My Problem With Millennials

So, hey, my main problem with millennials is I just kind of wanna be one. However, since God seemed determined that I be born in 1958 instead of 1998, that just is not in the cards. I will never be a millennial. That is just simple truth.

Speaking of truth, and the Church, well I wasn’t speaking of the Church but so now I am, is that millennials can see a lie from about 50 miles away. They can smell BS even when it’s bathed in essential oils and holy water. So, speaking of the Church and from the Church, I get that. My nostrils are not quite as new and well honed as yours, a little bit worse for the wear and tear, my nose hairs in the way (some of them quite long, but that’s for a different day).

But I have a secret. We, the Church, don’t actually know what we are doing. We are not actually better than you are, although we often want to think we are and certainly want you to think we are too. That’s called control, and we like it. It feels safe. It feels, well, in control. However as you have probably already smelled out, we are imposters. We are not truth sayers, in fact, we may be truth slayers. We think if we can keep you in our tidy little churchy circles, doing good and godly “stuff”, if we do the funny but not distractingly funny, little opening story and the three biblical points and the two hymns and three praise songs we can keep us all in line. Comfortable. Predictable. In control. Tithing.

The real truth is that Jesus is the Truth, but he’s also a bit out of control, in an orderly way, of course. Another problem is that his order doesn’t quite look like our version of order. And when he teams up with that Holy Spirit he can get downright wiggy. I suspect it may be partly to entertain his Dad, watching us act all squirrely and out of our paradigms and let’s just admit it, out of control.

When asked, or even when not asked but in just want to tell you mode, I like to say let’s err on the side of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get wild. Let’s have a party. Let’s love hard and out of the box and on the unlovely. I’m pretty sure God is not looking down on us worshipping up a storm and saying to Jesus, “Look at them. What fools. I wanted them in their Sunday best and in their proper seats (which are their’s until they die) and trying to pretend they know where to find the book of Philemon. I wanted some of them to be getting a nap. I wanted the worship music to last 15 minutes, the sermon to take 30 minutes and the offering to take the last 15. Look at this foolishness. Must be the devil.”

Some experts say that the reason millennials are staying away from church is that we’ve become too much like entertainment, and they can get entertained about six ways from Sunday. I, the 59ish millennial wanna be, think maybe, just maybe, that we are trying too hard. Trying too hard to be cool. Trying too hard to not be trying too hard to be cool. So, I have an idea. Let’s just follow Truth, get a little wild, and have a good old time. Let’s take our eyes off the clock and if the other church people get in line in front of us at the Sunday Buffet, let’s get Chinese take out. And then let’s go back to “church” and get a little wiggy all over again. Hey, we might spill some Egg Fu Young on our fancy church clothes, but we might, yes we just might, spill a little Holy Spirit right on out the door and into our neighborhoods. And He’s pretty tasty. Kind of like the Bread of Life.

Bracelets and Cowboy Boots and Jesus and Such

Several years ago I was given an expensive to me bracelet (think silver beads and leather that wrapped several times around my wrist) and I wore it nearly every day. It fit all the criteria for world’s most perfect bracelet: matched everything I owned- it was silver for goodness sake, it was comfortable and it just reeked cool chick.

I usually take off all my jewelry (except my wedding rings, warning to newlyweds you’ll lose them if you take them off, EVER) when I enter my house in the evening as I don’t really like feeling encumbered. I have a big bowl of “jewels” on the kitchen counter right next to the back door. You might call them beads and bangles, but to me they are emerald and gold.

So back to this special bracelet on this particular day, probably two winters ago. I took my silver and leather wear it daily bracelet off later than usual. I missed my ritual jewel purging at the back door upon entry into my warm cozy house. Realizing later that I hadn’t left my very favorite bracelet in the whole wide world in “the bowl”, I had the fleeting thought that I needed to put it somewhere extraordinarily intentional and where I wouldn’t lose it. I have never seen that bracelet again, but I know it’s somewhere safe and sound. And lost.

I additionally tend to stockpile shoes as they cramp my style when I am relaxing at home. I am a barefoot or slipper kind of gal. I have favorite stash places. In my closet. By the back door. On the steps going upstairs so they might have a chance to make it back to their home if I don’t walk by them 500 times before I eventually grab them and put them back in my closet. Boots get thrown into the coat closet because boots go with coats, right?

