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"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass







Sunday, November 25, 2012

Revival



After years away, I found my feet walking the aisle of church.

We gathered around picnic tables
plates of food crafted by the hands of friends,
being shared by strangers turned neighbors.










As the sun hung heavy, unwilling to bid the sky and company goodnight
glasses were filled, 
communion quite literally hanging on the vine.







 
There is a reason the old revivals were held beneath a tent.

You need dirt 
beneath your feet 
to ground you.

Your shadow made long
created by the moon who would not be out-done by her golden sister,
to see your true shape.

You need the fresh air
in your lungs
to gather the fullness of these moments inside you.

The shrieking of babies 
being tossed in the air by your friends
to hear God laugh.




Beneath that white tent, 
I heard the whisper -
the world welcoming the divine to dance.

Wine bottles were place by the stage
instead of candles lit in eulogy

My daughter perched on my widened hip as 
we siblings, brought up in our Daddy's church
lead the assembled in "I'll Fly Away"

This sinner's choir had it all
tambourines, mandolins
and feet to stomp out joy.

The congregation of
old believers, atheists, the never achievers
dance and swayed under the moon.

And then, exhausted from our exaltation
lying on our backs, prostrate
reading the scripture of the stars.

No sermon was said, but redemption was found.

A night seeped in faith. hope. love.

After years away
I found my feet walking
the aisle of church.

But perhaps, I never walked away.


~~~~



This Saturday, December 1st, the book that I am a contributor for, Finding Church will be published.  In it you will find my story of walking away from conventional church for something more expansive.  You can pre-order a copy right now on the publisher's website HERE.  

And, should you leave a note in the comments saying you want to join in, your name will be thrown into the mix for a chance to win a free copy I will be giving away on December 15th.  

~~~
joining up after a too long absence with some of my favorite communities 
, Jen, Heather, Imperfect Prose

55 comments:

  1. This is gorgeous, Tara. I felt as though I were there with you: what a wonderful place to be! We really shouldn't try to fit God into our boxes. He's there, but He's everywhere, and there's so much more beauty and space outside the spaces where we so often look for Him.

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    1. I wish you would have been right there with us! I think you would have loved it. Yes. to the expansion of our expectations of God looking or being in certain things or places. the world and humanity can be truly beautiful things when we let them open up and breathe.

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  2. This is so beautiful. "No sermon was said, but redemption was found." Mmmm. When we confine our experience of the divine to a "church building" we miss out on seeing this.

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    1. yes. we miss out on this, and so many millions of moments like this out there, just waiting to be deemed holy and called blessed.

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  3. This is beautiful, Tara. Thank you so much for sharing. I was just talking this weekend with family about church and what seems missing from it. I also read a post by Richard Beck (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/) about the lack of songs of lamentation in our churches today.
    "you need dirt beneath your feet to ground you" AMEN!

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    1. i think church misses what we are unwilling to bring to it, either as a society or as individuals. That's why i find it out in the sun, under an alcove of pines, and around pool tables. we need not be afraid of the full experience of life, and i thank you so much Melanie for being here with me in this. {loved that post you linked too. very interesting and telling indeed!}

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  4. so much brave beauty in this....thanks for the gentle stir
    and i'm feeling a challenge, too.
    much grace for the journey,
    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer, your words are always so full of encouragement and grace. i wish all of that back to you on the journey as well.

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  5. So gorgeously written Tara, I haven't quite found my feet again but I'm trying.
    Congratulations on the book!

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    1. isn't life the constant state of learning to stand, becoming unsteady and righting ourselves again? You do yours so gloriously out loud. it breeds hope.

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  6. Tara, this is a great piece and I'd love to read more about in your upcoming published book (congratulations, by the way, that is a huge accomplishment!). I often get caught up in what my definition of church should be - I was raised Catholic, married into a Lutheran family, and often dwell on how other people seem so at ease in their relationship to God while I'm floudering in my brick and mortar space. Not sure how I find my way, but I'm just taking it one day at a time.

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    1. "while i'm floudering in my brick and mortar space". oh goodness. I get this. I live this. I think you are finding your way...each day. i believe in asking these questions and allowing our life to speak to us as we continue to seek. we should get together one of these days and let the kids play and talk :)

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  7. Congrats on the book (and yes, I do want to be thrown in the draw to win the copy:))!

    I left church a long time ago, and have had no desire to return. Being raised catholic seemed like hell to me more than anything else. Judgmental, antiquated dogmas, there always seemed to be an ulterior motive...

    I realize that it was just my experience and that there are many Catholics out there who are decent people, but my experience that it was very exclusive rather than inclusive (who gets to pick who goes to heaven anyway? Really?)...

    Anyway - I very much enjoyed reading this and I feel that's exactly what church should be. A sense of community, no ulterior motives and mutual acceptance.
    I'll let you know when I find mine :)

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    1. yes. i too know and have felt the constricting and exclusive versions as well as know a whole slew of people who do church well, in all its messy glory. I feel the way you do that for church to work, in whatever context, format or term it must be driven with the pure intent of community, and acceptance. It won't always be perfect, but if people are striving for these things wrapped up in love - whew. for now i find mine out in fields with music, friends, and open skies. Can't wait to hear when and where you find yours :)

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  8. THAT. Was a skin-shiver piece of beautiful heart and word-art.

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    1. thank you for being here, erika. i can't tell you the exhale your voice has been to mine as i navigate this.

