The Spirituality of Fandom


I don’t often do this. I actually rather avoid writing or posting about such happenings like the plague, but it has filled my mind all day. So here goes.

In the wake of the unexpected death of Alan Rickman and others this week and the outpouring of sadness, grief, and even reverence to their memories that has resulted, I have come to realize something. Our fandoms have become a spirituality, a faith of sorts. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily.

Our fandoms, like faith, have brought us near the untouchable. It has taken these untouchable stories, these untouchable characters, and made them as flesh. Flesh and blood and heart and soul, that we can hold close and know and love, without ever having met them or seen them with our own eyes. That faith renders them wholly real to us, not only the characters but also these people who have breathed life into them and into the ideals they represent that feed our souls.

In a society that already idolizes celebrities, I’m not calling for more of the same. However, I am more than willing to recognize and be grateful for the contribution that these people have made to imagination, soul-healing, and heart-hardiness in the face of a difficult, pain-filled, and broken world.

Thank you, all of you. We will not forget the light that you shared with us and have urged us to spread.

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NaBloPoMo Day 30: Advent


As I sat at my kitchen table, eating my breakfast of warmed apple dumplings and doing some research, I found myself pondering Advent. As you know, Christmas season has officially begun and this past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, which continues over the four Sundays before Christmas. I have refilled our chic little Starbucks Advent calendar with my toddler daughter’s new favorite “Chifee” (Christmas) candy, peppermint, and I couldn’t help thinking on how and what we will teach her about the Christmas season as she grows older.

Growing up, Advent was not made a huge deal of in my church community. I do not recall any advent candles or calendars, although that may just be a flaw in my recollection and not an absence in my experience. But, still, in our current church home, advent candles are lit, one added on each of the four Sundays before Christmas Day, with the fifth and center candle lit during the Christmas Eve service. Hope, peace, joy, and love–these are the themes of Advent, per my recent research and reading. These are themes and thoughts that lift my heart and soul. I have been researching Advent-themed devotionals, blog posts, and articles to share on our church blog and I can only pray that these posts will speak to people’s hearts and center minds and spirits for this season, bring them joy in hope.

I try to live my life with the goal and intention of living in peace, showing love, sowing hope, and (hopefully) exuding joy. I am so grateful for all that God has done for me and how He makes his presence known in my life, lifting my heart and soul in differing ways. Providence in circumstances, a perfectly-placed or timed song, or the spoken or hugged-out love of a friend or loved one. All of this has made an incalculable impact on my life and all I really desire is to live an encouraging, edifying, loving life in return, to share that peace, hope, love, and joy that has been lavished on me over the years.

Sacred Spaces: My Backyard


For a long while, I have had a blank document sitting in my Microsoft Word and it is entitled “Sacred Spaces”. I had an idea of what I wanted to write in it but could never quite find the words to express it. Also, what specific spaces would I write about? Then, this morning, it came to me. Well, the beginning did.

After our walk this morning, I took my daughter out to our backyard to play. I sat on the porch swing that is hung on our swing set frame beneath a large oak and made myself stay put while she ran to and fro between the swing set/slide and her playhouse just beyond our mulberry tree. This is one of my sacred spaces: my morning backyard. I love my backyard in the mornings. Overspread with deliciously cool shade,Sacred spaces - backyard only dappled by the sun, and a cool eastern breeze at my back. Heavenly! Now, sometimes, my backyard isn’t quite so pleasant. If it has been frequently rainy or muggy, the bugs are often out in force, which means nothing good for me. But, on an average morning, this is its norm. I spent our time in the backyard swaying placidly in the big swing, enjoying the breeze on my back and shoulders, my reverie only broken by Elizabeth’s request for me to help her into her swing and then swing in the “big girl” swing beside her. Later, I held her on my lap while she drank some water and, together, we listened in silence to the world. We heard the leaves rustling with the breeze, the birds chirping in branches nearby, the deep barking of dogs down the street, and the distant rumble of an oncoming train.

