Tuesday, September 26, 2006

the science of sleep

i saw "the science of sleep" today. being one of those lucky people that lives in a 'top 15 market,' i relished my weird day off limited release matinee with 10 other just as lucky people. this showing was my first foray into the arty, harvard square cinema 5. (other films playing in this theater included "confetti," "the illusionist," "the black dahlia," and "hollywoodland." the good bit is that their matinee is $7.25...ok, that's not that good, but it's on the cheaper end of things in boston.) the film was in a large theater that swallowed up our lucky souls. i loved the fact that the theater is old, complete with MCMXXV emblazoned below the clocks mirroring each side of the screen. very cool, but on to the film...

if i tried to explain the plot, i wouldn't do it justice. one has to view 'the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" to understand director michel gondry's style and vision. it is not a linear plot, but that's ok. my life has been anything but linear lately, and i felt at home in the film. the jokes are generally clever plays on words in 3 languages (the film is primarily in english, with a large portion of french, and a bit of spanish thrown in. pay attention to the subtitles--you will laugh heartily if you've ever been a part of the comedy involved in a multiligual conversation). if you want to see this film, be willing to go for a ride. there isn't an overarching message or political statement, but rather creativity on display. if i had to glean a meaning from the film, it is that we often don't need the things we seemingly want, and to the greatest value is found in relationships with people who understand us. gondry didn't force those messages at all, and viewers have the freedom to draw their own conclusions.

it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, especially since i was able to sit in the waning sunlight, just feet away from the harvard square chess master. tuesdays off aren't that weird after all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Despite my best efforts, I am experiencing my life as bland right now. Nothing stays too exciting for long, in spite of being a part of some cool things lately. I'm learning the life of a believer who is not affected by emotionalism. I've never been here before. I don't know what to make of it and I'm not sure if I should fight it. Why is it so hard to feel?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Random Day

I was off yesterday and ended up doing random things that one can only do when living near Boston. I met up with a friend and enjoyed browsing a great open-air farmer's market in Copley Square, then we lingered over delicious tea and yummie snacks at Tealuxe on Newbury St. It was an amazingly sunny and perfect autumn day, so I walked through the Public Garden, people-watching and remembering how beautiful fall in New England can be.

After that, I caught up with Angela (who tried to scare the ever-living crap out of me on Tremont Ave--it didn't work) and we took the T up to Davis Square. After meeting up with 2 other people, we wandered to nearly every restaurant in the Square (there are lots), trying to decide on something to eat. I think we chose one of the worst...I had the most heinous fettucine alfredo there. But at least it was pretty cheap!

After dinner, we walked the Square again and came across a hilarious hot dog eating contest at Spike's. This guy needed to eat 9 dogs to get on the 'wall of fame.' When we came upon the scene, he had consumed 8 and had 10 minutes left to complete the task. I was engrossed, staring through the window at the man, his stack of hot dogs, and the huge group of friends he brought to cheer him on. Our little band of girls was outside, chatting with some of his buddies, and cheering randomly when we were called upon. The guy made the worst facial expressions, reminding me of contestants on Fear Factor who ate disgusting items for relatively little money. He was ready to puke at any moment. And I was glued. The entire situation was better than any reality TV show since we were active participants in it. He was half-way through his 9th dog when time ran out. Dang. No puking, no wall of fame. I'm glad I wasn't there the whole 90 minutes...

Then we proceded to have an OK time chatting with a person I don't enjoy very much. Ang and I left around 10 to grab the T back to my place...where she fell asleep watching Annapolis. I, of course, was awake the whole time. My night owl tendencies are in high gear. :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

bipolar disorder? or is it a spiritual thing?

i ran smack into the downside of my new job--i can no longer mask a poor spiritual walk with excessive busyness. i'm not busy anymore. *boom* the bomb of my crappy walk with God dropped about thursday afternoon. all those ugly 'little' sins that i'm so prone to just oozed out of my pores. i had (and have had for at least a couple months) no taste for prayer. i slept ALL the time. i was completely sick of myself by saturday and by sunday night i needed to do something. i was rotting inside but too numb to be affected by anything. that feeling was so familiar and i didn't want it to stay.

so i called jess. truly, she means more to me than my family. she's been right there being used by God through the majority of my spiritual growth in the last several years. i needed to fess up and get beaten up. we talked for a while about a lot of things but got down to the core issues pretty quickly. i am sorely lacking in community. i am ashamed of my loss of passion for Christ. i just want to hear Him again.

