I Beg To Differ

Come in close with me for a moment? I’m in a gentle, whispering sort of mood and I have some thoughts to give and questions I would ask all you feelers and thinkers and lovers. My questions are the coffeehouse or fire pit variety, the kind that get asked when we can look through the steam or across the flames and find, above all things, the value-code writ into each other’s faces.

1. Do you think God knew we would interpret the gospel 7 billion different ways before sunrise on Sunday? (My sense is that God knew this was inevitable and They still didn’t build parameters to make sure it didn’t happen.)

2. Do you think They are concerned about interpretation nuances?

3. And do you ever wonder if we were even meant to believe the same things regarding doctrine, theology and the like?

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 11.14.41 PMSometimes I lay in bed during the night watch and imagine all kinds of people standing behind my eyes. I place them there just so I can look real long into their soul-windows and speak these over them in the dark: “I see you”. Because what if nobody ever tried to see them before and my looking at them with love is like a prayer going out to cover this essential human need?

So I lay with my physical eyes shut and my spirit-eyes wide open and I see the panorama of skin colors and heights, sizes and shapes. But more importantly I see that everyone is carrying the weight of their own history; an entire world riding piggy on their backs and everyone is fighting their own battles, wearing their own scars, bleeding from their own wounds, pushing through their own struggles. I see we’re all haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts and it’s not just when these eyes are closed. I see that you and you and all of you are bent with your own heaviness, just like I’m doubled over with mine. I see humanity has 7 billion different molecular codes informing their responses, reactions; persuading the spectrum of their emotions. On my left I see the guy who seems whole on the outside, but his soul limps like a zombie, diseased and mostly dead. I see the one in the shadows who perpetuates unspeakable evil and I look at him extra long so I have time to trace his life backward in my mind’s eye and hopefully understand what happened to him, “Who hurt you?” I will always ask. I see the girl who thinks she’s got it all figured out, but she actually don’t know shit. (Sometimes that girl is me.) I see the religious, non-religious; educated, uneducated; rich man, poor man; young man, old man. I see the preposterous, vulgar, timid, boisterous, abused, broken, numb, bloodshot, drunk, diseased, depressed, drugged and dumb. I see sinners, saints, successes, eccentrics, bullies, bullied, straights, gays, clowns, misfits, fools and thieves.

I see a mysterious cocktail of a thousand different characteristics inside the mix of each person . . . 

Join me at Deeper Story today to read the rest of my thinkings! Click HERE or HERE or HERE. :)

 

Love,

Erika

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}

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?! :)

 

we are {all of us} hungry for more then bread

There is a church I go to, it gathers in the under-belly of another church and can be accessed thru the back entrance and a flight of stairs going down. Before the Tuesday night doors even open, there is always a long, uneven flesh-line trailing along the gum-dropped sidewalk and this waiting humanity? They are so hungry for bread. I am hungry for Bread, too, so I go to serve at the soup kitchen because He is always there waiting to feed His shadow-people. He is always there, bigger and fuller and free-er then anywhere I have ever been in all my born days and I imagine when I am present in this place that the marriage supper of the Lamb would look something like the array of men and woman here, with their story-hands holding plastic trays and utensils and shuffling feet across the makeshift dining floor – they are the one-armed, toothless vagrants and mad hobos and misfits and finger-shivering junkies. A pattern of epidermis, so broken on all sides and coming with their hungry bellies (never mind their hearts) and their winter-bearing-backs and tongues begging for a taste of crumbs. Weary and heavy laden under the burden of their own lives, Who will give these poor naked wretches their rest?

:::

Today I’m over at my friend Preston’s blog talking about the “beautiful, mangled church” . . . Just a little meme he put together to celebrate the season leaning toward the Wednesday of Ashes that ushers in 40-some days of Lent. It’s called At The Lord’s Table. Would you join me there?

 

It Takes A Village

There lives a group of people who have put up with me for the last twelve years. I’ve put up with them, too, because we decided early on that one of our mutual values would have to be perseverance if we wanted any chance at “making it” through thick and thin. “Thick and thin” puts it rather mildly, I suppose, in terms of what life was really like as a community of people who wanted to make a difference with each other, the city we lived in and ultimately for the Greater Kingdom’s sake. We walked the shadowed underbelly of choice, circumstance and life experience. We grew up on each other’s skin and boy does that get raw after a while and sometimes the wheels of hard living can peel your flesh right off. What a mess of humanity we were (and still are, to be sure), but we didn’t traverse through inferno for more then a decade to not resurrect from our own ashes and rise again and again and again to kiss the Son. God is who He says He is, we believe.

Today I’m over at Deeper Story. Continue reading here . . .