Jan 22, 2009

slowing communion

last night i invited my students into an evening of prayer and rest. as i prepared the teaching and asked for insight into the needs these teenagers, it was undeniably clear that what they were craving was a space for which they could come and simply be. so, that is what i offered to them. for 45 minutes we entered into quietness; personal conversations with god, different prayer exercises, and for some (this was so great to see!), a nap.

prior to engaging in their own time of prayer, i spoke on the prayer life of jesus. throughout scripture we are bid to come and see, and learn from the quietness of jesus's heart.

"at daybreak jesus went out to a solitary place."
~ luke 4:42

i have often been caught up in this passage. it seems like an incredibly intimate piece of information about the communion between jesus and his father. here we are literally looking at the very way christ embraces time with god. i imagine that this priceless content is situated perfectly in the midst of jesus's exhaustion. for he withdraws himself just after the healings of many hurting people, after driving out evil spirits, and after being penetrated with temptation by the devil during his time in the wilderness. so now, he escapes to a solitary place to receive. i love this text! and this is only one of the many examples portrayed.

further on in luke, just after jesus performs a deep healing (once again!) in a man who is wildly affected with leprosy, we read;

"but jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
~ luke 5:16

an intoxicating theme is beginning to form... but there is still more;

"once when jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him..."
~ luke 9:18

"he took peter, john, and james with him and went up onto a mountain to pray."
~ luke 9:28

if we are introduced, over and over to the prayer life of christ, the only conclusion i can draw then is that prayer is essential. i know this is not a monumental thesis. certainly it is nothing new. but it does demand our attention. it's is similar to those passages that begin with, "you have heard it said before, but i tell you the truth." or "truly i tell you." words like these should capture our minds, binding us to study and meditate on every captivating layer of truth. to be a christian is to live like christ. and if christ withdrew himself from all the noise and distractions, so too are we to sneak away and engage in conversation with the holy three.
so with wild abandonment, may we dare to envelope ourselves with the ultimate proposal;

"come with my by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
~ mark 6:31

Jan 20, 2009

moving on

a found poem collected from the chorus's of david gray. a proclamation to my today and the diminishing past.

through the water
through the rain
to the soul of
i throw my heart out
to the stones
and i'm almost gone.

i don't belong 
to you
take a look
in my face
for the last time.
i never knew you
you never knew me
say hello goodbye
say hello and wave goodbye.

Jan 19, 2009

a poem for today

the prodigiousness of the pacific
transcends my thoughts
into a spacious peace,
lavished in the understanding
of my finiteness.

as the waves rise
to touch the sky
the reflection from the rays
are as blinding as 
a mirror holding hands
with the sun.

mighty and slowly
she descends,
creeping and stretching
further and further to quench
the dry, thirsty grains of sand.

with each breath
i drink in the richness
of the salty breeze
and allow the winds
to gently undo 
the knots in my mind.

Jan 18, 2009

you smell like, fandango!

i nearly forgot 2 absolutes that always draw a smile to my face, not that it's of revolutionary importance or anything. but regardless, here are a couple additions to my "favorite things" post from last week...
~ fandango puppets!
~ peanut butter

Jan 15, 2009

invading moon

i think the night sky has been taken over by a group of theatre techies. it's as though i am watching a live performance of "midsummer night's dream" and the director has cued the rising of the moon and voile! the light of the night drops down from the heavens in all it's splendor, hanging ever so comfortably from a line of fishing wire coming from the loft above. she remains there throughout all hours of the darkness and she greets me in the morning still perfectly illuminated, i imagine that she does this just to be adored. i watch her in awe, she is extraordinarily beautiful and the faithfulness of her gracious movements calms my soul.

gazing upon the moon has been the common activity the past few nights for me. as i previously mentioned, it is, to me, an open door into fields of tranquility. and lately that is just what i crave. see, god has invaded the deepest desire of my heart. he is tearing into the most intimate pocket that i protectively guard as a mother hen protects her baby chicks. his presence in this place has been lingering for some 5 years now. i know the meaning of "overstaying your welcome". in recent months the company of christ has awakened certain emotions that have been (much to my appreciation) laying dormant for nearly 2 years now. this abyss of winnowing feels as uncomfortable and intrusive as a visit to the "lady" doctor for a yearly physical (or if you're like me, you dodge these check-up's and before you know it 7 years have passed since your last appointment.) nothing is hidden or protected anymore. the illumination of the holy spirit has exposed everything and it is horrifically painful, and yet i know that this search light is beaming from a safe foundation in the harbor, and it is dressed with the most ravishing of intentions.

