Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elizabeth Myer Boulton, Interview #154

Name: Rev. Elizabeth Myer Boulton

Where you live: Indianapolis, Indiana
What you do as a vocation or avocation?I am President and Creative Director over at the SALT Project, Inc.  We’re a small, not-for-profit production company dedicated to creating beautiful, devotional resources for small groups, congregations, and individuals!

Your two favorite books:

Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

The Nativity, Julie Vivas

Your two favorite songs:

My first favorite song was written by my husband, Matthew Myer Boulton, and is entitled, "Great and Small."

There's an amazing collection of Jewish Hasidic folk-tales entitled, "Tales of the Hasidim Later Masters."  And in that collection, there's a wonderful little gem that has always stuck with my husband, so he decided to write a song about it. 

Here's the gem:
"Rabbi Bunim taught:  Every person should have two pockets.  In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying: 'I am but dust and ashes' (Genesis 18:27).  When one is feeling too proud, reach into this pocket and take out this paper and read it.  In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying: 'For my sake was the world created' (Talmud: Sanhedrin 38a).  When one is feeling disheartened and lowly, reach into this pocket and take this paper out and read it."
From my point of view, this is the perfect life lesson for all of us (from 2 to 92!), and it vividly evokes what it's like to live a religious life:  always evolving, tacking back and forth, endeavoring to stay both humble and courageous. 

My second favorite song is “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes -- need I say more?

Why you are interested in spirituality?

"Why spirituality and why Christianity?"
A woman at the coffee shop asked me this the other day.  I was working with the scriptures, trying to craft a sermon, and out of no where came that question, "Why Christianity?"

I stumbled.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I wasn't elegant in the least...

So, without further adieu, I will kill two birds with one stone (so to speak!) and answer both questions at the same time:

For me, Christianity (my form of spirituality) is a poem.  A beautiful and broken poem that soars to the highest heavens, but not before it slugs through the trenches of violence, shadows, betrayal, abandonment, and finally, death.

For me, life wouldn't make sense without Christianity.  Without Christianity, without a God who chooses to become flesh, to become breakable; without a God who, through Christ and the church, continues to side with the poor; without a God who stands in solidarity with every victim of every hate crime; without a God who transforms, redeems, and declares in the face of death, “You will not have the final word!" - without this God, I couldn’t make it through the day, I couldn't read the paper, I couldn't bring children into the world.

I choose Christianity because, for me, the world would be a veil of tears without it.  For me, this beautiful, broken poem contains life and life in abundance.

Your favorite quote:

Those who don't feel this Love pulling them like a river,
those who don't drink dawn like a cup of spring water or take in sunset like supper,
those who don't want to change, let them sleep.

Your favorite web sites:
Etsy, Apartment Therapy, Text This Week, and SALT (I couldn’t resist!)

Your hero?
My mom!

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?

How to be love, to serve well, to give to everyone who begs of me, to pick up my cross, and to follow...

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
The place I feel most spiritually “connected” is in front of a “Madonna del Latte” or "Madonna of the Milk."  She’s everywhere in Italy and every time I catch a glimpse of her the whole world seems to melt away...

Back in the 14th century, artists were positively enamored with her.  They painted her, carved her out of stone, prayed to her, and painted her again.

More often than not, she's either actively nursing the baby or preparing to nurse.  And sometimes, Jesus is actually fighting to get inside her robes.

If you ever have the privilege of going to Sicily's national art museum in Palermo, she will be there again and again and again.  Not one, not two, but twenty, maybe twenty-five renditions of Madonna del Latte.

Again and again and again:  Mary, the “Theotokos” (“House of God”).  Mary, figure for the Church, one of the marvelous ways in which God is letting down God’s milky love, God’s grace, God’s tenderness, God’s mercy, God’s peace, God’s healing.

In the halls of that museum, you can hear the wisdom of tradition singing across the centuries, “Come to me, all who are weak and heavy laden.  Come to me if you are going through a broken relationship, battling depression, struggling with an addiction, or surviving an eating disorder.  Come to the church; come and drink deeply from the grace of God.  Come and see, come and pray, come and be made whole.”

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