Friday, May 30, 2008

John 1:1-9, 14, 3:17-21

Light and Darkness. Polar opposites, but without one, the other does not exist. As least in my opinion. I suppose scientists would disagree with me. So let me re-phrase that… without one, the other is less understood. In other words, how could we understand light if we didn’t know darkness? How could we see the shining stars unless they were set against a black sky? How could we squint our eyes in the daylight without seeking to see, wide-eyed in the nighttime? How could we enjoy basking in the sunlight without shivering beneath the clouds? Light and Dark. Opposites that modify each other more and more as we take in each and understand them more fully.

But light and dark are symbolic words too. Good and evil. Right and wrong. Happiness and Depression. And in between the light and darkness we oscilate as people and as Christians.

Go therefore into all the world. Into the light and into the darkness. Without discrimination. Into the whole world we go.

Go where the sleepers sleep in their pajamas made of pinstripes which they wear wandering through Wall Street dreaming of the rich and famous. Go where the farmers farm and labor over their fields producing crops that feed their families and feed the world, crops grown only by this world, this earth, this soil that makes the world go round. Go where the dancers dance to forget their aging bodies and sorrowed souls. Go where the singers sing a simple song with chords that soothe the sailors. Go where the people are happy and go where they are sad. Go where you find the most energetic and go to the most weary and tired. Go to the children and the adults and the infants and the elderly. Go to the lands of peace and go to the lands of war. Go the churches and go to the courtrooms.

Go into the light and into the dark. Without discrimination of place or people, you are called to go…

But wherever you go, carry light with you.

A candle if you’ve got it. A glimmer of hope. A story of a healer. A year of faith under your belt.

Or a lantern if you’re lucky. A sacred text. A relationship with a Savior. An awe for a creator. Light the way with the lantern if you’ve got it.

Or maybe you have a church, a community. And you’ve got not only the text, but the tools for interpretation too. And even as your God created you, so do you use your gifts to keep on creating and shouting out “Good!” If you have this sort of light, cling to it, carry it, call it’s name in the dark, for those who have found this light have a great responsibility to shine brightly into the darkness.
Take what you’ve received and share it.

Whatever your light, let it shine.

Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

I’ve gotten to the point where I can look back at my thirty years of life (or at least the years I can remember) and reflect on them. I see periods of darkness during some months, some years, but also periods of light. Happier times, easier times interlocked with troubling, painful times. The fourth plague in Egypt was the plague of darkness. Darkness came over the land in Egypt so that no one could see or work or do anything. But not only was it dark outside, but the Bible described it as “darkness that could be felt.” Many of us have probably felt that sort of darkness in our lives. Darkness of greed, jealousy, divorce, illness… darkness that can be felt. Likewise, many of us have felt the times of true joy, the release, the exodus, the wealth of family, friends, purpose and belonging. As I survey these periods of my life, and I categorize them as dark and light times, I find that the edges of my distinctions are not always so clear. I fade in and out of darkness and light in and out and not always because of what I’ve done or not done, where I’ve gone or not gone, what I’ve seen or not seen. Light and dark just is. They are. They exist. They are constants.

After night comes the light and dawn is here.

Every single day.

One of the metaphors used to describe Jesus in the Bible is light – especially used in the book of John which we read from earlier. In Jesus there is no darkness. In Jesus every tear will be wiped away and every soul cleansed. So that only light remains. Only goodness triumphs.

The best part about Jesus is that even in darkness Jesus reigns. Even in sadness, Jesus reigns. Even in danger, Jesus reigns. The light is even in the darkness. And the light is especially needed in the darkness. There is no need to be afraid.

And so wherever we are in our lives: whether we understand the darkness one can feel brushing up against our skin as we plod through life holding our breath, or whether we rest contented in the light of peace and joy and comfort; whether we reside in the dark or in the dawn, we carry in us the eternal light that was in the beginning and in the end.

“What has come into being in Jesus was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”


Friday, May 23, 2008

Florida Day 5

Sun, sun and more sun!

And books. I read two books this weeks: Eat, Pray, Live by Elizabeth Gilbert and Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott.

Josie started several books too but couldn't get situated on one. Here we are on the beach...

