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About Rest

In her book, Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, Tricia Hersey says this:

“Rest is radical because it disrupts the lie that we are not doing enough. It shouts: ‘No, that is a lie. I am enough. I am worthy now and always because I am here.’”

It’s easier said than done . . . resting, disrupting the lie, believing that we are enough.

It’s the polar opposite of what the world promotes and pushes. It flies in the face of capitalism and hustle culture. It is radical. And it’s what I hunger for. Not just in terms of time, but deep within.

I’m asking myself some questions toward rest’s end. I hope they will serve you, as well:

  • Where do I feel the opposite of rest? What causes such, who causes such, and why do I persist in any of it? No shame. No pressure. Just awareness. (And rest.)
  • How might I choose rest as state-of-mind and way-of-being instead of succumbing to what others expect? WAY easier said than done, but it feels critical to growth and wholeness.
  • What are ways of being, practices, and rhythms that will call me home to myself, that give me permission to rest? No efforting. No harshness. Just curiosity and grace.

I fully intend to repeat Tricia Hersey’s words, again and again, “I am enough. I am worthy now and always because I am here.”

Deep breath.

Rest.

May it be so.

*****

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Use Your Imagination

There is something incredibly powerful about good fiction, yes? The craft of it. The story itself. And the imagination required to make it come alive.

I have a long and torrid love-affair with imaginative writing; an infinite and ever-expanding list of “sacred” texts:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
  • The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd.
  • And despite my disappointment in J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter.

I could easily and endlessly go on…

What is it, do you think, that makes these novels, these texts, more permissive of imagination than traditional sacred texts?

Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts.

Many of us have been taught to think about sacred or spiritual things (and texts) as “absolute truth.” Concepts are concretized and imagination is, for the most part, disallowed.

My go-to example is the Genesis story: The Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam. The tree. The serpent. The fruit. The bite. It is an imaginative answer to the question of why (not how) the world was created. No committee or panel of experts sat down to write it. No one debated about what should be included or not, what was allegory and what was literal, what was to become rigid rule vs. remaining narrative technique. It was first imagined, then recited, then recited again. It changed every time it was told based on the storyteller’s imagination, perspective, mood, language, and audience. As every good story should!

Somehow though, over time, this story (a poem, actually) became a text and the text became a treatise and the treatise became a theology and the theology became something to enforce. (This sounds a lot like the nursery rhyme, “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…”)

Even though I know exactly how all of this happened, it breaks my heart.

What happens when our imagination is no longer encouraged, even allowed as it relates to our spirituality? My quick answer: We lose interest and leave it behind. And though this may be the healthiest and best of decisions, there is still a loss. A gap exists where these set-in-stone beliefs once resided. It’s hard to heal.

What happens when we reintroduce imagination into the spiritual aspect of our lives, into the deepest and most sacred aspects of our very self and soul? My quick answer: We are passionate, connected, and deeply moved by any and everything that touches our hearts and others’.

All of this is on my mind because I just completed the final edits on one of the chapters in my upcoming book (which still feels strange and amazing to say…and…if you’re keeping up with the countdown, will be published on 10.3./23). It’s the story of a woman who is desperate for Jesus to heal her daughter. Rather than just doing so, he is incredibly rude. (I don’t know how else to explain it.) He says things that are both dismissive and derogatory. Nevertheless, she persists. She demands. She will not be deterred. And in the end, he heals the girl because of the woman’s faith, a mother who fiercely loved.

As you might imagine, endless effort has been extended over the years to rationalize Jesus’ behavior — everything from naming his responses as a sophisticated rhetorical device to saying that he was *merely* testing her faith. Bullshit. (Sorry.)

No question about it: this is an incredibly confusing and unsettling story. But what if we stopped trying to make it fit some rubric of sensibility and instead, saw it as expansive opportunity to imagine something different, something more, something profoundly sacred? What if we let go of the demand for solid answers when it comes to things-spiritual? It’s almost as though we can’t allow the divine to be anything other than perfect. We’re nervous about tarnishing God’s image. Which, ironically and ridiculously, assumes that it’s up to us to maintain! What if the sacred, in any and every form, can handle its own PR? Imagine that!

