Reflections on Beginning Lent 2017

Here we are already, it’s Lenten season. It feels like 2017 is already flying by, and it’s brought so much chaos, fear, and some sadness to so many people. I’m lucky enough to work for City Church San Francisco where we attend church and have built a community, and I’ve been so thankful for the thoughtful conversations and the outpouring of love our church has shown to communities and religions different than our own.

I love living in a sanctuary city. It’s something I hadn’t ever thought of before, but with the current political climate we’re all in, living in a sanctuary city and doing life along side people who have all agreed to love and accept our immigrant neighbors – it feels like we’re loving people the way we’re supposed to. There’s action behind the words.

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Recently we read this quote from Aaron Neiquest, and I think it sums up our role quite nicely

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So how does this all tie in with Lent. I believe Lent is a time where we can re-connect with our humanity. When I’m dead, my small pile of ashes and dust won’t be any better than that of an immigrant, person of color, or refugee. Death is truly an equalizer – all our posturing and privilege is irrelevant when we take that final breath. It doesn’t matter anymore. And in reconnecting with our humanity, I believe it’s time to see the humanity of others. If human beings can connect on a human level, we no longer act out of fear, we can start acting out of love again.

It’s a big thought. It’s a life changing thought. It’s an uncomfortable thought.

The poor aren’t always easy to love. Our enemies definitely aren’t easy to love. Republicans aren’t easy to love. Democrats aren’t easy to love. There’s no easy out here. But why should there be?

That’s what I’m reflecting on today, and plan to continue working through this season. Join me?

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Wild Geese

This poem spoke to me the other day, and I wanted to share it with you. I think it provides some perspective in our otherwise crazy world:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

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The Treasure of Femininity

So I was browsing Netflix the other day (I know, this is how ALL great stories start), and I began to notice the “Because you watched” section. Now, sometimes this section makes absurd recommendations like “because you watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, you might like James and the Giant Peach! Or, because you watched Home Alone, you might like Paranormal Activity!”

I don’t know. Anyway, I noticed the “Because you watched movies with a strong female lead” heading and it got me thinking. It seems we’re beginning to see a shift in movies from the helpless Bellas in Twilight, to the fierce Katniss Everdeens and Beatrice Priors, and I think it’s an indicator of a culture shift. Why are we suddenly obsessed with these strong female types, who maintain their femininity while still getting the bad guys and saving their friends? I would argue it’s because that fierce femininity has been under attack for so long. And now we’re beginning to see it triumph.

If you know me at all, you’ve figured out I’m not a feminist. Yes I know you hate that, no I don’t approve of misogyny, yes I know what I’m saying, no I don’t think I’m setting the women’s movement back, and yes, I think women should vote. Cover all the bases? Cool. Here’s what I’m saying. I believe men and women were created equal but not equivalent. What does that mean? Men and women are fundamentally different. And pardon me but I don’t want to burn my bras and demand to open my own car door or pay for dates. I believe femininity is a treasure; something women have and men desire.

But what does that look like? Does that mean I think women should be wilting flowers and wait for a man to come save them? No. Although when I have to carry several loads of heavy groceries, I will from time to time remind my boyfriend I’m a small fragile bird and hard labor doesn’t suit me. Unrelated. Where were we? Yes, wilting flowers. Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent offer us strong female characters who don’t become manly to accomplish their tasks. On the contrary, they use their creative mind, gut intuition, and strong female strength to complete their missions in ways that only they could. And the men in their lives love them for it. Not because they’ve abandoned their girlish-tendencies, but because they exude a feminine strength and tenacity that’s so incredibly attractive. Little girls want to be them, older girls want to be like them, (or just be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence) and we see this shift back to appreciating feminine qualities instead of overcoming them. And that’s beautiful.

So thank you Netflix for facilitating my musings (and my obsessive re-watching of Mad Men). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

xo. Brie.

The Old Violin

the old violinAt work today we have our board member here for their annual board meeting (where I assume everyone is just sitting around bored, but, more on my imagination later), and our head board member Joe White shared this poem. It was so touching and moving that I wanted to share it with you. The drawing was hand sketched by a friend of his, and getting to see this beautiful art accompanied with the moving words of the poem just about made up for us having to dress professional today and skip dress-down Friday. Mostly. Ok, it did. Ok, just read the poem.

‘Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”

But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its’ worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

“And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

– by Myra Brooks Welch

 

Enjoy the day, lovelies.

xo. Brie