Sunday, May 31, 2009

School Carnival Day: Big Thoughts from Little Guys

My company recently sponsored a carnival day for a local school. It's the second year we've done it, and the great folks who planned it initially were inspired by Oprah and her charge to make a difference in this world. Our company got lots of donations for prizes (tote bags, snacks, some toys) and we also had a bake sale and fundraisers for a popcorn machine for the day and other supplies to share with the kids. It's a cool offsite idea because the whole company rallied to make it happen. And getting to see the kids' excitement over a day out of class is always fun, too.

My station this year was Kickball. Antonio and I formed our own team after we felt the need to buck the system and invent a new carnival game (read: we didn't like the other options and didn't feel like 'playing nicely with others.'). I'm super glad we did, because we met some real interesting characters. Here's what they taught me:

The Passing of Time is Relative:This young man was quite charming. At one point, he told me "A long time ago, when I was four and a half, I fell down a lot." When asked his current age, he replied that he is now five.

Kickball is King in Kindergarten:
When I asked this gent if I could take his picture, he inquired, "Are you only taking pictures of the really good kickball players?" to which I answered, "Well, yes, of course." Only then did he agree to let me snap a shot.

I also asked if he'd run the obstacle course because my boss was over there and he's a nice guy. My friend looked at me wide eyed and stammered, "Wait, is kickball your JOB?!"

Mario Brothers Continues to Delight the Young and the Young at Heart:This chap stepped up to the face painting station and asked to have a mustache and M drawn, because he wanted to look just like Mario. Well done, sir, well done! This look definitely suits you!

As you can see, we had a great day. I've got a ton of posts lined up for this week, from babies in the park, to a couple of how tos. Have a great Sunday night and Monday :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pentecost Sunday and the Holy Spirit

I'm a member of CC Blogs, which is a collective of Christian bloggers. We often gather posts together, to share and inspire, and for Pentecost we've compiled a list of like minded posts. Here they are, for you to enjoy -

When Love Comes to Town - Pentecost, Peace, and Grace.

Theolog - Donna Schaper writes about a double miracle.

I-YOUniverse - John Hamilton confesses that the Holy Spirit resides in his heart but not in his mouth.

Reflectionary - Martha Hoverson is asked to do a funeral the week before Pentecost .

Don't Eat Alone - Milton Brasher-Cunningham offers us a Pentecost poem .

Welcoming Spirit - Paula Jenkins struggles to understand the nature of the Holy Spirit.

Just Words - Ed Sunday-Winters reflects on the age of the Church. Almost 2000 years old, and yet Pentecost reminds us that the present experience of the Spirit is the locus of our power.

Unorthodoxology - David Henson: "I wonder if they still continue to speak in the tongues of men and of angels, because that is the only language they now understand."

Life and Faith - Ernesto Tinajero remembers a seminary professor who called the Holy Spirit, "Holy Breath."

Everyday Liturgy - Thomas Turner: "The Holy Spirit is more than a placeholder to complete the Trinity."

Where the Wind - Fiction by Adam Thomas: Davies writes a paper on the Holy Spirit.

Grounded and Rooted in Love - A Pentecost sermon.

Seeking Authentic Voice - Terri Pilarski reflects on Pentecost having grown up in a non-liturgical tradition.

Eclectic Faith - Christopher Keel reflects on Pentecost having been raised a Pentecostal.

Faith in Community - Diane Roth: Remembering Azusa Street.

I Thirst - Mark Hogg remembers Pentecost 2001.

Dancing on Saturday - Chad Holtz: Pentecost and the Ethiopian gospel choir."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Holy Spirit is so Difficult to Grasp

The Holy Spirit: Like Water, it is difficult to GraspWithin Christianity, The Holy Spirit is one of the things that is the most difficult for me to understand. I'll admit I'm one of those people who has trouble with faith. I like facts, tangible things, evidence of existence. I make a good Project Manager because I deal well with those things that one can account for in life. People, time, money. I love religion because it challenges everyone of those things to its core and makes me think.