But the most exciting moment of the day came when a jellyfish washed up on the sand!

The water here is Florida is EMERALD GREEN. So green and so beautiful. And juxtaposed with the sky it is just amazing...

Josie and her friends are staying here one more day and I'm quite jealous. If there's a church opening here... Baptist, Methodist, Hindu... I'm gonna apply. And since lot of land here is only going for 1.25 million, I'd say it's a go. While that one and a quarter doesn't include the cost of building a house, it seems quite reasonable. Sigh. Further evidence of the insane divide between the rich and... well... everyone else. Who can afford that?

But it is beautiful and while I miss the eclectic vibe that is Austin, TX, there's not much to complain about down here.

What a great birthday week.

Florida Day 4

With the brief rain yesterday came a reminder of respite even from the respite of vacation. So under the guise of going to the grocery store, which we eventually did, Josie and I snuck into Seaside (yes, the town where the Truman show was filmed, and yes, it is FREAKY to be in such a homogeneous community with all their white picket fences and lighthouse balconies and brick-paved streets) for some alone time.

We sat at an outdoor bistro where we ordered Stella Artois on tap and also brie crepes and crab cakes. AMAZING! It rocked. We talked about our lives and men and relationships and our futures and drank stella and ate crepes. We also made fun of all the cookie cutter people who walked by with their fake tans (we're at the beach people!) and collagen lips (freaky) and dyed hair (what's wrong with being a brunette or a red head really?) And we ooh'd and ahh'd over all the cute little kids (yes, we're both thirty and baby-bearing age). And again, rolled our eyes at the four year old boy in a plaid jumper with a sea horse on the front of it and prayed his parents are Brittish.

It was a good day. My burned bottom is diminishing which is encouraging. I may even get to lay on my stomach today. I also managed to burn both wrists and both elbows that first day too which has proved to be quite the nuisance. Who knew you could burn your elbows? We girls also discovered one can burn the inside of one's belly button. But mine's not too bad.

The girls also burried James in the sand yesterday. Here's a picture of their masterpiece...

Life Without Limbs

No matter what your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) you have GOT to see this video about a man born without arms or legs, and how he has learned to live and live fully in this life...

Don't mind the subtitles, it's in English but translated into Japanese...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Florida Day 3

The waves were huge and crazy. When my 280 pounde friend dove into a wave yesterday, the undertow actually threw him down to the bottom where his face smacked against the sand.

When the "storm" (light showers) blew in today then, this is what we saw...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Florida Day 2

Before the mimosa's and the severe sunburn, I went to the beach in the morning, by myself.

And I discovered that God is like a wave. I know poets the world over have compared God to oceans and other water entities, but today I learned that God is a wave.

Sometimes God, like a wave, laps quietly against the shore, so steady and serene is God's presence that it almost goes unnoticed like the heartbeat of the earth. Other times God sends all Her fury crashing up against the sand in ferocious waves that roll and swirl. The beach surrenders beneath, no longer a complacent partner in beauty but a steady recipient of the wailing that is God's anguish and sometimes anger. God is so many things: soft, loud, gentle, avenging; but always constant. Constant like a wave. And powerful too, never ceasing, though at times some may forget the waves as common or monotonous. Worse yet, some don't even notice any more the sweet sound of the washing waves ever present in their ear. So near so often, they forget the awe that is the ocean. But I, a newcomer to this part of the world am aghast at the wonder of it all. The presence and power, serenity and ferocity that are the waves are also God who will keep pressing upon the shore regardless of whether we pay Her mind or not. She is our God and she will keep rolling within and about us. Our God is a wave. Our God is a wave. And She laps upon the shore.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Florida Day 1

Twelve hours of travel.

Visit to Josie's grandma at the hospital. Favorite quote of the day, "I don't know who I'll vote for. I'm not sure any of them are capable to handle international affairs. Even Miss Hillary is stressed out. She's getting un-pretty. She needs to stay feminine. We were born to be feminine."

Arrive at beach. FREAK OUT. Pray that God will call me to minister to a beach community. While standing on the edge of the waves, 20 year old drunk girl asks me, "So... what's your story?" Sigh and fail to tell it. Deliver minimal details including, "I'm thirty, I'm a minister, I'm single. I own a house and have two cats and a dog." She responds with second favorite quote of the day, "It's not about how old you ARE, it's about how old you LOOK."


