I Am An Alchemist

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.43.36 PMPsst . . . Would you harness all your extra energetic atoms and come close in here for a moment? I want to tell you a special little something . . .

For 32 years I’ve been walking around the sun and with every turn about the calendar I’ve learned that I’m unfurling into more of who I was born to be; discovering dots, connecting threads, sketching ideas, chasing the Spirit around all the places so I can ask him all the questions all the time – just for the joy of scribbling what I hear on the scratchpad of my soul and I’m sure I get to keep all the whispered secrets harbored safe within me for at least (or no less then) eternity.

Get this: I’m still learning new things about myself and some might find this strange and others entirely refreshing, but lately I’ve been rolling the air between the tips of my fingers just so I can touch what nothing-molecules feel like. I’m every which way bent on not missing a single ordinary thing because I recently discovered that I am, by nature, an alchemist.

What’s that you say?

Alchemist: A person who uses any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.44.41 PMHmmm . . . I wonder WHO the original alchemist was and is and is to come? You must know that I’m thinking now of that long ago dust-spread being woven and shaped into humanity by the magical breath of The Great Alchemist. And I’m thinking of every redemption story I’ve ever heard and all the tales of burned-down ashes turning towards raised-up beauty because that one true Alchemist spoke the magic-wielding words of value and love. I just can’t escape this urge to be under the tutelage of such wonder. So, I touch the air with the flesh of my hands and imagine it’s worth so much more then I often remember, this element I take for granted just as often as my next breath.

Alchemy, I think, is nothing if not the noticing of the practically un-noticeable. And by practicing noticement, the magic of value and love is infused into the most common of substances until they become, to the beholder, a substance of great value. Glory be! Who knew you could get giddy like this and watch the daily drudgery and typical times go by, rich and filled full with amazement.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.44.08 PMIn related news, I wrote this prayer in my journal a few weeks back and it speaks volumes of the place God has seduced me to: “A quiet and reverent good morning I would speak to You now . . . with rest and love and fullness in my heart. I’m breathing You in like a mystic, slowing all my molecules to look like miracles. They are miracles and I would remember today that You are holy and wholly, absolutely other. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to understand just one or two unfathomable mysteries . . . Would You let me touch the connections between this world and Your pulsing beat? Related: I want to drink You, every bit that I can. Is that possible? To sink into the celestial abyss? Right here in all my ordinary days? By the way, I love . . . I LOVE my ordinary days. You have built me for this, changed me to reflect the mysticism of the mundane and I am grateful, but more so: content. I am content. My God. Miracles never cease. Picking up scattered scraps of paper, filling a million cups with milk, doing the kitchen dance over a pot of simmering soup . . . I am content and AMEN I say to that.”

Now you know a little something more about the heart that beats inside my body and next time I go about making God-seed declarations, I’m gonna tell you why I am, by nature, also an anthropologist. In the meantime, I was wondering (and it would rock my world) if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me something about yourself? It could be a photo or a paragraph or a prayer or a link to a blog post – anything! What is something you are - regardless of whether you’ve been validated by man or certified by any institution? The anthropologist in me longs to know the inherent you and desires to see how we all intersect and connect in this beautiful interlocking circle of Kingdom contribution.

Wherein Parenting Takes An Unorthodox Turn

It was a Wednesday and I stopped and dropped in the middle of putting clean sheets on my bed because the weight of my mundane world crashed in a heap upon my shoulders and the tonnage of it propelled a forward bend, palms pressed open against the mattress, back arched like a bow and the heaviness of my head hanging careless between my shoulder blades. I told my Father that I was certain that He had made a mistake and that surely having three boys AND homeschooling them . . . plus this, that and the other thing was too much weight for any one person to stand up under and more specifically: TOO much for an introvert who craves solitude and stillness and quiet more then all the known things on God’s green earth.

Then I remembered that God only gives us what we could NEVER handle.

On.

Our.

Own.

