Monday, November 29, 2010

my heart is so full,
my mind is juggling a million thoughts and ideas.
i scarcely know where to begin;
sometimes translating life into words appears unfair.
Life is too big for words. 

but still i will try. forgive me in advance for a somewhat random post. so much i want to spill onto this blank white page, but i fear it may not all come out as gracefully as it circles in my mind. 

So the past five-ish days i spent at home, and oh what a joy it was!
(Here are some snippets of my mind's wanderings in those times and spaces.)

I returned:
to a sleepy house and a long-haired brother, to a clean room and tupperware full of cookies and brownies!
I returned to a family now composting! I returned to find chickens in the neighbor's lawn, chickens that
sometimes share their bounty with us! :) 
It's nice to have a place to return to.

I LOVE coming home. As college wanes on, I think my love for being home swells and swells. I love  being given the biggest and hardest of hugs. I love taking my shoes off in the mud-room. I love coming home
to a clean room. I love helping in the kitchen with Leah and Kayla. I love the youtube videos that Zach shows me
like clockwork every time I'm home. I love hearing dad laugh. I love seeing the new changes taking place
around the house. I love having a fire in the fireplace all day long. I love simply Being. Home. (not rushing 
around here and there and everywhere.) I love reading the Hobbit and knitting... because I can :)
I love running with Jonah and Zach. I love talking to Uncle Bill in the kitchen. I love family games.
I love not setting an alarm, but still waking up at 8am. I love hearing Jessica prance around the house;
I love hearing her laugh. I love looking out the window. I love watching the sky. 
I love walking around in wool socks on wood floors.

Nearly every hour of daylight was spent in the kitchen on Friday. From morning until evening Leah, Kayla and I baked and baked and baked some more. We were preparing for "The Great Friday Night Tradition" of additional family, and feasting and games! When I looked back over the day however, (much to my surprise) the day did not seem wasted to me by any stretch of the imagination. Preparing and dancing and laughing and singing and kneading and boiling and mixing and flouring and rolling ... it was all so fulfilling. There is something about working with my hands that I absolutely love, something that I think we have slowly migrated very far from. At times we are such an abstract generation. We learn only in our minds, we process only on paper and in word documents and in conversation--- but how often do we learn with our hands? Do we learn by doing? And more than that... how often does what we learn affect the way we live? The way we talk and interact with others? How often does what we learn affect... anything? (and, is it really learning if it's not changing anything?) I've been thinking about learning recently... and thinking about how to learn something means, I think, to change the way you live. I think that when we learn something it should change something within us- whether that's a thought process or an action does not matter as much as the change itself. Learning produces change. Growth. An alteration in our lives. 

So on Friday in those hours spent in the kitchen, I learned how to make cinnamon buns. The process is long and slow and at times tedious, but oh so wonderful. It's a recipe that has been made over and over again by my mom on special occasions and now I finally know how to do it too. Baking things for people, especially something as delicious as homemade cinnamon buns,  is one of those ideal situations that I often think about but scarcely practice. I love the idea of making food for people and providing for people. I love using my hands to make food: kneading love and care and prayers into dough and then sharing it with people I hold close to my heart is a beautiful thought. At school I have been baking as much as possible but Friday was the first time that I spent the majority of my day in the kitchen. 

And you know what? I didn't hate it. In fact, I really, really enjoyed it. 

Do you know why this is so encouraging to me? Such a blessing? . . . let me back up, 

So, I have this dream. A dream of one day having a "house full of people" a "holistic house," a house where people can come and stay - where people can be loved and cared for, listened to and helped...a house where I can be hospitable for life. A house where we teach one another what we know, art therapy, pottery classes, baking, etc. A house for those who don't have a home, but also a house for those who only temporarily need a home, for travelers per say...a house for anyone and everyone. I want to have a big house with lots of beds, a garden out back, and love wrapped up in every breath. I want to be hospitable for life. I want to be like Jane Addams.  (look her up, she started the Hull House. She kind of lived my dream. :) )  So in this dream what I do is listen to people, help people get back on their feet, love people, care for people, and make a lot of food for people. So you see? Making food is this ideal in my mind, or, at least was an ideal... making food and sharing it with others is something that seems ideal to me... but on Friday I realized that I spent the whole day in the kitchen and enjoyed it! It was not a hassle; it was not annoying... in fact it was lovely and life-giving! Just like living in the woods on La Vida, just like gardening and learning about agriculture, this was another ideal in my mind but once I tried it out - I realized it was so satisfying and fulfilling. 

