With honesty and tenderness, our bloggers are considering relationships this week – with God, with Jesus, with our stuff and with a lamented mother, who has just died. 

The hard work of stopping the rush of her life has Sally Coleman thinking about where God is inviting her to sing a new song.  “I have lived in a whirl of disorientation, and if I were to go back further into my history I would probably have to admit that I didn’t notice because I have lived with disorientation for most of my life…But I have stopped…I have stopped and sat by the “rivers of Babylon!”…. I lament my desired path, my desired path, and I have to admit my romantic notions of what life “should” be like. Those notions if I am honest have come from rather crazy expectations of getting it right and fitting in, of being who others expected me to be, or possibly of being who I thought others expected me to be…So I have hung my harp on a poplar and considered my song…” 

The vivid nature of God is on display for Kimberly M. King.  Noting the emotional resonance of the colors around her in the world, she says, “That technicolor place is the territory of the mystics and creatives; the curious and the daring; the soul-traveller, star-walker; the what-iffers and those who give themselves over to the call to Love.  I believe we are made in the technicolor image of God, wondrous, confusing, full, of the senses, of glory, of edges that blur into expanses of welcome where there is room for all who seek a road that leads onward, together, toward Home.” 

Mary Elyn Bahlert is considering how we narrow the fullness of God for ourselves, and what we can do about it.  “There is an inherent experience of “less than” I experience when I hear that God is “He.” At some point, I became aware that there is something wrong with growing up as a person of color and not ever seeing people who look like you – who have dark skin and eyes – on television, in movies, in positions of leadership. To me, that is also true when we do not know of God as “She,” “Her,” “the Mother.” God – the He God – has qualities of the masculine, not the feminine. If God is “He,” then violence against women must be justified, for He is “better than…” God is everything. If that is so, then God is… She, He, Uncertain, Angry, Sad, Successful, Unsuccessful, Hard, Soft, Whole, Less Than, Full, Empty, Good, Bad, Light, Dark, All That Is, and even, All That Is Not. We limit one another so. We teach children that God must only be spoken to in hushed tones, called “He,” and worshipped by bowing our heads.” 

Deb Vaughn is finding a connection to Jesus in paring down her collections.  “What drives this desire to keep everything??? Anxiousness. Fear. Insecurity.  What makes me want to keep everything the same, to be so resistant to change?? What makes me want to be controlling and not roll with life’s latest crises? Distrust. Uncertainty. Worry. And… if I’m honest… Greed. Lust. Pride.” 

The hurry of life has stopped for Cindy LaJoy’s mother, and Cindy is reflecting on what she learned from her mom, in a complicated family system.  “There were many other lessons she taught me…how to be frugal and wise with money, how to “hear” music differently, how to stand up for myself and that NO ONE was better than I was regardless of their background.  I was taught to be respectful to others, to value education and to develop a love of reading from the time I was four years old.  My mom taught me to stop and think things through before jumping, to project outcomes, and to never feel the need to keep up with the Jones’.  My mom insisted on honesty, and had a work ethic second to none.   Despite the challenging relationship with my mom, I loved her deeply.  She was the sole person left in this world who shared memories of a family who literally no longer exists, of my earliest years, of my elementary school antics and my middle school angst.  No, the irony does not escape me that, just like each of our five children, I too now have no one I am biologically connected directly to in my life.  Perhaps that is also an important feeling for me to experience, and a way to better understand those I love most.  It hurts.  A lot.  It all hurts.” 

What relationship is stretching you, or touching your heart this week?  We would love to hear, and to continue the conversation, in the comments section below. 

Mary Austin will begin a new call as the Pastor of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church next month.  She is the author of Meeting God at the Mall.  

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