Thursday, March 29, 2007

Passover

Last night we read about Passover around the dinner table. We're working our way through a book called Meet the Bible, and, interestingly enough, we're reading about Passover right before Passover. I've been wondering lately how to talk to Mane about Passover and Easter. Up until this year, she seemed much to young to really grasp the symbolism. This year she seems to be able to hold onto bits and pieces. I realize with a small child in the house, how troubling the stories really are. Disturbing. Violent. Life in this world has never been easy, has always been filled with pain and grief, racism, discrimination, jealousy, betrayal. And God did not make Jesus immune to those things. He, although God, was subject to these very human things. My own heart, which is imperfectly compassionate, hurts over these stories. How much more must Jesus have felt the pain of the injustice of his people, the piercing of betrayal. A perfect heart much feel these things much more poignantly.

One of those silly surveys...

Ok, so Jenn asked people to do this in her blog, and then it asked if people would post it in their own blogs so she could do it, too. Soooooo...here it is. Feel free to reply in the comments. Oh, and please don't give away my real name. Internet privacy & all...

My name:

Who is the love of my life:

Where did we meet:

Take a stab at my middle name:

How long have you known me:

When is the last time that we saw each other:

Do I smoke:

Do I drink:

When is my birthday:

What was your first impression of upon meeting me:

Do I have any siblings:

What's one of my favorite things to do:

Am I funny:

What's my favorite type of music:

What is the best feature about me:

Am I shy or outgoing:

Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules:

Do I have any special talents:

Would you consider me a friend/good friend:

Would you call me preppy, average, sporty, punk, hippie, glam, nerdy, snobby, or something else (what):

What is a memory we have once had:

Have you ever hugged me:

Do you miss me...do you think i miss you:

What is my favorite food:

Have you ever had a crush on me:

If there was one good nickname for me, what would it be:

What's your favorite memory of me:

Who do I like right now:

What is my worst habit:

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would I bring?

Are we friends:

Will you re-post this so I can do it for you?:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring

I had my first draught of real sunshine yesterday. Mane & I built fairy houses in the yard after reading Tracy Kane's book Fairy Houses.

Funny story of the day:
We were building these fairy houses in the sunshine at the base of the elm tree in our yard, and Mane says, "Mama, do fairies still live here?"

Me: "Fairies are pretend."

Mane, being a very astute child: "Then why are we building houses for them?"

Me: "Because we like to pretend."

Mane: "Oh...yeah...we do." Completely satisfied with that answer.

After working on my fairy house for a while I pull up a camp chair and read a book while Mane satisfied herself with looking for bugs in the dirt. The sun was so fabulously, magnificently warm. The grass was sweet smelling and dry.

Oh, how I have longed for the sunshine. When I was in college Mango used to laugh because I would stop in patches of sunshine coming in the windows, close my eyes, and say, "I am photosynthesizing." Winter is hard on me. I struggle to keep perspective in a cold, gray world. I love the night. And I love the snow. But I love the balmy sunshine best. I am always glad the the longest night of the year is followed by Christmas. Thanks be for holidays that demand light and warmth and cheer to keep us from being buried under winter's chill.

Yesterday's balm of sunshine was followed up by a magnificent performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir. They were in the State Theatre downtown last night, and we got tickets through Project Success. I ran into two of my friends there, and I got to sit all alone with my sweet Mango while Vespera and her friends filled up the row behind us. It was a bit like a double-date, as Vespera brought along a young man as her guest. They met up with her other friends at the concert, but I couldn't conceal my smiles when it was just the four of us in the car. They chatted amicably in the back seat while Mango & I had out own conversation in the front. The car was full of laughter and talk. The two behind us fairly glowed at their good fortune of getting to go someplace together. They were both buoyant and delightful. And both looking their very best. Mango and I linked arms and walked ahead of them to the car, feeling young and contented.

But the choir...oh, yes, the choir, was incredible. I would buy a CD, but I don't know that it would do them justice. They way they dance and sway and use their bodies to communicate while singing is powerful. They were filled with passion & power. They brought down the house with their performance of Amazing Grace. And we honored them with a standing ovation, demanding an encore at the end. They appeased us with Oh, Happy Day.

And it was...truly...a happy day.

Friday, March 16, 2007

In the Image of God

I've written more than one paper about the truth that we humans are created in the image of God and what that might mean about us. Every once in a while I have a wave of realization regarding this truth...like I see it so clearly for a few seconds. God is clearly a God of compassion and a God who values relationship...because we humans, in the image of God, need relationship so desperately. We need to be loved and to love, to have compassion poured out on us in our grief and to pour that compassion out on others.

Seven days from the start of the Iditarod, a dog named Snickers, who was beloved by musher Karen Ramstead, died at the Grayling checkpoint. Here are some particularly poignant things Karen said about the people of Grayling and the Iditarod race (http://www.northwapiti.com/indexSnickers.html):

"I was also very touched by the compassion and genuine sympathy from the Iditarod volunteers and the residents of Grayling. They made a horrible time somewhat more bearable. And warm thanks to fellow mushers Cindy Gallea and Bryan Mills. Cindy graciously offered her skills to help hold off veins during Snickers transfusion - and Bryan Mills, in a move so kind it makes my heart ache, offered to travel to Nome with me should I decide to stay in the Race, so I wouldn't have to be alone.

That's one of the things about Iditarod, it often strips you bare and shows you for what you really are - and in the case of the folks in Grayling it showed what remarkable people they all really are."

A race is a competition, by nature. What a beautiful show of compassion for Bryan Mills to offer to give up his place in the race, whatever it might be, to accompany a fellow human being in grief. Again, I see how this is a race that is about finishing, not necessarily about where you place. He knew that Karen might wish to continue and he offered to be a companion. For Karen, the grief was too much, and she went home where she could be cared for by family and friends. Yet, the offer sticks with her, a balm in the midst of grief.

The stories of kindness along the trail are trickling in as the mushers come trickling in under the finish line banner. People call this the Last Great Race on Earth. I think I'm hooked on it, and I think I would have to agree. I love it when sports are about more than the game. ...not about whether you win or lose but how you play the game... Because that, after all, is how we run the race of life - certainly not to get to the finish line first, but to play hard and to play well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Red Lantern

Mane and I talked today about the Red Lantern Award. The Red Lantern is awarded to the last person to complete the Iditarod each year. It started out as a joke, but it has come to represent persistence, perseverance. More good words. The last person to finish the race has stuck to it through the same things everyone else went through without the glory of winning, or coming in 2nd or 10th or 22nd.

This year that person will be the 60th person to complete the race. The race began with 82 mushers and their dogs. Some "scratched" for injuries. Some crashed their sled and could not continue. At least one person had ill dogs. Completing the Iditarod, no matter how slowly, means you have met a challenge and prevailed. No easy task. Not something just anyone is up for.

It's a beautiful object lesson in perseverance. Races are often used as an analogy for living the Christian life. Paul, in the New Testament, admonishes believers to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. I love the Iditarod as a particular analogy, though, because it isn't short. It isn't a sprint. It isn't even the 26-mile Grandma's Marathon. It's over a week long...through wind and snow and dark of night. The mushers go alone most of the way, with checkpoints to stop and rest and markers along the way. They are expected to help each other in trouble, though, and they are expected to make wise choices about their dogs, their team.

And a lantern is lit at the beginning of the race that is not blown out until the last musher has finished the race...thus, the Red Lantern awarded to the final musher to cross the finish line. There is something about this that speaks of the way you aren't really alone in the race. People know you're out there, and they are waiting for you, with the lantern light still shining. And there's no ridicule for finishing last, only a welcome embrace congratulating you for your persistence.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Doings

The Iditarod Race was won last night by Lance Mackey. He was wearing bib #13, as his father and his brother both were when they won the Iditarod. And he happened to win on March 13th! Hurrah for the number 13.

Jessie Royer continues. She is currently in 23rd place and has 2 checkpoints left between herself and the finish line. We talked the other day about the word "challenging." Jessie Royer described the trail this year as "challenging" in an interview at one of her checkpoints. Good word. We love words.

And we'll be moving on to some studies of St. Patrick's Day, as the day is coming up on Saturday. We're picking a video of Riverdance up from the library today and reading about shamrocks, which fits into our current study of plants as we grow out narcissus in the window.

Thanks for reading about our "doings." Be blessed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just a Reminder

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."

Isaiah 43:1b-3a

Monday, March 12, 2007

Words

Just a few days left of the Iditarod. Mane has been learning the meaning of words like challenging, coastline, gangline, harness, mush, gee & haw...

And I've been wandering around in my own thoughts contemplating words like Submission. Sorting through the meaning of Church. Humility. Faithfulness.

