Thursday, August 31, 2006

The seventh deadly sin of sloth is often the most confusing of the sins. Sloth? Really? It can send you straight to hell in a hand basket?

Sloth is an interesting topic. When I first began researching it, I figured I’d find some stuff about laziness. I was troubled to note the origins of this seventh deadly sin. I mean, you heard and read it: sloth was originally understood to be sadness, depression if you will.

To quote Cecil Adams, the highly acclaimed author of the Internet site, Straight Dope, “It isn't bad enough I'm depressed in this life, I'm going to rot in hell for it in the next?”

That’s kind of the way I felt.

Then there’s the parable of the Talents. And the man with one talent who gets scared and buries it but then returns it to the master, gets reprimanded for being lazy and gets the talent taken away from him and given to the guy who has the most talents. (Sounds a bit like our country’s supposed Tax Breaks). Seriously though, the guy got nervous and buried the money. I get scared all the time – will what I’ve been given get taken away from me too? Is being scared the same as being lazy? And wicked? Cause that’s what the servant gets called…

I admit, if sadness is a sin, I’m going to hell with or without hand-basket: I’m headed straight there. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

But the definition of sloth encompasses much more than sadness. In fact that may be an exactly horrible way to describe this sin. Rather, it is described as spiritual apathy or spiritual laziness. And any way you describe it, the effect of sloth is that it prevents virtuous conduct. Dante attributed sloth to insufficient love and understood in this manner, unlike lust or greed, which perverts or misuses love, sloth is a lack of love, of a desire to serve, to do what’s right.

And so it may be seen as one author suggested, as putting your kid to bed early so you can play solitaire or watch T.V. That’s modern day sloth.

On the other extreme, ancient theologian Thomas Aquinas asserts that Sloth is Sloth is "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good... [it] is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man [sic] as to draw him away entirely from good deeds.

Not just neglecting to read to your kid before bedtime, sloth opens the door to a world of evil. Laziness of the mind may just lead to the other vices we’ve discussed thus far. The dangers of a remote control that stays in your hand all evening, or a mouse’s click that keeps one glued to the computer, need hardly even be mentioned. Author Steven Waldman notes that “for some time now, progress has moved beyond preserving human dignity to encouraging human sloth. Far from being a sin, it has become an aspiration.” And Thomas Fuller aptly notes that “He [or she] that is busy is tempted by but one devil; he that is idle, by a legion.” We’ve seen sloth lead to gluttony, sloth lead to lust, sloth lead to envy because sloth keeps us lethargic both mentally and physically as in our laziness we lose our passion for God and for what is right. Our apathy toward ultimate goodness allows us to just get pushed along in the crowd, never seeking a destiny, never seeking change.

Sloth isn’t sadness, it’s a concession to not care about doing what is right, or even about what right even means. Sloth is not finding out what your political party really believes cause its easier to believe what your parents did and vote straight ticket. Sloth is not getting to know your neighbors because after all “every man is an island” right? Sloth is skipping Sunday School cause you’re tired. Skipping church cause you went last week. Skipping out on community cause coming at Easter is good enough to last you ‘til Christmas. Skipping out on life because you went to the Christmas service last year and really, it wasn’t very good.

Maybe, just maybe, we are missing the point?

The Catholic church solidified the seven deadly sins and warn against them because working out your salvation is key in the Catholic church. And while protestant hate the idea of “works righteousness,” the thought that we could do enough good deeds to get us into heaven, there might just be something to the warnings of the Catholic faith. Even Buddha on his deathbed said, 'strive on with diligence': a call for work, perseverance and effort. Lethargy, idleness and sloth are not Buddhist ideals either.

Diligence, zeal, and perseverance are all virtues juxtaposed with the deadly sin of Sloth. I suppose that’s why in some myths, those who choose a life of sloth are punished by being thrown into snake pits when they enter hell. Nothing gets you on your toes faster than a roomful of snakes. Just ask Indiana Jones.

