Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ellen's Garden

Today I played baseball in the backyard with C. We had exhausted a game of indoor “hockey” (light sabers and a bouncy ball) and he had put on his baseball pajamas hours earlier for the express purpose of “playing the game.” It was a little warmer today and the leaves on the trees have reached that extraordinary shade of bright fresh green. Ah, life again.
Through the backyard gate I could see Ellen’s garden. On certain fall evenings, while out there swinging with the kids, she would invite us over for a bit to play with Jasmine, the German Shepherd. The kids would pick tomatoes off the vines. I would watch their enthusiasm when the small red, yellow, and orange gems were spotted. Spring now finds her garden full of tulips, daffodils and, yes—I noticed them today—bleeding hearts. They remind me of Papa and Grandma’s and summer in the U.P. I don’t know why but they do. I miss picking raspberries with Papa out back or sneaking them when I thought he wasn’t looking but he was up on the deck the whole time ready to point me out. I hope I can get up there this summer…
I picked up my cap and gown today. Is it really happening? Graduation? With 8+ papers to go and a hefty 500+ pages of reading, I wonder how it is possible. But somehow it will get done, right? It has to…
I can hardly believe I’ll be leaving this place. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to process anything much lately. I seem too busy to think about what’s happening. All of a sudden it will be June…or July…and I will wonder where Moody went.
In some ways life is so unpredictable, isn’t it? Things happen that we never expected would or things don’t happen that we believed would. Sigh. I’ve been reminded in new ways how I need Him. I’m prone to forget His faithfulness. Less so right now, it seems, but only right now. In many moments of these days I have been made to sense His committed faithfulness in ways that makes me quiet. Oh how completely involved He is in relationship with us—moving, waiting, talking, quiet, watching, touching…and how patient in His steadfast love. We are a privileged people to have Him journey with us.
Next year (or life, for that matter) seems so big. It isn’t really. It’s just another year; another year to live, love, walk, believe, discover, hope, dream, fail, fall, learn, grow…Every season is special in its own way. We can’t help but look back, look forward, look around, and compare/analyze. But each season is significant and beautiful and ought to be lived. That’s what I want for the “going out” of this one and the “entering into” a new one. I want to live. I want to be honest with life and experience it as it is. This demands grace. Oh, how utterly grateful I am that I live with (and for) the One who has given grace upon grace. I am eager to live my life—tomorrow, next week, next year. It’s unpredictable and yet it sort of isn’t…Weird, huh? This place has taught me much about the beautiful weight of life, without making it a cumbersome thing to bear. It’s a funny tension. It’s an honest tension. It’s the now but not yet. I think we are left praying, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” or something to that effect.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

these days

these are good days. busy, but good. exhausting, but good. i wouldn't trade them for anything i just wish i didn't have so much on my plate. sigh.

yesterday i spent the day out at Wheaton. it was a timely "relief" from life here--just so good to get away for a little while. melissa and i talked, napped, prayed, studied, laughed, and talked some more. i miss those sweet times of fellowship with her. our conversations are always so invigorating, encouraging, and challenging. there's something so beautiful about sitting across from a friend listening to thoughts of God, life, faith, friends, hope, and truth. there's something incredibly meaningful about having friends with whom we can share some of life's deepest struggles--like why belief, how belief, etc., and then come away with an even richer commitment to the Lord and delight in life.

i laid in a sunny spot on the grass for awhile yesterday and thought and prayed. i'm grateful for time and space like that in the midst of a busy end-of-year schedule.

i was able to attend the evening session of the Theological Lectureship because it was open to the public. So I got to hear N.T. Wright after all! I appreciated much of what he said. I can't articulate it now, there are too many thoughts in my head to try to express them meaningfully. plus I'd rather not just regurgitate but wrestle with some of the things said...
Jake and I talked about Wright's lecture a bit on the way home--another good conversation about honest wrestlings in this "world of theology." I'm so grateful for people to talk things out with. I know I've said it before but maybe its worth mentioning every time??...We are a gifted people to know community and share life with others!

i just need to sit and be and rest. so i look forward to the morning. i look forward to the studies of the day. i look forward to a new week of life. these are good days.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the 15th

Tomorrow is the 15th of April. I graduate on the 15th of May. There are a lot of different thoughts and emotions living in me these days. It's a lot to process. I wish I had a long afternoon to just spend sitting somewhere...The weeks go by so fast and the weekends even faster. This weekend is Wheaton to visit Mel. I guess I have train time, that will be nice. Sigh.

It's been a great week. I've been stopped to consider, in new ways, God's gift of life and the beauty of it shared. Today on the way to work the sun was so warm and there were many birds singing in the trees. Spring has brought the world alive again and I am so grateful for a new season.

