Roll call.

I realized that you don’t have access to this information so I’m sharing it. My site statistics are a little amazing to me. I have been journaling for years, but then I started posting my thoughts on Facebook in November of last year. Then I realized that there were ideas I wanted to share with people who weren’t my friends on Facebook so I created this page in December. I’m a little overwhelmed that people all around the world have read my words. I don’t get a lot of visitors every day – maybe 20, but each person reads about four things.

I’m very close to having had 12,000 of my posts read. I’m at just over 300 posts written, so this means some have been read multiple times. One has been read by over 5 thousand people, so that skews the numbers a bit.

Here is the list of all the visitors divided up by their countries and their number of posts read.

United States 9,685, United Kingdom 1,328, Canada 289, Australia 227, Germany 68, New Zealand 62, Philippines 42, Japan 33, Ireland 23, Sweden 15, India 14, France 14, Brazil 14, Republic of Korea 8, South Africa 8, Costa Rica 8, Indonesia 8, Mexico 6, Nigeria 6, Switzerland 6, Netherlands 6, Malaysia 5, Hong Kong 5, Italy 5, Sri Lanka 4, Bangladesh 4, Israel 4, Belgium 4, Spain 4, Saudi Arabia 4, Taiwan 3, Singapore 3, Austria 3, Norway 2, Qatar 2, Bulgaria 2, Ghana 2, Puerto Rico 2, Jamaica 2, Portugal 2, Finland 2, Kenya 2, Denmark 2, and one hit each for Guyana, Romania, Iceland, Russian Federation, Guam, Botswana, Venezuela,Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic, Viet Nam, Latvia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Greece, Argentina, Egypt, and Jersey

Welcome to you all.

Playing chicken with God, and being a spiritual vagabond.

You can’t play chicken with God. Say you have a specific task that you were put on this earth to do, and you are one of the rare ones who knows what it is. To delay doing it to buy more time won’t work. God will just take it from you and give it to someone else to do. I’ve lost track of the number of times this happens in the Bible.

Even questioning God can get you in trouble, if you do it too much. Moses questioned God four times, when God called him to go to Pharaoh to get the Israelites freed from slavery. He didn’t think he was able to do it. He kept coming up with excuses and God kept coming up with workarounds for him. At the end, God sent an angel to kill him, and it was only the intervention of Moses’ wife that saved him. Kind of a crazy story. The Bible is full of them.

My theory? If God calls you to do something, it means that you have the ability to do it. God knows you better than you know yourself. God made you. The problem? Knowing that it is an actual call from God.

You are a tool. The pot cannot tell the potter how to use it. The car does not matter to the driver. If the car breaks down, the driver will just get another car. So questioning God and coming up with reasons you can’t do it won’t help you at all.

But what if you don’t know what your calling is? What if you have no idea why God put you on this Earth? Then it is good to not fight it either. Be OK with being a block in the building. Be OK with being a puzzle piece, and not seeing the big picture.

My problem, well, one of many, is that there are a lot of things that I would like to write about that I think are of significance. There are things I’ve come to understand through my prayer life that I feel would be helpful. There are insights I get from reading scripture that I think are new takes on old words. But I don’t feel that my writing is good enough, or that I have the time to dedicate to it to do it justice. I find that I only have time to write for about thirty minutes at a time, and for some reason I feel I have to create a completed post in that time.

Yes, I realize these are all excuses. I don’t have to post something every day. I’m not being paid for this. Nobody would notice if I didn’t post for a few days, so I could work on something bigger. But I know me – if I get out of the habit of posting, then I’ll take more time off, and then I won’t post at all. There is something about making a routine of it that is forcing me to write, and writing is helping me figure things out.

I’m reminded of the last meeting I had with my former priest. She said that my spiritual insights were immature. She said that she often had to bite her tongue to not say “I figured that out years ago!” The fact that she told me that erased all the tongue-biting she had done.

This is harmful, and hurtful, and not Christ-like.

This is part of why I had to leave.

Maybe my insights are simple. Maybe they are things she figured out years ago. But making fun of someone else’s spiritual journey isn’t the mark of a religious leader.

Perhaps I shared those insights with her because deep down I didn’t think she knew them. I’m not sure which ones she was talking about. Obviously at one point she thought I was onto something because she was the one who proposed that I enter the deacon discernment program.

Ugh. I’m still bitter about that whole thing. I’m trying to process this. I don’t want to be stuck here angry with it, but turning away from it is not a good idea.

