7.31.2008

connections

I think the expression "in the world but not of the world" is confusing and clichéd. Somehow between Merton and L'Engle, it makes more sense.

The artist who is Christian, like any other Christian, is required to be in this world, but not of it. We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.
--Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

My father and mother were captives in that world, knowing that did not belong with it or in it, and yet unable to get away from it. They were in the world and not of it--not because they were saints, but in a different way: because they were artists. The integrity of an artists lifts a man above the level of the world without delivering him from it.

--Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

7.30.2008

reality bites

July has been a zoo of a month. Individually, the days have not been so bad. But as a collective whole, July ate my calendar for breakfast.

August is the return to routine (sort of, I've got another week of vacation in there and some random weirdness) and that means I can tweak the routine a little bit. And tweak I wish to do, particularly in one certain part of life.

I am an awful devoter. I think that is because I find reading devotions tantamount to rereading the back of a 1950s evangelism track over and over again. I know there are good ones out there, but I don't have the patience with the bad ones to find them.

Beyond my terrible devoting skills, I am awful about reading scripture. Its odd, I talk about books like they are a snack, but I can't seem to sit down and read scripture. At the same time, I kind of get why reading scripture over and over is hard for me. I've only re-read two books ever (other than children's books, mind you): Franny and Zooey (Salinger) and The Stranger (Camus). I don't like to re-read.

It hasn't always been that way. For nearly a year, I cross-referenced various epistles slowly, writing every verse out. But then I started working on Hosea and my load at work increased and I got distracted and/or bored and I quit.

Now things like my internet addiction call me early in the morning and I forget to meditate on the Word of God.

What can a girl do? I'm not even sure the intention is fully laid-out.

There's hope on the horizon. I just have to find it. Or let it find me? Or does anyone have a hope to share? Or...?

7.29.2008

the disenfranchised

To be disenfranchised implies that your right to vote has been removed or revoked.

As a word, it came up in a conversation between young churchworkers, three, five, ten years into the work of the church.

Does it describe me? Us? You?

Has my right to vote, my voice, been removed or revoked so subtly I knew not to kick or scream?

Is that what it means to "emerge?" To find your voice? To be a part of the Church again?

I see questions, but part of me finds a startling resemblance to statements.

7.25.2008

obligational mercification

When I have to do difficult things or make difficult decisions there is a lot of sucking it up, a lot of biting the lower lip, and usually a few tears. As I've wandered through my emotions and my ultimate decisions of late, I noted something fundamental about myself and my personal motivations.

I don't respond to obligation positively. Tell me I have to do something and I will resent you and the obligation.

This axiom was humorously (mmm, maybe only to me) made apparent in my life in the ninth grade when I refused to read Of Mice and Men for literature class. Meanwhile, I ate F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories for breakfast and wondered why Camus' The Plague had to have so many darn rats. Somehow I managed to pass without ever reading Steinbeck outside of that cement block room.

On the other hand, free me from the obligation, tell me its okay not to want to do something, give me permission to despise the very task of even thinking about it and things change. I will want to do that very thing, as a challenge for myself, as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Today, I might actually consider reading Of Mice and Men. You know, after I read all of Salinger's books and collections a few more times and I have a chance to plow through some Dostoevsky. (Yeesh. Dostoevsky.)

All this to say, obligation is the opposite of desire. Tada! Amazing revelatory statement of the year! Impressive, eh? Maybe not. So, don't worry. There's more.

--

I cannot be merciful or gracious out of obligation. Mercy is an act beyond the façade of my hands and face. It flows out of the heart and can only be shown when truly present. I have to be truly free from obligation to be truly merciful.

7.24.2008

staycation

Alas. The time I have been waiting for since, um, JANUARY, has arrived: staycation. Blessed. Holy. Staycation.

What is staycation, you ask?

Staycation is sleeping in slightly. It is making a cup of coffee. It is reading one half of Franny and Zooey in one sitting. It is going to the gym at 11am. It is going to a bookstore. It is wandering through the art museum. It is taking my camera with me and taking pictures of things that I like. It is making dinner with my sister. It is going to Cardinal's games. It is writing the things I've been meaning to write.

It is not checking my work email. It is not worrying about things that cannot be changed. It is not being busy every minute of everyday. It is not traveling, living out of a suitcase, or anything that implies getting onto a highway and traveling more than thirty minutes.

It is beautiful.

7.16.2008

they might actually have to be funny

The late night comedic crowd is hemming and hawing over what to do with Obama.

For once, they might have to leave behind the mockery and go straight to being funny. Novel.

7.14.2008

planned, not written

This is crunch time. Last minute preparation for the week-o-fun with the micro-machines, I mean, the junior highers (half of whom tower over me). Ordering the birthday cake, calling the pizza den, touching base with the camp and letting them know our schedule, you know the drill.

And writing my bible studies. Not "writing" them per se. I've got them planned out in my head and roughly on paper. But I'm not happy with them as pieces of writing in our servant event book. I don't really want to jabber in front of the group about the studies. I'd rather facilitate a few questions and answers and send the youth off into discovering what God's Word says about salvation, life, and them.

But that's a hard thing to put into action and even harder to put onto paper so that others can follow along.

I suppose it better said that it isn't that they aren't planned, but they won't be written until they happen.

Perhaps as written, the studies will be a blank page. That is, a page waiting to be filled. Waiting for God's presence to make itself known and to teach our hearts what God wills.

Waiting.

lonely in there

I've decided that the conference setting is one of the loneliest places in my work life.

No matter how many friends are there to visit with, laugh with, eat with, I spend most of the day in my head.

Its lonely in there.

7.02.2008

not me.

For those of you who haven't been pained with meeting me: that girl in the header isn't me. That's la señorita.

Officially, this is what I look like:
In real life, its something more like this: