February 28, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Turin Brakes- Rain City

(Pick up the pace.)
And we fought smiles over which of us got what and when.
It’s the possibility that this life is going to break us into pieces, knock us reeling and silly with painful joy. I hope it puts a grin on your tired late-night face, a postage stamp on your love. And I say I need a new word for all this. Let’s build something good that we can’t see with our eyes and be suprised when it’s our turn to die, realizing we did all the things we really care about.
And if I wake up years from now with you lying next to me, let that be your answer. Let’s give the sun no choice but to rise: even if it had to find out what would happen next. We’re alive now, yes, for sure, ready or not–searching for something undeniable.



February 24, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Jet- Move on

In my search for something completely different tonight I found the journal I kept from 2003-2004. In the inside cover I kept various lists. On those historic pages of my life this was written:

Things I love-
sparklers, sweet potatoes, long skirts, fall, grilled cheese, sand on my feet, fleece blankets, colored tights, tea kettles, root beer floats, wood floors, going back to sleep, Damien Rice, sending postcards, no shower Saturdays, singing for AZ, grace, C.S. Lewis, fresh seafood, O’Soy, receiving cheap gifts, art films, headphones, Red Roobios Tes, Levi’s nose, Guster, $20 of what??, road trips, white lillies, inside jokes, “I carried a watermelon?”, pretzels from Dorothy Lane, Chai, wet grass, Fiji water in square bottles, pregnant bellies, memories that come with songs, pink skies, Irish Cream, Pentel Energel pens, stars, bonfires, wine on the porch, hide and seek, getting mail, Brennan Manning, chalk, wanting to remember, fresh starts, waking up in a new place, papaya, crunching leaves, breathing deep.

I want to-
prepare less, make more mistakes, burn more gasoline, travel lighter, limit umbrella use, stay barefoot longer, pick more flowers, climb more mountains, trust ruthlessly, be a leader, enjoy the silence, fear God, give more grace, sail, make snow angels on the beach, picnic, speak another language, accept the past, not ignore pain, marry without shoes, snorkle, fake an accent well, always keep a journal, always have someone to serve, find similar souls, be blown away.

And if I made these lists once again today…what would they say?

Abba- I surrender my will and my life to You today, without reservation and with a humble confidence–You are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others. I want to find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing You. Make my inner freedom a compelling sign of Your presence, Your peace, Your power, and Your love. Let Your plan for my life gracefully unfold one day at a time. My heart and my confidence are set on You.


February 23, 2005

stairwell accompaniment: Dave Matthews- #41

Oh, the daedal rapport I have with the country of Mexico and the morose dealings I have encountered with Continental Airlines.
I am home now.
I did have a glorious 7 days of Mexican warmth, sandy beach, Spanish conversation and one of the most stirring weddings I have had the pleasure of being a part of. Michelle was a beautiful and deserving bride. (Humorously, a wedding alone is a wedding alone no matter what exotic location it takes place in and “¿cuándo casará?” (read:when are you going to get married?”) is an unwelcome question no matter what language it is packaged in).
Unfortunately my trip was peppered with unfavorable events: bad directions, lost luggage, unearned sunburn, transvestite hair dressers, and rain. And it all culminated in a desperate Sunday morning breakdown after I was denied passage onto the ONLY flight leaving the airport that day. A prudish immigration officer and a paper mishap on behalf of the Monterrey airport became my immediate problem and I was stranded. Usually a calm, even-tempered person, I lost all composure and reason and there, in the provincial Tampico airport, I cried. Tears streaming as I stood, helpless watching my passage to America disappear in the distance. (Much later)I began to calm down and work through the paperwork and arrangemements I needed to make- I felt God’s comfort and provision. This quote came to mind:

“Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.” -CS Lewis

I had written it a week or so ago in a card I gave to Matt. I spent another unexpected day completely alone in Mexico. Time to pause in His solace and explore the city in sandals.

I won’t try to convince you that I handled the situation with grace or with the complete trust that others (stronger than I) might have exhibited. In fact, I was admittedly scared, vulnerable and lost. But, emotionally and physically drained, I returned to Ohio yesterday (still without luggage) and I faced a difficult retort to my hysterically-handled mishap. On the phone he offhandedly says, “Do you really think you can work on the mission field?” In criticism of how I handled my frustrating week abroad. And I am left silent. I am no mere mortal but ONLY human, right? I am hurt, crushed(?). Is this past week evidence of my (in)ability to be an effective tool on the mission field? No response. I am off guard.

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” -C. S. Lewis

God- in all my failures, faults, misdeeds, defeats, presage– with my Achilles’ heel, my catch 22– can You not still make use of me? With the chinks in my armor and the ugly lumps in the clay I call ‘myself’, are You not still greater?

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.” -C. S. Lewis

But I reflect on the good parts:

perfect from far away

February 15, 2005

stairwell accompaniment: The Shins- Kissing the Lipless

Happy Valentine’s Day has become a head full of jumbledmessy thoughts. So I write. I should be packing. I’m boarding an airplane in the AM and whisking myself away—a Mexican getaway. I should be rummaging through clothes, folding a bathing suit, adding a toothbrush and deodorant. My suitcase in the floor in front of me- half packed.
I am so often honest in a vague way because details become trivial. I want honesty.
Orange roses on my dining room table and I can still feel his warm, reassuring hand against my back. Sometimes so safe. Ginger peach lingering. his stars are seen on my sunroof overhead and high, high above them I can see the unearthly glow of His coruscating stars. A blanket of lucent reminders.
I am coming home and all along the way calculating how far away I am from him now. Thinking of him in his bed and sleeping (dreaming?). I am so often taken by his idiosyncrasies and smile when I should be serious, laugh when I should be listening, blush when I should be composed. And I can’t help but feeling the raw emotion of vulnerability. But I can’t decide whether it is him or me that I am afraid of. I am, most definitely, far less than what he needs, deserves–effete, a consolation prize–and I can only hope somehow be the earthly apologist he longs for.
My quixotic view of love and what it will look like for me: I read of Jack’s love for H. in A Grief Observed and I am nearly convinced that it is something I will only read. Will living such passion and deep communion remain a distant vision? And I see Elizabeth Elliot’s undying patience for Jim and I am filled with a salty mixture of hope and disbelief. I am vexed by the messy details. I want to shout to God: “HOW? WHY? WHEN?” and with disdain for my adulterous heart, I realize that I have sold out to far less wild lovers and I wait in quiet reverence for Him to examine my heart. Ask me the questions. Reveal me to be the child I am.

“Being in love is a good thing but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all…In fact, the state of being in love usually does not last…But of course ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love…is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask and receive from God.” –CS Lewis

I recognize something far greater than my passions.

I want God, not something like God. I’ll do all the soul climbing I can because I’d be a fool to go to bed if I’m not tired. So I write now and it’s no longer a thought, it’s a yell.
“When the will of God crosses the will of man, somebody has to die.” -Leitch
But I am not called to die and be dead. I die in order to live.

And live I will…in MEXICO for the next 6 days. Not a day below 80 degrees and sunburn await me. Alive, warmpink skin, black hair in the hot sun, and Michelle is getting married. Married in Mexico.
El dios bendice y buena noche.
Feliz cumpleaños, Joy.

stairwell accompaniment:Over the Rhine- Etcetera Whatever


My long hair down and in my face, tacos in my belly (can’t you see them?)and misused curse words. Constant laughter. Are you deaf–YES it’s my back! Make-believe arguments. And being real without even having crunching leaves under our feet.

Now every little second is time. And every word seems to rhyme. I follow every word like streetlights. To make it home all right.

So I am here, forever standing on the first stair step (for you).