The Lent Project

The Instant Between (A Poem About Falling)

The Instant Between by Krissy Kludt 
Originally posted here.

I.

I cling to the rock
gripping with all my strength
the tiny holds – cracks and ledges just
wide enough for a finger tip
Aware
only of the rock
and the air
behind, above, below.
Time passes – moments,
or eons, perhaps –
and then there is nothing but air rushing
by my falling body.
Silence.
Heavily weightless, nothing moves but the threads
of my hair, winding and unwinding around
one another in the wind,
a graceful dance.
Splash!
I plunge down deep, feet first
into the warm green water,
silence broken by the cavalcade of bubbles
babbling about me.
Suspended in the instant between
moving down and moving up
I taste the salt, feel it
kiss my lips, sting my eyes.
Then, in a rush, I surge to the surface
and suddenly it is sun, not water, that kisses my face.
I smile
and float,
held by the water, warmed by the sun
on the surface of a vast ocean.

II.

I wake in darkness.
I smell the rich, damp smell of earth
so close to my nose I can hardly breathe.
I can’t move enough to open my eyes.
I hear footsteps
muffled just enough
that I cannot tell if they are distant
or just above my head.
A moment passes –
or eons, maybe –
and I can feel a new warmth
stroking my hair.
I am suddenly aware of my arms
and the power to move them.
I push upward
feeling the damp, rich soil
move through my fingertips.
One by one, my ten fingers reach the surface –
there is no hurry here.
And then I discover my legs –
a slow flexing, a memory of movement –
I have done this before.
My legs push down
toes digging deeper into the soil
surrendering to its rich, fragrant darkness.
Time passes
in the in between
and then gradually
or suddenly –
which, I truly cannot say –
I feel the sunlight on my face:
a second awakening.
I blink the soil from my eyes
too accustomed to darkness
to take in all that light.

III.

I cling to the rock.
Or the ladder, rather,
there so long the rock has grown around it.
The waves batter my back
again
and again.
For many moments I can’t breathe
I cough the salt from my lungs,
blink it from my eyes –
the ocean has eclipsed all possibility of tears.
I brace myself for another wave –
just time enough to remember how to breathe
and adjust my grip on the cold, ridged metal
between each onslaught.
How long am I here?  I cannot say.
Time passes.
And then someone is behind me.
He is familiar, yet I’m not certain I
have seen him before.
He wraps his strength around me,
clinging to the ladder for me
pressing my body to safety
holding it with his own.
“I will hold you to this rock,” he whispers,
and in that moment I know his voice.
Time passes.  Moments.  Eons.
Gently, he pulls me from the ladder on the rock.
We float backward
He holds me in the swell
as my hands remember how to relax their grip.
“It’s okay,” he says, and I look around.
As he fades into the ocean,
the thought comes to me:
I have been here before.

Lent Project: Extra's Purge Resources & Ideas

On Sunday, April 13th, we'll launch the final of The Lent Project's 6 Practices of Intentional Denial: The Extras Purge. During this week, we're inviting our community to take an inventory of all of your belongings.  How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have?  Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras.  Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away.  Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale.  Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with.  If money is raised, what will you do with it?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others?

Here are some creative ideas for what you could do with your extras:

  1. Host a garage sale by yourself or coordinate one with your Circle or your neighborhood.  Pool the proceeds together with your Circle or others and contribute it to a kingdom-weaving cause that you believe in.
  2. Donate your extras to the local Goodwill, Walnut Creek Presbyterian's Deacon's Cottage, or St. Paul's Trinity Center.
  3. Combine your extras with others and host an exchange or imagine a 2nd-hand boutique experience in collaboration with an organization serving the poor that you believe in. (i.e. The Michael Chavez Center serving Mexican immigrants on the Monument, City Team or Bay Area Rescue Mission serving the homeless and formerly incarcerated, or New Day for Children serving recently trafficked young women.)

An ODC Story: Bekah Polzin on Majority World Diet

We're officially half-way through The Lent Project.  This 6-week journey of intentional denial is unearthing parts of us that are unsettling as well as inspiring new, simpler and more generous practices that we could integrate into our everyday lives.  In this reflection, Bekah Polzin reflects on the experience of Week 3's Majority World Diet where, for 5 days, we stood in solidarity with the majority world by eating oatmeal for breakfast and rice & beans for lunch and dinner.  Thanks, Trade As One, for the incredible resource! Here's Bekah's reflection...

I’ve never fasted or practiced giving up food. I’ve never eaten a specific diet for a period of time or done a “cleanse” of any kind. This week I learned that I’m not that good at it. I prefer to eat what I want, whenever I want it. It was a reminder of the privileges I have and a quick way to gain perspective.  

