Category Archives: Concept

SPACIOUS has launched

JUBILEE YEAR readers, I’m excited to share a new site with you.  I’ll be blogging there from now on.

And the site is the place to go to explore and imagine a bigger life, with more recess and fun, more adventure, and relationships of depth where you are known for who you are and celebrated.  It’s even a forum for asking life’s “What if?” questions.

We plan events; we consult on making your events and workplace more spacious; we write and speak.

SPACIOUS emerged out of a blogpost written on this site a year and a half ago. Read that story in Joey Katona’s biography on our site.

Check us out at: http://spacious.me, and send your friends too!

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Slowing Down the Jubilee Writing

Ah jubilee… my companion project for two years.  I set out to do a jubilee year at 48 going on 49, and I’ve just rounded the corner on a second lap, ending at 50.  And it’s been fun.  In the way that conviction is fun….  Fun as in cleansing and challenging and interesting and transformative.

The most important thing I learned in these two years of reflecting on Biblical principles of how to let the land lie fallow, how to forgive debts, how to make restitution, how to return the land to its original owners (and many possible metaphorical manifestations of this in my middle-class American lifestyle)… the most important thing I learned is this:

When we rely on the Holy Spirit for change, we really do care about the things that God reveals to us in Scripture as His concerns: the poor, justice, love.  And when we are living our normal, selfish lives (yours may not be; mine is), we don’t care so much.

I learned this from day one in the project.  I’m still learning it after two years.

There really is a mind of Christ, a new creation… and these are ours if we ask.  But apart from God’s infusion of His power and spirit, we live in our old minds and as the old creations we are… and in that mindset, I’d just as soon not share, not forgive, not love, not lean into God and let some things be.

Yet I think I’m changed as a result of this project in mindfulness.  I know the difference between when I’m me, and when I’m touched by God’s spirit.  And it shows in behavior.

I don’t know if Dallas Willard said this, or someone else, but it’s true: “If you want to change your life, ask for the grace to change your behavior.”  We are what we do.  Regardless of what we intend.

So thanks for reading.  And I’ll be interspersing some thoughts on this topic into my “other” (main) blog: www.holyvernacular.wordpress.com insofar as that one is about seeing God in the commonplace of life, in everything.  So just about anything fits over there.   And I think I’ve explored jubilee as much in writing as I should… it’s time to act, abide, act some more.

I’ll see you over at Holy Vernacular!

Official Washington and Forgotten Washington

Yesterday I was driving around northeast D.C.  I was on streets I’d never been on, cruising around with two of my favorite insightful people (whom I happen to have given birth to).  We were talking about how many versions of our city there are to discover, how many different parallel universes there are that don’t overlap.

Leaving the manicured lawns of one part of town and driving through the back alleys of another got me thinking about how — in D.C. at least — there is official Washington and then there is forgotten Washington.

And I am grateful for Michelle Obama’s attempts to bridge the two. There was an article in The Washington Post yesterday entitled, “The first lady’s trio of very different VIPs,” about three people who run wonderful social services organizations here in the city (Miriam’s Kitchen, Mary’s Center and Martha’s Table) being invited to the state dinner for the president of Mexico.  I appreciated this paragraph:

“… they are not part of boldface Washington. They work in the ‘other’ Washington, the city that does not transform every four years, the one that struggles with poverty and HIV, the one in which politics is an obstacle course to survive rather than a game to be won.”

This just affirms what I know — that politicians come and go, that the “who’s in, who’s out” status is fleeting.  And that while those on top struggle to stay there, there are many unsung heroes who work day in and day out, year after year, chipping away at issues and aches of injustice, feeding another child, giving another ride to a doctor’s appointment, hanging in there with someone battling addictions, drumming up another winter coat, or seeking a few more dollars.  I see this at two places I particularly care about — the Central Union Mission and Samaritan Inns.

I’m grateful for Michelle Obama using her platform to call all of us to care more about “forgotten Washington,” and I’m challenged to think about the usefulness of my own relatively insignificant platform in encouraging others to consider both sides of town.

Is This the Most Loving Way to Do Life?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to live every day wondering, “Is this the most loving way to do life?”

Obviously that would encompass how we relate to God and it would include how we love our neighbors.  And that’s everything.

But what realms would it apply in given that it should apply in all realms?

  • What do I drive?
  • What do I eat? Where did it come from?
  • Where do I live? Who shares my space?  Who does not?
  • What do I waste? Why?
  • Who do I spend my time with?
  • What do I do when I am hurt?
  • How do I treat enemies?
  • What do I think about? read about? dream about?
  • What do I watch?
  • How much do I consume, and where does it come from?
  • Am I stepping on others?  What’s so important to climb up to?
  • Where do I shop and what do I buy?
  • What do I do all day?
  • Do I love myself well?
  • How do I use my influence?
  • Do I claim God or deny him?
  • Am I willing to be part of the answer to the things I pray about?

