15 December 2008

"let me paint a thank-you on my palm"



“Welcome Morning” ~ Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.

* * *

This is one of my favorite poems by Anne Sexton. Too often, I feel like I forget to remember to be thankful. Of course, I am always thankful for those big things that are undeniable: a family who loves me in their own quirky, dysfunctional way; a community of friends, classmates, co-workers and mentors who allow me to rest in the security and comfort that comes when you are truly known by someone. But what about all the little things, that I often overlook, that make up a great day? This idea of painting a thank-you on my palm has begun to surface in my mind whenever I am having a day when I forget to be thankful. The image of putting it there, right where will I will always see it and always think to be thankful for all that my hands touch (both figuratively and literally, or course!) is just so beautiful and simple and perfect. So in honor of Ms. Sexton’s great idea, I am going to share five little things I am thankful for – one for each of my fingers – with the hope that I can share my joy before it “dies young”:

Pinkie: I love my bed. It is big and soft and perfect…and I got it for free! I love that I have a fleece blanket under my sheets, and I love that I have a comforter under my comforter. I love its position in my room – right next to my window – so on those rare mornings when I get to sleep in the sun wakes me up in the most gentle way, as if to say “Good Morning. Welcome to the world today, I hope you find joy in every aspect.”

Ring Finger: I am thankful for my colorful scarves. There is something so comforting about having a piece of soft, warm fabric wrapped or knotted loosely around my neck. I love how bright they are and that no matter how I am feeling in the morning, a scarf makes me feel safer, happier, more confident in the day. Adding a splash of color to my day makes everything seem just a bit brighter. It is almost like the security blanket I had growing up has become more mature and sophisticated and has evolved to a fashionable neck accessory…I just feel a little more protected and a little more sure of myself.

Middle Finger: I am thankful for the “shuffle songs” button on my iPod. Since I know and love all the 7,000+ songs on my iPod, I appreciate the small surprise that comes with each new song. It takes me from my middle-school-N’Sync years (yes, I have N’Sync on my iPod…and I am not ashamed!) to classic study music. It takes me from Dashboard Confessional to Bob Dylan. It takes me from Nick Drake to Ingrid Michaelson. In the way that people often link their memories to certain smells, I often associate a specific song with a specific experience or period of time in my life, so I can journey through a dozen different emotions and memories with the push of one little button.

Pointer Finger: I love seeing the little aspects of life that I miss if I don’t look hard enough. People watching, looking up at the sky, watching the rain drops fall on the leaves outside my bedroom window. I am so thankful that I am learning how to pay attention and observe all the life that surrounds me. It is usually those moments when we think no one is watching that we are the most authentically ourselves…and I love catching people in those moments. When I see those things that are so easy to overlook it makes me feel like I have a secret with nature; like a little piece of the world is hidden to everyone and everything except me.

Thumb: I am thankful for my oddly shaped bookcase. It is narrow and tall and looks like it might fall over at any moment. I am thankful for all the books I have lovingly (and with a little touch of OCD) arranged by genre. I love that my bookcase (that is so dark brown it almost looks black) holds all the knowledge and beauty and love that is found in books of literature, history, poetry. Words on paper often speak more to me than anything spoken, and it is this wonderful bookcase in the corner of my room that holds those words that can inspire me, challenge me, and give me hope. They are my best friends who never fail me, and for that, I am incredibly grateful that I have my bookcase to hold them and protect them.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.


24 November 2008

Reflections on "Reflections..."

I am reading (or trying to read in the midst of finals chaos) this phenomenal book called "Waiting for God" by Simone Weil right now. Her insight into how we approach God and our relationship to him in the midst of this crazy world is proving to be vital in my search to understand and develop my own perspective and worldview. One essay I read was called "Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.” I have already read it twice. Here are my reflections on "reflections"...
Everything I do is an exercise in paying attention. From the books I read as a student of literature, to the dates I memorize as a student of history, to the theories I thoughtfully consider as a student of critical thought. But it is not only in my studies that I am practicing attentiveness. Every day, in the aspects of my life that I choose to devote my time to, I am learning how to pay attention. It is what I choose to pay attention to in which the question of my heart lies. Do I pay attention to that which will feed my soul or do I simply spend my time with things that are convenient and easy? Then the question arises: will my perspective of the world ultimately by dictated by what I pay attention to as well? Of course it will be! My worldview is created by the countless episodes of Friends that I watch just as much as it is created by the books of Christian apologetics and history and philosophy that I read.

