Tuesday, October 23, 2007

$$$ and teeth and injustice

Sometimes life isn't necessarily hard, it's just not fun. Yesterday I went to the dentist yet again because I still have just a screw in my jaw (I'm supposed to have a crown put on top of it). This is the 3rd time I've been to this dentist. It seems like every time I go, there's another problem. This time he hadn't got in touch with my dentist in Orlando, so he couldn't proceed. Since I was already there (and since I hadn't had a cleaning in like over a year), he squeezed me in for x-rays and a cleaning. I don't know if that was such a good idea. He found like 3 cavities! I don't get it! I brush and floss as much as anyone else (ahem, Travis) and yet I still get cavities. I know it can have alot to do with genetics, but STILL. Ew. I don't mind getting the fillings done, per se, they're just so freaking expensive.

So I get home from the not-fun-dentist and try to pay some bills. I had to make a call to fix something with one of our bills and I ended up on hold for over 45 minutes. No thanks. By the time Travis got home, I was so frustrated. He's so good at letting me vent and then calming me down. I usually need some time to just be mad; only after that time can I look at the situation rationally (well, relatively) and move forward. All this on Monday. Mondays are supposed to be relaxing.

Life isn't bad or even very hard. School can be stressful and having no money is definitely a difficult place, but overall everything is really good. It just seems like there's not enough time in the day for crap and menial stuff AND fun and productivity and sanity. And guess what gets taken out of the picture first? That's right, cookies, TV watching and reading gossip magazines. A.k.a. my sanity.

In my spiritual formation group (small group "class" that all 1st year div students take) this morning we were talking about discernment. And by "talking about", I mean our leader Shane (serious black man) talks and we stare tiredly at the ground or nod when he looks at us. But anyways, this morning was a little more casual and we were actually talking about situations that require discernment. Recently in Rocky Mount (a small town near Durham) two women were attacked in the kitchen of their church while preparing food for Meals on Wheels. One was killed when the man slit her throat. The other is still in ICU. There is a lady in my group who pastors a church near Rocky Mount and she was talking about how alot of people in her church are having a knee-jerk reaction to the attack; they want to lock up the food pantry and basically have church behind bolted doors. How do we respond in this situation? Should we ask the church to put themselves in danger to do God's work?

My simple answer is: yes. Now, I'm not claiming that we should purposely put ourselves in harm's way. What I'm saying is that fear is paralyzing. If we are unable to act, to serve, to love, because we fear harm, then we're letting violence have the last word. We're saying that we are subordinate to the evil in the world and act (or don't act) because of the actions of other, ill-willed people. Redemption is happening all over the world, in a million ways. If we don't open ourselves to be vehicles of redemption and reconciliation, how will God move? How will the church remain alive?

This takes courage that is beyond our own. It requires reliance on greater Grace than we can create within ourselves.

But they knew it was love, it one they could understand.
He was showing his love, and that's how he hurt his hands.

~Nickel Creek

I don't really care about my stupid teeth now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

glory, weight, and the music of it all

Joni Mitchell always puts me in a certain mood.
It's a strange mood; one that reminds me of the summer of 2005, of Cambridge and the beach and mistakes and novelty. Her music brings with it a kind of ache that is hard and knocks the wind out of me.
I have to remind myself that there is more to music than one time. There is history, but there is also history to be made. I can love a musician or a song, but not necessarily have to relive previous times.
I associate both pleasant and unpleasant memories with music. The common thread of these music associated memories is always strength .
Sometimes they hit me like a cool wave. Like a wind that smells of a cold morning.
And sometimes they hit me with the force of a too-strong drink. With the weight of a slippery river rock.

Music used to hit me all the time. My emotions seemed almost at the mercy of songs. I don't miss being so affected all the time...I wonder if it's still possible. It feels like it's been a long time since a song has brought me to tears; a long time since I wanted to play it over and over, sing it at the top of my lungs, yell it, make it my anthem or credo. I miss that connection. I don't want to chalk it up to young adult angst.

