Showing posts from February, 2016

(the) Drama

I keep using the one word:  drama.  Because sometimes that's the quickest explanation of the whirlwind of junk that seems to be sweeping through the lives of those close to me.  "A lot of drama," I tell people when they ask what's been going on.  It's easier to call it drama than to talk about fear of cancer, friends making bad choices, broken relationships, psych wards, unemployment, troubled families.

But I was thinking today about that word, drama, and of the ways that what I want to dismiss doesn't so easily disappear.  Often it seems, in fact, to go beyond logic.  The results of what are apparently petty sins, selfishness, deceit and immaturity cut deep wounds into people's souls.  Wounds that time is not sufficient to heal.  Wounds that are still raw to the touch years later.

Why? I wondered on the walk to work this morning.  Why does the poison in some cases spread and spread, like a cancer itself, when it was just drama in the first place?  Why do…


I am embarrassingly wealthy when it comes to friends.

That thought makes me smile.

It is not always an easy way to live.  A life full of deep connections to other people is prone to being messy and painful and complicated.  But there is so much richness to my life right now that I want to stay awake all night with the wonder of it.

I remember being desperately lonely in sixth grade or so and praying for a friend.

And God provided.  Throughout high school, I had not only my siblings but core groups of friends in youth group and quizzing, from camp, from online.  In college I had the Greek class and C1 and Dag.  In China I had my team and the brothers and sisters on campus.

And now.

It dizzies me to reflect on what my life is right now.  The variety of my friends is clear evidence to me that it's never been about me choosing them.  We were chosen for each other.  There are coworkers and three year olds and parents.  Students and teachers, organists and unemployed, Americans and Sa…

Banking on Mercy

Well, friends.
Life has been a weird mix recently of intensely wonderful and intensely awful.  The lack of posting (and writing in general) doesn't mean there's nothing going on inside my head... on the contrary, it's hard for me to write much when my mind is too busy processing All The Things.

Three quotes have been running through my thoughts all the time.
God is good.   All the time.
Because really, I -- all of us -- need to hear that truth over and over.  I was so grateful that we sang Psalm 136 at church on Sunday, a song that we sang my very first Sunday at Hope.  He is steadfast, He is faithful.  I am so grateful for the memories of saying those exact words to friends, and of hearing it from them.
Davy wanted life to be something you did on your own; the whole idea of a protective, fatherly God annoyed him. I would understand this better in years to come but never subscribe to it... The weak must bank on mercy -- without which, after all, I wouldn't have lasted fiftee…


"So thoughtlessly we swing on our destinies." (Leif Enger)

I wasn't even supposed to work on Friday.

I had tried to get the day off, to go to Presbytery in Indy and work on China sorts of things.  But it hadn't worked out, so I was at Crumble after all.  Like so many days.  And like so many days, I was running around between the espresso machine and the dishwashing sink and the register, and I looked up and glanced out the window.

And totally disbelieved my eyes.  People who are studying in Germany for a year don't suddenly appear out in the piazza, casually smoking a cigarette, as if they had all the time in the world.

Must be a look-alike, I thought.  After all, there are other white guys in Bloomington who wear plaid and a backpack and are just a few inches taller than I am.  And I proceeded to forget about it.  Until a few minutes later when I looked up and the guy was still out there, still smoking, still looking exasperatingly, exactly like my friend Tyler.

Contentment? Boundaries? Yes!

...I rejoice that things are as they are... (T.S. Eliot)
Most years I choose a word for the year, something that I want to be a theme word that I can come back to and grow in.  (Some years this works out more clearly than others.)

Last year my word was contentment, but I was telling a friend the other day that it probably should have been boundaries, since it feels like 2015 was a year of learning about how to set boundaries on time and commitments, how to say no thoughtfully so that I could say yes intentionally.

The two things aren't so dissimilar, though, and the more I thought about it, they went together well.  As I learned to appreciate the boundaries set by being human and having finite time to work with, and only being able to be in one place at a time -- and learned to thank God for that, rather than constantly wishing for more -- I have learned contentment.  Not, by any means, perfectly.

But it is a blessing to see how a growing appreciation for the boundaries that I can …

Already. Not yet.

Sunday afternoon

It was my brother's 22nd birthday, so I called him on my walk back from church.

We talked for less than four minutes.

It was probably about two minutes past where either of us actually had anything to say, I think, or could even make a decent pretense.  We are strangers to each other.

The only form of sadness I felt was a numb anger at the fact that such is the reality of our relationship.

Sunday night

It hit me more viscerally as I climbed into bed.  I pulled the covers up over my head and proceeded to yell.  (No tears.  I passed that point a long time ago.)  Why's it like this, God?  This sucks!  Where is the good in this that couldn't have come another way?  WHAT IS THE DEAL?

And then I fell asleep.

Wednesday morning

I sat in the Herrons' living room, part of the circle of women who I dearly love and respect and a few who I'm only beginning to get to know.  We were talking about the book of Esther, the working out of God's sovereign and loving…


for Merry

The season of deafening silence began in this way:
(For each of the decades of silence, a single day)
She pressed her ash-smudged forehead against my lips
Leaning in for a kiss
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain...

But our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost;
We are cut off utterly.
We cannot hope to turn again,
Or, indeed, to turn at all;
Dum spiro spero's sad corollary counterweight.

And if we have hoped in Christ in this life only,
We are of all men the most to be pitied.
But in fact, the Word intrudes:
"You shall know that I am Yahweh
I will open your graves
And put my Spirit within you
And you shall live."

From one degree of glory to another:
May my ash-smeared lips proclaim such truth
In unsilenced joy into ages everlasting.


Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain is the final line of the first song in the Fellowship of the Ring, Quenya for "Listen! It speaks to those who were not born to die."

Dum spiro spero is Latin for "While…

Reckless (and Beautiful)

We were standing in her kitchen, like we do on many Sunday afternoons.

"Do you know how it feels to be friends with you, Hannah Keeler?" Susan asked, apropos of nothing as far as I could tell.

"" I said, having no idea where this was going.  Wonderful?  Awful?Like you acquired another little sister, like it or not?

"Reckless," she said, pulling me into a hug.  "Being friends with you feels reckless."

Over the subsequent weeks, as I've thought about her words, that one word, reckless, I've decided that it is a fitting word for how friendships feel from my perspective right now, too.

It feels reckless to invite new people into the Tautology Club, with all of our craziness.  To say, "Here are my surrogate siblings.  Welcome in."

It feels reckless to babysit more kids for the first time, to learn to love them too.  To snuggle up on the couch with Jacob and Merry, reading (again) the tale of Saint George and the Dragon.

It fee…