11.28.2006

when this day comes

I knew this day would eventually come. The day when I reconsider why I decided to work in the ministry. The day I reconsider jumping into a profession that provides little marketability outside of a very small niche market. The day when I feel like perhaps I should build a hermitage in rural Missouri and take up mysticism and writing Spanish love poems.

I knew this day would come because I am a normal human being and humanity is perpetually discontented with life on earth.

It seems strange that this discontentedness would strike me during a time when we are preparing to recall our Savior's birth into this earth. The perfect Christ-child came to us and walked beside us. He didn't run away from us, but suffered alongside us, because of us, for us. And I find myself immersed in galactic consumerism, battles over worship service times, disappointment in the people around me, and a desire to escape to the hills and pretend as if I don't exist for a few moments. If human life was good enough for God's Son shouldn't it be good enough for me?

I am not superficially unhappy and I can readily name a seemingly endless list of blessings in my life. Great job, roommate, car, book list... those things don't complete me. Like most people, I crave a more profound sense of contentment, joy, peace. And despite my rash solution to run for the hills, I wonder if the exact opposite approach wouldn't bring greater fulfillment.

No matter how far I travel from the Grand Canyon of void in my heart, it will not cease to exist until I seek to fill it with the water of my baptism, my Savior's love given to me undeserved.

11.21.2006

a thought on my run

The places you visit are anecdotal to lives you change while passing through.

11.17.2006

forgotten for friendship

aching back
hungry stomach
sore feet
droopy eyes
muddled brain

a small dinner
a glass of wine
a laugh with my roommate
small cheers and little congrats

exhaustion not cured
but made bearable
exhaustion
forgotten for friendship

11.13.2006

maladies interpreted

I recently read a book that spoke so fluently on the experience of love and loneliness that I can't bear not sharing.

Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories about Indian immigrants in various locations and life situations. Homesickness, despair, miscarriage, divorce, arranged marriage, and affairs are woven together under the auspices of a fresh homemade samosa and warm tea.

I am neither an immigrant (surprise) or Indian (bigger surprise), but the stories of the characters spilled off the pages into my heart reminding of times of my own despair and my own maladies. They taught me about the experiences of those that live around me and among me. Many of my neighbors have immigrated from India; their names are virtually unpronounceable and their daughters more beautiful than the sun itself.

Lahiri effortlessly gives the reader an expressive understanding into each moment. Much like life often leaves us deep in thought pondering what could have been, I found myself reaching into the story hoping to make it better, hoping to befriend the lonely, hoping to shake some sense in the wandering lover, hoping to interpret the maladies of the afflicted.

I loved this book. My only complaint is that she only has one other novel. Write on, Lahiri. I'm reading.

11.11.2006

another all-too-short walk

An old friend called me this week.

We were friends when our noses were still too big for our faces and Usher was still in his drop top cruising the streets. It's strange to think I met him ten years ago this February. Circumstances of life drew us together and drew us away from each other at different point throughout the last decade. There were moments of laughter, confusion, joy. Never perfect. Sometimes hurtful. Always caring. The gamut of true friendship.

He called me this week, but we haven't talked in almost two years.

I wasn't bitter. He was married. Working. Busy. He was never good about keeping consistent communication. I was never any good at initiating it. Our mutual friends let me know that he was okay. Apparently content. And knowing that was good enough.

And then he called me.

Hi. Uh. How are you?

Wow. Um. I'm fine. How are you?

Awkward pauses and awkward questions proceeded. Laughter about old road trips and retreats. Stories of flat tires and new friendships. Looking forward to our eminent reunion and plotting its course.

When I hung up the phone and turned to my desk to start back at my day's work, I paused for a moment. I realized that I don't really know him any more, but yet I still feel connected to him. Our friendship is not unlike many of my other friendships past, present, or in between. Like many friendships, the memory of our times together has changed a piece of who I am.

A filmmaker recently said that sometimes life is just a collection of all-too-short walks with people who happen to be on the same path for a portion of the journey. It is true that someday our paths will part from those we walk beside. Relocation, awkward circumstances, busy schedules, children, spouses, and ultimately death will draw us away from our partners in the journey. It is true that when someone walks beside us, we run the risk that they will slow us down or push us off the path. The melancholy is suppressing. Why put forth the effort if this is all there is? If life is just a collection of hellos and goodbyes, where is the continuing joy? The reason to befriend? Isolation tempts and entices.

Even still, I'm not ready to give up. I find that when someone is at my side, I am taught to appreciate things I might not have noticed otherwise. So many have taught me grace and what it means to be graceful. Many hands have reached down to my fallen spirit and guided me back to the course. When our paths diverge into fiery sunsets, the silhouettes burn my mind's eye. My heart is warmed by the setting rays and I turn to thank the One who never leaves for the marvelous sight.

