DIY WildWood - Letting Go
DIY Sunday is an every-so-often Sunday when we do not gather together. Instead I share a reflection and a few prompts for you to engage with whenever it works for you. My hope is that it's a nudge to seek and encounter the Holy right where you are.
This week I am finally, FINALLY, finishing my ordination paperwork.
(Hey Glenn, it'll be in your inbox this weekend!)
It is a series of essay question about your theology, religious practice, and vision for ministry that are used by a committee to determine one’s readiness for ordination. I started it right before I graduated from Seminary in May of 2020…a little over three years ago. I am known to procrastinate, and I think initially my procrastination was justified amid a global pandemic, but I never intended to procrastinate this long. I should probably unpack all the reasons I’ve put it off for so long, but a few of the questions felt impossible to answer in a couple paragraphs.
What is your understanding of “the good news?”
How does Jesus Christ impact your life?
The Bible bears witness to God’s deeds…, how will you relate to and incorporate the scriptures in your ministerial role?
Right. It took a while, but I realized that my understanding of, and relationship to, God, Jesus and scripture doesn’t fit within the questions themselves.
What is good news? Good news for who, then or now? Is the “good news” something you share or something you do? Which Jesus? White Jesus or brown skinned table-flippin’ Jesus? Which scriptures, what is the context, when was it written, and by who?
I’ve said that sometimes I wish I could have an “easy faith.” I wish I could be content with the familiar themes and interpretations of Christianity and not feel the need to unpack e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, but I can’t. So, even as I lead WildWood, sharing my own theological insight rooted in study and reflection, I’m literally unpacking, deconstructing, and seeking new insight as we go along. We deconstruct and reconstruct together. I think those of us who have to unpack everything are always figuring it out in real time, and hopefully we have a community of people we get to figure it out with.
In an episode of the On Being Podcast with Krista Tippett, author and former pastor, Barbara Brown Taylor said;
…the hunger for holiness in terms of a sense of being rooted [is being] grounded in shifting ground — which oddly means that to be to be holy is to keep one’s balance while the earth moves under our feet.” She goes on to say that to be a seeker after the sacred or the holy it much better than to be “religious” or “spiritual,” because it ends up really real.
Real as in rooted in the here-and-now life around us, and real as in raw, deep, and vulnerable. I think she's spot on. We are seeking the Holy while the earth moves under our feet. I will always struggle with the questions in the ordination paperwork because I know that any answer I could write will continue to evolve as the earth shifts under me. What I articulate today might be entirely different tomorrow. My beliefs and theology cannot be confined or summed up in an easily articulated statement. What I can (attempt) articulate is a commitment to be a “seeker of the Holy.” A game of holy hide-and-seek.
In response to the ordination question about scripture I wrote, in part;
In a section of the Talmud, that offers guidance for Torah study, Rabbi Ben Bag Bag says, “Turn it and turn it again, for all is in it.” The scriptural stories of our faith ancestors encourage and empower us to unpack and “turn it again” as we seek the Holy.
It isn’t easy to be drawn into uncertainty and ambiguity, away from all that is familiar. Sometimes the Holy we seek is beyond the sphere we have known. In deconstructing what we believe we are deconstructing what we thought we knew, what was once solid ground under our feet. Our process of unpacking and embracing beliefs that are fluid and shifting can make some people around us uncomfortable. Sometimes we are shamed into believing that asking questions demonstrates a lack of faith. If you’re lucky, you might even be called a heretic! Some will try to hold us back from unpacking what we believe because they fear uncertainty and what it could do to their firm and unmoving beliefs. As seekers of Holy ambiguity in a world of certainty, there might come a time when we have to decide to let go of what doesn’t fit anymore.
You can let it go/ You can throw a party full of everyone you know/ And not invite your family 'cause they never showed you love/ You don't have to be sorry for leavin' and growin' up, … You can see the world, following the seasons/ Anywhere you go, you don't need a reason/ 'Cause they never showed you love/ You don't have to be sorry for doin' it on your own.
These lyrics from Harry Styles' song Matilda speak to a fictional girl named Matilda, (though Styles said it is based off of somebody he knows in real life.) The lyrics suggest she grew up in a troubled or abusive household, though I also hear the lyrics reflecting the experiences of LGBTQAI people who have had to walk away from unsupportive family. There are a myriad of reasons we need an invitation or nudge to let go of what hold us back, to see the world without feeling sorry for doing it on own own. For me, the last verse is the most powerful,
You can let it go/You can throw a party full of everyone you know/You can start a family who will always show you love/You don't have to be sorry
We can let it go. We don’ have to hold on to anything that doesn’t fit anymore, anything we’ve emotional/spiritually/physically outgrown. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Any place or people that can’t allow us to question, grow, change, evolve isn’t a place of real love. It isn’t a place where you get to show up as your whole and holy self. But letting go absolutely isn’t easy, it might be the hardest and most painful thing you ever do, there will be grief and heartache. Yet, it is in the letting go that space is created for something else to become.
How Everything Happens, by lesbian poet May Swenson;
When nothing is happening something is stacking up to happen. When it happens something pulls back not to happen. When pulling back happens stacking up has happened.
(You really have to follow the link to read the full poem. The way the text is laid out on the page reflects the words of the poem.)
A life of seeking the Holy is not linear. There is an ebb and flow. Some seasons things unpack smoothly. Some seasons are heavy with grief, sometimes clarity and understanding are illusive. Some seasons the letting go happens so quickly we are left dizzy. Through each season we will remind each other that we don't have to fit within the questions, we will encourage each other to stay hungry for holiness, and there will be epic parties.
Inscribe these words of belovedness and blessing, an adaptation of Psalm 139, in your heart.
Beloved Holy One. You have searched me and known me! … You find me on the journey and guide my steps. … For you formed my inward being, you knit me together in the womb. … More than I know myself do You know me; my essence was not hidden from You, When I was being formed in secret intricately fashioned from the elements of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance; in your records were written everyone of them… Help me to face the darkness within [and around me]; enlighten me, that I might radiate your Love and Light!
Seek the Holy with Movement
Our garden is in a sad, SAD state, the weeds are enti
rely out of control. It needs someone(s) to do some serious weeding. It will be a game of "holy hide-and-seek" to find the veggies among the weeds.
Go for a walk, drive, hike, run without a destination or plan. See where you end up. Be careful not to get too lost!