A day in the life….

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Romans 11:3, NIV

Wednesday was an interesting day in my Shakespeare class. I generally find Shakespeare plays thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining and so class time is always a little interesting, but today was interesting because the class was spurred into theological debates surrounding a student presentation. The presentation was an argument that claimed the existence of strong parallels between Shakespeare’s plot of brother Claudius murdering brother Old Hamlet and the story of Cain and Abel presented in Genesis 4 of the Christian Bible. It was an interesting debate because it caused me to reflect on how sensitive I am about people – mainly self-announced (this creating a whole new problem in my perception of them) Protestant Christians – coming into an argument about Biblical authority with the steadfast claim that “The Bible says….” or, “well it says in the Bible…..” – as though these arguments showed perfect understanding and not just a human interpretation of various unnamed translations of the Bible……(not naming any certain translation for the reference is another pet peeve it seems).

I listened, and attempted to be open minded, searching my own understandings and beliefs….and still I bristled every time this statement was made by various students – the 7 out of 26 that actually engaged the conversation.

I found myself trying to imagine how the teacher must be feeling – trying to diffuse a debate which is so much over the understanding or scope of a 1 hour class time….how to mediate the discussion in a way that allows ideas to be brought forward and logical fallacies to be pointed out – all in a way that broadens the way the students think……I found myself watching the faces of the other silent students in the classroom, trying to ascertain whether they found themselves aligned in any way to this discussion – Did they even know the story?  Honestly, they’re all English majors and as such have come in to contact with Christian literature throughout their studies I’m sure (British lit requires a certain lens be introduced) – but how do the students who do not share any sort of belief being offered as a truth – how do they contribute or add to this conversation?  do they feel interested?  do they feel completely outcast?

The latter answer is the one that scares me – I found myself in that classroom wanting just to speak out and say -” not all Christian’s are like this!  please please please don’t base your judgement on this class period! Why don’t we all go out for a cup of coffee or a beer and share our beliefs and question each other? Then we can come back to this class with a better way to argue a point – a way to argue that doesn’t leave someone out of the conversation but allows everyone to discuss and share – to feel like their beliefs have just as much weight in this discussion as someone else’s…..please, please don’t judge me (or Christianity) based on this class….”  But I worry and sometimes I know that they will – because really – why not?  If that class discussion is the only context you are given for Christian thinking – one which claims it is a truth beyond question – beyond differing interpretations  - beyond study – how would you create a different picture of Christianity than the one being performed in your Shakespeare class?  Why would actively seek out people who will discredit your argument on the basis of “I’m right, you’re wrong”?

Tonight my family and I headed to the Tenebrae Service held at our Church which is meant to act as a solemn reminder of why this season is important in our faith.  Why it is that Easter and the Resurrection of Christ should be something that we prepare for in humbling ways and then Celebrate with all our might.  Over the course of about 45 minutes, the story of Jesus’s path from the Communion table to the Cross is told and between each reading, candles – lights – are extinguished while music is sung.  As the service progresses, the darkness takes over and the music lessens until the Church is left in darkness – silence – and one candle – to symbolize Christ is re-lit.  It is one of my favorite services and I have a hard time not weeping by the end of it – it’s just beautiful.

As we walked swiftly and silently to our car and then headed home, I had to smile as our kids talked about how boring it was to sit through stories, but also how it was neat that the candles were blown out – and then to listen as they question what we believe…..Our oldest kiddo asks: “Why is it that some people believe Jesus was just a prophet when we know he died and came back?!”  and “Did you know that some people don’t even know about Jesus and they think there really is an Easter bunny?” , etc….  I love these questions because it means they’re thinking – it means they notice that there is more to the world than just what they know and I think it’s so important for them to be able to engage in discussions with their friends about their different beliefs.  How should we, as parents, answer these questions?  Well, because we’re constantly learning as we go, we encourage the discussion – we encourage the questions – the seeking of answers, and also let them know that we really don’t know all the answers.  We don’t know how to answer all the questions – we’re really only human too (parent human, so we get to make decisions that stick more than they do, but human nonetheless).

