July is Christian Community month for us: The Big Sur Camping & Crawdad Society drew forty folk for relaxing, feasting, river play and goofy songs around the campfire; and Family Camp at the conference center in Oakhurst brought together seventy folk for a week of worship, prayer, fellowship, teaching, water play, disc golf, marshmallow roasts, creative experiments and goofy songs in the chapel. Draped around our living room in a post-camp glow, we talk of a possible Winter Family Gathering. Let me know if you have any bright ideas for a time & place.
Moses' staff, flung onto the ground, became a writhing snake; the moment's flamboyant magic exposing a deeper message: Drop the authority you've been given and it becomes a hissing serpent.
Standing as we are, knee deep in a pit of vipers, it is easy enough to rail against the mess. More to the point would be to reach down and grab a slithering beast by the throat. Give it a shake and it will become a staff of authority in your hand. There is, as Mother Teresa said, always room at the bottom.
A tattered pamphlet on how to convert Anglicans to the Roman church emerges from the heap. Books on Evangelicals going Orthodox perch on the shelves. Others tell about growing up in guilt and ritual and finally discovering Jesus through the Evangelical church, about fleeing worldly denominations that have lost sight of the Lord, or about escaping from social and doctrinal legalism into freedom. ExRomans, exEvangelicals, exFundamentalists, exPentacostalists, exWord/Faith, exAnglicans, exOrthodox... extra...extra...read all about it.
Lent in Santa Cruz is ridiculous: Trees covered with pink, white and yellow blossoms. Multicolored flowers springing up everywhere. Soft languid air breezing through in the high 70's. It is nigh on impossible to feel solemnly repentant in the midst of such bounteous beauty.
We went up to the mountains last weekend. The weather was gorgeous there also; slushy for skiers but perfect for ambling about in tennis shoes on cleared roads, beholding rapturous mountains robed in brilliant white, sturdy rocks and whispering pines.
Thursday afternoon. I am theoretically packaging Laura's books to ship to Berkeley. What I'm ACTUALLY doing is reading one of her books, GIRL MEETS GOD. It's a memoir of author Lauren Winner's reconciliation of her Jewish heritage and her relationship with Jesus ($13.95). What I SHOULD be doing is dealing-with-things; the things in question being the fallout from the drips.
We sang Christmas carols at The Word Shop party; people leaning on the doorjamb, sprawled on the floor or sitting around the table loaded with eclectic offerings. No printed words, no musical accompaniment; just folk calling out a title or bravely launching in--hoping someone would remember the words to the obscure third line. We sang first verses mostly, sometimes a second. "Away in the Manger" got three full verses. Energy opened to each other differently than when noses are buried in books or eyes are focused on a screen.
"Fifteen is a gloppy age," my family used to say, although when my sons reached that age I found them beautiful, full of ripening energy and eminently interesting. This month, The Word Shop passed our 15 year mark, an amazing accomplishment given the continual shakedown within the publishing industry. We have made it thus far due to the grace of God, the faithfulness of our staff, the generosity of our sponsors, donations from friends, and everyone of you who bought a book or two from us. Thank You.
In every town there is the Church. She decorates the skyline with bulbs or spires topped with crosses and roosters; the largest building invariably holding court in the center of old-town, a must see on the quick tour through yet another charming location along the Rhine River.
Maybe there's something in the air that whispers, "Get the harvest in before winter comes." Maybe it's the back to school ads, compounded by years of gearing up for the new school year. Maybe it's the thick fog that covered our coast most of August, making me feel that I never had this summer which is now over. Whatever the reason, I've spent too many days overwhelmed by things to do, feeling attacked by details, being frozen by the multitude of possible actions, and wondering if it is even possible to successfully accomplish all the projects lined up in front of me.
There is an altar, round which a few are gathered week by week; an altar made of driftwood burnished bright. I would love to sit within the branches, a small feathered thing; a baby owl nestled in the woven wood, tucked in safe with treasure held above; surrounded by song and His wondrous love.
Helping each other is the axis on which the world turns; both the satisfactory exchange of goods and services, (which can get muddled enough, God knows) and the freely offered aid to someone in need. In this time when terms like "self-sacrifice" are bandied about, the question arises, "To what extent am I supposed to sacrifice my time/money/self on the altar of someone's sin and selfishness?"
Some years ago I sat stuck in a parking lot, immobilized by the turbulence within. Trying get a handle on the swirling abyss, I sought a word, a name for the feelings. What came to mind was "powerless." I had been wounded at depths I barely knew existed, had lost the treasure wherein I had invested my heart, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt utterly powerless.