About Me

I'm creamy and flavorful. I go well with raspberries. I plan to keep getting more delightful with age, so stick around! I like to travel, both physically and in my own head. I buy a lot of books just because I like the way they look and smell. If "old paper" was a glade scent, I'd plug them in all over my house. Ummm... I can lick my elbow. If you're reading this, you've probably already had the pleasure of witnessing it. Also, I love dishwashers.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Clogs! (AKA my favorite thing in the whole wide world)

I went thrift store shopping yesterday with Joanna and Alison. My objective was to find jeans, as all of mine either have holes in them or have grown too small. After trying on about 14 pairs and then buying several shirts that I don't need, I was glad to move on to the next store. I procrastinated when we arrived, and instead of looking for jeans, we spent half an hour in what can only be called the "random crap" section of the store. Among the many treasure we found there were: a giant Barbie head, a painted ceramic rooster with real tail feathers, several creepy clown dolls (at least I think they were clowns), a coffee mug that I'm fairly certain I gave away earlier this year, and a very classy serving tray featuring scenes from Coal Miner's Daughter. 

Near the end of our hunt, I came around a corner just in time for Alison to ask me, "Do you want some clogs?" 

I answered, "yes," with confidence before I'd seen them. Then I looked, and there, in her hands, were the new loves of my life.

I immediately realized that I really did want them.  I reinforced my "yes" with "Do I!!!" At that moment, I felt as if I'd never wanted anything more.  Sad, I know, but I'm really not kidding. Are they not the most magnificent clogs you've ever seen? They might be the most magnificent anything I've every seen... 

I'm happy to say that I brought these masterpieces home with me - and I even managed to find a pair of jeans on my way out. I was elated. I still am!  I walked around in them for a while last night, and they are really not very comfortable, but I don't mind. I hadn't really planned on wearing them, anyway. But what do you think? Could I pull them off? (Don't answer that.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I could be anywhere...

I have been thinking often of my holodeck dream world... the one with the peaks that look like they're made of glass, the turquoise river far below me, and the cold wind. I've been wishing to visit it. I miss it, especially when I cannot fall asleep (which is often). Sadly, it is not a place I can visit whenever I wish. I can hardly form the memory of it in my mind most of the time. The strange thing about wanting to go there when I'm trying to fall asleep is that it's hardly a retreat or a place to find peace. If I do manage to immerse myself in the memory of that place and recall the feelings it prompts in me, I find myself more awake than before. If I wanted to relax, I might transport myself back here:

I am aware that my pictures may not show up by the time anyone reads this. If you can't see them, they are shots I took in a tiny English village in the countryside.... still water; old stone walls; weeping willows and daffodils. Or I could go back to Venice. There's a busy-ness about it, but the warm, clear air and water - the absence of cars, buses or motorcycles - is calming. There are days when I could kill to be back there. 

But tonight, that's not what I want.  The dream world I crave is nothing like the English Cotswolds or sunny Venice.  My mountains are not friendly, probably not even safe. They're like something out of C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, with its breathtaking, yet threatening, landscapes. The closest real-life approximation I can come up with is a cathedral. I took a hundred pictures inside the Canterbury and Salisbury cathedrals, but I'm not going to show you any. The memory is almost spoiled by looking at them. For one thing, my camera had issues with the dim, irregular lighting and the immensely tall ceilings. Even if I'd had total mastery of my camera that day, however, I think pictures would still be disappointing.  Why reduce something so large and majestic to a mere 5x7 rectangle? I tried anyway, of course, but nothing compares to being there. Standing in Canterbury Cathedral before the morning crowds had arrived, I felt little tremors of the awe I feel in my holodeck dreams. These tremors came and went and were not overwhelmingly strong, but the power was there. It was cold, still, and so beautiful that breathing became uncomfortable. There is no rest to be had in a place like that, but that's where I would choose to be right now, if I could.  I want to be awestruck and unsettled. 

When I compare the quiet, peaceful countryside with the inside of Canterbury cathedral, I think of two sides of the God I serve... Sometimes it's loving Shepherd I need, with his green pastures and still water. (Every time I read Psalm 23 now, I picture a little place in the Cotswolds called Lower Slaughter... delightful place with an unfortunate name. I doubt the Good Shepherd would lead his lambs there.) Other times, I'd rather tremble before the almighty God of the universe. I don't know that the dream means anything. It's only recently that I've started analyzing this place I cannot get back to. I'm wide awake now after thinking about it, but there are worse ways to pass the time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Abide with Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

We sang this hymn this morning in church, and it almost made me cry. Every week, we sing at least one song that contains so much passion, humility and truth that I get goosebumps singing the lyrics. I really love hymns, for the most part. I suppose some of them have pretty boring melodies, though I can name about 15 that are lovely even from a musical perspective... but the lyrics! I often wish I had words like those to offer up. It's like reading from Psalms, accept that they rhyme, and were written in English, so that the rhythm flows more naturally. There is often more Biblically sound, heart-wrenching theology to be found in hymns than in the average American sermon. I should probably clarify that most of the pastors I know today do not give average American sermons. I'm talking about sermons given by the many pastors who are afraid to speak the truth, to congregations that are poisoned either by tolerance or by legalism. This morning's sermon was far from average. Every time I see a topic like parenting or marriage on the bulletin, I think that I won't be directly applicable to me.  Thus far, I am always mistaken. 

Holidays tend to make me look back, measuring my current state by where I was a year ago and the years before that. Ordinarily, this retrospection leads to nostalgia at best. Gloominess is not uncommon. This is especially true on Mother's Day, which many of you know is among my top 3 least favorite days of the year. This was the first Mother's Day since 2004 that I have not dreaded going to a church service. For a while, I dreaded going to church at all, for multiple reasons, but on Mother's Day it was always especially difficult to muster the courage to face a "church crowd" comprised of happy faces who still have mothers, and among whom I never felt comfortable. That fear and anger did not begin to subside until God had dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the church He intended for me. Eventually, I found that I couldn't stay away. In all the changes God has made to my heart these past two years, His favorite tools have been sermons I've heard there. Last Mother's Day was still difficult, but not worthless. This morning, everything felt different. I could not wait to get to my church. I cheerfully sang the first two verses of "Abide with Me", having no idea what was coming. Then we reached the 3rd verse:

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

That's when I felt myself choking up. I can hardly believe what God has done in the past couple of years - what He did long before that, while I was still too ignorant and stubborn to pay attention. Again and again, I asked Him to change my circumstances, to give me "happiness" as I understood it. What He wanted to give me was Himself.