Superman - a voice
Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman: Three summer themes for three summer concerts. June, July and August - that is my challenge. Loosely apply these to faith.
If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint", then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh
Superman was "created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio in 1933, selling the character in 1938 to what would become DC Comics. Born Kal-El house of El on the planet Krypton, the infant was sent to Earth by his scientist father to be raised by a Kansas farmer and his wife.
Just an ordinary man with an extraordinary gift.
Superman's identity is held secret behind his Clark Kent persona. A writer for the Daily Planet newspaper, Kent keeps his eyes open for the opportunity to make a difference in Metropolis. With a strong sense of truth and justice, superhuman abilities are demonstrated with perfect timing. With the encouragement of Lois Lane, the love of his life, Superman seeks to win the victory over archenemy, Lex Luther making the city a better place to live.
A Puppy's tale - a voice
Our dog - loving, attentive, scared. She became ours after a long airplane ride from Indianapolis, IN. We waited patiently for her arrival into LAX but learned she had missed her connecting flight. Finally in our arms, my teenage daughter lovingly held this tiny package with the same care as a new mother. The puppy's fragile life was almost cut short when at 6:30am, I found her body limp. Both my daughter and I lovingly coaxed her to eat as we stroked her little body to life eagerly awaiting the veterinarian's office to open.
Hope in the form of morning light across fields of grass, she grew into a healthy loving dog who continues to be the happiest when curled up on my lap. A Cavapoo - part Cavalier King Charles spaniel and part poodle, she is the perfect companion dog - loving, energetic and doesn't shed. She craves the company of people so in the Fall, when everyone was back in school, I brought her to a dog sitter. They too loved our dog but behind the scenes, their alpha dog was vying for position in the household growling and snapping our dog into submission.
Choosing me, she takes her job seriously: watch dog - alerting me to the tiniest of sounds or loving me unconditionally where she can't seem to get close enough. With a tendency toward being scared of her own shadow, she is fearful of new sounds. Coyotes at night, a rat in the attic and several raccoons who have ventured into our house near her food and water dish have only managed to reinforce her neurosis. We have started the three house exercise walk - happy and excited, she anticipates the walk but stops suddenly third house down and won't budge. Of course, I can drag her along by the leash but she simply plants herself down. She is out of her comfort zone - beyond the castle in which she protects me - and she is scared.
Eyes wide open
I was scared. I was in labor with my second child. Convinced I didn't want any drugs, I prepared to "man up" and go solo. My water broke on Friday around 5pm and by three in the morning, a tiny bundle had yet to be born. It was the days of people NOT finding out the gender of the baby. A language that says "there are so few surprises in life" which kept me guessing for nine months.
There was a lot of walking down hospital corridors - and to be honest, a lot of the details have become a faint fog in early morning light but I remember when it got to the pain.... the type you think you would rather die than the ripping out of insides, I kept my eyes closed - tightly.
Everything became a blur when a team of people grabbed the baby quickly and quietly - something about oxygen. Because my eyes were closed so tightly, I didn't see whether it was a boy or girl. In a quiet voice, I asked the nurse who, distracted by the urgency, whispered it was a boy - it didn't really matter when a mother thinks something is wrong. The seconds ticked and then relief - the baby would be fine .... I whispered ever so softly - barely audible, a son. The nurse said loudly for all to hear, no - it is a girl and handed me the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. No crying - just beautiful big eyes, two dimples and a calm disposition. It was love at first sight. A daughter.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later. Man of Steel quote
Some sit in the audience. Some don't.
That first week was a little rough - and when I cried, so did she. Seemingly in tune with my emotions, she responded. Even then, there seemed to be something deep about her. She stared up at me as if she had wisdom beyond her years; a weight on tiny infant shoulders.
I should have known there was something different about her when she knew all of the words to Gloria in Excelsis Deo at four at the Christmas Eve program at church. By fourth grade, she was making book marks in order to raise money for cancer research. When little, she either helped in the nursery or children's Sunday school. By high school, she was raising money for a drinking well in Africa or donating proceeds from her photography business to help rescue a teenage girl from the sex traffic trade in India.
An avid reader, combining intellect and compassion, the platform for her voice emerged through photography so by the time she got to college, her five month study abroad tour in South Africa included spending time with people: learning about apartheid, not simply by visiting Nelson Mandela's prison, but living in a home-study where the family was directly displaced from their homes. Whether in orphanages abroad or leading inner-city LA trips, she was pushing the status quo. By the time she combatted the "purity culture of teenage girls in the church" her literary voice had been fine-tuned. Her final research paper was an illumination of the voices of the transgender population in a church where they were otherwise excluded. Standing alongside faculty, her frustration grew when the higher education board sought to re-write policy toward exclusion.
