Friday, April 27, 2007

More Gems from The Illumined Heart

"We are fully known, even in the depths that we ourselves cannot see, cannot bear to see. Instead of hoping that God will love us for our good parts and pass over the rest, we know that he died for the bad parts, and will not rest till they are made right. The depth of our sin proves the height of his love, a height we cannot comprehend until we realize how desperately we need it. We are fully loved and one day will be fully healed, brought into God's presence without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In a nutshell

“the ‘thinness’ of Protestant thought and practice do not contain enough of heaven to serve as a sufficient antidote in our modern world.” - Dostoevsky

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I found this from a link on Dreher's blog. Its an incredible piece of writing. Go read it. Now.

Some gems from it:

Only one question really matters. Does God exist or not? If he does, that has implications for every aspect of our personal and public behavior: all of our actions, all of our choices, all of our decisions. If God exists, denying him in our public life—whether we do it explicitly like Nietzsche or implicitly by our silence—cannot serve the common good, because it amounts to worshiping the unreal in the place of the real.


The common good is what best serves human happiness in the light of what is real and true. That’s the heart of the matter: What is real and true? If God exists, then the more man flees from God, the less true and real man becomes. If God exists, then a society that refuses to acknowledge or publicly talk about God is suffering from a peculiar kind of insanity.


Humility is the beginning of sanity. We can’t love anyone else until we can see past ourselves. And man can’t even be man without God. The humility to recognize who we are as creatures, who God is as our Father, what God asks from each of us, and the reality of God’s love for other human persons as well as ourselves—this is the necessary foundation that religion brings to every discussion of free will, justice, and truth, and to every conversation about “the common good.” Sirach and the Psalms and the Gospel of Luke and the Letter of James—these Scriptures move the human heart not because they’re beautiful writings. They’re beautiful writings because they spring from what we know in our hearts to be true.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Ok, I went to my first Orthodox service this evening, a Vespers service. There were only a handful of people there. I arrived just before the service and when the priest saw me he came over and said hello. He was very kind, friendly and relaxed. He put me at ease at once and handed me a prayerbook open to the vespers service. Yes, the surroundings were strange, beautiful but strange. I expected that. I had no idea where we were in the liturgy most of the time. I expected that too. Oh, and in that handful of people there was a couple in the choir that I knew from my old church in Tulsa. I hadn't seen them in years but just a few days ago, at my favorite yarn store I was chatting with the daughter of a friend who worked there and discovered that she knew this family. Mind you, this was BEFORE I visited the church and saw them! Cool,huh? Also, the priest told me when we were chatting before the service that a woman I know from my current church had just joined! I knew she had left our church but I had no idea where she had gone. So even though I was lost in the liturgy, I came away from the service feeling....."embraced" is the best word I can think of. I will definitely go back soon.

Bottom Line

One of the things that changed after my "wake-up call" last summer was how I saw God's nature. For years I had gone back and forth on the whole homosexuality issue. I have friends who are gay and are also wonderful, loving people. Would God turn His back on them because they were gay? That made no sense to me. I believed (and still do) in a loving God who wants all of His children with Him. But what I saw in my denomination and in our culture at large was this entrenched idea that if we have certain tendencies, God must want us to be that way and so not only would it be impossible to change but God wouldn't even ASK us to change. So the issue of homosexuality is the part of the iceberg that is above water. The larger problem is sin and repentance. That's the part that lurks under the dark, cold ocean of our world. How many people have wrecked lives because our culture and, God help us, our CHURCHES refuse to acknowledge it?
So last summer, by a work of God's grace, I arrived at my bottom line: The only kind of God that I wanted to worship was a God who has both the desire and the power to change me. Me. Not my husband, not my children, not my gay friends, me. I had to leave all those other people in God's loving and capable hands and trust Him enough to take care of them. My job was to put myself in a community that reflected this desire of God to change me and supported me in those efforts.
Because if God can't change me, why bother? A church that believes that is nothing more than a bunch of guys in dresses, playing with candles and pretty words. Its worse than wrong because it keeps people apart from the Truth and the Healer that can transform.

One of the things I am beginning to suspect about Orthodoxy is that they are people who believe in transformation. Not in a legalistic, punitive way but with a humility and awareness that even the best of us are as nothing compared to our Lord. I am going to my first Orthodox service this evening and I am SO hoping to find this is true.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Real Presence or Email

Here is another of the many ways that I find I am no longer a Protestant: if Communion is merely symbolic, if it has no power to strengthen us (and believe me I need ALL the help I can get) what is the point? If one sees it as merely symbolic there is no reason to have Communion more than 4 times a year. As an evangelical I believed it was the Bible, God's Word, that strengthened us. And it does to a point. But if all it took was God's Word, would he have needed to come down here and die for us? He could have just sent us an email. Come to think of it, He did! He sent the Law and the prophets. Didn't work then, doesn't work now.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Wake up call

Last summer God shook me awake. That's the best way I can describe it. Following my divorce in 1998 I went into a spiritual tailspin. I continued attending church but began a period of questioning everything I knew or thought I knew about God. I got to a point where I wasn't sure what was true anymore so I just stopped asking. I still wanted to know God but was just plain "stuck". Thankfully, last summer God "un-stuck" me.
If you've been following the Current Unpleasantness in the Episcopal Church you will know that it has been embroiled in controversy for the last few years over the ordination of an openly gay bishop. Last summer things came to a head when the General Convention elected a presiding bishop, a woman, who espouses no discernable Christian doctrine. It was in the days following convention that I finally had to choose. What will I believe in....a God who loves every person no matter what but requires no departure from sin OR a God who has the desire AND the power to change me. I chose the latter. That has opened a floodgate. To my knowledge at the time, the Episcopal parish that I was attending had no plans to confront this situation (they have since left ECUSA) so I was going to have to find another place to be. I knew I needed a liturgical church. That left me with 3 choices, Anglicanism (apart from the US version), Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Anglicanism would be the easiest of the three but I have serious doubts about the long-term viability of a denomination that has the ability to vote in heresy. So I took a long look at the Roman church. I'm still looking at it. But I have to twist my theology into some uncomfortable positions to go there and I'm not sure "contortionist" is a spiritual gift. That leaves Orthodoxy. My first thought was "that is just too ethnic and strange". But lately the more I read about it, the more I am impressed. Orthodoxy has a humility and an respect for mystery that I find very compelling. We'll see.

First Post

Have you ever happened across a blog and wondered “Now how exactly did they wind up THERE”? Since this is the first post for this blog I thought I’d give you a little background on my own journey.
I am a middle-aged mother of four, twice married. My second husband and I live with my youngest daughter in a small town in Oklahoma. I love books, music, knitting, Labrador retrievers and chocolate. I work full time as a librarian. Life is busy. I’m at that age when time appears to have slipped into over-drive and is going past faster than I can grasp.
I seem to be on a spiritual quest that has existed in some form or another for my entire life although it went underground in the years immediately following my divorce from my first husband. I am currently a member of an Anglican church. Theologically I tend to fall on the Anglo-Catholic side of the aisle.
The title of my blog comes from two sources. First, when I was little and competing for parental attention with my younger twin siblings, my mom invented a code phrase, known only to her and me that was Our Secret. The phrase was “special treasure”. She would whisper it in my ear or refer to it by the initials “S.T.” When I went to camp and later to college she would sign it beside her name at the bottom of her letters to me. It made me feel special and loved and secure. The other source is Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” That verse has always spoken to me as a mother who has treasured the years when my children were small. But I also seem to spend a lot of time “pondering”. Hopefully I can share some of that here.