Thursday, December 31, 2009

Seventh Day of Christmas/New Year's Eve

The announcer on the radio this morning reminded me that in addition to today being the last day of the year, it's also the last day of the decade.

Which got me thinking of all that has transpired in the past ten years. I think this past ten years can be defined as "transitional."
From child to adult.
From high schooler to done grad school.
From "sweet sixteen and never been kissed" to happily married and "not-so-newly-wed."
From farm girl to thriving in the city.

I've learned a lot about myself in this ten years.
And I don't think I have integrally least not for the worse.
I like to think that I've become more myself.

This past year has been a time of significant growing up and changing as well,
with heart-wrenching pain as well as great joy.
Lessons learned; renewed reliance on God;
friendships strengthened; a new sister.

Most of all, through this year I have been thankful for relationships.
An introvert though I am, the deep meaningful relationships,
the wisdom and trust and love,
the joy of sharing sorrow and laughter,
these are what life is about.
The epiphany of knowing that others have experienced what I now do
or have endured things beyond my small world and are the stronger for it.

It has been a year of living relationally.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Christmas must be getting closer: The Christmas cactus in bloom and bud.
Our decorated tree.
Our Advent candle is melting downwards.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Third and Fourth Sundays in Advent

And Christmas marches ever closer. It's amazing how quickly December flies by. So fast I missed posting for the third Sunday in Advent and now it's the fourth. This morning at Church, our youth lit the Advent candle and as a youth leader, I got to read the prayer: Loving God, we open ourselves to you this Christmas season. As these candles are lit, light our lives with your imagination. Show us the creative power of hope. Teach us the peace that comes from justice. Fill us with the kind of joy that cannot be contained, but must be shared. Magnify your love within us. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you, That we may walk in the light of Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

These Feet Were Made For Walking

I call this one "Feet: 31 mm."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Second Sunday in Advent

In honour of the second Sunday in Advent, I give you the evening reading from the Book of Common Prayer for this day: Isaiah 1o:33-11:9. Behold, the Lord, The Lord of hosts, Will lop off the bough with terror; Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots, The spirit of hte Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, And faithfulness the belt of his waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. Amen.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Facebook and Friendship

A fantastic article on the history of friendship and how modern "friending" via Facebook and other social networks has altered our meaning of friendship. It's a long article but worth the read from The Chronicle Review of Higher Education. "Friendship is devolving, in other words, from a relationship to a feeling—from something people share to something each of us hugs privately to ourselves in the loneliness of our electronic caves, rearranging the tokens of connection like a lonely child playing with dolls. The same path was long ago trodden by community. As the traditional face-to-face community disappeared, we held on to what we had lost—the closeness, the rootedness—by clinging to the word, no matter how much we had to water down its meaning. Now we speak of the Jewish "community" and the medical "community" and the "community" of readers, even though none of them actually is one. What we have, instead of community, is, if we're lucky, a "sense" of community—the feeling without the structure; a private emotion, not a collective experience. And now friendship, which arose to its present importance as a replacement for community, is going the same way. We have "friends," just as we belong to "communities." Scanning my Facebook page gives me, precisely, a "sense" of connection. Not an actual connection, just a sense.

What purpose do all those wall posts and status updates serve? On the first beautiful weekend of spring this year, a friend posted this update from Central Park: "[So-and-so] is in the Park with the rest of the City." The first question that comes to mind is, if you're enjoying a beautiful day in the park, why don't you give your iPhone a rest? But the more important one is, why did you need to tell us that? We have always shared our little private observations and moments of feeling—it's part of what friendship's about, part of the way we remain present in one another's lives—but things are different now. Until a few years ago, you could share your thoughts with only one friend at a time (on the phone, say), or maybe with a small group, later, in person. And when you did, you were talking to specific people, and you tailored what you said, and how you said it, to who they were—their interests, their personalities, most of all, your degree of mutual intimacy. "Reach out and touch someone" meant someone in particular, someone you were actually thinking about. It meant having a conversation. Now we're just broadcasting our stream of consciousness, live from Central Park, to all 500 of our friends at once, hoping that someone, anyone, will confirm our existence by answering back. We haven't just stopped talking to our friends as individuals, at such moments, we have stopped thinking of them as individuals. We have turned them into an indiscriminate mass, a kind of audience or faceless public. We address ourselves not to a circle, but to a cloud."

