Monday, November 22, 2010

Finding Water

God always surprises me with his stubborn refusal to do things like I thought he would, or use what I think he'll use to help me. But I'll get to that in a bit.

September was coming. I always begin to fall in the Fall. And lovies, I fall hard. But this season was worse than others. I came home from Xavier and my marriage fell apart (I was afraid to tell you). Seam by seam I watched it unravel. I tried to stop it. And then I didn't. And then I did, but it didn't seem to matter, and then I got angry and didn't give a damn. The kids went to school and my brain seemed to scramble. I became so disorganized. I abandoned daily community prayer, unwittingly damaging my relationship to my community. And then I abandoned prayer period. When I started my job my immune system was assaulted. I had virus after virus, infection after infection. It felt as if the lights went off and God was gone. Winter came very early for me. In my soul I was cold, light was absent, and the ground of my heart was fallow.

It became clear to me that the only meager defense against the onslaught of awful in my life was prayer. I did not return to the community prayer that rooted me in love, friendship, and tradition. No, I dragged on alone, and begged God thousands of times a day to help me. Help my children. Show me what to do. All I could see at home was hurting people, and I had no idea how to help them. I ranted and raved. I stopped speaking to my Beloved Jesus, accusing, "You can help me but you won't! Where are you?" and then, a few days later, I'd beg him for help again.

One day, Nia, Abbie and I were at the library. Books have been fine helpers to me, and I begged, "Please, pretty please, Lord, help me. Send me some guidance." I looked up and Finding Water was in front of me. I'm going to confess, I tend to lean toward spiritual classics often written by people who are dead. Now and then I'll read a luminous volume, such as Mary Karr's Lit, or Kathleen Norris' Acedia. That ol' Ragamuffin's books always please me. My spirituality is catholic. Note that little "c." I'm into a universal church, but there are certain leanings that I have and they are definitely Catholic with the big "C." I have been a little snooty about books that don't fit that bill. The Artist Way was one of those books I've dismissed, even though I've known for years it's helped countless people.

I've had a copy of The Artist Way for years, and I thought, "I wish this was a Christian book." I can't believe I was so judgmental now, because the principles in The Artist Way are Christian at the roots, so simple, and friends, God is in the simple things. Finding Water, part of the series, is about the art of perseverance. If I needed one thing at that time it was to persevere amid all the chaos in my life. What surprised me was I found in her book the language of recovery. The slogans that have kept people sober for decades began to sober me, as drunk as I was on despair. "Let go and let God. "Easy does it." "Show up." "You do the quantity. Let God take care of the quality." I began to slowly release my grip on the situation, along with my illusion of control. I did not expect God to do what I could do for myself. I asked him to give me the serenity to accept the things I could not change, the courage to change the things I could, and the wisdom to know the difference. I asked for him to show me his will and give me the power to carry it out. I began to look for water. I found it in a communion chalise mingled with wine. I found it frozen like beads on a fallen leaf on chilly morning walks to work. It hid in beauty. I found it again bubbling in my dry soul. And yes, I found it in that book, and the tools Julia Cameron recommends: morning pages, artist dates, and walks! Baby, did I ever walk. And my healing began to emerge.

My marriage is still unwell. Very unwell. I don't know if it will survive. I have a lot of ashes leftover from the many fires that had to be put out recently. But ashes are useful. If you have a little sackcloth, you can sit in them and repent. If it's lent they make wonderful crosses on your forehead. Okay, those ashes come from last year's palm fronds. But what a wonderful metaphor: the ashes from your life as your cross, your sign of remembrance that you are dust, and to dust you will return. Your ashes indicate your deep, ever present need for God.

So, I've found my water, friends. I take my walks. I'm a little short on artist dates, but I'm working on that. I've started writing again, for fun, to feed my soul, and for editors to purchase! And now I've returned to you, asking you once again to forgive me for making such a mess of things. But most of you know I always return, a little worse for the wear, a little wiser. This time I'm twenty pounds smaller! And I'm ready to begin again. Advent is coming, the season of penance, and followed by Christmas, the season of joyous celebration, and frankly, very good eating,  we'll begin our 3D journey again, at the new year, taking it up at the half way point where we left off. I have a wonderful prayer book to tell you about, that my community is excited about. Despite myself, life is good. God is good, as they say, all the time, even when you can't see that.

Thank you for staying with me.

Much love,


Mary said...

Thanks for being so transparent, with your heart, your pain, your life. It gives courage to others. And it's life. For far too long the average Christian wears a too tightly fitted mask, pretending all is well. We are all, including us believers in need of continued healing and transformation - and that living water to wash over us...again and again.