It’s hard to believe in something in this world that is not provable by scientific method.  There is no hypothesis or theory or test which will prove that our beliefs are right, or that someone else is actually right.  This is the reason that my classmate’s “Well, the bible says…” answers vex me to no end.  How do you teach that to a child or an adult; who is otherwise taught a method to figure things out – how to solve a math problem, how to test a hypothesis, how to read and write  - these problems have concrete answers that the solving and creating and learning will reach – that they will know for sure.  So what do we do with a belief?  I only hope they continue the conversation.  Continue seeking answers to questions they don’t even really understand – and I hope we can teach them to listen to the questions that others are seeking to answer as well.  I hope they can contribute to the theological debates that will occur in their lifetime – Shakespeare and otherwise, in a way that is inclusive to the host of other religions present – in a way that helps them to grow in understanding and confusion, it’s the only way to continue learning.  And I hope they will remember the solemn evenings when they sat, “bored” as the lights faded and the same story of Jesus’s sad, lonely, human death was told again.

photo 2

 

Wednesdays

The air is full and pulsing.
Words swim;
Words from books and random thoughts-
Expectations and assignments-
Unfinished symphonies and sonnets.
The air is thick with these
And more.
All demanding equal attention
I gaze in awe
Almost believing I can reach out my fingers
Lacing them into the words I can grasp them.
Scoop those words out of the air and hold their beating demands
Shaping them into my own
Their cries for attention: shaped and changed.
Opening my hand I raise up these new shapes
I set them free.

Procrastinating and Possibility

I have been avoiding writing this week; not only here on the blog but also all of my essays and responses.  I have done some journal writing but I think that hardly counts as it amounts to my feeling guilty for not posting and guilty for not finishing essays –  and then the continual pressure of knowing that I need to finish those essays in order to graduate, in order to move forward, just sort of paralyzes me – so I stop all forms of writing because if I’m doing one, I should be doing the other instead. Today I’m attempting to break the cycle.  I’m posting here and then I will be off to work on some school writing. I’ve been feeling anxious and extremely broken lately. About a week ago now I could feel the weight of responsibilities and possibilities pushing back on my drive to be productive.  6 weeks left to the end of school – our lease is up at the end of May – job opportunities, ideas about schooling kids – and still the day to day  need to do laundry and dishes and vacuum – throw into this mix the need to write 2 essays next week, and study for one midterm – and the washing machine is broken.

And why is all of this normal life stuff harder than normal?  I think I’m at the point in the year again where I question my ability to actually do ANYTHING well – I question my sanity, I question my selfishness, and I attempt to process all of the big questions in life while still sifting through the little things and that translates into my feeling incapable of doing even the day to day things.  Usually when this happens I bake bread, or cookies, or go running and then pull myself together and start checking things off the list – but I haven’t had any time to do these things and when I make time, I feel like I’m avoiding the other pressing things, which I am, even while I know it’s necessary to me being a kind person.

My husband calls this state of being “pregnant with possibilities” which is such a positive way to describe the way I feel.  I feel like I’m suffocating  - my every attempt to make decisions or even just move on to the next step of any process is thwarted by my own nagging “what ifs” and so I whither slowly, curling up into myself and pushing out all of the good things that are happening.  Constantly feeling unable to respond to trivial daily occurrences in ways that are normal and expected.  Instead I just feel the need to sit and cry and feel sorry for myself and that just makes me  feel like I’m the most selfish being alive – and the cycle continues.

Hold tight friends, don’t call in the alarms -I promise I’m fine.  This process of writing includes real thoughts and real life, and it also includes my verbal processing tendencies in written form.  This all began a week ago and already I can feel the fog begin to lift  - it’s the only reason I can actually sit down this morning and finish this post and then look forward into the day and see clearly the path to finishing the assignments that I’ve let weigh on me without acknowledgement. So I turn to being thankful and noticing the beautiful and small things to help me face the struggle of the big things. reminders on the wall Today is a beautiful day – the sun is shining, the garden beginning to grow. There is music in my house – guitars being played, songs sung, notes being picked out on the piano. Girls are upstairs pretending to be star gymnasts. The chickens are shaking off the feathers that have caked with mud in the last week of rain, and they’re chattering to one another in their loud and endearing way. A new day and a new leaf.  more possibilities, less suffocating – though the procrastination I’m just accepting as my own way to completion.

Happy 5th week of Lent

- Struggling and striving, broken and beautiful, and Waiting.

Memories

They run and jump off and climb again; one rock for  hours.

IMG_3552[1]

It is amazing.

Needing nothing besides their own want for adventure in the sunshine, soft wet sand and a giant rock.  Running and jumping off a giant rock, and not bored in the slightest.

IMG_3563[1]

Four hours in and each jump is new and more exciting.

The sand scraping their skin doesn’t bother them in the least and they scream happily -

joyously.

Their voices carry in the wind and echo into eternity.

Captain of a rock ship.

Conqueror of islands unknown.

The ocean’s shushing in the background, music to their lives.

IMG_3569[1]

  Fleeting happy moments of childhood.

Lord, help me remember – theirs and my own.

It’s all greek to me…

I know – bad pun – seems I am writing along some overlapping themes lately:
Happy Sunday friends.