OK. I digress. Well, not completely. This is my point, after all.

What happens when our imagination is no longer encouraged, even allowed as it relates to our spirituality? We cannot handle ambivalence or contradiction or complexity (all of which, in my personal opinion, are the stuff of life almost all of the time).

And what happens when we reintroduce imagination into the spiritual aspect of our lives? Even into the sacred stories that we’d often far-prefer to leave behind? We can handle so. much. more. We can feel so. much. more. Our spirituality becomes so. much. more.

Here’s the so. much. more. that shows up for me when I give myself free reign to imagine this story (and the divine/sacred) in new ways:

  • I imagine a god to and with whom I can actually relate when all requirement of perfection disappears.
  • I imagine a spirituality in which I can argue, fuss, and fight for what I most deeply desire and deserve.
  • I imagine a life that is like this woman’s: passionate and heartfelt and persistent and alive and awake and deeply, deeply committed.
  • I imagine an experience of the sacred that is shaped by the stories of the women — their voices, their lives, their faith.

Even this cursory imagining spins me into a million more imaginings beside. Every one of which feel sacred and spiritual and divine and real and true and worthwhile. Now that I think of it, it feels a lot like the novels I poured through this week. Immersive. Impossible to put down. Transported. Transformed.

Mmmmm. As it should be, yes? As we would want and hope and intend when it comes to the deepest and most sacred aspects of our very self and soul… I thought about taking this further, but then thought again. Your imagination (and thought) is way more interesting and what matters. So, I hope you’ll do just that! Imagine. Imagine. Imagine!

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Rebellion as a Spiritual Practice

Most if not all of us battle with the tension between our own desires, our deep sense of what’s most true, our certain knowing of what is best-right-wise and how that will impact the people around us. It is rebellious to choose ourselves in the midst of so much pressure to conform, to comply, to be perfect, to put others first.

A woman’s rebellion is disruptive, radical, uncomfortable, counter-cultural, even counter-intuitive. Ironically (even gratefully), a woman’s rebellion is the very thing that invites her into a life that is authentic, integrous, sovereign, and whole; a life that is sacred.

For us to be ourselves (in a world that demands we be so much less) means we will inevitably feel the pain of disruption and discomfort both within and without. This tension, this bind, is untenable and frustrating and heart-breaking.

To step fully into who we are — unrestrained, unhindered, unleashed — should NOT be so hard! It should NOT require our rebellion.

But it does. Not just once, but over and over and over again.

*sigh*

And so . . .

Let’s make rebellion a spiritual practice.

The common definition of a spiritual practice is a specific activity one does to deepen their relationship with the sacred.

Contemplative and activist, Father Richard Rohr says, “Practice is an essential reset button that we must push many times before we can experience any genuine newness. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are practicing all the time. When we operate by our habituated patterns, we strengthen certain neural pathways, which makes us, as the saying goes, ‘set in our ways.’ But when we stop using old neural grooves, these pathways actually die off! Practice can literally create new responses and allow rigid ones to show themselves.”

Most of us practice just the opposite of rebellion. Instead, as mentioned above, our “habituated patterns” are conformity, compliance, perfectionism, and putting others priorities-and-desires-and-perspectives above our own. The result is just the opposite, as well: instead of deepening our relationship with the sacred, we feel distanced from it.

Rebellion as a spiritual practice has the potential to undo every bit of this. It calls us to boldly name that which separates us from all that is sacred (which, quite frankly, is every message culture promulgates and demands via capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and then some), and reconnects us to our very selves, our sacred selves.