It didn’t take me long (like, by lunchtime day 1) to realize that I think about food a lot. It didn’t surprise me to read a “Trade as One” email informing us that on average we make 227 decisions about food in ONE day. We are consumed with food.

What should I make for breakfast? What do the kids want? Should I get a cappuccino today? Should I just make a coffee at home? Regular or decaf? I’m so hungry – I need a snack. I’m getting a chill, maybe I’ll have another cup of coffee. What should I make for dinner tonight? I need to go to the store, what food do we need? And on and on.

What became clear to me throughout the week was the correlation between being fed by worldly things and being fed by Christ. Its true, God created us to need nourishment. But like many other things in our lives, food becomes the focus and not God. When the week was over and I finally ate a substantial meal, my first thought was, “I want more.”

What would our lives look like if we thought about Christ 227 times a day? Or instead of planning the next dinner party to perfection, we sat in prayer and invited God to be in our conversations around the table. Or instead of buying the 18th Starbucks for the week, we share the love and bought one for someone unable to treat herself, or use that money to support a greater cause. 

I was struck by this verse during this process:

My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ's sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. 1 Peter 4:12-1

What If we each brainstormed 227 ideas of how we could intentionally love God by loving others through preparing, serving, or sharing food? Imagine the creative ways we could bring glory to Christ!

The Lent Project :: Descriptions & Details

Lent is a 40-day journey in which we practice denial in an effort to recognize the distance between who we are and who we’re becoming in Christ.  It’s an ancient practice designed to help us embrace our humanity, recognize our ongoing need for a Savior, and encounter grace in refreshing ways.

This year, Open Door will practice Lent in a unique, communal, and experiential kind of way:

The Lent Project: Six Practices of Intentional Denial.

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Throughout this journey, we will engage in six different practices of denial and, in so doing, create margin to commune with Jesus in silence and solitude, community with others, and solidarity with the majority world.

Here’s how it’ll work:

At each Gathering during the Lent Season (March 9 – April 20), we will initiate that particular week’s practice.  Then, for the next 7 days, we’ll live it out (Sunday evening to the following Saturday evening).  For those of us in Circles, we’ll meet together to process, storytell, and learn from each other throughout the week.

If you’re not currently in a Circle but would like to join one to journey through the Lent Project with others, contact Heidi & Clint.

Here are the 6 Practices of Intentional Denial:

  1. Media Fast :: Turn off all media (Computers, TV’s, iPads, iPhones) from 8pm-8am.  Replace the time that would normally be spent engaging media with silence, rest, and community.  This first experience will prepare you well for the next five. Media Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 9th.
  2. Essentials Only :: Reduce your spending to the essentials: bills, toiletries, and 3 simple meals/day.  Simple meals should be prepared and eaten at home (brown-bag @ work) rather than out and should include pot-luck style shared tables with others.  This experience will help us face our consumerism and convenience spending while also helping us to consider budgeted and generous living.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Essentials Only will be launched on Sunday, March 16th.
  3. Majority World Diet :: Eat on $3/day by utilizing Trade As One’s majority world diet kit.  Each kit contains enough rice and beans (& preparation instructions) for one person for five days.  This experience of intentionally simplifying your diet will help you stand in solidarity with the majority world and will help you understand how much money you actually spend on food every week.  Note: the average savings per person will be $75-$100. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Majority World Diet will be launched on Sunday, March 23rd.
  4. Comfort Fast :: Give up either your bed (sleep on the floor) or warm showers (cold showers are acceptable) for the week.  As we stand in solidarity with the majority world, allow Jesus to awaken us to our preferences for convenience and luxury.  If you’re really up for a challenge, give up both! Comfort Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 30th.
  5. Environment Fast :: Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by at least half.  This could include utilizing public transportation or the casual carpool and/or walking and biking rather than driving.  This may include tele-commuting rather than heading into the office and turning down your water-heater. No doubt, this experience will continue to help us confront our convenience and should reduce our commitments for the week.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Environment Fast will be launched on Sunday, April 6th.
  6. Extras Purge :: Take an inventory of all of your belongings.  How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have?  Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras.  Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away.  Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale.  Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with.  If money is raised, what will you do with it?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Extras Purge will be launched on Sunday, April 13th.

As you engage this pilgrimage as an individual and in community with others, here are some questions to take you deeper into the experience and into intimacy with God, self, and others:

  1. What challenge am I / are we experiencing?
  2. What does this practice expose about me / us?
  3. What is helpful about this practice?
  4. What is one highlight from this week?
  5. What is Jesus saying to me / us?
  6. What am I / are we going to do about it?
  7. What will our Circle do with the excess $$$?