Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Spirituality

Dear Dad, Here’s an idea…

Charley Brown Christmas treePomegranate in Bonsai Garden,
Longwood Gardens

Dear Dad,
Here’s an idea I had today.  I was trying to figure out how, at our ages, I would like to begin a conversation with you.  So I had this wild idea, based on my experience with the other main man in my life, my husband. Read the rest of this entry »

“Thou in my heart hast planted…”

Longwood Meadow Gardens Entrance/Exit - November 2014

It’s November.  My husband and I just finished a hike through the meadow at Longwood Gardens Though the weather forecast promised warm afternoon sun, it’s gray, cold  and misty.  On a whim, I ask my husband to take a picture of this sign. Read the rest of this entry »

Listening to My Body


I laughed as I wrote the dialogue between my body and me.  We’ve been having this conversation for a while.  It has, however, escalated in the last month while I’ve been recovering from a respiratory virus. Read the rest of this entry »

The Face of Contempt | Part 2 of 2

Self-contempt has been my primary issue for years.  Until I learned to have compassion on myself, it was almost impossible not to have contempt for others.  Here’s what self-contempt has looked like Read the rest of this entry »

My heart still pounds | Part 2 of 3

My heart still pounds when I relive this event.
Here’s what I read to my male colleagues, lightly edited for clarity.

I want to let you know why I’ve chosen not to attend these faculty fellowship gatherings.  It’s about me.  In particular, it’s about my almost intolerable level of personal discomfort, accompanied by my sense of a being in a highly charged atmosphere in which I am now supposed to be ‘spiritual.’

  • I don’t know when to laugh.  The sign of this is that I sometimes want to cry when others are laughing.
  • I want to lament when others are praising.
  • I feel strange when those around me give every sign of feeling at home.

At my university, there was virtually no community spirituality.  This was uncomfortable and strange to me.  Here at the seminary, there’s much excitement and fervor about community spirituality.  This, too, I find strange and uncomfortable.

  • I want to name and give voice to my spirituality.  It’s deeply rooted in my Christian feminism and history with my sisters [other women].  It’s also rooted in my theology, and has the capacity for being as disturbing and controversial as any theological position might be.
  • I need to name this spirituality because of what seems to be an unspoken assumption that if my spirituality is different from the reigning spirituality, then I have no spirituality.
  • I must name this spirituality because I can no longer keep silent.

First, two statements about what spirituality is not:

  • Spirituality is not a human capacity whereby we ‘get in touch’ with God by means of various so-called spiritual disciplines.
  • Spirituality is not something we do—except insofar as we respond to something.

Put positively,

  • Spirituality is the event of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  It’s a happening in which God comes to us not in familiar, comfortable ways, but as a disturbing reality that challenges us at the point of our concrete need.

Here’s a more descriptive statement.  For me, spirituality is about the following:

  • Being awakened, coming to life, and purposefully incorporating all of human life into a shared vision of God and the world
  • Having my eyes open to human life, to what’s going on around me
  • Being awakened by God who comes to me in the form of my least favorite neighbor
  • Being introduced to a world of pain and suffering to which I cannot close my eyes
  • Striving with God, giving vocal expression to my outrage, my frustration, my despair
  • Being willing to give this vocal expression not just in the presence of God, but in the presence of my sisters and my brothers
  • Allowing the pain and anger to be there, without quick and easy resolutions
  • Being willing to live for a long time out of a vision of reality that is daily called into question

Spirituality is more than the event of the Holy Spirit opening our eyes.  It’s also a language that we speak.  However, I find myself surrounded by language that doesn’t reflect my spirituality.  This is what I hear:

  • Language about retreat from the world
  • Language that suggests life is a distraction – something we need to shut out
  • Language that denies expression to feelings of pain and suffering, but calls instead for talk of joy and unity that I don’t always see
  • Language that suggests our academic work could ever be anything but an expression who we are before God and before each other
  • Language that sets ‘us’ apart from ‘them’— from people out there in the real world
  • Language preoccupied with the inner self, in seeming isolation from concrete relationships 

This language disturbs me, largely because I feel no freedom to challenge it openly.