But lest the snakes and the flames and Buddha and cracks at Christians who only come to church on Christmas turn you off from the seriousness of this seventh deadly sin, listen to the words of the ancient text of Deuteronomy 6: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” In other words, always be guided by your love for God. Actively live out the goodness you have learned. Remind yourselves of the stories of the people of God, and persevere in your faith. Remind yourselves of the love God has for you, and be diligent in doing what is right to others and the world. Remind yourselves that we are all in this together and zealously live as though you really are children of God.

Because we are. We are God’s children. We are God’s daughters, we are God’s sons, and we are not marked by sloth or anger or envy or lust or pride or greed or gluttony. We were not created for such menial habits. We were created to live zealously, to live life to the fullest, to live free in the love of God. And we were created to pass that on to others.

So I remind us tonight to not let lethargy reign. No selfish apathy, no greedy laziness.

Be motivated by love. By love.

For the wages of sin is death, but our lives have been illumined by love.

Live motivated by that love.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Good News: I have strep throat.

This is good news, I swear. I could have had mono. That's what the doctor said.

Broken records. I get them now. You put them on and get all hyped up for your favorite song or a beautiful refrain and just as the song gets going, it bleeps and skips and goes back to where you were. Back to where you've already been, back to what you've already heard.

I know. It's my third sickness this summer. Physically, I mean. Amazing.

The children's minister at my church is smart. She said that what we feared would happen when we first organized how we would do my residency (i.e. that it would zap my energy) actually happened.

And that's why I've gotten sick three times this summer.

I've been busy.

And isn't that a beautiful song.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day Seven

Day Seven: Monday I woke up knowing it was my last day in DC, but knowing too that it was my vacation and I didn't need to feel pressure to finish the town off cause there was no way I could accomplish that. So I had lunch at a downtown pub with Stephen and a friend of his from work and then walked back to the National Gallery. I went in the East Wing this time and saw some amazing contemporary art. But as fantastic, abstract and surreal as it was, I had to return to the West Wing to have one last look at Degas et al. So I did. And then I went Christmas shopping in the Gallery's store.

After having satisfied my capitolist consumer fix, I returned to the capitol to lazily lay in a tree and listen to music. I had planned on cooking dinner for Stephen, Ryan and Kristin that night (after the debaucle the night before) and had a little time to kill before returning to Stephen's townhouse to start up the fire (so to speak - I don't actually cook with an open fire. The open stove proves dangerous enough).

Dinner was delicious even though someone who shall remain unnamed bought the wrong kind of soup for me to add to my famous recipe (I actually only know how to cook two dishes and don't deal well with change). Then Stephen and I went out for one last night on the town to see the monuments.

The monuments at night are almost cooler than they are in the day for several reasons. A number 1. It is literally cooler as the sun is down and the air blowing off the Poltomic is nice B number 2. There are fewer tourists and C number 3. It just looks rad with the lights against the night sky.Stephen made me read Lincoln's second inagural address since I'd skipped it the first time around due to crowds. We also saw the Korean War momument which was eerie at night. The Jefferson, Stephen's favorite memorial, was still serene and larger than life.

It seemed appropriate to end my trip with a visit to the monuments who so startled me when I first flew in over the city. Kind of like my fixation with cacti and palm trees here in Texas (absent in Missouri), the monuments always seemed like a fairy tale about some place where cool stuff happened that somehow affects me now. But as Al Franken notes in his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, "politics can be vicious and dirty and cruel. Or... it can be part of what makes us human." The monuments were a larger than life reminder to live as such. To live as if dreams really matter, democracy matters, human lives matter and dreams really can come true.

And that, my friends, concludes my trip to DC.

Day Six: I went to Ravensworth Church on Sunday and then out to lunch with some peeps at a joint called "Five Guys." You can imagine how that went over. I fault those five guys for the grease that splattered on my cutie-patootie brand new skirt. I must now leave that topic.

