August 20

DIVORCE, DEPRESSION AND DANCE

For the last two days, I have been frustrated.  I have tried and tried without success to sell people on the idea of poetry therapy.  However, I think that Christian women have been doing this ever since the first woman came into her own papyrus and quill.  There was even (oh, the thrill of it) the rumor going around in the first century that Priscilla wrote The Letter to the Hebrews!  Oh, my, that rumor was squelched quickly.  But never mind, the women kept on writing.  (You can do the history for yourself.)

As I walked out of divorce court in 1992 I had a stone in my heart. My son and I walked down the street together, saw a book store and ambled in. Down close to the floor a title stood out to me:  May I Have This Dance?   It was written by a nun, Joyce Rupp.  She begins with a poem:   “But just when the old heap of bones seems most dry and deserted, a strong Breath of Life stirs among my dead.   Someone named God comes to my fragments and asks, with twinkling eye:  ‘May I have this dance?’” I bought the book and wrote for the next decade all over the front page reminding God of His question.

I write two or three pages every morning as part of a dual commitment—to read the Psalms recommended in a Bible study I’ve joined and write my prayer, but also to write as part of an artist’s challenge.   This morning I came to the journal with my frustration at the back of my mind and began to write.  Then I looked at Psalm 5 and 6 and slowly began to realize that God has already heard my heart’s desire.  For some time, I have longed to have a reunion with my best friend from childhood and my cousin who live in the same state.  Just a few weeks ago, my sweet sister called to say she wanted to visit our cousin and after a few conversations, realized that she had enough airline travel to fly us both to see our friends.  We’re going! This is a wonderful blessing.  So the lesson for me is–let God be God.  Trust God not only to open doors and close them, but do it with perfect timing. God is still inviting me to the dance.  (And that is poetry therapy.)

August 16

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Everybody loves a good story!  The teaching team at my church (The Fellowship at Two Rivers) is teaching the next series through the New Testament by telling the stories of the people.  We will very likely remember the stories and make the connection to our own lives.

So I’ll tell you a story of my latest trip to McKay’s Used Book Store.  I traded in some books and came back with some treasures.  One in the free bin caught my eye.  It was written by a psychiatrist/psychotherapist who contrasted the medical model of treating people with mental illness with what the author believes is the more accurate means—psychotherapy.  And why?  Because, he says, we are more than our brain—we are souls, souls in need of healing.  (E-mail me if you want the author’s name; I’m at poetryforthejourney@gmail.com.)

What do people need?  We need as infants to be nurtured and loved (I personally saw one precious little child in Haiti now receiving lots of love, but who cannot speak possibly because of just such a lack in infancy).  But we don’t stop needing love.  When we don’t get what we need, when we are hurt or neglected, we might survive physically but we carry around the wound.

Medicine can anesthetize a symptom but this author says to pay attention to our symptoms, they are trying to tell us something.  We are not physicians, but we as Christians are in the business of offering spiritual (or soul) healing.  How do we do this?  Well, one way I believe is simply to tell our stories.  I am starting to look at the senior members of my fellowship as treasuries of a lifetime of stories of God’s faithfulness.  Do you have a story?

August 14

A Letter to Juan Felipe Herrera

Dear Juan, (I hope it’s okay to call you that)

I can barely believe it but I have received your letter.
It’s your signature and title:  Juan Felipe Herrera
United States Poet Laureate.
Oh, of course I know it’s not really from you.

But this is just to let you know
I sent the donation you asked for
membership in the Academy.

Oh, and one more thing–I heard you read your poems
on National Public Radio.
I loved the way you read
one line in your language, one in mine.

Creo que estoy en amorada.
I think I’m in love.

Sincerely,

Carol

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August 12

PORN PROTECTION

As I walk on this journey to blogging, several things are clear so far.  First, all kinds of things can go wrong.  Second, few people are searching on my “key words” – such as healing, expressive writing, etc.  Third, I have learned by reading a blog from the Christians for Biblical Equality that if one types in “rape porn” on Google, one would find over one hundred million search results.  One hundred million rape videos on Google.  The author of CBE’s blog further stated:

“As I speak with churches, I find they are overwhelmed by the effects of porn on their congregations: sexualization of children, widespread addiction, abusive sexual practices, infidelity, broken marriages, intimacy problems, sexual violence, domestic violence, and trafficking.”

She further reported that it’s estimated that one-third of Christian men are so addicted.  It’s hard to know what to do with these facts.  I do know that the Holy Spirit notices and cares.  In one of my first sermons, as I was speaking my prepared message, the thought came into my mind, “pornography.”  I didn’t know what to do with this thought but realized later on that it did indeed come from God.  A man in church that day came to me afterwards and asked me to pray for him.  Later he admitted to me that he was addicted to porn over the internet.  Although he had asked for prayer, when I suggested he shut down the computer if necessary, he refused.

I’m not into preaching sermons any more, but I am into healing—the healing that comes from writing and the ultimate healing that only God can give.  There is forgiveness and healing and freedom when we honestly want to turn away from our sin.  Paul, in speaking to Christians said, “For we must never forget that [God] rescued us from the power of darkness….[therefore] have nothing to do with sexual immorality, dirty-mindedness, uncontrolled passions, evil desire…”  (Paul’s letter to the Colossians.)

There is no way to be rescued except to reach out to the one holding out His hand.  I’ve had a time or two when I had to fall on my face before God and I can tell you that He is a good, good God and He will receive you with open arms.

August 11

#Too late quotes

Dear friends, do you know an older person who has lived a rich, interesting or challenging life?  I’ve talked to many people lately who say they regret not sitting down with that person and asking them to tell their stories.  One of my own grandchildren in his teens told me that he didn’t know I had lived in another country, not to mention what I did there!

I want to encourage you to call them and set up a time for such a talk.  My web site has a helpful book you can download very inexpensively to help you get started on this adventure.   Or write your own story.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you.

If you do, please share your story.  Let’s get a story library started in our families and churches and communities.  We can’t assume the next generation will know what we’ve done, or learned or lived unless we tell them.  (That’s what my son told me.)

Sincerely,

Carol (poetryforthejourney.com)