As much as I feel like I can't sleep--with mind, heart, and emotions working so hard--I really ought to. So goodnight, all. Enjoy this April day :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

five year old boys

today on the way home from school:

M: "my dad is a bird hunter."
Me: "What kind of birds does he hunt?"
M: "I don't know. He goes to the place where you can hunt birds and he shoots them."
C: "I hunt foxes in my backyard sometimes."
Me: "You do?"
C: "Yeah, in the back garden."
M: *gasp* "You shouldn't kill nature!"
C: "I only shoot the bad ones."
Me: "What makes them bad?"
C: "They bite you and kill you."
M: "Yeah, they bite you and give you things that make you sick."
C: "I stand on my back deck with my gun and kill them."
M: "Next time, you should stand farther back and use a bazooka. That's the most powerful gun in the world!"

later on while eating snack at the kitchen table:

C: "(so-and-so) is really cool."
M: "Is he cooler than me?"
C (holds thumb and index finger a little bit apart): "A tiny bit cooler."
M: "Than me?"
C: "Ok. No, you are very very cool. He's just cool."

oh man, watching these boys play today was hysterical. they dressed up like characters from star wars and ran around upstairs shrieking because the remote control R2D2 was "chasing" them...

i've been missing sam so much lately. i know what you are going to say, Kristen...I should just move to virginia :) but i'm afraid that isn't going to happen. maybe a visit soon? I'll try to find someone that might want to make the drive with me some weekend in May.

alright all, hope that was good comic relief. back to grading...

Monday, April 12, 2010

missing family and homesick for the west

maybe the reality of "staying here" for awhile is finally setting in. anticipating the change to an illinois drivers license and registering my car with illinois plates, i find myself growing increasingly nostalgic.

because of all this, yesterday afternoon found me flipping through old pictures and missing my wonderful family.

Although, I should say that there definitely are things about the midwest that I am beginning to love...
and life here is becoming my own. actually, that's probably why I feel nostalgic. life is so good.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

sickness and sleeplessness

even though i went to bed at 1am after a very fun but very sick-feeling evening, I CAN'T SLEEP PAST SIX?!! uuugh. this is so frustrating.

last night was JSB, then a bonfire down at P.P. (kicked out by police), then slacklining in Lincoln Park (kicked out by police). remind me why i live in the city again, where you get kicked out of public parks by 11pm?

not having slacklined in a little over 7 months, my love is reawakened (a little rusty though). i can't turn anymore, Luke! bah. I thought of you, Callie, and missed this summer and the mountains and everything, and YOU!

it was super fun. a little overwhelming because i didn't have the energy for it and wanted to but, what can you do. from dinner on i was a mix of dizzy and nauseous.

there was an obvious emphasis yesterday on the fact that there are only five weeks of school left. aaaaaahh. crazy, man. i have so much to do. i think i'm coming to terms with two important realities this weekend: 1. i'm not going to get it all done 2. i'm ok with that (because, lets face it, i have to be, right?!). so today is my "sit down and prioritize/figure what i can and can't get done," etc.

last night was a foretaste of summer driving with good music and the windows down--one of my all time favorite things. Hallie, remember that spring break when we were enjoying just such things and you ramped the median? hahaa. good memory.

alright. here's to sunday and rest. hope your day is blessed, friends!

Friday, April 09, 2010


the sun is out. oh thank you, mr. sun, for coming out. uplifting in so many ways. on top of that, in my half awake state this morning, i saw the toy story tattoos tacked on my bulletin board and thought, "oh my gosh, today is the day. at breakfast with whitney, we are tattooing it honor of friday. and the weekend. and surviving. and friendship. and...?" So thank you, Callie, for those valentine tattoos. Happy day.

lately I can hardly get out of my head how much I would love to go to Montana. Certain of the city buses are plastered with ads for Glacier. seriously? sigh. mountains, lakes, clean air. aaahh. It reminds me of small brown bags of flathead lake cherries, mountain goats, hidden glacier-melt lakes, and canoeing through the smoke of summer fires. I miss Montana. I miss mountains.

does anyone else feel like they are losing motivation by the day?! i feel like it's just leaking out of me. "oh! well, there goes some more..." uuugh. i'm ready for a break. i'm ready to read a few novels--and other books that have been on "my list" for awhile now.

