Monday, October 15, 2007

Sin, Celebrations, and the Virgin Whore

Over the weekend I went to Davidson to see Colleen, and then I went home for a few days. And it was sort of a time of renewal. I really needed to get away - get out of Boone - and remember who I am and what I want to do, like in life. It was really good to be with people who remember. It was really good just to be.

Anyway, I observed my old english teacher's AP English 12 class, and they were talking about Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now and Hamlet and Million Dollar Baby and some poems. And the kids started talking about "the edge". Like where is that place when you are no longer really human . . . you are lost? And how do you get there? And how do you keep from getting there? And situations that require you to pick the lesser of 2 evils, and such.

As they were talking, my teacher brought up a very important point. And for me, sin was finally defined. Sin is something I have really been struggling with for the past few years. Not in terms of committing a lot of sins, although I am sure that has happened, but in terms of finding a definition I could live with. I don't buy into sin as being defined biblically . . . there are too many rules and laws in the bible, and they are too contextual. I don't buy into sin as something that separates you from God . . . I mean ok . . . but that definiton gets thrown at people and alot and really I think it would be different for each person.

But anyway, my teacher asked the students to think about times when they have done things that they know go against the person they were meant to be. And I think that fits. I think it works because you can feel it when it happens. And there is not a specific action that qualifies - it depends on who you are and who you want to be and where you are on your journey. And it works for things you honestly don't know are wrong - because how can you sin out of ignorance? I like it. I think it's true.

I think I have been doing a lot of things recently that go against who I was meant to be. And they're not big things. They're little things. But they build up. And I get caught in this monotony and this feeling of being stagnant. . . Like maybe where I am was fine a year ago, but I am not growing closer to that person that I want to be. I am just here, being. And it is sort of gross. Sort of like when you ride in a car for too long or somethiing. Nothing terrible, just a little gross. So I want to make a commitment to myself to take time to ask God, and myself, where I am going. To think about each day as a Creation. And to take advantage of chances I have to grow and change.

Also, I have been thinking about the women in my life, particularly those of you who are far away. And recently I've been looking foward to things to celebrate with you - like Halloween or birthdays or graduating or getting married (hypothetically). And I have decided that it is maybe the truest blessing to have people who can share your celebrations. Like of course a lot of people are always up for a party, but to have people who really understand what specific celebrations mean to you, and who are willing to celebrate them - even to celebrate a break up or a bad grade or a period - who understand you enough to understand why the celebration matters - and who really want to share in it - that is something beautiful. We tend ot think of close friends as people who can share in our suffering. And that is a blessing too, but it has been my experience that most times suffering is not really something that can be shared with another. Others can listen, and hug, and love - but they can not truly share. Celebrations, I think, can be shared. Truly. And I am excited about all the ones that are to come, and the beautiful friends I have to share them with.

Lastly, and I realize that this post is very random and also lengthy, I wanted to share a quote I came across about the Virgin Mary. Now lots of times I am not so much a fan of Mary, because she is so "pure" and such, and it gets old. Interestingly enough if anyone remembers my "virgin whore" poem/joke from high school it turns out that is a real sociological phenomena. Like women are expected to be pure but also seductive, which causes psychological confusion, and leads to sexism . . . but it is called the Virgin Whore. I learned that today in DEs. But anyway, Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote about Mary so beautifully, and with such passion and realism, that it made me sort of fall in love with her. This is what she said:
"La Nuestra Senora, this Miryam, Maria, Mary, Madre Guadalupe, is no lanina pura, no nice, pure, obedient girl. She is instead pure woman, obedient only to the wildest Force imaginable: that Source without source, La Voz, The voice so much larger than her own voice, the One who asked that she lend her blood, her bones, and her spirit to create a Life that would forever be named Eternal Love."

Can you imagine anything more beautiful than that?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


So today I was sort of yearning for osmething . . . holy. So I went to Howard's Knob. It was cloudy and hazy outside, and about 6:30. I just caught a glimpse of sunset. But it was such a peaceful, holy place. It was so beautiful to be surrounded by Creation. To take a step back, and think of what it means to commune with God. What it means to make something sacred. To make time sacred. To make a moment sacred. To make an action, or a task, or a relationship sacred. To honor the sacred in another. To honor the sacred in myself.

So often I lose sight of the sacred that is all around. I forget to stop and take time to acknowledge the beauty and power around me. I forget to humble myself and seek the sanctity of honesty, love, and selflessness.

As I was looking out over Boone, I thought of other sacred moments I have shared at Howard's Knob. Moments of prayer and study and worship - alone, but alos often with Abby. I thought about her journey to find the Sacred in Grenada, and of the blessing we share in prayer and love for one another. I thought about the Seminarians in Mexico. Perhaps the most important thing they gave me was the gift of a week in which everything became sacred. They gave a glimpse into true community, true worship, true sacrifice.

That is what I want to carry into my life. Through all that I do. I want my teaching to be sacred, my friendships to be sacred, my endeavors to be sacred. I want to love with all that I am, to worship with all that I am, to seek truth with all that I am. I don't want to lose sight of all that is to come, of all that is around in the monotony of every day. I want each day to be an opportunity for worship. EAch moment to be an encounter with the sacred. The special. The beautiful. God.