This is one of the places where my daughter learns about the world around her. It is where she is learning to play and climb and imagine. It is where she pulls bark off the oak to look at it more closely. It is where she strips the leaves off a fallen branch to make a sword. It is where she picks grass blades in order to “cook food” in her playhouse. It is where she picks a handful of “flowers” (weeds) and tosses them into the air with a joyful abandon. This is where she worships in her own toddler way.

This sacred space is where I am learning, too. I am learning to breathe, to inhale the quiet that can be found in the foreground of a moment and let the rest fade into the background. I am learning to release my fear and worry and to trust my child’s courage. I am learning to sit in silence and just be, to feel the heartbeat of the world and to find my soul reaching out to it. This is where I am remembering that God will be Who He will be. Remembering that God will be just what I need as I go through life. I have sat in this backyard time and again, sometimes in tears, sometimes in frustration, sometimes in so much pain that I can barely breathe. I have shared this pain with others and borne it alone. Other times, I have sat in this place and shared laughs and stories with family and friends, the fire casting golden glows over our faces or the moon its blue moonlight over our forms. Three years ago, I sat in the quiet around dying embers and marveled in awe at the truth that my husband and I would soon be parents. I have found my heart bursting with joy for the beauty and peace that can be found in so small and simple a place as I call home.

This is my sacred space. This is my holy ground.

Well, one of them anyway. As I said, this is the beginning.

 

Walking Through Storms


Pressing forward through the storm

This morning has been a very interesting one spiritually. As I’m sitting here listening to my Nichole Nordeman station on Pandora and reading in the book of Proverbs, I’ve noticed that a good number of the songs that come up refer to going through storms and hard times and looking to God through it all.

 

When it’s dark and it’s cold 
And I can’t feel my soul
You are so good
When the world is gone gray 
And the rain’s here to stay
You are still good (Nichole Nordeman “You Are Good”)

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise (Laura Story “Blessings”)

Rather apropos, as there are indeed some storms in mine and my husband’s lives right now and I’m not just referring to my pregnancy. In all things, I’ve been very blessed with my daughter’s pregnancy thus far. Sure, I’m on bed rest right now but she is just fine, by all reports, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. I have some time to rest and my stress level has gone way down and for that I can only be thankful.

What is a storm for me is not being able to help when someone I love is suffering or going through a storm of their own. And when I say ‘help’, I mean actually do something to actually, physically affect the situation to make it better. I know that encouragement, understanding, love, and the like all help really but I am the type of person who wants to fix things, make them better, and, when I cannot, that makes me very sad. I know that my husband is going through some very, very difficult storms right now and it’s all I can do to hold onto him and let him know I’m there, the snow and rain feel so thick and pelt so hard that it hurts beyond words. I can’t see a way out of the storm but I can practically see his spirit and soul being trodden over and broken and I desperately want to stop it, to do something that will make it stop.

But I am not the one with the power over the storm. I am not the one who can command it to be still, or, if not, bring us through it still in tact, though perhaps not minus a few cuts and bruises. I am not the one who can give my darling husband the strength to keep walking, keep trudging, keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if he doesn’t know where it will lead. All I can do is hold tightly,  to his hand, give him all the warmth and love I can, and walk with him, trusting God to bring us through and show us the next step.

It’s all I can do. But if little penguins can make it through an antarctic blizzard and keep trudging forward, then surely God can help two young people hold onto each other and make it through one of life’s blizzard to whatever lies on the other side.

God,

I pray Your grace, strength, peace, and protection be over my husband today and every day, but especially in these moments amidst the storm. May he heart Your voice, feel Your touch, and know that he is not alone, not walking alone, even though things are very hard. Speak peace and reassurance to his heart today and may he feel You lifting the weight from his shoulders, even if just for a little while, Lord.

Thank You!

Amen