I must learn to understand that every action is part of the greater whole of my understanding of the world.

“When we write, we draw the shape of the letter on paper, not with a view to the shape, but with a view to the idea we want to express.” I do not write letters on a piece of paper in order to express the letter, but to express the idea. The end goal is the idea…but the means to this end must first begin with my knowledge of basic principles like the alphabet and phonetics. In everything that I learn, I must realize that although it may not seem like it directly affects my life, in the end it will all contribute to the whole that creates my worldview. So I must constantly be striving to pay attention. I love that idea, by the way! Such a great analogy (the letter in the word on the page makes the story) for a pretty complex thought!

But what does it mean to truly pay attention? In my desire to learn how to do this, I have to remember two things. Firstly, too often, I do not pay attention as intently as I think I do. I am not paying attention, only “concentrating on nothing.” Simone Weil writes, “We often expend this kind of muscular effort [instead of true attentiveness] on our studies. As it ends by making us tired, we have the impression that we have been working. That is an illusion. Tiredness has nothing to do with work.” Even if I enter into the act of paying attention (to what I am studying, what I am doing, or what I am praying) with good intentions, this act produces no end except my own exhaustion.

Secondly, and probably more difficult, I have to learn how to let go of expectations and assumptions about what I should be thinking or feeling or learning. I always go into thigns expecting to get something out of it; assuming that I will leave with some specific goal accomplished. It kind of relates to Gregory Bateson’s idea of purpose driven thinking. He writes that because we have gotten so used to a formulaic way of thinking (A+B=C), we have missed all the answers and truth that goes into the formula. If I always have an end goal of what I want to learn or know or grow in, it is so easy to miss what God is trying to do. I love it when Weil writes “The soul empties itself of all its own contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he is, in all his truth.” So often I miss all the wisdom that can come out of an experience because I have gotten so used to going straight to the solution, while not always paying attention to how I got there. There is wisdom in the journey, not just the answer right?

04 November 2008

Early Thoughts on Election Night

I was glued to the TV today. Well, actually it was the Internet…MSNBC to be exact. I definitely didn’t plan on doing it, but I listened to their live stream from about 10:30 in the morning until 11:00 tonight. (I am even listening to it right now, in fact) It was not until I realized that I could not seem to pull myself away from the news that I also realized how invested I was in this election. I have been studying it for various reasons since this summer, but I never thought I would be this passionate about it. And now that it is over I am just so proud. It is not just because “my candidate” won…even though I will now admit, he did. I will now strongly say that I am confident in my decision for Obama…but I am proud for so many reasons other than that.

I am proud that despite the craziness and, at times, negativity of this election, we are one step closer to being a truly united country. This is in large part to Obama’s campaign method, and I truly hope, what will be his presidency. But it is not about him or McCain or Joe the Plumber or whoever. It is about a nation of individuals coming together as one. I think it is so evident in Obama’s acceptance speech, that he only won because we came together as one country to elect him, and he will not accomplish anything without this same unity. Even more important, it is also evident in McCain’s exit speech that we must continue down this road of acting as one nation instead of based on red or blue states. After so many years of division, I am so proud to think that we are finally on the right path towards unity, no matter our political (or any other, for that mater) orientation.