With the brackish water breaking from my eyelids and spilling on the bed I’m bent over, I says to my God: “I ain’t got what it takes and my back is broken here. I need wisdom because I have no idea how to be a mom right now”

To be more specific with you, we’ve been aching and desperate to comprehend what to do with our oldest son who is transitioning from boyhood into young-manhood and seems to all of a sudden have pre-adolescent hormones raging through his developing body. Somebody told me one time long, long, ago that this would happen some day—the hormones and whatnot—and I’m going to tell you right now that there are some abstracts I wish would just stay the freakin’ heck away from reality. Because these boy hormones?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOMEBODY, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, SAVE ME!!!!!!!!!

I digress.

Our boy, Gabe, has been monumentally struggling with disproportionate anger. And this anger can rise up inside him from just one big snot-sniffle coming from the nostril of a brother sitting next to him on the couch. And no amount of reasoning and deep breathing is enough sometimes to pull him out of his sudden hysteric space. Later, when the cool down finally comes, he makes his way so repentant-like to all the family members he violated and begs for forgiveness, with tears and sorrow and all the rest of it. He prays everyday that God would help him not to react to his sometimes frequently pesky little brothers or to any other thing that might get an immediate rise out of him.

Gabriel and I were having a post-fraternal-war conversation on the couch the other day and with cry-streaks all over his cheeks he says to me: “Mama, I’d rather be able to change then have a million dollars. I don’t understand why God isn’t helping me”. Let me go ahead and confess to you that my heart split to slivers while watching my son hunger for a transformation that felt so far-reaching for him. Especially since he’s been praying for [what feels to him like] a very long time. And mama don’t have the answer to his big-boy question.

That’s the gist of our repetitive struggles. And by “repetitive”, I mean: more then once every day. And I am so tired of hearing myself talk and all the teachable moments that I just CAN’T pass up. He’s tired. I’m tired. We’re all tired. At the same time, you need to know that Gabe has such a gigantic heart of goodness and strength inside his chest and we are constantly affirming who he is and building his character up and reminding him of who he is in Christ Jesus and anyone who isn’t his mama would still marvel at the way this God-son spreads seeds of love all over the land around him.

In the midst of all this, Austin and I have—at times—messed up massively in the ways we responded to Gabe’s challenges, getting angry and shout-like just as the good scriptures tell us not to and we have sorrowfully sought his forgiveness and somehow by a Grace higher then ours that process has knit our hearts even tighter together with our boy Gabe.

So, that day when my mattress became my confessional, I had reached the most stretched-out shred of myself – for things mentioned and unmentioned. But, what I was most despairing for was a way to help my son through his breaking s and transitions.

The next day Gabriel’s anger came back, it couldn’t stay away . . . with wild eyes and clenched fists he tornados around his brother Jude for barely any reason at all. I’m in the kitchen elbow deep in sugar cookie dough when the tyrant-tune reaches my ears and the first thing I do this time is all the deep-breath-taking I can possibly suck in, all the way to my belly and back up again, while whispering my “Oh, God . . . help.” And I call for the angry son to “come here please” and I quietly ask him to “go somewhere alone just until I can wash my hands and come talk to him”. The good Lord knows I didn’t need time to wash my hands. I needed time to wash my heart so I could enter into a space with my son and see far beyond the surface issue being repeatedly expressed.

That’s exactly when I had this helpful idea fall into my thinking space and I rushed to meet Gabe in the guest room where he was being quiet and took his hand in mine and guided his body gently to lay down on the rug, positioned his limbs in the most relaxed pose, placed a palm on his forehead and a palm on his stomach and felt the Spirit literally whoosh in on the wings of my urgent pleas. What follows is the record I wrote in my journal the second I was done ministering to my boy, because I didn’t want to forget even an atom of it.

Me: “Ok, Bub. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths all the way down to your belly. Breathe . . . Relax your face. . . Loosen your limbs . . . Breathe.”

(One minute pause while Gabe stills down.)

Me: “While keeping your eyes closed, I want you to tell me where your anger is located in your body. Is it in your mind? Or your heart? Or your stomach? Is it in your left thigh?” (Seriously. You NEVER know.)

Without missing a single beat . . .

Gabe: “The anger is in my stomach.”

At this point I move both my fire-hands to rest softly on his bare belly.

