Saturday, November 20, 2010

Da stürzte Gott aus seinem Hinterhalt

First a childhood, limitless and without
renunciation or goals. O unselfconscious joy.
Then suddenly terror, barriers, schools, drudgery,
and collapse into temptation and loss.

Defiance. The one bent becomes the bender,
and thrusts upon others that which it suffered.
Loved, feared, rescuer, fighter, winner
and conqueror, blow by blow.
And then alone in cold, light, open space,
yet still deep within the mature erected form,
a gasping for the clear air of the first one, the old one...
Then God leaps out from behind his hiding place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moldy Muffins

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. - Romans 14:19
To my friend, Gwen, on her birthday.
Listening: Bjork and Anthony in "Dull Flame of Desire"

Some people you know you are going to like from the second you meet them. Gwen is one of these people for me. I still remember the day I met her...on the leather couches,"Hiyeh! I'm Abigail. Do you play bassoon?" I loudly included myself into her first day at the next major step in her life..."I noticed the case!"
It all sounds so lame now, to remember...

Gwen and I became fast friends, mostly out of necessity (mostly HER necessity), you see...I had a car at school and she had taken the greyhound from Canada and did not. One of the first days of school, I remember taking her Canadian self to FIESTA!

I talked the entire way there, the entire time we shopped, and the entire way back.  I think she still had her 500lb bassoon case with her and she looked a little in shock from me and Texas and the school, but nevertheless, she was very nice. I think I said things like, "You'll be fine." "It is really difficult at first, I remember my first week." "We will all HAVE to be friends, you see." "I think it is gonna be a great studio." "Well, Andrew knows Fei, so I think they are living together." "Where are you staying?" "Who's your roomate? some flute player?? Oh, so you like Bjork? Me too." 

One thing I have learned about Gwen is that she doesn't like gossip and she is a fairly private person.  She was kind to let me ask her all of these questions, she still lets me ask questions.  

I know I tired her out.  I still do sometimes, but at this moment, she tolerated me - I think she could tell I was at least trying to help...even if it was coming across as a little arrogant.  
Sweet Gwen. 

I want to share my favorite scripture in all of the Bible today. This passage truly reminds me of my friend, Gwen, and her understated willingness to incorporate all different types of people into her concept of life.  And because she lives in a different country, I will send this message over the internets instead of sending a box full of muffins that are moldy when they finally arrive at her door (note: this tragedy has already occurred and I learned my lesson).

I am going to paraphrase a little:

Everybody has different gifts and ways of doing things, but all of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and they are specially given to each one as God decides.  

The body (of Christ's church in this case) is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body...

If the foot says to the hand, "Because I'm not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of that body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? 

As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor...

God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Gwen is definitely the hand to my eye. We are quite different people.  But, I just wanted to share a couple of remembrances on her birthday:
-An incredible voice on the bassoon.  Gwen plays with incredible passion and sincerity.  Every note has significance. She plays like she lives, noticing everything and appreciating what there is to appreciate.
-Being yelled at while getting ice cream at Amy's by a belligerent guy wearing a pretentious hat.
-Teaching Gwen to drive at my parent's house over the holidays.
-Having her stop the car and get out and say that she had done enough driving.
-Always bringing up meat as a topic of conversation almost every time we speak even though she is of the vegetarian persuasion.
-Sending moldy blueberry muffins across the continent along with a bouquet of 4th of July paraphernalia so that Gwen could have a proper celebration.
...Gwen not telling me they were moldy until I persisted on how she liked their taste. ;)
-A beautiful hand drawn, hand folded note after my recital that said such uplifting, lovely things that it clearly reflected more on the sender than on the recipient.
-Homeschool Band Concert in Pensacola, Fl. Mignone Duet.
-Bad, Bad cane and Bad, Bad days with reeds in 2007-2008
-Another edifying note given at just the right time.
-Canada! and Addictively good Chocolate Gelato that she wouldn't eat.
-A gondola?!
-Loads of talk about squirrels and other woodland creatures.
-Coffee in the student center...or rather me walking to the student center in search of her knowing that she would be there getting coffee to ramp up for another late night at the studio.
-Star Pizza 
-No cell phone. :(
-Bjork (particularly the Bjork song that is at the top of the page)
-skyping with LOUD kitty accompaniment. and last, but not least...
-being far away from my friend

Monday, November 8, 2010

There is something amazing about fear: A Communion Post

"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." - Isaiah 11:1
When I am really, really afraid I feel broken.  I feel like I can't go back and moving forward puts me at a greater risk than staying put.  I feel like screaming and keeping very quiet at the same time.  I feel imminence and a great cloud of grayness.  I feel dead.  I feel like a stump of tree that used to thrive.

"A shoot will come up from the stump..."
Listening to: Disconnect the Dots by Of Montreal 

There is something about fear that is amazing.  I'm not just talking about looking back and realizing how it all worked out.  I hate it when people tell me that everything will be ok or it will all work out - I feel like by that time I will be scared of something new and won't remember to enjoy what I gained from THIS fear. So, sounding just a little jaded, I will try to explain why FEAR, real actual fear is AMAZING. 

There are fears that are intoxicating, addictive, and undeniably appetizing.  For example, I will eat things that are way too spicy for my digestive system and there are people, not myself, who jump out of airplanes and thrust themselves into deep waters with sharks only relying on a heavy tank of sinking air.  This is a type of amazing fear, but...not really the fear I am talking about here.