Typically I can never find the pair of shoes I’m looking for when I’m getting dressed. If I’ve hidden my sneakers it won’t do much good to go to the gym. Perfect excuse to make lunch plans instead with a friend. But on the other hand if I can’t find my snow-boots that early morning dog walk through the frost on the cold grass won’t feel very comfortable.

So maybe my cool leather and silver bracelet is hanging with my cowboy boots somewhere safe. That seems logical. Very Sundance Catalog.

This makes me think about hiding my real treasure, my Jesus. If I leave Him in church, or at my spiritual friend Lizzie’s house, or even in the coffee shop where I sit writing this post, I might not be able to find him when I need him. When I need to wear Him like my favorite bracelet or my cowboy boots. When I need Him to take my next breath and certainly to get past a day when everyone on FaceBook seems to be going stark raving mad or mad at each other (it is Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day).

Unlike my bracelet or my fuzzy red slippers, I need Him at the ready every moment of EVERY day. I can’t afford to hide Him, to lose Him, to leave Him just past my reach. I need Him to comfort a grieving friend, to offer a kind word and a cup of hot cocoa to the homeless addicted man on the cold street in front of my favorite coffee shop. I need Him to navigate me through Inauguration Day when so many people I love are seemingly without hope. And I need Him on the daily to breathe peace into my too often anxious soul.

I might hide my bracelet, I might hide my sneakers but I will never ever hide my Jesus. This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine.

Sarabeth Rose Hammond, a Treasure

This is a hard post. I’m sure I’ll not get through it without crying but you won’t be able to see me, so that’s kind of immaterial. And the most important part of this story is IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. Please. Lord, Jesus, don’t let an inch of ugly ass pride set in. For this story is all about you. And about Sarabeth.

Last Wednesday evening or Thursday morning there was a picture on my FaceBook feed of a young woman who had gone missing. I stared at the picture. I stared at the name. I knew the girl, I knew the name. I remembered her name because I have another young friend who is also named Sarabeth and I had mentioned that to her when we met. Which was where? I could not place the girl, nor her face. I just knew that we had had something special.

I couldn’t get the image of Sarabeth out of my head. I read everything I could about her over the next day or so. And then early the next morning I read that she was a Lyme Disease advocate. That very moment everything clicked.

I write this post because I have to, my brain won’t settle and my heart is fighting the Peace that is beyond circumstance, that is beyond understanding. I’m writing for Sarabeth, for those who loved her, but mostly for the ONE who loved her and loves her still. I am writing this as a love song to Jesus.

We do a healing and prayer tent at a music festival here in Floyd VA. Last summer was our fifth year. When we started all I knew was we were supposed to make it pretty and inviting. I didn’t know what we would do there, who would come, if anyone would come. When we applied as vendors in the juried Healing Arts part of the festival I wasn’t even sure what to say we were planning on doing, because I just didn’t know myself. As I finally explained to our dear HA coordinator, “I don’t know. We are followers of Jesus. I just know that he said we are supposed to do it. I guess you could say we simply are called to pray for people. For physical healing, for spiritual healing, for emotional healing. And to love on them. Anyway they may need.” Somehow with that vague answer we were accepted and have been privileged to do HomeBase (the name of our ministry) for the past five years.

Some day soon I’ll tell you other stories about HomeBase. About the wonderful people we have met and the family that God has created because we have the privilege to minister together, being absolutely clueless about what will happen next.

This past summer our first “customer” on the Wednesday before things get swinging was a beautiful young woman who wandered into the half set up tent and wondered aloud what the heck we do there. As I went through my rote, “I’m not really sure. It always looks different. Mostly we pray for people for stuff they need.”

She told me that she had chronic Lyme’s and that she was there to work in the non-profit section as a Lyme’s Disease advocate. We talked a bit. I told her my neighbor is a doctor who specializes in Lyme’s. We decided together to pray that God would heal her, get her through the festival, help her impact others. That prayer quickly began to morph. Not on my own volition. It was a day ordained, a day to unashamedly share the gospel, a day a young girl asked Jesus to be her Savior.

Here’s where I interject something that the Lord has been putting on my heart. I spend 37 years believing and hoping that many paths led to salvation. I lived life my way, I dragged God along as I deemed fit and when I most needed him. What I’ve been processing the last few days is that there is one way to God. I know that in my being, but I’ve not known how to articulate it without seeming judgmental, without sounding like I’ve got this and you don’t. What has become so very apparent when I’ve thought about this blog is although the way through Jesus is called the narrow path, it really is the easy path. He has done all the work. I don’t have to get my shit together, I don’t have to be holier than thou; I don’t have to have the “work” completed. He has long ago done all the work. He has prepared the way. He has made the yoke easy. He has hung on the cross.

