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Consider the Gilbert...

Feb. 10th, 2008 | 11:30 pm

It was warm today, almost like summer. I wore sandals most of the morning. Gilbert has been in a good mood all day, even though he's had little to eat. I envy him. He is very much the way I would like to be. He is quite bold and faces anything without batting an eye. He is also very articulate in his way, and always expresses himself charmingly in "words" that are very pleasing. And he isn't afraid to play. I remember I used to like to play. But these days I have grown selfish, and I'm always thinking that others will take advantage of me if I have too much fun. I don't know when this tightness crept in. Not long ago someone was discussing roots of bitterness and why they might take hold in the first place. I don't believe that I'm bitter, but perhaps something like it. There must be something I am holding on to that makes it so difficult to enjoy little things. It seems the only time I enjoy myself is with children or animals, and then only because I imagine them too innocent to "use my fun against me." My, how very neurotic I am becoming, and how very sad it will be to go on like this much longer.

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Pleasant, and beyond

Aug. 28th, 2007 | 08:07 pm

A great song is playing and I just got tidy after my third successful run this week! Hooray. My hilarious ex-boss called today to update me on her personal life, which was pleasant, since she is such a jolly sort of person. And I watched Whale Rider earlier today. It was rather nice, the idea of someone unlikely wanting and deserving a job that no one else wants or is fit for. I find that whenever I come across someone who is particularly fit for a task, it conjures vague ideas of Jesus Christ. Not in a creepy, blasphemous sort of way, but just as a way of understanding what it means that He was completely unique in His fittedness for the task set before Him. I got this feeling from watching Children of Men and from lots of books I've read, most obviously from Bros. Karamazov and Sir Gibbie.
I also watched Paradise Now yesterday afternoon. Man, but that was sad! And not the satisfying sort of sad that makes me weep. Nope, this was the opposite of the messianic undertones of those other books and movies, a pity, squandered beauty and potential, all for a sort of counterfeit purpose. But I liked the movie itself. It explains why a certain sort of despair would bloom into an embracing of that same old oblivion that haunts so many lives. It's that nihilism that seems to skulk in the corner of the mind to scavenge. I recently saw a familiar image of an emaciated African infant crouching with his head on the floor, while a vulture sits a stone's throw away, waiting to move in. It is horrendous beyond words, but it captures a reality that is hard to imagine on a la-dee-dah day like today. We aren't the lords and ladies of creation that we fancy ourselves. Perhaps that was the idea once, and perhaps one day that will be restored and then some. But today we are unfathomably feeble, with a mere breath between us and that oblivion. I just read a blog on the South Korean hostages. The author was questioning whether dealing with terrorists was the best course of action...Its funny that we can get stuck in that sort of thinking. I know that my reaction is to pick up a shotgun and blow away every vulture in sight, but its quite a stupid one. Suffering is certainly our birthright as children of God, and as the followers of Christ. But it is baffling to watch others suffer, if we fail to make the connection to that ultimate enemy, and conversely, that ultimate advocate. I still forget, and my metaphorical shotgun is all too cocked and ready to rip things to shreds, I'm afraid. But slowly, slowly, the mud on my eyes cracks a bit, and lets the teeniest bit of light stream in now and again, thank God.

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a running fix

Aug. 26th, 2007 | 07:20 pm

I just got back from a marvelous little run. I had a headache and decided to work it off, so I took off at a rather ambitious pace up El Camino, doubting if I could keep it up very long. So I was rather pleased when I made my usual circuit with little huffing and puffing and NO lung discomfort. That little drizzle earlier today must have sweetened our usually murky air. Anyhow, that must have been one of the fastest jaunts I've been on, aside from the horrible first Turkey Trot and the recent teen team fiasco.
Yesterday's little shindig was rather pleasant, if smaller than anticipated. After all, whenever an event is AT HOME I rather expect it to be comfortable and cheery than exciting. Although one of the cousins DID show up in a catwoman-like outfit, heehee.
Well, now both sisters have gone, but I can't be sad because the bedrooms are so clean that they make me feel a bit of a glow of satisfaction. Thanks, Mo, for the cleaning coaching! Maybe you could make thousands being a life coach, whatever that is...

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small truth speakers

Apr. 21st, 2007 | 10:18 pm
music: "je sais deja"

I spent the day at Chuck-E-Cheese's today. What a strange place! Not as strange as some, and not at all unpleasant to anyone in relatively good health and humor(the kids and their noise, erratic movements, germs, and such might prove too much for the faint of heart). Lately, I have noticed that I spend a large percentage of my time with children, and I'm not quite sure why. One individual, who currently resides in that no man's land that is adolescence, was kind enough to point out that I don't hang out with people my own age. This isn't completely true, but like all half-truths, it did its work and made me self-conscious about the rather unbalanced nature of the demographics of my associates. It's actually a little amusing, because I'm not the sort to say "I love kids" or to get misty-eyed about the little critters.
In truth, I feel a bit relieved when all the other grown ups are gone and I can say what I'm thinking, and have the "young people"(as one teacher calls them) respond in kind. The other day I was having a wretched morning, having cut my sleep prematurely short and rolled up and out grumpily. I was being short and snippy with the kids, and my patience was sadly lacking. Finally, I blurted out, "I need to get out of here." One little girl, aged 10, immediately answered, "Yes, you do. You're all short and rude this morning!" This little girl is chronically rude and irreverent herself, and my first impulse was to blast her for her impudence. But the moment passed, and I chuckled internally as it slid by.
There is something rejuvenating and restorative about acknowledging a weakness, a flaw, a sin, or a mistake, and having someone testify to it as well. After my inadvertent confession and my little companion's subsequent testimony, my morning steadily improved. The point is, I begin to realize that I don't love kids as much as I should, but I do appreciate the affect they have upon me! They make me nuts half the time, and the rest of the time I find myself wishing I were more like them.
Whenever one of them gives me a compliment(which they do almost constantly, God bless them), I feel inspired to thank them and thank God, rather than congratulate myself. Similarly, when they criticize, I find the responsibility rests squarely on my own shoulders. It's the strangest thing! Even their insincere flattery makes me squirm in discomfort, as though they had read my mind and revealed my own pettiness. Lies from them, or unkindness,or sullen defiance, or filthy language, makes me burn with indignation, as though someone had snapped a lovely sapling in two, or poisoned their milk, and tried to make me a party to it.

Unfortunately, I haven't learned to express these thoughts and emotions quite fluently yet at opportune moments. Very often I just get mad, or frustrated, or discouraged about what I see. But I think I'm learning to be thankful, and to set more store on prayer and good will than on correct answers and clean finger nails. Also, I am remembering what I once knew instinctively: that love, real love, is bestowed before approval. That's a hard truth for me to believe, and a harder one for me to emulate. But I rest easy, knowing that I have the best of teachers. To His credit, He is even more determined to teach me my lessons than I am to learn them.

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the warm spell

Mar. 13th, 2007 | 12:19 am

I never imagined myself as one of those folks driven by the weather. I still haven't surrendered myself to the notion. Still, I must admit that these warm days are lovely, and that the familiar scents and impressions that come with the warm weather are heartening in an ever-astounding way. I came home from class tonight and headed out for a nighttime walk with the folks. It was marvelous, with a fine view of the city lights below us, and a legion of crickets seranading us all the way. Is it possible not to hope and dream of wonderful possibilities in such pleasant pastures? I know not. I do know that it is wonderful to bask in the sunshine I didn't even know I craved! Thanks be to God, who shines the sun and sends rain graciously upon us all at his good pleasure. May His pleasure and my pleasure be more and more the same.

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awake thou that sleepest...

Mar. 3rd, 2007 | 11:01 pm

It seems to be in the wind, this prompting to set aside lethargy and join the land of the living. Today was a beautiful day, with plenty of sunshine and just the right amount of wind. The sky was much bluer than it has been in some time, and the little bit of white was high enough to make it all the more vast. And all day I fought that nagging desire I have had of late to sleep. In fact I didn't sleep today, but every little while it was there, urging me to escape. Actually, I've been napping less than usual(I've always loved napping), but the escape-nap has been more of a temptation during leisure hours. What it is I am escaping, I hardly know. Certain ideas having been churning in my strange bit of brain, about life and death, though not as morbidly as the words themselves may lead one to believe. Actually, the passage in the Old Testament about God setting life and death before Israel , and urging them to choose life, that seems more the sense of what I mean. Only in the Old Testament it seemed obvious that life was GOOD and death was BAD, and that disobeying God would get Israel into trouble. My musings on life and death aren't nearly so pristine and, well, divinely appointed. At this point, more than ever before in my admittedlty short life, I feel so detached from the events and people in it. Worse, there are few moments when a niggling self-awareness and self-appraisal doesn't crowd in on more productive activities and thoughts. I see other people, and how their occupations(whatever they may be, whether exalted or humble, professional or domestic), well, OCCUPY them to a healthy degree, and I wonder why I haven't taken to it. I'm not sure how, but I feel as if I am not quite alive. Is it possible, I've wondered, for grown-ups to be chagelings? It's preposterous for a Christian to talk this way, or at least it seems so to me at the moment. Somewhere in this there must be a great deal of fear, my fear that is. If it could be this simple, I'd call it a fear of making mistakes. Actually, it is rather a relief to think of it that way, because that simply makes me proud. Pride is the thing which separates the devil from God. Love is what unites me to God, His not mine. Perhaps it is this same love that insists on ripping the decaying filth from my hands, lest it begin to eat at me as well. So be it. Perhaps I can't choose life after all, but I am content if He has chosen me.