The fear I speak of is when you have everything set up just right, you have done everything you are supposed to do, you have a husband, a kid, a job, a fantastic instrument, an amazing family, a great church, really good friends, good food, a house with a front door and windows and beds and things, cool weather and you are sad.

The fear I speak of is when I am fighting with my husband, my family won't tell me why they can't be around me right now, my friends are acting weird, my car doesn't have ac and it is 90 degrees outside, I don't know where stuff is, I have to do someone else's laundry, I am tired all the time, I feel stuck with my life, I feel like everyone else is doing better than I am doing right now, I always say the wrong thing to my in-laws and I don't know what to do about it, when I can't get comfortable because the weather is always changing, there are toys all over the floor, everything I eat makes me feel good and bad at the same time and something is seriously wrong when I drink milk.  

The fear I speak of is when things are not supposed to be difficult, but they are anyways.  I think this fear is important.  And I am really starting to think it is amazing.  

It makes my throat growl and my shoulders squish together tensely and fall limply forward at the same time.  This fear includes everything that is real and important and it means something very important to be feeling this fear, but for the life of me I don't know what it means - I just know it is very important.  

The fear I speak of many times is completely unappealing, difficult and annoyingly unproductive.
"The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord - He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears." - Isaiah 11:2-3

My sister says that there is a point where you realize that being happy is a decision, not a reward.  

This is in that fear, this statement is the gem inside that dirty geode rock that you find.  But that gem has been hidden, it has been beat down by all of the currents of life's streams and right now, it just looks like a dirty stupid rock. I want to say something about how it has to be broken to be discovered and seen and how life breaks you, but that's not really my point.  

My point is the amazingness of fear.
For the next part, listen to: Wayward Song by The Earlies

My point is that there is a gem.  That there is a new shoot in your stump (See Isaiah verse at top of page).  
My point is: 

"Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, I am driven far from your sight. But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help." - Psalm 31:21-22

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." - Proverbs 16:33

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will make [what is right in you] shine like the dawn.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways...Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret -- it leads only to [bad things].  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land." -Psalm 37:3-9

Honestly, it has taken me a long time and will probably continue to take me longer to learn that happiness is not getting what I want, it is not having no pain, nor is it having everyone love and understand me when I try to love and understand them, it's not always getting the job I think I deserve, or making the amount of money that I think my quality of life needs and it might not even be feeling validated or important at all. Happiness is not a lot of things that I expect it to be.  

God does not ever promise that we will not have fear, or be scared, He doesn't even promise that we won't be sad or feel pain.  But He does promise us that we can have hope that our fear comes from the Lord and it does not come from all of the unpredictable evil in this world.  It may seem like it does sometimes, just like - I'm sure - that geode rock thinks the rough currents and rocks that it tumbles over are the cause of its ugliness. If I were that geode, I would assume my insides looked like my outside.  But ultimately, in the end, no matter what that little stone thinks, the beauty will still lye within and the rough travel will only serve to give the gems inside time to get more beautiful!

The fear of the Lord is: 
The beginning of wisdom
A fountain of Life
Teaches a man wisdom, humility and comes before honor
Pure and enduring forever
It is able to turn us from the "snares of death"
The key to salvation, wisdom and knowledge

It isn't necessarily contentment, happy happy and singing.  It might really hurt, like a bullet or a hammer or just like life hurts sometimes in that scary way.

In THAT fear, the one that is in the grips of God, we can feel secure that it is for good reason.  That we are more alive inside and we are becoming more beautiful and wise because of this fear.  

Fear is amazing because it makes the good things really noticeable and it makes us think about them and wish for them and watch out for them to come, but is also amazing because it is good.  Fear in itself is good. Not because of what we get out of it, not because it makes us try harder to avoid is good, because it is part of the Character of God. 

Mark says that Jesus told his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (14:34)" then he asked God if it would be possible to do this in any other way (vs. 36)

To me, it seems like at this moment, Jesus felt fear and even though He knew why - He didn't want to be feeling it or even face the next step ahead.

I heard a quote the other day about discipline that blew my mind: 

"Discipline should be for reconciliation, not destruction." 

My whole life, I have been the one that others were disciplining, now, the roles are reversed. I look back to my own experiences and I can easily remember that it certainly does not feel good to be disciplined, especially when you cannot see why you need to learn that discipline.  I see that feeling very tangibly when I try to discipline my 9 month old son...he doesn't like it. But, discipline ultimately brings freedom and it has allowed me to achieve goals that I could not have achieved before, but more importantly it has given me a structure for reconciling my undisciplined self with a person that is capable of achieving those goals on a regular basis.  It also is a fact, that the more disciplined I become, the stronger and more capable I feel...the teacher in me calls that freedom. 

Ultimately, if I and my son had our heads on straight, we would see that discipline is hope.  And fear of not knowing and waiting and being sad, that is hope as well.  

I call this a communion post because it makes me remember that the blood of Jesus Christ has something to do with me.  It represents Him dying so that He and those He loved could truly live.  It represents the fear of death and the knowledge of the life within that death.  As I take communion and feel the burn of bad wine go down the back of my throat and into the inmost parts of my being, I remember that gem and I think on THAT thing in the midst of the deeply gray clouds of my amazing fear.