Louise Erdrich is a brilliant author of Chippewa and German descent. She’s a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and was among the first group of freshman women admitted to Dartmouth college in 1972.

In her poem below, she illuminates the connection between the muscle memory and wounds of our flesh and those of creation among so much more.

Indian Boarding School: The Runaways

Home’s the place we head for in our sleep.
Boxcars stumbling north in dreams
don’t wait for us. We catch them on the run.
The rails, old lacerations that we love,
shoot parallel across the face and break
just under Turtle Mountains. Riding scars
you can’t get lost. Home is the place they cross.

The lame guard strikes a match and makes the dark
less tolerant. We watch through cracks in boards
as the land starts rolling, rolling till it hurts
to be here, cold in regulation clothes,
we know the sheriff’s waiting at midrun
to take us. His car is dumb and warm
the highway doesn’t rock, it only hums
like a wing of long insults. The worn-down welts
of ancient punishments lead back and forth.

All runaways wear dresses, long green ones,
the color you would think shame was. We scrub
the sidewalks down because it’s shameful work.
Our brushes cut the stone in watered arcs
and in the soak frail outlines shiver clear
a moment, things us kids pressed on the dark
face before it hardened, pale, remembering
delicate old injuries, the spines of names and leaves.

These excerpts below, from The Round House, are representative of Erdrich’s amazing ability to put some raw and living flesh on the truth.

“And then after that you have to look at that person’s blood quantum, how much Indian blood they’ve got that belongs to one tribe. In most cases, the government will call the person an Indian if their blood is one quarter- it usually has to be from one tribe. But that tribe has also got to be federally recognized. In other words, being an Indian is in some ways a tangle of red tape. On the other hand, Indians know other Indians without the need for a federal pedigree, and this knowledge- like love, sex or having or not having a baby- has nothing to do with the government.”

“I stood there in the shadowed doorway thinking with my tears. Yes, tears can be thoughts, why not?”

“When you are little, you do not know that you are screaming or crying- your feelings and the sound that comes out of you is all one thing.”

 

 

 

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As a biligana, white folk in Navajo/Dine, who lived on the reservation, I am in awe and aware of the hospitality and grace that the indigenous peoples of the Americas embody daily among the descendants/perpetuators of colonialism. As a woman, as a queer person, as a mystic and theologian and as a biligana, I have been better able to walk in beauty and justice because of the traditions, teachings and keepings of indigenous folk. However, as one welcomed into that sacred space, I hold close to Mary Oliver’s words that, “I believe I will never quite know. Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving.” When I heard of Lyla June’s call to prayer and action, I thought of the deep need in our country, brought evermore to the forefront by the infrastructure of greed that is the Dakota Access Pipeline, to turn to native voices.

In addition to writing letters to the banks funding the DAP, I will be lifting up the native voices- four each for the four sacred directions- I turn to in a form of pilgrimage as word and prayer.

#1 Radmilla Cody 

Radmilla Cody is a powerful and poignant voice, holding in her very body the confluence of the Native Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter movements. In the Navajo/Dine way, one is “born of” their mother’s clan and “born for” their father’s clan. Cody is born of the Tla’a’schi’i’ clan/Red Bottom People and born for the Naahilii (African American people). The term, Naahilii, was passed on to Cody by a Dine practitioner when she asked for a more positive, respectful and empowering term. The term means, in its many parts, “those who have come across, dark, calm, have overcome, persevered and we have come to like, oneness.” The depth and breadth of meaning in this term reflects the beauty that Cody has created for those who have a dual identity or walk in two worlds. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she also leads an initiative called “Strong Spirit: Life is Beautiful, Not Abusive,” educating and spreading awareness about Teen Dating Violence through “the philosophy of traditional teachings, values and the maintaining of cultural identity.”

These are some of my favorite words from this model, activist and musician…

“Validation is me.”

“I am life.”

“I manifest all things, this is me, this is me.”

“I carry my rhythms, and heal from the drumbeat in my soul, all this in the essence of what makes me whole.”

