Friday, May 23, 2014

Episode 26: On Bodies (We Can. We Can. We Can.)

Bodies always get me y'all.

I'm a sucker for the lines of humans--our figures, shapes, the way all our pieces fit together.

We are complex and simple and fleshy and lovely.

Often I find myself lost in a wave of awe at the ways our veins and tissue wind together, connecting, giving us life...I'm in love with hips and thighs and stomachs, throats and cheeks, broad smiles and freckled noses.

But then there's my own.

Like many women, I have struggled with my own body. I love the idea of it--the rounded hips perfect for resting a baby on someday, the broad shoulders that can hold the weight of another's world--I like my body figuratively, love it even, but in all of its realness, in all of its sometimes pimply-so-quick-to-bruise-wobbly-bits fleshiness, there's no love lost between my body and me.

In fact it sometimes feels like all-out-war: Jamie Lynn vs. her Grandmother's hips and her Mama's thighs, round 27.

But then, every year, the beach happens.

I carry a sea kayak to the ocean and slowly insecurities about pale inner thighs are replaced with the strength of my arms.

I throw myself into the water, salt and sea washing over me, and thankfulness for knees and strong calves floods in while fear of failure, fear of fat, fades away.

Running this morning with Sarah Nichole, my limbs strong and competent under me, my mantra of you are not enough, you are not enough, you are not enough was replaced with a song of I can, I can, I can. 

We are beautiful y'all--all of us--beautiful, beloved, whole.

We can. We can. We can. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Episode 25: Annoying Problems & Sandy Solutions

I've got a problem y'all. (Well, truth be told, I have many problems but let's just focus on one of them for the purpose of this blog).

It's a great problem as far as problems go but it's still a problem.

My problem: I love my work, my vocation, so much that sometimes it's almost impossible to get myself to stop.

Ministry, serving a small college as Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life, it's simply incredible. I cannot believe that I get to do it everyday.

I'm not sure why I've always been so startlingly aware of what a privilege it is to do what I do but I'm guessing it's related to the fact that I didn't always know it would be possible.

Deviating from the "norm" in any fashion has the tendency to sideline even the most called, capable, beloved children of God and--as many of you know--loving, well intentioned institutions (the church) sometimes prohibit these gifted men and women from living out their call and vocation.  As a woman in love with someone of the same gender, living out my call was not always guaranteed. But somehow the stars aligned and by sheer luck I found myself in the right place at the right time--a church that affirmed my call and a region of the church who would celebrate that call with me and my congregation through the ordination process. Praise be. 

And so I am always very aware that it is a deep joy and a great privilege to do what I do.

That brings us, once again, to the problem at hand--now that I actually get to do what I am called to do everyday, I've got to learn how to stop, how to set boundaries, how to rest.

I haven't figured it out quite yet and for the past three years, Lord knows, I have been trying with questionable success. But this time I've got a surefire plan--one I'm almost positive will work:

Step One: Compose an automatic reply for my work email account. Done. 
Step Two: Pack a bunch of food, local wine, a few swimsuits and leave Wyatt (bless his heart) in the care of trusted friends. Done.  (Wyatt is our cat, not a child, calm down).
Step Three: Load up the car, put bluegrass on the radio, and with Sarah Nichole in the driver's seat, make our way toward the Outer Banks to be with dear friends who know me better than I know myself--stopping only to visit a few other dear ones along the way.
Step Four: Wine glass in hand, sit in the sand and look at the stars.

This is my plan y'all. I'm one lucky girl and I am nothing short of thankful.
Here's to the coming week of sand, laughter, contented sighs and lazy-summer-day-naps.
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Episode 24: Open Windows and Overheard Words...

Highs in the 80s, open windows, potted flowers....the stuff of Spring.
My soul rejoices in the sun...there is much good, great thawing that comes with the end of winter. 

But open windows are also dangerous it just depends on the sounds floating through them. 

"That's the house where the lesbians live--they've really done a great job with it; I tell you, those lesbians really know how to work..."

Why yes--we have done a great job with our house. And yes, it's true, Sarah and I are hard workers--but, strangers standing on our sidewalk, we can hear you and labelings folks, well, it's just not nice. 

"Those lesbians...."  Our names are Jamie and Sarah.  You could call us your neighbors, beloved children of God, sassy and theologically educated; you could say Reverend if you really want be to respectful; lesbians is just fine too I guess...but that's not all we are. 

We must be careful with the words we choose, the conversations we are always open somewhere, our beautiful, intensely vulnerable hearts are always there, always catching the subtle signals, the whispered words....

Open windows can be dangerous but, praise be, they can also be life-giving, startlingly simple and utterly faithful:

the woman sitting behind me in church today--as Sarah broke the bread, lifted it and spoke the words of institution this morning, this beautiful, elderly soul in the pew behind me, she murmured along.  "This is my body, broken for you..." Word for word, phrase by phrase, she whispered the invitation and as her voice mingled with Sarah's in my ears I thought--yes, this is the sound, the song, that we choose. 

And when Sarah issued the invitation, "This is God's table and all are welcome here," this woman, well into her 80s, breathed a contented sigh and said "thank God and Amen."

Sarah sits now and plays the piano, Be Thou My Vision greets the folks who dubbed us "those lesbians" as they stand on our sidewalk. 

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

We must be careful after all. There are open windows everywhere.

We choose faithful words--whispered amens and broken thank God's--we choose music and heart-felt praise. The question then, for us, for the neighbors in our yard, for every heart--what words will you speak? What song will you sing?