OH! and I got the car. wahoo!!! It will be here April 30th, thanks to my wonderful parents. you know what I can hardly wait for? summer driving with the windows down and road trip mixes blaring. bring on the summer days! and free movie nights in the park. and farmer's markets. and peter mulvey. oh, and a visit from my brother with (hopefully) some sibling rock climbing. there is much to look forward to...

alright, i have to go write this paper asap. sigh.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

themes and such

I'm up in Joe's and I should probably be working on homework. But sometimes I feel like that is all I ever do and I am fed up with it. So instead, in the next 30 minutes before work, I have decided to write.

First, I'd like to recap Lent before the season drifts by, forgotten until next year. Although, this year I dare say it will be a little harder to do because God has been serious in his teaching of me. So serious in quiet little ways. Why does God teach some of the most significant things to us in simple, hushed, seemingly "unimportant" ways? Pay attention to those little things, they just might turn out to be really important in the end.

There was a night oh so many weeks ago on which I lay in bed wondering how to enter the Lenten season. Worry was a theme of that week and I was tired of spending my energy struggling over things unworthy of so much thought time. So I gave up worry for Lent. Weird, I thought, because there is no way to "give up" something like worry. Without going into the meticulous details of the days and weeks that followed, I'll just say that they were a remarkable mixture of beauty and frustration. I learned a little bit more about myself--and humanity, even--and lived with the Lord the in's and out's of Lent learning in new ways what it means to 1. be human 2. be in relationship with God 3. be sinful.

I have a class right now on the healing ministry of Christ. It's been such an interesting study. I think we can approach a "topical" study like that with ideas of how it will turn out--what will be learned, discovered, and revealed. It's been different than I thought. I've been overwhelmed to discover in the Gospels (and through extra-biblical study) that Christ's ministry was, perhaps above all, so remarkable because of the rich themes of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration that evidence themselves in understandings of "the kingdom of God" and "Sabbath," etc. The significance of Jesus' words is inextricably linked to the beauty of his work. So when he teaches us to pray the Lord's prayer, then, the weight and richness of meaning is suddenly "new."

I don't know, this is hugely encouraging to me. It was, too, as I wrestled my way through Lent, increasingly aware of 1. his remarkable self 2. my need of that remarkable self.

Holy Week was exceptionally powerful this year. I know I've mentioned before that as I get older, these holidays gain in their lived importance for me. I went to a Good Friday service at 4th Presbyterian. It was a beautiful service and I remember sitting there in that rather uncomfortable and stuffy cathedral-style hall thinking about how much we need Him--how necessary his death was and how desperate the hope and belief that he would rise again. In fact, listening to the bells toll thirty-three times (one for each year of his life) felt like an eternity of thinking on this. This made Easter almost unbearable in its joy. This year I actually lived the newness provided through His death and resurrection.

Is the life of the world without death because he was "victorious over death"? Is there no more suffering because He suffered for us, to end it? Are our lives free of sin and shame because He died a shameful death and bore our sins for us?
What a painful mystery that we look around us and see/hear a resounding, "NO!" The life of the world still experiences death and it rips families apart, tortures people groups, and shreds nations. There is suffering every day in and through relationships, disease, lies, and violence (obviously there is a more extensive list). We are caught in webs of sin--systems of sin--that won't let us out. The result is often shame, discouragement, even despair.

So what, then? What about that death and that resurrection?

I've been thinking about those themes again. Reconciliation, redemption, and restoration. These themes are all over Creation and they stepped into Creation when Jesus walked the earth. The incarnation was God taking on our condition--stepping into the web and the system of brokenness from without, because that's the only way to stop it. We desperately need something from without to step in--break in. He did that. He provided a way that would make possible the reconciliation, redemption, and restoration of the world. And that's what He's doing--that's what we are doing in and through Him, agents of hope and compassion. One day this shall all be made right.

Giving up worry settled me into a place of realized need. It was an interesting place come Holy Week when I began to realize deeper and deeper why it was so necessary that He came and died--and now lives and works.

I've thought of Hopkins' words much this week,"The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil..."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


1. knitting on spring days is a wonderful distraction from other responsibilities :)

2. a cookies and cream ice cream bar on a warm spring evening is equally as wonderful, in its own way.

3. i need a break from the city. in other words, i really hope i am able to find a car before summer begins so that i have the option of driving out and away every now and again.

4. i wish there was a mountain in my backyard.

5. i miss tucson.

6. thunderstorms thrill me in a way nothing else does. they are spectacular.

7. i love walking in the rain with chacos.

8. i am hoping for a summer road-trip.

9. i bought Sandra McCracken's new hymns cd, In Feast or Fallow.