Grace and peace

MaryAnn M said... are blogging again. got concerned. thankfully you are okay and finding water. hugs. smile.

Heidi Renee said...

no apologies necessary - so glad the light is shining again! love you!

Kay Day said...

You haven't messed things up. Not that I can see. Life has a way of tangling itself up. We just do our best to manage those tangles.
Seems to me, you are doing a fine job.
I'm so sorry about your marriage. My heart aches for you. I'll keep this in prayer.

ragamuffin diva said...

Thank you every one. This has been hard, and it doesn't seem to get easier. I just seem to have a few more tools to help me with it.

I appreciate the grace, and ask for your prayers for our family. I decided I'd rather have God restore, instead of destroy, but His will be done.

GailNHB said...

Drink that water, girl. Bathe in it. Wash your face and your hair and your soul and your spirit. Get soaked. Wade. Kick and splash. Go in over your head. Dunk yourself. Baptize yourself.

Water really is the stuff of life: physical life and the spiritual life as well.

Welcome back!

Chuck said...

Excellent post. Excellent blog. I am so thankful that I found it. Your authenticity is both refreshing and inspiring. Thank you for taking the risk to be real. I am praying those holy, refreshing streams will carry you through this valley to divine promise awaiting you.

alli said...

Claudia, its nobody reads my blog allison here. I am so sorry for things in your marriage, I will pray for unity. i am learning what you did, its easy to leave jesus and the prayer closet but He'll make sure there's enough drama (getting idols out of our lives)going on to keep u in His face, I am sorry the fire is going out, I will pray for unity, remember i don't know if this is it, but putting out fires with men is very sensitive, if he's not feeling purposeful it is always easy to come against what God may be doing in your life, try to stay free from anger it causes issues, I will pray it seems like the enemy always comes after you have a victory he hates us. When i left Nigeria Africa for a missions trip all HELL broke out at home, it was a HOT mess. Feel free to email and vent tho i know you dont know me, I am at a new blog, offa facebook (even tho friendship is important no matter how it comes)I will pray for you. God bless Claudia it will get better my devo today is about being thankful even when it sucks and you feel like you have nothing to b thankful about. Maybe it will help I am going through hell right now to health family violence, abuse and hiv scare, bad bad. so I will pray for you.

Alli said...

alli said...

hi cladia its nobody reads my blog allison. the you tube video is light the fire again by brian doekerson, I m so sorry for things with your marriage, i will pray for unity and that the enemy not get jealous he hates everybody. God bless you, dont let the fire go out you are not alone alot of ppl are going through troubles this thanksgiving.

alli said...

sorry i missed spelled your name i was rushing

Brenda said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, missed you writing to "your lovies". Blessings and Love to you. Thank you for coming back.

Nedra Smith said...

Dearest precious one, I'm so sorry to hear about what you all are going through. We ache because you ache, and so we're certainly praying.

I'm not sure I'd heard of Finding Water , so I'll make a note of it. I had heard of Cameron's The Artist's Way , and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to looking in my marked-up copy at least twice a month. I'd felt funny about endorsing it, too, even though I knew it had helped me. Who else has written about the "crazymakers" and the need to keep writing those morning pages even if they don't end up being anything publishable?

Okay, so maybe Natalie Goldberg, Barbara DiMarco-Barrett, Brenda Ueland, Nancy Aronie, Pat Schneider and Elizabeth Berg have written some wonderful similar things--but it's Cameron's book that I keep thinking about early in the morning. I love the others, too, though. When I've foolishly? sold my favorite books in yard sales--Cameron's was the one I bought again at another used book sale. :-)

At any rate, I'm sure this is getting long, and that your family may need your attention.

Have a blessed thanksgiving. I hope that when I get back online next month that I'll hear that you're thriving and not having to deal so much with winter's "sad" monsters.

I like (not that you asked for a critique) how you mentioned the faith roots of those works. I'm still amazed at how you're able to take seemingly "raw deals" and turn them into "raga-diva-tude." God bless you as you continually try to be on the right path.

One of many, many folks who care, Nedra in VA

Nedra Smith said...

Oops, I'm not the best at slang and I didn't realize that "divatude" may not have the best meaning. Please charge it to my head and not my heart. Have a blessed one!

~Leslie said...

YAY!!!! glad that you're back.
no worries. we have have 'our' thing. just happy to know that you're still there, seeking, listening, learning....

LOVE to you my dear one! we may be up your way at the turn of the new year, I'll keep you posted!


Lisa said...

yes. and thank you. praying for blessings of rest and restoration over you tonight.