You can live your whole life in the United States without ever having to set foot on a reservation. A profound mentor of mine, Claudio Oliver, once invited me to observe the intentionality behind this sort of infrastructural phenomenon. We create frames that allow us to see only what we are comfortable seeing on our way to school, work, the grocery store or the doctor’s office. We leave that which is uncomfortable- the “rough” side of town or in this case the reservation- outside the frame, largely unseen. So it was that I never sat with this reality myself until I lived on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. As an outsider, I was painfully aware of the postures of other visitors who found the Rez to be a place to leave behind if lucky, a place where someone would not choose to live, a place of destitution, instead of the place of life, choice, hope, cultural practice, intimacy with creation and struggle for justice that it truly is. Aside from these narrow views, what could be more uncomfortable for the descendants and beneficiaries of colonizers than to make pilgrimage to the areas of our nation that tell the story of genocide and a nation built on stolen land most poignantly? However, this seen-unseen dynamic strangely and paradoxically breeds a false sense of distance from our native brothers and sisters and their current lives, realities, struggles and hopes. The relationship between the dominant white euro-descendant culture and native America is as intimate as the meals we eat, but in a life-negating and destructive manner.

A great professor, Norman Wirzba, frames food as not only a gift to be received, but life itself and calls us to reflect on the reality that in order for it to give life, something, a plant or animal, must die. To be sure, consuming is necessary and not inherently bad, but the practice of consumption, with all its tuberculosis connotations intact,  within an ethics of scarcity is writ large in our nation. We consume abhorrent amounts of resources, food and commodities. As I reflect on the approach of Columbus Day, I cannot help but consider how the dominant white euro-descendant culture has also consumed the bodies of natives ever since the days of Columbus.

George E. “Tink” Tinker,  a theologian and professor of the Osage nation, writes of how the colonial process of oppression and racialization was performed differently depending on the needs of the colonizer. While black folk were excluded from economic and political opportunity in order to maintain a cheap source of labor, the process imposed upon native folk was intended to include and in effect swallow, through assimilation, the native population into the dominant culture so their lands and economic resources could be more  easily acquired. “The aboriginal claim to territory is so compelling it is in the government’s best interest to get rid of Indian peoples once and for all simply to clarify issues of land ownership.” The government language of extermination is no longer politically correct, however it is no less practiced in the more sophisticated means executed in Canada in 1985, in  which the birth certificates of native women were stamped “No longer an Indian” when they intermarried and were even prevented from returning to their tribe with full rights upon divorce or the means of termination executed in the States between 1954 and 1970 by which “the government took upon the responsibility to decide whether any particular tribe continued to be a tribe, and hence a separate people, or not,” or the continued practice of Blood Quantum, by which native identity is determined by whether or not a person has “enough” native blood. It is the white consumption of native bodies- all of it- for the sake of the insatiable dominant culture.

Perhaps Vine Deloria Jr., a native American scholar of the Sioux nation, conveys the insatiable dominant culture best in regards to the consumption of native bodies when he writes, “the patriotism of the American conservative may be said to be an effort to become indigenous.” I have often wondered at the extreme patriotism of our nation over and against others and found these words of Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Sioux tribe both affirming and illuminating:

“The white man does not understand America. He is too far removed from its formative processes. The roots of the tree of his life have not yet grasped the rock and soil. The white man is still troubled by primitive fears; he still has in his consciousness the perils of this frontier continent, some of its fastness not yet having yielded to his questioning foot-steps and inquiring eyes. He shudders still with the memory of the loss of his forefathers upon its scorching deserts and forbidding mountaintops. The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien. And he still hates the man who questioned his oath across the continent. But in the Indian the spirit of the land is still vested; it will be until other men are able to divine and meet its rhythm. Men  must be born and reborn to belong. Their bodies must be formed of the dust of their forefathers’ bones.”

Conversely, the native is indigenous and has a deep connection to the land and an emotional sense of knowing that he or she belongs. In the midst of harsh and perpetual colonizing realities with albeit ever new and sophisticated means, native folks remain and their culture is alive. If native culture and folk are here to stay, then it seems that the dominant culture would frame that which is still uncomfortable and preferably unseen in an antiquated and romantic light. In defiance of the reality that native folk will not be exterminated, the dominant culture has shifted to consuming their bodies for entertainment.

Matika Wilbur, a photographer of the Swinomish/Tulalip nations, has created a beautiful project, Project 562, in which she has traveled more than 250.000 miles thus far to photograph every indigenous nation, replacing stereotyped images with accurate ones to change “history’s collective psyche.” Matika’s work is brilliant and as she is concerned with our collective psyche, I am deeply concerned with our collective flesh. The consumption of native bodies in Hollywood and media portrayals have given a false sense of distance- one in which we are more familiar with the romanticized, antiquated depictions of native America in Pocahontas, the Redskins and Last of the Mohicans, just to name a very few, rather than considering the bodies and lives of native folk today and their current issues, realities and desires. It is a false sense of distance, because this consumption for entertainment without doubt is directly experienced in the lives, bodies and opportunities of native folk this day and every day.

