Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oh PLTS...

What has made this past week so calming and rejuvenating for me?

Was it that How I Met Your Mother Season 7 is on Netflix? Or that I watched obscene amounts of it (I can't even admit the number on here for fear of extreme judgement....)?

Was it the nightly Advent devotions that include candlelit readings and prayer?

Was it my day of health on Wednesday that involved a eucalyptus oil and salt bath, feel good movies, baking eggnog bread pudding, and making egg drop soup?

Was it the Adventfest Talent Show Friday night, full of joyful stories, music, paintings, poetry, and energetic camp songs?

Was it the annual cookie decorating at Phyllis and Herbert Anderson's house (president and our pastoral care professor), complete with eggnog coffee, massive amounts of decorating creativity, and a delicious soup lunch?

As I walked home from work last night, a smile bubbled up onto my lips and I just feel joyful, all the way down deep.  Has this been a consistent feeling this fall? Uh not even close.  My journal entries would tell you that I've been to the depths of uncertainty and self-consciousness.  That's why this bliss tastes so magnificently sweet.

My seminarian friend Erin and roommate Dominique wrote a parody of the camp song"Pharoah" (which is a parody of "Louie, Louie" so it's circular parodying haha).

PLTS parody

Here are the lyrics:
Ed Johnson told me just a year ago
That I should move to Berkeley and make my home
So I packed my car full to the brim,
And this is what I got for listening to him,

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, why is Berkeley so expensive

Me and 4 others came to see Steed
Turns out my Sunday school was fooling me,
So I took my Bible and I highlighted it
Still had to panic during every quiz

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, Oh Looper please work today

Learning about Luther was next on the list
Most of the time in class, my face looked like this
visited lots of churches that were really cool
if you say contemporary or tradition
Carol and Kyle will kill you!
(they won't really kill you, but they'll judge you!)

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, where did my humor go
(Seriously, I used to have so many good jokes. Now they are all theological...)

Jayson: So Luther, Melanchthon, and Spener walk into a bar...

The Andersons make an awesome duo
Phyllis preached that we were good soil
Herb tells stories that help us grow
he makes us role play with Episcopals!

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, Who knew I'd suck at empathy

Need a cup of sugar? Someone'll bring it to your door
They'll come inside so you can talk some more
(Probably share more than you wanted to...)
We're having so much fun with our new family
we can't imagine choosing another seminary

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wash Away into Renewal

Today rings in the third day of rain in the Bay Area. Today, as my friend Erin drove through pouring rain for a solid hour to get to where we needed to be for church, I thought about Jonah's story and the people he burdened when hiding out in the boat.  I laughed and said, "Geez, someone needs to get out of this boat!"  Am I proud that I'm such a Bible nerd that I thought that joke was funny? Umm no...maybe I get some new hobbies. :P

This rain continues to wash away the old burdens of yesterday and brings us into a new church year and into a period of expectancy and excitement.  This is movement.  This is hope.

Cleansing Drops
I sat here, waiting for the rain,
On a fresh new porch,
I held my brain.

Heavy thoughts filled my mind,
Exhausted, from the
routine grind.

Rains arrival,
I awaited with pleasure,
Cleansing drops,
became my treasure. 

I yelled out for
heaven's tear,
All my sorrows,
I hoped it shall clear.

When the very first drop,
hit my head,
Pure excitement,
virally spread.

Came down suddenly,
it started to pour,
My heart and spirit,
began to soar.

Seconds later my life was
cleansed and soaked,
My clear mind,
has been evoked.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Here I am.

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ -Isaiah 65:1

Interactions with the divine seem rare compared to the abundance of distractions of every day life.

How often to your fingers touch dirt?  When was the last time your body was immersed in a natural body of water?  How often to you take the time to watch an entire sunrise or sunset?  I am constantly reminded of how processed our life experiences are. I walk on concrete sidewalk, I eat bread that looks completely different than the grain that was harvested to create it, I wear clothes that involve polyester and mysterious stretchy material (yea skinny jean find from Goodwill!).  There are so many steps in between the essence of nature and what I experience.

With this absolutely man-made and material world that we reside in, it is simple to embrace the inherent values found within this culture.  Within Western culture, there is a high value placed on the individual; we take pride in the idea that we can pull ourselves up from our American bootstraps to make a successful life.  The American dream exists in every person that says that their current experience of life is not enough; we are taught with billboards, online ads, and TV commercials that what we have is not enough.

Where is God in all of this?  When we are the people in charge of creating our own lives, what role does God play?  It seems that God has been put on the sidelines, in favor of the self.  God is irrelevant within our capitalist society.  How different was it back in Israel, BCE style?  Isaiah 65 talks about the obstinate people that pursue their own imaginations.  These people are deemed bad because they give secret vigils at cemeteries, eat pork, offering sacrifices in gardens, and etc.  Do I have any idea why these things are so horrible? Nope. But I'm getting the idea; I imagine the people that today pursue their own imaginations.

I know that I have my own tendency to focus on my control and power in a situation instead of trusting that God has the control and let go of my worries.  I dream of keeping my life together if only I become a better person who remembers to do everything in a timely manner.  I spew my thoughts and emotions out when talking to friends and often forget to ask about their day.  I live in my own created world of perceptions and opinions.  I'm learning to live with my brokenness that is found in my focus on myself instead of out at the world.  I full of emotions and I am a mess and best of all, it is alright because I am loved by God.  God gives me the gifts of empathy and love so that I can carry them out to the people I interact with every day.  God calls me to give support and love in God's all powerful name.  I am saying that I am here to hold steadfast, I am here to spread words of compassion.

I am here, but who wants to listen?  I am called to reveal my call to those who do not think they need it.  I am called to be a light for people who think that I am irrelevant because God is irrelevant.  I am called to show people that religion is more than a hypocritical joke, church is more than people stuck singing 500 year old hymns in a somber manner, and that there are messages in the Bible that are relevant for today.

What a hefty weight to carry on my shoulders; and not just my shoulders, but all of the people going or already a part of the ministry of God.  Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants alike are called to pursue the Divine despite the urge to focus only on ourselves.

Here we are, world.  You might not ask for us, you might not think you need us, but we know there is a hunger for depth and connection in this world of schisms.  How do we listen to the needs of those who find us irrelevant while providing a space for the depth and complexity of the Divine?  Since we live in a world that exalts power and control, creating a space that strips away control might not be useful for people who comfortably live with the focus of self-determination.

Good thing I have the rest of my life to work on these questions.