Category Archives: beauty

The Name

It doesn’t have a name.  This thing that pulses in my gut, it has no name.

 

So how do I pursue it when I don’t know what to tell the driver?  Follow that car!  Which one? Er.. the one with the… in the… where the…

 

I shrug helplessly and sit back down on the bench in Park Frustration on Despair Street.

 

I know.

 

It has beauty… creativity and freedom and colour.

It has connection… conversation and sharing and tears of all kinds.

It has discovery… understanding and newness and joy.

 

But it doesn’t have a name.  At least not within my current vocabulary.

 

So what do I do?  There are no maps for No-where, no buses to Every-where, no GPS satellites anywhere.

 

Take root here? Go anywhere but here?

Cry out Hope and shout down Fear.

 

Pick myself up, look at the horizon and start walking.  Spend time in Beauty, cultivate Connection, pursue Discovery.  Hunt it down, seek it out. Find.

 

* * *

 

But what happens when all roads seem blocked?  When there are no doors, no windows… Just this bench called Waiting.

 

Choose still.  Wait in Hope, weight in Fear.  Does the cut wood build a boat or fix the roof in preparation for the coming rain?

 

Will it come at all?

 

The reign of hope over fear.  Known and unknown.

 

The rain.

 

Untamed.

 

The Name.

 

Face upturned, open hands.  I wait.

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Filed under beauty, change, fear, hope, questions

Tears in the mirror

What is it about being made over that reduces women to tears at the shock of their beauty in the mirror?  So many cases where the woman has forgotten to take of herself, or has no time to take care of herself, or has too much fear to take care of herself, or feels herself is not worth taking care of.

What is it about the right clothes, haircut and make up magic formula that peels off the layers of forgetfulness, carelessness, fearfulness, worthlessness?

Is it just the harsh comments of passers by which shock and shame her to agree to the change?  Is it  just the relief then to see unveiled an image of herself in the mirror she knows will be approved by Joe Bloggs on the street and more so her nearest and dearest?

There’s always a story of the outer care birthing or unveiling the beauty that was always within but not seen, not believed in.  What is it about the beautifying treatment that touches a woman’s emotions in this way?  How far is it the Way Things Should Be?

 

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Who’s in charge here?

You’ll not be surprised that this small corner should link to a blogpost like this about submission in marriage…

http://www.emergingmummy.com/2012/01/in-which-love-looks-like-real-marriage.html

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It’ll be all right in the end

It could be the wine, but, you know what?  I think everything is going to be okay.

(I’m not going to admit how many times I had to use the ‘delete’ button for that sentence… yowzers – time for some coffee…)

Seriously, though.  I think it might turn out all right.

A while ago I wrote about a tiny miracle as to how I found this apartment and here I am on the balcony (LOGGIA actually, but more about that in a minute.), looking out on a storm that’s been brewing for several hours :

I’ve cosied up with wine, salad, cheese, my journal and Eva Cassidy and now I’m on the chocolate and coffee.  I’ve been listing reasons I’m thankful – a much better pursuit than the intended rant and self-pity sesh.  And here’s why I think it might all just be okay…

God knows better than I do what the desires of my heart are.

It was the small fact that the apartment I accidentally ended up renting has a loggia rather than a balcony that excited this epiphany.  I had spent some time expostulating about how I’d REALLY like an apartment with a balcony, please, Lord.  And I thought he’d found me one.  But no.  He found me one with a Loggia.

You see a balcony, according to Wiki, is “a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a balustrade.” and therefore might look like this :

Whereas a loggia, according to Wiki, is “mostly described as a recessed portico, or an internal room, with pierced walls and open to the elements.” and might, for example, look something like this :

The crucial difference being that is has a roof and sides.  Therefore I can sit quite comfortably with my Mac and coffee while the rain pours down outside.  Now, who’d have thought to pray for that???

“Now to Him who is able to do more than we ask or imagine…to Him be glory…!”