I truly enjoyed the description of the Holy Spirit in the popular book, The Shack. Early in the story, Wm. Paul Young describes the Holy Spirit from the point of view of the main character, Mack. "His eyes had to work to see her [Holy Spirit] at all...he knew all of this as more an impression of her than from actually seeing her, as she seemed to phase in and out of his vision."

I've got to admit, that's often how I feel about the Holy Spirit. My mind grasps the idea for a brief moment, but then it slips away. Like hands trying to grasp water, the Holy Spirit slips through my fingers. That this Spirit is one in the same as God, is one in the same as Jesus, is one in the same as Spirit is baffling. I want to believe and understand, but it phases in and out of my vision.

An illuminating moments came for me late in December of last year. I was working on the sermon for my New Years Eve retreat. Our theme was "Thresholds" and I had decided to speak about Noah and his Arc, and about Jesus and the Last Supper. Big ideas, and I wanted to give insightful reflections to my retreat-goers.

What I struggled with was God, and God's relationship with humanity. I've long wrestled with there being two personalities of God. In the Old Testament He seems judgmental, harsh, quick to anger, and fascinated by rules. The God of the New Testament, however, is the new, kinder, gentler God. How could God be so different in the two texts? Was it because He had a Son? The real problem for me, and one I do believe is that God does not change. I needed to resolve this for myself before I could piece together this Sermon.

Reading, and praying, and thinking, I stumbled back into the fact that God and Love are one in the same. What if God, in His infinite Love, in being a single continuous force, did not change ... but God's people did? What if in being Love, in wanting to have a relationship with each person on this planet, God reaches out again and again, hoping to make a connection with each human? What if the stories of the Bible seem different because the people in those stories and times needed different things? What if instead of changing, God continues to pour Himself out in an attempt to reach each of us?

The Spirit led me to this realization. It is through Love that God reaches out to each of us. It is because God pours Himself out for each of us, goes to great lengths to reach each of us that the stories change. God made a bush burn without being consumed, God asked Noah to give up everything, God gave His only Son, God keeps doing amazing things in the hope that it will touch our hearts. God is asking us to do the same, to pour out our love, to take a crazy risk, to put ourselves out there and fulfill our role in this life.

I think that its the Holy Spirit that helps us see this Love. It spreads the Love, and beckons us each to understand that it is through pouring ourselves out that we are actually opening ourselves up to more than we can ever imagine. Like Jesus, like Noah, if we have faith, if we give of ourselves and take a risk, we live our lives to their fullest potential.

So, this Sunday, which is Pentecost, look for the Holy Spirit in the things that make your heart take flight. We are each here for a reason.

"A bird's not defined by being grounded, but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image." - Eloise (God), The Shack

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Give Away: 'Let Nothing Disturb You' & Flower Notecards

It's time for another give away here at Welcoming Spirit. Recently, I came across this really lovely and inspiring set of books called "30 Days with a great spiritual teacher." Just as the series suggests, there are thoughts for thirty days total - an opening thought for your day, and a closing prayer. The first book I found was inspired by the teaching of Teresa of Avila, so it's with excitement that I'm putting that same title up for a Give Away!

Here's an excerpt from the book, one of the "As my day begins" thoughts:
The soul that truly loves God
loves all good,
protects all good,
praises all good,
joins itself to good people,
helps and defends them,
and embraces all the virtues.
It loves only what is truly worth loving.

Along with the book, I'm going to create six of my photo notecards for the winner. The winner will just need to let me know what kinds of flowers or colors they like and I'll custom make them a set of six.

Here's a little sampling of some of the cards I've made recently :)

I'm super excited to pay it forward, after having received a great daily wisdom book from Tabitha at I Chose Bliss when I commented on her 200th post. So, thank you Tabitha! She's an amazing woman with a huge heart, so swing by and see what she's doing at A Five Oh Four Uplifting, too. Her mission of sending goody bags to children and adults in need of an uplifting is truly inspiring.

