Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —


March 26, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 4 & 5

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter,Stories of Life – Rose – 9:40 am

More thoughts on the wilderness journey. In the past two weeks the wilderness has felt more like an emotional white water rapids trip. The risks involved in white water rafting are caused by both environmental dangers and improper behaviors. Environmental dangers such as fallen trees, dams, rocks, and waterfalls. Improper behaviors such as inexperience and not using a guide, rafting while intoxicated and panic in dangerous situations.

There are so many environmental dangers both in the wilderness and in the white water. Finding safety as I continue this journey means training, trusting experienced guides and not panicking when thrown out of the raft. In fact when out of the raft, swimming to a calm spot behind a rock is protocol.

Last week I had a dream. In my dream I was in a large house with small children. I could see a storm, a whirlwind or tornado coming. I knew that I could not out run it. As it approached I realized the only safe place was to step into the eye of the storm, that there I would find calm and not be hurt. It was counterintuitive, I wanted to run with the children from the danger. I knew without a doubt if I stayed outside of the center the outer edges of the storm would destroy everything in its path, including me and the children. I was so afraid but as it approached I grabbed the kids and stepped into the center of the storm. It was instantly calm as the whirlwind carried us and then set us down. We were safe. Dream ends.

I have no control over the elemental dangers that come. The truth is, in this lenten season I have learned how little control I have over much at all.

In a Jan Richardson’s book, “Sacred Journeys” I read a meditation on anger and tenderness. Here is part of the reflection I sit with as the white water of anger rages in my soul:

“Anger is a woman who has learned
that pleasantness
is not the way to peacefulness,
that silence
is not the way to strength.”

Swimming to the Rock, stepping into the Center of the storm, relinquishing control over and over, that what this Lenten journey is teaching me.

March 15, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 3

Category: Lent/Easter,Random Thoughts – Rose – 6:32 pm

Lent, the season of relinquishment. Relinquishment, letting go, surrender all verbs, something we do. Time in the wilderness definitely calls forth action but the action I find being called forth during this season in many ways is what Jesus might have meant when he said if we wanted to follow Him we would have to pick up our cross daily. Some of the relinquishment I am being invited to:

    • Giving up any sense that I can control things that are absolutely out of my control, not even sure that makes sense.
    • Letting go of expectations that at one time seemed legit.
    • Surrendering to the paradox of surrendering my will to God’s will but even that is not in my own power but by God’s grace.
    • Abandonment of all illusions that we don’t live in a war zone
    • Surrender to a dependence on and a desperation for the Spirit of God
    • Letting go of people in graciousness that I really don’t “have” to be present to
    • Giving up on pretenses
    • Releasing my pride to accept kindness and goodness in all the ways in which they come to me
    • Letting go of willfulness and embracing willingness (Thank you Richard Rohr)
    • Desisting from self-contempt
    • Surrender to the powerlessness of meeting other’s expectations of me

My time in this wilderness is definitely a painful call to action…

March 7, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 2

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter – Rose – 4:57 pm

“For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.”

This last week the wild animals of fear, sadness, loss, anger, frustration, powerlessness and emotions that cannot be articulated became constant companions. Both while I was awake and even more so in my sleep. At the same time angels appeared all around me. Ministering angels that brought courage, peace, joy, strength, wisdom, faith, hope and love to me in the most unexpected and in the most obvious of places.

Somehow the care of angels brought me the ability to make peace with the wild animals. The prophetic picture of the lion lying down with the lamb comes to mind. Something in the tension of holding so many conflicting life experiences that are my reality in the here and now becomes bearable as I meditate on the biblical themes of wilderness.