I am proud that as a country, we elected a black person. I was talking with my roommate about it and she was so wise in saying that while she and I (being white) may not be able to fully understand the complete significance as much as a black person, coming from a place where we have experienced prejudice based on our gender or our faith or whatever the case may be, it is so incredibly meaningful to know that America broke through this barrier. As Obama walked out to give his acceptance speech and his family came out with him, I could not help from crying. How amazing it is to know that we can rise above our differences and become a nation of one instead of a nation based on individual separation. Being a student of history, how magnificent it is to see how far we have come. From the Civil War, to Martin Luther King Jr, to President (elect) Obama, I have no words for how proud I am of our country. Furthermore, I am also proud that until this point, this election was not about race. Obama never played the race card, and McCain never played it either. I believe, and am so proud that Americans (by and large) voted based on issues and candidates more so than skin color. I believe that because of our refusal to let it run the election race, we have now earned the right to celebrate Obama’s win as a monumental step for black people, not just in America, but all over the world. We have earned the right to rejoice in his victory, and I am proud of us.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I am so, so, so incredibly proud of my generation. The millennials, as we are called. There is a photo that I just saw on the MSNBC website (I tried to put it on here, but it wont let me copy the picture) of the reaction of some young Obama supporters as they found out that he had won: most people had looks of utter joy and amazement, some were crying, and right in the middle of the shot, there is a young woman kneeling down on the ground with her hands over her mouth and her eyes shut (most likely filled with tears) because she is just so overwhelmed by emotion. I think this so telling of our generation in this election: we are in awe that our vote actually mattered and we are overwhelmed by our own investment in one man, and in our actions because of it. Just like I did not realize how passionate about the election I was until I started crying when I found out Obama won, I think that we are all sort of surprised by how much we cared about this, given what society has told us we care about. After all, aren’t we supposed to be the generation that only cares about our iPods and Facebook accounts? I know for me, at least, my tears were as much in the relief in knowing after so many months of caring, as much as they were in the joy of seeing Mr. Obama win. I am so proud that we believed in ourselves and in our own power to have an effect on the course of this country and on the global community. Everyone has been saying that we hold so much power, and I am so proud that we believed it and acted upon it. Whether we voted for McCain or Obama, I am just so proud that we voted. We refused to be apathetic. We refused to be ignorant. We studied the issues and the candidates, we thought critically, and we voted. No matter who we voted for, we were truly united. I am proud to say that it is our turn now. It is our turn to change the world. And I have very confidence that we will do so with passion, and intelligence and (I greatly hope), a humility that will affect change without creating arrogance. I truly believe that we will react according to an understanding of the magnitude of our actions not only for this country, but for the world…and not only for our generation, but for the many to come.

I am so glad this whole election is over. I am excited for our new president. But I am not so optimistic that I don’t have doubts. I am worried about issues like abortion and I am worried that Obama’s goals might be just too much to attain. But I am hopeful. And that, I think, is the most important thing. I always go back to one of my very favorite quotes…a statement from Jim Wallis in his essay Faith Works: “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change… Hope is the single most important ingredient for changing the world.” I am hopeful for our unity as a country and I am hopeful for the actions of my generation. I am hopeful that Obama will lead this country with humility and grace, but also with assertion and wisdom. I am hopeful that we are on the right path to becoming a better country, both for ourselves and for our world. I have hope and I am confident that the hope of our nation will be enough to better the future of our world.

Thanks for reading my random (long) and probably completely unreadable thoughts. I hope, but kind of doubt, that they made any sense!

If you want to hear something absolutely amazing, watch Obama’s acceptance speech… I am sure you can find it anywhere right now!

28 September 2008

"Refuge" - Terry Tempest Williams

This book inspires me more than most things I read. She (beautifully!) connects her mother's death due to cancer caused by the fallout of atomic bomb tests to the flooding of the Great Salt Lake that displaced all of the creatures from the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. In both cases, refuge seems lost, but is actually found. Her writing is, all at once, powerful and peaceful; advocacy and reflection; lovely and forceful. The first page and a half is so astonishingly beautiful and a great foreshadowing of what is to come in the pages ahead ::

"...In the past seven years, Great Salt Lake has advanced and retreated. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, devastated by the flood, now begins to heal. Volunteers are beginning to reconstruct the marshes just as I am trying to reconstruct my life. I sit on the floor of my study with journals all around me...and I remember the country I come from and how it informs my life. Most of the women in my family are dead. Cancer. At thirty-four, I became the matriarch of my family. The losses I encountered at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as Great Salt Lake was rising helped me to face the losses within my family....
Perhaps, I am telling this story in an attempt to heal myself, to confront what I do not know, to create a path for myself with the idea that "memory is the only way home."
I have been in retreat. This story is my return."

More than any other author...I want to be able to write like her.
-

24 September 2008

This Present Moment will Determine our Future...

“We do not have the ability to look more than two weeks into the future.”

As my professor quoted this statement made by a professor at Virginia Tech and we began to discuss the idea of how we should view the future, it began to bother me more and more. Here, I must note that we were not talking about our future as much in terms of what we will personally be doing in ten years (career, family, etc.), but more in terms of how our actions as a world population today will affect the world population ten years from now. For example, on September 23rd, humanity will have used all the resources generated by nature this year. What is now being referred to as “Earth Overshoot Day” marks the day when we begin living beyond our ecological means and utilizing resources faster than the earth can replenish them. In our current state, we require the equivalent of 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles…but we only have one. Continuing at this rate, how much worse will it be in the future? (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot)

Our class seemed to be divided equally between those who thought that to focus too intently on the future is just too daunting, and those who thought that we must focus on the future as a basis for our actions in the present. While I could definitely relate to and in fact, agree with the notion that we must live in the present, appreciating what we have and not miss what is right in front of us. I was somewhat disheartened by a response of many people that sometimes we are just too busy to look more into the future. It bothered me to think that we allow ourselves to become so consumed with our present that we often neglect what effects our actions may have on future generations. I began to wonder – is it that we don’t have the ability to look far into the future, or simply that we just chose not to?


