Category Archives: Faith & Spirituality

Hibernate – Activate

This blog has been hibernating.  A season of change since we were in Florence unfolded across our lives like a map to the pirates’ trove.  Ben and I have found treasure, challenge, and new life in the intermission.   All the while, I questioned the validity of this blog.  Lacking a clear focus, the default subject becomes my moods, my life observations.  I dislike self-publishing as a vehicle to vent, or to sing my own praises, so when I’m feeling insecure or über-excited, or too busy to reflect on what I’m up to, I just want to stay quiet.  But in the apparent quell, I’ve been an active dreamer.

Dreams–those subconscious goals and desires of the heart–arrest the dreamer.  Though she sleeps, insight dawns.  In hibernation mode, this blog cried out with the original intent: but what color is love?  Artist Marc Chagall knew that love is a color of hope and vivacity, a color that triumphs despite pain, evil regimes, and cruel death.  Ever my hero, Chagall’s words remind me to press through the indecision.  Weave the story.  Hook the reader.  Edify the hearts.  Any of you who write, paint, compose or choreograph know what I’m talking about.  Your art form will compel you to awaken once again.  Your mission will resurface.  Your dreams will direct you to complete the path you started.

Sometimes delay – whether caused by hibernation, procrastination, or the vagaries of life – is the path.  It is key to the mission and lends depth to the message.  A bear hibernates to conserve energy.  At the threat of life’s “winters,” humans prioritize.  A new baby demands our full-time care.  A husband’s career requires relocating and reorienting.  A step-child needs to be schlepped hither and thither.  Someone is ill.  Financial pressure puts us in survival mode.  Whatever the cause, delay happens.  But the dream will not stay dormant forever.

This past weekend we celebrated a full-circle story.  It was the story of a women who dreamed of becoming an artist.  A beautiful girl who married young, loved much, and birthed three amazing people into the world.  A lady so skilled with her hands she can weave tapestry, craft intricate jewelry and cleverly cook up almost any cuisine.  All in one day.  Her paintings adorn our home and countless others.  Oversized watercolors that speak of skill and secret knowing as she has honed her artist’s eye for many years.

On the wall of my bedroom, one of her recent works tells of Aaron our son, me his mother, and the interwoven lines of a 16th century Da Vinci drawing.  The image inspires me constantly.  A visual reminder that we are surrounded by a cloud of unseen witnesses.  An emblem of the spiritual strength we can impart to others younger than us, and receive from those who’ve gone before.  It’s a portrait of generational blessing, of tenderness and fortitude.

Watercolor by Mindy Faubion, 2013

Watercolor by Mindy Faubion, 2013

The artist, the heroine of this story, is my husband’s mother Melinda.  I am indebted to her for choosing the delay of her art-school dream, in order to care for her firstborn Ben.  If it wasn’t for her choice, perhaps Ben and I would never have met.  Interestingly my own mother also took about 30 years to complete her art degree, finishing in 2004 at the Laguna College of Art and Design.  My mom’s choice, like Mindy’s, became key to the story of how I met my true love.  Adding depth to the delay, theirs was the fruitfulness of apparent dormancy.   New generations and restorations arose from their journey.

If Ben and I are about anything in common, it is our conviction about art, faith and creativity.  We were raised by women who imparted their dream despite the delays.  As a result, the dream multiplied.  Now there are children, grandchildren and spouses who each love art and creativity in their own way.  Writers, photographers, a cosmetologist, entrepreneurs, painters, educators, tech-design artists, musicians.

Ben and his mom, Mindy, during Ben's BFA program at LCAD

Ben and his mom, Mindy, during Ben’s BFA program at LCAD

We are creative mothers and fathers ourselves now.  Passing on the legacy of our brave moms and dads.  Like them, we carry the seeds of our dreams on life paths that may seem indirect.  Wisdom prompts us not to judge success or failure too early.  Let the journey unfold.  Embrace the twists and turns.  And no matter what, don’t bury the treasure of your dreams.  But even if you do, trust that God has a map to guide you back.  As they say, X marks the spot.

Shalom.  Merry Christmas.  With lots and lots of love, in whatever color you feel it.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Dream Big: Dream with G-d

What does a woman do when it’s Saturday night and suddenly, for the first time in longer than she can remember, she’s alone?  No Ben.  No baby.  Just the summertime sound of the neighbors socializing over margaritas in their adjacent backyard.

And the sound of silence.  In the quiet that permeates the house I find I hear odd things.  Like the hum of the fridge.  And the sound of my own breath.   I bask in this quiet although it’s tinged with loneliness.  In this pause I didn’t know I needed, I still miss my boys.