When we’re dealing with theological positions, we seem to do better at inviting dialogue.  But when we’re dealing with spirituality, I sense that the shape of spirituality has been precut.  Those who don’t fit the garment are at best misfits, at worst not ‘in the Spirit.’

In the end, my spirituality has to do with becoming acutely aware of the humanity of others and of myself—and of God in all of this.  It’s an awareness born of involvement in life, not an awareness that leads to involvement.

My goal, then, is to stay exactly what I already am–human, within the real world like everyone else, not separated out into a ‘more spiritual’ world.


In a last post, I’ll comment about what happened next and what I’ve learned from this experience.  Stay tuned!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 January 2015

My heart still pounds | Part 1

Nearly 30 years later, my heart still pounds loudly when I relive this event.  It’s early fall 1985.  I’ve been teaching theology to seminarians since fall 1983.  I’ve agreed to make a presentation at an informal faculty gathering. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Readers, | New Year Update

Dear Readers,
High time for a report!  All the pieces aren’t in place yet, but I have a direction.

No Facebook
Not for now.  I looked at several FB pages of bloggers and authors I follow.  They were wonderful.  Yet the more I looked at the time commitment and energy output needed from me, the less eager I became.  I feel relieved that for now, my energy goes into writing for the blog.

A Haiku Challenge
The challenge is to write one haiku a day.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, if all goes well, you’ll know each day whether I’ve done that.  If I don’t, you won’t see a thing.

Areas for Focused Writing 

  • Human trafficking.  How it intersects with my growth and journey as an adult in world that treats most of us as commodities.  This isn’t just a personal issue; it’s communal, national and global.  What does this look like in my life?
  • God.  How I think, speak and write about God.  I’ve never hated God.  On the other hand, there are areas of my life that don’t yet resonate with whatever it means to bear the image of God.  I’ve been working on this for several years now.  Time to start writing!
  • Spirituality.  It hasn’t been easy to articulate what it looks like for me, or why it’s so important for me to name it.  It’s easy to say I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.  But how do I talk about my interior and exterior life?  And what happens when I do?
  • Marriage.  When I traveled up the highway 150 miles to go to college, I met the man I would marry.  Forty-nine years and counting.  My traumatic childhood affected my ability to relate to any man, much less a husband.
  • Motherhood.  Not an easy role for me as a person or as a professional.  I’m especially interested in the ways my upbringing affected my ability to be a mother.  I won’t write about my children, but will focus on my own struggles.  Not an easy topic; I’ve sometimes been judged harshly in this area.

Just so you know, I’ve made a pact with myself to keep my posts not-too-lengthy, so you can expect manageable pieces from time to time.  All mixed in with other things I love to write about:  Diane; devotional writing that moves me; haiku and poetry; letters to Mom.  Who knows, I might even write another letter to Dad.  Probably to God, too.

If you’ve found me or I’ve found you, there’s a reason.  I want to live into that while I’m able.

With gratitude, respect, and expectation!

Where is my Mother? | Part 2 of 3

Sister #3
It’s 1949. I’m 6 years old. Sister #3 is 6 months old and still nursing.  She’s sitting on my parents’ bed with Father and me. He’s playing with her—a little game of reach and grab. He asks me to watch and see whether she’s moving her left arm. No, she is not. Read the rest of this entry »

Rituals of Submission | Part 2 of 2

I feel awkward making observations about being beaten. I don’t remember anyone talking with me about them, commiserating with me, comforting me or asking how I felt.  After each beating I simply walked out of the room and right back into life. Read the rest of this entry »

salty tide

salty tide
laps against dock
marsh hen clacks

It’s nineteen-fifty-something Read the rest of this entry »

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