Category Archives: Beautiful

Quoting Thankful

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Today for Thankful Tuesday, I want to give you some words I heard over the weekend at the Festival of Faith and Writing, thoughts that have filled me up. I hope they speak something important to you too.

(Note: these are from my notes and they may not be exact…though I did my best–my very best!–at the note-taking.)

“Repetition…locates us, keeps us where we are, keeps us the way a mother keeps her baby.” –Jeanne Murray Walker

“It’s not an accident that Laments [in the Psalms] start individually and then turn into community. The circle widens with the Lament the more love and safety is there. We, the artists, are called to be the ones who bring [the community] into honesty.” –Gregg DeMey

“If I’m complaining to God it feels more healthy than if I’m complaining about God behind his back.” –Susan Isaacs

“Artists are called to be the most observing humans around, which involves a lot of listening.” -Gregg DeMey

“A testimonial is about answers. Good art is about polishing questions.”  -Greg DeMey

Quoting her friend: “Every church has a prase band. When are we going to bring out the Lament band?” –Caryn Rivadeneira

“In all of our rushing, we’re like bulls in china shops. We’re breaking our lives.” –Ann Voskamp

“[Our work is to speak] the language of amazement into a culture that thinks they’ve been abandoned.” -Ann Voskamp

“How did God make every woman to be a maker? He made an empty space inside her… Something always comes to the empty space. And it can be God.” -Ann Voskamp

“You either have to bury your fear in faith or bury your talents in fear. Which is it going to be?” -Ann Voskamp

“Story is in the suffering.” -Ann Voskamp

“When love and theology conflict, love should always be our priority.” -Dr. Vincent Harding paraphrased in Kristin Vander Giessen-Reitsma’s reading of her essay “Choice Cuisine” from the collection, The Spirit of Food

“People are gracious toward religious expression that is gracious to them.” –Marilyn Robinson

“God has never told us we would leave this world alive.” -Marilyn Robinson

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Easter Sunday

"Testimony" Copyright © 2012 Jan Richardson Images. All Rights Reserved.



From  Girl Meets God:

The Last Battle, the final volume of Lewis’s Narnia chronicles, pictures the end of time. Aslan—the lion who represents Jesus—has returned, folding all of culture and humanity into his kingdom. In the novel’s lasts pages, he tells Lucy, a child from London, that everyone she knew back in Blighty is dead and raised to new life. And as Aslan spoke, writes Lewis, “the things that began to happen…were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beninning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were begining Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better that the one before.”:>

 

On Easter, we glimpse the beginning of Chapter One.

-Lauren F. Winner, Girl Meets God (193-194)


Descending Theology: The Resurrection

by Mary Karr

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in–black ice and blood ink–
till the hung flesh was empty. Lonely in that void
even for pain, he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse’s core, the stone fist of his heart

began to bang on the stiff chest’s door,
and breath spilled back into that battered shape. Now
it’s your limbs he longs to flow into–
from the sunflower center in your chest
outward–as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

“Descending Theology: The Resurrection” by Mary Karr, Sinners WelcomeHarperCollins, 2006.


Joy is radically different from happiness, for it does not depennd up on the “ups” and “downs” of our existence. It is the constant moving away from the static places of death toward the house of God, where the abundant life can be recognized and celebrated.

Lifesigns, Henri Nouwen (102)

For more from Jan Richardson, find her website here and be sure to visit the Lenten series on her blog.

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Good Friday: Christ’s cross over this throat

"No Between" Copyright © 2012 Jan Richardson Images. All Rights Reserved.



From the 8th century Irish monastic poet, Blathma

…The sun concealed its proper light; it lamented its lord. A swift cloud went across the blue sky, the great stormy sea roared.

The whole world became dark, great trembling came on the earth; at the death of noble Jesus great rocks burst open.

Jerusalem suddenly cast up the dead from ancient burial; in the hour in which Jesus suffered death the veil of the temple was rent.

A fierce stream of blood boiled until the bark of the every tree was red; there was blood throughout the world in the tops of every great wood.

It would have been fitting for God’s elements–the fair sea, the blue sky, the earth–to have changed their appearance, lamenting their calamity.

The body of Christ exposed to the spear-thrust demanded harsh lamentation–that they should have mourned more grievously the Man by whom they were created.

From The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de Waal, Doubleday, 1997 (154)


Christ’s Passion

Sure we’re trained to his suffering, sure
the nine-inch nails, and so forth.
And the cross raised up invoked

the body’s weight so each wound tore,
and from his abdomen a length of gut
dangled down, longing towards earth.

He was a god, after all.
An eternal light swarmed in his rib cage
no less strong than the weaving nebulae that haul

this dirt-speck planet through its course.
Surely his flesh mattered less somehow, less
than yours to you. He hung against steel rods

with his whole being, and though the pain
was very pure, he only cried out once.
All that was writ down. But what if his flesh

felt more than ours, knew each breath
was a gift, and thus saw
beyond each instant into all others.