"The new group friendship, already vitiated itself, is cannibalizing our individual friendships as the boundaries between the two blur. The most disturbing thing about Facebook is the extent to which people are willing—are eager—to conduct their private lives in public. "hola cutie-pie! i'm in town on wednesday. lunch?" "Julie, I'm so glad we're back in touch. xoxox." "Sorry for not calling, am going through a tough time right now." Have these people forgotten how to use e-mail, or do they actually prefer to stage the emotional equivalent of a public grope? I can understand "[So-and-so] is in the Park with the rest of the City," but I am incapable of comprehending this kind of exhibitionism. Perhaps I need to surrender the idea that the value of friendship lies precisely in the space of privacy it creates: not the secrets that two people exchange so much as the unique and inviolate world they build up between them, the spider web of shared discovery they spin out, slowly and carefully, together. There's something faintly obscene about performing that intimacy in front of everyone you know, as if its real purpose were to show what a deep person you are. Are we really so hungry for validation? So desperate to prove we have friends?

But surely Facebook has its benefits. Long-lost friends can reconnect, far-flung ones can stay in touch. I wonder, though. Having recently moved across the country, I thought that Facebook would help me feel connected to the friends I'd left behind. But now I find the opposite is true. Reading about the mundane details of their lives, a steady stream of trivia and ephemera, leaves me feeling both empty and unpleasantly full, as if I had just binged on junk food, and precisely because it reminds me of the real sustenance, the real knowledge, we exchange by e-mail or phone or face-to-face. And the whole theatrical quality of the business, the sense that my friends are doing their best to impersonate themselves, only makes it worse. The person I read about, I cannot help feeling, is not quite the person I know."

Thank you for the food for thought, William Deresiewicz.

Friday, December 04, 2009

First Sunday In Advent (retroactively)

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. We've been so busy lately with various things that we kind of missed it, and didn't start lighting our Advent Candle until yesterday. That said, I've done some reading about Advent lately (in the book I recommended a couple of days ago--A Circle of Seasons). Ireton explains that each of the four Sundays in Advent has a watchword with a Biblical context associated therewith (p. 21). The word for the first Sunday is wait. How are we waiting and preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ? How are we awaiting and preparing for His second coming? These are the questions Ireton asks. She suggests doing something active in our Advent waiting. In Lent, when we wait the Lord's return, we often "give something up." She suggests that we also fast in some way during Advent to consciously choose to await Christ's birth. How will we spend the month of December? Overwhelmed by the many many activities and the food and the consumerism? Or can we somehow stop and ponder how we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the arrival of the One who saved the world? Somehow this month I want to prepare and anticipate. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement--but often materialistic--activity of December. But today, for better or for worse, we were forced to stop. The sudden arrival of a winter storm slowed us down. It was beautiful but also caused an unfortunate change in our weekend plans. It would be easy to feel like we are waiting, just inside our front door, for the storm to end and we can DO again. But, Ireton quotes Henri Nouwen with a very thought-provoking idea: "Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present in it. A waiting person is someone who is present in the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment" (p. 23). How can I be present in the moment and actively anticipate Christ's arrival--at this Christmas but also for all of my days?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

To Make You Feel My Love

Ok let's face it, I'm an emotional individual at the best of times these days. But this song really gets me for some reason. The artist, Adele, has a really gorgeous voice. As a side note, I've never really been a huge fan of Bob Dylan. But a number of times I've come across songs in which I'm really struck by the lyrics, only to find that the song was written by good old Bob. And this is another one of those cases. The words:

When the rain is blowing in your face And the whole world is on your case I could offer you a warm embrace To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear And there is no one there to dry your tears I could hold you for a million years To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet But I would never do you wrong I've known it from the moment that we met No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue I'd go crawling down the avenue There's nothing that I wouldn't do To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea And on the highway of regret The winds of change are blowing wild and free You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true Nothing that I wouldn't do Go to the ends of the earth for you To make you feel my love