To enter, just comment below. Tell me about how you calm your mind in the midst of the craziness of this world. There's one prize up for grabs, and its the Let Nothing Disturb You book and six photo notecards (which include envelopes). Only one entry per email/blog name/person please. Entries will be accepted until Friday, June 5th at 11:59pm. A winner will be selected using, and I'll post a screenshot to show the winner's number. You do need to give a valid email address or have a blog so I can contact you and find out where to mail your prize. And, the winner will need to have a mailing address in either the US or Canada.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Weekend of Celebrating, Including the Gates of Hell

I hope everyone had a nice weekend! I realize it's Tuesday, but I'm still getting back in the groove after having five days in a row off of work. My parents were in town, and my brother in law graduated with an MBA on Saturday. The weekend was spent hanging out, relaxing, and eating a lot. We had a very nice sunny day for Memorial Day, so my Dad BBQed over at my sister's house. And we did some impromptu gardening. And, for the first time every my legs got voted "palest in the whole family." Not that we vote a lot (or ever, actually!) but growing up, I was always tan. So to beat out my Dad and sister, well, it means I have a lot of work to do.

One of my Mom's favorite things go to see when she's in town is the "Gates of Hell" by Rodin, which is in an outdoor statue garden at Stanford University. There are six castings of the Gates on display around the world, with Stanford's being #5. They are huge, standing nearly 20 feet tall, and crafted in bronze. Rodin took his inspiration from Dante's book The Inferno - and having read that in grad school, it's overwhelming to take in the work in person. It shows humanity attempting to escape the grasps of hell in the afterlife.

This may strike some as a strange work to visit or take delight in. But somewhere in the huge Gates, there is inspiration. For all of humanity's sins, there are moments of true Grace displayed as well. The Kiss of two people, the mother raising her baby up from hell's grasp. The tenacity of humanity to keep going on. And, Rodin's "The Thinker" sits atop the Gates considering our fate.

Here are photos of the Gates:

Sunlight and The Thinker:
And some humor, there's a door behind the Gates, with this sign:And lastly, LOTS of people were posing like the statues when we were there this time. This particular man was asking his girlfriend to "hurry up" because he "charged $100 a minute for photos like these."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faith Sees us Through

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we can not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Faith has always been one of the hardest things for me. While I am an optimist, an idealist, and definitely spiritual, I have such a time just leaning in to faith. The very nature of faith, believing in something we can't see, is what makes it so very difficult for me to grasp.

Perhaps this is the heart of the matter as to why spirituality is so tricky. Our culture wants us to cling to material things. We are drawn to consume. We define who we are by things. When I have a hard day, I want to shop or eat or drink or buy something. Silence or meditation or reflection don't seem like they would give me satisfaction. Likely because in the quietness of those "activities" I don't see any action. There is no "doing." There is just "being."

But faith doesn't rest in any of that. The real mystery of faith is that we can't see it, but it's there. And even when we can't see it or touch it, it's what sees us through.

To me, faith is a lot like love. I can't see my mother's love, but it is real and it is constant. I can't touch love in a real or true sense, but I know it exists. When you give in to love, when you give more love, the paradox is that you get even more in return.

I think faith has similar properties. The more time I give to faith, the more I learn and the deeper it becomes. In those moments, I learn even more about myself. Faith has the uncanny ability to teach us more about God, and more about ourselves in the same moment.

My Mom and I went on a walk behind AT&T Park today. This is the San Francisco skyline from the marina there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Love Holds a Mirror up to All of Us

A friend and I were chatting the other day about a new job he was starting. He was anxious, unsure of their expectations. From the beginning of his interaction with this new company, both parties seemed like they had their own ideas of what the job was. My friend has done a lot of special effects in his career, this company is new and knows what effects they want, but perhaps they don't understand what goes into making those kinds of effects.

What's more is that my friend has been out of work over a year. His wife supports his decision, and wants him to find the right job. Not just any job, but one that will keep him challenged and interested. She does not want him to settle. Right now, in this economy, settling into a job might be easy to do, and I know that no one would hold such a decision against him. We all need to make ends meet.

The company hasn't understood why Stan has been out of work for over a year. They think he must be desparate at this point, that he's either lazy or spoiled. Their first offer reflected this, and Stan countered with a good explanation as to why their offer would not work for him. And, he's neither lazy nor spoiled. Stan wants the right job. He believes in his abilities.

In the end, I told my friend that all he could do was be true to what he knows, and be true to his own beliefs. If other people judge him or try to figure out why he's not been working for a year, truly their comments and judgments say so much more about their life than it does about Stan's. I think that the other people's insecurities scream loud and clear when they label him as desparate, lazy, spoiled. What they can't understand, they label as 'other.' It's easier.

