I read this article in the latest edition of Christianity Today last week and found that it nearly word-for-word followed things I have written/thought over the past few years. I thought that as a much more articulate way of saying all these things I have thought, that I would just post the article on here. It’s a short read.

It’s just right here.

This just made me laugh at myself. I mean, that I just sent this email to some organization that really cares about this sort of thing. I think I really have become the crazy neighbor to the crazy cat lady. truly. it’s official.

From: Emily Curran
Date: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 9:30 AM
Subject: Ferrel cats
To: adoptions@alleycatguardians.org


I live on Enslen Ave., and we are experiencing some major ferrel cat problems. I am not sure if this is the correct place to contact with these problems, but I thought it would be worth a shot to start by contacting your organization.

Over the weekend we noted that a litter of kittens were making our breezeway home, though they might be migrating to the neighbors house now. Just two weeks ago we had to take care of a kitten that had been hit by a car. The next day another kitten (I assume from the same litter) had been hit by another car. I hate to see these kittens being killed like this, and would rather your organization get ahold of them and get them into homes.

Please let me know if your organization is not the one to contact with this sort of problem.


Emily Curran

THIS must stop.

alright…here it goes:

I have had this one thought that has sort of plagued me over the last eight months-ish, maybe more. The gist of this idea is the poverty of spirit, but it also and necessarily includes the ideas of need and absence.

I was reading Elizabeth Fox Genovese’s conversion story in the journal First Things from April of 2000 when it all sort of made sense. First, Genovese states that “our highest realization of self results from the gift–or loss–of self”. Next she notes Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ exegesis of Matthew. From reading his exegesis of Matthew she finally understood “that the poor in spirit are those who literally ‘beg for their life’s very breath’–those who depend upon God the way we all depend upon air to breathe. Poverty of spirit is the grace of those who have emptied themselves of everything but the desire for God’s presence…”

Stick with me, this could get tedious, but will hopefully all make some sense in the end.

I have most recently been confronted with this idea in my spirit and have thus seen it play out in everything I read and do. I saw it first when reading The Brothers K by James Duncan. Duncan sets up characters who seem to do wildly irrational things due to being at their wit’s end. They are in desperate need and only aware of their great need. Because of this great need, and unaware or unconcerned with what it all means, these characters do great things that ordinary life would not usually call for.

Next, I read Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Here is a few short lines on what Robinson says on absence and need. “For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it?…So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smoothes our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.”


Next, I took a class on Henri Nouwen at Fuller Seminary (I kind of went back to school…p.s.). Nouwen wrote a lot about the “ministry of absence”. There are about 1 million things here, but I will limit this to just a few, short sentences. Nouwen talks about absence in relation to Christ. He says in The Living Reminder “In Jesus’ absence a new and more intimate presence became possible” – the Holy Spirit. Nouwen also notes that the Eucharist is a manifestation of the ministry of absence, as we celebrate God’s absence we engage with His presence. Lastly, Nouwen ties in the ideas of memory and absence. Our memories create the present. Or put another way, the absence of a certain reality paves the way for our present reality. He says “we become our memories”.

Okay last one. For the past four months or so I have walked down to the local Catholic church on Tuesdays to pray during their Adoration time. I have not engaged much with Catholicism over the years and so I am seeing a lot of simple Catholic rituals for the first time and with clear eyes.

One ritual in particular is very gripping. I don’t know anything about this, except that I have seen women get on their knees and shuffle all the way from the back of the church building to the altar, praying the entire time. Every time I see this, I am reminded of all that I have written above. This women so understands her great need that she is willing to cast off all care and concern of self. This is the poverty of spirit that Genovese noted in Leiva-Merikakis’ article. It is one of Duncan’s characters. It is Robinson’s stunning remarks on absence and is Nouwen’s Eucharist celebration and thoughts on memory.

I am enthralled with this idea, and moreover find myself here. I literally find language to define myself in these words. This is what it means (at least in part) to be poor in spirit, and that’s why the poor in spirit get the kingdom of heaven – in the present tense no less! (as opposed to the other Beatitudes, whose rewards are not given in the present tense).

Oh boy, this got so so long, and I feel I could write so so much more. I really hope that this all made sense. I only recently tied all of this to being Jesus’ “poor in spirit”, but hopefully all the connections here are accurate and meaningful to someone else. Moreover, I hope this is who I am.

Thanks for reading (if you got this far!).


“Houses” by Khalil Gibran

A mason came forth and said, “Speak to us of Houses.”
And he answered and said:
build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you
build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the
wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night;
and it is not dreamless.
Does not your home dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower
scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green path your alleys,
that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with
the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses?
And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits
of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood
and stone to the holy mountains?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?

Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?
Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.
Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.
It lulls you to sleep only to stand by our bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.
It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistle down
like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, an then
walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor, but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid
that guards an eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend you heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to
breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendor, your house shall not hold
your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky,
whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs
and the stillness of night.

i just found a note to myself, reminding myself that i wanted to share (to my blog readers) this one thing. it’s a simple story. i had a doll as a child that i regularly shook and played with so ferociously that its head no longer stood upright, but instead flopped from one side to the next.

i remember the doll looking something like this (but of course the head fell to the side) and the doll had blonde hair. i think that my grandma had made it for me. for some reason this is just very funny to me tonight.

sitting on my couch with the rain dropping in the background, reading Ayn Rand’s The Foutainhead and listening to Eddie Vedder’s song Society.

those who know either of those probably understand my moment just now.

been thinking some about purpose lately. the illusion of having purpose is quite compelling, or so i am finding. i’m starting to see how the pursuit of purpose can bring one to the point of doing things that are very un-christ like and destructive. i’m not necessarily finding myself in the place of doing such things, but i’m seeing, maybe for the first time ever, the appeal to such behavior. i’m also seeing such behavior in my past.

and as simple as this is, i was recently reminded by my friend ashleigh, that there is a difference between purpose and goals. my purpose is to know God, and even more specifically, my purpose is to be still; to listen to God and others.

i just get caught up with all the goals in my life and when i don’t see them coming to be, i feel purposeless. i find myself pining for the days when purpose came easier and more clearly. sometimes it makes me distrust my own desires – not being able to trust whether i pursue purpose or truth. but…for now, i’m going to keep moving, trusting that the purpose i see in my life….is the truth.

but for kicks, and in order to create a very clear purpose…i am going to run another marathon. i’m going to run the inaugural modesto marathon in march, thus giving every week very clear purpose. (though this is not the sole reason i am running..just fyi — i’m not that principled).

merry christmas to those who are reading.


oh, and also — i’ve started selling these.