Some examples:

  • When the world says I am not enough, rebellion as a spiritual practice says, “No! I AM enough — exactly as I am, nothing more required, fully divine, fully sovereign.”
  • When social media incessantly urges me to buy, to acquire, to continue scrolling (instead of creating or resting or any number of things that would actually restore instead of exhaust me), rebellion as a spiritual practice has me set down my phone, walk away, and distance myself from the lies.
  • When the person I am in relationship with passive-aggressively demands that I meet and exceed every expectation — even and especially when it is at odds with my own priorities and desires — rebellion as a spiritual practice says “No!” yet again. The dissonance and tension is the very evidence I need to stay the course.
  • When the god of whom I’ve learned deals more in shame than grace, rebellion as a spiritual practice, imagines a god who would never think of such a thing, who sees me as practically perfect in every way, who delights in who I am, exactly as I am, right now and always.
  • When I feel the pressure to do more, work harder, hustle faster, grind and grind and grind — no matter the cost to my mental, emotional, or physical well-being — rebellion as a spiritual practice is an intentional choice to step back, to step away, to take a bath or a nap or both, to be quiet, to stop running in order to feel productive, validated, or worthy.
  • When the voice inside my head tells me I’m being selfish to do any of the above, rebellion as a spiritual practice is the disciplined intention to listen to my heart instead, to choose myself, to see myself as worthy, to trust the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice within.

If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“A rebel! How glorious the name sounds when applied to a woman. Oh, rebellious woman, to you the world looks in hope.”
~ Matlida Joslyn Gage (1826–1898)

Here is what I hope for you (and me):

When we rebel, when we bravely resist all that holds us back or down, when we are incorrigible and defiant, when we willingly step into the flames of disruption and discomfort — not to burn, but to blaze — we cannot possibly be closer to the sacred.

And that, it seems to me, is a practice worth . . . well, practicing!

May it be so.

*****

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If I had a Book Group

I ordered a book a few weeks back, but have basically avoided it since it arrived. Well, until a couple morning’s ago when, reinforced by strong coffee, I opened it up and dove in. Since then, I’ve barely put it down: The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living by Hillary McBride, PhD

If I were hosting a bookgroup, this is DEFINITELY what we’d be reading and discussing together! Here are at least a few reasons why I’m so taken by what’s within these pages:

  • An appreciation of my body, not to mention any semblance of acceptance, is a long way away for me; it always has been.
  • I grew up in a world that prized the split of body from mind; thinking reigned supreme. Even though I no longer accede to this, it is still what my brain (and body) are used to.
  • In full transparency: I don’t know how to come home to my body. But I want to. I pretty sure I’m not the only one.
  • I have often felt, especially in the last 5+ years or so, that learning of and practicing embodiment is the “final frontier” for women (including me). It seems to me it is what “remains” as it relates to our ability to fully embrace our inherent and ever-present wisdom and strength.

If any of these things sound or feel remotely familiar, read on . . . I’ve included a few of the most poignant quotes I’ve highlighted so far.

Regardless of our circumstances or what we have been told about bodies, remembering and reuniting with our bodily selves is a radical act to undo our need to earn our worth. . . 

. . . many of us have forgotten ourselves as bodies. We did so in order to survive the pain or to be compliant, but in the process we left behind so much of the beautiful. 

. . . body-image research shows that the closer we get to achieving our ideal appearance, the more conditional our sense of self worth becomes, and the more we fear what it will cost us when our appearance inevitably changes.

I used to think that the sacred place where I met the Divine was always somewhere else, somewhere that was not “here” in the rhythms of my daily life. But now I see that the Holy is very much here — my body is a sanctuary, a mobile home of the Divine.

So good, yes?

A quick addendum: I had this written and ready when I happened to see an email that included the transcript of a recent sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I couldn’t not include at least an excerpt for those of you who, like me, have an understanding (or lack thereof) of your body that has been heavily influenced by the church.

“The wildness of human variation isn’t a mistake — it is a sign of the glory of God — and yet we made it a sign for the value and ranking of people. Leave it to humans to take a gift and turn it into a curse.

But your body — your body is not a curse, it is a chariot.

It is a glory and a wonder. An individual container of the holy. It is a glimpse into the image of God. And it deserves so much love and respect for it has carried you through every day of your life — even every day of Jr High. Think of THAT.”