I figure that if God cares about that, then he might care about the other stuff I care about and have asked him for.  He seems to know more about what I really want than I do, so I reckon it all might just be ok.

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Filed under beauty, France/French, God, gospel, happiness is

Apology

Four friends in a prayer square – all linked in different capacities and depths, but linked all the same.  One trusted the others because of the others.

They were beautiful, these four girls – beautiful with a vulnerability that came and went as they struggled with fear, inadequacy, guilt, desire…  Thoughts and feelings both expected and unexpected in women.  Beautiful with a depth of honesty not many shared and they shared with few others.  Beautiful.

And I was one of them.  Valued and loved, heard and known, seen and unseen.  I don’t think its arrogance to say we were beautiful – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I hold them in my ‘I’.

Its been a while since these four met – or at least since this one met with those three.  Much has happened, continues to happen, while I – removed from them – have happenings of my own that wrap me up in myself.  Not so pretty.

Guilt and I are not friends – I will not have coffee with him, nor will I lie with him, not even hold hands.  Though sometimes we bump into each other – a fleeting glance that makes me sad.  Sorrowful until I remember my true friend Forgiveness, also known as Love, Truth, Jesus.

Forgive me, friends, for what I have left unknown, unacknowledged, unheard, unmet, unheld…and come, there are many days to tell, much dreaming to do, old demons to face and new life to meet.

(December 2008)

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The One where I attempt to talk about Hope.

I’ve been reading Luke’s gospel.  Twasn’t my idea, but I’m doing it.

As I sat on my sofa with my feet on the old repose-pieds, I experienced one of those wonderful moments where you discover all over again – from your head to your toes to your heart to your tears – that Jesus is the most incredible person who ever lived.  This particular experience was poignant and somewhat unusual in that all the while knowing in my knower that who he is is true and real and that nothing makes sense otherwise, I also had the question : “But… are you big enough?”

In the face of suffering in the world – from personal loneliness, to 2 year olds with throat cancer, to earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear emergencies all in one small nation – is the truth of Jesus big enough?

Questions like this can be easily answered but seldom satisfied…

In my faltering grasp of what the voice of God sounds like, I think he spoke to me about hope as suffering.  I was reflecting on the passage (that makes it sound awffy spiritually mature of me – it was kind of by accident which is what makes me think it wasn’t just my own ‘wisdom’!  Plus the savvy amongst you will note its not even IN Luke so really I wasn’t even concentrating properly!) where Jesus talks about taking up our crosses and following him and assures us we’ll know suffering.  Fun.

Maybe I’m over-emotional by nature, or maybe its this weirded-out nothing-in-my-life-is-the-same-what-the-flip-am-I-doing-in-this-country-again?-ness that’s making me even more so sensitive… But there’s something in beauty and goodness that really hurts sometimes.

You see, beauty and goodness awaken and feed hope.  And hope is the voice that -as Emily Dickinson wrote – ‘sings the tune without the words’ even when all around is yelling and screaming “Impossible!!!!”, it is the light that should not be hidden under a bushel when all around is enveloped in darkness and despair, it is the feet that keep climbing, one step at a time, when the crowd is going the other direction.  It’d be easier – less painful – to give in and give up.

Hope is a longing for the fulfilment of who I am, of who I was created to be, of Who I am created to know.  To hold on to these realities is painful because that fulfilment is still to come – its like being in labour (I imagine!) – painful!  But it is sure and certain that the end result will be worth it.

Sigh…

I don’t feel I’m quite communicating it.

But anyway – hope as suffering.  I really don’t like that Jesus says we’ll suffer – I never have.  I guess I feel that if I were in a country where I’m physically persecuted for my faith or where my life was at stake etc, that that reality would have much more meaning and immediate effect and my super-Christianness would kick in.  Whereas tucked up in relatively comfortable (however an admittedly nuclear-energy-making:S ) corner of Western Europe its hard to engage with in any sort of real way.  I’ve heard too many John-P-esque insinuations that God gives you cancer for the hell of it (or, er… sorry, His glory) to hear ‘you will suffer’ in a faith-filled ‘God-is-good-and-he-reigns’ kind of way.