Alining herself with "Black Lives Matter", at a holiday dinner this past year where many people are talking about the latest movie, class or book, she spoke up that she had been delicately hit by a bicycle in Chicago where she and her friends came upon the riots of the alleged killing of Laquan McDonald by white police officers. Not afraid to speak up about injustice, prejudice and the role of the church, social inequality is not just a headline news but a heartfelt plea for change; that is the sort of commonplace dialog at the table.
A voice - through pictures
As I thought about what to write this month, I felt a need to venture beyond my comfort zone into uncharted territory and step up my game. A song, Riptide, on the radio, "I got a lump in my throat 'cause you're gonna sing the words wrong" - Vance Joy, I am hesitant to write anything about my children, particularly this daughter, because I don't want to get the words wrong. My entire family is bright, witty and well read. Frankly, most of the time, I feel in over my head in my own home. I am more of a pass the chips - please, sort of gal.
Who am I?
I am pretty simple; I can dress up.
I am pretty complicated; I have a deep faith.
- but mostly, I pray a lot and make myself available. I was watching the Superbowl, like most of the world, and particularly enjoyed the half-time show. When I went to visit my daughter in L.A., I didn't realize there was so much controversy with Beyonce and the timing/content of her music video. Again being schooled in the current culture, I am continually challenged politically, socially and religiously in the education of raising strong, independent adults.
I am a mother willing to let her children venture beyond borders, however, which by the nature of it, drags me into a dialog - a voice uniquely my own. The culture is at a precipice of change. Not unlike the social unrest that was prevalent in the 1960's when Bob Dylan was writing music. Young people are collectively gaining momentum in raising up a voice. Just look at the Saturday Night Live skit immediately following the Super Bowl this year or listen to "Take Me to Church" by Hoiser or look at the political rally's where record numbers of young people are turning out.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education. Martin Luther King, Jr
With numerous adaptations, the 1978 movie, Superman directed by Richard Donner, starring Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackmen began a string of box office hits. I re-watched the movie this month; it begins with a trial on another planet. In a quick motion, the planet Krypton is about to be destroyed, Marlon Brando places his son in a crystal meteor where the baby listens to a taped recording of his father's voice on a voyage to planet Earth.
Naturally, a loving couple accept the unexpected blessing of a little boy into their hearts and raise him as their own son but when his earthly father dies of a heart attach, the boy wrestles with a crossroad of faith and leaves his home discovering the hidden words of his biological father in a taped message. These are some of the words that lent inspiration:
Beginning his new life under-cover, Clark Kent is immediately smitten with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet. His first act of bravery in the city of Metropolis was not in a Superman suit but in his everyday clothes where backed in an alley with Lois Lane, a robber's plan of stealing Lane's purse is foiled when Kent catches a bullet with his bare hand. Although Lane did not see it, together a relationship between the two deepens.
The man of steal persona materializes when Lois Lane is dangling from a helicopter trapped at the top of a skyscraper; the city takes notice of this Superman but when the newspaper's demand for his identity is sought, he answers with a roof-top rendezvous with Lois Lane. He, dressed with an emblem across his chest, her in a translucent dress, but together they are caught in an innocent, deep chemistry. Taking Lane's hand, Superman takes flight: "I've got you", says Superman but "whose got you? says Lane".
An ordinary man with an extra-ordinary gift.
Bob Dylan is a singer, songwriter who refutes that he was the mouthpiece for his generation but nonetheless, whose songs speak of the turmoil rampant in his youth.
therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in the hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Ephesians 4:1-8
The word picture that kept coming to mind was Jesus going out spreading the message of salvation through the contact of people. Each evening, he listened to his father's voice through the prompting in his heart. A place to rest his head, equipping him for God's work. He traveled light, a backpack and a desire to be used. His faith deepened through the journey.
Lifelong friends, visits with family, an out of town bed and a place to rest my head. The image of a backpack and traveling from place to place was a strong image in my early morning of prayer. I was prepared to see an uncle (six months younger and a whole lot taller) to mend fences over breakfast but an unexpected jeep ride off the trail? Had I been 5 minutes too early or 5 minutes too late, I would have missed the unscheduled blessing, missed the connection, missed the opportunity to be community and have community.