It is also important to think about this in terms of our status as upper-middle class citizens of America. We are the blessed who are able to sit in a classroom and discuss these issues. Shouldn’t that translate into some sort of responsibility to look towards our future more than others? There are millions of people who cannot look into the future more than a few hours, let alone two weeks. These are the people who have a disease that makes living to the next day a miracle. These are the people who do not know where their next meal will be coming from. They are the ones who truly do not have the ability to plan for the years to come…because they are not eve sure if they will come. We are the blessed who (apart from events that only God can know) are somewhat confident in our existence ten years down the road. We plan for our personal future by investing money, going to college and getting married. So how can we say that it is just too hard to look too far into our global future? We not only have the ability…we have the responsibility.

I think of issues like global warming and the over-consumption of natural resources. I think of preventable and treatable disease like HIV/AIDS and malaria. I think of all these things that, while they are such huge issues, truly are preventable and manageable. How can I sit back and contemplate my own future without first contemplating the future of the world I am a part of? Maybe it will become more personal when we realize that our global actions today will have a direct influence on world we give to our children and grandchildren. So I will continue to focus on my life day by day. I will strive to live in a way that is thankful and appreciative of the life God has blessed me with at this present moment. But I will also remember that with this “charmed life” comes responsibility and what I choose to do with this present moment I am blessed to have, will determine the future of our world.

15 September 2008

Washington DC #1: Songs of a Nation (9/9/08)

This morning, I had the opportunity to go to the White House Executive Offices and meet with Bill Wichterman, Special Assistant to President Bush and Deputy Director of Public Liaison (basically, one of Bush's main policy advisers). After we finished checking in and getting our appointment passes (we had to give them our social security numbers a few days ago so they could do background checks!) we went through security and then to his office! As we began talking, his close friend, (who is my boss's close friend, and the reason we were there) mentioned the book on his coffee table. It was the "U2 by U2" book. As we started talking to him about his relationship to U2 (as a fan) and Bono (which it turns out, is as an important influence and someone who actually had the guts to call him out on his "rock star" ego upon meeting him for the first time in the 90's) the conversation turned into how our culture dictates our laws. After all, wasn’t it Plato who once said, “Give me the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws”?

The culture which we are a part of is the context that we learn and grow and develop our perspective of the world from. It determines what we love and what we hate. The government is nothing without its people and its people are shaped by what they listen to and watch and read. In attempting to reform an entire system or government, we must reform that which influences us. Furthermore, and especially in the case of America, our biggest export to the rest of the world is the image we put forth through our songs, books, movies and popular culture in general. And most of what we export is, for lack of a better term, shit. When we are producing and distributing pornography, music that is completely degrading to women, and movies that encourage and emphasize our need for violence in order to be entertained, how will the rest of the world see us?

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, even more so now than ever before. (And this is what we were talking about with Bill). But these exceptions only begin when politics and popularity come together. The coupling of great thinkers and law-makers, who have the diplomacy, skills, and strategy...with the “rock-stars,” who have the power to influence others more than anyone else, can create a revolution that is both smart AND socially accepted. It is through meetings of Bono and the United States government that the AIDS and poverty crisis becomes forefront in the world, for example. It is through the combination of a recent college graduate with loans to pay off but a passion for something more and a globally renowned music group like Jars of Clay, that an organization like Blood:Water Mission is created, for example. The greatest feats can be overcome when there is a shared passion from both the political angle and the popular.

The culture we live in defines our laws, not the other way around. So what is our responsibility within this culture? There is this great revolution of change that needs to come about within our culture, and the only way we can do it is through a community of passionate people.



(Executive Offices at the White House)

13 September 2008

Murdock Trust


This summer I worked at the Murdock Charitable Trust, a foundation that provides financial support through grants to non-profit organizations in the Northwest. Throughout this 12-week period, I learned more about myself, my passions, and my calling than I ever had before. I spent time, not only working on actually meaningful projects (seems unheard of in the internship world, doesn’t it?) for the Trust, but being mentored and nurtured towards God’s calling on my life. I was surrounded by amazing mentors and wise teachers, as well as three other interns my own age who, while in somewhat of an ironic way, helped me realize more about myself and how I interact with people. The experience completely caught me off guard as one which shaped my life more than I could have imagined. The internship opened so many doors and made me realize that to do what God wants me to do is vital to my successful survival in a world where we are taught to do whatever we want to.