I eat a simple meal and leave the dishes unwashed.  Let the water run, fill the bathtub, and slip into the comforting warmth of it.  I want to listen.  G-d as I lay in this water and stare at my toes, I want to offer up my life to You once again.  All the dreams in my heart.  Dare I to dream all the dreams that You might dream through me?   For the first time since I can remember, I believe that You want me to be me.  Just me.  It’s a really wonderful feeling.  To think that You just like people for who they are.  Does anyone out there besides me ever struggle to lay hold of that?

If there’s anyone out there reading and you ever struggle with being OK with yourself, I want you to know that I do too.  I have for most of my life.  But I think it’s a terrible waste of ourselves.  I think if we could only grasp how much we are loved and how much we have to live for and how unique each one of us is, we’d be unstoppable.  We’d be boundless. Forces of love and light in a cold dark world.

So here is my heart’s prayer, here in the wonderful quiet of this lonesome weekend: dream BIG. Sketch and write down what’s in your heart.  Dream and invite G-d to dream with you.  Invite Him to breathe life into you so you dream again.

My dreams come from G-d and G-d has the power to accomplish them.

–Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Dreaming with G-d is like play ... I learn a lot from Aaron's unbound laughter

Dreaming with G-d is like play … I learn a lot from Aaron’s unbound laughter

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Secret Place

When I was 10 or so I had this Asian-American friend named Bevin Lin. She was spunky, clever and brave. With her sleek black hair in a side ponytail, she was high style in the early nineties. Bevin and I had an obsession back then with finding and creating a special hideout, a secret place. We rode our bikes along the paths that flanked superbly boring stucco houses and it’s a tribute to the power of children’s imaginations that we were able to “see” these paths as as anything other than what they were. To us they were intricate and hidden, leading to mystery. We even made maps to our secret place. If I remember right our maps had something to do with the order in which we crisscrossed this or that cement walkway in order to unlock magic and take us to our secret place.

We never really discussed what was so important about this secret place. It was somehow a given. A place where we could be close to home-very much at home-and yet in a world apart. A place that would declare our pact of friendship and also provide solitude and scope for our imagination.

We never quite succeeded in finding this secret place but the act of looking thrilled us both. It was like the very fact that two of us together were seeking such a place proved that it existed. It wasn’t just my fantasy or Bevin’s. We both believed in the quest.

This afternoon while strolling little Aaron through shaded sidewalks I got to thinking about how the childhood urge for a hideout is present in the adult psyche. It isn’t to my mind the need for escape so much as a longing to go somewhere where you can tune out the world and tune into your own stillness. No, more than that. The secret place is about finding stillness and adventure. It’s a place you go to allow nature and heaven stir you, safeguard you, identify you and send you on your mission. Its the place where you can let heaven and nature sing to you in a mysterious, only-for-you-way. A place where you pause to listen with all you have. Like Bevin and I with our bikes and our maps, daring to believe in the magical other side of a beige apartment complex.

In my childhood brain magic was like another word for Heaven. Something magical encompassed all
the stuff that transcends this world and yet exists parallel; the infinite and the peculiar; where everything wonderful, amazing, awesome and beautiful originates. Invisible but utterly real, and just one imaginative thought, one hands’ breadth, apart.

When I was in my early twenties I used to go for these long morning runs I called “chasing the dawn”. As I put on my sneakers my eyes were on the sky. My course would be determined by where the morning light was leading. I was driven to find a place of beauty, where I could watch the Creator’s canvas unfold. Running toward a prime vantage point for the split second euphoria of light and color that is otherworldly. I would watch as up over the mountains peeled the sun, and in an instant, the spectacular exhibition was done. Daylight. A new, fresh morning. But on such mornings it felt nothing close to mundane. Now my eyes have seen-however brief and flickering-this touch of Heaven’s wand. I saw the magic. Even if no one else did. This was my secret place.

Now my life is so altered. I don’t have the liberty to run at the cusp of dawn. But still I hunger for the essence of the Secret Place. The place of tryst with heaven and nature.

It does exist. I catch glimpses here and there. Like the view, from the office/nursery window, of a magnificent tree that claps its thousands of hands when the wind blows through. Or sometimes it is the window into another world offered by the paintings that adorn our walls. Some days it is the corridor between two bookshelves in the local public library, where hundreds of adventures beckon from the stories they hold. I am grateful. Grateful that, as an adult and a mother now, the secret place is still only a handbreadth away at times.

