21 April 2010


Hello blog subscribers!

It is strange that this is a legitimate cyberspace greeting! I have noted that there has been an (unexpected) influx of readers to this crazy little thing called my blog lately. I have to say, I have really appreciated all of your comments and words of encouragement on some of the things I have written; I am both warmed and challenged by many of the things you say. All in all, I am really appreciative for our internet kinship that has developed. :)

Since there are people I actually do not know who are actually reading what I write up here, I figured I better tighten up the belt a bit and start being both more reflective and discerning about my posts. I want this to be a relevant blog to others, not just a place for me to vent about my angst about existence or give a comprehensive list of things I do not like to eat paired with Red Wine (the later topic might actually turn out to be more interesting than many other things I've written).

This is where your help comes in: if you would be so inclined, I would really appreciate hearing about why you are following my blog, what it is about my blog that you like reading about, what you would like maybe to be discussed in the future, etc. (If you never actually read this blog, and are actually quite confused on how you are subscribed in the first place, that's ok--let me know, and I'll say thank you anyway and give you instructions on how to unsubscribe.)

My parting words have nothing to do with this post, but just an out-pouring of my heart. This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
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

Everyone must wonder sometime...

September 15, 2009

I wanted to write today, but I feel like I have nothing to say, really. It's funny that it's when you have the energy to express everything that's been weighing on you like a fine-tuned migraine that you don't have anything to say. Those terribly tiring, headache-inducing themes that seemed to have required compositional processing have faded, and have been replaced with whatever noun's meaning is correlated with the sincere answer of "Fine!" when someone asks how you are doing.

Only a writer would complain about life feeling positive: it feels more exhausting to think of something to write about than to find a way to properly articulate that which lays so heavy on you. Maybe that's why so many artists seem to sustain self-imposed neuroticism in order to create. Those aren't the smart ones, the truly creative. I'm probably one of those.

I guess I find that I discover what is good and what makes sense in those things and people that surround me, and I'm contended in that. The urge to capture and share has subsided. That is the question, really: how does the writer convey the things that compel her to know the world without falling prey to acquisition? Which is ridiculous--how funny that we humans believe that suddenly by imposing language we suddenly can own a thing, an idea, a person? Who among us has ever uttered, "Thus", and then beheld? None.

Yet we think that if it is written, it is; a written contract is more trust than a verbal, the marriage license more recognized than the vows exchanged. Yet documents are more vulnerable than those who composed them, or whomever they are about, as they are reduced to ash at the first match strike. And, how much more life is exchanged when language is notably absent!--an embrace between two friends, two partners sighs of love, the wag of a dog's tail at the sight of it's master, the clearing skies right after a storm. I could never capture these moments in words without subjecting them to a severe reduction of meaning, robbing them of what they truly are. All because language wielded requires severe accommodation--most of all from the one who utilizes it as a tool of interpretation.

That's all we do, really: interpret. Funneling that which is beyond and beside this structure of sounds, inflections, and implied meaning into something we can name and thus own. How odd is it that we name--how audacious! Perhaps that's the problem: the implied ownership that the act of name implies. Parents conceive, birth, name, and thus own a child, even though they participated in the miraculous emergence of life only through incubation. Yet, for nearly two decades, they can itemize them on their taxes along with their second house in the mountains.

Maybe we are just irresponsible with our language; we categorize things prematurely--and often incorrectly--in order to understand them. Aristotle said the natural world was ordered thusly, and we nodded our heads in comprehension and conceded. "I name, therefore I understand." I wonder if it's the reverse that's true--that true understanding proceeds naming. If so, we would find ourselves in a wordless world, our eyes wide as we gaze at each other. We understand little and comprehend nothing, and so we build four-walled structures around us to shield us from the EXPANSE that surrounds us everywhere we are. I am anxious standing in the expanse, so much empathy is extended to she that fills up the expanse with thousands of four-walled structures and millions of implied-meaning-sounds to everything she sees in order to qualm her anxiety of the vastness of the unknown.

If only we could open our anxieties and buildings and words to prayer--that instead of burrowing ourselves away when facing the expanse, we life our hands to God and wonder, "What is it?", with no expectation of an answer! What if a mother's first to response to hearing the cries of the new life that had just emerged from her body was, "Who is this?" before declaring a name to call the child? If we wonder before we we build and name, then perhaps we will remember that it is not we who understand, and therefore cannot own.

