Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Enjoy the Ride.

I learned how to bike in a basement.  Living in Kansas City in the Eastside, which was and is one of the poorest areas that is notorious for crime, it was not a good idea for the 5 year old me to bike around the neighborhood.  I fondly look back on the circular pathway that was made for me in the basement; I pushed those pedals around that circle countless times.

When I was in elementary school in Fort Collins, I cherished the bike rides I would take.  It was such a rush to be independently whizzing down a street and discovering the neighborhood around me.  I never went too far, mainly because biking on big roads seemed a bit too terrifying (uhhh still does).  I vividly remember that I decided to walk to a friend's house instead of bike and I felt so frustrated about how sloooow walking was.  I thought to myself, "Why walk when you can bike? The wind in your face as you speed to your destination is so worth it." (Even back then, I was sentimental...or as poetic an 11 year-old can be)  I walked a block and then turned around so that I could get on my bike because walking was just not good enough.

Somewhere in the middle of junior high, I forgot about biking.  My bike got a flat tire and I never bothered to pump it back up--it has been gathering dust ever since.  I think I've taken out a bike for a short spin three or four times since junior high.  I've used stationary bikes a lot at the gym and thought that was comparable to real bike riding, only because I forgot what it felt like.

The rushing wind.  The quick turns.  Completely eating it when you slide unto a wet patch of leaves (that's probably fueled the lack of bike riding...).  Hearing the birds chirp.  The low hum the brake makes when you pull it.  The switch of the gears.  Standing up to pedal to get really fast.  Using your arms to signal turns.  Feeling the sunshine warm my skin while the air breezing by cools it simultaneously.  I can't help but giggle when I bike that first block away from the house I'm staying at.

These small things enrich my experience of this summer in Bexley.  I am lucky to be here, with people supporting me in every way that you can imagine.  I have a place to stay (Thanks Langknechts!), a bike to ride on (Thanks Marcia!), and deep levels of love and care being poured into me (If I mention all of you, this post would be entirely too long).

As I petal through the streets of Bexley, I remind myself to relish in this journey.  I'm really skilled at worrying and creating anxiety within myself that makes obstacles seem too big to handle.  CPE seems like this scary blob right now, but I can already feel the energy of massive change moving through me.  Soak it up and enjoy it.  This road is meant to be travelled and I'll be heading down it no matter what I do.  Might as well grab the helmet, roll up my pant leg, petal hard, and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


A year ago, I was absolutely terrified to leave Columbus, OH.  I recall a dream I had last June in which I was in a room with many people; there was a small girl that resembled me as an 8 year old.  She was sitting on the ground with her knees gathered up so that her chin was resting on them.  She asked to stay in Columbus.  Columbus was familiar and full of people that know and love me;  it makes sense that leaving across the country away from my undergrad home would be difficult.  Pieces of my heart clung to Ohio last year and were not prepared to leave.  I kept telling myself, "You have to leave in order to come back. You can come back but for now you will experience something new."

This week, I make the trek back to the Midwest; I will once again live in Bexley, OH.  My heart longs to stay here in Berkeley.  I want to continue making (and drinking) macchiatos and grabbing fresh vegetables from Monterey Market.  I want to see the water of the Bay sparkle as the sun sets in the horizon.  I want to walk through the streets of Berkeley that are adorned with greenery and flowers; I want to be able to stop for a second to sniff the sweet aromas held in between colorful petals.  I want to stay out too late dancing with my friends here.  I want to cling on to the daily routines I have here in the Bay.  I don't want to put my life here on pause; but it's happening and the change is soon.

Does this mean that I love Columbus any less? Absolutely not.  I know that my experience will be wonderful and I cannot wait to be surrounded by the loving support that I have in family and friends in Ohio.  This summer will wrench itself into my heart; not only will I be tested in ways I've never imagined in working and learning at Nationwide Children's Hospital, but I will be able to spend time with amazing people who are important to me.  It will be a great breather outside of seminary community while being a clinical pastoral challenge.  I cling to this future because I feel called to aide people in their time of trauma; I hope it is as fulfilling as I have imagined and felt in the past.

I am going to have indescribable experiences and part of that is why I am holding on to my Berkeley life that I have established here.  Luckily, my narrative in Columbus will live on and Berkeley will hold a place for me to come home to.

Here's to the knowns and the unknowns, on both of which I cling.  Here's to the beauty and familiarity of both Columbus and Berkeley.  I am grateful that these places both feel like home now; my heart continues to splinter as it holds memories of Fort Collins, Columbus, London, D.C., and now the Bay Area.  What is next for this ever expanding heart?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stay Weird.

Thanks to a fellow seminarian, I have a KEEP CHURCH WEIRD sticker that I placed on my laptop cover.

While working on an essay at a local coffee shop, someone walked up to me and asked about that sticker.  He had seen it before on a car and wanted to get one for himself.  I couldn't help him in that respect but in our two minutes of interaction, we connected in our love of weird and love of church.

This man was wearing a Berkeley Farm Collective tank top and looking very much like the stereotypical hippie.  In this Berkeley community, I often feel a great disconnect between what I believe or do and what the people that live in my neighborhood or the people that frequent the coffee shop I work at.  This city of Berkeley holds so much love and community but not often in the context of church or religion.  We have fresh markets, quirky little cafes, neighborhood gardens, co-ops, and plenty of bike culture.

In the scheme of US culture, Berkeley is weird.  The Bay Area is weird; it's the place where composting is city-wide affair (it still surprises me that I could put a steak in our compost bin and it would travel along with the banana peels to be turned into fertilizer).  But the Bay Area is infamous more for it's political dialogues than religious or spiritual practices.

And here I am, embracing the weirdness of Berkeley yet putting the people of Berkeley in a box.  Because I assumed that the man coming up to talk to me was not interested in my KEEP CHURCH WEIRD sticker but my SAVE THE POUDRE sticker (that's a long explanation but it's a Fort Collins environmental thing).  But weird means no boundaries; weird means out of the norm.  Berkeley has constantly gone against the cultural norms politically and will continue to defy norms when it comes to spirituality and religion.

As this man grabbed his coffee and headed out the door, he called to me, saying, "Stay weird!"  He has no idea how wonderful it was to hear those words.

I am here in Berkeley to be weird; I am here in seminary to be weird.  I will not fit into boundaries and I will open closed doors.  I will call for change where I see pain and suffering and I will be that weird one refusing to be quiet.  Thanks, man in the coffee shop, for reminding me that there is no boundaries for who the people of Berkeley are and supporting me in my journey of weirdness.

And now back to essay writing...