A walk in Creation

I was gearing up for rain.

We were, after all, suppose to get rain, which really means ice when the temperatures drop below freezing, as they do nightly here in Minnesota. But instead of rain, it snowed for almost eight hours.

So last night at sunset,

I went for a walk,

alone out and into this

winter wonderland and

I experienced beauty and

let beauty hold me…

beauty that was cold and untouched

photo (18)

beauty interwoven and framed by harshness

woods at dusk

beauty silent and inviting me to stand still.

standing in snow

Last night in this magical place there was no sound.

It was silent and I was silent with it.

Creation’s beauty is meant to be something we join – to listen and “be” within. Beauty is something God is always inviting us to experience, but sometimes we have to step out and get into the beauty to hear the invitation.

~ becky

Different is not bad, it’s just different

Different is just different

I’ve got some news for you. Women are quite different from the men. And you know what else? Men are quite different from women.

    • Science reveals it.
    • Scripture confirms it.

Some of these differences are noticeable and others are more subtle, yet each difference has something to teach us about the other. And guess what, each of these differences also has something to teach us about who we are.

In my few short years of life (smile), I have come to believe that how I hold, name and value these differences is THE most important element in relationships.

Let’s explore some examples.

 

MY HUSBAND: in pain

One morning, I wake to find him moaning, sweating profusely and bent over in pain.

Bad food, appendicitis, kidney stones, he feels like he is dying.

I want to comfort him, so I go near him, but he pushes me away.

I Google away on my computer and come up with a diagnosis for what is happening – kidney stones.

Driving him to the hospital is seen as a possibility rather than a need – but I drive him there anyway.

His pain reveals a frightening level of vulnerability and how hard it is for him to ask for help.

Am I willing to see him in his pain and meet him there?

 

MY FRIEND: less words

This friend and I have known each other for most our lives. I know his silence is not a wall between us, but instead I know it as a place of perfect space to see him as he is.

My many words dwarf his few.

My joy in seeing him is met with a quiet hug and kiss on the cheek.

He values me not through language and many words, but instead he values me more through the consistency of showing up and being available.

Am I willing to trust the depth of a friendship over my desire for words to be exchanged?

 

MY WORK: logic vs. emotion

One of my colleagues, we speak together often, teaching on a topic that it is as wide as it is deep. You guessed it: sexuality and spirituality.

He appeals to the logic and reason of our audience.

I tell a story to bring it to life.

He seeks to provide a conclusion.

I linger in the unanswered questions.

Our common ground is sharing a heart for the people and a love for the Word.

Am I able to value the diversity and variance with which we approach teaching? 

 

LET’S BEGIN NOTICING: men and women are different

The differences between men and women are meant to be a place of expanding our views in this world, not an opportunity to label and categorize one another. 

As a woman, each difference I experience with the men who make up my world is offering me an opportunity to see, learn and notice more.

It’s the simplicity and complexity of the men in my life that continues to reveal I have much to learn. I admit that the arena of honoring and valuing these differences is often exhausting; yet I pray that I can make space for these God-given designs of men to continue to tutor me as a woman who also bears the Designer’s imprint.

 
Friends, both men & women, I invite you this week, as you go about your life, to stop and notice some of these everyday differences between men and women. As always, I love to hear from you either in the comments below or feel free to shoot me an email.

Here’s to noticing!

~ becky

 
Photo credit.

When God says “I see you”.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

I read these words over and over. How do I alter the years of thinking that as a woman, I held less of the image of God? What would it be like to claim the image of God within me? To breath the breath of God as life?

I close my eyes, breath deep longing to believe that these ancient words unearth my truest identity – marked by God’s intentional hand. I want to write about it, to share something about how this truth has changed my life. All that seems to come out is this. Can I share?

It’s a truth that is so simple and yet so profound. A moisture fills my eyes and wanting to believe I imagine returning to my…

 

First Breath of Life.

The gentle ferns hold the frame of my body

the air caresses my skin

the sky canopies my bed

the animals anticipate.