In our conversation, I remembered a quote I've loved for quite some time:
"Glue for the broken toy, wings for the saint
A Buddha, a false god and some war paint.
Wasting your wisdom, yes
but who can you trust?
Love holds a mirror up to all of us."
-George O'dowd

The idea of mirrors fascinates me. Often it's not so much who we are that people react to, but who they are. We each see ourselves in other people, are drawn to traits we like in ourselves. We are repelled and judgmental about traits we see in others, and don't like about our own personality or past. How strange to think that some days we are actually up against the demons of others when someone is judging us. It adds a great new layer to daily interactions. It gives me a lot to think about.

What's also interesting is who wrote the quote ... George O'dowd is none other than Boy George of 1980s Culture Club fame. I will admit here that I have a deep seated respect for him, and admire his ability to just be himself. He certainly puts up an interesting mirror for each of us. What is love and who do we love? What is self image, and how is it defined? How do we judge each other based on our own internal dialogue?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Living Room Re-do: Before and After

I'd mentioned that we'd been putting some time into redoing the living room. We live in an apartment, so we can't update wall colors or window treatments. Luckily, our apartment complex is only about five years old, so have some pretty nice details like crown molding, a gas fireplace, and light / modern colors.

The living room was feeling dated, and dark. The bookshelf felt small, the coffee table was too high. So, really without further delay... our before and afters

Before, Christmas 2005. Note the location of the Florio poster.

Before, April 2009. The placement of the poster is now baffling, right?

After, taken today!

And a few more shots of the room:Taken from the hall way

Taken from the kitchen

Cactus and tulips on the coffee table

The furniture that was changed over the past three months were:
- book shelf by Thomas O'brian from Target (birthday gift from Mom and Dad! Thanks again :) )
- Mendocino coffee table and side table, from Walmart (I'm shocked!)
- floor lamp, from Orchard Supply Hardware
- small sphere lamp from IKEA
- dragon fern from Home Depot and pot from IKEA
- pillows - Target and Marshalls (a how to will follow on those in a few days!)
- set of four botanical prints from This Young House, frames from IKEA (birthday gift from my guy - Thanks honey!)

And these things were bought new:
- cactus from Orchard Supply Hardware (ceramic pot was old, from a yard sale)
- tulip vase (a light fixture!) from OSH
- white plant holders from OSH
- ceramic white rhino from Z gallery (a birthday gift from my guy - Thank You!)
- wicker spheres found at Pier One for $1.50 each
- small box under coffee table found at Tuesday Morning by my guy! (another how to coming up!)
- moss terrarium supplies from Tuesday Morning, & Petco (another how to in the making!)

The aim of doing this update was to keep the cost low and give the room an airy feel. I am super please with how it came out. It feels quite welcoming now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Music: The Kennolyn Song

After introducing you to my experience at summer camp, and my recent journey to the memorial for Aunt Marion of Kennolyn Camp, I thought I'd make my Friday Music this week one of a similarly sentimental nature. Kennolyn was the camp that I attended as a kid, and then later was a counselor at. Like all camps (I imagine), it had its own song, simply titled "The Kennolyn Song."

The camp was founded in 1946, and so some of the traditions and campfire songs hail from that time. Our song was originally known as "The Lollypop Song," and an extra verse was added to it to include the camp's name. One of my all time favorite memories of camp is of Uncle Max leading everyone at campfire. He loved to sing, and often had hand motions that went along with the songs. When he sang this song at campfire, he'd flex his muscles when the "man who made it musta been a champ line" came up.

So here's our song - take a listen:

The Kennolyn Song from Paula on Vimeo.

The lyrics are super simple:
K-E-double N-O-L-Y-N spells Kennolyn, Kennolyn
That's the only decent kind of camp, camp
Man who made it must have been a champ, champ
K-E-double N-O-L-Y-N you see,
Its a camp in the woods
guaranteed to make you good,
It's Kennolyn for me
And for you, too!

