god is a seed


I accidentally wrote something more poetic for a theological reflection paper for my Life of Prayer class. I decided to share it because this reflection surprised me in many ways. Thankful for a seminary that helps me process in this way.

As a small child, I understood God to be like a seed planted in fertile soil. As I grew in my understanding of the Divine, so the Divine’s presence in my life grew up like a flower reaching to the sky for sunlight. Maybe God is a flower.

As a young adult in college, I understood God to be an overbearing, abusive parent, always telling me what to do and where to go, and if I did not do something right, I would be punished. Sometimes, bad things would happen just because God willed those things to happen and humanity simply had to deal with it. Maybe god is an ogre waiting to smite me?

One but not both of these perspectives can be true, I think, depending on how one chooses to experience the Divine, with a God that looks like the worst of humanity or a God that looks like the best in humanity—and maybe even in all living things we interact with each day. Through prayer over the course of these ten weeks, maybe I have caught a glimpse of the God who is a seed, the God who is alive and active in this world in all iterations and religions. We may all have a different understanding of how to approach this living, breathing Being, but so many come to the Divine expecting something. Perhaps I came expecting that the seed that grew into a flower as I grew up would remain so and that it would not become the Divine as an ogre my Church had promised me they would be.

Maybe that is a fairytale to hope that. But maybe, as I prayed the daily offices and recited prayers to the Divine, maybe the Divine presence can grow alongside my spirit once again. Maybe I cannot see the forest for the trees as the saying goes, but I think I have caught a glimpse of the Divine in each classmate spending time in prayer with me. Maybe I have caught a glimpse of the Divine in myself. If the Apostle Paul who once quoted some poets in Acts can say: “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’” (Acts 18:28) I think I can say that too.

Maybe God is a seed, a seed that once watered, grows with me as I grow into my calling, my sense of belonging in this world and with other people. Maybe God is a seed, a seed that grows into a tree that reaches its branches towards the sky. Maybe God is a seed. Or maybe God is a flower. Maybe, God is a tree.

And if God is a tree, with roots reaching deep into the earth, with branches growing out over the ground, roots spreading out as far as they can, maybe God does not have to be a fairytale of a world I hope to see. Maybe if God is a tree, this world I hope to see can be one I create. Not in isolation with God but in connection with community as we all seek the Divine in our lives and within ourselves.

Is God a seed? Or a flower? Or maybe God is an ogre waiting to smite me. Maybe God is a tree waiting to grow up to the heavens with me. I cannot say for certain what God is like but I can say what I have experienced of God and prayer. Perhaps God is many things to many people in many places throughout all time. If we are willing to look closely enough, that may surprise us and change us for the better. If God is a tree, a living, growing, breathing thing I can engage with, then maybe God can help me create a world where we are all connected to this Divine being regardless of where we come from.

Maybe, just maybe God is all of these things and more and refuses to be pinned down by our conceptions of Them. Maybe God is waiting for us to arrive at a place where we can see God in all that is around us and if we can see God in all of these things, we can dream of a world where all people and creatures are cherished and loved and cared for. Maybe God is waiting for us to arrive. And once we are there, we can share in a world where there is Love. Maybe, just maybe God is love.

what to do with death


(content note for mention of suicide and sexual abuse)

“Make my messes matter. Make this chaos count. Let every little fracture in me shatter out loud.” ~ Jupiter, Sleeping at Last

“Things we say now…” ~ from Wine Country

“It’s ok to want things. To give myself that permission…” ~ a thing I said in therapy this week

Grief is a weird thing. Especially when grieving multiple deaths. What brings me here today is the death of Rachel Held Evans less than two weeks ago. That feels surreal. She helped shape who I am now and so many others who have left toxic churches.

Grief is a weird thing. Sometimes you catch yourself crying in the middle of Target because not only did one of your favorite authors die, she was someone with whom you had hoped to become friends with, event hough you only met her that one time.

Grief is a weird thing. It is non-linear. You can be experiencing the stage of grief called denial after you’ve already accepted this is real. And none of us knows what to do with that.

Grief is a weird thing. When you’re accepting the death of what once was–your faith, your family, your life that you had to walk away from because it was not life-giving.

I sat with Mary Magdalene for a bit. She’s sitting outside the tomb of all she knew for three years, following a guy named Jesus who performed miracles and loved those on the margins.

And then I realized I wasn’t just grieving Rachel’s death. But a death of things I once knew. I never sat with that. Growing up realizing you are captive to others’ beliefs and actions and cannot choose things for yourself. Growing up with abuse and realizing…now you can choose.

You can choose to see an empty tomb and new life. But not before you grieve, because something is lost. Something is lost that never was. But now something can be gained.

You see, an abusive father and an emotionally manipulative mother do not have to be the end of the story. Homophobia that separates families doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Systemic oppression and taking away reproductive rights doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Because maybe there’s some fight left in us still.

This doesn’t have to end at a grave. It didn’t have to end when I tried to drown myself in the bathtub at age 12 after being shamed for talking about a girl in my youth group too much. Or all the other times after that when I remembered sexual abuse from my father and neighbor.

Maybe this doesn’t have to end in death. Maybe there can be new life.

How does a house become a home?

I wish these were things my mother taught me. She did teach me how to grow a garden.

How does a garden grow? It needs to survive but not just live. It needs to thrive, it needs attention, kindness, care, love. And maybe that’s close enough and good enough for now. I am grateful for the life she gave me. I wouldn’t be here without her obviously but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Grief is a weird thing. Sometimes what you are grieving is not over someone who died but over death to who you used to be.  I keep thinking about how grief is a non-linear process. Like, you can be in denial and anger. And move past that and then come back to the denial stage. I don’t know how to reconcile that. I don’t think we’re supposed to.

I miss someone I met once. I miss them like I’ve known them my whole life. and I don’t get the chance to know them better.
Grief is exhausting. I keep viewing her like an enemy but I think if i sat with her like a friend, and accepted her…maybe this process would be easier.
I’m grieving two things. Two…people. One of them is me

So I made a friend. Her name is grief and she’s been waiting for me to sit with her for a little while and just be.

I would rather avoid her. But she calls me like an old friend who’s been waiting for me all my life. She whispers to me now that I’m ready to hear it: “You’re going to be ok.”

And I think that’s what Rachel would have told all of us too. “You’re going to be ok.” Because she just knew something we all didn’t know maybe.

Maybe I can’t walk around wearing black–observing a period of mourning for what was and what could have been. But I can sit with grief a little while longer. She has something to teach me still. Perhaps she has something to teach all of us.

That’s all I have for now. I know I’m rambling. But in closing, I just love this song.