It is the day I am formed

held by the earth

and crafted by Your hand.

I am waiting…

created in the garden

I know none of these sensations

yet, I know they are real

I see none of these things

yet, I cannot be dreaming. 

 
The breath that is before me

is an invitation to receive, 

to open my lips

let the air carve and construct my lungs, 

it ignites

the first heartbeat of my soul

it leaps, 

it lurches, 

it releases. 

It activates

life with blood rushing

to every part of my body. 

 
This breath I accept

originated and uttered from my Creator

to sustain and call me to life. 

Opening my eyes

I see the one whose image I bear

because this face before me

says with absolute delight and joy, 

“I SEE YOU!”

 
by becky patton
 
Photo credit. 

Concluding Interruptions | The Best Kind of News

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You know that moment when someone tells you some news and you feel suspended, frozen in time? That moment of receiving that news, you know you will always remember because when we intentionally participate in another’s life there are always going to be these moments. These moment’s when another’s words change us.

The good news:

  • Will you spend the rest of your life with me?
  • We are having a baby.
  • I got accepted!

And the news that cuts the heart every time:

  • Yes, it is cancer.
  • There is no cure.
  • Your fired.

Whatever the news might be, what is it about this moment that suspends time? That holds us outside of ourselves and ushers us into a threshold of liminal space – between two worlds?

One place holds the mystery of not knowing, while the other holds the mystery of walking into something new; something that will change our lives for good.

The other night, one of these moments found me.

Through the crowd of friends and family gathered in the kitchen, a friend tugged on my hand and pulled me into another room. He had a smile on his face but would not look me in the eye. As I listened to the direction his words were going, I felt an interruption in my gut as his words ushered me into a new space – a mystery was about to change my world.

The moments just before the news, caused my heart to skip, anticipation to swim round me and a squeal of delight erupted out of my throat. I held each sacred word as they gradually entered my world:

“We are expecting!”

The invitation of being drawn aside, invited to stand at this threshold and let another’s words usher me to and across that sacred threshold left me breathless! What an honor and absolute joy to get to share this news with my friend!

This last month of blogging has been about learning to listen to the rhythms intermingled with the interruptions. And my oh my, what a journey it’s been! Lost purses in Iowa, the strength of Esther, a young friend’s discovery of God’s love, violence and pain like none of us could have ever imagined

Interruptions. What do they have to teach us about being present to the moments?

While I realize that it has not been overtly related to the topic of sexuality, I believe that it has been teaching me more about being a woman, created in the image of God, and learning how to live integrated to the moment.

Sexuality at the core is so much more than a physical act between two bodies, it is being vulnerable to my Creator and unashamed.

Will you join me next month as I begin the journey of returning to the beginning…

Genesis.

Yes, my favorite book. There’s no better place to start with the basic questions that often haunt us in the area of sexuality and spirituality:

  • What is your foundational view of sexuality?
  • How does one walk in the beauty of sexuality, if it is crippled with pain?
  • Does experimenting with sex make me better sexually?

As always I love hearing your questions, thoughts and comments and will continue to meet you at the intersection where we lay our answers on the ground in order to explore more of God’s words together.

See you in 2013,

~ becky

Interrupted | The Labor of Love

What does it look like the day before life is born?

There is labor. Labor is so real and can never be avoided.

Yet, so often I want to run from the cascading contractions; the pushing, the squeezing, the throbbing within the pain. It’s a rhythm of letting go till the body is finally ready to push forth and expel life into the world. It’s the moment when suddenly there is new breath before me, no longer within me, but now right in front of me. It’s new life.

Shhhhh.

Listen.

When I hear the first gasp of breath, I realize that labor is not a place of being alone, absence or abandoned. Oh no, no. Rather, labor is a place of experiencing life the day before…

This day before, this Eve of Christmas are the moments when we are still engaging with the gift of labor.

The pain of labor is rooted in love, inviting us all to remember, as co-creators, made in the image of God, that labor is a place where we can taste the breath of God through our tears.