i am incredibly blessed to have an outlet to share these newly tilled emotions with my spiritual director, kristen. as i describe (or attempt to - the articulation of my fearful and freshly exposed feelings proves to be a vastly difficult challenge) the inner sparring bregade taking place between god and i, kristen simply listens with an open and prayerful heart. through our months of meeting together, and the countless hours i have been spending in prayer, i am beginning to see the purposes involved for the recent stirring of my quietly sleeping emotions.

when i read of abraham taking his son as a sacrifice, hosea taking a prostitute as his wife, jesus's journey into the wilderness, or even the beloved arising to go out into the city to search for her lover, i am comforted by the bravery of people who have endured the same infiltration of christ that i am experiencing in this season of my life. the breaching that i speak of is narrowed down to one fiery reason: god is passionate about loving passionately. his every longing is to love - and to be loved. and really, is this not the truest of every human yearning? god walks with us as the north winds blow so he can be right there, penetrating our bones with  his love. and so too, he is right beside us when the flowers appear on the earth so he has direct, unhindered access to bathe in the fragrance of our worship.

the journey's of christ's beloved are in similar fashion to that of the moon. at times throughout the year the moon's shape, size, and luminocity display different dynamics of radiance. but without fail (at the director's cue!), she will rise, and she will sleep; faithfully living her role of contrasting the evening and the day. and we are all invited to gaze at her presence and stand in devoted admiration that this too, is good.

Jan 13, 2009

my number one's

not so long ago i established my number one movie. i always thought questions like this were dauntingly impossible to answer, seeing as there are multitudes of brilliant films circulating the entertainment block. then i saw dead poets society - years after the rest of the world was introduced to it. the opening scenes of a small school quietly tucked away in the country, the ducks flying off the lake in the early morning light, and the thick desires of humans to be radically touched by the power of words immediately set this film above the rest. and the breath-catching line: "we don't read and write poetry because it's cute. we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race." only solidified my choice decision to declare dps as my all-time favorite film.

the follow up question to the aforementioned avowal would most generally be, "who's your favorite band/musician/artist?" again, with a bewildering collection of talented artists alluring your devotion, how is one ever supposed to narrow his or her choice 
down to just one? i have many favorites on my list. artists such as ray lamontagne, dave matthews, ben harper, jack johnson, u2, and coldplay garnish my music palette. however, there is one that is set apart from the rest... david gray. the man's lyrics exude the same sort of passion that bleeds forth from dead poets society. he has a unique way of combining the melodies of strings and piano to carry his words from our ears straight into the fibers of our being. he is absolutely my number one.

Jan 12, 2009

a few thoughts on psalm 51

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to yoru unfailing love; according to yoru great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin..."

this past week i have been pouring over the 51st psalm. without question, this is the most disarmingly vulnerable of all of david's writings. it is a psalm that vividly exposes the depravity of our crimson stained human nature, while wrapping our anguished souls with a deeply pure cry of repentance.

i can resonate with david's overwhelming and honest lamentations on a painfully naked level. my tongue repeates the words; "Against you, you only, have I sinned" and the lacerations of my heart become a vibrant reality. i saturate in the truth; "A broken and contrite heart O God You will not despise" to inherit the gracious fading of my despair.

Jan 9, 2009

a few of my favorite things...

in the midst of an emotionally/spiritually draining and painfully arduous week, i have been pathetically attempting to focus my thoughts on simple joys that make me happy. it actually does help to see the hope, beauty, and promises in everyday!

so, these are a few of life's pleasures that will never fail to put a smile on my face - a brianna'esque version of "favorite things", but without the biting dogs and stinging bees.

