Monday, May 16, 2005

After the Squeeze

Torchwood was started as a group blog for a women's leadership team. This post is by Susan:

The squeeze is a force to be reckoned with, to be sure. But the after-effect isn't depletion, it's stretching, magnification, super-saturation. It's an out-of-bounds explosion. If you see it as such, it is a precious opportunity.

Kahlil Gibran says this in The Prophet:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter
rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the
very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart
and you shall find it is only that which
has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for
that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,'
and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.'
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your
board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Yes, the good stuff is in you ready to be released, and for some of us the big squeeze is more painful than for others. The better the press, the better the mash. First time through it's golden - extra virgin. Then we can go 'round a few more times, to get every drop of insight.

And at the end we have surely taken a new shape. Ready for the next pressing. After all, this is normal.

Friday, May 13, 2005

pretty in a bowl

Thinking About Lemons

I recently prepared Greek food for two different dinners. The marinade for lamb and chicken kabobs contained fresh squeezed lemon juice. The salad dressing called for lemon juice to mix with olive oil and herbs. We served a lemonade and iced tea with lemon wedges. One of the desserts? Lemon bars. Do you think the Greeks pondered allegory as they cooked?

It occurred to me that for the lemon to be most useful it has to render its juice. If it could choose to, would it? It would mean being cut and then squeezed repeatedly to yield that unique tart citrus nectar that combines so well with oils and sweeteners. To release the juice needed for my recipes, I had to squeeze the outside of the skin and press a wooden juicer tool on the inside. The lemons looked nice in a bowl, but I bought them for one thing: to provide a delicious dinner for my guests. They were exactly the right ingredient. And to remit that wonderful juice inside, they had to be squeezed.

Likewise, it is squeezing (i.e. pressure!) that releases what's inside of me. Something wonderful that will add the right ingredient to a mixture? Hopefully. Some unbelief to be reckoned with and submitted to God? Maybe. Or both? Possibly. Do I want to just look good in the bowl, or am I willing to yield to some squeezing from the outside, as well as from the inside, in order to give up and give out what has been produced in me? Squeezing is just part of the process.

What squeezes you?

Incidentally, it is interesting that the lemon tree is part of the Rutaceae family of plants/trees (see above.)

This lemon thing began to marinade in my mind as I read an excerpt from Douglas Coupland's novel, Generation X. I found it quoted in The Out of Bounds Church by Steve Taylor. How do you think it relates?

"I stood up and was considering this drop of blood when a pair of small fat arms grabbed around my waist, fat arms bearing fat dirty hands tipped with cracked fingernails. It was one of the mentally retarded teenagers, a girl in a sky blue calico dress, trying to pull my head down to her level. I could see her long, streaky, fine blond hair from my height, and she was drooling somewhat as she said, urrd, meaning bird, several times.

I bowed down on my knees again before her while she inspected my talon cut, hitting it gently with an optimistic and healing staccato caress--it was the faith-healing gesture of a child consoling a doll that has been dropped.

Then, from behind me I felt another pair of hands as one of her friends joined in. Then another pair. Suddenly I was dog-piled by an instant family. In their adoring, healing, uncritical embrace, each member wanting to show their affection more than the other. They began to hug me--too hard--as though I were a doll, unaware of the strength they exerted. I was being winded--crushed--pinched and trampled.

The man with the beard came over to yank them away. But how could I explain to him, this well-intentioned gentleman, that this discomfort, no this pain, I was experiencing was no problem at all, that in fact, this crush of love was unlike anything I had ever known."