God is so good. I don't know if I will ever have a house like this, or have the opportunity to serve people in this way... but I do believe that God places dreams in our hearts for a reason. And I do know that he has been stirring up passions within me for all kinds of awesome things and they just might work together perfectly for something such as this, for this dream tucked away in my heart. (although, it keeps slipping out, it keeps coming up in conversation and making my heart race.) 

Whether or not I someday can oversee this holistic house I DO know that 

         1. Always, I want my things and my home to be shared with others. Wherever I live, you can live too, ok? [If everything we have is given to us from God, then it's as much of yours as it is mine. We're just temporarily over-seeing it, learning how to be a good steward of it.]
           2. I want to have a garden and provide food for people.
           3. I want to have chickens :) and bees! (for eggs and honey of course.) 

My goodness how much more I want to say! If only I had words and time to express to you the gratitude and joy within my heart, but I suppose this has gone on long enough... so here's two last remarks. 


Today I am thinking about how thankful I am that relationships are messy and hard. Relationships are not for the faint of heart and for this I am glad. They require so much thought, so much prayer... they are cluttered with emotions and feelings and words and ideas. Relationships change and provoke and hinder and strengthen and grow and it's all so beautiful. I'm learning to be thankful for the challenges that relationships present, the wrestling matches relationships stir within my heart. I am thankful that relationships require so much of us, for this they are valued and held in high regard. I am also thankful that our earthly relationships can only flourish when our relationship with our Savior is in tune, thankful that his relationship harmonizes the rest of our relationships. I am thankful that God knows this heart better than anyone else; I am thankful that even though I don't know what I want, or what I need --- God does. In short, I am thankful for relationships that I don't understand and don't quite know how to navigate through.. for they humble me and remind me that I am small, that I know little and must rely heavily on my Savior. I am thankful for times of uncertainty and questioning, for out of these comes growth. I am thankful that relationships require prayer, how good it is to cling to God in prayer. 


A (silly) winter poem:

the earth crunches beneath my feet,
it too knows that another year is coming
to a close.
Its balding scalp is proudly covered
with traces of white icicles left over
from a brisk night.
It's aging too,
like all of us. 

The trees have shed their clothes;
for the next few months they will wait.
Standing patiently, not covering up their
frozen fingers. For months their life
will be hidden on the inside.
We will see nothing but shadows,
and sadly we'll complain-
until spring returns with her magic wand 
and draws life out
of their fingertips once more.

But winter too is a season,
a season that mustn't be enjoyed
simply from inside our cozy fireplace lit homes.
The icicles long to crunch beneath our feet,
and the cool air wants to make
our hearts skip and remind us,
that life is not meant to be lived
only on the inside.

(a special thumbs up to heather, korinne, and rachel...
my secret readers and faithful friends, who love me even though
i forget to respond to text messages and am bad at keeping in touch :) 
i love you girls dearly.) 

Friday, November 19, 2010

unseasonably warm, fun, spontaneous, bountiful, life-giving, learning, beautiful, heartfelt, adventurous...
these words best describe november so far.

these days have been so full of life that i scarcely know where to begin. moments tumble one after the other   , bursting at the seems with love and joy and newness. i'm continuing to learn and grow and be challenged and changed and stretched. God is so faithful, my friends. so faithful and good. 

here's a random collection of photos and thoughts of what i've been up to these days. 

1. Last week a friend called and surprised me with a really cheap ticket to see the one and only Sufjan Stevens at the Orpheum in Boston! The concert was magical...such a piece of art. There are no words to accurately describe it. Music will always blow my mind and touch my heart in a way that nothing else quite can. I am so thankful for music and the ability to hear, to listen, and enjoy sounds put together in all kinds of ways. (If you are even remotely a fan of Sufjan Stevens, PLEASE go see him in concert. I guarantee it will be worth it...but just as a warning: you might not be able to talk afterwards (because you are awe-struck), you might not be able to stop laughing and smiling, you might want to hug everyone you meet, you might want to dance and sing and shout, you might not be able to fall asleep for hours - (but if you have a test to study for the next day then that just works out, haha) but go. it'll be so so worth it.) 