Monday, October 1, 2007


So . . . I am trying to start a long-distance small group. I know that sounds kinda lame. But I realized that there are a lot of really interesting, intelligent, open-minded people in my life that I would like to discuss things like God and faith with, but that at the moment most of them do not live in Boone. So I decided it was worth a shot. And I have gotten some interest. People seem pretty open to discussing some Bible-ness in a nontraditional format. Of course, we'll have to wait and see where it goes. But I am excited. It seems like it could be a great forum for discussiong questions and struggles and passions openly and honestly. We started another blogspot account where we can post our responses and questions to whatever readings we are following.

Today I taught my first lesson, and I think it went pretty well. It was about the First Amendment. The class I am in always, ALWAYS fills out a worksheet about the section in the book while the student teacher goes over a textbook-created power point presentation of the same information, so I was afraid to deviate too far from the standard. I did, however, create my own power point presentation. And I added a short video about the supreme court case Tinker v. Des Moines (about freedom of speech in schools related to protest armbands during Vietnam). Students filled out a little viewing guide worksheet about the video, and used the precedent to form their own opinion about whether or not the Confederate flag should be allowed to be displayed at school. Out of 3 classes of over 25 students each, about 4 kids are against the Confederate flag being allowed at school. Haha. Proof that I am not indoctrinating my students with my personal opinions . . . at least not yet. Interestingly, at Avery high school, kids are allowed to wear the confederate flag. It was against the rules at my high school.

Anyway, I think it went okay. It was kinda hard to get kids to talk. But that might be a little easier if I had known anyone's name so I could call on them. And noone was rude or mean or anything. And I think they go their boring worksheets filled out ok. And I felt sort of alive and happy and like I was actually contributing to something. So I guess we can count it as a success. The next lesson I am teaching will be about Swann v. Charlotte-Meck schools. Be excited.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Beyond Me

Have I mentioned that I wish I had a small group?

Well, I do. In a way. I miss having that community, and support, and challenge. I miss interesting perspectives about God and life. Recently, it seems that all the small groups I've tried either piss me off or are all like "Jesus loves you. You should pray. God wants us all to be nice to each other." Which is fine . . . But I kinda want something more. I want to really explore the Bible and why we even listen to it . . . or talk about social justice issues related to Christianity . . . or explore feminist theology . . . or talk about Jesus as an educator. Something new. Something different. Something to make me think and pray and act.

I feel closest to God now when I am all by myself. Which is a new experience for me. I feel closest to God when I am thinking about education. When I am exploring how to reach children and how to love children and how to create justice through education. Sometimes I get this huge "I know this is what I have to do." feeling about social justice education. It is like this incredible hand pushing me or something. But I also get this huge feeling of being overwhelmed. Of never being good enough. Like I know no matter how hard I try, I am not gonna reach every person. Parts of me are gonna suck. And I'm scared of being a bad teacher or human being or of not reaching my potential or of being too afraid to make any difference. I'm scared of not loving enough. Of not trying enough. Of not knowing enough. It's all these big feelings. It's kinda complicated.

Tomorrow I begin my internship at Avery High School. I am pretty excited. I am working with a Civics teacher which is awesome, because I think I really want to teach Civics and World History. This semester I am also doing a senior project where I will be desigining a Civics cirriculum that integrates social justice pedagogy. I"m pretty excited about that too. I hope that is the beginning for something great . . . something fun and challenging and meaningful and beyond me.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

beyond the sunset

Last night I had a dream that I was pregnant and drinking wine. And I was very happy.

Now of course, that is not a good combination of situations to begin with. And the joy I felt was strange, because for many years I have had a recurring dream that I was pregnant, and this dream has always come as a nightmare. I have felt ashamed and sad and confused and terrified and unsure of how to handle the situation.

Last night, though, I felt blessed. And happy. And alive. And I wanted to celebrate with my friends.

I looked up pregnancy and wine in a dream symbols dictionary online. I am a big believer in dreams - what they tell us about ourselves, our inner wants and fears and relationships. I think God talks through dreams all the time.

According to the dream dictionary, a glass of wine symbolizes joy, celebration, and often (ironically enough) pregnancy. Pregnancy in a dream symbolizes the birth of a new self, transformation, and new beginnings. Just for clarification, I am certain that I am not pregnant, so we'll have to go with the more symbolic interpretations.

In many ways this dream makes sense because yesterday I just moved into a new apartment. I spent the day unpacking, cleaning, and decorating. I did most of it alone, and it was a good day. It was good for me to be creating something. To have space to be and feel and make this part of my life the way I would like for it to be. It was good for me to have space for myself to be alone and to feel at home.

Last night, Jimbo, Erin, Abby, and Jeffrey came over. Close friends. My best friends. Two of them are leaving within a few weeks. And the night was great - they examined my apartment and gave me advice about decorating and maintenance and helped me set up a few things. And we talked about college. We reminisced about our favorite times and our growing times and our times together. It was beautiful. And I felt so at home. So content.