A hiking trip between 5 guys - they had traveled for years together on camping trips but this one was different. The map was well marked, the road well traveled. A meandering intentional journey to a spectacular lake - pictures and then a massive heart attack. Gone too soon leaving a wife and one son.
Although the tragedy had happened a little over a year ago, the day before had been a rough one. A son's tears and a mother's embrace. That was Saturday and Sunday I was having breakfast, un-expectantly, with that same mom - someone I literally not had contact with in forty+ years. It was just an extraordinary moment in an otherwise ordinary day; I was available to be used with a backpack of faith on a dusty trail that morning.
That was Sunday - but it had nothing on Tuesday where I listened to the heartfelt pain from a man on the East Coast I hadn't met - but whose wife I had known thirty years beforehand but still, that had nothing on the Sunday, the week before where I saw a trembling lip and a whisper for the longing of love - a place to rest a weary head. This is my life - when I remain in God's presence with eyes to see and a heart to receive.
Love is the soil from which fruit grows.
I received a phone call one morning, my daughter had a little extra time waiting to meet someone. She had become community for a group of people that otherwise stood on the outskirts of acceptance. They were reluctant at first to let her into their church. Their hearts had been broken from years of judgement and a casting out from too many people to count. Their solo voices became a symphony of unity. Covered by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the sound echoed above the cavern of disappointment and discouragement into stain glassed windows of light through colored glass.
Christians and non-Christians a-like are quick to enter the story at the point of contact, not taking the time to listen to the long journey that was worn and traveled before the dialog began. As I sometimes grow frustrated with my dog, who is frightened at the drop of a leaf, I think back to the early days of a plane flight where she traveled for hours alone. Left in a corridor, hoping for someone to pick her up for the connecting flight back to community where we coaxed and stroked her back to life. Is the church a place with which people can rest their heads from the long weary trail of a lifetime of ridicule, judgement, suspicion and a casting out of acceptance?
Bold friends have bold faith. Armed with sediments of "no fear", they are quick to embrace and accept, without judgement and "do life" together loving God and creating community and church with the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit that embodies people I know and yet I still feel a line. Raising strong, independent, self-thinking children who stand willing to embrace a Holy God, I too, stand at the precipice of change. Jumping in the deep end and not fully being an adequate swimmer, I write. As a mother in a generation of a strong youth, I am drawn into the dialog and a voice uniquely my own. Armed with experiences and sediments of wisdom through years of internal struggle, I listen and love and wrestle with the answers through the words I write.
Will a lifelong disciple of Jesus be enough?
I stand broken, humbled, encouraged, loved, dependent.
SAFE in the confines of hope that reaches toward stars through souls that yearn for the splendor of Christ.
SAFE through the lens we are broken, insufficient, forever interwoven in our desire to be intimately connected.
SAFE in the arms of a tree where humanity nailed to a cross bleeds oceans of red into white surrender.
This world can be messy and ugly with stones thrown every which way - broken, parched people needing a place to rest their head. Will the church be that? People are used to hearing a language of exclusion so when the church invites them into a another language of isolation, they almost expect it and react collectively as a voice angry with contempt. Therefore, the point of dialog begins at a brick wall of cement and mortar where Christ needs people to love first and speak secondly.
God, the Father, is the same before, now and to come.
I am held captive to the beauty of God's creation and the ways He surprise me at my core. The deeper I grow in my faith, the more I am lost in it - authentic tears and genuine joys. In remaining FAT (Flexible-Adaptable-Teachable) or is it PHAT (Prayerful, Humble, Attentive and Tender-hearted), I am more easily available for Christ to work through me.... and I pray.
Just a made up story ... but the message of the death AND resurrection of life as a disciple of Christ is not.
God uses people to have extraordinary moments in an otherwise ordinary day in order to demonstrate love and compassion, acceptance and hope. Superman is seen in men and women who have deep faith who love beyond borders - gently stroking people back to life.
I am Just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary heavenly father.
Love is the soil in order that our faith may be:
faster than a speeding bullet
more powerful than a locomotive
able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Look to the scriptures.
I am human .... I pray and I love - simple.
Superman says to Lois, "I've got you" and her reply, "but whose got you?" Prayer.
A voice and a dialog.
Information by wikipedia, Saturday Night Live video found on YouTube, music available for purchase on I-Tunes, and the stories and thoughts are uniquely my own.
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.