But as I thought about the pain hope can inflict, I figured that that’s the kind of suffering I’m up for – not that my personal inclination should dictate interpretation!  But, you know what I mean?  As we breathe and drink and eat and sing and shine Hope, as our hearts and souls bleed its very essence where we live and work and do life, we suffer and yet we live.  We crucify our way of life so that He might live in and through us, so that Hope is filled and Joy comes with the morning.

Pregnant pause….

Eugh.  That’s the best I can do in trying to explain it.

But I guess He’s big enough to sort that out.

 

 

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Esther

“For such a time as this” is the most quoted line from this little Old Testament book.  As I picked it up tonight, after exfoliating and moisturising my face and scrutinising my flaws in the mirror, I wondered what a story about a beauty pageant winner might have to tell me.

Reading the story from Peterson’s The Message translation (is that the right word for it?) certainly helps with the flow of this little récit about a shaky moment in Israel’s history.  I had never realised before that King Xerxes’s reason (or rather that fed to him and enflamed by his advisors) for banishing and essentially divorcing his wife Queen Vashti were so sexist.

After days of revelry and drunkenness, Xerxes decides he’d like to show off his beautiful trophy-wife in front of all his mates.  She refuses.  We could elegise Vashti and say it was because she did not want to demean herself or whatever, but I’d say it could equally be because she was concerned with her own girly party and was looking worse for wear, or couldn’t be bothered getting changed…!  But anyway.  Her refusal is seen as an affront to Xerxes’ authority and ownership of her – the King can’t control his own wife?!?  The men (some probably trying not to snigger behind their hands) terrify the King that the whole land of women will be in uproar and will be disobeying their husbands right left and centre!

So Queen Vashti is punished – they make an example of her in order to keep the whole nation of women subordinate to their husbands.

Suddenly this ‘story about a beauty pageant’ got more interesting to me…

Its nearly bedtime so I’m not gonna spend ages pontificating about this, but here is what struck me…  Firstly I can almost smell the boorishness of Xerxes and his buddies – not an unfamiliar scent even today.  Secondly, Xerxes’ wife was the least of his problems – it was the power his reputation in the eyes of his male friends had over him that would worry me!  Third, the desire for control, absolute control, over people (in this case women in particular) and their behaviour in relation to one’s own desired state of affairs.  And four – the role of ‘fearful what-ifs’ in making a complete shambles of a situation.

Fast forward to Esther’s reign as queen.  It seems to me that her power and influence grows stronger – she seems to have been given a place in decisions that matter.  Is it that Xerxes was madly in love with her?  Was he under her power because of her beauty?  Or was it that she had proved herself as capable and righteous because of her petition on behalf of her people?  Did he have more respect for her character and goodness?  Was he listening less to those eejits he’d had around him before?  Who knows.

I like that Esther had more influence and that she is hailed for her courage and faithfulness in ‘such a time as this’ is good and right.  But I can’t help but notice that there’s a rather bloody end to this tale…

Once the order to exterminate the Jews was revoked, the King had granted them the right to arm and defend themselves should anyone have missed or disobeyed the revoke.  Fair enough… But suddenly the land becomes a blood bath!  The Jews kill 75,000 people!  Rather than it being a defensive “this-guy-came-to-my-house-to-kill-my-children-so-i-clunked-him-one”, it became a “I’m-a-Jew-yeoo-I-will-kill-you-because-you-hate-me-grrrr”.  The cull might have been half that number, but Esther asks the King to allow the killing to go on for another day.  What the flip??!!

I can’t help but notice that before this request to the King, there is no three days of fasting and prayer.

So, as I head off to get my beauty sleep… What have I learned from this story?  It could take a while to refine, but it seems to me that given a little bit of power, men and women can be complete idiots.

Thank God for grace.

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