22 June 2008

Sunday afternoon, 2:29 PM

Sometimes, when we’re really down about the moments, events, and circumstances that constitute our lives, significant or mundane, it’s important for us to remember our history: where we’ve been and how we got to where we are. Whenever the light at the end of the tunnel seems to grow more and more dim, when everything around us seems to succumb to darkness, when all avenues have been tested with no avail, and we have but a glimmer of hope in front of us for which we desperately grope, we must remember the times in our lives when we’ve stepped out of the darkness and into the light. When we’ve been delivered from utter despair, when we’ve gone to hell and back, and still made it out on the other end in one piece. We must remember those moments, and we must cling to them with everything that we have, because they often will be our only salvation and means of survival.

“Remember your history, O Israel”, the prophets often implored in moments when all seemed lost. “Have faith”, they beseeched, “in the Lord who delivered you from slavery and into the Promised Land.” Never forget, they said, that you have been saved once, and you will be saved again. Those of us who follow the rather eccentric sect of Judaism know that we need not worry about future salvation from inevitable and impending doom, as our forefathers may have. We needn’t worry, because we know that all of creation has experienced the ultimate salvation in the death and resurrection of an obscure first-century Nazarene carpenter. That is why when we gather as the Body of Christ, we partake in the Eucharist: to remember the audacious hope of all things made new, and to recognize our commitment to it, a commitment we make with our lives, with every fiber of our beings.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death” is a proclamation of hope that many Christians sing the hymn In Christ Alone. It’s a stanza that reminds us that the Powers of this world are obsolete compared to the Power of Christ in us—a power that invites us to live as though the Resurrection of our Lord really did, in fact, occur, and that that event has eternal significance. We have been brought out of the darkness and into the light.

So, in times of great sorrow, anxiety, and depression, find joy. Discipline yourself to dwell in the past—in the times of light and hope and deliverance—in order to remember your hope for the future. Today, for example, I woke up surrounded by a cloud of depression about the current state of various situations in my life. I felt a little hopeless about certain things falling into place, and doubted the wisdom of important decisions I’ve recently made. As I was about to get ready for the day, I put on some music, and a song came on that was very important to me a few short months back when I was literally facing the most difficult trial I’ve experienced in my short life. The song reminded me of strength, and hope, and joy, and comfort, and the promise of deliverance from oppression and evil that our Lord has given to the world. Immediately, the cloud lifted, and I danced cheerfully in my living room, the music granting me empowerment and instilling in me a fresh, unadulterated sense of new beginning: I have been delivered once, and I will be delivered again.

Everyday, the tremors of the drumbeat of life fill our ears: the resounding sounds of anxiety, fear, obligation, oppression, and pain drown out any sweet whisper of hope and life. When that happens, when the deafening noise penetrates your ears, and you feel that you’re doomed to listen to nothing else for the rest of your existence, remember: there is always music playing. There is always music; it’s there—we just have to cling to the faith that God will enable us to hear it once in awhile. And God will, for God has delivered us from slavery and into the Promised Land.

“Remember your history, O Church.”

15 June 2008


This is a "briefer" (yup, I just made that up).  
Like every other conscious humanoid on the planet, I have been thinking a lot about love...umm, my whole life.  Love, relationships--you know, the simple torturous concepts and the idea of their supposed essential place of centrality in our lives that we keep subjecting ourselves.  I have been "officially" single for half a year now, and practically single for about ten months, and I am in a self-diagnosed 'good place' in the relationship department.  Due to the anticipated radical geographical changes that I plan on undergoing in the next few years, I'm not set out to find a spouse right now.  I'm actually not that interested in finding anything super "serious" by any means, as I am still "recovering" (for lack of better word) from those strange, long-term interactions that bears the aforementioned adjective that I have been in for the past several years.  I'm simply not quite ready.  

Yet, I still have a hard time shaking that slightly obsessive and very self-depreciating tendency to put myself and my heart in a position to be broken when it comes to my interactions with the opposite sex--a position that I am fully aware is inevitable.  These situations simply will not work out for a number of reasons, and I know this going into it.  Yet, again and again, I am not satisfied with being "ok" with being single--which, to me, has always translated into the word "lonely".  Again, I'm not looking for anything life-altering, I'm just hoping for anything.  I haven't quite descended to the "I'll make out with anyone who looks slightly tolerable, especially if I'm drunk" state yet (and I don't anticipated to), but, hell, I'd like a date once in awhile.  
And then I ask myself, "Self, why?  Why are you doing this to yourself?  What is it that you desire so strongly that you'll put yourself in the line of fire to experience the sensation?"  I'm not operating under any fallacy of the wonders of love and relationships--experience has taught me those fables simply are not true.  But there is something that creates an inner yearning for something only members of the opposite sex whom I am attracted to (or make myself attracted to) can provide, and I think today I got it: it's the feeling of being special to someone.  Of being extra important in a way that other human relationships just can't provide.  That feeling, sensation, whatever, is what makes us humans go crazy, jump off cliffs, and put ourselves in harms way for even the idea of love.  And that's what I somehow, deep down inside need, or have convinced myself that I need.  That's what makes me willing to date someone who I know isn't good enough for me, that's what has made me become less of myself so the current relationship situation I was in would work.  

