Friday, May 27, 2011

a wanderer's wonderings.

i'm remembering now why i try not to go more than a week without updating this thing...when more than a week passes it becomes that much harder to attach words to events and places and people. oh well. it's been a busy and rich past week-ish and i will do my best to articulate some of the thoughts circling in my head these days. 

i am home now, summer has finally arrived and i am welcoming it with open arms. it came rather abruptly. the goodbyes and finals and end of everything familiar seemed to sneak up on me even though my soul has been longing for the rhythm of summer for what seems like an eternity. 

on sunday i said goodbye to these lovely people and i am going to miss them a lot more than i realized. saying goodbye hurt more than i anticipated. they have each blessed me and taught me so much. we shared the year being RAs together and for that i am so thankful. 

leaving Gordon was extremely bittersweet. again this year God took my breath away time and time again with all that he accomplished through me and in me and with me. i am astonished at how he works through us even when all we see is failure and brokenness. it's incredible how he redeems our intentions and mistakes and miss-spoken words. 

after leaving gordon i spent some time in philly with nina. we stayed with my childhood friend hannah in her house of friends. :) it was so wonderful seeing hannah and meeting her house mates.

and philly? well philly was great. that place never ceases to intrigue me. nina and i walked all over philly, literally walked from one end to the other taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a place that at times felt like a foreign country. on tuesday particularly, we were strangers in an unknown land and it was a really good thing to experience.

hannah had to work on tuesday so nina and i were left to explore on our own. we had a destination and some scribbled directions. unfortunately we could not even find the subway station we were looking for (probably because we were deep in conversation and walked right past it...) so the walking excursion ended up being a little bit longer than we anticipated. after asking for directions and looking at a map we found our way not to the subway but to the trolley, an underground trolley - i had no idea those existed. we were perplexed as we realized we did not see a ticket booth and had no idea how to pay for our ride. we debated whether or not we should just get on and see what happened (haha) or try to figure out the ticket system. we decided to go for it, and turns out you have to pay as soon as you get on and you need exact change. i forgot my wallet and nina only had enough to pay for herself in exact change so we got a discounted rate... as we stumbled to our seats i quickly realized that we were the minority. the only young white girls on the trolley. the only ones who did not understand the culture of philly and public transportation, dang it.

we rode the trolley to the subway and then found our way to front street. as soon as we reached front street i remembered that front street was the part of town that ben had warned us about when we were in philly earlier last summer. unsafe could have been the word he used...but what were we to do? we walked. we weaved in and out of side street vendors, mostly all males, all of a different ethnicity, speaking various languages. we were suddenly very aware of our position; i felt vulnerable and uncertain. my heart raced a little bit and i felt guilty for bringing nina to that part of town. the subway roared overhead. we kept our eyes  glued on our imaginary destination and walked briskly, ignoring the various shouts and stares. we said little to each other, we tried to look like we had a purpose and knew what we were doing. as we came out of the chaos we quickly realized that we totally missed the street we were looking for and when i saw a sign for Temple University i knew we had definitely missed the mark. as we were standing on the street corner trying to gain our bearings a man asked us for directions. i laughed and told him that we were lost too. we turned the corner and asked some young women how to get to frankford and norris; they looked shocked and pointed in the direction from where we came. "you're walking?" she said. we nodded with a smile and turned back, gearing ourselves up for sore feet.

eventually we reached our destination and laughed when we realized how close we were when we stepped off the subway station. the trip would not have been the same without the exploration, however. getting lost and remembering that you know little is good. relying on others is humbling. walking in circles is patience.

and as i felt like such a stranger in philly, (a stranger longing so badly to belong) i remembered how Jesus was a stranger to this world, even though he created it. and i remembered that we are all strangers in this land. we belong, and yet we do not. our hearts beat for things that are so foreign to the majority of this world. our souls long for redemption and wholeness in a place where everything seems to be falling apart. we see in part what one day we will see in full.

the great now and not yet, it always comes back to that, does it not?

philly always inspires me.
getting lost, eating ice cream on the steps of a corner store, stumbling upon urban gardens, using public transportation and meeting new friends... the experience is always rich.
someday perhaps i can know philly in every sense of that word.

and now i'm home and summer continues to be everything my heart longed for. i'm soaking up these free moments and days before babysitting begins - filling them with strawberry picking, playing whiffle ball, going to bouncefunplex, mowing grass, reading books, writing, dreaming, exploring,... it's grand. i'm cutting off my jeans and not brushing my hair, going bare foot and eating strawberries for breakfast. perfection.

also. if you have a summer reading list, please add something by Wendell Berry to it:

"But even the unknown past is present in us, its silence as persistent as a ringing in the ears...You work your way down, or not so much down as within, into the interior of the present, until finally you come to that beginning in which all things, the world and the light itself, at a word welled up into being out of their absence. And nothing is here that we are beyond the reach of merely because we do not know about it. It is always the first morning of Creation and always the last day, always the now that is in time and the Now that is not, that has filled time with reminders of Itself."

