Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Abi has finally come Home for Christmas...

Update:  I have added the rest of the posts for the Synchroblog at the bottom.  Please do check them out as you have time.  You will be blessed!  Abi

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It has been a very long time since I participated in any Synchroblogs out there ... but I had a feeling that I might have something to say this time around.

I grew up in a pretty tight knit family -- Thanksgiving and Christmas and (usually) birthdays were always family time. Family time for our family almost always included the church family's activities ... because we were the church-planting minister's family. If we weren't there and involved, well, things didn't happen....

There are lots of ups and downs to being a PK (preacher's kid)...and this post is not going to talk about any of that. But I have to say that this Christmas will be the first year that I will really "be" home. And that will need a little unpacking....

Regulars of The Virtual Abbess will know that I have been processing heavy things for many years ... and that this past year I've been processing what I have just recently come to call Perichoretic cHesed.  The reason things have finally come together is that I have finally unpacked the last piece of the puzzle (should I more humbly say the next piece?!?) as I continue the process of reconstructing what the journey of Kingdom Life is supposed to look like -- for me, at least.

Home is where family is -- and where one is always welcome. Home always means extended family, too. While I love my biological family, I have lived very far away from them for 22 of my 57 years. Most of the past 18 years have been spent away from them as our nuclear family left Southern California for Washington State.  I had no idea how difficult raising children would be without my extended family in a church family that was not full of relatives ... or people who knew me BK (before kids).

The sad thing that I have come to realize is that I, somehow, did not carry away many "traditions" ... because they were anchored in people who were not where I was.  When I was with them, the traditions lived on. But not here.  Not at the place I called home.

As I have pondered this source of grief, it has finally occurred to me that somehow, I have never really been "home" anywhere ... because I never felt like I fit in. I was useful, most of the time. And that's part of the problem.  Rather than relational, family had turned out to be something more utilitarian. And when you are a broken down person, as I have been for much of the past 18 years, sometimes you're not as useful as folks think you should be. Maybe you no longer fill roles that have come to be expected of you -- in the way that is expected.

Yes, I actually said that out loud....

But I have been pondering a different foundation for family.  One that has been seemingly lost to much of humanity for much too long. I have found that the truest foundation for family comes from the original Family: The Holy and Eternal Trinity.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been recognized as the Triune God for a very long time ... but I think that the familial nature of their relationship has not been.  And I think some of that comes from the fact that many have seen the Holy Spirit as either male or gender neutral. I, however, have joined forces with some who have embraced seeing the Spirit as female -- as God our Mother ... or perhaps, as our Grandmother.  There is lots of evidence in the Hebrew for the terms used for the Spirit as being female or feminine.  We know that there are many images of God which are maternal.  I'm not going to argue that here.  You will have do your own searching.  (But both of Wm. Paul Young's books, as well as Baxter Kruger's book, The Shack:  Revisited, may help you as they have helped me.) But in order for the image and nature of God to be seen in humanity, it needed to be expressed in what we know as male and female.  Both are necessary -- one is not more important the the other.  (It seems that even in the Trinity, there only needs to be one female to two males ... please be smiling!!!)

Of course only Jesus, the Father's eternal Son, is actually human and male -- since that first Christmas so long ago.  The other two members of this triad are still whatever it is that they have all been for all eternity. We have been dressing them up in language and images that help us relate to them ... and it is only in Jesus that we have definitive answers.  So, I am finding it terribly helpful to relate to God as Father, Brother and Grandmother -- because of the reality of the new family forged in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

[It's okay ... no bolt of lightening has struck me.  God can handle this. It's all good.]

In this Eternal Family I have found my truest family -- the family that is always with me...from which I cannot be separated. They are the Truth about family as it is intended to be.

  • I have a Father who loves me with deliberate affection regardless of what I do or don't do.  He is "especially fond of me" as Young has made so famous with his Papa from The Shack. He sees my true self and calls it out into being bit by bit -- regardless of what others think I am or should be.
  • I have an Elder Brother who extends me the unmerited favor of grace because I am his little sister and he has crossed all worlds to joyfully bring me -- with  my Adoption Papers -- home to his Father and the Kingdom. He walks with me at all times -- he holds my hand (he holds everything in his hands!)
  • I have a Grandmother who breathes wisdom and power on my baby steps -- while showering me with gifts of kindness and mutuality -- so that I make a difference in the family.  I have a part to play in each interaction with my brothers and sisters. I participate in the Eternal Will of God as it is lived out moment by moment. She isn't harsh with me when I don't do things "correctly" ... she is happy that I engage and embrace life.
This family reality I have described is, in essence, what I mean by perichoretic cHesed.  It is being part of the family while still being myself. It is resting -- relaxing! -- in the love of Father, the grace of Jesus, the mercy of Grandmother -- knowing that They are holding everything together, making everything work together for good, teaching me the family recipes and traditions.

This Christmas, I will be home for the first time.  I'm not quite sure exactly what it's going to be like compared with the previous 56 experiences ... but I do know that it will be filled with more hope and love and joy and peace than any Christmas I've known. I'm going to relax into it and be surprised by joy....

I am reminded of the line from Sleepless in Seattle, when Sam is describing to Dr. Marsha what it was like when he first held the hand of the woman who would become his wife:  "It was like coming home, only to no home I'd ever known."

As I finish typing this, I can almost hear them clapping and shouting:  "Welcome home, child.  We have been waiting for you for so long. Come on in and join the dancing and singing ... and you don't really need your dancing shoes anymore!"

Be blessed this Christmas -- may you find yourself coming home to no home you've ever known, too!  I'll see you there...  ;^)


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Other bloggers writing so far about “coming home” this advent:


Gail Wallace said...

Well, Abi, now it's my turn to comment for a change. I loved this post - probably because I related to so much of it myself, especially this: "sometimes you're not as useful as folks think you should be. Maybe you no longer fill roles that have come to be expected of you -- in the way that is expected. " That has been my experience in recent years, and it is only in the past six months that I've decided not to worry about those who have decided I'm not who or what they need. I'm going to just keep putting one foot in front of the other with my eyes on this beautiful picture you've painted of the Trinity. Thanks for this blessing! And sometime soon I need to read your posts about chesed :)

AbiSomeone said...

Welcome, Gail! I am happy to have had a chance to share some of my journey in this Synchroblog ... because I know that as we share the stories of who we are with our whole hearts, we will see that we are not alone -- even as we feel alone. This is the lesson I have learned this year. It is a big part of the Truth that sets us free.

Be blessed ... and feel free to wander around at your leisure.