And here are a few more images from the day:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fresh Air: Erik Reese and An American Gospel

I was listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross last night on the way home from work. I truly enjoy the show, and I really felt I should share this interview with you all. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it - but if you're just looking for the link, you can listen to the interview here.

Erik Reese recently published the book "An American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God," and its a discussion of America and our vision of the Kingdom of God. Reese is straight forward and honest in his reflections about American religion. He takes issue with how many churches fixate on the fear of sin and the need to repent, how church can be overly focused on the limiting features of religion. That Reese brings voice to these things is seriously refreshing.

Instead of the punitive nature of God preached at some churches, Reese prefers to see the all encompassing and loving nature of God. That we see the Creation and evidence of God in all of nature. That the basis of Christianity can be found in The Sermon on the Mount.

I really love what he's saying, what he feels the heart of the matter is. His take on what's happened and is happening in modern religion is not far different from that of Tyler Wigg Stevenson is saying; that we need to focus on what is actually in the Bible, what is actually a part of scripture to understand the true meaning of Christianity. Modern Christianity has moved fairly far away from its roots.

An excerpt from Reese's book:
"In the Gospel of Thomas, we hear Jesus' followers ask,"When will the kingdom come?" Jesus responds,"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here it is,' or 'Look, there it is.' Rather the father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it."

Why don't we see it? The natural world is undeniably beautiful. Cherry blossoms are blooming outside my window right now, and tulips are engaged in their perennial resurrection. But we Americans seem to have become too distracted by accumulation and haste to pause over this remarkable observation from the Gospels of Luke and Thomas. "

Take a listen here.

So, what do you think?

Summer Session Here I Come!

Today I got confirmation that there is still room in a summer term class that I'm just super excited about. Yale Divinity School does week long classes over the summer, and I'm going to be taking "The Bible through Art and Artifact." The class has just five lectures, but each day we get to actually go see the Art and Artifacts we're discussing, because Yale has a pretty cool store of things on its campus. I'm super excited, both to be going back to my old alma mater, but also to be immersed in the world of learning again.

It's funny, for the longest time I have had dreams about going back to school. Sometimes its going back to UC Santa Barbara, where I did my undergrad work. Lots of times its about going back to Yale. I don't know if it's my heart telling me something (like I should go back and get a Master of Divinity degree on top of my Master of Arts) or if its just happy memories of things I've really enjoyed, and those things capture my mind.

Either way, I'm one step closer to nerding out about all things Biblical. Really, sometimes I amaze my own self on how nerded out I can get about these topics. I'm grateful to have something that captures my interest like this. It feels so good to have something you can just dig into and lose yourself in.

On a somewhat related note, today at work we had an auto blogger come in. He's going to be the new moderator on some message boards one of our clients has. I bring him up because it was really cool meeting someone who's really carved out a niche for himself. He's gotten enough business around his blog that he's about become dedicated to it (and work related to it) full time. He's going to leave his day job to blog and write about the automotive world. It was completely inspiring to meet someone who's actively following his dreams, and who is right on the brink of them coming to fruition.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Compassion: Outward and Inward

"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."
- Jack Kornfield

I love this sentiment. I know for me, its often easier to remember to be kind to those around me than it is to be kind to myself. From the time we are small, we are taught to share, to be inclusive, to encourage other people. We are taught to forgive others. One of the things I think we often forget is that we need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to the other people in our lives.

Doesn't it seem like we are often pushing ourselves to perfection, never letting go of an ideal? We nearly have a double standard - we are so forgiving with others, but with ourselves we fear we're going to be seen as selfish, or fear we've let someone else down.

I think that especially in hard times, its good to take a deep breath and be kind to ourselves. We work hard, we have high standards. It's good to stop for a moment and recognize that compassion should extend both outward and inward.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Lessons Taught by an Aunt and Uncle

A couple of weekends ago, my sister, her husband and I went back to summer camp. My sister and I had attended Kennolyn as campers, went through the Camper in Leadership Training program, and went on to be counselors and Directors ourselves. Camp was a life changing event. We learned to be self sufficient. We learned to be away from home for the first time, without family (other than each other). We learned to get in touch with nature, we grew meeting new people. At camp, and in being counselors, we learned lessons that have served us since, that have taught us about being leaders, about love, about friendship, and about living a good life.