As someone who has wrestled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since the age of 12, I often contemplate what we are doing if we are not consuming, as I have experienced the pain of feeling consumed by fear, anxiety, fretting and irrational cyclical thoughts. Relationship as consumption, with its all-pervasive, obscene practice in the United States, is a reiteration of colonial endeavors and primitive fears. Rather, we should practice relationship with others and creation as partaking, a sharing with and alongside in a way that nurtures our collective body, mutual wholeness and reality.

How do we put some flesh on all of this reframing? First and foremost, we can no longer celebrate Columbus Day. I have been encouraged by several states taking the initiative to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, however, we must press on and make this a nationwide reality. We must struggle for justice in sovereignty for native nations, we must go and see and acquaint ourselves with the lives of native folk today because whether it is uncomfortable for some or not we are inextricably bound up in this life together, we must be transparent about the realities of massacres and broken treaties, about the agency of the church in the Doctrine of Discovery, conquest and deaths and we must talk of genocide and tangibly remember those deep wounds just as monuments for the holocaust have been erected in Germany. We can no longer try to think ourselves into new ways of living, but must live ourselves into new ways of thinking about native America.

Changing Woman

This is an artistic rendition of Changing Woman, the first woman in the creation stories of the Navajo, that I had the pleasure to see in person at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona. The breathtaking ability of this piece of artwork is in part due to the artist’s thumbprints which pixilate this image into life. Like so many sinews of muscle memory, the body of Changing Woman is remembered in the bodies of the Navajo people. With her own body, she gave life by rubbing the skin from her breast, her back and from under her arms to create the different tribes.

It is from the hospitality of these embodied people, the Navajo, that I have learned that we are all five-fingered people who belong to one another, that God has made us to create and walk in beauty, that laughter is to be celebrated in a baby’s first giggle and as a form of community-care and social justice and that the Reservation, the place where I learned to revere,  is a vibrant place of life just as much as it reflects hard-living realities and that grace and mercy flow freely from even the deepest wounds.

“Trauma is a disease–continuing to call these events accidents leaves us powerless to do something about them.” This is how the supervising RN at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio understands and practices emergency medicine. She shared with our pastoral care group that the ER sees the same number of bicycle collisions/injuries every year. Curiosity of this phenomena led her to recognize that this reality extends to other events we usually deem accidents, but that have patterned particularities that suggest an origin that is neither random nor unintentional, but systemic. It is no coincidence that her research showed that more bicycle collisions/ injuries occur in hard-living neighborhoods where infrastructure is poor. These words were an epiphany of sorts for me, as they articulated what I have witnessed in varied contexts- that we posture our bodies and the bodies of others in ways that are healing or harmful. The structures we build and inhabit in our life together are simply extensions of our sentient bodies and subsequently are a component of this dynamic. However, it is a dynamic that is much more comfortably mitigated by privileged folks living in the center in terms of judgment upon those living in the periphery- “Those parents are terrible parents, letting their kids ride around unsupervised.”- rather than in terms of curiosity- “Why are all those bike accidents happening at the same intersection downtown ?”

A couple of years after working at the children’s hospital, I found myself working at Community Development for All People, serving as the Director for the Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) program where I journeyed with folks who live on the South Side of Columbus- a hard living community. Among many bodily realities there, I learned that the infant mortality rate is the highest in the nation within this community and even though the community is demographically comprised of 50% black folk and 50% white folk, the infant mortality rate hits the black community harder. I felt it, as I sat with that reality, it’s trauma, but not the post-traumatic kind. It’s exactly what the RN at Children’s spoke about. It is no accident or coincidence, it is not poverty alone churning up these death-dealing rates, it is institutional racism.  While not exclusively, the scene of trauma is more often at the margins and in this case, the margins of the margins. I knew these realities beforehand, but it was drastically different to conceive of them as bodily trauma that occurs with intention and is played out in the bodies of us all, for brokenness and healing. It matters, just as black bodies matter, because we carry, not only the historical racial trauma of slavery in our bodies, but the new iterations of this hate. As such, we cannot excuse ourselves from asking, who do we birth in our collective body? Who do we let die in our collective body? How does that shape our body? How do we hurt our body in losing these beautiful members? How can we posture our bodies differently, more strangely- for healing and wholeness? How can we come by a new reflex collectively?

