5.18.2011

i won't be your hero

It is extremely difficult not to want to save someone. They are miserable. You are miserable. If you do this one thing to fix the other person's situation, you can take all of the misery away and everyone will be happy, peaceful, and as calm as clams once again. Seemingly.

I know it doesn't work, and still I try again. I try harder. I try to look as though I am trying less but am actually trying my hardest yet. Only the truly brave set aside their trying tools and just sit beside the miserable. They face misery in full awareness that it can't be fixed.

There are times when I am in church that this fix-it mentality chases me through the songs, the sermon, and out the door. I'm told that I am a person in need of fixing and this church has the tools to get it done. The twisted truth drives me from my seat to cower in the corner, afraid of the hammers and chisels and chainsaws.

I went to a new church on Sunday, a church recommended to me by a sixty year-old man. He said it was the best church to which he ever belonged. No one has ever said that about a church to me before, but it still took me two months of internal conversation to believe him enough to visit the church. As I drove there on Sunday morning, I gripped the steering wheel in hopes to vicariously control the weaving and wandering thoughts in my mind. I prayed that this church wouldn't try to fix me.

It's hard to know from a single worship service if a church is going to be home or if it is just someone else's home that you will visit from time to time. Even in my hesitation to make any sort of commitment, I heard something in the pastor's words that pulled my wandering thoughts into focus.
I am not the Good Shepherd. I am a sheep, just like you. At times, I am shepherd-like, but likeness is not the Good Shepherd. I am not the Good Shepherd.
At the end of worship, after the benediction, he stepped out of the aisle into the pews with everyone else, singing, calling for all good Christian friends to rejoice and sing with him, with us. He didn't return to the aisle until the cross and the lector had passed. He was a sheep just like the rest of us. He has set aside his trying tools and has joined the miserable.

His resignation is not without hope. His resignation is a nod to the power of the true Good Shepherd. The one who has the tools, the time, and the ability to love without end. His resignation is a shepherd-like attitude that I could get behind.

5.13.2011

the mighty life list: under revision

A long time ago, I set out to tackle some simple and some grand things in life that I’ve always wanted to accomplish. I even did some of them. It was so self-inspiring (crossing things off of a list happens to be one of my most-enjoyed mundane things) that I tackled the grand-daddy of the list: going back to school. That project is still in work and has basically debilitated me from even thinking about anything else on the list.

Today is the first day of summer hiatus that reminds me of my days off from church work: empty house, loosely structured to do list (run, write, eat), and no reason to wash my face. Apparently that was the perfect combination to remind me of all of the things that I still want to with my life. I don’t mean this melodramatically, rather that I want to find the simple things that bring me joy.

My list could use some revisions. There are a lot of things that I want to “see” on my current list. I still want to see them, but I have been rethinking the role that travel plays in my life and I haven’t quite settled on how that will change their presence on my list. Living far away from many of my nearest and dearest has been a challenging balancing act this year and I believe that some effort towards a better balance should be there. I’ve also grown a new set of theological and social commitments that need a place next to the things that bring me creative and relational joy. Lastly, I am swapping out some of the books that I thought I wanted to read for the books that I actually brought with me to Durham to read.

I’m not going to set out to make these revisions hastily, but pensively and slowly. The whole point of the list is to help me live more fully into myself and I am a slow and pensive one. I’m posting the list as it currently stands (confessedly, I made a few changes this morning). Suggestions, comments, reflections (but only the sincere and helpful kind, I’m sensitive) are welcome.  

What would/do you have your list?