So a morsel of bread conjured up
the undulating field of wheat from whence it came,
and the farmer’s back muscles

growing specific under this shirt
and the sad, resigned pace of the mule
whose opinion no one sought.

Think of all we don’t see
in an instant. Cage that in one skull.
If Christ saw in each

pair of terrified eyes he met
every creature’s gauzy soul
then he must have looked down from that bare hill

and watched the tapestry teem
till that poor carcass he borrowed
wept tears of real blood before they

unhooked it and oiled it and bound it
round with linen and hid it under a stone,
to rise again or not, I can only hope.

-Mary Karr Viper RumPenguin, 1994


“The promise is not that we shall escape the hard things but that we shall be given grace to face them, to enter into them, and to come through them. The promise is not that we shall not be afraid. It is that we need not fear fear.”

Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction (116)


A Continuation of the lorica (St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer)

Christ’s Cross over this face, and thus over my ear. Christ’s Cross over these eyes…this mouth…this throat…the back of this head…this side…to accompany before me…to accompany behind me…Christ’s cross to meet every difficulty both on hollow and on hill…Christ’s Cross over my community. Christ’s Cross over my church. Christ’s Cross in the next world. Christ’s Cross in this world.

From The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de Waal (155)


For more from Jan Richardson, find her website here and be sure to visit the Lenten series on her blog.

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Micha tries to write about music…

Su Blackwell installation via Pinterest: "While you were Sleeping" 2004

I don’t consider myself a “music person.” I love music and I always have. It moves me and speaks to me, though usually, it’s the lyric that lingers longest in my heart.  Though I have spent a good portion of my life dancing in my closet while simultaneously buttoning my shirt and using my toothbrush as a microphone in the morning, I’m just not one of those people who talks about music in the cool kid language. I have nothing to say about rifts* and lifts and other things that rhyme with “ift.” So, in that sense, I don’t really fit into the music scene of Austin. I’m okay with that. I tried to be a cool music person in 2002 and it turned out that I was just lame. (I wish I could link here to the ridiculous review I wrote of Matt Wertz’s album in Spring of ’02 as an example. Relevant has–rightfully!–removed all hint of it.) So, since then, when people start talking band names I’ve never heard of that I obviously should have heard of, I say, “Oh, I’ve never heard of them,” and I brace myself for the label that will now be removed from their mental assessment of my awesomeness.

Last week I posted about an organization called “Trade in Hope,” which is making a feature-length film about sex trafficking in the US, specifically in Austin, and I was genuinely blessed to be at its benefit showcase this past Saturday night. I went, knowing that the showcase would involve an art display, live music and a viewing of their short film. I assumed the music would be your typical Austin fare, stuff that I would appreciate but fail to connect with because I’m not cool enough or musically learned enough.

The film’s score was written by Casey McPherson from band AlphaRev, whose voice and presence was shockingly powerful to me. He only sang two songs and I audibly sighed when he left the stage. The score was performed by a gathering of musicians called the 1211 band who played live along with the film. (Such an amazing idea, by the way.) And I was reminded that despite my feeling awkward and unsure when it comes to bands and rifts, I have always been moved by music and have always recognized beauty. What I experienced Saturday night as 1211 played was an orb of light moving from the stage toward me and settling in my chest before it exploded all over the room. (That’s dramatic, I know. But it’s true.)

Do you know that moment when you dive into a wave on the shore and you crash through the hard edge of it and find yourself momentarily touched on all sides by soft water? It was that flowing that I experienced. I had to close my eyes so I could feel the drum beat pounding my lungs open and all that good could spill out.

I think what I’m trying to say is that the next morning as I walked forward  to receive communion, loving the words we were singing, I stood as I always do at communion, facing the cross with my hands open, begging bread. And I closed my eyes while the drum beat pounded into my chest again and I felt for a moment what I’d felt the night before: the diving into the hard water, the swoosh through the cover of its softness. The priest put the bread in my hands. I took it. I drank the wine.

When I sat down and closed my eyes to say something to God about the bread and the wine, I saw a picture of the bread in me, a picture of the bread sticking to all the broken parts, holding them together. And just as they stuck, just as I knew the healing was moving through my insides, the wine was a flash-flood past the sticky broken places. The flood rushed through my center and out towards my extremities, lighting my fingers and toes, flashing out of my head and chest.

It was like music swelling and pulsing out…

 

* I’ve recently been made aware that the word is actually RIFF…further insight into my ignorance!

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Lots of changes, all of them good…

A very pregnant Micha (with Brooksie) and Ezra the Super Cat

Two and a half years ago, when I moved to San Francisco, I had a 15-month-old and I had just left the job I most loved in the world. I was lonely and anxious and I had this tiny little seed of an idea in my head. It had to do with the books I’d been reading about Benedictines and the possibility that mothers and monks had a lot more in common than I’d ever thought. I had this thought that maybe if I could find the heart of monasticism, I might find the heart of this motherhood calling as well.

So, I started writing a book, a memoir, about my life as a mom and my journey with St. Benedict. And, somewhere along that path, I started this blog, got pregnant, threw up a lot, stopped writing the book, had a baby and still didn’t write the book, and moved to Austin. About six months ago, I picked up that manuscript again and have been working hard on it.

I’ve never really mentioned it around here because I guess it felt pretentious to say, “Soooo, I’m writing this book.” I don’t know. I felt weird about it. But, a few weeks ago I sent a proposal to an agent I’d heard a gazillion wonderful things about. And–miraculously, beautifully, shockingly–(such grace!) Rachelle Gardner liked my proposal and is going to represent me.

That doesn’t mean I have book deal. But it does mean I have this amazingly bright and kind and talented advocate who wants to get this book published. And I can’t tell you how giddy that makes me, how honored I feel to join the ranks of the other writers she represents, how much I feel God’s good pressure on my back, pushing me into this scary and dream-like possibility.

At the same time, I’ve been making some choices about the beautiful little blog community we have around here. I have the opportunity to move the blog to a spirituality and religion site called Patheos. Several bloggers I admire, including my friend Amy Julia Becker, are there. Moving to Patheos won’t actually change much for you all. For me it will mean more opportunity to grow as a writer and more support in terms of having an intentional blogging community around.

We’ll make the switch on April 1st. If you have a subscription, you’ll keep on getting Mama Monk. If you go to http://www.mamamonk.com, you’ll be redirected to the Patheos site. This blog will be the same. Thankfulness will still happen on Tuesdays. Monks will still be admired. There will still be days when I talk about poetry and nobody reads it. (I kid! I kid!) The exciting thing is that I will actually change that picture on the header that’s five years old.

As I make this change, one other thing will be changing: my name. We all know that I have three pretty intense names. (By the way, did you know my first name is pronounced “MY-kah”? It looks like “Meesha” but it’s not.) The amazing Rachelle Gardner has given me some advice that two difficult last names are just, well, difficult. So, as we make the move over to Patheos, I’m making the move to a simpler name. It’s actually a classic from back in the day and I’m pretty attached to it: Micha Boyett. I feel a little sad to be dropping the crazy Hoho name, but I’m still Hoho in real life, and that’s the best way to be a Hoho.

Thanks for letting me go on and on about myself today. And thanks for celebrating with me. I feel like this is one of those rare moments when I can tell you what a gift you all have been in my life these past two years of blogging. I’ve always been a writer since I was penning dramatic journal entries about my 14-year-old life into my spiral notebooks. But, I never had readers until I found you. And you have challenged me and encouraged me and shaped me in the most wonderful ways.

So, we’ll just make some changes and they’ll all be good and I’ll keep being yours and you’ll keep being mine.

And, always, there will be grace,

Micha

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Thursdays are for healing…

As I write this on Wednesday night, my mom is home from the hospital, sleeping on the couch across the room. (I should actually get this posted and turn the light off so the dear woman can sleep.) She’s sore but she’s not a complainer. And she’s happy to have the boys around to entertain. Brooksie’s been putting on an “I can walk!” show that none of us can get enough of.

The other Brooks (the grown one, aka my brother) is home as well. He’s been in Haiti for the past week caring for kids at two different orphanages. These are children he knows, who wait for him to come back each year. Brooks is one of my personal heroes. Children flock to him because 1) He’s funny and can do some sweet magic tricks (Illusions, Michael!) and 2) He loves beautifully. He has this gift from God that allows him to know what a child needs to hear, to say exactly the thing that will give hope and a future to that child. (That’s why we all know he was always meant to be in ministry to hurting kids.)

So, if you understand that about Brooks, you’ll be even more moved by the post he wrote for his ministry’s blog yesterday. I never cease to be amazed by how God uses the broken of this world, the most destitute, the least likely, to be His voice and His touch and His healing balm.

Please click over and read “Jesus in the dirt,” my brother’s story of losing his friend Jeremy this past Sunday and receiving from a little boy named Rosy a message of God’s kindness.

Grateful for your prayers this week, friends.

Micha

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Sweet Monday Morning Goodness

I read this words in bed yesterday morning, in my Christmas pajama pants (yes, I’m still wearing them). And I lifted my face up to the blank white ceiling and half prayed/ half sighed “Yes, Yes, Yes.” Oh, these words, friends. I pray they are just what you need to hear today as well…

“If I am appreciated for what I do, what I achieve, I am not in fact unique since someone else can do the same, and probably do it better than I. When my estimation and value of myself depends on what I can produce with my hands or with my mind, then in Henri Nouwen’s words I have allowed myself to be ‘a victim of the fear tactics of the world’. This is the self that so often leads me into activity to prove my value. But if productivity becomes my main way of overcoming self-doubt I lay myself open to rejection and criticism, and so to inner anxiety or depression. I am constantly checking myself and my achievements. So my productivity really only reveals how much I am driven by fear of not being up to standard and by an insatiable desire to justify myself. It is only when I am loved not for I do but for who I am that I can become myself, unique and irreplaceable.”

-Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality

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