10 April 2010

Technological invasion, or, "How I learned to stop worrying and love the Telly".

Here is a quick story about a self-posed question that I, much to my disturbance, could not find an answer to:

I am currently staying at my parent's house up North this weekend for a small vacation. We actually have been active on this trip that we usually are (it's amazing how many free things you find to do when you are in a personal and global recession!), so I am not complaining. However, inevitably, the T.V. always gets turned on every night, usually in three different rooms by their three typical occupants. This, of course, leaves me, a non-permanent resident of this home with no T.V. of my own, alone to sit at the table and thumb through a Sunset magazine (or go up in my room and write a blog entry). This, as you can imagine, frustrates me for two reasons: 1.) I just traveled 400 miles and spent quite a bit of money to spend time with my family, and 2.) I don't watch T.V. I will watch an occasional show on-line now and then, or watch a season of a T.V. show in succession once in awhile, but rarely ever do I just sit down and watch what's on. Mainly because I am too busy to devote a half hour to doing respectively nothing, and when I do have free time, I'd rather spend it with people. So my initial response to my family's recreational T.V. habits is that we should be doing something else. Anything else, because sitting in a room simultaneously being occupied by the same thing is not spending time together. (Can I get an Amen?)

But here's when my scenario takes a what I think is disturbing turn: immediately after haughtily thinking "we should not be watching T.V. right now", my next thought was...nothing . Sheer blankness and absence of thought. I could not conceive an alternative activity, at least one that did not involve media or technology. I was not capable of brainstorming a quiet family activity that did not include being entertained by some external electronic inanimate object. What did people do together before there were 7 T.V.s in one household? Seriously! Embroider? Talk about the farm? I am not being facetious here; I am posing a serious question. How can modern families, with all of the technology available at their fingertips, after spending 8 hours apart from each other all day working in isolated, unrelated jobs, spend time together without tuning out and being held captive by the T.V., or some other technological activity (including computers, an act of which I am entirely guilty as charged)?

Suggestions? Ideas? Theoretical Propositions? What do you think? Your ideas may save us all!

06 April 2010

That audacious, confusing, pesky hope we have...

*Warning: this is a long one! I guess I am making up for lost time. I wish this thing was wider, then this post wouldn't take up so much room!*

Oh, hello again.

I know, I know it's been a long time. This is due to the fact that, of course, I try to fit an infinite amount of activities into a very finite space, such as the mere 24 hours we are allotted every day--16, if you take time to sleep. (Which, trust me, I certainly do). This past weekend, Holy Weekend, I especially felt the finite nature of time; I know that celebrating the Feast, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is a beautiful, communal Church event, but, man, does it make for a busy weekend! But anyway, Easter is one of my favorite religious holidays: I love the time we spend preparing for it through Lent; I love that our whole lives and schedules become wrapped up in each other as we remember together; I love that Spring has usually sprung when it rolls around. I don't really love all the commercial/consumerism that surrounds it (what the hell is an Easter basket, anyway?), but man oh man, do I love those Cadbury Eggs. I love that we celebrate the new life that surrounds us in nature, and that we hope in all things made new in the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter is usually the season when I am most reflective of my life in God, and of the "Kingdom lifestyle" I have chosen to orient my life around. In fact, around 8:25 am Sunday morning (35 minutes before church started), as I was furiously whisking eggs in my pajamas, I started to reflect on Easter last year. I was in the midst of a bout of serious depression, struggling minutely with anxiety, desperate for consolation and guidance on dealing with Ed's impending death (he died two days after Easter last year), and felt isolated and withdrawn from life around me. The season of Lent and Easter was actually a dark season for me: in this time of life and newness, I was feeling grief, pain, and despair.

Thankfully, within the next few months, the clouds of depression started to lift, and the sun of hope and peace started to shine once more. I was able to make some internal and external life changes that reduced my anxiety and increased my connection with community. I made many new friends, deepened the friendship I had, and started to seriously reflect on the next steps I would take in my future. I felt alive and liberated: hope was no longer something I anticipated, but something I lived in. Though this year has certainly been hard, I think I will (hesitantly) declare that I am more healthy than I probably have been in awhile, if not ever.