Sarabeth got all this that Wednesday at FloydFest. She opened her heart and her hands (I held them open and He filled them with His Spirit) and she made a decision for Jesus. She chose eternal life. She chose abundant life. She chose joy.

I have been just undone thinking what He planned back in July, knowing what would happen in December. Earlier this week Sarabeth died on the side of the mountain where I live, barely two miles as the crow flies from my safe, comfy home. None of this is easy, or feels even a hint of being fair. But it is finished. Sarabeth dances with him now, the Lover of her soul, body and mind fully restored and whole.

If I may be so bold, I don’t believe people become angels when they die. The Bible says that angels long to understand the salvation that God had in mind for humans when he created them in his image. Our destiny, our reunion with God is not the boring harp-playing, Clarence working tirelessly to ever earn his wings. Somehow we can better understand that than the mystical reality that God chose us. He made the way. He reconciled his creation (his image) to himself. And he began this with Sarabeth Rose Hammond on a seemingly inconsequential Wednesday in July of 2016. Sarabeth, you leave us all different people. People who grieve deeply, so very deeply. But a people that understand better what it is to not grieve without hope. Your life was precious. Your death was tragic. Your legacy is and will be forevermore amazing. I will always love you, Girl. I will never forget. Thank you Jesus, for being You. Amen.

I LOVE THE HOSPITAL

I’m afraid I may be weird. I’m sure that is surprising to you, especially if you know me. You kind of thought I was the epitome of normal and the rest of the world may be strange. Most certainly when I’m hanging on to your pants leg for dear life at a cocktail party or muttering incoherently after I’ve used up “all my words”.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop called Java the Hutt in the middle of Roanoke Memorial Hospital and for the first time well in, almost forever, I am moved to blog.

I’m waiting for a friend to get out of surgery, to get into recovery, to become lucid enough for me to drive home. And I love it. I absolutely adore being here. I AM WEIRD, I REALIZE. Most people run from the hospital, hate to visit sick loved ones, feel very real yet irrational fear concerning their own mortality. And here I am, having the time of my life.

Right about now I could feel pretty prideful. Martyr-like. But I don’t. I feel comfortable and intimate in my sterile surroundings.

Somehow being here feels about as close to privilege as I can imagine. I am a feeler, so I sense people’s emotions. Sometimes that’s not fun at all. But somehow here, when many of those emotions aren’t exactly rosy ones, I feel peace. I learned years ago when my own dad was sick and in and out of the hospital that experience gives you the right to speak into illness, sickness, mortality and even death. And it gives you God ordained courage.

Decades later when I did a brief pastoral stint at a large local church, I loved Fridays when I was PASTOR OF THE DAY. Being POTD meant whatever came up on Fridays, emergency or imagined emergency, was my gig. God walked me through things I could by no means handle in my own Lynneness: a ridiculous poorly timed joke may bring levity in an uncomfortable hospital room full of family not speaking to one another, but had no place in the face of a spontaneous suicide. Prayers brought about by my being completely out of my comfort zone and absolutely in need of the Holy Spirit, actually worked. I didn’t have the right words. I don’t have the right words. All I have to offer is my presence and dependence on His Spirit to minister and bring tears and comfort, laughter and love. The reward is being a witness to miracles. Miracles of healing, of comfort, or the greatest miracle of all, a changed heart.

The reason I love this is about intimacy. There is nothing, nothing, nothing more intimate than simply being with someone who needs Him, who needs me, because I bring Him with me. People here are vulnerable, and with vulnerability comes openness. I love it. Maybe someday I’ll try being a candy-striper, if they still have those for old ladies. Candy-stripers had cute little aprons and pink striped dresses. Most of them were in it for their college resume. Haha. Nah. Maybe I’ll stick to tie-dye and a whole lot of help from the One who also loves being with us in our intimacy. Because He is Intimacy. It’s his desire and why he created us. To be with us in joy, in despair, in excitement and in our most fearsome places.

But right now my friend’s surgery has been delayed so I think I’m going to go up to the 10th floor and smile at all the babies. Hopefully the Lord will put someone in my way who needs a kind word, a smile or His hope.

Thank you, Jesus. Without you I would be the one cowering in the corner, unable to have the right words. But because you allowed me to experience tragedy at a young age, you also bestowed upon me gold membership in the intimacy club, and I am forever thankful.

