Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We are Virginia Tech

We Are Virginia Tech, by Nikki Giovanni

We are Virginia Tech
We are sad today
And we will be sad for quite a while
We are NOT moving on
We are embracing our mourning

We are Virginia Tech
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry, and sad enough to know
We must laugh again

We are Virginia Tech
We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does the child in Africa, dying of AIDS
Neither do the Invisible Children, walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant, watching his community be devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant, killed in the middle of the night in his crib, in the home his father built with his own hands, being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized
No one deserves a tragedy

We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hand to those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid
We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be
We are alive to the imagination and the possibility we will continue to invent the future
Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness
We are the Hokies
We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail

Saturday, April 14, 2007

All I Need

Today was one of those long days that make me wonder why I voluntarily live my life as I do. I ran from place to place and hardly had a minute to feed myself. That wasn't the best way to go into the weekend. But I was able to rally despite having to ride the subway into Boston and dealing with crowds of people whose personal mission seemed to be to annoy me.

After Ang and I finally met up in Kenmore Square, we fought Red Sox Nation to get a bite to eat at McDonald's. This VERY late lunch helped to rescue my mood a bit. I'm glad we took the time to sit since we were about to stand up for the next 5 hours.

We followed the throngs in the general direction of Fenway, but we were not counting ourselves among those who were about to watch the Sox thrash the Angels 10-1. Instead, we got in line at Avalon (one of the big clubs on Lansdowne St next to Fenway), showed our IDs, got a lovely orange bracelet, and walked inside. I haven't been to Avalon since I last lived in Boston, during grad school. I recall that the last time I was there involved some post-party drinking with 2 guys my roommate and I met at said party. I was surprised I remembered so much about the interior of the place. Hilariously enough, the bathroom was perfectly familiar, but I could swear the place was much bigger than it appeared to me last night. Ahh, perceptions over time, and how they vary depending on the ingestion of substances...

Needless to say, I had mixed emotions about being back there. That place has directed connections to who I used to be. It was a long time ago, but not long enough that I've forgotten or that it couldn't happen again. But this time was about redeeming that place in my heart and solidifying who I am in Boston now.

Ang and I were there to see Mat Kearney, the headliner for the VH1 You Outta Know Tour (I know, cheesy). Mat is a Christian who doesn't sing songs that are overtly Christian. He's gotten pretty famous over the last year by virtue of several of his songs being featured on Grey's Anatomy. I got his CD in a Relevant Network kit last spring and immediately loved it--it's a mix of guitar pop, piano, and spoken word/rap. Good, creative stuff. He came to Boston last fall and I missed the show due to my own poor pre-planning. I jumped at the chance to see him this time.

The show was a triple bill headed off by Rocco deLuca and the Burden. They are more rock influenced than Mat Kearney, but I could dig the neo-steel guitar sound. I enjoyed their set, other than the guitar solo that hearkened to something memorialized in There's Something About Mary. Let's just say he was REALLY into that solo.

Next up was The Feeling, a band from the UK that I would best describe as Euro, emo-pants pop. I give them credit for the fantastic harmonizing, but the lead singer's posturing and dancing on stage was SOOO annoying. I gulped down my Sam Adams while those guys were on stage--I was hoping it would make it end. But the pain was only amplified by the addition of two female college students with voices that I can only describe as East Coast Valley Girl. Their conversations during the show were frequently hilarious due to their lack of content beyond:
  1. Relative hotness of band members
  2. Rating the current song ("awesome" and "so great" were used frequently)
  3. Recent hookups and their fallout
  4. Maligning the fact that Tom Petty was not playing there after one of his songs was played as walk-in music between sets. Um, you won't be getting Tom Petty tickets for $17, or seeing him in a small venue like that, but I digress...
  5. "He looked at me! I know he was singing right to me!"

Unfortunately, the East Valley Girls stuck around even after The Feeling's set was over. Later on I felt guilty about being so annoyed by them since these are exactly the people I'm sent to show God's love. Chalk that up to learning experience #1 for the night.

Another random concert-goer that made Angela and I crack up numerous times was Drunk Zebra Lady. This poor woman apparently forgot that the 80's were best left there the first time around. That outfit would have looked disastrous on a 17 year old, let alone someone of her age. It's a shame I wasn't able to capture her dancing. Please enjoy her picture here:

With all that said, I was happy for Mat Kearney to step on stage. My feet and lower back were starting to show their age. Needless to say, his set was very well done, with a great mix of his guitar- and piano-based songs. He sang every song from his latest album, as well as two older songs, and a new one called "Black and White." As he explained, the latter song was written while he was in Istanbul.

