making it painfully obvious that I hadn’t finished my class reading for the week. Instead, I had worried about meeting her.

We make some small talk, the group of us, while a row of redundant plain coffee mugs keep watch from a high dusty shelf, far out of reach. Very. Small. Talk. I crack a tired joke about the bustling metropolis of Waco. Someone finally asks something about gendered writing. Oddly, she seems more entertained by the former. It’s really not even a very funny line.

A question that has been forming slowly for months now bubbles to the surface, quietly, while she talks about writing male characters.

I think it began with that creative writing professor, the one that scared me away from composing much of anything for over a year. Almost as if he thought he was at a cocktail party rather than a room full of students, he mused that young writers don’t make anything worth much. He scoffed at the naiveté of those who think otherwise, fiddling with the thick pinky ring on his left hand.

That moment, and his highest praise for a poem I wrote in five minutes about thai noodles, made me question writing anything ever. I still have my doubts about modern poetry as a whole.

And then that day when Mom and I visited that prestigious writing center. I wore a too-trendy, too-tight belt and we got a ticket for parking illegally. The lady from admissions shifted in her seat when she mentioned the age thing.

“While age isn’t necessarily a factor,” she began, “most of our students do come in older. You know, after they’ve had more experience. After they’ve lived some life, you know.”

I was expecting this, I told my mom in the car. She thinks it’s crap. I think some is, but not all. Mostly, I use it as a way to put off creating anything. I’ll just let it all age, like wine, I think. Conveniently, I neglect the fact that the whole thing starts with picking grapes.

Back at the breakfast table, I finally ask my question–Marilynne is a writing teacher, after all. I nearly blurt,

“How would you respond to those who might say that a writer needs to be older? That she needs to, you know, do things first?”

I start to babble.

“But then, I guess there are plenty of great writers who were quite young, like…”

Oh no. Which John is it? Keats? Donne? Keats?

“…John Donne, who wrote everything he did before he died at 25.” Not much older than I am now, I think defeatedly. Somewhere along the line, I think it entered my head that all good artists are freak child prodigies or eighty years old. No in-between.

Marilynne Robinson squints at me a bit. She knows it’s a loaded question for me. I’ve gone on longer than I have transcribed here, and later Wikipedia would tell me that I did get the Johns confused.

Finally, she quiets me by opening her mouth. She’s calm, but also seems confused as to why I’m bothered by my own question. It’s an easy answer.

“If you have a story happening inside you, then tell it. If you have something to say, then say it.”

I lean back in my chair, staring, as if to say, that’s it?

The waiter finally comes by with her omelette, and it looks just right.

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If you have something to say, then say it. Won’t you join in Preston’s space to do just that, young ones?

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the land of enchantment, saving me.

Today I am joining the synchroblog over at Sarah Bessey’s (one of my favorite writers). So I share with you some unedited thoughts on New Mexico, and how it is saving my life right now. (Forgive typos and the rest, I’m on the fly today.)

This sky of azure.

Oh, that sky. The sky that seems painted close enough to touch one moment, then seems utterly unknowable, uncontainable the next. Like, how does it even belong here?

It taught me the same thing about God before I even knew it.

I miss it when I’m gone, like coastal people miss the ocean. I ache for that expanse. And when I’m here, I’m reminded why it’s my oldest thought-picture when I hear the word “glory,” and when Psalm 19 comes up in the lectionary.

And it’s saving me because I feel like I can pray a little more honestly here, and it feels like the peace in that little chapel at St. Paul’s. When I see how wide it is, my heart wants to crack open my chest from the inside out and be wide and open, too.

——–

And then there’s the turquoise. Everywhere.

It’s painted doorways, it’s the centennial license plate, it’s the murals and the dishes and the shoes and dresses and stones pressed into silver. (Jewelry I have rebelliously chosen to wear before I turn into a vieja.)

It’s another piece of glory, but on a selfish note, it is nice to wear turquoise and a swath of other colors and not be the brightest spot in the room. And I promise I’m not that self conscious about it all the time, but every once in a while, it’s nice to feel a little more in step with everyone else’s drummer.

———

And my family, whom New Mexico drew back like a magnet.

They are saving my life and driving me crazy. As it should be. Maybe when I am one hundred years old, I will write exactly how weird we are and all of our functional dysfunction, but for now I will tell you that they are all mine and they were the ones to teach me about unconditional love and sacrifice.

They are loud and hilarious and dramatic and generous and inappropriate and kind.

They sit across from me with their coffee cups and Mexican housedresses and cry when I tell them what’s broken my heart recently. They listen to me babble incoherently about my best friends (who are saving my life all the time), and ask me every question I hadn’t thought of. They laugh at my anecdotes and press a hand to heart when I’m done, saying softly, “I’m so glad you have them.”

——–

And then there is right now, with my gluten-free muffin and cup of coffee, framed against another turquoise wall, marigolds stark against those big blue heavens, patchouli and piñon always in the air.

This is saving my life right now.