When A Cross-Dresser Meets An Off-Key Kumbayah

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 12.02.08 AMI quit all service-related activities this past summer when I burned out.

And I haven’t been back at them since.

But the thing is, when you go too long with your heart-values being unrequited, something different—but equally damaging—happens: your heart starts to choke on your own values because they just keep sitting there, stacking up inside you.

Until they come so high you can nearly taste them crawling inch by inch up the back of your throat, suffocating you for their need to be released.

So it was no surprise to walk into Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at butt-early o’clock on Saturday and feel like I could breathe again. I had come home. Home, I tell you. A place so familiar I can smell it in my sleep, with sounds and sights cascading dreamily through me like a favorite childhood memory – maybe the one where I sit on the counter in our growing-up kitchen, sneaking dough and keeping my mama company while she makes my favorite cookies. Comfort, contentment, intimacy, warmth down to my little white feet, that’s what flooded over my body when I travelled across the threshold of that church-basement pantry.

I’ve said it before and I’ll I say it again: there is never a greater sense of belonging then in this space, where my soul is catapulted to the center of an unwashed, undignified sea of quirky people. I love the loud-mouths, the misfits, the skin colors and wrinkle patterns. I love the offending scents, bad language and indecent behavior. I love the spectrum and volume of energy buzzing and pinging from wall to wall, the graceless chaos of pushing and shoving. I love the reluctant acceptance and show of community. I love the joy that still comes when someone starts yelling at me because I can’t understand the name he mumbles at the registration table. All this—even much more—and I feel like I’m the opportunist who found herself in heaven because she already chose to die.

Jay-Z and Kanye were wrong, you know. There IS church in the wild and I find it every time I’m there in that jungle of battered humanity, where I am chief of all the rabble-ish creatures. But, for absolutely dead damn certain the finest part of the whole [rethink] church service that morning was the moment when a lively cross-dressed man (complete with giant gold hoop earrings) flaunted in and started serenading the crowd at the very height of his off-key lungs. Round and around and around he would weave himself slowly through all the food-seeking bodies with an open hymn book in hand, singing song after song. He was so LOUD y’all, but in my estimation this man seemed like he represented The Glue that stuck all us kids together that day . . . not only did his off-color character invite you to come just as you are with all the strangeness and skeletons you stand up under, but because the first song he belted forth was none other then Kumbayah – the tune “originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion”. The whole eccentric event made me want to whoop and dance and grin as wide as the lousy limitations of my face would allow. And my spirit was so stretched with colliding and ricocheting sensations, the feeling you might have when something shamelessly pure and indescribably right and incandescently beautiful rises from an unseen place and expands your chest with all the good things. Bursting, I have heard it called before.

I am bursting. And all the craziness and Kumbayah singing doesn’t stop me from pausing within the bedlam just to inhale him, my Jesus. Pausing and breathing and shutting my eyes for only a moment and I can see his figure moving around the earthbound bodies in that fluid way – touching shoulders, bathing feet, bending close for every hug, delivering that celestial-sized smile he’s famous for . . . You see? The reason I go is selfish, really. I just want to be close to Jesus and remember who he is [especially] during this Lent season. Not only is he all over every person I smell and touch and serve, but his Spirit is also whorling between every piece of food and flesh. I mean, you literally and certainly CAN’T miss him. Of all the reasons for dragging my arse out of bed on a Saturday morning, that one is the absolute best.

{Image: SOURCE}

Life Lately

In Adoption: This week past we shared fellowship with some friends who have travelled deep into the heart of adoption. Their arms are so wide-open and their hearts even more with the loving of two Littles from across the globe. We went to them with our story, how we came to be at this unexpected place and where on earth do we go from here (?) and heaven smiled on our coming together and exploring regardless of the outcome – there is no prescription in this process. But the thing I carried home right close to my aorta was a simple prayer born from one tiny piece of our conversation . . . “Our Father, what is real family for us?” And the reason I supplicate this sentence to heaven is because the way family has been defined by our western, white-man’s dictionary might not be the truest or deepest definition of family. On the alternate hand, we cannot make our statements like a blanket and say all family’s should be a mixed-up, colorful collection. But, what in this world does it mean for us to be family? I believe on the other side of Jesus the margins are stretched and family is global, but how that plays out in each of our stories is as colorful as the earth itself. So we pray and we pray and we pray, “Our Father, what is real family for us?”

Pray with us?

In The Living Room: Look how cute they are. All my dudes and my Dude working out their manly-muscles with Tony Horton and his P90X. This is the recipe for making children fall into their pillows come nightfall.

Did I mention how cute they are?

In Adventure: This trio of wee boy-hearts, they beat for adventure and I spend considerable energy trying to reveal to their young eyes that adventure is in the vision of the beholder and can be unfurled in the smallest stuff, but this week I wanted to make it bigger for them . . . “Adventure Week” I told them and they did their Little Savage(s) dance of untamed enthusiasm and blew my eardrums into the next county with the whooping and hollering.

Monday, Adventure Day 1, began with our first-ever walk all the way into downtown . . . From the top of the hill next to home, my finger points in the distance to a scene they’ve seen a few hundred times, but this occasion is different because their vantage point changes as their legs will bring them there instead of spinning car wheels. “See those buildings off in the distance? That’s where we’re walking to. YAY!!! We’re going to have SO much FUN!!! AND, we’ll get ice-cream when we get there” It is incentive enough.

Our muscles groaned up that same hill on the way back, but there was such satisfaction in using our bodies so well. To say we “had a blast” would be stating it mildly and the memories from that day and the rest of our “Adventure Week” are pure gold. I think I feel a tradition coming on.

