Serena Madeleine

Isaiah 1 

I am your Creator. I am all.

Knowing me should be simple. But you choose not to see me. You choose not to see me and it breaks my heart. But it breaks yours too.

You are covered head to toe in brokenness. You are festering in it.

_______

No more checked boxes.

No more organized religion.

It is all empty and my heart is burdened.

Delight in me. Savor me. Live in me. Love me.

Do what is right - live and love purely.

_______

Give into me and I’ll make you like a child again.

                                                                       Like new.


Ich liebe dich, du sanftestes Gesetz (Rilke)

I love you, gentlest of Ways,
who ripened us as we wrestled with you.

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us,

you, the song we sang in every silence,
you, the dark net threading through us,

on the day you made us you created yourself,
and we grew sturdy in your sunlight….

Let your hand rest on the rim of Heaven now
and mutely bear the darkness we bring over you.


There is a pressure placed on people who define themselves as Christians to know it all. To have their religious shit together. To not say words like shit.

Perhaps that’s why there are tens of thousands of books on the market aimed at helping Christians get their proverbial shit together. Books that promise to answer the unanswerable. Books that will teach you to hear the Lord’s voice loud and clear. Books that will silence the doubts. Books that say the right things and teach you to do the same.

Because, here’s the thing, the doubt hurts. The fact that God’s audible voice has never woken me up in the night makes my temples throb and the idea of a place called hell, and furthermore the idea that lots of good people are probably down there gnashing their teeth and wailing is unsettling.

I know that there is a lot of tension between the followers of New Age belief systems and adherents to Christianity, but for the sake of this conversation, forget all of that.

Faith is mystical. It is a bridge between the here and eternity. Its full of unknowns, and to experience it properly those unknowns have to be embraced, even savored. These are the only days of doubt, the only days of wondering what God is. I think most of us imagine God as bearing some sort of resemblance to humanity, but what if God doesn’t? Its a beautiful thought to entertain, and it takes the breath out of me to wonder.

Sometimes the world pulls me away from the wonder.
Church steeples and scandals and radio preachers who yell more than they listen have broken my heart a thousand times over.

____

I love your Jesus, but not your Christians.
I love the physical manifestation of the God you follow. I love his manifesto, his radical life and his radical love.
But the people who claim they know him bear no resemblance.
____

Loosen your grip on the answers and enjoy the unknown.
____

Psalm 84

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
____


Mother, Summer, I

Philip Larkin

My mother, who hates thunder storms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost,

And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can’t confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.

when you are looking at the light, eternity is a promise full to brimming with joy and hope. gone are the doubts the questions the denial and the shameful secret fears. look at the light and walk on. tomorrow may not be promised but an immeasurable number of immeasurable days beckon.


the art of the everyday

It has been a while since I’ve written anything at all.

It’s because I’ve been alright.

You see, I’ve noticed lately that I write when I am sad, and when I am happy. Today, driving around Austin with my windows down and music blazing, I was exploding with joy and wanting to write about it. Wanting to let people in. Some days when its raining and everything seems a little empty, I want to write too. I want to let people in.

Why don’t we want to let people in to the day to day? Why are we afraid to share the days that are just fine?

It’s easy to share smiles and tears. Its easy to carry on a conversation when something is broken or being rebuilt. And, don’t get me wrong, peaks and valleys are full of purpose. They are both meant to be shouted from. But we are called to share the day to day. That’s where real community is.

It’s long coffee breaks on Tuesday afternoons.

It’s after church lunches that go on till dinner.

It’s walking through the front door, collapsing on the couch next to someone and not saying a word.


william fitzsimmons @ the Parish


thoughts on mother t.

Flying home from India, I  read the book Something Beautiful for God: The Classic Account of Mother Teresa’s Journey into Compassion by Malcom Muggeridge. It made the 30 hour trip bearable - even enjoyable.

Some background on me and Mother.
Mother Teresa is my hero. Its cliche, but each word she wrote resonates with me in a truly powerful way. There is a richness to the way she thought, the way she loved - the way she wrestled with salvation and justice and at times even God. Although she often doubted God’s love for her, she never doubted his divine plan. A whisper from Him led her to pack her bags and move to Calcutta. It is so easy to wait and think and talk. Its so American.
Mother Teresa just went.
This summer I was able to spend an afternoon at one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages and was overwhelmed by the peace present in that place. It truly was hallowed ground.

Something to think about.
The purpose of all of this is to share something that Mother Teresa taught me.
Over the past several months I have been wrestling with my identity. Sometimes I feel like I’m split a thousand ways. Part of my heart is in India, part of it in Austin, a piece at home and hundreds more scattered around waiting to be uncovered. Sometimes I feel torn. Top that off with a healthy amount of confusion regarding what I ought to do with my life and you begin to see where I am coming from.
Our generation and our society is obsessed with the idea of identity.

Who we are.
What we do.
Religion.
Career.
Clothes.
Home.
Family.

We find and in many cases create all of these things and claim them to be our own - the definition of us.

Reading Something Beautiful, I came across a very powerful passage:

“ There is much talk today about discovering an identity, as thought it were something to be looked for, like a winning number in a lottery; then, once found, to be hoarded and treasured. Actually, on a sort of Keynesian principle, the more it is spent the richer it becomes. So, when Mother Teresa, in effacing herself, she becomes herself. I never met anyone more memorable.”

What could possibly be more beautiful than a completely surrendered self? A sacrificed identity?


We must give into the idea that we are not our own. We are vessels of salvation - of Christ - increasing in capacity as we empty ourselves for others.


Last Day in Ongole

My trip has been cut short a bit. Plans were to stay until the 15th, but the day we left - literally the moment we boarded the plane - my grandfather fell and has been in the ICU since. He is doing extremely well after a somewhat scaary surgery, but all of the members of our family have been spending long nights at the hospital and making big decisions without us. Needless to say, we are anxious to be home and have a more hands on role in all that is taking place.

That being said, today is my last day in Ongole. Tomorrow morning I will wake up, drive 6 hours to Chennai and leave India for who knows how long. I will miss it. India really is my second home - I love the people, I love the craziness, I love how beautiful the craziness makes the peaceful moments, and most of all I love the children of SCH. I have gotten to spend such sweet time with them this trip. I think that is why I have written so much less - there haven’t been any big thoughts to wrestle with, no big transitions. I came, I loved, and I am leaving soon. I don’t feel burdened. I’m not even too sad to say goodbye. I know I will be back, and I have so much peace in the fact that God is using me to be a part of blessing their lives.

Looking down at my hands right now, they are still covered in paint. Yesterday we took a 9 foot long piece of canvas, tubes of paint and white t-shirts and created a chaotic but really specail piece of art. The kids spread the paint by crawling and dancing and walking across the canvas. Anson, another volutneer at SCH who will be here until May, was filming and in the coming weeks we will have a re ally beautiful video to go with it.

Last night we were ablee to join James and Sarah’s family for a birthday celebration. Sarah and her daughter Simona’s birthdays are back to back, so everyone came together at KB Restaurant and ate a hugedinner followed by a huge cake - which, in true Indian style, the family members fed to each other American wedding style.

On a sad note, Emma (check sarahscovenanthomes.blogspot.com for her story) is in Hyderabad fighting an infection post-surgery, along with Erin, a long term volunteer at SCH who has been extremely sick for the past few weeks. Please keep them in your prayers.

To my family, I will see you all very soon!

And to my family in Austin - I cannot wait to be reunited! If anyone wants a Whole Foods or Bikram Yoga date before school starts, I’m your girl.