Go, listen to this sermon.
Go, listen to this sermon.
Birthdays. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. But I love birthdays. I love all holidays, frankly, but birthdays are something special. Its a day where you are celebrated for no greater accomplishment than being. On Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s birth; on Valentine’s Day, a saint’s bravery; Thanksgiving, a meal; Columbus Day, an invasion (let’s just be honest); Easter, a new beginning. The list goes on. And they are actions. We celebrate things that have happened, or things that we do. And that is lovely. But on your birthday, you are celebrated for your very existence. You had nothing to do with your birth, but it is you who receives the presents and the wishes and the balloons. It’s your name printed on the banner. It’s your life that is being celebrated.
You came into the world and we are all so goddamn grateful. That’s why I love birthdays. We could all use a little more celebration.
I just keep praying that everything is going to be alright.
I don’t know what I can do but love.
I think one of the first steps to becoming “worldly” is to learn to appreciate lime green fabric. I’ll be honest, I generally associate lime green with ugly junior high fashions and little else. But then I started noticing how often lime green fabric shows up in the pictures of my friends who have been traveling or who break outside the WASP mold that keeps many of us stuck.
I have a friend who is Cambodian and recently family wedding pictures showed one of the bridal outfits to be lime green. Not lime green accents, but full on, head to toe lime green suit (traditional style) for the groom and full lime green gown (again, traditional Cambodian) for the bride.
When Jesse and I had a family ashabi made, I went to Francis (a local tailor who made Elle’s family ashabi) and handed him a lapa and measurements for a shirt for Jesse. “Take Bubba and add four inches to the length.” The shirt design included a collar in a complementary fabric. I left the choice of that fabric to Francis. When the shirts were delivered to us later that week, I noticed the collar was bright lime green. The fabric iteself is deep red and blue and green. But not lime green. Deep green, like the crayon you used if you were drawing trees in 2nd grade. So, I didn’t really think the choice of collar material was appropriate. But the longer I looked at it, the more it seemed to fit. One stereotype I think you can make about the whole continent (which trust me, you shouldn’t make those stereotypes too much…its a continent, not a country.) is that Africa is bright. There are bright, vibrant colors every where you turn. Kangas in Tanzania, lappas in Sierra Leone, paynes in Ghana, the material is always deep and colorful. Muted, neutral colors are rare. Even the landscape is vibrant. Bright red dirt. Shockingly green trees. Harsh yellow deserts. Africa is vibrant. And the bright lime green seemed to fit.
So I thought about lime green. And how harshly I judged that garish color. And realized, you’ve got to let some new colors into your pallete. What do you gain by sticking to the same tans and greys and purples? There is nothing wrong with these colors, but they never grow dimmer because you’ve added another. We’ve got to embrace the world, in all its vibrancy. Let the lime green mix in with our childhood experiences and grow a little bit more beautiful for that.
Something interesting to think about. It reminds me of a girl from Ride with the King named Jazzney and “head-shy” horses.
We learn a lot from the people around us. We should be careful what lessons we’re listening to and who we are allowing to be our teachers. We should also be understanding and gracious towards others (and ourselves) in knowing that we’ve often been forced to learn lessons we never wanted to. Instead of shaming or blaming, we should reteach and comfort.
Sometimes I wonder what my life will be like in a year. In two years. In five years. In thirty years. Mostly I wonder about that at times like this when I have a million other things I should be doing (not least of which is going to bed).
Where will I be next year? Will I be in grad school getting my PhD? Will I be working any job that pays the bills while I spend time figuring out what I really want my world to look like? Will I be overseas? Will I be in Des Moines? Will I be happy? Will I have my friends back in person to drink cheap wine with? Who from the past two years of my life will stay a part of it? Where is my life headed? Because it is headed somewhere fast. And I have to go with it.
Do I want to live abroad? Spend my time volunteering in Sierra Leone? Try to get a job with the embassy? Move to Korea or China and immerse myself in sandlewood and jiaozi and thin mattresses?
Do I want to go to seminary, like I thought I would all those years ago? I still remember a smaller, younger me with dark heavy bangs and a sky-themed outfit rattling off my plans to be in love with communion and baptism and the all the other sacraments forevaaa.