10. daffodils are my "happiest flower." i love them so very much. thank you, Trader Joe's, for $1.49 bundles of bright yellow to brighten up my days!!

also, a few pictures from our Easter celebration:

Monday, April 05, 2010

sometimes the beautiful can't be named

there's something about these days that can't quite be named. but its beautiful (hmm...echoes of a peter mulvey song, i think). seriously, though. i am all caught up in things that can't be named: thoughts, questions, wonderings, emotions, and yes, even worries (remind me to tell you sometime about Lent and worry. there's a rich story there...). i find myself sort of reveling in the frustrating mystery of it all with the encouraging (but often unrelentingly "quiet") presence of God. i believe, probably more than ever, that there is something to be said for steeping ourselves in the Lord. just being with or near Him is a remarkable work of grace. i think we underestimate it sometimes. i know i'm grateful for moments with Him snatched here and there throughout the day--enjoying the new green leaves bursting from winter hiding, drinking in bright sunshine, hearing the warm laughter of new (and old) friends, praying into the dark before drifting to sleep (or early morning journaling/reading when sleep is impossible), smiling at strangers on the EL or the regular "hello" and "how are you" exchanged with the homeless man that collects his coins outside the post office. These things are simple but delightful. this is life, friends! many, many moments all squished together. how will we live them? we only have one life to live...

life is sopping with newness after the refreshment of Easter. have you felt it?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

He Lives

Not the Kingdom of Death
"Christ is risen!
We give thanks for the gift of Easter
that runs beyond our explanations,
beyond our categories of reason,
even more, beyond the sinking sense of our own live.
We know about the powers of death,
powers that persist among us,
powers that drive us from you, and
from our neighbor, and
from our best selves.
We know about the powers of fear and greed and anxiety,
and brutality and certitude.
powers before which we are helpless.
And then at dawn, unquenched,
you in the darkness,
you on Saturday,
you who breaks the world to joy.
Yours is the kingdom...not the kingdom of death,
Yours is the power...not the power of death,
Yours is the glory...not the glory of death.
Yours...You...and we give thanks
for the newness beyond our achieving.

(Walter Brueggemann, Easter Tuesday/April 25, 2000)

"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.' Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'
Not Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
-John 20:24-31
A few Easter thoughts... :)

Today He reminds me (us) of his power over death. He broke the arms of death--arms that could not hold him--and shattered the power of darkness. And instead, He embraces us with his arms and infuses the darkness of this world with light. We need His newness. We are ready for newness. We are grateful for newness, and life.

He is a God of remarkable surprises. He is the One with no odds against Him to keep his vision of redemption at bay. All things will be made new and made right.

Friday, April 02, 2010

"What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to thee."

-Attr. Bernard of Clairvaux

The Terrible Silencing we Cannot Master

Holy God who hovers daily round us in fidelity and compassion,
this day we are mindful of another, dread-filled hovering,
that of the power of death before which we stand
thin and needful.
All our days, we are mindful of the pieces of our lives
and the parts of your world
that are on the loose in destructive ways.
We notice that wildness midst our fear and our anger unresolved.
We mark it in a world of brutality and poverty and hunger
all around us.
We notice all our days.

But on this day of all days,
that great threat looms so large and powerful.
It is not for nothing
that we tremble at these three hours of darkness
and the raging earthquake.
It is not for nothing
that we have a sense of our helplessness
before the dread power of death that has broken loose
and that struts against our interest and even against our will.
Our whole life is not unlike the playground in the village,
lovely and delightful and filled with squeals unafraid,
and then we remember the silencing
of all those squeals in death,
and we remember the legions of Kristy's
that are swept away in a riddle too deep for knowing.
Our whole life is like that playground
and on this dread-filled Friday we pause before
the terrible silencing we cannot master.

So we come in our helpless candor this day...
remembering, giving thanks, celebrating...
but not for one instant unmindful of dangers too ominous
and powers too sturdy and threats well beyond us.

We turn eventually from our hurt for children losts.
We turn finally from all our unresolved losses
to the cosmic grief at the loss of Jesus.
We recall and relive that wrenching Friday
when the hurt cut to your heart.
We see in that terrible hurt, our losses
and your full embrace of loss and defeat.

We dare pray while the darkness descends
and the earthquake trembles,
we dare pray for eyes to see fully
and mouths to speak fully the power of death all around,
we dare pray for a capacity to notice unflinching
that in our happy playgrounds other children die,
and grow silent,
we pray more for your notice and your promise
and your healing.

Our only urging on Friday is that you live this as we must
impacted but not destroyed,
dimmed but not quenched.
For your great staying power
and your promise of newness we praise you.
It is in your power
and your promise that we take our stand this day.
We dare trust that Friday is never the last day,
so we watch for the new day of life.
Hear our prayer and be your full self toward us.
(Walter Brueggemann, Good Friday//1991)
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eil, lema sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" Mt 27:45-46