And, you know, Thanks Be to God, right?! I am so thankful for this time in which I really live in hope for the future. And I'm sure many of us are able to relate to this scenario: life is hard (really, really, really hard) sometimes, and it sometimes seems impossible to get out of bed and go on. But, sometimes by making good choices, and sometimes by sheer miracles, things turn around, and life seems livable again. The possibility of good things continuing to happen doesn't seem so remote.

However, if that is what hope is--painful situations alleviating, and us feeling like life is good and possible--then I don't really like it. I don't think it has a place in Christianity, to be honest. It makes hope contingent on the diminishing of pain, trouble, despair, and death; it leaves no room for miracles. And don't get me wrong: I am not discussing the daily troubles and problems in life; I am talking about the devastating, crippling problems in life--both death of the body and the death we experience in life. The things that overtake us, that entrap us in despair. The things that make us not want to get out of bed in the morning because we know we must face them.

In the little Evangelical Church I grew up in, we would equate deliverance with the movement of God: if someone's illness was healed, if someone's difficult financial situation turned around, if major church problems dissipated, then all thanks was given to God. If we kept praying and praying with no avail, then we still gave thanks to God in the hope that eventually it would, because God is faithful to us. A gratefulness that I certainly admire, but an expectancy I am not sure I can jive with. This is why: in our finite minds, in our finite understanding of time, we try to fit what God's faithfulness is into a timeline we can understand--namely, in our lifetimes. We expect that eventually, things will turn around, because that's what God's faithfulness means. And who can blame us, right? How else are we expected to get through life--which for most around the world and in history is "nasty, brutal, and short"--without hope for deliverance? Maybe, maybe we live with the hope that even if we do not live to see our situation in life turn around, future generations will see that hope actualized.

But, what if it doesn't? What if none of us live to see all of the poverty, all of the injustice, all of the pain, all of the sickness, all of the despair vanquished? Does that mean God is not faithful to us? Yes, God promises life for all in the future Kingdom, but God also promises death for all who choose to follow Christ. The story I told to the kids on Easter Sunday said that, yes, we remember the Crucifixion of Christ in light of the Resurrection, but that we also remember the Resurrection in the light of the Crucifixion. We cannot have one without the other, they cannot be pulled apart. Death has lost it's eternal sting because Christ died; God showed faithfulness on Holy Saturday by communing with the dead and the damned. And when He rose from the grave, his body was still wounded; and Scriptures don't give us any reason to doubt that Christ's body was wounded when He ascended into heaven. Therefore, the Church, as the Body of Christ, still displays the wounds of the Crucifixion.

So, what does it mean for us to hope when we are eternally wounded? I guess it means that, a.) hell, let's still live in the hope in the future Kingdom of God being made full! That still remains to be God's promise to us, I think. But, also, b.) we must remember that the God of the universe, stars, little bunny rabbits and precious children is also the God that communes with the poor, the hungry, the outcast, the depressed, the sick, the disabled, the political prisoners, the terrorists, and the damned. God sits with them. God grieves with them. God dies with them. God does not promise that we will not suffer, but rather that God suffers with us. When we hope for life, God brings it by sitting with us in our suffering, but not necessarily by alleviating it. We hope in life actualized in the nearness of God.

Please don't get me wrong: I believe in goodness, I believe in joy, and I believe in rest. These things are all in God, I think. And I really do believe that miracles happen--that Jesus still spits down in the dirt to make mud to heal a blind man. But I hope never to dismiss the reality of death--which is not final, but certainly very, very present. Right now, my thoughts go to my grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Her mind, literally, is deteriorating: she is loosing her memory of her life and loved ones, and there are days she is but a shadow of her former self. And I don't believe that when she dies, her soul--"the real her"--is going to be released from her body and then go to heaven, and everything is going to be ok (mainly, because that's neo-Platonic, rather than Biblical). But I do believe that God sits with her as she suffers, and that God suffers with her. The Creator of the Universe sits and communes with an old woman who doesn't even know who she is anymore. She is never left alone.

What hope, then, have we in God's faithfulness! God is the life that dwells among death.