Month: January 2018
Memory. Memory is a fickle friend. Nostalgia can make a memory “warmer” then it really was in reality. Longings can make Memory less lethargic too. Things, events, people remembered can be curious things or hazy things covered in dust motes. When you blow the dust away and all of the motes dance through the sunshine underneath can be an inauthentic tourist souvenir.
Then again, Memory can be the art of life. A sculpture like old hymns I can still hear ringing from the brick of the churches I grew up in. Authentic and comforting or all a farce. I guess we each have to hold Memory as we choose.
There wasn’t any physical bleeding involved like I thought there would be when the time came. It was more like the raw pink pain of having the top layer of your skin or a scab removed. The new skin underneath with extremely exposed nerves assaulted my brain with a relentless message of stinging immobilizing pain. My first instinct was to cover myself with the old skin so the nerves would be fooled into thinking there was no pain but then I realized there is no way to cover every area of my life that has been peeled away.
In my prosperous comfort and consumer Christian culture I am becoming more aware that I have been silently invaded by idols that often pry their way into the Christ culture and the American Dream. it reminds me of Texas chiggers which are insects unseen to the human eye but if they find you in the tall grass they will burrow under your skin and cause you to itch so badly that you are driven to distraction. I keep hearing a quote from Mr. Tolstoy in my head, “everyone wants to change the world but not themselves.” In the end however, only one man who was willing to take it all upon himself on a Cross of unbearable torture changed the world for once and for all when he rose from the dead to live forever. It is the enormity of Jesus’ love that has caused me to shed these layers of comfort. The old manta of “if we are just good people” who keep our disobedience and sin to a tidy minimum then we are good Christians is not true. This has often been a huge comfort zone for me. One that can no longer be.
I grew up in an era that appeared to be both wholesome and bullet proof. Middle class America with a two parent home, two cars, a house in suburbia, a good school, and of course going to church. my Dad was a Pastor so Church was my life, my social arena, the litmus test for everything around me. I am left with many wonderful and terrible memories and glimpses of God and of what the family of God should be. However, the truth, as one author and pastor writes, “the True Gospel shows up best when it is brought into direct opposition with a “subtle distortion” of itself.
I have felt this magnetic pull on my life when I was taught or rather the silent message was given “behavior” is somehow in direct correlation with how good of a Christian I am. I have come to see we are often shamed and distorted in our journey with The Holy because we minimize sin, worship idols, and invoke “cheap Grace” to live however we choose. Perverting the Truth. The reality of the journey with The Holy God does ultimately lead to transformation, which is fact does change and adjust behavior. This is called Sanctification or maturity. “It is promised to us from God himself to every believer. “It is the most powerful experience a human will have and it is a process that is eternal. However, changing behavior simply to exhibit a sense of false righteousness or to be in control puts us right back into our “original sin” which is we want to be god. We crave control.” (Dr. Hud McWilliams).
So, as I continue my journey I am slightly braver now to peel away more dead skin that might prevent or pervert my desire to continue growing in my relationship with Jesus. I hope to walk beside other believers as they peel away their old skin too so that we can hold each other up along the way when the pain is at its most unbearable. It is God alone who Sanctifies just as it is God who reveals to us our need for redemption. Like the Father in the ancient story of the Prodigal Son the message from the Father has always been and will always be this, “all that I have has always been yours so come home my child.” Luke 15:32
For many years as a young adult I felt like a “watercolor wash” painting. Blending into the dominant colors of those around me who had so much influence on my life. I didn’t even know my favorite color, food, or music. I didn’t know what I believed about life and death…and I realized I had to paint with my very own colors. My gentle memories run to those persons and I love them whether they were harsh or gentle. They had dreams of their own but listened to mine anyway and for them I am grateful…
The first and glaring color was a bright arterial red. While red is not my favorite color there is no doubt in my mind there can be no redemption without the shedding of blood. That color represents the day I met Jesus Christ and let him become my Redeemer.
The next and my favorite colors are the blues and greens of the sea and sky. The ocean, the beach is where I walked stronger and healed my heart. The salt water and wind a balm to my young weary soul. These colors are where I learned that I will live forever and that I can soar on the breeze or dive into the depths and behold my God is still there.
