Sunday, May 29, 2011


Sultan, a fun, smart, sweet, spastic,
sometimes brainless, neurotic
A random collection of thoughts I had today: 
  1. How do I already have a farmer’s tan (read: burn) when it’s not even June yet and I live in the City of Perpetual Cloudiness?
  2. Lilacs smell amazing.  
  3. Those miniature lava cakes that are crispy/fluffy out the outside and gooey on the inside are crazy good.  The apple muffins I just made are just like those miniature lava cakes.  Only difference is that they’re not crazy good.  Quite gross, actually.  
  4. Showing sincere appreciation towards someone goes a long way towards earning that person’s respect.  Bonus if it’s done in actions, not just words.  
  5. Thoroughbreds are fun, smart, and sweet as can be, but also potentially spastic, brainless, and neurotic.  That’s why I love them.  
  6. Memorial Day actually lasts for at least 3 1/2 days.  
  7. I must get out on a river in the next couple of weeks, or... well, I don’t know.  But I need to do it. 
  8. PCs are pathetic.  So are their commercials.
  9. They say hot whiskey makes a sore throat feel better.  I wonder if drinking it cold will do the same thing.  (Trying it currently.  I’ll let you know how it works out).  
  10. The last couple of inches of liquid/sludge in a homebrew bucket looks a lot like the water/muck in a vernal pool.  
  11. Everybody needs to be loved.  So many of the world’s problems exist because people don’t feel loved often or deeply enough. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It might seem strange, but I really enjoy rainy days, especially this time of year.  I love the slow, soaking, persistent rains that permeate deep into the soil, saturate the empty pore spaces, and nourish the wildflowers that are finally making an appearance after a long, cold, reluctant spring.  I like watching the drops fall on my car windshield, course down the glass in small rivulets, and carry away the pollen clinging to the glass.  I love the smell of wet earth and the way the sugar maple leaves glisten as they twitch with each little breeze or raindrop.  If we've had a long dry spell, I get to see the hardened soil become soft, and watch as gaps and depressions fill with water and soil particles become an indistinguishable slurry of mud.  Few things are as relaxing to me as lounging on my loveseat with a window cracked, listening to the rain and the occasional chirping bird while I write, read, or in this case, type.  There’s something quite peaceful and soothing about it.  Something that encourages reflection and introspection.  Later, when the heat of summer arrives, there’s nothing more refreshing than standing outside in a downpour and getting absolutely soaked to the core. 
I was sitting here enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of a high-quality rainy spring day while I worked, and it made me think about love.  Real, unconditional, transformative love.  Love a Father has for his child.  Why?  Because it seems to me that that kind of love is really a lot like a good, long, soaking rain.  That kind of love permeates us.  That kind of love fills up the empty spaces in us and between us, drowns our independence, and connects us to what we were once isolated from (let’s just pretend that preposition isn’t there).  That kind of love cleanses.  That kind of love makes hard things soft... hearts, for example.  That kind of love is endless; it’s abounding.  That kind of love just keeps coming, gently but persistently.  Pride slowly crumbles under the relentless flow of that kind of love.  And then, when we’re soft and ready, that kind of love brings healing, growth, and renewal.  It nourishes new life.  That rainy-day kind of love is transformative.    
Love works just like the rain.  Have you experienced it?  Have you been changed by it?  Maybe it’s time for us to let down our guard...put away our umbrellas, so to speak...and get soaked to the core.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Big Picture

Hiking to Mt. Whitney, CA
Do you ever get overwhelmed at the enormity of the world?  It’s mind-bogglingly huge to me.  Mountain peaks, canyons, grasslands, valleys, oceans, caves, plateaus, forests, deserts, and tundra, each impressive in its own right, are combined into a planet that is unfathomably gigantic.  I won’t even get into the galaxies, and certainly not the universe; pondering it makes my head explode.  There have been a few times in my life when I was particularly struck by the vastness of the planet we call home-- for instance, climbing the steep, jagged mountain walls of The Whitney Zone; peering over the rim of the Grand Canyon; laying in a field staring at millions of stars in a black abyss (see, there goes that universe stuff again.. Gah!); trekking across the deceptively expansive Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park; and backpacking deep in the Linville Gorge with mountains hugging close around me.  Each of these experiences left me feeling inconsequential, insignificant, vulnerable... small.  “They” say that’s when we feel true humility, right?  When we’re standing in the presence of greatness?  I think “they” are absolutely correct.  Don’t believe me?  Then get out... I mean really, truly OUT.  Spend some time in the wilderness, and you’ll know what I mean.  

Either that or rent a few of the Planet Earth DVDs.  
A little piece of the complexity
It’s not just the world’s physical size that gets me, though.  It’s also its complexity.  All these teeny tiny parts combine to make slightly less teeny tiny parts, which combine to make tiny parts, which combine to make... well, I suppose you get the point.  And once those parts combine to make a whole--an organism, say-- there’s the next level of complexity:  those organisms’ interactions with one another and with the non-living parts of their environment.  It’s a tangled, interwoven mess of relationships that somehow just... works.  Crazy!  Beyond the enormity and complexity of our planet, there’s also the unbelievable power, the incredible force, that pulses, grows, ebbs and flows through a world that is at once incredibly strong and incredibly fragile.  
And yet all of these things, while difficult to grasp, still don’t compare to the feeling I get when I consider all of the lives lived on this planet, past and present... all of the stories, the losses, the celebrations, the journeys taken by each individual to set foot on the earth from its inception.  When I was younger, I remember riding in the backseat of my parents’ vehicle past downtown and seeing a parking lot full of cars outside of a hotel.  At that point I hadn’t experienced Mount Whitney or the Grand Canyon, I didn’t know what quarks or symbiotic relationships were, and I wasn’t really aware of cultures other than those that existed in my own hometown.  Even then, though, I was overwhelmed at the realization that each car represented at least one human being.  So many people!  How different their life experiences must be!  How varied their worldviews!  How unique their day-to-day experiences!  And in that moment, I remember wondering if, despite those differences, they all still desired to feel loved, valued, and cared for.  I wondered if they felt it.  Did they sense a connection to the people living, working, and even parking next to them?  Or did they live their lives autonomously, isolated in their personal bubbles, offices, and sedans?  That day, as a 10-ish year old girl with a limited perspective on life, I remember feeling overwhelmed with curiosity about all those people represented by all those cars, and overcome by the great need I already sensed for us to love each other well.  

Refugees from 5 nations graduating
from our job training program
Those feelings have stayed with me through the years, becoming both deeper and broader with time as I’ve had the privilege of interacting with people from all sorts of backgrounds.  I am still overwhelmed, but now I’m also awed by the gift of diversity God has given us through his great, divine creativity, and I’m honored by the responsibility entrusted to us-- the responsibility to serve, to bring healing, to recognize the beauty in one another and help it grow.  
I think it’s important to remember the very, very big picture, and to appreciate the vastness of our creator and his creation (including but not limited to the human species).  We need to live our lives in constant awareness of the greater story.  But let’s not forget that this great story is told one sentence, no, one word at a time.  It’s our daily interactions, our moment-to-moment decisions, that make up each phrase.  It’s our daily commitment to step outside of our personal bubbles, lift our eyes up from our own affairs (Philippians 2: 3-4), and love one another that gives each sentence meaning.  And running through it all, a constant, steady thread linking each tiny piece of the narrative, is grace-- without which the complicated, messy story just wouldn’t make any sense.