writing that out makes me think there somehow are easy solutions: get community, get passionate, & pray. but those aren't so easy to come by.

this morning i listened to tim hughes music. nothing. later i was driving to meet with my boss and i listened to the first sermon from the alabanza summer retreat. nothing. after the meeting i listened to part of the second sermon. a little something. i walked into my first ccpc meeting. a little something more. i was asked point-blank in front of everyone how i was doing. deluge. flood. waterfall.

i lost it in front of the people who are really my community now. i hadn't forgotten about them, but i needed to be reminded of them. they listened through my blubbering, incoherent thoughts. i was naked. i was loved. and i can hear again.

so my life is going to stay on the quieter side of things. i'm going to 'fast' from things that tend to get in the way of my walk: too much entertainment of the secular variety, alcohol, excessive sleep. i'm reading the Word a lot more than just a chapter when i wake up. prayer is brief but frequent. these things are not going to be my salvation from this pit--God is.

tonight i've done some things for work, talked to a friend on the phone, ate some fantastic pf chang's leftovers with chopsticks and listened to A Collision a few times through. simplicity is good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My New Life

I never imagined that opting out of the 8-4 existence would mean this much freedom. I feel like I'm awash with time, overwhelmed with many possibilities. I'm not not working, but it somewhat feels like that. I've already been able to go to an unplanned Flaming Lips show last night (for FREE!), which I might have turned down had I been working today. And today is for laundry, errands, and time with a friend. It's like living a chocolate existence. Why didn't I figure this out before? I know that this fairy tale will most likely have its downside at some point, but from where I sit right now, it's beautiful. I can't wait to enjoy all the things one can do when a job isn't the primary focus. Praise God.

David Crowder's Tidbit (or 850 Words) of the Day

A Costly Faith: Lessons from a Pawnshop Van
by David Crowder

I grew up in east Texas—Texarkana, Texas, to be precise. The town's name nods to its fantastic geographic mergers, as half the town sits in the great state of my birth, while the other half hangs over into Arkansas. I guess the idea of a dualistic geographic state seems fantastic enough to warrant this pictorial monument, as I have in fact personally observed a number of pictures taken in front of the sign. And I'd add that those participating seemed genuinely excited. But I've stood there myself, and I couldn't feel a thing.

If I were to sum up my experience growing up there for those who are unfamiliar to its culture and its people, I would tell them about Gary Mills. Gary worked for my dad. Sort of. That is, when he wasn't in jail.
Gary owned a van he bought at a pawnshop. Only in the piney woods of eastern Texas and portions of rural West Virginia can vehicles be acquired from pawnshops, for like $2. It seems vans acquired from pawnshops can be surprisingly prone to failures of varying types. One day Gary's accelerator cable broke. Gary, being almost genius, rigged up a cheap solution. The large intrusion of plastic in a van, bulging out into the forward-inhabited space between the driver's right knee and the passenger's left knee, is often crowned with faux-wooden beverage holders and covers what mechanics like to call "the engine." Being almost genius, Gary drilled a hole through the plastic cover. He then ran a rope through the newly drilled hole and attached the rope to the engine's accelerator arm. Thus, the rope then became the accelerator pedal! Now to move the vehicle in a forward direction, Gary needed only to reach over to his right and pull on the rope hanging from the freshly drilled hole in the plastic engine cover. Astounding! Almost genius! But his mastermind genius did not end there! No! He then took a saw and cut a slit down from the freshly drilled hole, effectively forming the shape of an antique keyhole. He then tied knots in the rope at different speed increments. Cruise control! Almost genius I say!

This strikes me as too closely metaphorical of my faith—being born in the American South, Christianity costs me nothing. It often feels to me cheap and rigged. Like things keep breaking along the way, and now I'm pulling on this ridiculously intricate array of ropes spreading to so many levers and pulleys, and my hand is getting rope burn from all this tugging, and the knots are starting to fray, and I think duct tape is involved. Not to say I haven't occasionally made attempts toward a costly faith. Once, I gave up R-rated movies (being more concerned with a movie's rating than the real-life societal issues the film may have been a reflection of). Or perhaps we relinquish the use of certain words, or cease the consumption of certain beverages or the inhalation of certain burned materials. And we applaud ourselves while bemoaning the costliness of the Gospel. And the irony is that all these efforts often serve to only cheapen our faith. They become but more ropes through more holes, and I have but only so many hands.

