our drinking-vodka-out-of-frozen-turkeys

kathyescobar advent & lent, healing, identity, spiritual formation, the carnival in my head 13 Comments

our drinking vodkas out of frozen turkeysi hope everyone had a really great holy week.  it was a wild one around here & i loved it in all kinds of ways.  we did a beautiful & simple good friday gathering & then a fun & so-refuge easter celebration on saturday night.   easter is my favorite season; to me there is so much beauty in the reminder that out of death & darkness new life emerges–over and over and over again.  death, grief & resurrection (i call it friday-saturday-sunday living) is not something to talk about once a year but rather something to practice in the day-in-day-out rhythms of our ordinary lives.

to me, the easter story is about love.  wild, pure, deep, unexpected, enduring love.

and the more i engage in relationship with people (and myself!) i am struck by the deep need for love in this world.  not talking about love.  not theologies about love.  not ideas about love.  but love.  in-the-flesh  and making-a-difference-in-the-deep-places-of-people’s-hearts-and-stories love. yes, i think this world needs more and more little pockets of love.

i shared this story at the refuge during lent but i thought of it this weekend, too.  it is from the book lit by mary karr.  i think some of you have already read it but if you haven’t, i highly recommend it.  there’s this one scene in the book that i’ll never forget.  mary is an alcoholic just starting to attend AA meetings for the first time.  her first reaction to the other people there is so typical–“i’m not like them.  i’m not as bad as them.  i’ve got it much more together than these crazies” (i hear this one often when it comes to the refuge, too).  but she goes anyway.  she puts her butt in the chair and she listens.  then, the best-dressed woman in the group stands up.  totally put together, educated, wearing designer clothes, she proceeds to talk about how when she was drinking she would hide her booze in the carcass of a turkey so that her kids wouldn’t find it.  they searched the house high and low but it always eluded them. she thought she was so crafty.  in her worst moment she ended up desperate for a drink but couldn’t get the bottle out so she heaved up the turkey, guzzling vodka right out of the carcass.   that was her last drink.

mary’s initial reaction:  “oh my God, no way would i ever do that! i’ve got my drinking under control.”

my initial reaction:  “wow, that’s pretty desperate.  glad i’m not that bad off.”

but the truth is that i am that bad.  my drinking-vodka-out-of-frozen-turkeys just looks different, maybe a little cleaner, a little neater, maybe a little more productive, but it’s all about the same thing.  in those moments of desperation, we are looking for love. something to fill the pain & loneliness and settle the scary dissonance inside us. so we work, eat, drink, sex, shop, porn, rage, spiritualize, and a whole lot of other things to try to find “love”.

as the story unfolds, mary finds peace and hope and God through community.  she begins to experience love in deep places, receiving it instead of rejecting it, letting it transform her instead of run away from it.

it all comes back ’round to the beginning, to the first beatitude, to “blessed are those who are spiritually poor”, who are willing to admit “i need God, i need help, i need love.”

when i’m honest, i’d often much rather drink vodka out of frozen turkeys than admit that.

this story isn’t about “stopping” drinking vodka out of frozen turkeys.  that’s what an awful lot of church energy often gets focused toward.  rather, this story reminds me of the deeper truth, the deeper story going on underneath–how can i/we be filled up with the radical love and peace of God in the midst of this broken world and how can i/we pass this love on to others, too?

this easter, i was reminded yet again of the depth and beauty and mystery of God’s love for me, for all of us.  and how much i need God, need help, need love. and how different the world would be if we could all really feel it in our bones & live out of that place more freely, more fully.  not so that we’d be happy clappeys with no sense of pain, but rather that we’d know, when we’re standing by the fridge with a turkey carcass in our hands, that there’s a better way.

a way of need.  a way of love.  a way of hope.  the way of resurrection.

* * * * *

a few other quick things:

  • i had the honor of being part of she loves magazine for easter sunday.  the piece i wrote is called she can’t be silenced.  there are some really beautiful voices and hearts over there, check it out.
  • i will be in seattle this thursday-friday-saturday for the inhabit conference, hosted by parish collective, transFORM network & mars hill graduate school.  focus is centered around my favorite topics:  practice, presence, place.   looking forward to being part & seeing a bunch of fun friends. hoping my back holds out okay.  if you’re coming, let me know.
  • i just bought one of these, a little easter present to myself this year.   david hayward is one of my favorite reads, all his stuff is so good.