Me: “Ok. The anger is in your stomach, what does it feel like?”

Gabe: “My stomach feels tight and really tense. It hurts all over.”

Me: “Ok. We know the anger is in your stomach and is making your stomach tense and painful. Now, I want you to imagine the anger in your stomach and tell me what it looks like.”

Without missing a single beat . . .

Gabe: “It looks like a dark, red cloud.”

Me: “Imagine for me this dark, red cloud sitting in your belly and taking up all this space where it doesn’t belong. (Pause) Do you see it?”

Gabe: “Yes.”

Me: “Now imagine the dark, red cloud being sucked out of your belly until it’s all the way gone.”

Almost immediately, Gabriel’s eyes POP open and bug out of his head while he exclaims: “HOW did you do that?!?! I CAN’T believe it!!! My stomach hurt SO bad and now it’s all GONE!!! It’s a MIRACLE!!!”

I’m smiling over his wonder and joy, but tell him: “Hang on a second, we’re not done yet . . . close your eyes and imagine the space in your belly where all that anger was . . . now that it’s gone, you have all this empty space inside you and I want you to envision that empty space. Do you see it?”

Gabe: “Yes.”

Me: “Alright, now that you have this empty space, what do you want to fill it back up with?”

Gabe: “God’s love. I want to fill it with God’s love.”

Me: “Good . . .that’s beautiful, Gabe. What does God’s love look like to you?”

Gabe: “God’s love looks like Jesus’ face.”

Me: “Ok. Imagine Jesus’ face coming to you and filling all the empty parts inside your stomach.”

And he did, he took Jesus’ face right inside him and with so much gladness and appreciation coming out his eyes, my boy throws his adolescent arms around my neck and fervently whispers against my neck: “Thank you so much, mama. I feel FREE!” And mama says: “Oh, honey. Jesus set you free, He just used my hands and my heart.”

I learned an invaluable lesson that day: in many situations that seem like a punishment would be in order for negative behavior being chosen and displayed, maybe the offender isn’t always begging for . . .

Time-outs.

Or privileges revoked.

Or firm words.

Or extra chores mandated.

Maybe sometimes he only needs to be touched where he is hurting most. Maybe being a parent means less about correction all the time and more about offering ourselves as a medium of healing for our children. The healing process can take more time then we are willing to sacrifice when life is full and busy, but for the 20 minutes I spent on the floor with Gabe I felt like I was in an alternate universe with my son and I couldn’t even feel the clock ticking.

(Note: I don’t think Gabe received some magic cure-all. BUT. It has been two weeks since this interaction with the Spirit on the extra-bedroom floor and we have not had ONE outrage. NOT. ONE. Sure, he still gets mad here and there – it’s just not even close to the same anymore.)

 

:: Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose ::

 

Deck Your Heart

Right now? I’ve got nothing else to offer this space full of Deeper readers then my Advent heart. I am completely consumed by “coming” and would you sit where you are long enough to watch me pour myself all over an ancient manger? Pour myself out even though the thought of giving you my heart feels at least 6 million kinds of vulnerable, as if I were the one spreading my legs for all the world to see while pushing the crown of God’s head into the hay. But, if ever there is time and space for vulnerability it’s the Christmas season; the very act of incarnation, of Christ coming to us bloody and naked invokes all the worshippers to come as bare and forked as possible before the flesh-born King.

I’ve had 31 revolutions around this one stable and at least 10 of them I have beseeched to the Baby therein, “How much deeper can we go this year?” And this is how I begin to deck my heart, with curiosity and fervor and a longing for the provocative nature of this story to mix with my claret-red cells and run rampant all over my veins like some sort of Divine drug. Every moment of Advent-to-Christmas tastes like an aphrodisiac and I am drinking the moments like ambrosia-laced elixir. With my tongue rolling around all the flavors of a Newborn, no wonder I burst with more merry and leak more tears then every other orbiting day.

I want more . . .

Follow me to Deeper Story for the rest of this smattering of my most vulnerable heart-words? Click HERE.

 

What I’m Hungry For

Will you hear what I am hungry for? How I can eat moments like my first and last and only meal?