The entries within this category are simple thoughts I had throughout my days working there, mostly for the purposes of writing about my experience for my senior practicum. However these are also threads of thoughts that truly changed my perspective of myself, my relationship to others, and my responsibility within a broken world.


Everything Is Illimuniated - Jonathan Safran Foer

The movie is amazing...the book is simply indescribable. Everyone talks about how genius it is, and really...it's true! On the surface, it is a story of a young Jewish man searching for the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis in Ukraine who consequently finds not only his past but new friends and a better understanding of himself. But really...
It is the story of perfect love in the midst of horrific tragedy. The story of a journey through a devastated past that must be remembered in order to live a more grateful and authentic life. The story of memory and trying to forget. It is just so amazing and life-changing and wonderful! Plus, the writing is so incredibly beautiful...in some parts I actually cry. I can't really explain it...here are some good quotes that will hopefully make you want to read it ::

"He removed several pages of death certificates which were picked up by another breeze and sent into the trees. Some would fall with the leaves that September. Some would fall with the trees generations later."

"You become enlightened of the feeling of feeling hurt, which is worse, I am certain, than the existent hurt. Not-truths hung in front of me like fruit."

"Try to live so you can always tell the truth..."
-

12 September 2008

I Collect Books...

I collect books. There is this huge bookstore in my town (Portland) that is one entire city block wide and about four stories high. It is probably my favorite place in the whole world. I have had to force myself to stop going there so often because everytime I do, I never fail to walk out with at least four books...and with no less than $50 gone from my bank account. I buy books that I have read before, but feel the insurmountable desire to own so I can write all over the margins. I buy books I have never read but tell myself that, despite all the reading I have to do as an English/History student, I will most definitely have time to read. I buy books for people I love to show them how much I love them. I collect books.

Every six months or so, I am forced by my overflowing bookshelf to goo through all of these books and sell the ones that I can bear to part with. This task is getting harder and harder. Some books I have read dozens of times and will probably read a dozen more. Some I have read once and that was all I could handle (usually those are the ones that go to Powell's). Some I still have yet to read...but I just know I will someday!

Given this strong love (ok...maybe a little obsession) for the books in my life, I think I should start sharing my love with all of you. So here will be my little review section...maybe I can convince to read a magnificent, awe-inspiring, amazing book or two :)

16 July 2008

Passion & Action

My passion and my action. How do I translate that which you have placed on my heart into that which you are calling me to do?

I am beginning to realize the true and immense purpose of what you are calling me to do. I am beginning realize that my passion IS my calling. For so long I have told myself that I would act in human rights issues by simply empowering those actually doing the work; that I would support their work while doing something else. But now I realize that I might have been saying that in order to hold on to my desire for a “normal” American life.

I am realizing your calling is so much more than I have allowed. That what you really want me to do is so much bigger than I am letting it be. Have I simply been hiding behind my responsibilities? I know that I trust you completely to guide me…but have I been using the practical responsibilities of my everyday life to mask my fear of letting go of other things I desire? I was sitting at the Trust, talking with Steve Garber about what I am passionate about and what I want to do with my life, and actually beginning to fully realize the implications of such a passion and a calling.

The question remains. How do I translate all of this self-actualization into genuine action? I realize more and more what I am passionate about and how it relates to what God is calling me to, but how should I begin to actually move forward in this? Lord, please continue to open the doors that I have been to afraid and unwilling to walk through before. I do not know where you will take me in the following days and weeks and years, but please continue to open the doors, I promise to walk though them from now on.