~ jack johnson
~ driving on a sunny day
~ the smell of lilacs
~ the seventh inning stretch
~ "girl i wanna lay you down" by alo/jack johnson
~ my nieces and nephews
~ golden retrievers

~ playing pictionary with my sisters
~ the sun on my face
~ being read to
~ lolly-gagging
~ christmas lights
~ my friend maria at el refugio
~ romance, love, love & romance
~ my sister sarah quoting mr. mackey
~ will ferrell's SNL harry caray impersonation
~ thunderstorms

~ corky sinclair's "bastard people" monologue
~ my friend nathan lyke singing karaoke
~ live theatre
~ david gray
~ people watching at airports
~ taking a look around and realizing that all is well...

past the super bowl and straight on to baseball!

the 2009 super bowl has not even happened yet and i am already breezing into the baseball buzz. ridiculous i am sure, but the season opener is just around the corner... sort of.

i began my search with the tentative schedule for 2009. at the bittersweet end of my internship in california, my dad will be flying out to help me move back. we're road-tripping it back to minnesota, taking a week long trek from the west coast, through colorado, to our final destination of farm country. my dad grew up in colorado and there he was a pitcher (lefty!!) and catcher in the minors. it is because of him that i am such a fan of this great american sport. the largest portion of our trip will be spent in colorado and since coors field is on my list of ball parks to see, i thought i would just check the rockies schedule... nothing like planning ahead right? to my complete excitement, the rockies are playin' at home while we are going to be there!

then my attention stretched into the buzz surrounding my hometown team, the minnesota twins. this is the twins' last year playing in the totally 80's metrodome. the dome is, to be honest, an anti-climatic way to catch a baseball game. to me, one ought to be canopied by the fresh summer sky rather than umbrellaed by a depressing great white dome. i will say however, with the total enclosure of offered by the hubert h. humphrey metrodome, fans receive an experience no other ball park can duplicate. the sounds from the crack of the bat, the catcher's mitt swallowing a screaming fast ball, and thousands of fans singing in prideful unison "take me out to the ball game" radiate right down to your bones and remind you why you love this sport. to commemorate the last season in the dome, the twins will be donning their throwback style jerseys - bringing fans back to the good old days.

and in other highly anticipated news, i gazed into the progress of the teams brand new ball park set to open in 2010, i was completely jazzed to see the updated photos of target field. minnesota fans will need to fierce devotion that can only be found by die-hard cubbies fans, as target field will be without a retractable dome. (maybe not such a brilliant idea considering minnesota weather is as wavering as 2004 presidental candidate john kerry). but i have faith in the band-wagon fan followers to persevere through the brutal uncertainty of early spring and the suffocatingly thick air of august's hot humid nights. with all this to take into consideration, it is to no wonder minnesota fans collectively proclaim "this is our state, this is our team, and this is twins territory"!

Jan 7, 2009

forgetful intercessor

sometimes i fail to take care of my own heart. quite frequently i will seek quiet time, and silence myself in prayer; listening for ways in which i can intercede. often times i am lead to pray for mercy for our impoverished world, or i am lead to pray a blessing of encouragement and strength for my brothers and sisters. other times god will lay one specific individual so heavily upon my heart that all i can do is repeat scripture over them. these moments with christ are some of the most precious experiences in life. 

however, rarely do i seek nourishment for my own soul. i forget that i too need others interceding on my behalf. it isn't until i am deep in anguish or tattered and torn by warfare, will i then remember to ask for prayer and support. for the preservation of my soul, this is an area i desperately need to grow in.

Jan 4, 2009

florence rest

What is it that makes the practice of doing nothing so uncomfortably challenging? In my rose-colored world I like to think that I am quite talented at this form of art – and I do believe doing nothing (and by doing nothing I mean fully resting) is in fact a rare and exquisite art.

This entire week I have been off work and for the first day or two this was positively dazzling! I read, I wrote, and I went for long gorgeous runs. By day number three however, I was clothed with the shredded whispers of busyness. The truth of the matter is, all I really wanted to do was extend my pathetically short sabbatical of literature indulgences, but these pesky voices of the American society crippled every  ability to graciously allow myself to enter in to the next chapter of my book or spew out another mild attempt at poetry. These voices greet me in the morning even before I climb out of bed. The first thing they say is; “What are you going to do today?” then they will actually climb into bed with me and start prodding me with lists; “You should get up and go out for at least a 6-miler. There is a long list of scholarships you really need to start applying for. It’s a sunny day, how can you even think about taking a nap this afternoon when you should be outside enjoying the weather.” On and on they go. They are prostitutes selling phony ideas of self-worth and cheapening the beauty of rest. I told them to bugger off.

