Aug 8, 2010

Follow me

Hello friends. At risk of sounding like a total narcissist, I invite you to come follow me at my new blog.... Like an over saturated coffee-shop, I won't be staying here anymore. You can find me at the new, hip place on the corner:

Jun 2, 2010

Benedictine Way

Every eight weeks I drive up to St. Joseph Minnesota to spend a couple of days at St. Bendedict's Monastery/St. John's Abbey. I still get the curious eyebrow glance when I tell people this, but I'm ok with that. I've been repeating this escapade since January and I am growing more familiar with the daily rhythms of the monastic life and in turn, I find that I want to live as they live.

4:15 a.m. comes awfully early, but that is the time I need to wake up if I want to make morning prayer at the monastery. This morning, just like all the other times I've come up here, I was met by Sisiter Ceceila in the Sacred Heart Chapel and together we walked into morning prayer. Something was a little different once we entered, the place was packed! Where did all the sisters come from? And they were as spunky, enthusiastic, and alert as women in their mid-70's to late 90's could be. It wasn't until later did I understand the cause of growth. Summer time is here! I joked with Sister Cecelia that the sisters come out of the woodwork with the summer sun; with a wink and a laugh she fully agreed.

Prayer time with the sisters, I think, is my favorite part. Everyday these faithful saints welcome the new day by singing with word of God. When I was younger I used to think that hymns were dry and lifeless, void of color and vibrancy. My grandparents attended a traditional Lutheran church that sung hymns and had all their prayers printed out. I would dissect the service, looking for any aspect that might carry the possibility of spontaneity. Every week I was disappointed. Same words, same structure, same robes, same prayer, same, same, same. Ugh. As a random, impulsive, and highly emotional woman, such deeply embedded structure is often the death of me; and was just as true when I was a kid as it is now. However, 20 years later, the structure of the monastic life is no longer the death of me, rather it is the very element that causes my heart to burn with desire. I want to echo their rhythms, their practices, their faithfulness.

There may have been 50 or 60 sisters in prayer this morning. In sweet unison we opened our lips to the Lord with prayer and praise. Morning, midday, evening prayer always begin with a cry to God to welcome His Spirit and position our hearts.

"O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise. "

I thought to myself, how do I begin my days? When I'm at the Monastery it opens with prayer, praise, community, and the sharing of a meal. When I am at home however, that's a different story. The first thought that enters my mind is not a request for my lips to be opened so that my mouth can praise Christ. No. My first thought is to brush away morning mouth and then open my lips to drink in gallons of bold, dark coffee. And maybe then will I begin thinking about the Glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... maybe.

This is why I come up here. The monastic way is not confined to those who have devoted their lives to an order, in this case, the Benedictine order. Rather the monastic way is a treasure to be sought after by all those who follow after Christ. How can the rest of the Church embrace the gorgeous rhythms found within the monastic community? The Benedictine community understands God's call to be hospitable, to live a life of prayer, to share in community, and to meet the needs of others through humble service. My desire is to learn from their ways and invite others into the journey.

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be, world without end, Amen."

May 20, 2010

One step, one day at a time.

God never reveals the entirety of his plan. Abraham was only told to go and sacrifice his son, no further information was disclosed. David was told that he was going to become a great king, but I'm sure he had no idea how long it would take to get there. Moses was called to lead the masses out of their slavery and into liberation - did he anticipate the whole freaking sea to part into dry ground? Saul loses his sight, I highly doubt he was thinking; "No problem! In a few days I'll get my sight back and then I'll become the greatest apostle!" If I am going to be completely honest, I loathe the fact that this is how God rolls. Throw me a bone, Padre.

So what are we to do in the midst of the uncomfortable unknown? I could offer you a platter of cheesy responses, and some may even be theologically sound, however when restless confusion eats away at your bones and steals away hours of slumber; the traditional Jeremiah 29:11 dollap of encouragement fails miserably to bring encouragement. Commercial break: And who ever decided this was a good verse to slap on as a band-aid to our modern day blues ? I'm fairly certain the context in which it was spoken was never intended to be used for the sadness we hold over our neighbor's dead kitty. Sorry friends, Jeremiah had a particular audience in mind - and his life was the most depressing of any prophet I've ever read! His own words, given from God, didn't even bring consolation to his weeping! And we're back... 3-2-1. The truth of the matter is this - I don't really know what we are to do, if anything at all, when we find ourselves stuck on the spinny'est (is that a word) cart on this tilt-a-whirl ride otherwise known as life.

But here is what I do know. The Holy Spirit is present, everywhere. When our heads are hung low and our souls are downcast within us, Jesus joins us on the lonely road and listens to our confusion, our lost hopes, our pain, and our excrutiating doubt. He calls us out when we need it and hesitates none at all to say - "Hey you buttheads! (or, "fools"I don't think Luke had it in him to use the term, "butthead"), why are you so faithless? Here, let me show you once again the long scroll of my faithfulness." And at the appointed time, when our hearts are ready and the burning of our hearts cannot be explained, Jesus reveals himself. We see a little bit more, but just enough to give us what we need to continue our walk of abiding obedience.

