Wednesday, July 20, 2011

colorado rocks.

hello friends,

i am spending the week in colorado with my family and it has been ever so wonderful thus far. we are filling the days with hiking and exploring, two of my most favorite things. i do not want to waste this precious time out west updating this blog but i thought i would just give you the smallest of tastes. hopefully when i return i will have thoughts to match the size of these mountains... (haha)

today we hiked through eldorado canyon and as i lifted weary feet and sore knees up and down the trail my mind played and replayed this song by sufjan stevens. when i saw sufjan play in october he said that this song was inspired by the times he stands on things so vast and great and incredible that he does not know what to do. the inspiration for the song came from those breath-taking moments when you realize just how big (oh how small that word is!) the world is and how tiny tiny, microscopic we are in the grand scheme of things. this is how colorado makes me feel, small. on the way down i asked my mom if she thought maybe people out west would be less prideful because they are constantly being reminded of how small they are. (haha...) we discussed it but reached no solid conclusion. maybe i will do a behavioral study someday and figure it out --- that would give me a reason to return to this place.
is anyone really satisfied after one visit to colorado?

that's all for now, friends. i'll be back in a week or so with thoughts and perhaps some more photos of this glorious trip. hopefully before then i will get to see a mountain goat! (she said with hopes high.)  i hope you are enjoying wherever you are, soaking up all that is normal and outrageous and beautiful right in your backyard.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

they say it's a deadly game.

trust, courage, and fear. these three things are often on my mind these days. i admired the courage of my not so little cousin the other week. we were boating on the susquehanna and the two of us took a ride on the big round tube. as we climbed in i told her the signals for faster, (thumbs up) slower, (thumbs down) and stop (pretend you're slicing your throat...haha). i expected a calm little ride.

no sooner had we begun and she stuck her little thumb up in the air, and in the air it remained for the entire ride. she could not get enough speed. a contagious giggle stumbled out of her mouth as we rode over each bump and flew out of our seats.

as i (finally) watched the lord of the rings series with jonah i marveled at the courage it takes to go into battle, especially a battle you are expecting to lose. i thought about death and the fragile state of life. i hate watching battle scenes. i hate knowing that they are not just fiction.

sometimes when i think about my fall semester, my heart trembles. sometimes when i think about hiking around in california for a month with people i hardly know on a knee that is often sore, a fear fills my soul. i wonder if i can do it, i wonder if i'll make it. i wonder if i'll drag the team down. i wonder if i am really cut out for this whole outdoor education thing. i fear i won't be qualified, i fear i won't be equipped with the right gear. i know that this is outside of my comfort zone, i know that alone i cannot do it - and this is partially why i want to do it. but that is also precisely why at times everything in me does not want to do it. i think it's important to take risks and do things that we know we can't do alone. i have a lot to learn when it comes to depending on God, when it comes to trust...

it always comes back to trust.

last week we biked to the park and quickly found ourselves playing the bridge game. (the bridge game is a made up game - it is played on playground equipment. one person closes their eyes and the rest of the players hide somewhere on the equipment. then the person with their eyes closed continues to keep their eyes closed and walks around trying to find those in hiding. the people hiding cannot touch the ground, they must stay on the equipment....think marco polo, minus the call and response, minus the water - plus obstacles and danger. . . (ok maybe don't think marco polo, haha.)) i digress.

of course, they choose me to be the first one it. (as babysitter i cannot complain.) i step carefully and slowly with my arms outstretched. it's crazy how quickly even the most familiar place seems foreign as soon as my eyes close. (is this where the slide is? or the monkey bars? is this the fire pole or am i suddenly on a mountain about to stumble off a cliff? my mind races.) i listen closely for little breaths exiting the chests of children. i strain to hear stifled giggles that give hints to where they are. as i close in on one i can feel both of our hearts racing - mine at the prospect of (finally) opening my eyes, hers at the fear of closing...

often my trust in God looks like that deadly game. i walk slowly and with caution, uncertain that God will tell me what to do next (next summer, in 2 years, even tomorrow...) i strain to hear the voices of others and envy their open-eyed adventures. (instead of training my ear to hear the one voice that knows me best.) God, have mercy. Help me in these busy days to trust in you.

irony that this is one of the hymns that i decided to try to learn this summer? i think not.

