Monthly Archives: August 2014

Unraveling

Baby held in big hands, Anne GeddesWe’re moving to Bend, Oregon. It’s been nine years since Jed and I moved from a suburb of Chicago to the mountain-nestled cultural and recreational mecca of Ashland, Oregon. I love Ashland. And we’re only moving to Bend. Bend is just four hours away and similar to Ashland in many respects. But, we’re still moving.

Because I know about linguistic epistemology, I understand that the words and metaphors I choose will largely determine my experience. So I suspected that labeling moving as a “long tunnel of chaos” was a bad idea. Other options were “tearing down a house” and the commonly used “uprooting.” Both of those felt too violent. I’ve settled on “unraveling” as a metaphor for this move. I’ve knitted a life here that I like in many ways. I feel more connected to the Rogue Valley than any place I’ve lived since marrying a minister who moves. Unraveling feels peaceful, so I’m going with that.

Unraveling also meshes well with the concept of the “Change Cycle,” a foundational life-coaching concept articulated by life coach Martha Beck. Martha uses the metaphor of a butterfly undergoing metamorphosis to teach the four-phase Change Cycle. Square One requires death and dissolving and letting go of life as we currently know it. Squares Two, Three, and Four are phases of reconstituting and rebirth. We get thrown into Square One, usually kicking and screaming, by life events such as marriages, births, illnesses, deaths, divorces, graduations, promotions or demotions, and moves. Even if we chose them.

Obviously, I am squarely in Square One.

I have historically been lousy at Square One. I much prefer the dreaming and scheming of Square Two and the planning and follow-through of Square Three. I have little experience of Square Four, “The Promised Land,” where Square Two dreams and Square Three plans have evolved into smoothly functioning systems. (Until another inevitable Square One event comes along aaaaannnddd Here We Go AGAIN!) The only way to achieve healthy, vibrant, “all systems go” rebirth is to completely die. (See this blog post for more on this topic.) Like most of us, I tend to frantically grasp at anything that promises to avoid the dismantling that Square One requires. I short circuit the dying part. This time, I won’t let that happen.

Here’s why this time will be different: I’ve learned some really helpful stuff I didn’t know nine years ago. Life coach training, grad school, and the Camino have taught me a few things. I know that my thoughts create my perceptions, feelings, and experiences. I know how to catch thoughts, then question and change them. I know how to let feelings move through me without attaching to them. I know about the importance of commitment. I know how to keep moving through the messy middle muddles, between the exciting clarity of beginning and the satisfaction of completion.

The most important thing that I know now that I didn’t know last time through Square One: I am deeply held and loved by Being/Source/God. That knowledge makes letting go possible. When I envision unraveling, underneath the fear and anxiety I feel peaceful and trusting. At the heart of the pile of yarn that is my life, I am cradled in Love’s hands. And all is well.

photo credit: anne geddes

“Whatever he tells you, do it”: Jesus vs. Christian Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey Cover Art“Whatever he tells you, do it,” says Mary the mother of Jesus to the servants at a wedding in Cana. “Whatever I tell you, do it,” says Christian Grey to Anastasia Steele, the heroine of Fifty Shades of Grey.

True confession: I read – well, skimmed – Fifty Shades of Grey this week. If you’re living under a rock, the book, dubbed “Mommy porn” by some, is a sado-masochistic romance (not my words) that has been selling really really well, mostly as an ebook. I had studiously (and snootily) avoided it until a life coach I respect and admire, a rape survivor, shared her excitement about the just-released movie trailer. She also said she was reading her way through other “soft erotica” after finishing the Fifty Shades series. Huh. Perhaps I have prejudged wrongly, so I got it from the library. (Thank you, Jackson County taxpayers!) Fifty Shades of Grey was slightly better written than I expected, and for sure it’s erotic. I was also highly troubled by its content.

Yesterday’s daily lectionary reading from John’s gospel has Jesus at the wedding in Cana telling his mom to butt out. He’s not ready yet for the consequences of being Jesus. He’s not ready to turn water to wine. Just a little more time, he asks. But no, it’s not to be. Mary marches to the servants and tells them “Whatever he tells you, do it.” And Jesus steps up. Water becomes wine.

I’ve often felt completely fed up with the trappings of religion, the rules and rituals and – I’m just gonna say it here – crap that cover Jesus up. These trappings include patriarchal language and imagery, the liturgy’s emphasis on sin, and some church folks’ preoccupation with sexuality and genital morality rather than poverty and violence and inhumanity. I’ve occasionally taken breaks from church attendance because I felt that my presence implied consent. Here’s the thing, though — Jesus is totally fine with me not going to church. He wants me to think and act freely. And I have always known that underneath the trappings that piss me off is the pure, entirely trustworthy heart of Jesus, completely peaceful and loving.

I trust Jesus. I will continue to practice disciplines that help me hear what he’s telling me to do. I do not trust Christian Grey, and I think Ana’s crazy to cede control of her body to a man who enjoys inflicting pain. Underneath Christian’s trappings – his wealth and physical beauty and manly smell and sexual acumen – is rottenness. I believe no amount of ecstasy, no fantasy of rescue by a good woman, is worth choosing to cede freedom to such a man. So I will not be reading the sequels. But I won’t judge you if you do!