I know myself well enough to know that if God did decide to show me 27 steps into my future, I'd grap the control ropes of the delapitated buggy I ride in and take off all on my own, leaving the Omniscient one chewing on the dust of my impulsiveness. We may devise magnificent plans for our lives, plans to glorify the Lord, to serve the church, to great and wonderful things in the name of Christ; but ultimately God determines our steps. Our lives are not about us. This is not about me (ugh, owie....). I have no clue what I'm doing or where I'm going. Though in the midst of this awkward tension I beg for humility and the strength required to say 'yes' to Christ, even when I cannot see the ram in the thicket, the dry ground to walk on, or the arc to keep me afloat.

May 1, 2010

Meaningless thoughts....

Life can get pretty chaotic. Finals are creeping up on me, papers on theology, Pauline letters, and a ridiculously crazy man named Ezekiel are overwhelming my world; and finding time to pursue relationships take an undeserved back seat. However, in the midst of this funnel cloud of busyness I am ushered into the spacious world of artistic delights.

As I sit at Caribou Coffee literally sourrounded by 4 walls of books on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I smile at the sight of these musty smelling dust covers and unchain my concentration to flow freely to the tunes of Mumford and Sons. Without warning my toes tap me into a different world. This world is free from deadlines and filled with the souls of late, great theologians inviting me into the history of Christian thought. But it is an invitation not to receive a grade or a stamp of intellectual approval (thank God too, for I'm an artist - not an intellectual) rather it is to experience, to drink in, and to be transformed by the brave thoughts and endevours of our great cloud of witnesses. My life is pretty fantastic. I love that I get to study theology. I love that I am emotionally connected to radical lyrics. And I love that I'm an artist who enjoys the fruits of those with intellectual giftings!

Apr 30, 2010

I wish you Enough

I wish you enough. These are wise words my mom always sends me off with. For the longest time I never really grasped the significance behind her benediction, but as I grow in age, in my faith, in wisdom, and everything else that accrues with life experiences I see, vividly, the beauty of 'enough'.

My childhood was never extravagantly decorated with fancy clothes, the latest Schwinn, video games, or even cable tv. We weren't poor, at least not in comparison to the rest of the world - maybe in comparison to our neighbors; but we weren't rich either, far from it. My wardrobe was filled with hand-me-downs, Kmart blue light specials, and garage sale treasures. My hair styles were home perms and over-sized scrunchies. Forget Nike Air Jordan's, I wore $7 sneakers from Benjamin Franklin. Family vacations? Hardly. But we did take afternoon trips to Duluth every year or weekend get-a-ways at a family friend's cabin on Lake Milacs. Dinner time was usually goulash (how do you even spell that?!) toasty dogs, hamburger gravy, or Malt-O-Meal.

For the most part I was oblivious to our 'enough' lifestyle. In my rose-colored world we had it all; until middle school anyway - kids are mean in middle school and they spotlight everything ugly about you. My sisters and I were consumed with adventures of fort building, tree climbing, neighborhood bus stop games, bike rides to the local candy store, a garage that transformed into the raddest roller skating rink and a shed that wasn't just a shed full of gardening tools and wreaking of lawn mower gasoline. No it was our secret place, our fort of all forts. We were richer than everyone I knew.

Today, at 28 years old, I am a single woman living in the same world as when I was a kid. I am a woman with 'enough'. Every month I have no choice but to rely on God's provision. My wardrobe is still filled with hand-me-downs, thrift store goodies, and well used baseball t-shirts. Dinners are even less gourmet than when I was a kid (although I do wish I could spend loads of money on groceries... I absolutely love to cook!), now it is no more than grilled cheese, frozen veggies, or cereal. But my tummy is satisfied. I'm not a big name shopper, never have been and at the rate I'm going, I never will be. My humble apartment is donned with hand-made art, side of the road freebies, and gifts from my friends upstairs.

I do daydream at times, of what it would be like to have a million dollars. I wonder how liberating it would feel not to have to stress about the cost of school or if I can afford an oil change. Traveling to exotic places and seeing the world is an insatiable desire of mine, but I do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy beautiful places. The alley in my backyard is full of interesting people, I live in the center of a city that is adorned with gorgeous lakes, intoxicatingly beautiful parks, and unbelievable art. The truth is I have all that I need. Life is a matter of perspective, and mine is acutely familiar with that style of 'enough'.

Apr 14, 2010

April Poetry

The month of April offers a bouquet of delicious new life and winter fades to a memory. The endless frozen blues that steal the breath from your mouth, hold hostage the snot in your nose, and drop black pearls from the painted eyelashes of every maiden finally thaw away. Verde’s budding hope merrily springs forth ushering in the song of the morning dove, chickadee, and cardinal. If these feathery friends were a band they would be Dave Matthews, for no other artist can drop the jaws of enthusiasts by shredding the strings of their guitars. Heavy sweaters are folded into storage, revealing the handles of love resting on the waist of every Midwesterner. But these billowy physical effects of winter are no secret to the city of Lakes, it offers a remedy to the muffin top of cabin fever by paving miles of winding trails and organizing preventative action through running and biking communities.

10 extra pounds and smiling daffodils aren’t the only new guests at April’s banqueting table. Poets gather together and indulge their creativity by feasting upon their charming winter labors. It is, rightly so, National Poetry month and I am celebrating tonight by listening to the words of Minnesota’s finest poets at BirchBark Books in Minneapolis. I adore being read to. There is something disarming about releasing my agenda into the spacious pasture of literature

Apr 13, 2010

Summer plans in the making

David Gray and Ray Lamontagne touring together this summer. I'm fairly certain I will rearrange my entire life to see this show.