please pardon the blurry photos. it's impossible to capture such brilliance.
especially from a balcony. :) 

2. This past weekend we had an RA staff retreat. It was glorious. We spent Friday night at Joqui's house, one of the RAs in Chase (our sister dorm) and it was lovely. Her mom made us the most wonderful food; her family is so hospitable and kind. They cared so deeply for us. On Saturday we walked to a park that overlooked the river/Boston. I spent the majority of the time climbing trees. : ) On Saturday night we drove to Cape Cod and had a rather silly adventure trying to find the house we were staying in. Turns out the guy whose house we were staying in gave us the wrong address so we spent about 10 minutes searching around the wrong house for the so called 'hidden key" -- fortunately the man who opened the door to find about 14 people standing in his year wasn't too peeved. bahahahaha! The rest of the weekend consisted of more good food, really funny games, and a whole lot of rest. It was such a refreshing time to be together and not have an agenda to follow. I am increasingly thankful for all of these dear people who I get to serve alongside this year. 

the tree that pleased us for quite some time.

it was a bit difficult to climb, but SO entirely worth it. that person with the white shirt on is me :) and that spot was by far the best tree seat i've ever found. i'm considering just having a house full of trees when i grow up, who needs furniture? (haha, don't worry mom i'm kidding...)

this branch was like a small trampoline.
so naturally we had all kinds of jumping contests on it.


3. On Wednesday night we had a "pre-thanksgiving floor feast" and my oh my what a feast it was. Genny and I had all kinds of random vegetables from long hill (the garden that we volunteer with) and so we threw them together with much success! Genny made delicious potato, squash, leek soup and I made biscuits, swiss chard, and apple crisp. We also had some carrots and pomegranate and stuffed acorn squash and of course tea and hot chocolate :) Mmmmm. More wonderful than the food however, was the beautiful fellowship and atmosphere of love and encouragement. I am so eternally thankful for each of the girls on this floor. They never cease to amaze me and God's hand so perfectly placed each of them here; it's incredible. My heart wants to burst with joy and love. 

(this floor eats cheese like it's going out of style.)

So that's a snippet of what I've been up to recently. And to end, here's a sample of what's been on my mind. You should go look up C.S. Lewis' "The Weight of Glory" and read it all. Ok? Ok. But for now.. here's this: 

"The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, art, civilization- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or ever-lasting splendors...Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat- the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."

C.S. Lewis

(a few final photos of other random activities: a hoe down and apple cider pressing! these are for you, mom. since you miss "seeing" me. :) )

Friday, November 5, 2010

ambiguous:  of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish.

i noticed that the word ambiguous has been seasoning my conversations quite often as of late. perhaps this stems from my desire to greatly expand my vocabulary upon hearing how our vocabularies have become increasingly smaller over the years. (i know, i know, ambiguous is not a crazy awesome word that people never use, in fact it's probably quite common, but for me- it's a step. baby steps people, baby steps. afterall, you're listening to the girl who says "like" between every other word.)

today as i again used the word to describe a certain scenario i thought about how relevant the word ambiguous is to my thoughts these days. ambiguous seems to be the best word to explain my mind's wanderings over the past week, my thoughts are on overload and my brain feels like it's about to burst. (i'm learning how to be thankful for this, rather than letting the overwhelming weight of learning about this huge world press heavily on my shoulders.)

so much information, so much data, so many new ideas, so much suffering (in the world), so much to learn, so much to question, so many stories to hear and learn from . . . it's difficult to comprehend.

the things i am hearing and taking notes on, the videos i am watching, the statistics i am reading about, the lectures i am sitting through --- they are all a mysterious swirl of color in my mind and i'm trying to sort them out and focus on the beauty that learning is...the individual colors rather than the ominous cloud of black they make when they all mix together.