...sometimes the journey feels long. sometimes i can almost hear God asking in a low, loving voice: "Do you trust me? Do you trust me still?" and with eyes tightly closed and hands held out, a feeble and broken 'yes' stumbles off my lips. 

oh, increase my capacity to trust and to follow!

"He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of
his covenant."

Psalm 25: 9-10

Monday, July 4, 2011

too much.

summer is passing quickly. 

yesterday evening was summer to a "T." I drove with the sunroof down, windows open. The air smelled like cookouts. A deep, lush green wrapped the curling roads up in a snug blanket. Broken Social Scene's song, "World Sick," played loudly in my ears - words like globalization and colonization swept through my mind, closely followed by Wendell Berry and images of emaciated children. (thank you kindly, documentary.)

we watched the fireworks with open mouths.
the bursts of light were fireflies playing tag,
peacocks showing off,
dazzling shimmering fountains of radiance.

i could write about a lot of things right now. i could write about the weekend spent with family at the cottage or the moments spent with my dear cousins last week. i could write about working and finding joy and purpose in mowing grass, or about the books i am reading and the people i am meeting. i could write about today's weather and the way the sunsets are always different...but my words are tired and my thoughts have yet to catch up with my days and so instead i will just include this little snippet that i scribbled down after a lovely moment of silence on tuesday. it is not much; i apologize.

Last night I decided to bike up and down the street a few times before heading to karaoke night. My muscles complained slightly as I began to peddle. (and increased in sound as I forced them uphill.) The air felt cool on my face, thick with emotion. Biking after a twelve hour work day is a good plan. As I looped back and forth past the neighbor's house I stared intently at the charred remains of life. I thought about how deer used to live in the backyard, and a trampoline after that. I thought about the people that never open those doors anymore, never park in the driveway, never catch my eye as I speed up the road. It seems so normal now. The sight barely makes my heart sad. (this frightens me, for the darkness and death remain.) I thought of my soul and how cold and dead parts of it are - I fear that has become normal too.

My stamina grew and I circled up through the development off Ironville Pike, still growing I faced Pitney Road next. I did not make it. I had to walk. At the top I debate, Indian Head or the old church and cemetery loop. At first I lean towards Indian Head but the ever brightening pink sky convinces me otherwise. The road says closed but I slide through finding myself on an empty and familiar pass. My legs fill with gratitude as the road slopes downward. I circle through the church parking lot and think of the time we road tandem bike for the first time last summer - zach, dad, kayla and I rotating through. I loop down through the cemetery and think about walks and runs with mom when the loop seemed so long. Looking at the names of the people who now exist only in the past tense of thoughts, my mind wanders. I thought about flying off my bike and smashing my head on a tombstone, dying in a cemetery...(sounds like the name of an emo band's song.) I thought of that woman we met on the Rails to Trail, the one on the nice tandem bike who thanked me and Jonah for wearing our helmets. I felt guilty. (my helmet was left in the garage, safely on the shelf - on purpose.)

After each loop through the vacant parking lot I thought about stopping, considered biking home - but with each turn the sky grew more beautiful. The pink sky pleased my eyes and reminded me of God's faithfulness; how beautiful his unfailing love. Though I close my ears to his voice, spit in his face, and turn my thoughts to everything but him - still he remains. And his remaining is not passive, but full of passionate pursuit. (God have mercy.) 

[in smaller news:]
Summer means,

1. eggs for lunch
2. bon iver 
3. playing (...memorizing) hymns on harmonica
4. zucchini everything 
5. thinking a lot about the future 
6. going to the library
7. playing tennis 
8. discipline