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  9. "After years away
    I found my feet walking
    the aisle of church.

    But perhaps, I never walked away."

    I can't get these statements out of my head. They are a perfect summary of the last eight years of my life. And they somehow mean even more coming from you... There is so much beauty and grace weaved into this portrait of your evening under heaven. I can't wait to read your portion of the new book. :)

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    1. you're going to be there for one of these nights. i just won't accept anything else from this life. to talk through these years of yours in person... to have the stars blink in understanding. it's going to happen. promise.

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  10. "reading the scripture of the stars" made me think of something in the Psalms...Congrats on the book, Tara :)

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  11. Tara...this is so good...such a beautiful picture. I am working on my own church journey story for a compilation book project due soon and I am stuck, stuck, stuck...but I was inspired by this project when I heard about it just two days before submission.

    With all that said...you are inspiring and reminding me that I NEED to write this....thank you.

    I would love my name to be thrown into the mix for the December 15th giveaway.

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    1. ooh. I can't wait to read your story! There are so many paths trying to get to the same place... it's pretty amazing. You are in like flin {somehow i feel my children would cringe if they knew i said that} to the drawing for the book December 15th. :)

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  12. I love how your words always take me away. So beautiful and honest.

    Congrats on the book! Count me in on the drawing.

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  13. This was beautiful. It is always interesting to me how sometimes the best sermons have no words. And yet I love words. Especially yours my friend.

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    1. i love me some words too. always have, always will. i'm just now starting to lean into what i know inside myself, when no one is talking or shaping and just allowing moments to breathe through you. it is a process. and i'm no where near the end of it, that's for sure.

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  14. Before my pilgrimage/hike in the Alps this past summer, I posted this for the other members of our team:

    "The Kentucky farmer-essayist Wendell Berry once commented, "The great visionary encounters [of the Bible] did not take place in temples, but in sheep pastures, in the desert, in the wilderness, on mountains, on the shores of rivers and sea.... I don't think it's enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is.... It is best read and understood outdoors, and the further outdoors the better.... Passages that within walls seem improbable or incredible, outdoors seem merely natural. This is because outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread."

    Matt Woodley. The Folly of Prayer: Practicing the Presence and Absence of God (p. 37). Kindle Edition.

    I'm a traditional church gal--I need to be around those fellow broken people, watching the process of God's healing and redemptive work in their lives, practicing things like extending and receiving forgiveness while I remain a work very much still in progress. But the hike and this quote remind me that I need both--the spoken word and the heavens declaring the glory of God.

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    1. holy moly. i love that quote!! I think it takes all of us. the ones that need space and the ones that need cores. just like you say, i think we need both. to be OPEN to both. what you are describing as reasons you crave traditional church is the EXACTLY the same reason i crave non conventional church. isn't that crazy and amazing, and puzzling, and exactly just right?

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  15. I loved this, and I am atheist. There's something about being in nature, though -- I feel a great connectedness to the world when I have my hands in the soil or when I breathe with the stars.

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    1. "I feel a great connectedness to the world when I have my hands in the soil or when I breathe with the stars." whew! you said it!

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  16. Beautiful! My favorite line is "to hear God laugh." I would love to hear Him laugh.

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    1. oh, i think we can... it may just sound like other sounds we're used to hearing for now :)

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  17. Nature is pretty much my religion. You have a beautiful way with words!

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    1. there's just something about nature, isn't there? it gives you true scope in a world where that's sometimes hard to find.

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  18. "No sermon was said, but redemption was found"
    Love that part, very profound. If a picture can speak a thousand words, that quote says just as much.. (Found you on yeahwrite)

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    1. so glad you found me...i'm going to be making the rounds tonight and can't wait to stop on by :)

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  19. Tara this is simply glorious at it's truest form.....love the beautiful message in your words!

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  20. You captured a moment that was so worth sharing with all of us, Tara. I'm so glad you did and so glad you are basking in God's embrace today. :)

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    1. i'm always so happy when you come by Beth. :)

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  21. I've walked the aisle...no it is the getting connected part for me.

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    1. it's hard to find. that's why i don't limit where i find it, but try to embrace that connection everywhere.

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  22. What an amazing image you create here, even more amazing for such breathtaking photos. God was most certainly there!

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    1. nights like those you need only show up. breathtaking was all around :)

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  23. no sermon said but redemption found....ah...i bet that kinda revival was refreshing...the open air under the tent...very cool....

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    1. refreshing - the night was exactly that. when you remember to let out the air you've been holding in.

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    1. when you find true community, it's really something :)

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  25. This was beautifully written and I had imagery going on all over the place. I could feel the setting. A true revival happening here.

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  26. oh, i have missed you sweet friend. and this is one of my favorites of yours. and i love how you're talking church too. how God is singing his song of love and redemption all over us, spreading one large white canopy from sea to sea.

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    1. thank you so much. not for just these words, but all of them along the way. isn't it just amazing to watch that canopy just grow and grow?

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  27. Revival, indeed. Stunning. Just stunning. All my senses were alive with this one. My favorite line? "reading the scripture of the stars." Amen.

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  28. So, so many congrats, girl!

    This is stunning and I'm over the moon for YOU and your words!

    xo

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  29. Congratulations! - and thank you for sharing your beautiful poetry - more beautiful because of its meaning:) Your detail took them there - the dirt under feet, the children, the moon - and realness of it all. Simply soul beautiful!

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