28 December 2010
09 November 2010
What do you do when you mention that the past two days have been great, only because you can't imagine that any alternative course of events leading up to them could be any worse than what you experienced?
What do you do to bring life to your aching bones that call out for mercy?
Make soup. And bake.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned statements were not a use of hyperbolic narrative, though everything in me wishes they were. I am in a proverbial "life has handed me lemons" state of being--though at times it seems like life is scraping at the bottom of the lemon barrel to find all of the putrid and rotting ones to toss on over to me. Redemptive lemonade does not even seem possible, most of the time. I have no control over these things that have been handed to me (trust me: my efforts to seize the reigns have been catastrophic failures); nor does it seems that I really have control over my responses to them on most days. It's been fun to watch that motivational saying fly shamefully out the window.
However, what I do have control over is my fridge. (Sort of--there must be some month-old left-over pasta dish with legs that keeps moving positions on the shelves, because I can never seem to find what makes it smell so rank). I can control the rice on my pantry shelves, spoons and ladles, my spices collection, and my fresh parsley that needs to get eaten up. I can control my ability to successfully pair tastes and texture together and create something delicious. I can control myself from feeling discouraged and scared when I mess up, or if the meal didn't turn out the way I imagined it would. I can clear my busy weekday schedule to make an improvisational dinner with a dear friend. I can allow myself to enjoy something that's tastes good, and to give myself credit for creating it. I can make a mean Kale, Tomato, and Rice Stew on the fly.
There is something so cathartic, so healing about taking what you have in front of you and making it work. I think most people thrive on being successful, in some capacity. Or, at least, watching things come to fruition in the way we imagine it by our own hands. So, when the course of events in life are thrown off the axis and we no longer know which way is up, we desperately grope for something to reinstate our center of gravity. (I usually pick smoking. Or chocolate.) When our insides don't know how they are supposed to sit in their own body, and when our bodies forget how to move about in space, how can we possibly feel like we are capable of doing anything worthwhile? Coping mechanisms are simply devises for reaching out, grasping for control, and sticking everything back where we remember them previously being. Usually very ungracefully, as our hands are shaky from shock and our vision blurred by constant tears.
When I was plowed over by a semi a week and half ago (figuratively), I had to brainstorm on what to do with myself--what instructions to give my body. I decided to make a pizza with my boyfriend and watch High Fidelity. Tonight, I made soup with a friend and baked banana bread without spending any money. I even have left overs for lunch tomorrow! The past two days have been the first time in awhile when I feel my insides straightening up again, my head clearing, my thoughts more coherent and concise, and my hands feeling empowered to produce once again. I'm recognizing the places in my life--as little or insignificant as they may be--where I still have control. I'm learning to not grope and grasp and cling to it, but gracefully and respectively step in, allowing myself to remember what it feels like to be OK, even if for a moment.
The banana bread didn't turn out as sweet as I wanted it too. I add brown sugar and cinnamon on the top, and that didn't do the trick. I'll still sleep peacefully tonight, I think.
**And, if you are REALLY interested as using baking a means of empowerment, please check out my dear Danica's blog! Not only does she chronicle the life of a new, super cool and creative mom (that's her) living in Pasadena, but she bakes pies on a regular basis. Further proof that women gain super powers when they have babies, if you ask me.
01 September 2010
16 August 2010
When we stand before, sit with, lie down next to, run along with, walk towards, play with, delight in, be delighted in, love, or rejoice in God, how do we understand ourselves in the context of being gendered bodies and gendered people? How have our experiences as men, women, and anyone in between, affected our faith in God?
09 August 2010
#87.1 - YEASAYER - No need to worry / Redcave
Uploaded by lablogotheque. - Watch more music videos, in HD!
I will say that this video is one of my favorite things. Not one of my favorite performances, not one of my favorite songs (though those are both true), but one of my favorite nouns in life. It's one of those things that that transcends beyond the typical nature of it's own genre of subjects and topics to become something greater than it's intention. We all have at least one of those things: that poem that struck a chord in you that never really stopped ringing, that novel or essay which instigated a profound paradigm shift, or that speech given by someone you've never met, but who's words have affected you in a way that only those most intimate to you do. I wouldn't say that this recording of Yeasayer--though a favorite, I have to say--literally CHANGED MY LIFE; maybe I could say it helps me out by operating as a little illuminator to the way I see the world. (But Red Cave pretty much does make me tear up almost every time I hear it).
I think what is so wonderful about this video is that it records such a beautiful moment that is so precarious and fleeting: the decision of the band to sing that particular song for the video project on the subway, surprising both their fellow passengers and recording crew alike. The clear community of the band operating in perfect harmony becoming integrated into the temporary community gathered on the subway ride. The other passengers--who probably don't know what they are singing, as the video is filmed in Paris--joining along in rhythm and lyrics by quickly acquiring language. Everyone in that moment on that ride experienced something special that can never be recreated, which probably makes it all the more beautiful.
I would guess that the real reason I enjoy this video so much is because it reminds me of those moments when you raise your head up, look around, and realizing you are in the middle of something incredible. Call it the Kingdom of God realized on earth, call it the movement of the Spirit, call it simply a thing pointing to something greater than itself. Call it whatever you will, really; the words we use to describe these moments don't really matter, because it's not the words that move us but the vision we see before us of either the potentiality within or the trueness of something beyond. Whatever it is, it's something we look to and look for, and it's absolutely lovely.
