Growing Up Church-ed

The following is a guest post by Will O’Brien who currently resides in Rochester, New York but is originally from Saint Louis, Missouri. Will speaks to the way church, or any other religious community for that matter, can shape the people we become and the wisdom we recognize. So here’s Will on Growing up Church-ed…

The weirdest people seem to gather in the most dignified and “normal” places, and there is one community in my life that is like a Whitman’s Sampler of quirky.

My church community may seem normal but the people in it have contributed to the best abnormal education anyone could want. I was raised with 57 some odd sets of surrogate parents and grandparents and a bizarre array of sort-of older siblings, kind-of aunts and uncles, and crazy not-really cousins. Every week this world of weird gave me a safe space and plenty of inspiration to create my own unique identity.

Whether it is the couple who are both science teachers that show up every week in a different one of their many matching and bizarrely-themed Hawaiian shirts or the 84 year old man that loves to tell you about his most recent hand crocheted lace doyly, they all stop and say hi and truly care about you. This caring is passed through time and place to all corners of the earth through members of this odd little family that squabbles about whether or not Easter Brunch should be before or after the church service but always agrees to love and care for one another.

This dysfunctional second family has taught me not only to embrace the things that make me different but moreover that it is these very things that will help be a light to the world.

Manu Temple

By: Jenni Taylor

I met a woman today. I smiled at her and she half smiled back. I motioned to my camera, asking permission to snap a photo. She nodded her head graciously and gave another half smile as I clicked away.

She was crouched on the ground, listening to the other temple women chatting nearby as they all kneaded the wool in their hands around simple wooden spindles, wrapping yards of yarn around their elbows and arms as the strands became longer. They were all in the sun, soaking up the heat from the ancient stones beneath them.

It was March, but the nights were still bitter and the sunshine was a treat in this valley of the Himalayas. Men, women and children were all around them, taking off their shoes, entering the temple, ringing the bell above the door to awaken the gods and taking pictures of their families on this particular holy day. The women continued their work, mostly oblivious to the movement around them. One women lay down on the stone to take a cat nap in the warm sunshine.

I entered the temple, came out again, snapped the picture of the woman sitting alone, continued walking around. A sign told the story of Manu and the flood, and how the caste system had been created. For some reason I came back to her. There was something about her wrinkles and her half smile and her loneliness setting her apart from the other old women. I wanted to give her something, anything. I began to dig through my purse. Money? No. She’s not a beggar. Chapstick? That’s just silly. I finally found a pair of pink woolen mittens at the bottom of my bag. Perfect. I walked up to the woman for a second time, this time coming close and bringing my hands together in the traditional Indian namaste greeting. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but it was enough.

I bowed to her, smiled, and handed her the mittens. She chuckled a bit from surprise, but took them and gave me a deep nod, with a real smile this time. As I walked away, the other women had stepped closer, murmuring about the gift and the unexpected bit of good fortune. She was gently tugging the mittens on and wiggling her thumbs in their warmth. I bowed to her again before leaving and she smiled, waving a pink hand at me before I disappeared around the corner.


Loose Threads: Bible Passages

Loose Threads is a place were we all can discuss a topic and share wisdom. So here is today question:

What is your favorite Bible passage and why?

Jenni: :

To you O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.

Psalms 25: 1-2

This question was way harder than it should have been, but I finally picked this one because faith is hard. It’s not something I necessarily feel or understand all the time. This verse, for me, is like a deal with God. If I lift up my soul, if I pray and focus on him, I can trust him to come through. Verse 3 continues by saying, “no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.” By doing my part, he will do his. By having faith even when it’s difficult and doesn’t make sense, by trusting him and putting my hope in him, he promises that I will not regret it. That’s something worth believing in.


For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

I love this passage because I believe I am loved by God, and that nothing can make God stop loving me. This passage not only confirms that, but challenges me to believe the same about every other person and creature. Even the people who make me angry, even the people who preach hate, even people who disagree with everything I believe–they are all loved by God no matter what. Sometimes this is unfathomable to me. How can a love exist that cannot be broken? However, this is the God I believe in–a love that is unbreakable, for me and for everyone else.

Now it is your turn!

Where do you find wisdom, love, …and lint in the bible?


Sophia Sighting: Nuremberg


By: Autumn Elizabeth

Location: Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

During a long meandering walk I discovered this street art. So often we can overlook our common humanity, and here, as the sun set, was Sophia reminding me that we are all equal. No matter who we love, no matter our gender, no matter our sex, no matter our religion, we are all human are we all deserve to be treated with love. Holy Wisdom on a wall, Holy Wisdom in us all.

Tiny Love

What follows is the perfect first guest post for our little project of looking for wisdom, love …and lint.  In his post, Adam Pracht writes about the little pieces and big ideas of love. Adam is a chef  in Chicago and  is working to end violence on the south side of Chicago. With that here’s Adam with his pocket findings…

We’re all taught early on that love exists in specific categories, often based on the Greeks’ different words for love, usually utilizing some combination of affectionate, familial, sensual, and charity. After the categories of love, the next concept we are told to grasp are actions of love. We learn about giving, compassion, sex, serving one another: these are all things we do that are a result of having love for another.

These two contrived concepts –  the categories of love and the actions of love – are accurate enough, they both certainly exist and can easily be pointed out in every day situations; but lately, as I’ve been growing older and encountering more and more varieties love, I feel that these categories and actions only cover a small section of love. In doing so, they limit our ideas of love and, in fact, completely miss some of the more important, beautiful aspects. Aspects of love that, for lack of a better term, I’ll call tiny love. Not because this love has a small impact, but because if you’re not looking as hard as you can (and in fact sometimes it’s only visible in retrospect), you’ll miss it.

This love, or fragments of a concept of love, is becoming a crucial part of my view of love. Tiny love can exist independent of people (and their hearts), of time, even independent of situations themselves.  Here is a short list of my explainable encounters with this untethered, fragmented love:

Washing dishes is arguably the best way to look for little bits of love.

Chasing animals for hours with a 2 year old, shrieking the whole time and never coming close to catching any of them is an easy way to find it.

Working an overnight shift, knowing the sun will be up soon, you realize: you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else, even if you could. Your heart gets almost imperceptibly bigger as you watch the first rays of sun filter in.

Whole pieces of tiny love can be found in carefully prepared dishes, especially the ugly ones. Cooking is one of those love languages that categorizing misses, and it’s one of the best.

I’m not even sure love is the right word for any of this. Maybe it’s just a concept, maybe it’s any situation that grows your heart a millimeter bigger.

The really truly exciting thing about the endeavor of Sophia’s Pockets is that they’re asking for everyone’s voice to collaborate with them in making something beautiful. So please, if you have one, share your story of finding some bits of a strange love when you weren’t looking for it, or if you think that love isn’t the right way to describe it, tell us what is.