  1. attend graduate school full time  
  2. bike the wineries along Katy Trail
  3. solve mystery eye allergy problem
  4. dance with a famous salsero, yet to be determined
  5. be a kicka** MOH to my sister
  6. Take pictures that friends would like on their walls
  7. Have photo taken by noah kalina or scott schuman
  8. Go on a backpacking/overnight hike
  9. Make 100 soups from scratch
    1. chicken noodle
    2. Make Gazpacho ala Concha
    3. minestrone
    4. beef barley
    5. potato leek
  10. Go on a Silent Retreat
  11. Write thank you letters to my favorite teachers
  12. Grow, Can, and Eat Vegetables
  13. Help someone realize their dreams
  14. learn how to bike to work on a daily basis
  15. Re-learn how to sew
  16. Learn to Crochet or Knit
  17. Take up Vermiculture composting
  18. Mentor a young person
  19. successfully manage finances Going the poor grad student route!
  20. Read The Stranger in August and Franny and Zooey in October
  21. find someone to share life with
  22. learn to dance salsa on2  not great, but i can do it!
  23. attend multi-day music festival
  24. take a watercolor painting class
  25. take a photography class
  26. Write a book that more than just my mother will read
  27. read all of the books on my shelves
    1. Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao
    2. I and Thou
    3. Christ and Culture
    4. Heart of Darkness
    5. What we talk about when we talk about love
    6. The Spare room
  28. learn how to bake bread
  29. eat ice cream for dinner at least once a year with Becky T if possible (2008, 2009, 2010)
  30. Go paragliding
  31. Live more sustainably
  32. Read the Bible cover to cover
  33. See U2 live as many times as possible
    1. September 09 Chicago!
    2. October 09 Las Vegas!
    3. July 2011, St. Louis!
  34. Get to know North Carolina
  35. Go to an authentic bluegrass festival/concert in NC
  36. Go camping in NC
  37. Hike in the Appalachian Mountains
  38. watch the bell tower bell player at Duke
  39. cheer at a duke basketball game
  40. Listen to all of that music in my itunes!
  41. Throw parties to celebrate friend's accomplishments
    1. Don't be a dip, bring a dip! Lindsay's going to MU!
  42. See Chuck Berry in the Duck Room April 14, 2010, it was amazing and endearing!
  43. Hike El Camino de Santiago
  44. sail the Grecian Islands
  45. Go on a sister trip every few years (other people can come too)
    1. 2009--Chicago U2!
    2. 2010--Cincinatti Flying Pig, Operation Bull Durham
    3. 2010--Operation Move me to Durham
    4. 2011--C&K visit NC
  46. visit the MOMA in NYC
  47. Check off the last 8 states on my list:
    1. Maine
    2. New Hampshire
    3. Vermont
    4. Connecticut
    5. Rhode Island
    6. North Dakota (?)
    7. Hawaii
    8. Alaska
  48. hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up
  49. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
  50. Visit the Holy Land
  51. see the taj mahal
  52. visit the pyramids
  53. Drink a Mojito in Cuba
  54. See the Northern Lights
  55. hike to Machu Pichu
  56. Make 1000 wonderful things
    1. tshirt scarf
    2. mojitos
    3. painting on the wall
    4. streusel topped banana bread cobbler http://bakingbites.com/2010/02/streusel-topped-banana-bread-cobbler/#more-4294
    5. Godfather spaghetti sauce
    6. stuffed artichokes for the Artichoke Party!
    7. Red Pepper Stuffed Fougasse
    8. Megan's present for Pavel
    9. Lemon Curd Blueberry Ring
    10. 7-Cheese Mac-N-Cheese


5.10.2011

ain't no shame in cryin'

A girl hurried in moments before class started, claiming the seat next to mine. I knew her name, maybe she knew mine. It didn't matter because we didn't talk. The lecture was about John Calvin or the development of prophecy in ancient Israel. It didn't matter because she wasn't paying attention and neither was I.

She wrote furiously. Scribbling. Looping. Pausing dramatically. I couldn't read her words; I didn't dare peak over her protectively curled arm. The tears welling in the corner of her eyes spoke clear enough: all was not well. She tried to hide her tears, but I sat in their presence and wished I could cry, too.

--

I asked a professor after class if she had any insight on a feature of my past, present, and potential future that had come up in class. It's a challenging one, something that hits close to home, something that has built a highway to my tear ducts. As we talked, I cried. My heart burning for clarity, yearning for relief.

She offered a kleenex, a more private location, but I refused. I looked her in the eye and said, If everyone pretends like this is so easy, everyone is going to convince themselves they are the only one in pain.

--

Margery Kempe, a woman living in late medieval England, could not attend mass without wailing deeply and loudly, often to the chagrin of her fellow worshipers.  Julian of Norwich said that Margery's free and passionate experience of tears was a sure sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in her. To cry so freely must be a gift from God.

--

Someone needs to cry publicly. Someone needs to remind their lecturemates, officemates, classmates, and cubemates that there ain't no shame in cryin', in speaking the truth emotionally and vividly into the present, in being true to the joys and the sorrows. Whether you can grasp on to Julian's belief that God gifts these free tears, or simply believe it is a human giftedness, the powerful presence of raw sorrow grips each of us, ripping us away from our stolid wanderings, awakening us to the depth of human emotion.

--

After a particularly emotional morning prayer, I put my arm around a friend and said, You may want to hit the bathroom before you go to class.

She looked at me a little startled and a little horrified, asking after her running mascara and subsequent cat eyes.

They are beautiful and truthful, I told her, but maybe not your desired aesthetic.

--

Tears are beautiful and truthful. Crystal clear. Summoned without warning, always with cause. In each tear, there is hope for a cleansing of all things: that water will flow from rocks and and joy will come from sorrow.



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This post was written as a part of a friendly synchroblog. Hop on over to these other blogs to enjoy the writing and art others.

i write to be rid of things, pince caspeen
m, shame shame
nightsbrightdays, Waiting for Twelve
Wordshepherd, The Wax and the Wings