In the book Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert portrays Italians as being the masters in the skill of doing nothing. It’s quite comical really; how entrenched I become in the vibrant descriptions of the Italian people. As I dash into sentence three, I have already left the living room couch and commenced my own life of photography, writing, passionin Italy. Instead of Elizabeth Gilbert painting a picture of her journey through words, I am forming my own adventure – all daydreams of course, but it is my own none-the-less.

I want to be a better rest-er. I’ve never been one to make resolutions at the turn of a new year, but I think growing familiar through a deep relationship with this art is going to be a fresh intention of mine. Just as Jesus rebuked the draping whores of busyness and instead, reclined with his friends for hours over the dinner table, so too I long to shut out the noise and prop my feet up on the table and carry on in my daydreams of waltzing through Italy. My Nikon is packed, I’m ready to go… Florence here I Come. 

Jan 2, 2009

fancy, sexy brianna

there is a line in donald miller's book, blue like jazz, that exposes the quietly tucked away desire of every human heart. so simply miller writes, "everyone wants to be somebody fancy". just yesterday i was expressing how the truest yearning of my own heart is to give myself away in love to others - and this is true. but i believe there will always be a part of my being that aspires to be fancy. i might as well confess that i also want to be sexy. my dear friend becka can account for this not-s0-secret craving of mine as i used to parade around her house in her sassy and boldly scandalous red high heels, something that would make your mother blush, while in typical awkward brianna fashion, partner together with a pair of boy gym shorts. yeah, i want to be fancy and sexy. fancy, sexy brianna.

this morning i started a new book that i have been wanting to read for months. eat, pray, love. it is a story of one woman's journey to self-healing and balance. with each vibrantly painted sentence the simmering ambition i hold to be a writer myself breaks free from it's tranquility into an uncontrollable boiling pot of fanciful sexiness. just as the author of eat, pray, love hungered to share her life story with the world, so too i crave to expose the wild (wild to me at least) travels of my life.

if i were to write a book on my life, it would have a similar raw transparency to that of jack kerouac in his book on the road - a novel that inspired millions to hop in their rusty 4-wheeled piece of jalopy and drive across the u.s. i would write of my own solo road-trips and the colorful thoughts that decorated the winding narrow lanes i drove along. 

Jan 1, 2009

giving of myself

for the past few weeks, since entering a new age as a twenty something, i have been thinking about the ways in which God has been at work in my life. my boss once gave a friend of his some wonderful advice, he said: “look for themes in your life and pursue them”. my life has been adorned with a vast array of occupations such as a farmer, a barista, a server, a receptionist (i throw up a little bit each time i think of that one) unemployed, a photographer, a dairy queen cone maker, a strawberry picker, a landscaper, a volunteer, a traveler, and a learner. yeah, it’s been one intricate adventure that is for certain. but as i reflect on each one of these voyages, there is, believe it or not, a common theme. that is, the giving of myself.

as i grow in who i am the prayer for my life has shaped into one simple request - “lead me to where i may be a blessing to others”. in the book of genesis god gives abram the original blessing over his life.

“i will make you into a great nation and i will bless you; i will make your name great and you will be a blessing. i will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you i will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God blessed abram so that abram will be a blessing to others. this is the prayer of my heart. when i was a younger follower of Christ, my ambitions were more focused on living an impressive life and being somebody fancy. i chuckle at that now, and must confess there are still facets of my life that are merely cries for somebody to notice me, namely, running and marathons. but far more than anything, God has graciously allured my heart to desire nothing more than to give myself away – for his glory, not my own. don’t get me wrong; i do not live this out perfectly. it’s choppy, clumsy, at times it is even disgustingly self-centered; but God has a way of redirecting my focus to the purpose of my life, of the life of every human, and that is to give ourselves away in love