08 July 2008

Masks

Sometimes I feel like we all wonder the same thing about who we are and who we want to be and who we want to portray to the world. We complain to our friends and ourselves about how we feel we must always wear a mask, and yet we continue to wear one, not really trying to do anything to be more authentic. But why do we do that? Why do I do that? We are just all so scared to be ourselves, I understand that. But there has to be another reason, right? People overcome their fears all the time, right? What makes this whole “being your true self” seem so impossible?
On my way to work, I put on my sophisticated, grown-up clothes and prepare for a day in the “professional” world where I am charming and outgoing and constantly happy. I compare myself with my peers, wondering if I am fashionable enough, smart enough, competitive enough. I try to be what I think they want me to be.
On my flight home I am slowly reverting to the girl that my family knows; that my church knows; that my town knows. Some things never change. Just like it was when I was eighteen, I am expected to fulfill a role much older than my age. I am counselor and peacemaker within my family. I still have late night conversations with my parents about how to deal with a situation that I have no idea how to deal with. I still try to have some sort of relationship with my brother before he slams the door in my face, turns the TV up to a deafening sound, or simply walks away. I have changed, but going home I realize not as much as I thought. I am struggling to find my place where I was once comfortable, but am now an outsider. In the end, I just revert back to the person I was when they knew me. Unfortunately that is an eighteen year old who is struggling to find herself. Four years later, it does not seem like too far of a stretch. I try to be what I think they want me to be.
I am a vegetarian. I am a woman’s rights advocate. I am an AIDS advocate. I am a Christian. For me? For the image I portray? For who I want people to see? Yes to all of the above. Do I try to live up to the standard set by others for their own lives? I try to live up to my own standards, but where are those coming from? Sometimes I feel like I am made up of the standards and ethics and images of others. I do not trust myself enough to create…myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am who I am because I choose to be. I love being a vegetarian. I am passionate about AIDS and woman’s rights because whenever I think about these issues, I know in my heart and in my mind that this is what God is calling me to. I follow Christ because I know, both emotionally and intellectually, that I could not live if I did not. The question is though, who or what truly shapes the person I am and am becoming? What do I let influence the path that my identity is taking? Do I allow the masks to stay on because I don’t really know the person behind them?

05 June 2008

Limits

There is this strange time in our shift into adulthood when we begin to realize and understand the realities of our world. We begin to see those factors that limit our dreams and cause us to see things in a new light; but a light that really feels more like a shadow. We begin to realize our limits in our talent as a little girl longing to don the ballet tutu without a fraction of balance. We begin to realize our limits in genetics as a little boy striving to be a famous basketball player, but growing only to reach 5’5 in height. We begin to realize our limits even in our own will as the biology or political science major realizes that maybe they do not have enough energy or stamina for the multiple years of medical or law school. And most often, we begin to realize our limits in our finances as we prepare to enter a university system that will leave us paying off school loans for decades after we graduate.

As we grow, and shift, and our passions change, we continue to pray that these new passions are not limited by what we cannot control. But mostly – as our disillusionment eventually shows us – our passions somehow always seem limited by those wonderful life lessons we call “reality checks.” We are constantly brought back to a place of not only wondering “am I enough?” but also “is my passion enough to sustain me?” and “are my finances enough to sustain my passion?” We enter college to find what we are passionate about and what we are called to do with the life God has given us. Ironically enough however, by the time we graduate, most of us realize that that which we are called to do does not seem possible because we are paying off that which helped us realize it. (Does that make any sense at all?)

Our hope is found in a Creator who knows no limits, except those we, ourselves, put on him. It is through him alone that the little ballerina will find balance in an unstable world. Through him, that the determined athlete will grow tall in his knowledge and understanding of a complex life. Through him, that the young student will find the strength and stamina to change the world. It is through him alone that we will pay off our debts while working for a non-profit organization that we truly believe in. There are limits in the world we live in. Everyday we deal with reality checks. How fortunate we are to also have a God who transcends our disillusionment and brings us to the exact place we need to be if only we will trust him to do so.

17 May 2008

Learning...

I am originally starting this to document a simple summer internship that turned into a life-defining experience. What else will come out of it, I cannot say…

When I think about explaining myself on a blank computer screen, it seems like a daunting task. The truth is, I do not really know who I am yet. As I step into my final year of college and prepare to enter the adventure God has for me, I cannot even pretend to know where He will lead me.

But I am learning.
Learning how to rejoice in my weakness, because He is strong enough for both of us.
Learning that I do not need a house to know where my home is.
Learning how to rest in both the mountains and the valleys, realizing the importance of truly being present where I am.
Learning how to breathe deeply and fully when I cannot sleep for fear of the darkness.
Learning how perfectly faithful God is, even when I am not.
Learning how to live authentically and surround myself with a community that encourages me to do so.

In everything that I am learning, I am searching for a way to rest in those unexpected moments of self enlightenment and I hope this will be a way to do it. As I search for my true self, I have no clue what the journey will look like, but I know that trusting in Him is the only way I will truly learn how to live authentically.