I enjoyed the show, but wished he talked more about the songs and their origins. Before taking to the piano to play one of my favorites, "All I Need," he explained that it was written for some friends who lived through Katrina in New Orleans. I attempted to record the song, but my camera's memory card ran out of room. It was a beautiful rendition of the song, but it will just have to live in my memory rather than in my memory card.

Mat came out to sing the obligatory encore to the adoring Boston crowd. We were really into his music and he seemed to honestly appreciate it. He told us that this show was the largest they'd done on the tour so far. The final two songs were the most spiritual of the night. The first song of the encore included "hallelujah" in the lyrics and allusions to the crucifixion. I was worshiping in that moment, knowing that this place was as good as any to praise my King. The final song was one that is on Mat's album, but he added an extended freestyle rap. From the moment he started the flow, I could feel my chest tighten and my eyes tear. As he began to describe a T ride down Comm Ave on the green line, talking about all the colleges, and the students, I heard God speak through that. Mat kept repeating words about love, grace, and redemption, recalling Boston's spiritual and cultural history. He was speaking about those students to whom I'm called to be a minister. After the song was over, I just stood there attempting to take a moment to process this in the middle of the cheering crowd. It seems like God always shows up to encourage me at the instant I least expect Him.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

This New House

I went to see a new apartment this morning. The location is ideal. There's laundry in the unit. There's off-street parking. It's a 5 bedroom...that was not in the original plan. I thought it was just going to be Angela and I--a way to ease myself back into roommate life.

Today I got to spend more time with the prospective roommates and got a full tour of the place. It's huge. Large open spaces for entertaining. There's tons of storage space (big closets are a rarity here). The bedrooms somehow feel really private. And the rent is priced right.

Despite my best-laid plans, this may be my new home as of June 1. If the roommates stay as they are I will be the 'middle child' where age is concerned--2 older and 2 younger than me. It could be a powerful learning experience to live in that age spectrum.

I'm praying about this move and need discernment, but this feels like a wide open door.

Friday, April 06, 2007

On Holy Week

"We celebrated Good Friday that night, a week late. It's a sad day, of loss and cruelty, and all you have to go on is faith that the light shines in the darkness, and nothing, not death, not disease, not even the government, can overcome it. I hate you can't prove the beliefs of my faith. If I were God, I'd have the answers at the end of the workbook, so you could check as you go along, to see if you're on the right track. But nooooooo. Darkness is context, and Easter's context: without it, you couldn't see the light. Hope is not about proving anything. It's about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us" (Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, p. 274-5)

"Easter says that love is more powerful than the dark, bigger than cancer, bigger than airport security" (p. 268).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oh yeah...

I got into seminary as of the letter I received on Saturday.

God really needs to be on top of this whole money thing or I'm going to be in loans up to my eyeballs...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Soul's Renaissance

It's been 2 weeks since I last posted. A lot has gone on that I don't care to discuss here, but suffice it to say, it's been the searing fire again. This time it came from an unexpected source, so the pain was multiplied. I had a week of being completely out of sorts, barely able to function at a minimum level. I literally felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I slept a lot.

This past Tuesday I felt something shift. I'm not sure what it was, but the weight was gone. The sun was out and I spent time outside with some lovely kids I was babysitting. We dug in the black earth, read about a million books, and soaked up the weak spring sun. It was heaven and just the balm my soul needed. I needed to experience the reality of springtime to finally let my heart listen to what my head's been saying.

The last two days have been close to perfection. I wore myself completely out doing cleanup at a Boston community center with some great friends from church alongside Northeastern students. We had so much fun and it didn't hurt that it was perfect weather to haul rocks and dirt, prune bushes, and bag leaves. After that, Joey came over and we concocted a delicious pizza creation for dinner. We were so tired that we didn't have the energy to watch the movie we planned on.

Today was a lazy day, topped off by a dinner of childhood favorites and decorating eggs. The food was great and dinner conversation centered on hilarious childhood experiences. It was so great. Then we all got creative with the egg was a blast from the past dipping those eggs. I can't remember the last time I did that.