Do I want to keep studying? Will I take the chance on another post-graduate degree? Will I be given the opportunity? What will it lead to? And where will it be? Do I head back to the small, dusty, burnt-orange couches of the social science halls? To the comfort of a small cohort, a personal touch? Or do I move toward the modern buildings? The glassy atriums and colloquiums and research presentations? Do I network or do I teach? Do I even have a choice?
What will my future bring me? And how do I start preparing? Who am I going to be? Or, rather, what form will the me thats always been take under a new direction?
Maybe, more importantly, what does my present look like? What do I do now? I’ve heard that I’m not supposed to worry about tomorrow.
“Lord, judge us not by our weakness, but by our love.” Kathryn Hepburn, The African Queen
I just watched The African Queen and I can’t help but have a new obsession. Kathryn is beautiful and determined. Its the story of a woman living in the Belgian Congo (damn it) during World War I, taking care of her missionary brother. The village they lived in is invaded by the Germans, her brother dies, and Rose (Kathryn) finds herself alone in a world that is burning down around her. A rugged American who works in the region comes back to find her and they set off down the river in his steam boat, the African Queen. Rose immediately indicates that she is unwilling to sit back and wait for the war to end. She convinces Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) to sail his steam boat down a river that is believed to be impassable in order to reach a German ship that is blocking the British army from entering the region (and stopping the German army from press-ganging the local population into armed service) and destroy it.
Rose isn’t passive. She takes on a nearly impossible task rather than stand idly by. She is exhilarated by the challenge, by the thrill of the unknown and the active. She laughs with this beautiful, bright eyed excitement after her first experience of danger. She takes the helm and she doesn’t look back. She knows she could, in fact likely would, die. And still, she moves forward. She is determined and she is steadfast. She doesn’t get angry or snappy or selfish. She is sassy, and fiery, and sure. She never argues with Charlie, but she doesn’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t let him get in her way.
To the very end, she holds equally to her faith, herself, and her drive. She knows who she is, she knows what she wants, and she’s willing to face death to follow her path to its finish. Love and live. Who could ever want to do less?
If I ever really take the time to overhaul my closet, the one thing that will never go away? My sweatshirts. I love my sweatshirts.
Also, there is not enough wine at my house. Or soda. I am craving beverages these days. Why??
Today I went to a field. Just outside my school. I think it is called NIU North 40. Why? I have no idea.
It was, it still is, sunny and eighty degrees. But that sort of eighty degrees that makes you feel like its colder than that. I grabbed a light jacket on my way out the door and soon found the sun made a much better coat. It was the sort of eighty degrees that is the lingering arms of a warm summer, but also the whispering indication that fall is right around the corner. The warm weather letting you know what lies ahead.
The sky was blue. As I made my way from the south edge of town to the north, I noticed the punctuation of white clouds. Not overwhelming. But present. The blue was dominant. Until I arrived. And blue was no longer king. Instead, the court was filled with purple and green and yellow and orange and red and pink and black and grey and brown, clamoring for attention. Swooping and whizzing through the pale blue background. None of these voices were quiet, none gave way to any other. They called and laughed and gasped with me at the chaotic beauty of it all.
It was like going to the circus or the fourth of July as a child. Everything was soaked in colour and oh so magical. The kites shone like lights on the Midway after dark, the ferris wheel music playing just a little bit too loudly in the background. They were like day-fireworks that burst into the sky but didn’t disappear. They left trails of string instead of smoke.
I swear, today wasn’t real. Someone had filmed today in technicolor and was playing it back for me. And it was every bit as beautiful as I hoped. I bet heaven is in technicolor. I bet heaven feels like today.
Today, I am planning to not do very much. Which is a tricky decision to make, with the impending pile of homework I will have as the semester progresses and the very real need to work ahead. But it’s hard to decide where to start. So I probably will do some research on my capstone and try to get a better feel for that and maybe make some “to-do” lists. Or I could work on research for my life after graduation. That’s rapidly approaching. And that will be a beast to tackle, to say the least. With deadlines the same time as finals, again, it’s better to work ahead.
So I probably will. But right now, I’m going to make pancakes. And I’m going to paint a little. And I’m going to volunteer with Kitefest. And dream about camping and summer and rivers and lakes. And skype with a friend. And see what I accomplish today. Its a good day.