Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some places and faces

Snow capped mountains! We've watched the snow
go up and down the mountains and even cover the village (briefly).

an autumn hike, right out our back yard

Micaela's first day of school!
She missed the first day of school due to strep throat, but was ready to go on the second.

Poor Micaela takes piano lessons with the strict and scary village musician (me!).

A friend and I hiked to Hart Lake earlier this fall, my favorite site here,
so serene and majestic it looks unreal...even in person.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh Freedom...

Holden Village
Reformation Day

JOHN 8:31-34

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In just over a week our government agencies will go to work tallying votes, counting ballots and calculating results until we have new or re-elected leaders on county, state and a national level. And I hope that you were able to go through the extra effort of voting either at home or while you are here at Holden – that you mailed in, downloaded, notarized and checked off all the little boxes of your local ballot and I hope that you felt some pride, some accomplishment and that satisfying feeling of raising your voice through your vote and being heard by your governmental leaders. Even though the rest of the country is currently in the throws of political drama, we here at Holden are mostly sheltered from the constant barrage of debate and rhetoric surround this election – and still there is confusion.

I have also heard some say that the ballots are terribly confusing, and I hear another villager say she had diligently read the informational pamphlets and asked for explanation and still never got to a place of feeling confidant in really having a handle on the issues at hand. I myself voted in Minnesota, but because I have been gone so long I have to admit some ignorance in my local choices and found myself checking off boxes by faith and not by sight – which is a grand theological move, but not one I like to employ in my voting.

And then, in a matter of just a few more days the winners will rise to the top, the losers will bow out with political grace and our nation, states and counties we will march forward. The only thing we will know is that there is so much we will not know, the certain thing about our political leaders is the uncertainty. Soon after the election there will be national or international events that will sway our elected leaders, political complications and scandal will emerge (they always do) and then the psalm we heard for today will become disturbingly relevant – it is if the nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter and we hang on tight trying to find our way in so much that is unknown to us.

When I consider the vast political spectrum and recognize that I do not know enough, understand enough, agree enough, fight enough, participate enough – well, its enough to make me feel like a foreigner, like I do not have ownership here, I do not have a home here in my own nation and maybe, Canada is looking good this time of year!

It is a far cry from knowing the truth and knowing that the truth will set us free.


495 years ago a German monk in the Catholic church grew tired of the unknown. A monk, Martin Luther spent time reading the Bible and came to realization that this God who gave us this Word desires to be known, deeply known, by the people of the earth. Luther was so personally afflicted with a deep awareness of his sins and shortcomings and so enslaved by a self-perception of unworthiness that Luther, was a prisoner standing before an unrelenting God. And this is not so surprising seeing how the church Luther was committed to was operating more with a Wizard of Oz-do-not-look-behind-the-curtain type of mentality then a “Come and see” invitation. Luther,a monk in the Catholic church was preparing to become a prominent leader to perform the sacrament of communion, to read the Bible in Latin, to save the common people who the church had labeled as so unworthy they were not to take communion or even hear the stories of God in their language. The people who came to church were to observe from a safe distance and forced to pay heavy fees if they hoped to draw any closer. The people were treated as foreigners in their own churches and were kept distant from their God.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Thank God Luther did not stay content in the unknowns, but he pushed forward for his own freedom and the freedom of all people. I imagine when Luther read the psalms like our psalm 46 for today he did not stop at the heavy uncertainty – he did not stop reading with nations in an uproar and kingdoms tottering, rather Luther also heard that “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble...God is in the midst of the city, it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.” And the Scriptures came alive to Luther and a God that was loving and accepting drew near and Luther made these realizations that we know God by the Word alone...we are saved by faith through grace alone. As John said we are children of God, not slaves! All this the Word, the faith, the grace, the love, the acceptance of an almighty and all-loving God is gift, it is grace, it is free, it is undeserved.

And so through religious protest, through relationship building, through reading the Word and then scandalously sharing the Word Luther began a movement and movement that tore down that Wizard-of-Oz curtain and any other barrier that stood between any human being and God. Luther challenged the unknowns that did not need to be in place and shared the promise that God will be known fully, the promises of God are to be heard – shouted in church and whispered in private conversations, the places of promise like baptism and communion, are to be felt and touched and experienced in the most intimate of ways...water covering our heads like grace and Jesus' body and blood; broken, given, tasted and known through our entire beings.

