Category Archives: Quotes

more than our sorrow

we-are-more-than-our-sorrow
He sat down at the table with me briefly while I ate and he waited on food to go from the cafe. Since he knew of the chaos raging, not much had to be said. I looked up and tried to squint in the way we try to squint when working to hold back tears that we are tired of.

The same way we squint that usually fails when someone knows of the raging chaos.

As tears began to crack and run down the edge of my runny nose, he said, “It’s like a bomb got dropped in the backyard.”

More tears. Nods. Then conversation about weather, salads, and other things neither of us cared about.

I’ve noticed a sense of being caught between surveying the damage and trying to move. The quote housed about my desk that refrains often in my own mind and heart when things seems unbelievably devastating felt a little out of reach at this point. To quote it, even to myself, felt like cheating the grief and confusion and fury and loss that was gripping everything inside of me:

We fill the craters left by the bombs
And once again we sing
And once again we sow
Because life never surrenders. 

– Anonymous Vietnamese poem

I could not imagine myself filling the craters yet, much less singing and sowing because I could not yet fathom or feel the extent of the damage, I could not sense the size of the crater left by the bomb in our backyards. I could only survey the damage. And with every glance, its complexity became deeper and harder to wrap my hands around. I would find myself staring into the crater and disappearing in my thoughts. I was beginning even to have trouble remembering what used to be in it’s place. All I could sense and see was a crater. Impossible to fill.

But somewhere, a sense that we, in community, always fill the craters, kept me from jumping in completely to the loss. Phone calls to friends and mentors. Visits to kitchen counters and living room floors. Weeping and asking and not answering.

And then, somewhere, even while still surveying the damage left by the bombs, something somewhere insists that we are our sorrow, but we are also more than our sorrow. We are also our hopes and dreams and work and errands and children and families and lives and friends and promises of the future. “We are more than our sorrow” Thich Nhat Hanh says, and so we enter into the reality that is the only thing stranger than the reality of the chaos. We enter into the reality that we are all of these things at once, in our humanity, and we must be all of them at once to find a way to move.

And so we move.
Because we are more than our sorrow, even as real as the sorrow may be.

djordan
Michigan Ave, Chicago

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 8.12.22 AM

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

///

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

– e.e. cummings –

the always puzzle of living and doing

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

when it finally has no end

nicene creed

I was up late, and woke up late, and made it into the church service about ten minutes late. My voice was much deeper than normal, and was still deep when we made it to the words of the Nicene Creed. I think it was the unfamiliar cantor of my voice that made me hear what I said today as if it was the first time I had ever heard it.

“…and his kingdom will have no end.”

+++

There are often moments where I see it. It’s clearly present in ways that don’t make any sense, so I lean back, squint my eyes so that tears don’t fall out, and try to breathe it in. There are moments where I see what Nora Gallagher references as “thin space,” moments where the space we are in is touching the space we will be in when the kingdom comes in all of its fullness.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the monotony of daily chores
the normalcy of singing with the windows down
the clinking of glasses and forks and plates at dinner with friends
the deep breaths after long days of good work.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the deep grief of watching one we’ve lived loving be lowered into ground
the deep heartbreak of waiting to hear the horrible news we’re hoping isn’t true
the deep sadness of holding our hair in our hands because we know we are powerless and things are out of control.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the brilliance of art, laughter, hard work
the sharp edges of a brilliant sonnet, sunset, silhouette
the joy of eyes meeting, hands shaking, understanding.

But every time, for now, these moments of heaven meeting earth
have ends. Endings. They are over after they begin.

They have an end.

And we are then reminded that
the things that feel true, honest, just, lovely, pure
don’t last, for now.

+++

So we stand together, deep voices on early Sunday mornings, and say the words that have come from the mouths of men and women for hundreds and hundreds of years. In the echo of their voices and the startling depth of our own early-morning voice, we hold out hope that the day is coming when it has no end. The kingdom made up of thin space, where heaven and earth meet for good and hold hands for good, will have no end. So those moments where we know and see and tell and sense the truth, and we hope that they would last forever…we wait for the day when they will.

We wait for the day when it finally has no end.

djordan
Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

at once, every age you’ve ever been | part 1

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 8.40.19 AM

“I am still every age that I have been.
Because I was once a child, I am always a child.
Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be.

This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages
the delayed adolescent, the childish adult,
but that they are in me to be drawn on;
to forget is a form of suicide.
Far too many people misunderstand what putting away childish things means,
and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear
like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup.
When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up,
then I don’t ever want to be one.
Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and be fifty-one,
then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.”

– Madeleine L’Engle
(Image: Kevin T. Allen is a filmmaker, sound artist and independent radio producer.)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

a promise to wait

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 11.38.34 AM

there is a  love that never fails
there is a healing that always prevails
there is a hope that whispers a vow
a promise to wait
while we’re working it out
so come with your love
and wash over us
make us whole.

– sara groves

I’m reminded of the inherent power
in waiting
beyond our anger
beyond our grief
beyond our excitement
beyond our joy
beyond our anticipation
about the way things could be
or about the way things should be
or about the way things might be

Holding onto the hope of
what it means
to wait it out
to work it out
to watch as the waiting and the working
redeems anger and grief and even excitement and joy and anticipation
to push us into
something truer.

something that takes waiting on.
give us the strength to make the promise.

djordan
Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

mother’s day proclamation

woman in the kitchen

In the culturally Christian environment of the south where the rules of who women should be and what they should do, mixed as strongly with who they should not be and what they should not do, I am reminded today of the women and mom’s in my own world who have lived into the fulness of themselves for the sake of the world. Those who seek to follow Christ have just as much lived into themselves for the sake of the kingdom come. In areas of health, justice, faith, education, art, academia, research, motherhood, women are pushing what it means into the heart of what it actually does mean.