After the hamburger and fry guys, Stephen and I visited the portrait gallary that just opened up after having been under renovation for 7 years or something. It has...shocker...portraits. And other art too. Note that the pic of the woman at the desk is none other than the author of my favorite children's book, Goodnight, Moon. Awesome. The other photo is of a huge, mm probably 12 by 12 area of one janitor's unfinished interpretation of the book of Revelation. But get this, it's made completely out of foil and cardboard and stuff. Note the crowns and suns and thrones. I'm not sure I would interpret the final book of the New Testament in such a manner, but the artist passed on before his work was finished, so I suppose now he knows better than I what the hell that book's about.

That night I hung out with Stephen's roommate Ryan and his friend Kristin, also from Austin. We mainly argued over what to eat for dinner, drank and talked about music most of the night while Kristin fell asleep on the couch. It was a fun time for all. It almost made me feel like I was back in Austin...sigh. Can't I have both worlds?

(Day five- Saturday)
Day Five: Breakfast/Lunch was scheduled for the Eastern Market where the pancakes come with city-wide recognition. There are tons of shops there too of course and a veggie/fruit market. Chris and Michelle would have been in heaven. After my tour of this more indiginous DC attraction, Stephen and I headed to Baltimore where we would spend the afternoon and evening.

We arrived at the inner harbor and walked around looking at the ships and memorials. I was reminded of when Daria and I sailed with our professor while studying in France. Scary! This was great though. While we waited for our entry time at the aquarium, we found a little pub to kill time. At the Ram's Head, we struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar who turned out to be from Missouri, had not only heard of St Jo Mo, but then proceeded to ask me if I'd ever heard of Barbosa's! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Or maybe Baltimore. Small world anyway. Barbosa's is only my favorite restaurant in Missouri and maybe in the whole United States, not to mention the world. He also asked me if I was familiar with the Noyes Home which of course brought up memories of grade school and birthday parties. The Noyes Home children all went to Noyes Elementary and I grew up with many of them as their home was only two blocks from my house. It was kind of surreal.

With time ticking, we left Ram's Head and headed to the Aquarium where we saw more turtles, frogs, sharks, dolphins, sea horses and nemo. It was pretty cool but super crowded. I can't even tell you how many times I got elbowed or pushed away from the glass. I tried not to let the mob of people put off my experience at the fish haven, but I have to admit I was ready for a drink after that sea of people.

For dinner, we rode the water taxi over to Fell's Point, a cool inner harbor decorated with shops, cobblestone streets and fabulous restaurants. Based on a fellow taxi-er's recommendation, we ate at John Steven's Limited where we ordered crab cakes and mahi mahi. Delicious. Holy cow. Yum. I'm at a loss for words.

(Day Four Pics - the computer wasn't working yesterday when I blogged!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day Four: The Zoo!!! Stephen took off the afternoon and together we metro-ed to the Washington National Zoo. Of course it was fabulous. One could tell it was old, but there were so many completed and under construction renovations that it proved to be a satisfactory habitat for the animals. Of course my favorite was the baby Panda who just turn one a few weeks ago. The turtles were pretty pimp too as I saw bottleneck turtles which look like half snakes half turtles cause their neck and head are so long as they stretch out from their normal shells. The arangatangs were feisty and feeding when we arrived. One male regurgitated his food and licked it onto the glass where it hung sticky and thick. Um gross. Stephen began giggling. Then the mammel began to lick back off the glass the food he just stuck there. The kids around the cage began their chorus of "Eww's" and Stephen laughed like a child. It was pretty amusing.

For dinner, Moxi and I invited Kevin and Stephen to dinner atRoyal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Maryland (my third state to visit this trip - just for the record). When we arrived I discovered that Shredtha and her husband were joining us! I hadn't seen Mox's sister since college so that was a fun surprise. The salmon linguini was delicious even though Moxi made fun of me for ordering a rolling rock with my dinner. We laughed so hard that night at old times that I didn't even care.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Day Three: I was dropped off at the Congressional Office and Cannon House Office Building at 8:45, just in time for my 9am appointment at Lloyd Doggett's office for my tour of the Capitol. I love Lloyd even though he doesn't know me. I signed a petition once (or twice) and got an email thanking me for my thoughts. I like congress folk like that. Not to mention that he has a soul. That helps.