20120905-183328.jpg

Tagged , ,

Healing Hands

 

Jessica Day is a friend of mine who's got the healing touch

He touched their eyes and then He said, according to your faith be it done unto you. (Matthew 9:29)

I’ve been pondering the significance of touch lately.  On the natural plane, I’ve noticed that my son Aaron responds so well to massage as a pain relief method.  I got the idea from my childbirth preparation classes.  Jackie, the instructor, emphasized the importance of touch and/or massage from a loved one and I can say from experience that it really did help me manage the pain of labor.  Similarly, since Aaron has started teething, I find that sometimes the best remedy is distraction via massage on his legs, arms, or tummy.  I notice that he responds to the loving intent of this touch as well.  As if healing energy were indeed being transmitted.  As if the human touch was a form of prayer.

This made me think about Jesus, walking around in Judea back in the day.  Constantly reaching out and healing people with the laying on of hands.  All people: good men, bad men, rich men, poor men, women and children.

With the lens of being a new mom, I see Jesus’ compassion more viscerally.  He was getting His holy hands dirty, wiping away people’s pain.  He didn’t distance himself.  He came close.   He reached out and combined the Words from the Father’s heart with the flesh of His human hands.

Twice last week I received prayer and both times, it came with laying on of hands.  The warmth of human touch.  But there was something else as well.  Each time, the words spoken were healing even as the energy that flowed through the hands.   Each time I experienced the compassion of Christ shining through the eyes of His people as if He really were right there, guiding the time of prayer.  And each time I went away changed – perhaps not with the immediacy of a “miracle,”  but with the evidence of inner peace and courage within.  So if nothing else today I want to encourage everyone who prays to know that you are making a difference, for your relationship with God is shining through when you pray.  And your hands become holy hands of Love when you reach out to lift the burden of another and bring it to God.

Tagged , , , , ,

A Song of Ascents

Every once in awhile a prayer rises within me and it’s so wholehearted I know the origin is deeper than self-will.  It’s more like a groan of the Spirit, pulling at every sinew and blood vessel with an unexplained longing.  Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He told us that anything we ask for in His name He will do for us (John 14:14).   The prayer rises up like a bird beating against our chest, longing to be free.  In such cases you know it is His initiative.

My prayer was this: to be set free from depression, envy and all the junk that can emotionally annihilate me at Christmastime.   For love to pour out where in the past there’s been a lot of bitterness and blockage.  I wanted to genuinely connect with my dad and step mom up in Santa Cruz, even if it was only over the phone.  I wanted my mom in Laguna Beach and my brothers far and wide to know how amazing I think they are, and how invaluable their love is to me.  I wanted to be fully present with my in-laws in Dallas.  To feel comfortable just being myself and at the same time open to getting to know them on a deeper level.

By mid-December things began to line up.  A good friend shared with me how it feels to be a step mom and constantly rejected by your husband’s children.  I thought about how fruitless it is to hold one another hostage for being human and having messy family trees.  It’s not like anyone fantasizes about being a “broken home” or a “second wife” or an older single person.   It isn’t anyone’s first choice.  But every day we have a choice whether or not to forgive one another.  Every day we have a choice whether or not to receive the Love of our Creator and let Him re-create us in wholeness. It’s a wild ride if we choose to take it; freedom beckons on the other side.

This year, it seems the freedom ride chose me.  Throughout the holidays I found more and more connection with the people in my family, both on my side and my husband’s.  In the past the holidays have shrouded me in sadness, sense of lack, envy and unforgiveness.  But this year, pretty much all I could feel was whole.  It was like sitting in a circle of people and this golden light falling on everything, making it beautiful and soft and transcendent.

Which brings me to the Psalms of Ascents.  While in Dallas I kept thinking about Psalm 133 which speaks of a kind of family connectedness, a spirit of unity which is truly God-breathed.   I asked my father-in-law Allen about the wording.  Why the oil dripping from Aaron’s beard?  Allen, a pastor and Biblical scholar, broke it down for me this way:

What does oil signify?  Anointing.  Blessing.  Consecration.  Aaron’s role as high priest, the mediator between God and man.   Psalm 133 is the image of the oil being so thick it is pouring off Aaron’s beard and his clothes.  It’s a picture of the place where God’s blessing has saturated the atmosphere and people are in harmony with each other because of it.

Allen explained further that Psalm 133 is a Psalm of Ascent, part of a group of psalms about spiritual pilgrimage.  Part of the journey of Ascent is coming into your identity which involves aligning with those you’re supposed to be connected with in the Lord.