-an excerpt from Pray Without Ceasing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


if given the option
 of water colors,
baking cupcakes, 
riding tandem bike, 
watching fantastic mr. fox,
searching for a bridesmaid dress,
watching a theological debate,
playing music,
or studying 
i'm not sure what i would choose. 
but i definitely would NOT choose studying.

if i told you it was nearing the middle of may would you believe me? 
would you believe me if, when i told you that i was wearing my hat and scarf (and thinking about going to get my mittens.. haha) ?
or what if i was drinking tea and thinking about boiling hot water and drinking it straight just to stay warm? 
(and also because i am trying to ration out my favorite tea until the end of the year and there are only   f o u r bags left!) 

it's finals time and i think i'm getting sick.
and although it is a little bit chilly for may...
i'm freezing.
it's springtime.
cool, real cool.

but that doesn't keep me from making colorful tables and charts and flash cards. hopefully even though i feel like i'm living in a cloud some of this information will choose to stay inside of my brain until monday. that'd be great. i'd really appreciate it.

on the bright side, on thursday while at the greenhouse i heard this song for the first time in a looooooooong time, hurray! i had forgotten all about it.
i hope you enjoy this clever little video as much as i did. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

dreams come true.

(this is what I wrote while riding the commuter rail back to school on Sunday evening. Actually, I wrote some of it in Boston. I had to get everything down... back story: Ben and Lindsey came to Boston a couple weeks ago and randomly met this wonderful couple. (they did not go to Boston with the intention of meeting them, they all just happened to be at the same place at the same time.) Upon their return they told me that I had to meet these people and so Ben connected us through email.)

It's a beautiful day in Boston. The trees are in bloom, and the life inside of them is contagious. The sun reflects off of the towering buildings like diamonds. Adele sings loudly over the speakers in Starbucks; it's a bit overwhelming as I strain to hear my mom's voice. I step outside. Leaning up against the cool brick wall, pacing the streets waiting for Tim and Alice, my mind wanders. My phone vibrates and I look up to see a quirky couple at the corner; she is talking on the phone. She has a vibrant red scarf on her head, a beautiful adornment to her hair in dreadlocks. He is tall, as she described to me on the phone. His voice and mannerisms totally remind me of Ben Newton, funny. After introductions we make our way to the "hole in the wall Vietnamese place." The food is fast, delicious, and affordable. The conversation that follows blows my mind. We talk about where we are in life, how we've arrived to where we are, etc. They currently work with homeless youth around Harvard Square. They chuckle and smile as they tell me how breaking the rules is something they are somewhat known for. Giving out their phone numbers and inviting people into their homes, being friends with the homeless is their specialty. And then, then they begin describing my dream to me; it was like listening to myself talk.

Their next step? . . .

To buy a house. 

and have a home where they can host their friends on the streets.
They also want someone to be in the house, "to make waffles and fluff pillows and make people feel at home, to create an ambiance that is welcoming, to be hospitable."

They are looking for an intern.

They asked me what I am doing next summer.

iurhkjsdnfoiwerjkfnosdifhjnaIFUHKJSnfosdiljfampslkmowl;askjdcpoljksmlwa ! 

Other fun facts about Tim and Alice that just seem too too perfect,
Tim unicycles! He was obsessed when he was 10 years old. 
He also enjoys slack-lining, something I've been dying to try.
They go on wilderness trips in the summer.  (Outdoor education, anyone?) 
They also told me about this GREAT festival!

This is all so crazy. 
God is so so SO good. 
He knows the desires of our hearts. 
Even if nothing comes of this meeting, I am just so happy that there are other people in the world who value people and hospitality, community and life and learning to love those with nothing. I am inspired knowing that maybe this dream can be more than just a fun story in my head; I am encouraged to see people passionately pursuing what has been on my heart for some time now. 
man, oh man. 