Anyway, I and two polish women and a girl from DC trying to get a job as an intern took a tour of the Capitol with two relatively new (one week old and three weeks old) interns. It was so rad. The best part is that every state was offered the opportunity to send two statues to the Capitol for display. Of course I asked the two new interns to please point out Texas and Missouri. They knew where Texas was (one guide was originally from Austin), but MO's statues whereabouts were of course unknown. Shocker. And I can't imagine why. No Mark Twain, no Truman... we've got somebody named Blair and another guy named Blanton or something. Who are they? Oh well. I took pics next to Stephen F. Austin and King Kamauhamauha (Hawaii). I totally just spelled that wrong, but I gotta send that pic to Aunt Glo. Fun fact: that statue is so heavy they had to put it in the corner on one of the beams otherwise it would break the floor. It's just like the one in Honolulu in case anyone's interested.

Okay, so get on with it. I also say the Monuments on Thursday: Washington, WWII, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR. I called grandma while I was at the WWII memorial to ask what exactly grandpa had done during the war and to thank him. Lincoln, whom I was really looking forward to seeing, proved a disappointment, but mainly because of all the noisy tourists. Instead, I found reflection and inspiration at the new FDR memorial. The pic is of me and Eleanor whom my Great-Aunt Ann Catherine gave the introduction-of-speaker for once at a speech Mrs. Roosevelt gave in Minnesota. We're tight, me and Eleanor.

I then toured the Holocaust Museum, but after the first floor realized that if I was to be any use to my friends that night, I would need to hurry through the rest. The horror was too overwhelming. America, damn. We did fine fighting the atrocities, but we didn't do well...

For dinner, I visited Bus Boys and Poets which kicked Austin's ass with regard to cool coffee shops, restaurants. Sorry Tx, but it's true. This bookstore/dive was amazing, producing excellent food, music and ambiance.

Day Two: I ate lunch at a pimp cajun restaurant called Acadiana with the head pastor of Calvary Baptist, Amy Butler. Fun. She's fabulous: smart, funny, cynical and full of love for God and the church. A real role model. How she keeps it all together is beyond me, but I thought she was fabulous. A kindred spirit. Stephen was wise to introduce us. After lunch I toured Calvary and then returned back to the center of DC to check out some museums. I lurve museums and I love Degas. Needless to say, I visited the National Gallary and saw some beautiful paintings including some Toulouse and Van Gogh. I looked at Girls in the Olive Fields and felt a twang of sympathy with a troubled artist shut up in a room trying to find himself. I remembered not only my love for Degas' reds and ballerinas but for Vincent's plea to be free. But then I turned and saw his self-portrait. My empathy turned to anger as I remembered another lover of Van Gogh who painted his own self-portrait and in my rage I pictured myself attacking the million dollar painting, ripping through it and pulling it to the ground. But I didn't. Obviously, since I'm writing this and not from a prison cell. Not even my grandparents could bail me out of that. I just sat there, wanting to write in my journal, but not having a pen. Not even a pen. Nothing but my feelings and me and Vincent all sitting in a room staring at each other. Surreal. Art. It does something to you.

I visited the Smithsonian Natural History Museum as well day two because I wanted to see the dinosaurs. Well, them and the hope diamond. The dinosaurs were every bit as cool and scary as I imagined. Huge bones connected and I was amazed that we as people are smart enough to excavate those animals without screwing up. People are so smart. I'd have totally "fresh break"ed a bone or something (that's what Itzac used to yell at us in Israel when he'd find a pottery piece that we'd excavated and broken in removing it from the ground)l. Anyway, the dinosaurs were super duper cool. The hope diamond was alright. I'm not saying I wouldn't mind wearing it once or twice, but God did a better job with the rocky mountains in my opinion.

Wednesday also brought Nationals Baseball Game Night. The Washington Nationals played the Braves and won 9 to 6. It was fun being at a baseball game, eating hotdogs and drinking beer just like Swell and Brooke, Zachy and Matt and I used to do in college. Believe it or not, this was my first professional baseball game to attend that wasn't in Royals Stadium. It paled in comparison, even if the team was (gulp... brush away tear) more impressive. Ah the Royals. What happened?