I loved this interpretation because it confirmed my experience.  Where there had been subtle but significant road blocks in my sense of unity with the people in my family, suddenly I was experiencing breakthrough.  And it really did feel like an atmospheric change.  Like finding myself in a place where the “oil” of reconciliation was raining down in abundance.  What is so awesome about this is that without the “oil dripping down from Aaron’s beard,” I often miss the opportunity to truly connect.  Potentially vital relationships stay surface-level.  And without this God-breathed unity, I won’t know how to fulfill my destiny.   I can’t quite make the ascent.   Our traveling companions, so to speak, are all around us, but we need this heavenly anointing to release the truth.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to sit together in unity

It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard,

Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes (Psalm 133:1-2)

Tagged , , ,

Sle-e-ep in Heav-en-ly Peace

A week or so before Christmas I was pondering my purpose in life.  I was disappointed with the reality that no matter how hard I try to be efficient, I just can’t seem to get much done besides being Mamma.  Some days, just getting a load of laundry completely through, or getting the dishes from table to dishwasher feels heroic.  The interruptions of baby Aaron are frequent and imperative.  Not that I’m complaining.  Being a mother trumps any experience or achievement real or imagined in my life so far.  Just holding him is a sweet reward.  Yet I persist in wavering between pure surrender to the fleeting moments of motherhood and the voice of the self-critic that says I’m not doing enough to validate my freedom, my time, my education, etc. etc.

So, while nursing the wee babe I decided to journal.  I figured by asking the question: “what am I supposed to be doing with my time right now” the answer would manifest.  I wanted to search the Scriptures for answers, but my Bible is unwieldy.  Too big for balancing with the baby on my lap, especially when he’s focused on his all-important task of eating.  Meanwhile the good hormones released by breastfeeding had begun to work a marvelous calm in me.  When Aaron finished eating I decided to lay him down on my bed and sleep next to him for 15 minutes or so.  My face was right next to the baby, so we were looking eye to eye, so focused I could see my own reflection in the blue-black of his iris and pupil.

We both fought sleep in order to keep staring, but it was a losing battle.  Aaron succumbed first.  Sleep washed over him like a soft wave and I admired how his wide lids and long lashes are so perfectly formed.  Cheeks full and flushed with life.  Lips slightly open.  I could feel cool air on my face and looked up thinking it was the ceiling fan, but the fan was off.  It was the breath from baby’s nostrils.  And then he reached with his hand, still so hard for him to control, and it landed like a gentle smack across my nose.  Palm to Palm is holy palmer’s kiss (Romeo & Juliet, Act 1 scene 5).  Smack to the nose is baby Aaron’s kiss.

I got to thinking the intimacy between us as mother and son was so seasonally appropriate.  The image of Madonna and Child–an icon of Christmas–is kind of an ordinary event.  A portrait of a woman holding her child and contemplating the mystery and the miracle of his life.  For us as women it is also an expression of Emmanuel.  Just as the Spirit hovered over Mary, God-is-with-us, dignifying, sancifying and blessing our everyday acts of love toward our children and other family members.  Mary had prophesied over herself: “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed“; I believe she was also symbolically prophesying over all womankind.  We too are blessed to be agents of heavenly peace.   We carry this Peace when we welcome the love of God for us and within us, allowing that Love to spill over into the lives of the people around us.

Thank You Aaron, for being my son.  Thank You Jesus, for coming as a helpless baby.  Thank You Father, for sending Him to us in this way and affirming forever the dignity of every mother’s work.  Thank You for the blessing of this sacred time in my life, when I am called to contemplate the peaceful face of an infant and even to see through his tender eyes a new image of myself.  Thank You for this beautiful portion of Heavenly Peace.

 

Tagged , , ,

A Tribute to the Poetess of Proverbs

Introduction:  I’ve often speculated that much of the book of Proverbs was orally transmitted to King Solomon by his mother, whose yearnings for her son were expressed in prayers sung over him like a lullabye.  I love that much of Proverbs 1-9 reveals a strong feminine voice.  Proverbs 31 can also be read as a tribute to the feminine voice.  Anyway this poem is my effort to honor that woman as I imagine her.  Naturally, it is also inspired by my current life with baby Aaron.

 

A woman weaves

Thread against colored thread

Crafting beauty with patience

 

A child sleeps; the woman dreams

of Wisdom, dancing with lightness, hovering

Like white birds governing

Revelations propelled by the heart of Creation

 

I will bless you my son

With a tapestry of Joy

 

With all that is good in me,

With all that I didn’t earn but has lit my darkness

With these I’ll compose a longing, a song

Praying Wisdom may master your heart

And Knowledge may sweeten your soul

Early on may you follow the dawn

Early on may you forego folly

Early on may the brightness of the noonday compel you

To the Love of ADONAI forever

 

I will bless you my son

With a tapestry of Freedom

 

The woman weaves

By a window open to receive:

Jewel-like water and houses glinting in the sun

 

The child coos. The woman breathes.

Wave after stirring wave

Of pure air spiced with wildness

 

 

 

 
 
Tagged , ,