Here, I thought I might share the song that is reverberating through my head today today.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KY6Hov0wSc?rel=0]

 

Merry Christmas Eve friends,

~ becky

Peace on Earth | Interrupted by Silence

christmas music

I love Christmas music. Why? Because the words transport me to my childhood, to memories of Christmas Eve services, to historical moments in the composer’s lives.

Christmas carols have a way of connecting me to others in the mall, at a coffee shop, and even to others around the world.

There is a sense of commonality that carols have of helping me feel joined  to others all around me.

Earlier this week, I purposely chose a day of silence – no Christmas music!

Silence has been a spiritual practice for me over the years, a place of setting aside noise in order to hear God. Silence has taught me many things, but almost always I sense, hear or receive something new…

Making Space

Being silent means waiting, waiting

for the Other

to say something to us.

Being silent before God

means making room for God,

to breathe in the will of God,

to listen attentively. . . .

The time of silence

is a time of responsibility,

and of blessedness,

a time when we live in the peace of God.

‘For God alone my soul in silence waits.’”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word 

 

So silence interrupted me in a new way. Do you want to know what I heard? Well, I’ll tell you.

Absolutely nothing.

 

Yep, that’s right. Absolutely, noth-ing.

 

I was not enlightened by a thunderbolt or a gentle whisper for that matter. I received no answer to the many questions stirring inside me. But the next morning, I woke with anticipation, an eagerness to return to that mystical place the music takes me. Maybe silence is about remembering to re-enter peace so we can appreciate what it is we often take for granted in hearing…

“Peace on earth” can be more than mere words of a carol, “Peace on earth” can be a rhythm that we learn to carry into the noise of this world.

 

~ becky

Interrupted by Violence | Sandy Hook

the baby Jesus

Friday at lunch I heard of this tragedy in Newtown, CT, and instantly one man’s violence reached out and interrupted my heart.

 

It is a season of celebrating

waiting

anticipating

a babe in a manger

who brings love…

Confusion swirls

pain penetrates

questions pierce my mind

Where does this kind of violence come from?

Can it be stopped?

 

Please, dear God, let it end.

 

What kind of pain, creates this kind of violence?

Isolation

being alone

not needing another

clinging to self-righteousness

feeding the need for power…

 

More than 2,000 years ago a babe in a manager pierced a world of darkness. Wise men  seeking to find this babe revealed a king’s inner pain and fear. The result? An act of violence that stunned a nation…

“When Herod found out that the wise men from the east had tricked him, he was very angry. He gave orders for his men to kill…”

innocent lives

unlived futures

children,

mere babies.

Families, friends and strangers were pierced with pain…

 

“A sound was heard in Ramah (a hill),

weeping and much lament.

Rachel weeping for her children,

Rachel refusing all solace,

Her children gone,

dead and buried.”

 

So I weep, joining my tears with parents I do not know.

I am angry, joining my desire for justice with a nation.

 

But mostly I am sad, so sad as I am reminded once again that violence is

created from pain,

it never makes sense.

It always brings confusion.

 

So I pause

seeing both

violence

and

love

knowing my soul is pierced

seeking something more…

 

A babe in a manger, God’s very own, was sent to pierce the darkness of this world with love.

No wonder violence pierces our hearts so deeply. It reminds us all that we are created for something more….LOVE.

 

~ becky

A Breath of Consent | Interrupted

Advent is from the Latin word “adventus” which means “arrival.” Often I convince myself that the “arrival” of Christ in me requires a dramatic or gut wrenching response that rips through me with anguish…

What if it is a mere breath of consent?

An invitation to breath?

Ten days till Christmas, so much that is NOT ready, but I choose to gently let the rhythm of this fundamental part of life interrupt my thinking – breathing in and breathing out.

consent

I give my consent to be interrupted with a mere breath.

Come Lord Jesus, come…

~ becky

God is Love | Interrupted

I am out for a run, sorting through the dozen things on my list for that day, enjoying some solitude and time to myself. Then through my headset I hear two beeps that indicate a text message. Then another. And another. And another. Hmmm….