As I have sat with the brokenness of what happened to Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Jason Harrison and the bodies and lives of other black folk recently, I have been mourning this trauma that we participate in through our collective body with a terrified sense that it seems too much like reflex. It looks like a life of posturing over and against bodies that are different from ours- not sharing a table together, not shaking hands, looking over our shoulders- afraid we’ll be attacked, staring with suspicious eyes, not inhabiting the same hangouts, not drinking from the same cup. It is terrifying and devastating that racism, prejudice and hate have become, in their lineage, a part of our shared muscle memory. There are so many ways this is performed and remembered in our shared body today, in a continuum all the way from high infant mortality rates among black folk on the South Side of Columbus to the violent, sickeningly reflexive shootings of black men all over our nation. Indeed, we have been practicing the renunciation of a shared body, for there is far too much predictability to these events for it to be otherwise. We have been complicit and we must create a new muscle memory.

Michelangelo’s pieta is warm and wet with weeping

in a mother’s arms we know no body is profane

and that four hours is too long to wait, that six bullets in an unarmed body is massacre

gun in hand, bullets in flesh, those moments, too much like reflex

marking black bodies still enslaved to primitive understandings of “Hulk Hogan-like strength”

3/5ths carnal state

when will we lay down our posture of hate

and rise, let our proclivity for seeming dissonance stretch

lest we lose our awe reflex

and our bodies forget the pull of our shared birth- we’re all mixed. breath. earth.

 

call and response

bodies broken re-member the body

who knows how we’ll be put together

when all is made well

and these dry bones rise up*

do socket and joint discriminate, hate?

oh, holy one, the body knows what it knows

that we are all Christ intimate

that life happens in the suture lines

let us live, move and have our being in a healing, made whole kind of way

and let this learned posture of hate atrophy and die

 

 

bodies herded like cattle, shorn like sheep

domesticated, colonized

“bodies by commodity” a t-shirt on the rez reads

my Navajo friend laughs tongue-in-cheek

she remembers the cheese

salty, fatty, sugary reparations made

for bodies infected, bodies corralled

this land is my land now

 

call and response

 

smear the queer

it’s a game I played, way back before I knew I was gay

little did I know, adults played it too

bodies beaten in hate

abomination framed in the underestimated continuum

of love and being

disgusted stares, saying “how dare you hold hands in public”

show just how much we limit love, partnership

let’s just name it- it’s all about the sex, isn’t it?

oh the mechanics, but…

how we knead and fold our bodies together is

just as divine as any other embrace

the cinnamon and cumin stirred up between us is

just as earthy and vulnerable as any other love

it’s all your people will be my people

 

call and response

 

there are bodies that work in fields

the food we eat passes through their fingertips

that skin like so many peels ripening under the sun

swims in pesticides, this time it can’t hide

like it had too crossing the border in the night

seems like this land still hungers for strange fruit

we are what we eat, what we grow, what we create

indeed, we share more than we think

 

call and response

 

some things are always guttural

sounds of lament and joy

are born of the throat, deep in the gut

that place where the ancients knew our

souls were housed

yes, the heart and brain must both descend

to the humble place of integration to really know

and what are lament and joy- a shared human noise- but communion and prayer

is not Allah ripped from the same place in our bodies as God is

when the family of three young Muslims mourn

bodies shot in the head execution style

no one has a monopoly on terror

 

call and response

bodies broken re-member the body

who knows how we’ll be put together

when all is made well

and these dry bones rise up*

do socket and joint discriminate, hate?

oh, holy one, the body knows what it knows

that we are all Christ intimate

that life happens in the suture lines

let us live, move and have our being in a healing, made whole kind of way

and let this learned posture of hate atrophy and die

 

 *grateful to have journeyed alongside the lovely folks at Church for All People and for the Sunday school class there who mused about our dry bones reassembling as a collective body- your elbow, my knee 🙂