Day One: Since all my DC friends work during the day, most of my sightseeing adventures happen tout seul (mom - check my french). The first morning I headed to Union Station to catch a trolley that carries you all around the city with fun guides like Marcel and Jazzy Jan who offer fun facts and commentaries on the sites along the way. I only got off at one stop: the Washington National Cathedral. It was b-e-a-utiful. I loved it. One of my favorite things so far. Of course I walk in just as a funeral is ending and who do I practically bump into? The Reverend Jesse Jackson. What else is new. I just saw him a few months ago, so I yawned at the old news and headed to an episcopal service led by a priest who I swear was a Baptist in a former life. The church, gardens and museum were so lovely and peaceful. See pics above. And that's all I could manage to wait for to put up on the slow internet I'm using.
Day one also included dinner with a friend at the Notte Biache, a posh Italian place where for "Restaurant Week" we received a three course meal complete with three complementary wines for a third of the regular price. It was quite a treat.
Day One conclusion. DC is fabulous. I could get used to this vacation thing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Goodbye Roomie. Have fun in NYC. Get a job. Find an apartment. Explore life and learn about yourself. I will miss you!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What if I miss my plane because the security's too heavy?
What if the plane gets blown up by terrorists?
What if the people who go through the bags get something on the brand new cute dress I bought?
What if the airline loses my bags and thus all my clothes, cute or not?

What if I get lost in the city while site-seeing and lose my phone?
What if I get mugged and lose my ID, my credit cards and my phone?

What if I run into the president and gag?

What if I get homesick for my friends and my cats?
What if I discover I don't actually like to travel and decide to turn back?
What if I decide I miss my parents and fly to Missouri instead?

What if aliens land and take the whole city hostage?
What if I get kidnapped by said aliens and they demand and bajillion dollars and all of Europe for my ransom and the president says, "Eh we don't need her and I didn't like France anyway."?

What if I fall in love?

I mean really, consider the risk.

What if?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Does anything beat home grown tomatoes even if they're the small ones and they're still a little orange even after two days in the window sill? Yum.

And edamame. Can I get a witness? Home grown or not, that stuff is just de-lish.

Who says vegetables are only meant to spoil young children's appetites or entertain them in cartoons?

Please note though, there is an exception to the definition of delicious vegetables. That of course would be brussle spouts.

Big boo boo on that one God. Not gonna lie to you.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

These are my favorite people. I miss them...

Have you seen them anywhere?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I smelled like men. Men and smoke. St. Joseph bars aren't smoke-free unlike every restaurant and bar in Austin.

Much like the lingering trail of smoke as it swirls out of mouths and into faces, men's cologne is always strong and after hugs and hellos and how have you beens, much stronger than women's faint scents. And the particles stay with you. On you. And you can still smell them when you lay down to sleep at night.

That's what I thought about a week ago after my 10 year high school reunion when I crawled into bed, my ears ringing from the night. After dancing our shoes off at the actual reunion, several of us foolishly went out to the local bar where I was sobered not by the cup of water, but by the searching souls consoling themselves in beer.

One classmate stared, searching my pupils to pinpoint where he went wrong as if eyes could offer such an answer. And returning his gaze, pleading him to leave me be, I pushed him into a cab and hopefully home into bed.

Another classmate sneared, sliding his hands around waists and with slurred speech wasted his time on women who live in far away places.

And what started off as a lot of fun seeing old friends and dancing despite indifference, ended with sorrows drowned and the smells of insecurity seeped into my hair and skin.

The more beauty I see, the more emptiness I encounter; and redemption lingers somewhere in between, lurking between the haze and the hands, waiting to be grasped and asked to dance.

Dance. I should have stopped the evening after the dance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm sitting in another hotel room in Hotlanta.

The computer is in front of me, mass quantities of chinese food are piled around me, I'm catching up on all the blogs I haven't had time to read lately. It's great. Sometimes work requires time to catch up, even when that's not its intention.

