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.

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.

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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.

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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}

I Am My Children’s Priest(ess)

It was the first thing I did when we started our at-home learning this year, I grabbed their three fledgling hearts and circled them with me on the living room rug and then my mama-body just had all these exhort-emotions lifting up from the soul and I spoke them strong and softly fierce-like over their growing heads—purposed Spirit-words that I don’t even exactly remember now, but truly carried the essence and flavor of inspiring these God-sons into becoming more of who they are. Next to all that, I felt some big, prophetic prayers pressing against my lips and for some reason it seemed like not even another molecule of a moment should pass by without me releasing my own children into greater understanding of who God is, releasing them into more authority as His sons to minister to the Kingdom while they make their paces on this earth.

Would you follow me today over to Deeper Family for the rest of this story? The ending is so sweet and the questions are good. :)

Not Your Average Will

Do you remember the movie Bruce Almighty? (This film about a narcissistic, ego-centric, ungrateful, pessimistic, money-hungry guy who has an encounter with God that changes his life.) Our three boys were watching it a few weeks ago in the backseat of the car while we travelled Rt. 80 through the pastoral hues of western PA toward our family holiday destination. And even though I couldn’t see the screen from the front passenger seat and only listened to the scenes with half an ear while reading a book, in the peripherals of my mind I was following the storyline of a movie that I hadn’t seen in more then five years. But for some reason I was pulled out of my peripheral-listening and became sharply focused right as this particular point near the end of the movie: Bruce has reached the absolute end of himself and is wandering the city streets like a person gone mental; his stagger is that of a man who’s been stripped of all his walls and has nothing left but the bare and wretched truth of his human condition. If that isn’t enough, the sky suddenly opens over his realized condition and lets-down this skin-soaking storm as if to seal his situation as dire – just in case he was mistaken about it before. He finally gives in to the inevitable and plummets to his knees on the asphalt, stretches his arms all the way east-to-west, throws his head up to heaven and shouts into the downpour, “OKAY!!! I SURRENDER TO YOUR WILL!!!” And no sooner are the words dredged from the pit of his dying narcissistic heart then he is hit square in the body by a horn-blasting semi-truck . . .

Would you follow me over to Deeper Story today to hear the rest of this narrative?

{Also: Hi!!! I’m back!!! I have updates and stories and post-sabbatical notes to share with y’all! I’m not sure how much of it I will be able to write out here, but I’m gonna do my best to clear my chest in the coming weeks. :)}

{Also, also: Hi!!! I LOOOOOOOOOVE you!!!!}

Love,

Erika

Photo Credit: Amy Ballinger via Flickr

how to know your heart

("Will you take a picture of me with my arms like this?" Because that's how being in creation makes him feel.)

Let me tell you something about our boy, Gabriel. He harbors so much wilderness in his heart, it pours right over his aorta walls and floods through all his veins. I think he’s part feral beast. Everyday he eats the rustic and all-things-nature like it’s his final feast. This kid could live in the woods with nothing more then a hatchet and a bearskin and his fierce native cry. Dirt is his very favorite thing to wear and he actually swallows worms and grubs in preparation for any situation where he might need to “survive”. I’m not making this up and I try real hard not to twist my face in distaste whenever I’m told of his latest “food” consumption.

Gabe: “MOM! I just roasted three grubs and ate them!”

Mom: “You did what?!?! Oh, that is SO Gross!!! Grody!!! Blech!!! Disgusting!!! I just threw up in my mouth!!!!

Gabe: “Bear Grylls says they’re high in protein.”

Mom: ”Bear Grylls also drinks camel poo juice!!! Does that sound like someone who’s in their right mind? And that you should be taking advice from?!?!

Anyhew.

Gabriel has also been begging us for YEARS to move out to the country so he could have more space to roam and explore and chop deadwood and do other things boys like him do when *wild* hijacks their anatomy. His legs are scraped and bruised and gouged from bow to stern because he approaches the great outdoors at one speed: “CHARGE!!! FULL SPEED AHEAD!!! MAN DOWN!!! MAN DOWN!!! THE REST OF YOU REINFORCE THE BORDERS!!! WE’VE GOT THE ENEMY FLANKING FROM BOTH SIDES!!!”

I swear he acts like he’s always being filmed for some action/adventure movie.

I digress.

Yesterday he happened to be showing me all these wounds running full-length up and down his 10-year-old legs and explaining where each one came from: “I got this bruise when . . . My left knee was gouged on that rock at Mill River Park . . . This scrape on my thigh was from when I tripped over that fallen tree trunk . . .”  Around each limb he went, telling tales of his adventures and mishaps until he arrived to the last damaged spot and looked reflectively at me and said, “Hey Mama, my legs tell my story . . . don’t you think?

And that statement really gave me the mama-pause because I immediately felt like a teachable moment was presenting itself – not just for him, but for me as well and in slow, thought-out response I said this: ”Yes, Gabe, I think your legs do tell some of your story, of places you have already been and where your heart has left deposits on the earth. But more importantly, you can always look to your legs to tell you what your heart is doing right now because that is the direction your legs will take you. Do your legs take you to the wilds of nature? To the face of the poor? To adventures with your friends? Do your legs take you to a quiet corner in prayer? The direction your legs travel will always tell—more largely—the story of what’s happening in your deepest parts.”

So when this born-for-the-rural boy tells his legs to carry his heart to the dinner table and he sits down to address the family with all this purpose-fire floating off his skin, we dropped our forks and conversation for a good, intent listen . . . to hear how his overflowing heart would cause his mouth to speak.

And what came from his lips was a passion-full and firmly spoken expression: “I don’t want to move to the country anymore. We CAN’T move to the country. We have too much to do in this city, too many people to help and I want to be a part of it.”

With tears coming softly for what we were witnessing in real time . . . Austin and I realized then and there, that at some point—and of his very own volition—Gabe’s young-boy-legs had travelled his heart right up to the foot of the Cross where he took the blood-pumping flesh-muscle out of his chest and laid that bare thing down to die before Jesus, along with all his own well-supplied desires. And what he found was his TRUE self, resurrected in Christ.

That night when the kids were all tucked-up in their beds and Austin and I were debriefing on the couch, our parent-emotions were so overcome from what was just declared by our son. We couldn’t believe it and like a pull-string doll I kept saying over and over: “Honey, do you realize what we just witnessed? We saw our 10-year-old son die to himself and be resurrected in Christ. For the first time. My God.”

And I just used a lot of words to tell you about it. But, there really aren’t words.

Love,

Erika

{Linking with EMILY for IMPERFECT PROSE}