Only by the grace of God did Luther help to move the church closer to experiencing the truth and truth setting us free.

Perhaps there are some here tonight who grow weary of the unknowns. While nations continually remain in a terrifying state of the unknown caused by civil wars and daily bloodshed and kingdoms totter in this state of unknown because of political division and fighting over freedoms. Are you also weary of these unknowns?

Or perhaps you struggle, like Luther, with churches who were birthed out of the Reformation movement and yet struggle to commit to share the gospel message of Word alone, faith alone, by grace, grace, grace alone. Or even more, perhaps the unknowns that weigh heaviest are those that come from within – the painful doubt that resides in your minds or the questions of life, faith, God and each other that dwell in your hearts. Are you weary of these unknowns?

Perhaps you did something crazy like leave a major part of your life behind and move to a remote village in the mountains and the questions surrounding your life before and after the village leave you burdened and confused. Maybe you are leading this village through a mine remediation and the immediate and distant future appears hazy at best. Are you weary of these unknowns?

There is a promise here for you. The promise cannot come from political leaders (although they make a lot of them!), the promise cannot come from Holden Village, the promise did not come because of the reformation we remember today. The promise that is here for you comes from the Word of God, from the almighty and all-loving God we know through Jesus.

And you will know the truth, you will know your God and God will set you free – to live into political turmoil, to engage politically to protect and serve the least. And you will be set free to serve and die and rise with the church that relies on grace alone and remains centered on the Word of God above all else and you will be set free to do crazy things like uproot your life for the sake of another and volunteer to help a village survive and answer that call that God puts on you...because you are worthy of being known and being loved by this God and through love we all are set free... free to love, free to raise your voice, free to live in Christ forever. Amen! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Damico's Anatomy

For Halloween this year I was a ghost. I didn't really mean to be a ghost, but I found myself lying around with a very pale complexion, lips that resembled the dry desert sand and when I tried to speak I heard myself making incomprehensible noises.

Turns out this ghost needed some medical attention. So after a few troublesome hours I was evacuated out of the village and enjoyed the thrill of a van, boat and ambulance ride all in the middle of the night. Not just any night, but Halloween! I am not writing to gather up some sympathy so I'll spare you the details – but the most important thing I learned this Halloween is that my heart is strong and healthy! Given my family history, I consider this a blessing to be counted! However, I am not holistically strong and healthy so I still have some testing and scoping to do, but I am better than I was that dark and spooky night.

I am writing to share a miracle. Thirteen years ago I met a group of women who have been the most incredible friends a girl could ask for. I could gush for hours (or paragraphs) but I simply do not have the words to articulate how thankful I am for all of these women I met that freshmen year of college on the seventh floor of Hoyum.

Two of these women set aside time and resources and planned a trip all the way up to our little village for a visit. We had fun playing games, talking, hiking, talking – all the usual activities. I did not plan or coordinate this medical drama, but it happened while my two strong and fearless friends were visiting. Right after a game of Skip-Bo my friends said it was time for me to see the medic. As the night unfolded one friend stayed in the village with Micaela and the other came with me to endure an uncomfortable van ride, a dark boat ride and a long ambulance ride to the nearest town. I still am in shock that all this happened at all, let alone while these women were here – but I am thankful for their presence.

I am thankful Sarah was there to wake up with Micaela and tell her I had to leave. I am thankful the other Sarah was with me getting details to and from the doctor and pushing me to let go and let the medical staff do their thing (turns out I'm a bossy and noisy patient). I am thankful Sarah was there to comfort Micaela during a nightmare and that Micaela crawled into bed to get all the love and reassurance she needed. I am thankful the other Sarah was with me counting to four over and over so that I could remember how to breathe.

The real miracle here is the friendship. These ladies are not difficult to be friends with – but the roads we have traveled alone and together have been very, very difficult. Just when I think life might slow down a little, we face another hurdle – but somehow, we always manage to face these hurdles together. I am strong enough to carry their baggage when they need, and they are strong enough to carry mine – even when I fight to let them.

It is weeks like this one when I cannot call myself a “single mom”. When we really, really need it – there is always a partner to step in. This week we had Sarah, Sarah, our chalet family, the school teacher, the pastor and so many others take care of us both. Health, love, friendship, motherhood –its all a holy miracle.