So on this mother’s day, as reminded by this recent article, here’s to the women who are changing the world as they were made and meant to do, not quietly living into a solemn story someone else told them they had to act in. And to my own mom, thanks for teaching me to ask the questions.

Below is the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” written by Julia Ward Howe in in 1870, pushing women to pacifism and resistance.

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly…
“Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God –

For the article by Diana Butler Bass on the history of Mother’s Day as a day celebrating radical mothers, CLICK HERE.
For an article posted today on women seeking to pray through the violence of tradition, CLICK HERE.
Or for a more light-hearted open letter to Moms by Kid President, CLICK HERE.

djordan
Pine Tree

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

an occupying generosity

occupying-generosity

“Grace is the occupying generosity of God that redefines the place.”W. Brueggeman

I find myself in multiple conversations over this wedding weekend trip. This will be the only wedding of my brother I ever get to be a part of. Our family, those by blood and those by commitment, have gathered together as we are never really able to do in a spectacular city for an important moment.

And as in almost all holy gatherings like these, as all gatherings are likely holy but we only notice some, we find ourselves telling stories together of memories that have scaffolded our shared histories up to these moments. As many perspectives as wedding guests, stories are told over rich food and drink from years upon years of moments, all reminding us of how incredibly fortunate we are.

Children in diapers looking out windows.
Promises made and promises kept.
Phrases learned from repetition that stick years later.
Shared community homes.
Shared inside jokes.
Shared holy lives.

And in moments where we make our promises out loud in fanfare and flower-lined rooms, we are reminded that we have no ability to actually keep them even when we are acting out of our best.

And it’s in these moments, also, that we look back over shared histories from varying perspectives and realize that we have been living in an occupied place, filled with the sometimes subtle and sometimes breathtaking generosity of God. And in those moments, when we have to clench our jaws together to keep from crying out with joy because it will ruin our faces or our makeup, we own up to the holiness of grace filled lives, occupied by the generosity of God.

And we are redefined.

So we celebrate in promise and in party, knowing that a family occupied like ours is a glimpse of the kingdom breaking into earth.

Congratulations, Jamey and Emily. Looking forward to this one.

djordan
Chicago

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

good men and the practice of resistance [part 2]

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 9.16.05 PM

It’s easy to sit in our offices or living rooms, around kitchen tables or restaurant tables, and talk about what we would do if we were in someone else’s shoes. We see others as those in positions of power, and yet we look at ourselves as either the victims or the martyrs. We see ourselves as those who have been taken down by good men gone wrong, or by the bad men gone wrong. Either way, we imagine ourselves as standing for something and going down because of it.

I do, at least. It occurs to me in writing this that not everyone feels that way. We are all of us trying to figure out what we are doing while pretending like we know what is going on. We have all been told by someone above us that we aren’t supposed to let them see us sweat, so we push forward as if we have any idea what forward should to look like.

And all the while, we see others in the positions of power, and ourselves as merely players in the game. We see others as those we are willing to follow, or as those we desire to complain about.

And yet we are, of course, charting the course of the future.

And I think about what it means to either participate in or push back against the regime. I think about what it means to either participate in or push back against the resistance.

I have found myself sitting on concrete slabs in the middle of downtown parks considering whether to blindly trust those in power, or to ask questions and push harder toward what it might mean to be the church in the world, even when I have no idea what that means. I have found myself sitting around tables, weighted with silence, because the powers of blindness are at work in the world and my paycheck has depended on them, but I’m not sure what the next step needs to mean for me. I have found myself in meetings around conference room tables where the truth of the kingdom is harder to demand than the appeasement of the rich Christians who are demanding solace and the protection of status quo, and I’m not sure which I’m willing to push for or lean into. I have found myself in tears with my sisters and brothers on living room floors asking what it will cost to seek first the kingdom before the education of my children, the safety of my family, the reputation of my career, and the pursuit of my own American dream.

And the answers are never easy.

I have found myself, in all of these situations, pretending as though I am all alone so I can have great pity for myself that I am asking these difficult questions and doing the best I can, at least. My pity makes me think it’s honorable. Until, I realize how arrogant I can so quickly become.

I have never been alone.

Not only have I never been alone because God himself has been there, however cheesy and ious that may sound. But I have never been alone also because I have been sitting on those concrete slabs with others. I have been sitting around tables, sitting in conference rooms, sitting in tears on living room floors with others who are pushing through the very same things. We don’t always end up in the same places, but we told the truth together.

It is these same people that I have clinked glasses with in celebration and in hope, because we know we are on the edge of something better and truer and a little more hopeful than the places in which we find ourselves or once found ourselves. And it is in doing life with these women and men who have been known for breaking rules and asking questions that I am pushing against the regime into the resistance, knowing that while the world goes not well…the kingdom comes.

I have no choice, really. Forward it is.

djordan
Pine Tree

This post, written by Donald Jordan, is part 2 of a two-part post. Part  1 is a guest post by Wes Gristy which can be found by clicking HERE.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,