It's intention is to get me to yet another conference in Atlanta, but after flying in airplanes or sitting in airports all day and then sitting in a shuttle waiting (praying) for the clock to strike 8:00 so we can leave ground transportation and i can actually be transported somewhere, after all that, it has allowed me the opportunity for peace and reflection.

But of course I'm starving after I get to my hotel at 8pm. So peace comes at a price. The kind lady at the front desk hands me several menus of local restaurants who deliver since I obviously don't have a car.

Italian place. . . pizza joint . . . pizza joint . . . i'm noticing a theme . . . chinese. Okay chinese, but only because they have crab rangoon or "Crab Angle" as they call it at Dragon Palace. I peruse my friends' blogs, check email and hear a knock on the door. My food has arrived, and I'm slightly amused that the delivery boy borrows a pen from me to scratch my credit card number onto a receipt kind of like we used to do with crayons on gravestones. But food is now in hand and I open it up. There's two fortune cookies on top which probably indicates that I ordered enough food for two people and I'm not the only one who thinks so. But the crab is good and so are the egg rolls. After two bites of the cashew chicken though, I begin plucking out all the chicken because I get paranoid I'm eating cat, and because as much as I always talk myself into ordering it, I really don't like meat. But rice mixed with cashews and veggies is yummie and is now sitting as leftovers beside my computer, probably stinking up my room which I won't notice until I come back to the hotel tomorrow and discover my room reeks of chinese food.

I digress. Or digest.


So I should be writing a learning report for my supervisors at CBF that was due April 15th. Oops. Instead I'm reading my brilliant friends who write about God and beauty and Paris, cursing my lazy friends who are neglecting their blogs and of course me, and debating whether or not to go to my ex-boyfriend's wedding.

Just the norms of life people. Nothing ever changes here.

My fortune cookie reads, "Be willing to apologize and the world will become smaller."

Thanks a lot. Mostly I've been apologizing to myself lately. Myself and the cats who have borne the brunt of my travels.

Maybe the second one is better. I'm weary of opening it though because then I will be forced to eat it for the sheer fact that it's a fortune cookie and I can't resist it, even if the first one kind of tasted like an orange peel.

Let's just do it. Who wants to write a learning report anyway?...

Holy shit. It contains two fortunes. What does that mean? Do I read them both? Is only the one on top really meant for me? Do I really believe this crap anyway?

1. "A four-wheeled adventure will soon bring you happiness."

Hmm. No road trips planned. Plenty of plane trips though. There's been no rain in Texas so mudding's out even though I've never been mudding and have no intention of ever going. Maybe it's a metaphor.

2. "Listen these next few days to your friends to get the answers you seek."

Interesting. Very interesting...

Several observations may be made. One - I'm at a conference with 9 other residents to discuss our jobs, goals, etc. etc. etc. We will hear from our bosses, we will hear from each other. We will go away resolute and renewed. Two - I've been asked to speak for about 10 minutes Friday about either my ordination or something that I've learned recently and then receive 5 minutes of feedback from fellow residents. Three - I just had a dream in which I was trying to get home but was unable. Along the way I met several friends who, try as they did, could not help me find home. My interpretation of the dream? Only I can get me to where I need to be emotionally and relationally. This third thought lies in direct contrast to the cookie's advice however. So maybe the cookie is just foretelling observations one and two.

Maybe I'm overanalyzing this.

Maybe I've spent too much time by myself since I arrived in Hotlanta.

Maybe I'm too hot.

Maybe I should write my learning report.
Drove to Children's Camp outside of Dallas. Flew from DFW to Kansas City. Psyched myself up for High School reunion...recovered from High School reunion. Here are some pics Kristen (who won most changed aka "really got hot") sent me. She and I also attended Jewell together for those of you who don't know. If you've got more pics, send em - I didn't have a camera there!

Kara, Summer and I tore it up on the dance floor. Later, Sue Ellen and Heather and others joined in. Hey, we were'nt pregnant - you gotta at least celebrate that!
Ann, Ryan, Ken and Summer
Moxi, Ann and Summer