I am overwhelmed by God's goodness these days.
Psalm 37 has been on my heart recently..., specifically: 

Trust in the LORD and do good; 
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD 
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; 
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
psalm 37: 3-6

In other news - 

1. Today was the last day of classes!
2. Preparing for finals makes me want to listen to all of the rap and hip hop music I can get my hands on. I don't know why. for instance...
3. I only have two regular semester of college left, TWO; that's crazy. 
4. A lot has to be done before I leave. 
5. I am so so SO excited for summer. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

a love story

this week in my social policy class i watched one of the most disturbing videos about the united states of america. it blew my mind. it made me want to swear and scream and cry all at the same time. my heart raged as i saw people being forced out of their homes, pilots being paid less than a manager at taco eyes filled with tears as i watched a family mourn over the loss of their mother, only to find out that her death brought 80 thousand dollars to Wal Mart who stealthily paid in on a life insurance deal for her. (meanwhile, they struggled to pay all of the hospital bills.) huge companies getting paid thousands, sometimes millions of dollars for their employees deaths? young people going to a FOR profit juvenile delinquency center in pennsylvania? it's madness. it's corruption. it hurts to know about.

as i took a nice rainy drive with hannah to a book store afterwards i began telling her how all of this made me feel. (i am a verbal processor. i need to talk things out, put words onto things and make sense of them.) the more i talked about it, (she so graciously listened.) the more i realized that i was thankful to be made aware of the issues no matter how hard they are to see,  glad to be studying social work even if it means carrying really heavy burdens. my heart began to soften and shift as i realized that this is something i could commit my life to... fighting for people trampled by this system. i want to place value on people who are stamped invaluable. i want to create a circle of hope in this corrupt and broken country. to love people stuck in these horrifying cycles. like kelly's heart beats for uganda and the child soldiers, my heart moans for the corruption of capitalism in this country, "land of the free," as perhaps it used to be.

it seems to make sense, too. i mean, people always ask me about the places i have been (nepal, ecuador, kenya, london, india...) and question whether i feel a deep desire to return to a certain place. normally the answer is no, not really. would i pass up an opportunity to return to any of those places? definitely not. do i want to travel? yes. do i have a really deep desire to spend next summer working over-seas? of course. but, the more i learn - the more heartache i see here, the stronger pull i have towards this country, broken and hurting as it is...

i keep thinking about Henri Nouwen's words - about how we must not refuse to read the paper and learn about the heartache. we must not shut ourselves off from the grime and the pain. Jesus came and immersed himself in the filth of humanity, and in that filth he found the pearl of the kingdom, he set that kingdom in's our job, too. to reveal that kingdom, marred by our dust. to bring redemption, to hope, to love, to embrace. (Lord, have mercy.)

---> a quick note on the kingdom of God. growing up i always heard the language used that we must "partner in building the kingdom" - build being an emphasized verb. this semester in my theology class however, dr. green is always saying "we don't build the kingdom, the kingdom has already been built. instead we uncover the kingdom, we reveal it. the kingdom has already been set in motion." although for some time this discussion seemed kind of petty and unimportant to me, i didn't see why the language of building vs. revealing as such a big deal, slowly my mind is changing... perhaps even the idea of building the kingdom is fuel for my pride. if i am building the kingdom then it is all about me and my abilities. if however, my job is to "reveal and uncover" the kingdom - then everything is in God's hands, for i only see what he reveals to me. he is already at work on this earth and if he reveals that to me, then by his grace i can reveal that to others and we can join in the movement, participating in that which has already begun - working together towards the day of ultimate redemption.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." 
Matthew 13:45

disclaimer:// sorry for anyone expecting a real sappy taylor swift kind of love story. the title comes from the name of the documentary we watched. my apologies for any dashed hopes. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

learning to listen.

"Train! Train!" Her little voice squealed and that quickly she pranced out of our makeshift soccer field and up to the towering fence. Judging from her shining eyes you'd think that the train only came once a year rather than multiple times a day. Its low rumbling voice grew louder and soon it rushed past our eyes. Although short, hardly enough cars to begin counting, Lilly did not miss it. She smiled and waved at the destined passengers, loving every single brief second of this encounter.

Emma on the other hand, Emma held her ears with stiff arms. Standing too far back to see the people, she only heard an obnoxious ruckus. The ruckus to Emma was a cheerful shout to Lilly - Lilly knew that the noise meant people traveling places and doing things - Emma heard only an interruption to our soccer game. Lilly wanted to get a glimpse of what was happening, she cared about seeing those inside the train and not just the noise protruding out from it.

This past week life has felt a little bit like this scene. Life keeps galloping past on cold stoic tracks and though I ought to wave and acknowledge and embrace the life rushing by, sometimes all I want to do is hold my ears with stiff arms and wait until it disappears and slips back into whatever path its following. (because quite honestly I don't care.)

This week I'm going to work on listening with open ears, an open heart, and open hands. 

Oh to be less childish, 
more child-like.