Oct 27 2010

Luke 6:45

(I’m joining with Ann Voscamp’s Walk with Him Wednesday  blogging community and sharing about a scripture verse I’ve memorized.)

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I’d always focused on the negative side of Luke 6:45: an unloving heart speaks hurtful words and makes people sad, or a silly heart says embarrassing things, and on and on. So at some point, I decided to hide my hurtful words and my silly words, so my unloving and silly heart wouldn’t be found out and cause problems.

Of course, it didn’t work and just made me feel worse. What I really wanted was a heart that said loving words and words that weren’t embarassing.

A while ago, during the stress of comprehensive exams, I started doodling a story about Little Me and Jesus.

Little Me

Little Me took her heart to Jesus and something happened:

Little Me and New Heart

And then Jesus sent her on an adventure:

Little Me on an adventure

A few months ago, I read Luke 6:45 and realized that there was another side to the verse–the positive side–so I memorized it and it has been my prayer: that Jesus would give me the little glowing heart from my Little Me doodles so that it could be shared with others.

“The good woman out of the good treasure of the heart produces good…For it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

Only Jesus can give that abundance and does so with joy! And then he sends us on adventures….

holy experience


Oct 25 2010

40 Days

“The wind is blowing away the leaves.  I can see more of the bus barn, a field of yellow, and trucks like little toys coming and going.  They must use the parking lot to practice backing up because the semi’s do it over and over, the beep-beep warning a distant refrain under John Dowland lute music on Pandora.  If not for practice, then it must be a window into a level of transit hell where truck drivers must park exactly between the lines, and do it over and over till they get it right. As I watch yet another attempt, the fireplace rumbles and puffs, adding a soft percussive line, and occasionally a wind gust flutes across the chimney, blowing a deep under note.”

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On October 10th, I embarked on a 40 day experiment: no TV shows or movies.

While my media ingestion habits were not extreme, I found that the time I spent was affecting time in other activities: reading books, writing, engaging in conversation.  Passively watching media was an easy way to fill time when I was tired or when I didn’t know exactly what else to do.  And, more troubling, I suspected that screen media was encroaching on my enjoyment of reading and stealing time from things I delight in doing, simply because watching pre-packaged stories requires much less effort.

Honestly, even with all the good reasons for limiting screen media, and new research about media and learning, the main reason I pulled the plug was a challenge God put to me:

“How badly do you want this contemplative life, Susan? Are you will to put forth the effort?”

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“Exactly what did you have in mind, God?”

I’ve been trying to craft a life that is conducive to praying while doing sustained academic reflection, and then sharing the fruit of that reflection in intensive writing.  While that has involved setting up a daily schedule and activities, I hadn’t dealt with reality of extended times of solitude yet. The biggest surprise for this introvert girl: long periods of unscheduled openness and being alone makes me twitch!

DSC_0078As the rhythm has settled in, I’ve found I love the idea of such a life, fear the reality of it, and fail at it daily.  Thus, I prayed, “Help God!” and God’s always-wise questions laid bare a number issues, TV being one of them.

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Gerald May, in Addiction and Grace, suggests that the way out of attachments is not to find a replacement attachment or addiction–something healthier, yet just as much an idol–but to sit in the spaciousness of what was once present, in all the scary vulnerable openness.

As the leaves fall, only bare branches remain.

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So I’ve been sitting with the spaciousness, rather than filling it. A few times I’ve walked, pacing laps around my apartment, clearly uncomfortable with the silence.  The desert monks from the 2nd century say, “Stay in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”

Two weeks in, the results are becoming noticeable.  I no longer feel resistance toward paying attention to reading and writing. I feel more present to life in general and simply more joyful.

My own imagination seems to be dusting off spiders and cobwebs, sputtering a bit on the dust from disuse, and helping me to not only engage my life, but helping me find words to describe life.

So today, in gratitude…

3-D life

Imagination

For words, and that they show up when I wait patiently and attentively

Rich conversations with friends about life, God, faith and love

Falling leaves

Helicopter seeds blown in the wind

Determined hummingbirds flying fiercely against the gusts

Joy

Homemade muffins

And an inquiring Stellar Jay…Ah! such amazing blue!

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Oct 19 2010

Stories

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Sun is streaming through the windows as I wait for the first hummingbird to taste test the new batch of sugar syrup. Earlier, I watched as one by one they hovered around the space where the feeder should be, then checking the wider area, “Maybe its lower now or over here closer to the plants.” Some nuz the purple ribbon holding the glass spiral my friend Holly gave me, hoping for sweetness from something so like a delicate flower.

Soon the leaves will fall and reveal more of Queen Anne hill and the trains. The weather changed overnight, it seems, from balmy fall to crisp winter. I woke this morning to fog erasing all evidence of the city, diffusing the light, and muffling the industry. The smell of brown leaves reminds me that All Hallowed’s Eve comes soon. No need to decorate, the spiders have set up house in every bush, between poles and rails, their nets glistening with dew each morning.

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Stories. Little snippets of life.

On Sunday afternoon, my friend Kelly gave me the gift of time and beauty, taking me to the Kabota Gardens. What was once the landscaping of an family estate and business now is a Japanese-American park gifted to the city. Trees of every variety, rocks rising up from the earth, a little copse of pine, narrow paths into secret sanctuaries, hydrangea blues and pinks, autumn reds, and water. We wandered upwards, following a rivulet, delightful as it rushed and gurgled and swooshed over rocks and under bridges, to a waterfall with fuchsia-blooming moss lining its spillway. On most likely the last sunny warm day, we wandered and talked, sharing stories and enjoying the visual story of the garden.

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I have been reading author Rumer Godden’s memoir of her writing life from 1945 to 1985. For all the fantasy and mystery novels , literary classics and theology tomes I’ve read, never have I been so taken by non-fiction, nor so delighted by the gift of story-telling. I’m mere pages from the end and find that I’m reading more slowly, savoring the little details, the artful turn of phrases, the insights.

Children know the joy and pain of stories, and they beg for them each night or at the dinner table, or wrestle with sounding out the words in their first books, undaunted, to be caught up and transported. They can hear a loved story over and over, never bored.

Rumer’s writing has returned me to that love, seeped into me and ignited both a gratitude for, and a desire to tell, stories. To use words and writing (so hard for so, so long) not for conveying information, or to teach, but literally, to see words, taking the lessons photography has been teaching me this past year and approach writing more as a way to capture a moment in its fullness, to savor, to remember, to share.

As I photograph moments, and now have tried to write out those moments in words, the feeling is akin to prayer, and why not prayer be the word-photo, whispering, laughing, yelling, crying our story to the One who delights or weeps with us in the telling?

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Ah, a hummingbird has finally arrived, glinting green in the slanting morning light. He takes a sip, then another, then gently lights on the perch, drinking long and deep. It is good.

In gratitude for stories…

God writing and joining our story

Tea and conversations, walks and sharing

The joyous story of an adoption

Listening to Jack read aloud The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Rumer Godden

Kabota Gardens, the story in their beauty

Lynne’s sermon and her gift of sharing stories

Photography’s continued lesson for living

Selling my first two photos and doors opening for more chances to capture moments and help stories be told with light and shadow.

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The Northern Flicker, whose visits add some lovely wild fun to my day, especially when he tries to land on the bird feeder–swinging it precariously.

holy experience

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