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Body as Community April 18, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in εκκλησία, Living, relationships.
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At 5’11” and 102lbs, she looks monstrous. Her hair is stringy, her eyes are hollow, and her nails are broken and yellow. She has arms covered in little bruises and burns, and her knees and enveloped in scars. She has fallen so often one wonders if she ever thought of staying down and indeed she has. Stumbling, she is shoved one more time and finds herself face down in pine mulch on a Smokey Mountain trail.
So this is where she ends, face down in mulch. Let’s not think about the components of mulch. But strong hands grab her and she is staring into the faces of loving Christs wearing tee-shirts and Chacos. The girl is led by the hand to the Table. There, the Christs wash her feet and hands. They brush her hair and bandage her wounds, and anoint her head and face with oil.
They sit to the left and to the right, all around the table. A bowl of soup is placed before her. In the center, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine command the scene. A chunk of the bread is handed to her.
“This is for you.”
A glass of wine is poured and placed before her.
“This is for you.”
She eats; she drinks; she is nourished.
A Christ asks her a question.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Soul.”
The Christs nod, as if they expected that to be her answer.
She stays the night, and the next night. Soul feels no need to leave her sanctuary. Soul works hard, plays hard, and prays hard with these Christs. They constantly wash her feet and cover her head with oil. Soul, in turn, learns how to do these things to the others. She is there in eager anticipation when a new one arrives, there to care for them as she was cared for on that first night. Health returns to her frame. She suspects that the simple meals of soup, bread, and wine nourish her more than calories might suggest. Her nails grow, her eyes are no longer hollow. Soul has found body.

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An Epiphany April 11, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in family, Living, relationships.
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We have left on our own pilgrimage. Behind us is everything we hate – chaos, lies, discord, and alcohol. In front lays everything we love – Jesus and music, but mostly music. We’ve hated each other for the past 15 years out of necessity, but this one week is most sacred to us. Hate is impossible. Even when we argue we are aware that we’re wasting time. Arguing is for back there, in the hills. Excitement and awe are for out here.
This is Mary’s first time away from the mountains. She fell asleep some time back, but has now awoke to corn and soybeans. She can’t comprehend it. There is nothing but flat, and to us this is just as exotic as seeing a lion in the wild. We’re snaking our way across the farmlands and Google Map has told us wrong. We’re passing through small places with names like St. Augustine’s Hamlet.
A sign tells us that we’re in Avon. The only Avon I know provides me with great moisture benefits. As we drive through, Mary and I silently take in what we see. Clean little houses with clean little yards flying their clean little American flags. The sidewalks look swept and the trees look like something Martha’s Vineyard would be proud of. We pass in on one road a primary school, a middle school, and a high school. Mary speaks, “Is this really here?” The whole town takes about seven minutes and as we pass two horses and a camel beside the “Leaving Avon” sign, I have an epiphany. I look at Mary and say, “I’m suppose to be a Midwestern housewife.”

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Leading With Love February 3, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in 1.
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I work in a level II group home for girls. The reasons the girls come are many, but in this conversation, not important. What is not varied is their needs – discipline, structure, and love. My coworkers have the first one down. Sometimes they have the second, too. What I rarely see is the last one.

When you have a family that has no structure, has no discipline, has never taught you what equals good and what equals bad, then you have no foundation to fall back on. My goal going into work is to do the job understanding that love is the foundation of all the choices I make towards the girls. Why do I have them do their chores. Why do I refuse to bend the rules? I think that as I’ve settled into my positions, the girls have to come realise I’m the one who won’t bend – but it’s for no one. There’s not a special or a favorite who gets around me. They also know they can ask me why a rule is in place, and I won’t say “because.” If I don’t know why, I tell them. If I think I know why, I guess and tell them I’m guessing. They know I don’t take disrespect to anyone. When they tell me the only disrespect those who disrespect them, I ask them, “Is that what I do? I hold you to the same standard I hold myself.”

So, I become irritated when staff give the girls marks because the staff is having a bad day, when it seems the grading is based off emotion. I am irritated when they scream or tell the girls a rule exists when it’s not in the handbook. I once pointed out to a staff that they had just told a girl something that wasn’t in their handbook, and so she wouldn’t have know. The staff replied to me that it doesn’t matter, not all the rules are in there. So where is the structure and stability we’re suppose to be providing them?

So I have this job, and it’s basically to show the Gospel, day after day after day.

Breathing December 28, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in Emmanuel, friends, Living, living as a 20-something, living as a seminary student, living as a student, relationships, school.
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That’s *almost* what I’m doing now, breathing. My classes and finals are finished. I’m no longer learning to balance a full time job and a full time student load. I hope that by February, when classes restart, I’ll have the balancing more under control. The two biggest chunks that had to be cut from my life were attending church on Sundays and having sporadic hanging out time with friends. 

Not getting to attend on Sundays is a bit of a downer, because there are people I want to see at Grandview, but I have the opportunity to go to Evensong on Saturday nights and Adoration on Tuesday nights – both offer Eucharist, which is vitally important. The other, the hanging out, is more difficult and I believe has caused some people to assume I’m blowing them off. Frustrating is a bit of an understandment on that one. Sure, some people understand. The ones who have children, and spouses seem to get it. The other friends I have though, the ones who go to school and work part time, I get questions. “Where have you been?” “Why aren’t you hanging out anymore?” I’ve had a few cold shoulders in the recent days because, I think, a few people assume that I just don’t care about them.
Let’s see. A week  has 168 hours. 40 of those are spent at work. It takes me about 35 minutes to get to work. That’s an hour tacked on to the four days I work. 2 hours. I sleep 7 hours a night. That’s 49. I had 8 hours of in class work this semester. That’s in class. That’s not the studying and group work I need to do. So that leaves me 69 hours left to cook, clean, study, meet with groups, and generally get done what needs to get done. That seems like a lot, but when it’s broke up into All day Wednesday and Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday mornings – It really isn’t. 

But like I said, the classes are over. I worked two 8 hour shifts and two 12 hour shifts early this week so I had Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday night off. My sisters are visiting. It’s been nice. This coming week I’ll do a bit of overtime, but that means I get Saturday night off again, so I can go to a wedding. I’ve been able to actually cook mine and matt’s meals, so we don’t have to eat out because I’m too worn out to make anything. Things are getting clean, laundry is getting done and, God willing, when February comes I will have Matt on a routine of how to do things so we can both work, study, and not go insane. 

It’s Christmastide now. While most people are taking down their decorations, the Traditionals have just put theirs up and will leave them up until Epiphany. Next year I hope to have a rosymary topiary in place of a faux christmas tree and see if I can find somewhere to give me enough holly to decorate the entire downstairs so I can have more Church traditional decorations.

Whatever you’re doing to end or begin your Christmas celebration, celebrate Christ.