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breakfast

Depression is a thief. Cunning and wretchedly beautiful. She smiles sweetly at you, refilling your tea and telling you how the color of your dress brings out your eyes. Depression is a thief but first she is a friend. “Darling,” she says, “you seem so tired. Would you care to set your joys down for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys. It is not my joys that weigh me down but my burdens.”

“Ah, that’s alright, dear,” she pats your hand, “Just thought I’d ask.”

She changes the subject cheerfully but when your back is turned she places a stone in your bag. Not too large, but enough to make the dull ache in your shoulders a little louder, a little sharper at the end of the day.

It goes on in this way for some time. She asks the same question and you continue to shake your head. At times you feel perturbed with her insistence, but you know she is just concerned for your well-being.

The bag grows heavier still.

One morning she notices your strain appears great. She pulls you in a warm, tight embrace and tells you softly, “Tomorrow I will come to your house. There is no need for you to make your way here when you are so, so very tired.”

She is kind. Considerate. Thoughtful.

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys but my burdens.”

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys but my burdens.”

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. I keep telling you – not my joys but my burdens.”

“Perhaps, my dear, they are one in the same? Something to think about. I’ll leave you be now. Get some rest.”

The next morning you wake to find her by your bedside. Sunlight streams through the curtains and glows golden across her cheekbones. “Good morning, darling. It is time now. You know this, don’t you?”

You have barely the energy to nod. You know now. Your joys are burdens, too. And you are so, so very tired. What else can you do but let her gather them up from your limp hands, fatigued from gripping with white knuckles for far too long.

“There now. I’ll hold on to these for you, just for a little awhile.” She tucks them into her bag and stands to leave. Before walking out the door she brushes the unruly, unwashed hair from your face and gently kisses your forehead. “Get some rest,” she whispers and is gone.

How lucky you are, to have such friends.

horticulture

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i am plush

and easily broken, warmed butter woman

instead of hardening i will simply grow taller

though my muddy toes splay and sprawl into damp earth

cloud bottoms tickle my palms and wind dances between my elbows

i grin at the stars and my fingertips reach

reach reach clear across the universe

sunflower girl, vulnerable and untouchable

your first mistake was not realizing i could be both

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keep it holy

This Christmas my nuclear family began a new tradition: the advent wreath. With four candles each representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love (and sometimes a fifth for the Christ child), the Sundays leading up to Christmas are acknowledged and celebrated. This is not something I saw growing up. None of the various denominations I floated between had the advent wreath in their list of kept rituals. I have a cynical history with rituals in the church. I didn’t fit in at church and I was wary of its people – that extended to the weird things they did. Baptism was weird and worse it was public, in front of people – in front of people I didn’t trust. Worst of the worst, they said I should do it. And really there is no quicker route to digging my heels in the ground than for someone to tell me I need to do something. (“Or else? Hahahahahaha I’ll show you!”) Rightfully so, it wasn’t until I found personal meaning in baptism that I went through with it. As my now husband and I got closer to engagement I made the connection that a baptism was like a wedding. You don’t NEED a wedding to be married. And having a wedding doesn’t mean your marriage will be healthy and good. But from intimate elopements to grand 400+ events, it can be meaningful and lovely to share and celebrate your commitment with the world.

I decided I wanted to be baptized, in spite of my nauseating public anxiety. I was in college and so I searched my college town for a church I felt connection with. It took a few months (and dodging several voice mails from the local megachurch), but I found it. It was aging and small. The sanctuary was beautiful with its dark wood and stained glass. No more than 25 people filled the pews on Sunday. Every week they served free spaghetti on paper plates to broke college students and young families in the yellowed basement with flickering lights. The preacher was young and black. He took me out to coffee and we talked faith and square pegs in round holes. I still doubted church people too much to feel at home, but I didn’t feel uneasy within those walls and it was an improvement I was eager to grab hold of. I was incredibly nervous that day. As I stood in the back room I physically held my legs to try and stop them from shaking but my white robes fluttered for the entire fifteen minutes I waited for my turn in the tub.

I went home for winter break and when I returned the megachurch had bought the building for secondary use.

Despite one parent rocking a fussy babe and the other preventing a toddler from touching the flickering candles, lighting the wreath and sharing verses became my favorite part of the Christmas season. It felt weird and sacred and just right. It is these very same reasons that we have decided in the new year we will begin honoring the Sabbath.

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Christianity and Judaism have differing views on the Sabbath, or Shabbat. I find myself falling in the grey area between the two and that’s alright with me. I’ve read about the Lord’s Day superseding the Sabbath, and Sunday versus Saturday. Honestly? I’m not touching any of that with a ten foot pole. I believe we should do what draws us in to goodness and stay away from what pulls us from it – that is going to be intimately different for each one of us. If you want your Sabbath to be every Tuesday except when Thursdays fall on the 14th day of the month then good grief you knock yourself out, ok? Shalom. There’s something to be said for doing the “wrong” thing for the right reasons. Jesus was a bit subversive regarding the Sabbath and I like his style. Not everyone will agree or understand this – that is ok. They aren’t necessarily wrong, either, if what soothes me chafes them. I’m searching within different denominations and faiths to find what resonates with my heart. It’s not about self righteousness, but about intentionally seeking out God, finding Him in the nooks and crannies of my life, and bringing it out into the sunlight.

For us, for right now, that means Sabbath and Saturday. Sabbath is meant to be a day free from burden. Truth time: going to church is a burden. It is something I wholeheartedly want to do of my own volition and it is HARD WORK getting little arms and legs dressed and out the door before the last hymn is sung. Spending the rest of the day without housework or cooking would be a hugely stressful shot in the foot of my Monday. This is not a recipe for having praises of the Lord or my husband or my children on my lips. But Saturday? Yeah, we can do Saturday.

It was a great joy and privilege spending time reading about Shabbat and how Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Atheistic alike find and cultivate rest. What does Sabbath look like and what does it not? This is my Sabbath. No work, no shopping, minimal technology, minimal cooking. Family, friends, rest, joy. It looks like fresh flowers and warm bread – fairly universal symbols of life, joy, comfort, peace. It looks like four lit candles – three for each family member and a fourth for every small body who has been with us in differing degrees and reasons of temporary. It looks like letting the dishes and laundry lie and trying to pretend I don’t care. It looks like praising God for it all.

Friends, what is your Sabbath? What does your holy taste like? What feels sacred? No matter what doors you do or don’t or never walk into on Sunday morning there is Sabbath for you. It will probably look a little different than mine. And God, isn’t that beautiful? Weave yourself into the tapestry.

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animal

what an honor it is

to be

half barbaric

half divine

animals made in the image, the heart, the strength of God

what a burden

what a reckoning

what a legacy

chosen to be partly of the heavens, partly of the wood

greasy, gritty, holy

licking our bloody chops clean before communion

washing the muck from our white robes; god-beast

 

can you be wholly anything when you are a half-breed?

i think we have it wrong

we do not have to tame anything

water crushes in waves and cushions your brain

fire comforts and ravages entire cities

divinity is just a different kind of wild