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.

Apr 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday Reflections

Every Maundy Thursday I celebrate the Holy Day in quiet reflection. It is most generally a celebration of one, and that is the way I plan it. And for the past 8 years (excluding the two I lived in California) my choice service is at Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis. This year it was no different.

The sanctuary was packed to the walls. People groups of every generation, ethnicity, class, and each carrying a story all their own were represented not as segregated clusters, but as one community. You could taste the sweetness of the Spirit in the room, and in the aroma of his presence I could not help but pause time and time again at the sight before me. I thought of the Apostle Paul while I sat in my quiet space at the end of the balcony pew... Parenthetical comment... I can always be found in the balcony when the introverted, introspective, and contemplative side of myself takes over. Paul passionately journeyed from church to church urging them to live as a unified body of Christ. In his culture it was common to find people, Christians included, dividing their pledges of devotion and splitting over the smallest of disagreements; which is not entirely unlike today, but I'll save that for another post. I wondered what Paul would have thought if he had been a part of tonight's worship service. Would he exhort his tender love for the Church of Minneapolis? My soul was overwhelmed within me to have a seat among Christ's chosen Beloved and I do not doubt for a moment that Paul would say to Bethlehem - "I have not stopped praying and giving thanks for you."

When the first song of worship ignited, my heart was gripped by the loving hands of the Holy God. There was a sacred presence in the place, a power infused in every note harmoniously shouted, and a disarming invitation wrapped in the holy contrition of the communion of saints. I thought my entire being was going to explode. I was utterly undone by the beauty of it all. Hundreds of saints under one roof, singing together with one voice - my cheeks were a slope of draining tears collecting in the pools of my smiling lips. This is what the heavenly hosts who cry "Holy Holy Holy" must sound like.

Even greater still was the institution of communion. I am one who adheres to the theology that this meal is more than mere symbolism. The Eucharist is sacred and filled with the grace of Christ. Since I can remember I've never not cried during communion. There is something distinctly tender about witnessing broken people coming to the table to receive the redeeming love of Christ through the Eucharist. I like to watch the old couples walk up together hand in hand. The dad bending over to help his young son take the broken bread is one of the most breathtaking sights to behold. And the teenagers filled with contagious vitality for life drinking of the cup, produce within a desire to embrace and encourage them to continue the journey of following after the love of Christ, no matter the cost. Tonight was yet another opportunity to consider the joy found in the meal of Thanksgiving and reflect on the body of Christ that was - just as the elements - first blessed, then broken, then given for all to receive.

As I sit here now, yearning to live the Maundy Thursday service all over again, I try to cling to the last fleeting minutes of this day. 50 more to go before we are ushered into Good Friday and I am filled with reverence as I replay the words of tonight's hymns and bow in humility in experiencing once again the story of what this day represents....