You can read the whole sermon here. It’s brilliant. She is.

Worth repeating: “. . . your body is not a curse, it is a chariot.”

May it be so.

4 Things I Want You to Know

As you undoubtedly know, I spend countless hours (decades, really) in the midst of ancient, sacred stories of women. And I persist because, bottom line, this is what I believe:

We need these stories. We need these women. And we deserve them: muses, mentors, companions, even midwives who call us forth and birth us into the lives that are ours to claim, to live, to love.

I believe this, as well:

The more value and worth we give to any woman’s story, the more value and worth we give to our own. 

I do believe these things. Deep in my bones. But that hardly means I always (even often) feel confident about a bit of it. My inner critic gets the better of me more days than not. I sit in front of this screen and wonder if what I’m thinking and writing makes any difference at all. I question whether I’ll ever get the manuscript finished and if it will matter a whit once I do. And I know that every single one of these thoughts are lies from the pit of hell…

The beauty, gift, and miracle in all of this is that no matter how far I wander down this less-than-honoring rabbit trail, the stories — the women themselves — bring me back to myself. It’s astonishing and miraculous and humbling. And so, I persist. 

What follows is the tiniest glimpse into just one of the stories I’m (re)visioning. I’m hopeful it will bring you back to yourself — no matter your doubts, your inner critic, your questions, your fears; that you will see just how much value and worth YOUR story holds; how much value and worth YOU have — today and every day, all the time.


Once upon a time there was a pharaoh who was paranoid about the population growth of his slaves. He feared that if something wasn’t done about it that they would eventually overtake him. Fed up with this, he called two midwives into his presence and commanded that they kill every boy-child birthed. They didn’t like this idea and so, did just the opposite. The pharaoh called them on the carpet, demanding to know why they had not obeyed him. They said, “The Hebrew women are much too strong and fast! They have the child before we can even get there!” Because of their courage, they were blessed with children of their own.

(Yes, eventually, the Hebrew slaves DID break free. Their exodus was led by a man who was once a baby boy not killed; saved by his mother’s bravery, his sister’s creativity, and yet another woman’s compassion — the pharaoh’s own daughter. But that’s another story for another time.)

Though there is so much to mine and treasure in this story, here are four takeaways for now — and for you; the oh-so-relevant wisdom these two women speak into your heart and life:

  1. Do what you can’t not do — even before you feel ready. You are.
  2. Neither the voices within, nor those of “power” without have the final say. You do.
  3. Trust that life is yours to bring forth on your own and others’ behalf, no matter the risk. It is.
  4. Stand alongside other women — always and in all things. It matters.

If there were a 5th takeaway, it would be this: The midwives (and countless others) stand alongside you. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. No matter what.

That’s it! 

Well, OK, just one thing more. Well, 5 things. 5 questions, really.

  1. What is it that you can’t not do?
  2. What does your voice have to say?
  3. What life is yours to bring forth — for yourself and/or others — no matter the risk?
  4. Who are the women alongside whom you can stand?
  5. What if you aren’t alone, ever? You’re not. I promise.

Every Monday morning I write and send a letter (via email). It’s my latest thoughts, my deepest heart — and always on your behalf. I’d love for you to have it. SUBSCRIBE.

Daily Life and the Spiritual Journey

I read and highlighted these two sentences recently:

The spiritual journey is what the soul is up to while we attend to daily living. The spiritual journey is the soul’s life commingling with ordinary life. ~ Christina Baldwin, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice

I love this. No doctrine or dogma. Open to broad and expansive interpretation. Rich. Practical. Mystical. True. I could write paragraphs and pages, to be sure, but instead, an invitation:

Re-read the quote above and then notice what shows up for you. Where do you feel resistance? Where do you feel resonance? Where do you feel desire? For what? What makes you curious? How so? What’s under the surface of any/all of your responses? What else?

That’s it.

Believe me: your thoughts about this are far more vast and beautiful and poignant and powerful than mine could ever be. Because they’re yours! Expressions of your soul and your journey. So incredibly sacred and so amazing.

********

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