I hope it all starts with the questions for I don’t have beautiful answers to these questions in my own life.  Lord have mercy.

“Dialogue” by Chicago

I love the song “Dialogue” by Chicago.  In fact I like idealism in general.  Or rather a voice that says, and believes, “we really could do more.”  I even sometimes enjoy cynicism if it takes me somewhere beyond it.  And this song has all of that. It’s a dialogue between an apathetic  IGMFY person (in polite terms, “I’ve got mine; forget you.”) and a “We can make it better” person.

Here are the lyrics with alternating voices italicized and not:

Are you optimistic ’bout the way things are going?

No, I never ever think of it at all

Don’t you ever worry
When you see what’s going down?

No, I try to mind my business, that is, no business at all

When it’s time to function as a feeling human being
Will your Bachelor of Arts help you get by?

I hope to study further, a few more years or so
I also hope to keep a steady high

Will you try to change things
Use the power that you have, the power of a million new ideas?

What is this power you speak of and this need for things to change?
I always thought that everything was fine

Don’t you feel repression just closing in around?

No, the campus here is very, very free

Don’t it make you angry the way war is dragging on?

Well, I hope the President knows what he’s into, I don’t know

Don’t you ever see the starvation in the city where you live
All the needless hunger all the needless pain?

I haven’t been there lately, the country is so fine
But my neighbors don’t seem hungry ’cause they haven’t got the time

Thank you for the talk, you know you really eased my mind
I was troubled by the shapes of things to come

Well, if you had my outlook your feelings would be numb
You’d always think that everything was fine.

CHORUS:
We can make it happen
We can change the world now
We can save the children
We can make it better
We can make it happen
We can save the children
We can make it happen

So, blog reader, which are you?  I vacillate.

Shepherd’s Guide, Fish Symbols and Loving Our Neighbors

Who is my neighbor?  Everybody.  Rob Bell talks about how we must “know the other.”    I’ve been thinking about that lately, what with my “stranger of the week” feature on my other blog: (http://holyvernacular.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/inaugurating-stranger-of-the-week-feature/).

So is that why I laughed so hard today when I saw this on a car in a parking lot?

Cracked me up...

Let me say that whereas I am a big fan of Jesus, I’m not so much of a fan of those Christian fish symbols.  I can’t figure out any other way to interpret them other than “us and them.”  We’re in; you’re out.  We smile at each other and let each other cut in in traffic, and you — ultimate non-Christian otherness — will have to wait.  I just don’t get it.  Especially since they’re often on huge gas-guzzling behemoths and often driven by people (like me, I’ll admit) who sometimes inadvertently yell at people who don’t claim the intersection or who drive too slowly in the left lane.

Somehow advertising “I’m a Christian” without any nuance, conversation, relationship feels to me like answering a question nobody is asking, and it feels like a set-up (an invitation to have my behavior held to a particularly high standard, or low one, depending on who’s assessing).

And the advertisements on the radio for the “Shepherd’s Guide,” a compendium of all-Christian businesses, really bothers me.  Yes, I might go to the shepherd’s guide to get a recommendation for a priest, if I didn’t happen to know where else to find one.  In that line of work, I want my peeps to be professing Jesus.  But painters?  Carpenters?  Nail technicians (how technical is it, really?)?  I want to meet all sorts of people.   With all sorts of beliefs.  Who might teach me something.  Who might be — GASP! — “other.”  And I want to hire the best people for a job, not just the best Christian people.

I think it matters that we try to encourage and love those brothers and sisters of our own faith.  I also think it matters that we consider everyone brothers and sisters.  Why isolate when we can connect?  Why say “I’m separate” when we can say “You’re interesting.”

Just a thought.  I’ll take some fish n’ chips with that.

Jubilee– You Can’t Force It

A blog reporting on an online magazine article, which references the blog.  Just the thought of it made me start singing, “All around the Mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.”  Actually I’m not sure why, but a chorus of it made for an entertaining 30 seconds or so.

I had an article published recently on Burnside Writers Collective (a favorite of mine).  It is the promised reporting-in on this, my jubilee year project, more than a year after starting it.  Check it out: http://burnsidewriters.com/2010/03/27/jubilee-you-can’t-force-it/

I wish that I saw my article there and thought, “Oh I pray that I will become more Christ-like.”  Instead my eyes fell on the accompanying photo, and I thought, “I wish I had her body.”

Ah reality.  You never let us hide.