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"all that's gold does not glitter"

Nov. 30th, 2006 | 08:18 pm

Today, as I sat listening to a little girl tell me about the "baby alive" doll she is getting for Christmas, I felt how privileged I am to be the one hearing so much of these little ones' random thoughts and wishes. Here was this child, 8 or 9 years old, spending her recess with me, chatting with me as if we were sipping lattes at some frou frou coffee shop! What confidence, what freedom! Oh, how special it all made me feel, as if God were showing me the strange treasures He inbeds in all the "mundane" living. I am a fool to be bogged down with the weight of living. I am meant to hold it all lightly, and be thankful for each track left behind, each note coaxed from this crude little instrument. Hasn't Christ already borne the weight of my existence that I might be with Him where He is? And yet, here I am. I read 1Corinthians 8 this morning, and was a bit baffled at the thought of all of creation being subjected to vanity. If this is so, thought I, how can I take any pleasure in this life I must live in the flesh? Only now does it occur to me that every experience, like the one I mention here, has a vein of gold that I can either redeem or overlook. How rich He has meant me to become! And all this time I have been mucking around, trying to keep my hands out of the very dirt where that gold, that pearl of great price, has resided from the start.
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:18-23

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guitar lessons

Oct. 30th, 2006 | 10:08 pm

S,o I've picked up the guitar again these past couple of days. As it happens, learning guitar is much more productive when there is an actual piece I want to get through, rather than a few scraps of familiar music that I just dabble in now and again. I actually have a nice time of it, picking away for a good chunk of time. My fingers are rather sore, since I've finally begun using the lower three strings, which aren't nylon. I'm rather glad, and don't feel quite so much like a dabbler when my fingers actually hurt long after I've stopped playing. I'm not a dabbler anymore! Ugh! So much of my life is spent in fear of being a mere dabbler in everything: playing guitar, teaching, writing, LIVING! Perhaps I should just admit that I am inherently a dweller in the shallows. There's that line from a Caedman's Call song: "The Truth is a river where the strong can swim in deep, and the weak and the broken can walk across so easily..." Perhaps I am weak after all, and should just get over it and scoot across to safety, instead of gazing, Ophelia-like, into the depths that I don't really want and can't really understand. It is rather a humiliating prospect, but then, after all, when has humility ever done me harm?
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Book Withdrawals

Oct. 22nd, 2006 | 11:28 am

I had intended to spend last week writing, seeing as how I had half days at work. Instead, I picked up the 600+ pages of SHIRLEY ,and consequently, wrote next to nothing. Well, Shirley's vast bulk was got through yesterday, and this morning I found myself puttering around aimlessly, feeling somewhat desolate without the pleasant company I had been enjoying so recently. Oh, the treachery of books! They entice you, promising to give you good things, if you will only give them your undivided attention. At first you conscilliate only half-heartedly, dropping them with every pleasant sight or smell that might draw you away. Later, they have worked their spell on you, and you think only of rushing back to them as you go about your daily tasks, relishing the moment when you can again surrender to their ministrations. And for a time you are happy with them, content with what they have to give. Finally, with the onset of the closing sentence, a panic grips you, and the sigh of satisfaction dies on your lips as you blink and look about you amidst a wave of disorientation. New distractions seek to dash the now empty cup away from your lips, and in vain you try to cling to it for only a moment longer. There, it has been swept away, and you are left only a vague, sweet memory of the taste...
Is it right that I should desire to play the same trick on my fellow man, to mix similar concoctions that will end by leaving him with the same hollowness, the vague longing? Is the apparent betrayal truly a ministration after all, as it seemed when I drank so deeply ? Perhaps. Yes, perhaps some are meant to minister that hunger, so that Another can then minister the real substance that will ultimately fill it. I give thanks and sallute all the ones who have poked about in the tender places of my consciousness, and made me feel the very soreness of my soul. Infinitely preferable is that ache than the numbness that it has replaced. The ache makes me long for sweeter sensations in the end, that will neither fade nor be replaced with the hollowness that now threatens to overwhelm this faint existence.
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Shirley

Oct. 16th, 2006 | 09:11 pm

The latest item on my literary menu is Charlotte Bronte's hefty novel, Shirley, which tackles weighty labor issues amidst the more familiar domestic ones. I have barely made a dent, but I've read enough to be reminded of what a WONDERFUL writer Charlotte is. I love how I can start reading about the randomest thing, like an Irishman cooking a mutton chop inside a mill on a rainy day, and find it utterly engrossing. She makes me feel like a child receiving something delicious and hearty, something I needn't fear ingesting, yet something I can bear to savor as well without finding it overpowering, or excessively heavy. This particular book reminds me of Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton. As a matter of fact, I'm not surprised that the two ladies were such good friends. Well, I have many wise and articulate friends. Unfortunately, I still find myself straining to write something worthwhile, only to throw up my hands and sit perusing the words of my betters. Perhaps I am too young; my soul is not weighty enough, hasn't borne with much joy or sorrow to speak of. There is a girl, Caroline, in this story, a sweet young thing, full of hope and possibilities. Sadly, the only thing I can claim to share with this charming woman-child is a vague sense of uneducatedness. Is something indeed missing, or will the refining fires of life put to right that which is lacking in this old lady's character? One thing that I am pleased to note, when I see a child goofing off, there is a bit of me that hums in sympathy, that longs to howl mischievously and partake in the fun. If that is a token of my inexperience, then I don't mind wading in the shallows a bit longer.
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