Good Things Just Aren’t Great Things

I’m on a “work beach trip” (yeah right) with some amazing spiritual sisters and my “work” is supposed to be writing. So far I’ve slept (until 8AM every day, what the what?), eaten good food, drank a little wine, talked into the dark, received prayer, prayed for others, discussed husbands, kids, family, dogs, art, the Bible, literature, politics, exercised (really? I prioritized exercising over writing?), watched my friends work, surfed the web, sat on the porch, listening to the sounds of the lovely Outer Banks Sound, anything I can think of to avoid the task at hand. (PS I’m not complaining.)

But why does this always happen to me? Why am I so dang rebellious that I do things I even kind of hate instead of what my “work” is supposed to be? Why do I sacrifice quiet time with God for folding the laundry? Really?

Why do I neglect making that encouraging phone call to a hurting friend and instead decide I need to make an emergency trip to TJ Maxx? (Did you find everything you needed?) What the heck? I spent $250.00 on who knows what when I was really only trying to avoid doing what I should be doing, what God has been prompting me to do?

Why do the great things, the life-giving things take backseat to the trivial? Why do I decide to do a tummy wrap instead of visiting my 96 year old housebound dear dear mother-in-law?

The things that bring me peace, that bring me happiness, that share God’s love are the first thing the enemy tries to steal from me. Every single morning.

My prayer today is that I’ll ignore the constant batting of the gnat and gaze upon the incredible butterfly. That I’ll draw the butterfly or write a poem about him and share him with another. Someone today needs to know about your butterflies. It’s downright highway robbery to be worrying about your gnats.

And I Need Forgiveness Every. Single. Day.

I have a confession to make.

Last night I went to bed mad, smug, full of pride and feeling vindicated. This morning I woke up convicted, peaceful and needing to say I’m sorry.

All of these emotions, a crazy hate fueled (on my part as well) roller-coaster, had to do with shopping or not shopping at Target. Wow. Really?

As a Holy Spirit-filled born again Christian I have a calling to evangelize. I want everyone to know the love and peace I’ve been shown by my best friend Jesus. So I cringed with every post about boycotting Target, an issue that I guess started with the NC governor cracking down on gender specific bathrooms.

This issue is so complicated. I do not have one reason to believe that a trans-gendered person (who has most likely had to grapple personally and publicly with this same issue for much much longer than it’s become our religious/political/fear-mongered cause du jour) would ever do anything more in the women’s room (since that’s what we are mostly talking about here) than cause embarrassment, and probably be embarrassed by the embarrassment caused and hurry through her/his business.

I am also a world traveler and I have raised a brood of world travelers who have taken the good news, the gospel, to the nations. Gender specific bathrooms are hard to find in Paris, let alone Cambodia or Swaziland. I have been driven to the brink of CRAZY about how this is such a first-world issue.

This Target problem soon became one of protecting our children. While there have been incidents of women mostly being molested while in the ladies room, this is not the norm. First of all there are usually large crowds in ladies rooms, hence my reason for sometimes using the room with the trousers on the door, which I guess now could get me in big trouble in NC.

Women are much more readily molested in parking lots and alleyways and even outside their own apartments. So would we boycott any place a trans-gendered person (who is unlikely ever to molest anyone) or a predator might hide?

None of this makes much sense to my far too complicated reasoning.

My problem is this. I am in full out judgement mode. In an effort to protect my good Christian name so that I can better represent my own version of redemption, I am mad at you all that are posting and boycotting things about Target.

There was one post (of a person I don’t even know) that had something like 12,000 comments in the thread. About Target. There was a bunch of hate thrown around, and some of it was my own self-righteous vitriol.

And for this I confess and ask for forgiveness. I am no better right now than those I am publicly judging. My heart is full of anger, and it doesn’t feel like righteous anger from my loving Lord and Savior.

I need your forgiveness today. I need His forgiveness every day. I have been a poor practitioner of what I proclaim to preach. We need desperately to love one another, and right now, it needs to start with me.

I still think this whole Target thing is a non-issue and I will continue to shop there (I mean, really, who doesn’t love Target?) and use the bathroom if I need to. But I’m going to try to put this anger to rest, and ask Him to help me to lose the pride and smugness I’ve been feeling for about a week now. Over Target. Wow. Really?

Can I get a witness?

I had been raised in the church, or kind of raised in the church, I mean we were forced to go to church as children. My Dad didn’t go, he was an agnostic that became a believer when he was sick with cancer when I was 27, 10 years prior to my “salvation experience”.