I’m not sure how I will feel tomorrow, but for today, I am grateful for the care of angels…

February 28, 2012

Lenten Reflection Week 1

Category: All Posts,Lent/Easter,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 3:38 pm

As I continue to reflect on the Lenten journey today I found myself reflecting on Jesus’ forty days in the desert, the wilderness. The Judean wilderness was largely uninhabitable and full of dangers for anyone traveling through let alone staying for forty days. Dangers from the scorching sun by day and the extreme cold at night. Dangers from the wild animals and scorpions, the lack of food and scarcity of water. Today in my reflection on the journey through the wilderness this is what came up for me:
Dangerous animals – right now the most dangerous animal threatening to devour is “cancer.”
Scorpions – the poisonous sting from people’s unkind words, their projections, their unresolved pettiness and lack of relational integrity. One of the most vile scorpion bites – passive agressive behavior
Scorching sun – anxiety surrounding provision for those I care deeply about
Extreme cold – Biting fear, fear of the future, fear of harm to those I love, fear of rivers of sadness as you watch those you love in pain.

The wilderness journey for Israel, Moses, Elijah and Jesus end with renewal, faith, hope and vision. I will hold that posture…justice comes. As my friend David sings, “#LTKC!”

February 17, 2012

Prayer, Joy, Sorrow

Category: All Posts,Love,Prayers – Rose – 8:52 am

My stepson, Ben is battling cancer. He was diagnosed in Korea in late October. Had surgery in November. Complications after surgery. Ben, his wife, Hyemin, their son, Daniel and Hyemin’s mother, Leigh returned to America just over one week ago. Ben is battling for his life. Would you join him/us in prayer for a divine intervention? The prognosis is very grim, Ben needs a miracle. I believe in miracles, I do.

I have felt the grace of God in so many ways through so many people. Our family, friends and our faith community, Vineyard Community Church have surrounded us with love and care. I read this in a book recently, “Suffering enlarges the soul’s capacity for great joy.” This is a season of joy and sorrow taking up equal residence in my soul and in the soul of those I love.

I will pray for Ben’s healing, for God to have mercy. I will trust in the goodness of God no matter what the coming days bring. Ben is strong, he is a fighter. I’m joining with all the prayers around the world for healing for grace for mercy.

February 11, 2012

Reflection on Naming Demons

Category: All Posts,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 2:00 pm

Our family is once again facing the demonic illness named cancer. This illness has wreaked havoc in the lives of the people I love most on this earth and once again it has come to call. Words from the doctors, “incurable, 6-10 weeks, chemotherapy, maybe 6-8 months” these are surreal words that should not be spoken over a thirty-five year old husband, father, son, brother, uncle. Our hearts are breaking yet finding strength in everyone’s prayers, thoughts, blessings, love and words of comfort and peace. Our grandson, Daniel is three. Whenever he is getting his picture taken he gives you the “peace sign.” I’m told that’s big in Korea (where he is from). Little does he know that’s exactly what is needed for him, for his mom, for his dad and for his extended family both here in the States and back home in Seoul.
This I know. God is not the inventor or author of the insidious disease named cancer. Cancer comes from the pit of hell where one day when its all said and done there will be no more sickness, no more dying and every tear will be wiped away. Until that time we know that when it comes time for our son to pass from this life to the next, death does not have the last word. In the end of all that is now temporal will be made right, cancer does not win.
Daniel you keep giving us the peace sign. As we watch your innocence in flashing us that sign we will breathe in peace and trust that one day, “All matter of things shall be well.”

January 31, 2012

Waiting

Category: All Posts,Prayers,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 12:10 pm

For Christians that follow the liturgical calendar it is the season of Epiphany. However, today I find myself back in a season of waiting…
Waiting to hear decisions
Waiting to make decisions
Waiting, feeling powerless
Waiting, holding onto faith by a thread
Waiting, clinging to hope for dear life
Waiting, wondering what will be…

January 28, 2012

Signs of Patriarchy

Category: All Posts,women – Rose – 10:28 am

If you want to know the truth I wish I didn’t have to think about equality for women. In a perfect world men and women would be seen as equal and would be in places of influence based on character, talent, etc. The same would be true of any group of people that are marginalized, and suffer oppression in any form from the dominate group that holds the most power and influence in any situation.