I'm not sure how Yeasayer or the Take Away Shows crew would feel about this reflection, but I don't really care. All I know is that this simple, unpretentious and unassuming piece of art makes me a little happier to be alive. Or, at least, reminded of how "bless-ed" I am. :)
Enjoy enjoy enjoy. :)
19 July 2010
...is to lay belly-down on the ground and see the world with the blades of grass and their molecules, knowing there is so much more you'll never know
...is to let the wind move the swing tied to the tree branch, and watch it sway like a pendulum, marking time at a pace much slower than you're used to
...is to allow the grass to make your legs itchy and the breeze your arms cold, welcoming the sign that there is still room for you to change
...is to lie on your back and feel very, very small; and then lie on your front and feel very, very large--always feeling the earth holding you the whole time
...is to smile at the dirt that covers your house, because it is still so lovable
I've moved into a house. And I love it. I'm challenging myself to spend time out of buildings everyday--which seems to be the quickest and most effective mood stabilizer there is. And then there's the beautiful walks in my beautiful neighborhood when I spend a few precious moments with my neighbor doe, who have descended from the mountains to eat the new figs off of tree branches. They make it hard to feel like you could ever be alone.
Oh, the blessings in the world around us. May we always find peace and rest and stillness in them.
23 June 2010
21 April 2010
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
19 April 2010
10 April 2010
06 April 2010
18 February 2010
(I wrote most of this almost a year ago, which means it's almost been a year since Ed 's death. I figured the Lenten season is a good time to reflect on our mortality and the hope which yet carries us through. I still miss you, Ed...)
April 20, 2009
The first hour of my drive up north is always hard because I am driving through all of the familiar places, knowing they are not my destination...
I have traveled to the place where I was raised to attend the funeral of a man who helped shape my sense of self. I, as did he, found out he was given 6 months to live a month ago; the prognosis changed to two weeks on Sunday, then two days on Monday. He died early Wednesday morning. I cried almost constantly for those two days until I received "the news", and stopped until the moment I entered the room where his funeral was held. I had to protect myself: death had entered into our lives with much violence this week.
I have an interesting relationship with death. My knowledge of it isn't through witnessing the path of nature approaching its completion, the circle of life coming to a close. We Dosens are a hearty people--I have been to more 90th birthday parties than I have funerals of my aged relatives. The death I've know is only in the raw, knawingly tragic way. A 19-year-old church member killed in a car accident when I was 16. My mother's best friend succumbing to lung cancer before 50, leaving behind a 14 and 5-year-old, though she had never smoked a cigarette in her life. My dear high school pastor, mentor, and friend, Ed, who left his 7 and 5-year old at 37 last Wednesday, along with a host of communities that were touched by his faith, love, and compassion. I haven't known poverty; I haven't lived through dire injustice; I haven't seen genocide; but I have mourned. I am thankful that my hope in life has remained.
The funeral was a blur: I kept trying to hold back the immensity of tears that were building in my eyes, the constant reflections on Ed's wonderful life and cheesy humor acting as the scaffolding to my composure. After the service, I went out for lunch with a group of my old friends from high school. It was an entrance into the perpetual circle of attempted reconciliation and painful reminders that all of us change beyond recognition from the people we once were. Especially me. The personal affect of the loss began to weigh down on me: Ed was one of the few people from home who really knew me. He knew about those terrible things that I have been through, and cherished what I have become. My gateway to much of what made up my past life was gone.
I returned to my parents house, and not the house I grew up in, with the desire to think of anything else besides the week I had just experienced, so I decided to clean my closet that held all of my old things, much to my mother's delight. I decided to sort my depression away, and toss my grief aside with old photographs and term papers from my high school years. The spring cleaning of my soul yielded many moments of necessary reflection, especially over how skinny I actually was after finding those pictures from high school. I found that I was able to look through the box I had of Parker's things--the very existence of which disgusted me, but yet could not make myself dispose of. Though Ed's death plunged me into a despair that I did not emerge from for another 4 months, it did help release the heavy armor of pain and self-rejection that I had been bearing for the years following my break-up with him, my manipulative high school boyfriend (manipulative's being generous). I think I threw that box away.
My favorite finds were some things that I had stored from the summer after my freshman year of college--a summer of romance with both a man and a country, neither of which ever fully panned out. I had met and started dating the man whom I would be paired with for almost the entire remaining duration of college, and had traveled to Russia, with which I wish I had fallen harder for, between the two of them. I went to Russia after loosing a bet to God that there would not be a suitable place in the world where I could go to on a short-term summer mission trip. When the school-sponsored trips began to be advertised, I knew I didn't really want to go anywhere, but felt severely un-Evangelical for feeling thus, and said, "Fine, God: if there is a trip to...um...Russia, I'll go", thinking, of course, no one on earth would plan a trip to Russia. And the rest is history...
Russia captured a large portion of my heart that it still holds, and I was pleased to have much of my community back at home supporting me in my ventures there. The school wrote letters out to people who I listed as important to me, asking that they write me a letter of encouragement. Ed was one of those people, and his letter, though self-proclaimed terrible at grammatical structure, gave me hope and peace when I wondered what I was doing there. Though four years later I still wonder, I believe Ed's expression through writing his letter helps shed light a bit: I went to love. I always go forth to love.
I found and read the letter written to me four years ago by this wonderful friend. Only when I reconnect with the life we shared together by reading its words, when the sensation of our intimacy of friendship and mentorship is rekindled, can I say at the time of his death, "God, You are Good." When I am reminded of why God gives us one another, the loss becomes a little more understandable and the pain a little more tolerable. With this letter, the life of Ed in God will always remain--God has graced me with the essence of who this man is on a 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper that I will carry with me always. My journey would not have been the same if it weren't for my brother Ed, and I pray that he remembers me, and all of those precious people his compassion and Christ-like (yet imperfect) heart has touched.
The parting words in Ed's letter to me were: "Finish strong and seize the endless opportunities afforded you daily." I will, my brother, I will. In Christ's name, and for Christ's Kingdom, I will. I love you, my friend.