My mom was a very worldy Christian, the wife of a super cool not wanting to hear about God, Madison Ave advertising executive. Mad Man LONG before Mad Men was a show. I was raised going to a very legalistic, weird little Orthodox Church on the side of town we didn’t live in, with a bunch of people who I never saw anywhere else but church. Except for my Sunday School teacher, Miss Landry, who worked at the bank. We never hung out or socialized with anyone from “my church”; most of my friends didn’t even believe there was such a place in our affluent suburban town.

I knew the Bible Stories, had invited Jesus “into my heart” at age seven, and never gave more than a cursory thought to God except when I was agreeing with the common thought of the me-Generation that He didn’t really care about all the stuff I did that hurt me.

So flash back to the chair in my kid’s bedroom (from a previous blog), and my mom eventually telling me that I should go to Bible Study, and wondering what the hell Bible Study was. I had started talking to some friends about spiritual things and thinking that now that we had children I should probably be taking them to church. The truth was that it was far more likely I would need to check myself into the hospital for a “nervous breakdown” than get us all gussied up and ready for Sunday worship.

I remember my little kids kind of crawling all over me and me kind of losing it and shaking my fist up in the air and yelling at God, “You can have it!”, meaning my life and their lives and all that was worth.

I think I’ve added a swear word later in the telling. It well punctuates the story and makes my testimony sound a little bit edgier. I’m not quite sure of the truth anymore. It was pathetic either way. In God’s infinite grace and wisdom and because he thinks I’m funny and this would make a cool story, he decided that was the perfect moment to rock my world. He didn’t need me to clean up, straighten up, sober up and get this mom thing down. He needed to help me and however you want to say it, save me. That moment, that day, with or without the “f-bomb”, he changed my life. He gave me hope and a future. He did the most miraculous of miracles. He made me his own, and I truly feel that he is delighted with his awkward, twisty, Lucy Ricardoish, aging hippie chick daughter.

Six of One, a Half Dozen of the Other

There is something about me and sixes and decades and twos and such.

Once I traded in my new license plate because it had three sixes on it. So this ain’t about the devil.

In 1976 (the Bicentennial Year, which if you haven’t experienced you must try and live til the Tricentennial, make that your lofty goal), I both graduated from high school and started dating the same guy who still changes my oil and steals my covers.

In 1986 my beloved father died of lung cancer at the very young age of 53.

In 1996, I met Jesus because I would have probably died if I hadn’t. I had young kids and was half crazy and still mourning my dad. I cried out to him in half anger, half desperation, half unbelief. (I know that’s three halves. It’s my writer’s prerogative). He really showed up. Who knew God did things like that?

In 2006 nothing happened. That I can remember. I was a Children’s Minister at a big local church, a job I loved and was called to. I guess something happened. My rememberer just ain’t that great.

This is 2016. I think many of us realize that something way beyond our vision and the TV screen full of talking and yelling heads is happening. Something in the heavenlies. Something cosmic and epic. Jesus told me this would be “the year”. I wish he had told me what year, but he just told me to look at the sixes.

The twos are also special to me. I was married on May 22, 1982. I have two kids. My son was born at 2:22AM. It goes on, just not as obviously.

I guess this post is about looking for clues. Clues into your future, into your past. Life is a great scavenger hunt, and the one hiding the clues is always good and cares deeply that your adventure is personal and intimate and that you discover him in the hunt.

Beauty from Ashes-Aloha style

Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to BESTOW ON THEM A CROWN OF BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES,
the oil of joy instead of mourning
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”

The first time I read the scripture above I was a brand new Christian with an old kind of grungy (to put it mildly) former life. I had no idea how to reconcile the two, and to tell you the truth not a terribly strong desire to do so. I thought I could just be the same me, with the same bad habits, the same fears, the same identity lies that I always seem to gravitate towards.

I think the day 20 years ago that I raised my fist at God and told him he he could have my (insert expletive deletive here) life, not exactly the precious little prayer I learned in Sunday School, I expected him to quickly erase the bad stuff and fill the real estate it took up with flowers and love and peace. I didn’t expect to grapple with the same old stuff that always worked to mess me up. I wanted immediate signs and wonders and miracles and for Christians to behave as they should, like Jesus did.