I don't want to be unnmoved; and I mean this in terms of more than music. I want life to move me. I want to cry and laugh at movies and conversation and wake up breathless and roll in the grass and stare at the sun too long.

"and please remember me, my misery
and how it lost me all i wanted
those dogs that love the rain, and chasin' trains
the colored birds above there runnin'
in circles round the well, and where it spells
on the wall behind St. Peter
so bright on cinder gray in spray paint:
“who the hell can see forever?” "

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I started into this blog thing all gung-ho and such and then real life set in and I was a bad blogger. Forgive me.

Now it's Reading Week (aka Fall Break) and I have no excuses. Just precious time and space. Most people went somewhere for the week: home, vacation, etc. But alas, Travis doesn't have a break and even if he did, we'd still be broke and traveling costs money. So, I'm having myself a nice Durham fall break, which is nice. Yesterday was my home day; I knew there was cleaning that needed to be done, so I made myself do it first thing. 5 sinkfuls of dishes, one bleached and mopped kitchen floor, 3 loads of laundy, and one vacuumed house later, I am done. One plus: since it was home day, I feel no guilt about not showering and staying in a t-shirt and soccer shorts all day.

Sunday night, we went out to dinner with some people from church. It was our 3rd Sunday at Emmaus Way, and I finally feel like I'm starting to know people, at least surface-level know, which is how it begins. It was a small group, which was good for conversation, and included a missionary couple who was in town for the weekend. Steve and Amy were around a couple of years ago when the church was starting up, but have been in South Africa for about 2 years now, working with an organization called ServLife. They work with orphans and neglected children and help women start up their own businesses. Listening to their stories, I realized how little I really knew about the country of South Africa and its history. I mean, I know about apartheid and Nelson Mandela and how the country is portrayed in the Poisonwood Bible, but that's where my knowledge ends. Over dinner, they graciously answered our questions and told us about their life there.

And now it's Wednesday and I am stuck in the rut that I get when I have too much time on my hands. It's not that I don't have many options. There's the schoolwork that I'm supposed to get done, there's the million little things at the house that I've been meaning to get to, I could get my butt to the gym...the list goes on. Then there's the attractive possibilities: thrift stores, walking in the park with the pup, reading (NOT for school), watching movies that Trav doesn't want to, spending ridiculous amounts of time at the coffeeshop, etc. Most of the things that I associate with relaxing involve money and I need to separate these. Things like getting a manicure, going shopping for clothes or house things, going to the movies or out to dinner. I need to see true relaxation as just that: time and space to let go. Yes, I might always enjoy indulging in things like a good haircut or new outfit, but those shouldn't be the things I turn to when I need to unwind. For one, we don't have the money to spend on extras, and two, if I learn to rely on things or places to unwind, what does that say about my attachment to material things. It's no coincidence that the book that I have to read over break is called by Abraham Joshua Heschel a Jewish (ahaha, clearly) scholar. I'm only a few pages in, but we've been studying the concept of Sabbath in most all my classes and so my mind is already on the subject. Our Spiritual Formation retreat that I posted about a couple of weeks ago was centered on this idea too. I think it's really amazing that the idea and practice of Sabbath is at the center of the curriculum and life in my first semester at Duke Divinity. It seems to be something that is taken quite seriously by the faculty and, at least attempted by, the students.
I think the most significant thing I've learned about Sabbath thus far is that it is a command of God; it is not a suggestion; it is not a thing to do when we feel like it or when we have time; it is a must, like honoring one's parents or giving to the poor. Why have we let it slide? Why isn't it more important in churches? How have the Jewish people managed to remain faithful to the Sabbath, but Christians haven't? Obviously, I know there are many answers to all of these questions; just thought I'd share some of the things running about in my mind.

There is so much about my life here, in Durham, at Duke, about the first year of marriage, that I want to write about. Honestly, I don't know where to start. But I am thinking and processing. Maybe I'll be inspired soon. Maybe actually taking a Sabbath will release the floodgates. Watch out crazy internet world, watch out :)