I Am Not Color Blind

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It’s been years now, but the memory-moment when I first saw her still runs deep.  Sitting cross-legged on the bed, with pink sponge curlers in her hair, she looks up as I enter our college dorm room.  Me, a middle-class white girl from the suburbs; she, a lower-class black girl born and raised in West Philadelphia.  Our eyes meet for a split second and then both our heads drop silent.

I grew up in white privilege; she grew up among the working poor.   We had a lot to discover about each other, and that we did.  A critical juncture; a defining year that gave me a new perspective beyond my own safe little world.

Amazing how God arranges life experiences to add in the missing pieces.  A divine appointment; a God set-up that added something needed, something of value, into the core of my identity.

My world got a whole lot bigger that year.  And I will be forever grateful to my West Philly roomie whom I grew to love, honor and respect.

Fast forward to last weekend…

We enter the retreat center where I am one of three invited speakers.  Seated beside the other speakers—all beautiful, strong and gifted African American women, I am feeling my “white-ness”.  I’ve heard these women speak before, with incredible power and passion.  They can raise the roof with their fiery-Pentecostal preaching.  An expectation to conform and perform begins to emerge from within me.

Conform and perform—I’ve done it before.  Not proud of it, but true.  Caved to my own internal pressure and took on another’s identity to be approved and accepted.  Yet in the process, I lost something invaluable—the gift of myself.

And then it hits me—my college roomie, this is the lesson we learned together.  I can honor and celebrate these African American women without pretending to be one of them.  By staying true to myself, I give room for others to stay true to themselves.

I quietly walk to the podium and begin sharing God’s love from my heart—in the way I do best, in the way I am designed.  People are moved by the gentle power of love—tears flow and healing comes.  I am a cool drink of water in the fiery heat of the day.  Different, yet the same.

I am not color blind.  God gave us color and the ability to distinguish between colors.  It’s a gift that I plan to celebrate more.  When we celebrate our differences by not pretending they do not exist, we celebrate the multi-faceted nature of God in whose image we all were created.  

Different, yet the same.  Hard to explain.  A divine mystery from the heart of God that I one day hope to understand better.

 

Pattern Interrupt: Friend or Foe?

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A pattern interrupt—my new best friend.  Wished we had been introduced years ago but looking forward to a long, happy relationship.

Taking a day off in the middle of the week without any plans; up at 3 a.m. to drive 3 hours to fly fish on a favorite river; spending time on a Montana ranch, digital free, helping Jon, the old ranch hand, fix the irrigation sprayer—all pattern interrupts where inspiration and creativity thrives.

A pattern interrupt, it changes the way I think; it changes the way I behave.  It takes some risk, some courage, and some humility at times.

For me, it most often involves spending time in nature.  The shape of the land, the trees and vegetation, the rivers and streams cause me to roam and explore in both movement and thought.  I am an outsider—a rebel against the mundane, the ordinary, the routine.

There is a beautiful ancient Hebrew word used in the Book of Psalms, the meaning of which is a bit of a mystery.  Selah—sometimes translated, “to pause in His Presence”.   Selah, the ultimate pattern interrupt. 

Sometimes I just need to break away from the routine and pause in the vastness of God’s Presence.  Where all things are possible, where the pattern of this world is interrupted, and where my mind, body, soul and spirit can be renewed.

When was the last time you experienced a pattern interrupt?

Selah.

 

Inspired Sight

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I don’t want to be a slave to what I see with my natural sight.  Spirit, not substance, determines what it is I am to see, to know, and to understand.

Practicing today to hear with my eyes—the eyes of my heart, that is.  When I hear with my heart’s eyes, everything around becomes a little brighter, a little clearer and filled with possibilities.  And this only comes by living life from the inside out.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened …” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV, The Holy Bible).

 

Hope: An Anchor for the Soul

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Returning to my room at the Breakwater Inn in Kennebunkport, I see the young Latina girl out of the corner of my eye.  I turn and our green-hazel eyes meet.

“I can do your room later if you like,” she says shyly as she kneels in the hallway with cleaning supplies by her side and tying up bags of trash.

The occupant of the room next to mine shuts her door abruptly.

“Oh, that’s not necessary.  No need to do my room today,” I smile.  “We just need our wastebaskets emptied, if you don’t mind.”

And the next thing I know, I’m kneeling beside the Latina girl with eyes like mine tying up trash in the hallway of the Breakwater Inn.

And then I notice it—on her forearm—and the connection begins.

“Your tattoo is really pretty.  Tell me about it.”

“It’s a lotus flower.  It means hope.”

“So pretty,” I say, and she continues.

“I especially like these lines that come down from the flower.  They remind me of the chains on a clock.”

“Oh, like the chains you pull on a clock to set the time?  So, your tattoo reminds you that this is your set time to hope?”

She smiles and nods in happy agreement.  She knows I get her, and He gets her, too.

And one more bag of trash is tied up and tossed out in a quiet moment of sharing God’s love with a young Latina girl with eyes like mine.

***

Jesus never forced his opinion or himself on people.  Instead, he stooped down low to associate with people of all walks of life.  He spoke their language in a way that helped them connect to God.

 

The Mystic Embraces The Poet

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She writes like a poet with the heart of a mystic”, states one well-known author of another.  The words tug at my heartstrings–those melodious tendons said to brace the heart.  I brace myself, and I imagine …

If only those words were said of me,

My heart would sing an unchained melody!

With unbroken rhythms of truth & grace,

I’d find myself in my happy place!

 Just kidding.  Not really.  LOL.

Searching for my singing heart’s motive, I ask the question, “What is a mystic anyway?”

I read the definition: “One who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.”

For me, that definition is … close but no cigar.  Yes, I know, a rather every-day idiom to employ by a wannabe mystic such as myself, but please, allow me to explain!

The expression, “Close but no cigar originates from the practice of fairground booths handing out cigars as prizes.  The phrase would be said to those who gave it a good try, but did not win the prize.

My faith is based on the radical belief that the Word behind all words in scripture has been made flesh.  That flesh, a man named Jesus, is Truth.  He’s the prize I get to spiritually apprehend; the full manifestation of All Truth that extends far beyond “my truths”—my human reasoning and intellect—and leads me into the higher realm of All Truth.

So I’m running my race for the prize—the prize of apprehending greater dimensions, not of truths, but of the Truth.  In the taking, the mystic embraces the poet within and something of value, something of worth, something life-giving appears.

In the taking, I center not on what is true about me, but what is Truth about me.  I choose the Way of Truth that brings Life, and I win every time.

~

Writing for me becomes a dialogue with the Spirit of God.  My heart’s response to scriptures whispering through my spirit.  This dialogue flows from John 14:6, “Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth and the life …”  May the dialogue continue in you… Love & Peace.

 

The Power of Story

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Jesus, the profoundly gifted storyteller.  He rarely told stories about God directly.  He often taught through parables.  I appreciate that aspect of his nature.  He knew how to capture the imagination.  He used creative ways to challenge, and even provoke, his listeners.

I believe that the Spirit of God still speaks through parables today.  And as a first century of the 3rd millennium, non-parable reading people, it may take some imagination, and it may take some work, but that’s what makes parables so beautiful.   We are invited into the story to take a lead part, if we so choose.  And in God’s wisdom, he leaves the moral of the story to each to determine for him or herself.

Do you have a story that challenged your way of thinking about something?  My writing often reflects those stories.  My story becomes His story, and I am transformed by the power of story.