I just finished reading, Gender Knot Revised Ed: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, by Allan G. Johnson. Johnson on patriarchy:

“A society is patriarchal to the degree that it promotes male privilege* by being male dominated, male identified, and male centered. It is also organized around an obsession with control and involves as one of its key aspects the oppression of women.”
Allan G. Johnson. Gender Knot Revised Ed: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy (Kindle Locations 112-113). Kindle Edition.

I am thinking about this concept with regard to the Christian Church.

It seems naming this condition out loud causes good people to be uncomfortable, defensive and a bit reactive. In an exercise Johnson conducted in a workshop with business men and women he asked them to name advantages and disadvantages the other gender has. As they reported their findings through the process and results a blanketing silence settled over the room. Johnson reports:

“The result is a kind of paralysis that reflects not only where this particular group-and countless others like it-finds itself as it confronts the reality of gender inequality, but where entire societies are in relation to these issues.”
Allan G. Johnson. Gender Knot Revised Ed: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy (Kindle Locations 102-103). Kindle Edition.

Any denomination, movement or church that does not fully include women as equals to men is compiled of men and women who knowingly or unknowingly participate in a patriarchal structure.

This is what I am thinking about today…

January 18, 2012

Women, Theology, Power

Category: All Posts,women – Rose – 3:34 pm

If you are up to emotional, intellectual, or theological sparring around the issue of biblical equality between men and women you may want to check out the following:

Jim Henderson‘s post “Driscoll Bullies the Brits”
Jason Clark’s post “Mark Driscoll takes aim at the ‘cowards’ in the British church #dminlgp”
Michael Frost’s post here
All of the above sparked from this article

I’m not going to lie, I find this exhausting.

Two of my friends are releasing books (I contributed a wee bit to both) over the next week:

Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church by Pam Hogeweide
and
The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone? by Jim Henderson

I hope you will order and read both books. They are very different (I will be writing a review for both) but both get to the heart of the matter: This is an issue of power. No matter your theological framework, it comes down to the issue of power. Jesus modeled the ultimate form of power that changed the entire created order and beyond by submitting to death on a cross. I see little in the “soft patriarchy” or “complementarian” view on this issue that resembles the kind of power that Jesus modeled.

Women who speak out on this issue are many times labeled “power hungry”

I don’t see it that way…

I rather see it the way my friend Susan so aptly puts it:
“The core assumption that I work from is that no human being can choose to live in a one-down position and be fully subject. Therefore, my claim is that as long as evangelical women ascribe to the “order in creation” theology, the complex ways in which they uniquely attempt to find subjectivity within an overarching system of male supremacy and domination will be only that: attempts. There is no ultimate self-actualization for them as long as they remain in the system, for no woman can enlist in her own dehumanization and marginalization and believe that she is simultaneously moving toward the full measure of her humanity. The woman who thinks that it is appropriate for human beings to be objectified so that others may be glorified participates in her own subordination and is less human than that for which she was created.” –Susan Hall

Any theology, doctrine or understanding of the sacred text that asks human beings (Jew or Greek, Male or Female, Slave or Free) created in the image of God to participate in the dehumanization process of themselves or others, distorts and perverts the gospel of Jesus.

January 7, 2012

Writing Projects

Category: All Posts,Random Thoughts,Stories of Life – Rose – 2:05 pm

It is time for me to prime the pump of the writing well. I have different writing projects I simply put on hold after completing a four-year doctoral program. I sit in my home office today, reflecting, reading, thinking and trying to get some creativity flowing.
I started my blog years ago and committed to writing in it at least a few times a week to start a creative flow. Now, eighteen months post graduation, I am going to begin writing here on a consistent basis to develop my writing muscle.
Let the random thoughts, stories of life and questions about the journey once again commence!