thoughts for a rainy day

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it has been raining a lot here in houston lately. and, like in a lot of places, sometimes people complain about the rain.

we send one another off with “stay dry!” wishes. 
we do not look forward to our hair, faces or clothing feeling, let alone collecting rain.

but what does this mean for those of us who have submitted ourselves to baptism? 
for those of us who have been plunged beneath* the waters–
to die–
to then be raised again, out of the water as new creation?

what does it mean for us, who when sprinkled with water, are told to

“remember your baptism, and be thankful.”

water is powerful.

in abundance, water changed the shape of rock and earth, creating something that is new.
sometimes this occurs quickly in a flash flood or hurricane.
but sometimes the change water can wrought is through the slow, one drop at a time, trickle creating stalactites taking decades to begin to show visible growth.

change is sometimes instant. change is sometimes slow. but it is still the water powering the change. 

 

walking out into the rain the past few days i choose to remember my baptism as my hair, face and clothing collects drops of the most volatile substance on our planet. i choose to recognize the power of water not merely because of the force it alone carries, but because of what it means to me as a follower of christ. i recognize the power of water but it is the symbol and sign of my death. a death that has already occurred and a death i try to live fully into every day. 

it is in that death, in my baptism and the community of the Church, that i find life. 
that i find new creation.
that i find the Me i was created to be.

so get out there, let your hair, face and clothing get wet. 

remember.

and be thankful.

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*whether the human body is fully immersed in a body of water or this occurs through the symbol of poured, placed or sprinkled water, it is the same, it is still baptism.

 

nb–i recognize, also, the health hazards and risk that many of our brothers and sisters who are un-housed or under-housed face with the type and amount of rain we are having in houston these past few days. it is my hope, that when we truly do remember that we have died and been raised with christ that an aspect of remembering our baptism and being thankful is what will propel us forward and out to offer radical hospitality, love and warmth to our brothers and sisters who are vulnerable to the power of water in a way that we–i–am not.

the confusing space

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“the attributes of liminality or of liminal personae (“threshold people”) are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these persons elude or slip through the network of classifications that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial. as such, their ambiguous and  indeterminate attributes are expressed by a rich variety of symbols in the many societies that ritualize social and cultural transitions. thus, liminality is frequently likened to death, to being in the womb, to invisibility, to darkness, to bisexuality, to the wilderness, and to an eclipse of the sun or moon.”
victor turner the ritual process 


“wherever i am, i must know the people of my parish because my salvation in christ is bound up with theirs. eternal life is not something that i enjoy by myself when life in this world is over. i have been saved for life forever with other people. that life is possible because of jesus. but the apostle paul is clear: the eternal life of christ’s body is a life we share with brothers and sisters who, like us, have been called out of the kingdoms of this world into a new way life (1 Cor 12:12 and following). either we are saved together or we die as dismembered individuals”
emmanual katongole mirror to the church 


“who are these people/…/where do they come from?”
revelation 7:13

it was not particularly early, around 8:45 on a weekday morning,  as we climbed the small hill and i began looking for this Great Wall i had heard about. this Great Wall standing too far north of the border between mexico and the united states of america. i had seen photos of portions of the wall before, and was looking for what i knew from those photographs. not seeing what i was looking for i assumed that we were not yet at the wall, and that perhaps we would pilgrim further down the levee on the path to the wall.
    “it is good to walk
when one is pilgriming” i thought. 
              but we were done with the walking portion of
                                    our pilgriming for that moment.
our guide informed us that we were standing on the levee that served as a portion of The Wall between mexico and the united states of america. while she went on to explain the rules about having to place a wall so many miles north of the actual border my hearing fuzzed out and i was staring at my feet, picturing the map-line beneath them, wondering where i was betwixt and between, what other feet had crossed this space and where they were now. 
legal border or no, you build a wall, or put a wall around a levee and that symbol is going to stand as The Wall if it is the legal boundary or not.
standing there, staring at my feet, wondering about this space between swaths of land separated by thin air and mere circumstance my eyes noted some movement down to the south, in the flats, a little to my left. 
            “why are the karimajong warriors
                                                                                   .running?”
my eyes draw up to this movement and a few flashes of confusion set in. flashes of confusion that must have been nano-seconds that allowed for hours of footage to play inside of my mind. what my minds eye saw as karimajong warriors loping across the flats of kotido
 district as seen from the top of sliding rock, jaunty hats with feathers, draped in sukas, carrying stools and sticks transformed as if liquid into persons i can only assume to be from mexico dashing from tree line to tree line. 
not the gentle lope of a tall people in northern uganda headed home before sunset, but the furtive dash of those trying to not be seen. these are not the people i first thought they were. 
“we need to go.”
                             one of our guides says,
                                                                    as the other flat ignores the missive. 
i step back,
                                         away from the group  
not because i fear what could happen,
not because i do not want to hear what our friend is saying,

but because sometimes one needs to step back and take some space,
so that
when the tears fall
                                         they can fall into the gravel where her feet once stood.
                                                                                                                                     where other feet have crossed and moved
                                                                                                                                                                                     and searched. 

because sometimes, a levee is not a levee. a wall is not The Wall. 
sometimes a levee becomes a thin space for recognizing the deepest needs of humanity.
and because
sometimes
a wall stops blocking people from running
                                                                       into your heart.
it can be a confusing place, to be a daily pilgrim seeking perpetual liminality, but there is no place my head nor heart, feet nor hands, would rather be. 

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pilgriming

yesterday i saw a palm thatched roof and it nearly brought me to tears.

it is a week of restlessness and remembering, a week bookended with anniversaries marking the leaving of a place physically and a week of wondering about choices.

the beginning of the week marks two years away from kotido and the community there, the end of the week marks two years away from uganda and east africa.

and in the middle of this week, today, i am making pilgrimage to a border wall between the united states and mexico. these two things are extraordinarily connected and threaten to be just a little too much.

such is the life of a pilgrim.