Lately I've been thinking about the soul. And death. Our mortal state, situated here as humans. It seems like we don't do that much anymore—think about death and the nature of the soul and the body. And maybe this is understandable, seeing as it used to be our primary point of conversation when discussing our faith with others—the turn-or-burn evangelism of our not-too-distant past. The logic was that if the present were just transitory, if we're just passing through, then it followed that there was no need to feel any affinity toward this place or spend much time trying to tidy up, which is almost brilliant. But we've now moved on, I think. The present has taken center stage. But my fear is that in hopes of becoming more palatable and less divisive, we forget the eternal unfolding in our words and deeds.

I think we live in a space divided. I think Jesus insisted that the kingdom of heaven was not just a space we would later inhabit, but also one that He was bringing here and now. We exist with one foot here in the earthly and one in the eternal. Yet we rarely feel it. We rarely live with a sense that someone should take a picture. That what is happening right now bears documentation. That we're in two places at once.

I want to live a faith that is a reflection of the cost of its eternal origin, not merely a reflection of my transient one. I want to feel the reality of where we sit. That the things we decide here are eternal ones. That our conversations mean something. I want to live in a manner that feels heroic, that turns the invisible into the visible, that is a solid intrusion of the eternal into the divided streets of humanity.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

I love the feedback log feature on Xanga. I am addicted. I don't know if it's curiosity or vanity that compels me to determine who is reading my rarely sage words, but I check the listing daily. Seriously...I told you I was an addict. The problem comes when I find something out in the log--either the fact that someone I'd rather not read the blog is reading it, or that people I really want to check it out aren't. It must be in some fashion like when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The drive to know is often overwhelming, but sometimes the knowing itself brings you more unanswered questions.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back in the Land of Warm Weather and Afternoon Thunderstorms...

So I'm in the good ol FL for a few days, seeing my parents and assorted friends. I probably won't go to the beach at all unless someone drags me down there some night. It's pretty, but you just BAKE out there in the summer. I kind of love it at night, all mysterious and dark. It becomes dangerous to walk in up to your ankles. You never know what kind of creature will come up and get you (AKA croc hunter).

All that aside, I'm glad to be here and just relax. I've got some long stretches of time planned with people I love. It's time to be me and let go in a place that knows who I am. Boston knows who I am and wants to change me. Pittsburgh knows who I was in college. Florida, for me, is like a city of refuge from the Bible, although I have to be honest and say that I'm not the same person I was when I left here a year ago.

Coming back always brings knowledge and growing through God. He uses people here in FL in strategic ways to strengthen my faith. I know this trip isn't any different. I need to be challenged in my walk. It's been far too easy to get soft in my daily disciplines in a place where none of it is valued. I battle every moment to see truth and deny lies in Boston. Being missional is very, very hard work. It requires the discipline of Christ and I know I don't have that. The way of the truth truly is a very narrow, rocky, dangerous path. That is not the way of those in Boston--they want easy, well-tred, beautiful, and entertaining paths. Christ is not that path. At least I have eyes open enough to see the obviousness of the lie because it's not couched in religiousity. At least many people in Boston clearly reject the truth and make it known where they stand. At least we have a starting point. It's much harder to minister to someone who already believes the 'easy' percentage of what you have to say.

So I'm here, ready to soak up the truth that God has laid for me. May I be humble enough to hear it all.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The 'Burgh

Side note before I get to the blog...I had completely forgotten that I blogged this AM before work. Long day...

I am now sitting in my brother's 3rd bedroom-turned-office in a suburb of good ol' Pittsburgh. His GIGANTIC black cat (properly named Monster) is laying on the desk next to me. This is the first time I've met the infamous cat. At any rate, my flight was about 30 minutes delayed out of Boston, but I was fine with that. I navigated the 'no liquids' mess just fine. There was a marked decrease in the carried-on baggage since when I last flew in July. And I just need to add that JetBlue rocks. This airline definitely needs to fly into Pensacola or Ft Walton...great service, great seats, DirecTV...

The last day at work was quite odd as last days go. I worked. I summed some data, helped out in a few crises. The only thing that would have made it more normal would've been a meeting. We had a cake party in one of the classrooms--it was really sweet. I cried a little bit, but I know I'm going to be able to see who I want to see. I'm not moving anywhere this time. I'm looking forward to expanding relationships with people that were limited by the bounds of 'professionalism.' I'm praying that God will blow those doors wide open with opportunity.

So, I'm ready to rest and see what God brings on. It's been an intense summer--a crucible perhaps. I wonder what's going to come of this next week?