Our Mom and Dad first sent me in 1985. I went away for two weeks to Hi-Camp, and had "the time of my life." We both attended, either as campers our counselors through college. My sister met her future husband to be at camp; he was part of a "Camp America" program, coming abroad from England to be a counselor with us. We met a lot of foreign staff, sang many awesome songs (from "Veggie Mite" to "Flower of Scotland").

Throughout our time at camp, the two owners and directors were an ever present force. Uncle Max and Aunt Marion started the camp after he returned from World War II. They had both been teachers, and their dream was to start a summer camp for children. The first summer, in addition to the campers, their nieces and nephews attended camp and it during that first summer that Uncle Max and Aunt Marion's titles were secured. And, it was a life time of loving and welcoming children to summer camp that they earned the role of Aunt and Uncle in the hearts of many.

Uncle Max and Aunt Marion had high standards. From the rules (girls hair had to be up until dinner, you had to have clean hands to get in for any meal, no visible tattoos, no smoking) to expectations, the bar was set very high for those of us who worked at Camp. We had one day off a week, and we got paid very little. Not only did we oversee a cabin, but we taught classes all day - things like archery, rifelry, ropes course, horseback riding.

While we complained and grumbled, we claimed it was like being in forced labor, we loved every minute of it. We were challenged. We had our hands full. We learned diplomacy, how to keep eight kids in line, how to sleep outside in the woods and cook over a fire. I am grateful for the lessons of those years, those wonderful summers.

Aunt Marion passed away in March, and we went up to attend the memorial. Uncle Max had passed away a couple of years ago. The place was packed with former counselors, Directors, campers. All of them there to sing the songs one more time, to remember the lives of two amazing people. And, as Andrew Townsend, a long time employee said "I expect that there was recently a great reunion in the afterlife. Of two long time sweethearts, rejoined. You know that there will be campfires, truths discussed and lives recounted over the dying embers of a campfire, the makings of foil stew, and lots children running around laughing, free and happy. And if that's not heaven, I don't know what is."

Looking back, here are a few classic photos of me during my time at Kennolyn:

My first summer, 1985. I'm second from the left. Imagine how surprised I was when this picture showed up on the cover of the camp yearbook!!

My first year as a counselor, 1990. I'm in the back row, third from the left. The kids in the front look strangely large, don't they?

My last summer, 1997 - back row, I'm the short one. This year I was the Counselor in Training Director. the blond girl in the row ahead of me is my sister!!

Over the Weekend

This weekend, we went to see Star Trek. I really liked it. Given, there were some basic plot issues, but if you were able to set that aside, I found the story to be entertaining. I really liked the back story of James T. Kirk, and I really loved Zachary Quinto as the young Spock. Then again, I loved him in Heroes, too. However, Wynona Rider as Spock's mom? What?!? They tried to make her look old, and it just didn't work.

We also did a little more work around the apartment. A while back, we tackled the Dining Room ... and now we're working on the Living Room. I can't wait to show you pictures, because the room really does look different and lighter. I love it.

Another side project I'm totally enamored with is making a moss terrarium. I bought a few things yesterday (a container, moss, and some rocks) and will put some of it together tonight. It's a pleasingly cheap project, and it takes me back to childhood, when my grandma had a cool terrarium with plastic gnomes in it.

And, we had my sister and her husband over for dinner last night. They brought their dog, Joey with them. We played Texas Hold 'Em and it was a lot of fun.

I've really been enjoying the break from thinking so many serious thoughts. I think I got a tad overwhelmed by the amount of retreats I was leading. One in October, One in January, two in March. While it is a labor of love, I'm realizing I need down time between them to recharge and reflect on other things.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Music: 'The Maker' by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds

I happened upon this song over Pandora, and was immediately taken by it. The words are delicious. The melody is gorgeous. It's a cover, too (you all know how I love the covers).

I'd love for you to take a listen. And, once you have, let's talk about the theology of this song. In the first stanza, there's the line that "I'm a stranger in the eyes of the Maker." I stopped and paused when I read this. Is it possible? Can any of us be a stranger in the eyes of the One who created each of us?