Sisyphus
It is and is not about the daily repetitive struggle.
This pushing of a stone -
Knowing that when I reach the top of the hill
I will watch it roll again
to the base of the hill.
Every day the same – different
The terrain always changing
Rain washing away sediment and gravel protruding further
Framing the smooth path which this rock continuously scrapes.
The stone which once had rough points
Making the struggle to roll nearly impossible,
Is now smooth; forgiving
and I am stronger

Centering Creativity

photoWriting and re-writing this post, I’ve decided it could also be called: Why I love the liturgical calendar and how I find it incredible inspiring (read last post about breathing in):especially Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday and Easter.

Fair warning as you read:  I am a Christian and will express myself in that light but I would like to add the qualifier that I do not seek to only engage with people who agree with me or have the same structure of beliefs – I want to know what you believe and why and I want to engage in conversations where we both learn something about each other and the world and maybe life in general.

So, without further ado, here goes:

I grew up attending church and was baptized when I was 9.  I did not grow up in a church that followed the liturgical calendar (that I was aware of, in any case), but for the past 3 years we (my husband, kids and I)  have been involved in a church that follows the liturgical calendar – a concept that was not even in my framework around how Christianity could be practiced – and I have fallen in love with this practice.  Each Sunday the Worship Guide at our church has a subtitle which identifies the time of year: Epiphany, Transfiguration, Lent, Easter,Ordinary Time, Advent, Christmas. Besides a heading to our service, these times of year are reflected in the sermons and the books we listen to and read together.  Even more importantly, the following of this calendar and the awareness of its being placed directly in the path of my daily life gives me center from which all of my actions can radiate.  Centering my time keeping around a calendar which is centered around the life, death and resurrection of Christ keeps me focused on the fact that my life is meant to somehow mirror that example.  I am meant, in living and creating, to extend the “kingdom” of God and help it to flourish.

- Time Out – this does not mean I’m a creepy, judge everyone, insist that my only way of believing is the ONLY way to believe, or that I think that life on Earth is just a means to end and will be left behind so we can live happily in heaven  ( I could write for days about how I think this living of life is all part of living into the heaven available to us on earth, but that is for another topic).  This likewise doesn’t mean that I plan to reference Jesus in every movement of my day, nor do I plan to be that person who is quoting scripture to highlight my daily life – I honestly don’t know enough scripture, nor do I think this would be very helpful as I’d have to life quite a lot of those verses from their context in order to apply them to my life….

-Time In -

Okay, my purpose laid out – how can all of this have anything to do with creativity and it’s centering?

Why do we (collective – you. me. all people) practice anything?  Why did I practice piano so much as a kid? Why do I practice writing on this blog?  Why do we subject kids to homework?  All of this practicing is done under the assumption that the more we do something, the better we will be at doing that thing.  Our mistakes will become part of our learning process, accepted or denied – realized – our gifts will become apparent as some things require less practice than others, and more importantly, we will gain a deeper understanding of the thing we practice and what our specific relationship and purpose is to that thing.

By choosing to practice my belief in Christ in a way that incorporates that belief into my very understanding of time – centers everything I do to the idea that I want to live my life more like Christ.  The creativity that flows out of that is not bound to any certain art form, but can be seen through every action and word and arguably then through every medium (ideally right?)  Work as creativity, play as creativity – Life as creativity.  This is the one life we get to live – why not do it in a way that helps other lives flourish – making this world a more livable, loving, and beautiful place.  Broken as it is, this world is full of so much light and life and shows God as it’s originator and allows us, with our skewed and imperfect understanding to see just a little of what perfection might actually look like.

This revolving liturgical calendar engulfs each one of us into a story already written, allowing us to write our own stories in between the lines; allowing us to become part of a bigger story.  Inspiring us to live creatively out of whatever practice we follow.   I am inspired and creating all the time, and I do this in an imperfect and broken way, constantly losing focus and generally feeling like I’m not “good enough”, but it’s nice to have a center and a practice that assures me that I am good enough and that whatever I do, has a purpose, whether I know it, believe it, or not.

Where do you find your creative center?  How is it reflected in your life?  Do you, like me, often miss the reflection?

*art by Katarina (age 7)

Poems and Riddles

In trying to write more, I have taken up the practice of writing more poetry.

Because I’ve decided to try posting to this blog more and because I’m writing more poetry, I figured I might as well post it….

So – reply with your answer :)

Who am I?

The flight of my fancy pursued,

Weightless on waxen wings

for a fleeting moment

The featherless freedom of my bonds  -

broken, the bars bent

I soar swiftly, unswerving, fearless

until singed I fall swiftly into

The freedom of breathless bonds

With the weight of futility on my shoulders

I sink

and the sea swallows my soul.