Ridiculous signs and bumper stickers seen on travels across south: "Keep on truckin' for Jesus" and "We catch 'em, God cleans em." Text friend from residency program and indulge in laughing at Christians in the South.

Pray that God will call me to a church up North.

Talk to mom (a part-time minister) on phone who tells me of a man she spoke with today who actually told her, "The Holy Spirit gave me this church's phone number." To which my ever practical and ballsy mom replied, "So you looked it up in the phone book, good."

Said man also asked her incredulously, "You let homos into your church?!"

Vacations rock.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

45 minutes and counting.

Can you believe it grandma? Can you believe one of your grand-children lived to be thirty?! That must be overwhelming. I tried to imagine being my grandma today, being a grandma and living to see my grand-daughter's 30th birthday... but deciding it improbably, i retired that thought from my brain. You know, my mother, on her 30th birthday, found out she was pregnant, with me. Strange. And impossible. That won't happen to me, I can guarantee it.

I will not live their lives, I will live my own.

Not really much choice in the matter.

43 minutes.

My birthday party was Friday night. Amelia and Michelle threw it because they pretty much rock and they love me and were probably tired of seeing me mope around the house (that was before I had decided to embrace being thirty).

They threw me a hawaiian themed party with fruit and grass skirts and lei's and they even put the Hawaiian words for things up around the house and even on the dog. It was awesome.

I bought a cute dress for the party at Parts and Labor, one of my sister's favorite stores on South Congress. I couldn't resist.

It was perfect! Plus I was too paranoid to actually wear a grass skirt and coconuts...

The party itself was uncharacteristically small with quite the variety of people, but it was good and people seemed to enjoy themselves.

I was SO tired from the long day I'd had (acupuncture, shopping, eye doctor, waxing studio, yard work, house work, laundry...) that at 1:30am I feel into bed on my new sheets given to me by Joy and Angie. They were so soft and for the first time in a long time, I slept like a baby.

I also got a water gun, $2, and a crazy hat as gifts for my birthday.

An exciting part of the evening was when friends clamored that they wanted to see the hukilau dance. I and two other women had learned the dance in grade school. In three different states mind you (Missouri, Arkansas and Texas) we each learned virtually the same dance and miracle of all miracles, we remembered it. Mostly. And my fearless friends video-taped it. Yes, I'm on Youtube. Don't say I never accomplished anything in my life. I made it on TV... sort of.

And yes, by that point in the evening I had become chilled and decided to put on my mother's old pair of grey sweatpants with my christmas socks on underneith my dress. I don't think you can see the socks in the video.

So yeah, it was a good party.

23 minutes.

18 minutes.

Are you waiting like I am? Counting down the minutes, sitting in your living room wrapped in a blanket on the couch, lighted only by the glow of the open computer?

My youngest sister called and marveled at my age. Of course, I suppose I marvel at hers as well. When I left home she was in middle school. In my dreams, when I sleep, she's never older than eleven. Strange. Now she's 23.

16 minutes.

Shit. I don't have anything profound or enlightening or even interesting to say. Surely something should happen or will happen. (Something other than the hail storm that blew in and broke my kitchen window). Someone should fall in love or get kissed or something. A winning lottery ticket (although I didn't buy one). A banking error in my favor.


In the room the women go
Talking of Michaelangelo

I may measure my life in coffee spoons, but my life matters. It matters.

My coffee spoons mean something to me. My life is special, delicate and I measure it carefully, meticulously, so much so, you may call me crazy, but it's my life. My life. And it's the only one I've got.

So I laugh and I cry and I overanalyze.

And you will love me just the same.

3 minutes.

Just the same, just the same.

"It's my birthday," she said quietly in the dark room.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Har Har

Okay, very funny. Who signed me up for a subscription to Everyday with Rachel Ray?

Don't think I won't find out...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For the Smart Alecs

You want a list. You got it. I'm all over mature...