In The Neighborhood: I hear the screams while I’m up to my elbows in dishwater suds. A pounding heart propels my feet to a dead run out the door and in the direction of audio terror. WHAT in the world is it this time? I wonder, but not for long as galloping legs carry me around the bend half a block from home to the scene of disaster.

There he is.

Seth is bleeding and bruised from his helmeted-head to his flip-flop feet, but instantly I can see that all his wounds are surface. Unfortunately, my heart starts in with serious palpitations as I take in the REAL problem . . .

I don’t know HOW they manage to wreak the havoc that they do.

My Mid-Son very effectively crashed his bike into the neighbor lady’s Mary Kay, pastel-pink Cadillac. I’m not making this up. He side-swiped that sucker from back to front and left rubber-tire skid marks along the whole length before landing head over heels on the hood. He then rolled to the ground where bare skin collided with unforgiving pavement.

My fear kept me from confronting the owner to talk restitution, so when Austin came home, I sent him over to face the music (or, in this case, “face the make-up” {oh man, that is the cheesiest thing I have ever said – maybe}). And you know what? All those scuff marks buffed right off that pastel-pink paint.

Sigh.

The End.

P.S. I’m buying stock in band-aids and Neosporin. And buffing thing-y’s

In My Mind/Heart: This homeschool mama has a whole week off, starting yesterday. Hooligans are at summer camp with their friends – kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking, crafting and learning about Jesus through nature. I’m certain that they’re bored to tears.

What’s a poor girl to do besides suffer at the beach?

My mama gave me an audio theatre presentation of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I took him to the sun and sand and listened straight through his story for three hours and when he died in the end, I felt like I had lost a dear friend as I cried silently behind my sunglasses. Radio theatre is amazing like that, the characters come alive and tug you right into their circumstances. The beach beneath me disappeared and I found myself walking the streets of Nazi Germany, breathing the sights, sounds and horrors of the day.

My appreciation for the man Dietrich became through unprecedented events and trial, amplified with each passing scene. An idealistic pacifist he was, but when reality rolled repulsive in the form of a monster named Hitler, he discovered a painful, yet graceful, marriage between his divine ideals and the world’s human actuality.

Five minutes before listening to the rope stretch around his neck, the story leaves you with one of his final letters from his two years in traitors prison and I have been ruminating on those words: “I have come to some conclusions. During the last year or so I have come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness, our Christianity. This is something that I am discovering right up to this moment. That it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to live by faith. One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself. Whether it be saint or converted sinner, churchman or righteous man or an unrighteous man, sick man or healthy one. By this worldliness, I mean living unreservedly by life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completly into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world, watching with Christ in Gethsemene. That, I think, is faith. That is how to become a man and a Christian.”

I’ve been filtering memories from the last ten years of living through this lens of the world being the medium by which I find myself in the arms of God and I discover so much truth there, not to mention the richness of paradox. It also reminds me of a single line from one of my favorite songs, “Let the world wound me, until I see You alone . . . in everything.” 

Selah.

In Thanks: #301 Children playing hard/falling into bed. #302 Hugs, tears and forgiveness before the sun goes down. #303 Walking everywhere with the elements all over my skin. #304 Summer dresses and flip-flops #305 Italian Ice to make a day special. #306 Bandaids and Neosporin! #307 Anticipating vacation. #308 Whole family bike rides – 3 growing boys sandwiched between us.

Love to all,

Erika

P.S. For some reason, I am unable to link to other pages from my posts. So, where you see “friends” highlighted, that is supposed to take you to steadymom.com, “story” is supposed to direct you to Wherein My Heart Changes (under “We” and “Wonderings”) and “place” is Wherein My Heart Changes – Part 2. Sorry. WordPress and I are going to have a little chat to see if we can sort it out. :)

Expensive Moments

The rains came this morning when the dudes and I were outdoor adventuring through the New Haven cityscape. Nothing, and what I mean is that pretty close to nothing, makes my heart-joy rise higher then standing under warm water pouring through the clouds from heaven. This girl knows her favorite weather.

The boys are on their bikes and I’m running alongside, just keeping up with their little pedaling-legs. We are making our way to the cupcake bakery two miles from home and we have never done this particular exploration before. They are exultant, these boys who crave beyond-ordinary.

One of the finest moments came when our trek took us across an overpass of Interstate 95 and something about being up high and the rushing cars beneath caused quite an expressive reaction in all the boys, but Seth particularly. He lifted his voice with the throwing back of his helmeted-head and shouted, “WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!! THIS IS SOOOO TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!”

How contagious is that?

We all started laughing and my mother-heart started marveling that all I had to do was take them on a bike ride above the highway to make their day amazing – never mind the cupcakes.

We continued our journey, inhaled tasty treats and semi-circled to make our way back when I looked up to see the sky burgeoning with dark, billowing clouds from the West. I felt it then, it was my turn to be elevated by elation. The worship rose high and I yelled ahead to my mini-men, “YOU GUYS!!!!!!! I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN ON US!!!!! WHOOOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!”

And it did. Halfway to home the cosmic faucet let go of it’s well and drenched us real good. It was unbelievable to me and my thirsty heart did leap of wonder and we found ourselves home too soon for my taste, so I stayed outside when the boys went in and stood there under the wet and performed my Sun Salutations to the raining sky and felt my dust turn to clay again from this bath of Living Water.

This, this is how I want to spend my summer – adventuring through these tiny, expensive moments . . . that I don’t have to pay for.