At the end, though, Abby started crying. And I can't blame her really. She and Erin are leaving soon and I am sad beyond words. Two of my three best friends. Gone. And Abby will be in Greneda, which is not exactly a drivable visit. This year beginning is a hard thing for me to accept. It is hard for me to imagine the year to come - how I will fit, who I will love, who will hold me when I cry or drink wine with me or dance in the rain or pray with me . . .
This sisterhood I've shared with these girls has been irreplacable - special - beautiful - sacred. I've spent a lot of time worrying and crying about what is to come. And I love Jeffrey, again, beyond words. But of course he is a boy, which makes things different. And our relationship has changed a lot within the past four or five months. It's been tense at times - and I know our friendship is stronger now, but there is a lot of unknown there too . . .

So anyway, I've felt a lot of anxiety about AUGUST. About being a senior, student teaching, and ALL THAT IS TO COME. But last night, I did not feel any of this. I just felt peace, and joy. And I know that it will be okay. That this year will be an opportunity to discover myself and explore Boone and this world (college) as far as possible. That it will be my last chance to live in the moment and pull the young-stupid-just having fun card. And that God, grace, and love will be present every step of the way.

I remember when I was in Mexico one of the most comforting thoughts I had was that I am loved - even beyond the sunset. I mean that if they sun were to never rise tomorrow, I would still know that there is a love that will follow me through eternity - wherever I may go. I am so grateful for those relationships that nourish that type of love.

As E.E. Cummings wrote:
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

imagine the divine

"You mean being 'religious' is not merely a matter of conforming to massive rule books handed down by generations of legalistic scholars? I actually have to think about things like 'manifesting the beauty Divine' in the here and now, not just follow a crime-and-punishment logic to please Grand Inquisitor God?"

"To seek the living manifestation of spiritual and ethical values themselves, regardless of the label they come under, is to discover unexpected kinship with persons from utterly different social and religious backgrounds. In this view, faith is no longer a matter of allegiance to a specific community or identity, but a ceaseless search for the beautiful ways to realize the human potential in every given age and place."

Both of the above quotes are from Mohja Kahf, writing about growing up Muslim in America in an essay, "Around the Ka'ba and Over the Crick"in the book Face to Face, edited by Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson.

I love the essay because Mohja's struggle is my own. It is the struggle that defined my "growing up" as a child - as I sought a way to live truly to my faith while at the same time standing up for justice and equality in ways that were contradictory to the dogma I heard from Conservative Christians who permeated my community.
And yet, when I finally believed I had mastered such an act I came to college and was heartbroken by the conflict, close-mindedness, and rigidity I encountered in a campus ministry that claimed to come from the same faith in which I was raised. It was enough to make me seriously reconsider my invovlement in any religious body - something I am still struggling with, still trying to figure out.

The thing is though - as humans I think we were created to yearn for intimacy, both with one another and with the Divine. And the best place I found to encounter such initimacy is a community of faith - for me a church. I struggle with this yearning for intimacy as well as with a deep objection to any group who wants to tell me what I should or must believe or do in order to be a "good Christian," or a "good person," or in particular a "woman of God."

I don't believe that people were created to conform to specific rules - either of who they are allowed to be or how they are allowed to believe and love and conduct themselves. I believe that there is Divinity and Dignity in every single person, because every souls is a Creation from God. And if that is true - then I think our goal is to honor and love and nurture the Divine that is in each person, rather than to subscribe to a bunch of rules or to condemn our neighbors because of things that are different - things that scare or confuse us.

But as I say these things I realize that there is a Truth more important than what "I believe". That truth is manifested in so many ways, in so many things. It is manifested in the beauty of Creation, in the joy of each individual relationship, in humor, in art, in suffering. That Truth permeates the universe - it is all around us all the time. I believe we are happiest and most at peace when we take the time to appreciate that Truth - in all its complexity and confusion -wherever and whenever we are. One of my goals in beginning this blog is that it will be a place where I can reflect upon things that I am truly grateful for, whether they be people or moments or opportunities. In delving deeper into these things, I hope to engage in a certain aspect of worship - that is - appreciation of the sacred.

As Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson write in the Preface to their book:
"The original meaning of the sacrifice is "to make sacred," but we can make sacred without focusing only on sacrifice. We can sing, dance, study, and include all other sentient beings in our definition of holy. We can 'imagine the divine' . . . "


Since all my friends are apparently switching to BlogSpot (and by all my friends, I mean Micah and Abby) and the only person left on Xanga is going to be living with me next year, so I'll probably be pretty up-to-date on her activities, I decided to give it a try myself.

I think it's important for me to be more reflective. To write more - and express myself and my thoughts - and think things through. I think it's really good for me to have an outlet.

so . . . welcome.

You are welcome to read this blog - my thoughts on God and life and justice and dancing and what it means to be a woman and what it means to be Myself. But realize that mainly, it is for me - a place where I can play and share and explore - a place to discover, and re-discover my dreams values and fascinations. A place to hash out the inner conflict between growing up and trying so hard not to.