My choice to run a marathon was simple, it was either continue on in brokenness or participate in my own healing and wholeness. At the time, I called it harvesting badassness.  I had just moved to Columbus, Ohio after spending two years in Shiprock, New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation. Just like all things in life- we all have our dark chocolate-days- my time on the Rez was bitter-sweet. It was sweet in more ways than one and I will forever be grateful and more than  I once was because of the Navajo community that embraces, loves and remains with me. It was on the Rez that I took courage and became honest with myself about my sexuality, it was where I encountered radical hospitality, where I felt profoundly seen and where I learned to revere. The bitterness only came at the end and was two-fold, both work-related and personal.  Although I felt more whole living into my sexuality for the first time, it was for the most part a closeted recognition which left me feeling fragmented, then mix in some power-dynamics at my placement site and well, let’s just say Dementors were afoot or afloat rather 😉  So it was that I showed up in Columbus, Ohio to serve as a resident chaplain at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and to serve as the director of ministry with persons with disabilities at St. Luke’s UMC feeling broken and deeply sad. It also just happened to be the first time in my life that I was required to get in shape out of pure necessity and in a lot of ways it saved me. I didn’t have a car and needed to navigate my new city, my new jobs and  my new home on my bicycle. I dropped fifteen pounds in one month from navigating the city (that’s a lot of fry bread and mutton, folks- I do miss the Rez!) making it easier for me to enjoy running, something I had always aspired to love, but only ever did fleetingly. Soon, I wasn’t only running to make sure I could keep up on the soccer pitch, but because it felt good. There was something else, though. I was simply in awe of my body- of how it endured, of how it delighted in rhythms, of how it communicated things to me- like dehydration in the form of blurry eyes and pounding head and of how my mind seemed to still and center with the movement of my body.  I also became more aware of other bodies and more intimate with creation through attentiveness to my own body’s postures and practices. Somehow, it felt like I could honor everything I was experienceing- missing the Rez, working on a pulmonary unit at the children’s hospital with cystic fibrosis kids, working with persons with disabilities- whom Jean Vanier aptly calls “such bodily beings” and feeling more alive in this daily practice of running than ever before- if I  returned to New Mexico that summer to run the Shiprock Marathon. After 12 weeks of training and never having run any race before, I ran through the desert for six hours and was embraced by some dear old friends at the finish line.

It wasn’t until after the run that I understood why it had to be something bodily that I put myself to doing to experience healing and wholeness. In Rohr’s book, Eager to Love, he quotes Cynthia Bourgeaut, “God did not lose energy by plunging into form” for true transcendence is to be found and experienced in immanence, materiality and the body itself.  As someone who identifies with mysticism, these are refreshing words that suture the fragmentation often performed and observed between the body, mind and soul. I experienced this fragmentation in wrestling with obsessive compulsive disorder since adolescence. I have spent more time trapped in overthinking, ruminating, fretting and waging my spiritual struggles in th0se ways than I can begin to convey. Needless to say, my mind often runs and until running that marathon it had never met its match, not once. Intentionally integrating my body into the process allowed me to transcend that fragmentation that always left me feeling isolated. Even if you don’t have such struggles, I’ve come to understand that OCD, as well other mental illnesses, are amplifications of our shared human experience and I think each of us can (and do in society today) fall into the delusion of living in our head, thinking that we can put off attentiveness to our bodies, the bodies of others and the body of creation until later or perhaps never at all.

Three months after running the marathon and indulging in a whole lot of “I just ran a marathon” meals (enchiladas, donuts and chocolate milk go together, right?), I dusted off my shoes and decided it was time to hit the trails again. It was then that I first thought about muscle memory which has now come to mean more to me than those neurological pathways that become rewired with a repeated, practiced action that make mind and muscle seem seamless. I groaned as I ran that day and wondered if it would continue to feel like starting all over again, but soon realized that my bones, muscles, lungs and heart knew what to do and how to find their pace. In truth, I had participated in something that would be remembered in my body (even now as I seek to get more fit after the “happy fat” weight gain that can come with falling in love with the love of your life over your shared love of good food.)  Naturally, as a nerdy theologian I began to wonder and be curious about this mystical bodily pilgrimage I had come to experience and how it paradoxically made a great deal of sense. Isn’t that what the Incarnation is? A transcendent journey experienced in transient and liminal flesh? A plunge into the senses as a way of ultimately knowing, loving and incorporating all things into the life of God? It is God’s wisdom in folly- the humble out-pouring of divinity into vulnerable humanity that we might experience our creatureliness as something to be saved within and not from. What if there is a muscle memory of the B/body of Christ? What if all of the world’s inhabitants share a collective flesh and either perpetuate brokenness or participate in healing through how we daily use, posture, eat,  hold, move, live, love, work, gesture, play and encounter in these bodies? What/who do we birth in this collective flesh? What sinews/who do we strengthen? What/who do we let atrophy? What/who do we let die in our bodies and our shared body? What/who do we feed? What/who do we starve? What do we neglect to see in our shared body because we are inattentive to it in our own? Having been with so many different folks in many different contexts, I have no doubt that we share a collective flesh, but am wondering how we can “plunge” into this form and practice a healing muscle memory more intentionally. This is a nuance on what so many have reflected before, but I think it’s an important one if we are to embrace the fullness of salvation.