Moments.

Moments of stillness and quiet, with just enough length to take an extra breath, speak a gentle “I’m here, Abba” and be mindful that behind the air I inhale is another galaxy of meaning and mystery – it’s heaven waiting in the wings for the sprinkling of God-children spread all over the earth to bring a piece of the celestial into earth-time. (Try it and see . . . With just one beautiful, purposeful and God-rich thought in your head, drag in some atmosphere through your nose and I believe you’ve brought the Kingdom here and now.)

I was born with a mystic heart and I could feast on solitude for days, but God gave me a family and made me a homeschool mama and also dug such a deep well of love in my heart for all the people who walk around and straight into my world . . . You see? Moments are all I get and that’s okay, but I’ve got to cultivate them to be good ones otherwise my soul would shrink to a shrivel.

So, I’m praying every morning for a cleansed palette with which to taste all of God in every little beat of space ticking down eternity’s clock. Even more so and especially now that my eyes have gone soft from gazing towards the dawn of Advent this Sunday. We’ll wait the whole day to light the Candle of Hope at night and I know with that tiny flame flickering to life on our Advent wreath my breath will beg to be pulled inside my lungs slow and deep and all the way down to my belly like the way I had to when I was 9 months pregnant; when my body was so full of flesh that short gasps could never fill me up .

That’s how to breathe the Advent air. All the way down to your gut. Because if any air in the world is pregnant, it’s the Advent air – 9 months, pre-labor large with the memory of expecting Someone so big He could only come in the package-size of an infant.

Again this year the moments in our home will glow gentle with hundreds and more tiny twinkle lights on a Charlie Brown evergreen tree and all the spirit-atoms within go hush-hush for the sweet Bethlehem Baby. A Baby that I’ve never wanted to hold so bad and we all wrap Him in our arms with each sacrament and remembrance. We’ll take Him in our arms and clutch Him close to our chests once more, tis the season for new-skin smell and Baby-breath fanning and for swaying around the living room humming lullabies, caressing our flesh-palms over and across a soft, downy, Divine-head. The thermometer around us will shift to temperature still as we supplicate for the deep hope of softening and bending our souls towards the heart of Christmas.

:::

If any of you are looking for a couple of Spirit-whispers to supplement your holiday season, below are a few resources that nurtured and strengthened our own tribe-traditions.

This is our second year to travel through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Family Advent Devotional – we all love the way she stitched and crafted The Story from start to finish. If you’re interested, you can download it for FREE right HERE.

John Blase wrote a beautiful little triumph of a book called Touching Wonder. This, too, can be download for FREE over HERE or at Amazon.

For younger kids, this Advent Storybook is our favorite and we are still reading it every year – so sweet and reverent.

:::

Can I tell you how blessed and joy-full I wish and pray for your Advent and Christmas to be? I’m wrapping my big heart around each and every y’all, okay? I LOVE you!

 

{Image Source}

Why I’m Going Back To Church

“If I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.” ~Oswald Chambers

Hi. My name is Erika Lynn Morrison. I have been intentionally engaged with the activity and developement of a post-congregational Christian community for the last 13 years of my life and I say it to you like a confession lest I forget that this expression was the bosom at which my faith nursed – where the Spirit cradled my transformation through daylight and dark, night watches; crooned over my broken skin and my blooming heart. It was a beautiful way to grow, the milk was nutrient-dense and precisely what I needed to strip, stand and stretchI learned how to toddle and walk and say, “Daddy” all over again before He taught me my own signals and sounds, the specific language He wanted me to speak – not at all a prescriptive word-power for the Christian course, but new abstractions from what had become tired and old.

(Can we all admit that our faith-speak has become–and is–old sometimes? That we’ve lost originality, even while serving an infinitely original God?)

All this cultivation came to pass under the careful watch and with the constant conversation of 20 or so other people who were going through the same growing strands and strains that I was. My God, this decade-plus was a good and dangerous delight (when that decade-plus wasn’t so busy being very damn hard) . . .

This narrative continues at Deeper Story today!!! Follow me THERE?! :)