13 June 2008

Current obession

It's ridiculous.   But soooooo good, at the same time.  If you have a spare 36 hours, read the three 500+ page books--that's all it will take you, because you won't be able to put it down.
I know this is a teenage girls sensation.  I'm trying to take to the college/post-college generation, specifically those who are still slightly depressed that Harry Potter is, in a word, over.  You know who you are. 

Oh, and this will give you ridiculously high expectations of men.  Or, at least, god-like gorgeous virtuous vampires.  You know. 

06 June 2008

i wrote this yesterday.

Sometimes I (foolishly, I think) toy with the idea of writing a book. If I ever do, this will be a component of a chapter.


I felt the wind on my cheek comin’ down from the east/
And thought about how we are all as numerous as leaves on trees/
And maybe ours is the cause of all mankind…

So, I have this necklace.

It hangs real low, in a real fashionable way. Sort of too fashionable for me—I’m not sure I can legitimately pull it off. I bought it at a college art show opening—one of the last few on campus my senior year—at a comparably low price of $25 (not bad for hand-made art jewelry). It wasn’t my first choice, but it sort of presented itself to me vividly from the sales sheet, its image casually yet assertively positioned between the others in a series that already bore the “sold” mark of purchase. My first love, a quaint yet unique piece that was a mosaic of pattern, fabric, and lace, had betrayed me, flaunting its beauty and attraction to the first buyer who was conscious enough to hold a pen to write a $25 check, rather than waiting for me, it’s one and only.

What a floosie.

Anyway, when the sudden surge of angst and dire disappointment subsided, my necklace was there on the sales sheet. Faithful, virtuous, true. And waiting for me. I rushed from the sales table as the beloved sprints into the open arms of her lover to view the display of the original necklace—after all, I am not one to purchase an object based on its photographic image, treating it like some mail-order bride. No, I will at least hold out for love at first sight, which is exactly what I (or, as I should say, we) experienced.

It was perfect. Simple, yet bold—much like I am. It was a symbol of dichotomy: an individual, blue leaf against a background of red. Its color scheme was clearly unnatural; as was the solitude of the leaf, for a leaf is not a leaf alone, but is a product, or rather, reflection of a tree in its entirety. Leave are symbols of change and seasons, yes; but they are also symbols of multiplicity, of connectedness, of society. No leaf is an island, so to speak.

Staring at my leafed necklace for a few moments before literally sprinting back to the sales table, my tempest nearly knocking over the artist’s elderly grandmother who visited for the opening, I acknowledged that I was staring at a symbol of myself. Forcibly plucked from any sense of a connected society by my culture and upbringing, unnaturally colored as an “individual”—as well as all of the other adjectives and nouns that exist in the plethora of things and concepts that we are told we are to be. This blue leaf on its own didn’t make sense, just as on my own, I don’t make sense either. Not really. People don’t, really. (Ok, 99.9% don’t—forgive my hasty generalization). Perhaps the leaf would make more sense if it existed in the presence of a multiplicity of blue leaves: majestically and confidently stemming from a red or purple or orange or whatever color tree, their unnatural yet consistent uniqueness a testament to the tree’s validity in a forest of boring green and brown.

And this, this is the pretense of my analogy. I, as human, may not make as much sense alone, individualized. But I, as believer, follower, disciple, adherer to a path that demands complete and total devotion and promises pain and death, member of the Body, Christian, make absolutely no sense alone. Disconnected from the tree, my stance as a blue leaf in a sea, ocean, planet, really, of green is almost arbitrary. But imagine what a blue tree in an emerald forest can be: a contrast, for one thing. A point of reference, for another. Perhaps a place of refuge, a haven for those who refuse to believe that green is all there is to this life. Or, as our “trunk” might offer, this blue tree can be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness.

I really, firmly believe that one cannot be Christian and be alone. Or, rather, disconnected. Trees are symbols of life, and their leaves are extensions of that. They proclaim it and are dependent on it, which is why their beauty and life fades and dies when they are disconnected from the tree. A multitude of blue leaves may stand as individual, personal testimonies to the tree, but are really incapable of “living life” (or whatever it is that leaves do) differently than green leaves alone. Which, at the end of the day, is what Christ calls the church to do: live radically, entirely different. Live life fully, promote fullness in each human, and live fully without fear of the inevitable consequences of doing so. Live to die. Live like Him. Live as though the Resurrection took place, and as though that event has any ultimate and eternal significance. Live as though all things were made new (Rev 23:11).

We are to be Him, as the Body, as the Church—which Alexander Schmemann claims exists “for the life of the world”. So we live life, but we live it differently, joyfully demonstrating that everything is different now, now that He is risen. Green may have been the way to perceive and interpret life, but now, now we do it differently. Perhaps, now, we live as though blue means life—a life that is full and thriving.

But we can’t do it alone. We need to exist as a social body, interconnected in our contrast with world, constantly connected to the One whom we call Lord. Existing as blue leaves that resemble the color of their tree in a forest that protests that they should be otherwise.

That is why I wear my necklace, even though I can’t fashionably pull it off: like Christians who wear a cross around their necks, I wear my blue leaf to remind myself where I belong, and to whom I belong to. I live in the hope of resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and chose to belong to His Body, the Church. I wear it to remind myself that as the Church, we are to live differently, in contrast to the lives lived around us, as much as a tree of blue leaves differs from the green terrain in which it is rooted— it lives in this world, but is clearly not of it.