No. I don't think we can. I'm not sure if that is what the song is saying, but at first blush, I don't agree with this early sentiment. Perhaps the singer feels like they are a stranger to God. Perhaps they have wandered about, "run a twisted line," perhaps they do not even recognize themselves.

I know I can empathize with this, feeling as if the Maker may no longer recognize me, because I'd been distant, I'd lost my way, I'd wrapped myself in fear. It happens to each of us.

What I do love about the song is that by the end, the singer, after seeing John the Baptist and recognizes that he is "not a stranger in the hands of the Maker." However, it seems in this context that it may only be after baptism that one is fully recognized by God.

So, take a listen, and let us know - what do you think? Are we always recognized by God as His own? Does it take a human act to bring us into the light?

And, here are the lyrics:
Oh, oh deep water, black and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I've run a twisted line
I'm a stranger in the eyes of the Maker
I could not see for the fog in my eyes
I could not feel for the fear in my life

From across the great divide, In the distance I saw a light
Of Jean Baptiste's he's walking to me with the Maker
My body my body is bent and broken by long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of Abraham and turn my head away
I'm not a stranger in the hands of the Maker

Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters
Standing there with broken wings
I have seen the flaming swords
There over east of eden
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker

Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ever so Useful

The last few days have been busy, and I realize I've been without my "real" camera for over a week. I usually carry it everywhere I go, but I left it at my sister's house last weekend and haven't retrieved it yet. Instead of having that in my purse, I've had my iPhone handy to capture what I've been doing.

Saturday I got to hang out with my buddy Devin, at our retreat celebration. Our team gets together after each retreat to go over what we did, read reviews, and have a meal together. Here's my friend reading, quietly, by himself. He's two now. We have a lot of fun together.


After doing some big spring cleaning, and removing a fair amount of mold (ewww) from the bedroom, I hunkered down and bought a couple of de-humidifiers. Here's the cute little one that will hang in the closet. I like that it's "renewable" - there's nothing to dump out, you just plug it in when the indicator is pink. And then it dries itself out:


And, would you believe all the things this is "useful for"?? My coworkers and I were delighted by the imagery illustrating this:
Good for so much

I understand that all of these things probably benefit from dry conditions, but I laughed out loud at seeing the floppy disk, old school camera, and gun on the package. This thing is "useful for" so many things!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day: Leaving Flowers for Others

Welcome to all those stopping by from Pecannoot!

Welcoming Spirit is about joy and life, its where I've chronicled some of my adventures in retreat leading, and talked a little about some of the challenges and hurdles of this life. I feel like we get to choose joy every day. We can wake up and decide that this will be a great day, or we can decide that we're going to buy in to everything the media wants us to fear.

So, on this May Day, let's all vow to choose love. Let's all leave the equivalent of little flowers for each other throughout the day by smiling at someone on the street, offering a seat to someone on the bus, or giving a reassuring word to someone at work. It's easy to start with tiny steps. A smile encourages another person to laugh, to love, and live life to it's fullest.

And now, let life's party begin! Here's a little Volare, by the Gypsy Kings:

Volare is an Italian song, and the lyrics (translated below) are sheer joy:
I think that a dream almost never returns:
I was painting my hands and my face blue.
Then suddenly I was coming, carried off by the wind,
And I was beginning to fly into the endless sky.

To fly, Oh!, Oh!,
To sing, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!
In the blue, painted blue,
Happy to be up there.

And I flew and flew happily to the heights of the Sun
And higher and higher into the sky.
While the world slowly, slowly
Disappeared in the distance down there.
Sweet music sounded
For me alone.

To fly, Oh!, Oh!,
To sing, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!
In the blue, painted blue,
Happy to be there.

But all the dreams vanish at dawn because
When it sets, the Moon takes them along,
But I continue dreaming in your beautiful eyes
That are blue like a sky dotted with stars.

To fly, Oh!, Oh!,
To sing, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be there.

But I continue to fly happily to the heights of the Sun
And higher and higher into the sky.
While the world slowly, slowly
Disappears in your blue eyes,
Your voice is sweet music
That sounds for me.

To fly, Oh!, Oh!,
To sing, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!, Oh!
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be there.