There is a sense of abandonment, of being hung out to dry. There is also a sense of freedom in leaving. I feel that in a way she did me a favor by being so over-the-top in our last meeting. It provided a clean break with no turning back. I knew when I first started going back to church that the Episcopal Church was as close as I could get at the time. I’d prayed about it, and that was the reply. So I knew going into it that there was going to be an end to it. I knew I was going to leave.

I was hoping for more of a dove-tail leaving than a severing, but it wasn’t up to me.

And that too is part of the process. It is about trusting God, however I’m led. It is about following, and trying not to get in the way. It is about trying to be a worthy vessel.

I feel alone in the wilderness, yet right at home.

Praying in color 9-7-13 “Brown”

WP pic 9-7-13

Praying in color isn’t about drawing, so much as opening yourself up to Spirit. It is giving your hands something to do to open up your heart to God. Sometimes you end up with a pretty picture in the meantime, but the point is to gain an insight or an understanding.

Today I picked up a brown pencil. I’d recently reorganized my pencils and sorted this box into yellows, red/pink/orange, and neutrals. This one was in the neutrals and I wondered why.

Then I started to think about how arbitrary sorting and defining is. When we name things we limit them. We start to apply other limits to them.

When I had some mauve beads, I found out that if I put them next to blue beads they looked more purple. If I put them near red beads they looked more pink.

Either way, I wasn’t letting the beads just be what they were. I was subtly altering them

I feel that I do this all the time with people. I put them in boxes. She’s in the married person box. He’s in the addict box. They are in the stoner box. I stop being able to see how people can be both and more. I stop being able to see a person’s full potential. What you are now isn’t what you are going to become. Who could ever imagine a huge mustard tree coming from a tiny mustard seed?

When I define, I limit. I draw a line around it and say this is where it stops. But not everything can be defined. Some things are multiple. The funny thing is that is the very quality I admire. I have tattoos that look Celtic but are Buddhist. I like seeing things blend. I like mixing things up so you have to open your eyes. I like questioning “Why?” So I’m amused that I still feel a need to define, to limit.

The moment we define we stop looking. We know what is coming next. We don’t need to look anymore, learn any more. But nothing is ever that easy. Nothing ever fits firmly in a box.

I like eating pot roast with Indian lime pickle sauce. I’m pretty sure that is a violation of some rule – eating cow with an Indian condiment. I don’t tell my Hindu friends. But it tastes awesome. I like eating empanadas with hummus. Latin America meets Middle East. Why not?

When we expand our definitions, we start seeing things for what they really are. When we stop putting things and people in boxes we can start to really see.

Is brown a neutral, or does it go with the yellows, or oranges? It is us who divide and limit, and thus not see what is.

Watercolor shaman

I was drawing this morning. I’m trying to get into the habit of drawing a little every morning. Watch out – I have watercolor pencils and I know how to use them.
Well, sort of. I know how they work. I’m not quite patient enough to draw real things. I make up excuses for myself, saying that the real things are there, and I can’t improve upon them. Why draw them when I could just take a picture? But I know that is a cop-out. I know that is me trying to not do the work required to learn how to translate something three-dimensional into something two-dimensional.
There is something to drawing what is there. It slows you down. You have to really look at things if you are going to draw them. Does this angle go straight up, or slightly to the right? Oh, look, there’s a crack there. I thought that spot was flawless.
Sometimes I learn things when I’m drawing. I’ve learned that figs aren’t just purple. There is a little green in the skin too. And they have really interesting spots, tiny ones. But sometimes what I learn isn’t right in front of me. I learn things while I’m drawing that have to do with how I draw, and have to do with where my head is at the time.
I’m trying a technique called “Praying in Color”. I saw this book by Sybil MacBeth at the library and have decided to incorporate its ideas into my morning routine. I like to draw, and I like to pray – and I don’t have a lot of spare time. So why not do both at the same time? I’m not sure that I do it exactly the way it is in the book. I think I have put my own spin on it. I offer this idea to you, if you are trying to find a new way to pray.
I take a piece of paper and I write today’s date and my prayer intention on the back of it, towards the bottom. Then I turn it over and start drawing. I doodle. I pick up whatever color that comes to mind, and I draw whatever shape that I’m feeling at the moment. I think that is important. I’m not trying to draw something real. Then, while I’m in that space where I’m not controlling what is happening, I get answers to my prayer intention. Quite often it isn’t what I thought it would be, and I’m surprised. It is a bit like being a shaman, but using watercolor pencils.