how does one begin to process a personal story shared by a holocaust survivor? it's hard enough to believe that those atrocious acts took place...but even worse than that is hearing that a second holocaust is brewing? (seriously, why am i so unaware?) what is going on in israel? how do i make connections between what i am learning about israel now and what i learned about israel in philly this summer? what does it mean to learn something? does it mean to know? to believe? does learning something change the way you live? does it change you at all? ... what is the tea party movement? populism? what was the significance of the midterm elections that just took place in massachusetts? why am i so ignorant? what is truth? is truth only truth if it's universal? how do we distinguish between truth that is only culturally true and truth that is universally true? how does one live completely and totally in the moment ("Be Here Now"), invest themselves in their current community, know and tend to the needs in this place, ... as well as be aware of the rest of the world that is hurting? how do we balance being completely present and being completely aware of what our brothers and sisters around the world are going through? it seems like an unfair balance to approach. it seems sticky and hard. why does everything get more complicated as you grow up? i thought the goal was simplicity... "my job is to complicate the simple, to show you that the world's problems are big and complex and simple answers aren't going to cut it anymore." (professor) how am i to react to the staggering statistics about our country? that our minimum wage is really just a poverty wage? that the school systems are unfair? that a woman gets paid 77 cents to every dollar a man receives? that racism still exists? (and this i am even sensing on my floor.. these issues are getting closer and closer to home.) what do i do when i hear that the amount of water it takes to produce 10 pounds of steak could provide enough clean water for a family for a YEAR? ... i'm trying to learn and understand, but i feel rather inferior. i feel silly and stupid a lot of times. i feel inadequate. tuesday night as i sat on the floor of a lecture hall listening to the deep voice of Mr. Irving i felt this heavy weight that the responsibility of learning is. "THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN" is the thought that tumbled in my mind over and over again. i think the Hebrews were right when they said: 

"Life is for learning and learning is for life." 

and still,
God is good.
 i am trying to strain my eyes and see that this learning, the ability to know and grow and change is a gift. i must not get frustrated with all there is to know and learn; i must be thankful. how wonderful it is to think and ask questions and discover! is this not what i craved for? this desire to ask questions, hard questions...this desire to iron out what i think about things, this desire for wisdom and knowledge.
(now if only i can not stop at the questions, but relentlessly seek the answers.)
to live well and full and as alive as possible, . . .
to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God,
that is what i'm after.

in other news: 

1. november has begun! can you even believe it? time is flying. i don't know how i feel about that. i feel like i'm getting old when someone asks me how my semester is going and all i can say is, 'it's FLYING! where does time go?!" (but, i am SO excited for thanksgiving and christmas, eeeeeeeeeee ! )

2. november means the dress project has ended. how full of clothes my closet is! i was rather overwhelmed standing before all of those options on november 1st. . . (it was a good experiment.) 

3. i am trying to grow an avocado tree. (mom, i opted for a tree rather than a necklace, haha! laugh at me and shake your head as you will.) i hear they're good for climbing. :) i figure it will be a great graduation present to myself someday (because that's how long it will take...bahaha) yes family, that means the basil never grew even after all of my tender love and care. (although i can't bear to throw it out, it still sits on my window sill...even shriveled i can't imagine getting rid of it. we've been together for at least 6 months now!) :) maybe a future in gardening is not my call . . . 

4. did you know that it only takes a letter FIVE DAYS to get from Israel to Wenham, MA? (and it takes TWO days for one to get to philly? the mail system is strange.) did you also know that getting a letter from Israel is the best thing that happened to me today?!? i nearly cried from excitement.  

5. i am learning how to ballroom dance.

since fall is quickly coming to a close,
some photos to commemorate: 
(i apologize for the poor quality of them.)

what is october without a pumpkin to carve?

elisabeth and her beautiful artwork,
it's a whale! (with jonah on the inside of course)

mmmmmmm : )

not only do i love tea and pumpkins and fall,
but i also love my brother who gave me this mug
more than all of the other things mentioned.

let's just say that carving pumpkins is not my forté by any stretch
of the imagination. :)

brian on the other hand, is a pro.

a blurry/awkward photo of happiness.

: ) 

a dying basil plant :( 

an avocado ! (hopefully thriving. . . only time will tell.) 
p.s. don't fret, i researched avocados - i promise it's supposed to have those 
things stuck in it. haha 

one last thing.
if you want to read some frightening statistics,
and perhaps think hard about our role as citizens of this country,
and maybe if you're willing,
 make some changes as a result-
read this:
(just be careful, it might frustrate you greatly. remember, learning is a gift.
there's always something you can do, no matter how small.)