Well, that was a pipe dream. I kept jumping right back into the same mire, only difference being that now he was quick to remind me it was slime and to provide a way out. Consequences, however, remained the same, because even though we all hate the big old SIN word, sin is sin because it isn’t good for us and it does carry repercussion.
God didn’t just take all the things we would encounter and put all of the good ones in the FORBIDDEN column and all of the boring ones in the ALLOWED column. He knows and knew us better than we know ourselves and knows where we’ve been and what has worked for us and what has damn well almost destroyed us. He loves us. He is continually trying to save us from our own mistakes, especially those we have a propensity to repeat.

Well, where is this going, you may ask? Of course, it’s heading to a lava flow, you knew that right? I’ve just returned from visiting my oldest child and his lovely new wife in Kona, HI on the Big Island. I’m probably going to get this wrong because I don’t usually check my facts and tend to exaggerate to enhance a story. I think the deal is there are six volcanoes on the Big Island and four of them are currently active. As we were leaving the airport and heading into town there were lava flows on top of lava flows. Black charcoal colored sharp looking angry thick molten rock that had hardened and just covered the landscape. For miles. All I could think of was wow, this looks like the moon or a planet that had never seen life. Then the entire thing rapidly changed to the most beautiful lush, flowered, gorgeous landscape that I had ever encountered. And the funny thing was, the earth was still made up of lava. Flowers sprung from blackest rock, the ocean slammed up against seawalls made from lava rock and sand mortar. It was drop dead gorgeous.

I hear God speak to my soul regularly. He reminded me that where I see myself as a black barren lava field, he knows the flowers and waters that he has planned to spring from my former dark places. That not one ugly place will remain that hasn’t been redeemed. That I hold on to things that he has long forgotten. That he has ALREADY bestown on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes.

So, today, as I’m remembering this for my own life, I am praying that even one of you who is feeling hopeless or dirty or neglected or overlooked will know that’s not how God sees you. He sees your potential and even right now, right this very moment, he is working to anoint you with the oil of joy. He loves you. He’s not disappointed in you. He’s not in a bad mood. When he thinks of you he is like a good good father admiring his newborn child. Look back into his eyes, dear child. All you will see is love.

Why I Need a Tribe

I arrived at the library’s front desk because I had walked right past the slot where you are supposed to return your books and movies. The locking mechanism on the box of Season Two of Parks and Rec wouldn’t close so I needed to talk to the library lady behind the big desk. I would love to say that all people that work at libraries are wonderful, because I’m an idealist and think they should be. I mean all they do is sit and talk about books all day long and punctuate the silence with an occasional shhhh. Research interesting stuff. Excellent job, in my book, haha.

But our librarians at the new fancy library seem a little annoyed and kind of stressed out and not very helpful and the last thing they want to do is talk to you about a book. They are not the imaginary ladies in the fictitious book club that I don’t belong to. I’ve always glamourized the ideal of librarian. I also have dreamed of being a monk, or a nun if girls can’t be monks. I mistakenly have believed that isolation would somehow protect me from being hurt when people disappoint you, or worry you, or worse of all, die. My super obvious introvert thinks I could somehow exist all alone, but in reality my people loving self would be achingly lonely. And I would still be sad when my monk friends, or my nun friends, or even by goodness, my librarian friends, disappoint me or inevitably die.

There is really no escape from our inherent need for community. And those who do seem to escape appear sort of lonely and jaded and a little pathetic. I do imagine I would hermit out with style, not looking all John the Baptisty, more like the fabulous Greta Garbo, but that’s probably also a lie. I wouldn’t shower and would drink too much coffee or too much wine; and some people would call me crazy or bipolar or agoraphobic, and they would most likely be right.

Actually, for an extreme introvert on the take a quiz on facebook (and maybe at my shrink but don’t tell anyone) scale, I love people. I have a rather large community of real life friends and even some I don’t know except for social media. I belong to a small church of wonderful misfits that do life together in a real and honest and sometimes muddled way. We get in each other’s face in a loving way when we start messing up, and we are there to honestly and sincerely celebrate each other’s victories. There is very little anonymity and that is good. Pew sitters get called on to plug in somewhere, anywhere, so they feel needed, a part of a living organism.

I spent some time this fall and early winter in a dark place. It scared me. I was struggling with some bondage of anxiety fueled mostly by my desire to isolate and therefore feed the beast. My loves, my community, my tribe wouldn’t let me stay there. But I had to cooperate to receive help. I think I see that as something our changing world fails to offer. True community. We all have “stuff” but we all need one another. No one can slip through the cracks of love.

So my exhortation today for you, is to love you another. Look after the elderly, the sickly, the lonely, and the ones who have fallen away. They need you. I need you.

And I am forever thankful for my people. My tribe.