I’ll be continuing to blog about this muscle memory and body theology with these contexts, experiences and neighbors in mind, but I would also really love to hear from others about their experience with physical practices and bodily experiences that give a window into our collective flesh and how our bodies communicate this reality and ultimately become the medium through which we experience salvation, delight and wholeness here and now.

“Francis put almost all of his attention on issues of daily practice, humble relationships, and a way of life rather than on Sunday recitations of creeds. Francis and Clare were ‘fundamentalist’ about life practice itself, things that demanded a lot from them personally, and spent almost no time being fundamentalist about issues that demanded mere conformity from others.” ~ Richard Rohr

“Humans tend to live themselves into new ways of thinking more than think themselves into new ways of living.” ~Richard Rohr

“The message and the medium for the message have to be the same thing.” ~ Richard Rohr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i look into some of the faces (there are many- for we are many) of vulnerability in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) every day. the youngest gestational age a little one can be medically rescued, sustained and nurtured given a premature birth is at 23 weeks of age. it is a mystery to me the abundant possibility that rests in one so small- one whose whole body moves with every breath, every heartbeat- heaving, expanding and contracting with life.  for these little ones everything must be considered, everything must be controlled. there are cocktails of medicines and nutrients measured out and administered to help heal, to help grow. the isolettes they rest in allow the doctors and nurses to control temperature to the tenth of a degree, they allow the humidity to be monitored and altered. the isolettes muffle the sound and allow for a blanket to be thrown over its top to help create a more womb-like atmosphere. there are lights to warm and treat. there are cooling blankets to let little bodies rest and heal after the trauma of birthing.  it’s often at the isolette-side of one of these most tiny little ones, ones for whom so much must be controlled and monitored, that i am most aware of how little control we actually have.  how mysterious the gift of life is- filled with both fragility and resilience.

the faces of vulnerability belong not only to the little ones, but to the parents, family members and friends that keep vigil in the pods of the NICU. and one belongs to me as i meet my own vulnerability in theirs.  in their midst i’ve shared sighs too deep for words and seen a profound love and longing for the other- for the little life before them. i don’t really have words to express the revelation that parents share of in that space- of coming to know life in a new way,  an intimate way in hoping for their children who  have come into the world wrestling. it is a privilege to be among them and experience how they open their life in love to uncertainty. to be invited into these vulnerable moments. to see these vulnerable faces. to better know my own. it has helped me to see that somehow my feeling-vulnerable-days- the kind when i wonder if i’ll be able to be a chap who is present like i long to be, are the ones that allow me to lean into the vulnerability of others.

“let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen. let us love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee” ~brene brown

in this place, i have wondered at the stretch and reach of the woman’s arms- the one who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years when she weaved through the crowd to graze with the tips of her fingers, the hem of christ’s cloak. it was such a vulnerable moment. for her, one who had been deemed unclean for so long, she ventured forth vulnerable into the crowd to touch, to reach out with her flesh, to risk. she didn’t ask permission-i love this- she reached with such knowing that the one she heard of, bringing healing and peace, had come for her too. i love what this reveals about how she experienced the identity of christ. and for christ, God made flesh among us- having chosen vulnerability-  was counted among the crowd- able to be touched, to be approached, to be  encountered and there he experienced the holy, intimate moment of healing that happened between them. (i always think of the sermon lynn cross kilbourne preached about the passing of holiness in this moment. thanks friend 🙂 he felt the moment immediately, just as she had and he stopped to look around and ask who it was that had touched him, had Seen him, had given herself over to an encounter and in turn received him.

being in the NICU, this passage strikes me anew. it’s so evident, i feel like i take it for granted and don’t often let the profundity wash over me- this whole moment of intimacy could happen because God chose vulnerability, in turn extending hospitality- inviting us into connection, and God did so profoundly leaning into it and loving wholeheartedly- relinquishing control to experience our birth, our life, our death.