A healthy, bubbly sourdough starter.

A healthy, bubbly sourdough starter.

From my journal entry today: “By some miracle, this Lenten sourdough starter is still alive. I have forgotten to feed it three times this week. Today I saw very few of the little yeast bubbles that signal life. It can’t stand this neglect much longer. What am I doing?”

So many things crept into my mind and stole my attention this week. One thing after another.

I have made mistakes, I continue to make them
The promises I’ve made, I continue to break them
And all the doubts I’ve faced, I continue to face them
But nothing is a waste if you learn from it

The sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole

During the past seven days, I’ve been alternating between anxiety and passivity. I frantically studied for a French grammar exam with sweaty palms and with deep regret that I had registered for this course at all. 

I had a sermon to write which wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t coming together or weaving into a warm homily. My points were staccato. I couldn’t conclude. 

I was asked to be a “witness” at a KU Leuven Centre for Women’s Studies event on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Guess what? I haven’t sorted out my pneumatology. I first encountered God’s love at a pentecostal revival. But I had shelved those experiences when plunged into the Moody lectures that taught me not to worry because the Spirit was nice and predictable these days.

We have lived in fear, and our fear has betrayed us
But we will overcome the apathy that has made us
Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons
And we have made mistakes

With the “witness” event right around the corner, I decided to just go and listen. Just to learn something. When it was my turn to talk, I went over my time and I got emotional. I witnessed to my own confusion and to my confidence that however my pneumatology develops, it will never be predictable. Breath and creation and love move in every way mysterious. 

And oh my heart, how can I face you now?
When we both know how badly I have let you down
And I am afraid of all that I’ve built
Fading away

On Friday, with the French exam hours away and my heart racing madly, I took a nap. Yes. I think that nap knocked a couple of points off of my grade. I decided to close my eyes and stop. fighting. the. perfectionist. fight. Once upon a time, I measured the value of my work and effort with something tidy like a grade. Now it’s time to grow up and embrace a fuller measure of who I am.

The sun, it does not cause us to grow
It is the rain that will strengthen your soul
And it will make you whole

I reached out to some wise women who helped me write that sermon. I couldn’t do it on my own. The thoughts wouldn’t weave together until those spiritual guides echoed back the feelings that I couldn’t voice. And the response to the sermon was strong and warm and affirming: the words echoed to other souls as well.

So I apologetically fed my sourdough starter this afternoon and I can’t say if it will be alive tomorrow or not. My Lenten practice is not tidy and I am not faithful.

My sweet friend wrote to me today: “I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that you aren’t falling short.” And I believe that’s the Holy Spirit’s voice, if I’m listening. If you’re feeling fragmented this week, or feeling defeated, or feeling like you may have just killed the one stupid practice you were supposed to keep, maybe you’d like to join me for this affirmation: this will strengthen my soul.

Let’s be whole people. Failure and fear and all.