Yellows, pinks, and violets are the colors in my life where I flew too close to the sun and my skin was burned but the new skin grew back pink and healthy. The rich flora hues and scents drove me forward toward the goals of softness, children, and safety. Still and always learning…
The rich dark color of the brown/black dirt with its earthy scent comes next for after all this is where this earthly body was formed…how can a human not love the earth? Deep within it lies the mystery of creation and purpose…and then the clear snowy white to emerald to muddy silt of the rivers that run to the sea…a Holy Baptism there…
The last and final colors in my watercolor are silver and gold. The bright and shining stars of the galaxies. These colors remind me that I am significant but small and even greater still these colors are a testament to the infinite bigness of my God. The one who loves me beyond all measure and always will. So, I will keep painting for now and let the fire keep burning bright. On that day that I lay down the paint brush I will have said what I have to say and make my stand humbly and always trusting that life will carry on…and oh yes, I will keep painting…
Further Down Stream
The river gets deeper, not shallow, the further you move down the stream…
This is a small collection of what I call poetry but I am not sure that is the correct term. I do not claim to be a poet…you will see that some of these were written when the river was still shallow…
fear is a wilderness where the devil runs around
he tempted Jesus there now he wants to take me down.
fear is a wilderness where death creeps up on trust
the water is polluted and hope turns into dust.
fear is a wilderness where Jesus walked alone
oh but the King of Ages left the wilderness undone!
I was just a few years too young to get to Woodstock
but oh how I adored all the songs…
As they pulled us along to the future
we longed to be part of the stories going on…
There was white cross and reds as they slowly got stoned
so what was once clear was all gone…
Now I have two daughters of my own
and I still love all those Woodstock songs…
I have raised them up straight in prosperity
they have the same sapphire eyes as me
but oh how wise and shrewd they have to be to keep up
with their world and their sanity!
Crown of Tears
She wore a silver Sorrow like a crown upon her head.
Upon her shoulders, Burden,
her feet were shod with Dread.
Then touched was she by Grace
and Mercy that crown replaced.
Now, she dons a golden Joy
made of tears from Jesus’ face.
I was lovely then…
Blushing peachy cheeks…
I was funny then
Laughter honeysuckle sweet…
I lay down with you then
Beneath a full white moon…
I smile when I remember
the Symphony of my Youth…
(all poems by jill autrey dorman all rights reserved.)
Mischief in the Fire
Language is my orchestra sometimes a lullaby
Emotion is the music the poet’s heart lives by.
In the silence of my dream words go dancing through
An Image just too beautiful all logic out of view
An artist lives within me a way of beating all the odds
The sticker on the rose bush pricks discovery one again
All children start out poets I just cannot let that go
So stir the mischief in the fire and let enchantment glow
A Tribute to Emily Dickinson
all the Birds have flown from Winter’s blast
the Trees seem to long for their nesting
i long for their Song
at least the Sun has not withheld her face from us today
jill autrey dorman
Like Einstein, I believe imagination just might be more important than knowledge. I am actually sure of it…
“In all honesty I find myself to be a bit of a “lapser”, if you will, the old lady said to me as we sat on the park bench. She laughed a hearty belly laugh and continued, “I lapse into doubt that I will make it to tomorrow and then I lapse into desperate hope that I will! See that vivid color blue of the sky today? I thought it was a question but she went right on talking…”that is the color of the sky when there are no doubts and everything is crystal clear to me. That is what I call God’s blue. I know without a doubt how to live a life of purpose and kindness. Oh how I love God’s blue!”
My heart was warmed by the assurance that I had just happened to sit down on a park bench next to the right person. “I have lapses too I said, lapses in “How” to live well, I commented. The old woman did not laugh at me but sat there pensive. I figured at that point she would cast me away as crazy and take quick leave of our bench. She did not leave however and it wasn’t until years later I realized she could not leave because she knew me. She was at the end of her pilgrimage and she knew she was sent to that bench just for me. I now want to sit on the bench in the park for other pilgrims if I get the chance.
She began to speak of many things, deep things, funny things, horrible things and I listened hard. She shared how when Day’s sky was a gray-blue those were the days when she knew God was covering her with his Almighty protective wing. She said when there were many obstacles like clouds and winds in the sky that she realized the passing of time and the briskly moving clouds were a reminder every minute is a treasure. Then she said the colors of a Sunset sky were evidence of God’s love of relationships where all colors are mingled together to show His brilliance and to remind us that each of us is a different and known color to Him. These analogies went on for hours and I cannot do her wisdom justice with mere words. She painted with words like a Master.
The night sky she said is not to be feared because it is ordained to us for the purpose of rest, health, growth, and tears. The moon she said is a reminder that even though the “lesser” light rules the night it is no less light. The “dark” is the constant reminder that God does not slumber when we do. She said the moonless, dark sky is the hardest one because you have to believe in the light even when you cannot see it.
As the sun began to set all the colors of creation appeared and the old lady and I sat in silence in God’s Cathedral and worshipped Him, the Creator and all of his magnificent skies. As we parted the old lady took my hand and she put it to her soft crepe paper cheek. She said, “the next time you “Lapse” into a “how to do life well” simply look up and God’s blue will guide you and give you all the answer you need.
I do it every day.