*1. A (real) diamond nose ring from Diablo Rojo Incorporated (512) 444-7656.
*2. Cactii or exotic plants/flowers. I lurve them and I love to garden.
*3. Ally McBeal Seasons 1-5 Box Set
*4. Gift certificates to Big Red Sun, Banana Republic or Victoria's Secret
*5. Organic Cotton Percale Bed Sheets (full, ivory colored) or just any nice set of sheets :) organic is expensive!
6. Bikers Flower casual Skechers tennis shoe - black, size 6
7. Bikers Loma Vista casual Skechers tennis shoe - toffee, size 6
8. Jewelry
9. A good microphone
10. Dress high heeled shoes size 6 funky and fun
11. An antique bird cage with a real bird in it.
12. Dish towels (solid black)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Shouldn't I Party?

I mean really? I LOVE throwing parties. I love having people into my home. I love the patio lights and the finger food and the coolers of assorted beer, and the strangers and the friends all coming together. People even look to me for leadership in this area (I kind of miss Peter's promptings "Isn't it about time for another party Ann?...).

So why shouldn't I party?

It's only 30... It's not like it's 50. (Although if it were fifty, hopefully I would have my children there to celebrate with me although if I have a baby now, my oldest child will be only 20 when I'm 50 and her younger siblings will still be in high school - and that's if I have a baby RIGHT NOW which I'm not which means I'll have kids in like middle school when I'm turning fifty. Holy cow.) (Second parenthetical statement explaining the first: this is the sort of panicky thought that runs through my mind when I think about turning thirty. I only noted it because while I am about to post a serious, happy post about turning thirty, you should never be deceived by my demeanor and think that doubts aren't always lurking in the corners ready to lure me away at any opportunity).

Another of my friends who turned thirty on May 1, posted a good blog on aging and being thirty and memories and being thankful. And I thought, hmm. Why should I dread turning 30? I tend to be one who celebrates life. Need I remind myself of my eighteenth birthday bash on the patio of my parents house? Or my quarter of a century birthday blowout at the eades? Or my halloween party last year complete with spiderman playing the violin? Why wouldn't I celebrate this momentous occasion?

One of my friends actually said the me the other day, "It's going to be okay. You're a very mature person and when you get to say you're thirty, it like, proves it. Being in your thirties is being mature." That's a good point. I hadn't thought of that. Immaturity is a dreadful disease...

So I started looking at thirty not as old but as ideal and it turns out culture (ahem, clear throat) backs up this theory.

In 13 Going on 30, Jenna actually wants to be "Thirty, flirty and thriving." (Hmm...)
And thirty-something is the (supposed) ages of the women in Sex and the City! Does it get much better than that? (Not really...)
And Bridget Jones was 30 and by the time she was turning 31 she got Colin Firth! (Excellent point!)

I will embrace being 30!

Turning 30 is hot!

Women in their thirties get what they want!

So watch out world. I'm turning 30. And I'm taking you with me... (in twelve days).

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Aria da Capo

Aria da Capo , a one-act play by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay shows this weekend at First Baptist Church at 9th & Trinity at 8pm both Friday and Saturday nights.

It's my directorial debut. :)

So if you're in Austin this weekend, come check it out! The actors are great. The script is excellent and it's premiering in our new (under construction) Blackbox!!

Here's some pics to whet your appetite...

Written in 1920 as a response to the First World War, Millay’s Aria da Capo transcends time with its critique of division, greed, selfishness and denial. Modeled after the musical genre sharing its name, this one-act ends as it started, with its traditional Commedia dell' Arte characters, Pierrot and Columbine, indifferent and sarcastic, yet charmed by the world and each other. Corydon and Thyrsis, on the other hand, are more convicting characters. While at times they would like to return to living in community and harmony, they are forced back onto their respective sides by Cothurnus. Lest we give them too much credit however, once they discover ownership and possessions, be they material or essential, they need very little prompting to stay put and cling to what they foolishly believe is theirs alone. Millay chides her audience, us, too as we become participants in the play and turn a blind eye to the chaos that reigns. Indeed, the act has begun, under our feet! And the question remains, with this new knowledge, how will we play the play?

May 1, 2008

The inevitable is actually on the horizon. I can't believe it.