And thinking about my friends, how I could be a more tangible source of love to them. How to be the skin and bones of Jesus to them. Sorting out how to do and be who I want to be in the midst of the practicalities of life.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Do I Love Thee?

A poem I wrote about 10 years ago now...

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
As the willow branches caress the ground.
As snow falls, gossamer-light, without sound;
Sky kissing the earth in a downy haze.
I love thee gently, as sunrise in May
Turns the faces of the daisies around
With a finger under their chin, light-crowned.
As sunset smooths the eyelids of the day.
And I love thee with passion, strong and pure
The gentle willow has roots clenching earth.
The snowflakes melt, but in rivers endure.
Sky has kissed earth since the day of its birth.
These are gentle, but their passion is sure,
I love thee deeply, as sky loves the earth.

~ written by MidnightCafe

Friday, March 09, 2007

Story Hour & Romance

I was scribbling away in my journal during bedtime story hour at the library last night. It made me laugh...the irony of it all. I've been contemplating writing poetry again, writing stories and wondering what form my writing might take. I've been particularly interested in what poems and stories about love and marriage would look like for me and if I could produce something readable. So, anyway, there I was at the library story hour with my 4yr old, calling up romantic and sensual images. Life has this strange way of being so real, so earthy, so practical. I love it. I love how it's all mixed up together - the sweet, the intense, the romantic, the ridiculous. It reminds me of Mango's Uncle's posts on the internet about caring for Mango's Aunt, who is dying from cancer. Life is so brutal, so painful, and yet so lovely. It is a jumbled web, with lines of the ordinary crossing lines of extraordinary regularly and unpredictably.

Evershed

Jane Evershed is a local artist. So much of her work speaks to me. I am a woman who stands in awe of the world God has created. And I am also a woman who has stood by and fought for women to be heard in this beautiful world. So, as a Christian, an environmentalist, and a feminist, I thought I'd share with you the cover of my current journal. I think it's ok to post it here since it is not reproduction quality, and I have given credit to the artist.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More Iditarod....

We are having so much fun! Mane made a book about Jessie Royer. This morning she ran around in the snow pretending to win the Iditarod! We watched Snow Dogs (I don't recommend it - wasn't all that great), and tonight we're watching Balto. Mane currently has one of her stuffed dogs in a harness, and she periodically drags him around the house. The dog's name is Wilferd...for those of you who were wondering.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Jessie Royer





Jessie Royer - the musher we're tracking through the Iditarod!!

Her website: http://huskypower.com/jessie/jessie.html

Cheer with us!!

Iditarod


My new obsession? The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race!! Mane & I are doing a homeschooling unit study on the Iditarod this week, and we're having SO MUCH FUN! We decided to follow Jessie Royer through the race, and we're mapping her progress every day. We're also charting the temperatures at Ms. Royer's checkpoints & here at home to compare when we're done.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Snow day?


Can somebody please tell me why Minneapolis Public Schools did not cancel school today?

Through Faith

We talked about faith in Bible Study yesterday, and I realized something.

I am not afraid.

We talked about "through" faith that takes you through things rather than around them, about how God promises to be with us but doesn't promise the easy way. Somebody said to me the other day that they're afraid to pray about something because they're afraid that God will give them something awful and miserable to do. They're afraid they'll have to go "through" something. Somehow we seem to understand God as overly fond of difficulty.

I am not afraid, but I have been in the past. I know the feeling. I used to worry about praying for who God wanted me to marry, convinced that God would send me someone good but ugly. Or sweet but boring. I don't quite know why I thought that. I just remember thinking it. I was sure that what I wanted was too much to ask and that looks or excitement didn't concern God much. But God gave me every desire of my heart in my sweet Mango.

And I've learned something. I've been married to Mango for almost 9 years. And we have been through much. We have been through school together, through the losses of our grandparents, through struggles with neighborhood crime, through the sleep-deprived years of early parenting, job changes, job challenges, and a whirlwind adoption. I realize that God gave me a partner who matches my passion and intensity, my desire to follow God wherever God leads. And God has given us some tough assignments. We laugh about how nothing good comes easy, about how everything worthwhile requires blood, sweat & tears. We groan when we realize in the middle of a challenge that this just isn't going to come together easily. God is taking us through, not around.

But there's a certain excitement because we know that there will be some shining gem when we're through. We have seen it enough times now to know that we will get through.

And I am not afraid.