Life is no longer a collection of all-too-short walks shared with others, but an opportunity to marvel at the beauty created in and around each person who travels beside me for a moment.

11.10.2006

indescribable

Join me in praying for Amy, her mom, her brothers, her dad.

self-righteous entitlement

I had the chance recently to reflect on the experience of the blahs with someone in the thick of it. Everyone has had the blahs.

How's work? Blah
How's home? Blah
How's faith life? Blah

Blah blah blah

I was struck by how frequently we justify our experiences of the blahs with something along the lines of: "It's okay to feel blah. To feel like God isn't there. We've all been there. Blahs don't make you a bad person." Since when is it OKAY to feel like crud?

I've got news for you, internet people, it is NOT OKAY to have the blahs. The blahs are not healthy. I blame pop psychology (I'm Okay, You're Okay!) and secular humanism for this okayed blahfest. I blame the idea that we are self-righteously entitled to be okay.

I am not okay by my mere existence. It is not okay to be blah simply because I am human and that is what humans experience. Feeling like God is far from me is not made okay by the fact that other people experience it. Feeling like God is far away is made okay because he in fact is not far away. Unlike me, he is righteously entitled to be okay. He proved this ever-so-deftly on the cross and through his resurrection.

Through my baptism in Christ, I become HIM-righteously entitled to be okay, blahs included.

11.08.2006

damien rice baby

I love Damien Rice.

And if you don't, you are not my friend.

So hurry up and pre-order your album on itunes.

In the meanwhile, listen to it here and fall in love.

11.06.2006

incongruently judgemental

I am known to be a harsh critic on myself. I have high standards for my work and my life and thus my friends and family. I sometimes feel judgemental because I reflect my personal standards onto the lives on the innocent bystanders. But I know that it is because I want the best for those that I love not because I think they are awful people.

My pet critique of myself is that at times my life seems incongruent with my faith, my work, my ideals. We all struggle through this. My personal struggles aren't earth-shattering in nature. For the most part I am your average straight-laced goody-two shoes. Life is regularly boring as far as sinning is concerned. But as a growing Christian, I know that as I come in closer to Christ, I will realize how far I am from his example. No matter my struggles, their mere existence puts me at a light-year's distance from being similar to him. My life is a continually process of learning what it means to "follow him."

Knowing that I am not perfect and will never achieve Christ-like perfection, what is my role in the journey of others?
How do I support, encourage and even admonish the not-so-innocent bystanders in my life?
Does righteous judgement exist in the mouth of a sinner?
Christ calls me to love. Is it incongruent for me to exhibit this love in confrontation or judgement?

11.03.2006

like those who dream

When the Lord restores the fortunes of Zion we will be like those who dream
Psalm 126:1

11.02.2006

i need this




















If you don't know why... well let's just say that it has something to do with flying pigs and semi-trucks on a midwestern highway and my anti-porkitarian diet.

Yes, a pig did fly out of a semi-truck at my car on a midwestern highway. Yes, pigs bounce. And splatter. No I will not eat your grandma's famous Italian Sausage.

11.01.2006

restless

Disclaimer: I love my job and my roommate and a lot of other things, like chocolate. This doesn't have anything to do with either or any of those things that I love, especially chocolate.

Yesterday, I found myself on a college website looking at a Master of Arts Religion degree program. I've been there before. I like the impression I've gotten from this school. I like the books the a few of the faculty members have written. I poked around looking at the town, the requirements, the cost, everything. And then I got on my bike and rode to the bank. Four miles away down a busy and hilly street. I thought about a lot of nothing while on the ride there. The only substantive thing I thought about (other than how to get up the huge hill and how not to get hit) was how I'd even landed on the website. I honestly can't tell you. I memorized the url eons ago and somehow it just flowed out of my fingertips. My fingers seemed to know my heart even more than I do.

Roommate and I have talked about being restless a few times recently. She wants to pick up and move to another country. I don't really romanticize about foreign countries. I've lived in a few and would be fine if I were led to another, but that's not my issue. I romanticize about leaving suburbia. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this (the last fourteen months) is my first suburban life experience and I am totally knocked off my rocker. I struggle with the value system of the suburban culture and I hate driving to work. I don't see myself in suburbia on a long-term basis. I wonder if I am martyring myself because I think God wants me to learn something here. I wonder if I should just get it over with and assimilate myself already. I wonder if I should develop a marketable skill and move to fill-in-the blank urban city. Or forget about marketability and become a hermit in the open plains of fill-in-the-blank middle of nowhere rural area. I wonder if I should go back to school and pigeonhole myself into this field that I love. I wonder if I should wait around for someone to live with in life or if I should go in search.

I wonder.

I wonder a great deal. It feels as though I should be standing more in wonder at what God has accomplished in my life and through my life instead of mawkishly wondering if this is all that there is.

I sound like a lot of other twenty-somethings, don't I?