So I pause the music, and look at my phone.

I weigh in my mind how this conversation with my six-year-old friend will go — probably the latest news of another tooth he has lost. It could wait, couldn’t it? After all, I’m here now, enjoying the solitude of my run…

But something from inside urges me, “are you willing to be interrupted?”

I’m busted.

His call comes in.

“Hi Becky. You know that song we sing before we go to bed…?” My ear is suddenly treated to his sweet voice singing

“Beloved, let us love one another,

For love is of God

And everyone that loveth is born of God

And knoweth God

He that loveth not

Knoweth not God

For God is love

Beloved let us love one another.”

“Becky, guess what! I found that these words are in the Bible!” As he proceeds to read me 1 John 4:7-8, I hear his excitement. He proceeds to tell me the page number, the way he found it and how he woke this morning feeling like he needed to go get his Bible.

At this point, I am no longer running, instead I’m now walking within a child’s wonder at finding the words of God for himself and understanding them, integrating them into his own actions.

We talked of how love feels inside us, who we love, where love takes us and how hard it is to love sometimes.

“Is that song stuck in your head now?” he asks.

A verse that has become familiar and routine in my head is now laced with his excitement and his invitation for me to share his view.

With utter joy he proclaims, “Becky, I am in God when I love.”

Yes, my dear wise friend, you are so right.

My plan was for a run, for solitude – instead I was interrupted by God through my sweet young friend.

Let the journey toward Christmas continue,

~ becky

Interrupted | The Story of Esther

Several days ago now, a very dear young friend of mine and Rick’s was dancing in the show, Esther: For Such A Time As This  that is put on by Creo Arts & Dance Conservatory – a sweet local dance studio.

If you are a parent, grandparent or close friend then you know The Routine. The Routine of, we “only have eyes for you”  that mentality that draws us to zero in with laser like intention to and find the one we love and adore up there on that stage. Rick and I have The Routine down, very well (to state it modestly). So when my eyes finally settled in on my young friend, I sat back and settled in for the show.

Esther and Christmas? What’s the connection there? That’s a good question.

As the story began to unfold, my emotions became undone…

for such a time as this

Wait!! Esther, an orphan, who was raised by her uncle, taken as a teen into a king’s harem, subjected to beauty treatments (defined by what men named as beauty), only to then be chosen to become queen? Talk about interruptions!

One major interruption of Esther’s life came to her because of another’s hatred – Hamon. Esther had done nothing to this man, but his hatred had the potential to destroy her people and even her the queen.

How often are our lives interrupted by someone else’s choice of jealousy, hatred or resentment of something or someone?

As the dance troop unfolded this story, I saw an image that I have somehow missed despite my many years of reading this story: Esther prepared a table and sat down with her enemy, not once, but twice.

When we read Esther’s story, we are lucky enough to know the conclusion, but Esther didn’t have the privilege of knowing how things would turn out; instead she risked her very life to enter into this conflict.

What kind of courage does it require to sit across from someone you are in conflict with? Think of Jesus. He entered a world in conflict and even up to his last meal sat at the table with those who were opposed to him.

As the dancers emotions and energy carried us through to the end of the story, instead of applause we waited quietly as each cast member came out on stage, took a deep breath and stated their name AND said, “I have been born for such a time as this.”

What does it mean to let go of outcomes and remember God is with us in the conflict?

Let’s face it, Christmas often stirs the pot of unresolved family issues. But Christmas also has the potential to illuminate differences that are in the process of transformation. Maybe Christmas dinner will be an actual time of sitting across the table from one whom we are in conflict with… so how are we going to enter into the process?

“I have been born for such a time as this…”

As the dancers made this beautiful declaration, my eyes leaked, and goose bumps crawled over my skin, I realized anew that each of our stories brings ledge of choice moments where our lives are interrupted. And only we can decide how we will respond.

Esther could have stayed safe in the life that history created for her, but instead she heard the question, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

And she responded by preparing the table and being present to the conflict in front of her…

~ becky