Friday, November 23, 2007

when birthdays no longer matter

The day after Thanksgiving. The day we eat turkey sandwiches and Grandpa’s cranberries. The day we pick at the leftover pie. The day we cheer on our favorite football team (okay..well at least some of us). It’s just another day in the series of holidays, except for one minor tradition: the celebration of life. More specifically, my life. Yes, my birthday is coming up really soon, but it falls on a day when I don’t see my family. For the last seven years, we have been carving a new tradition. This year Mom made my favorite oatmeal cake; a member of our family for over one hundred years. The smell of it baking beckoned me out of slumber and into the kitchen one morning. It disappeared for Thanksgiving Day, but returned this morning. It’s silver pan taunting me…just one smell…just one taste.

6:00pm rolled around, and I could hold off no longer. My need for the oatmeal cake was too great. Grandma gathered all of the family together while Mom dug in the drawer for candles, which ended up being more difficult than you can imagine. Mom doesn’t really keep candles around anymore so in her digging came up with two white candles and six yellow candles, one of which was only one inch long. She laughed a little as she said, “I’m a bad mommy.” Then she reached for the matches. The matches that weren’t there. Apparently, Mom also doesn’t keep any matches around. This is the first time that Dad’s smoking could have been helpful (he quit smoking two years ago). Dad ran upstairs to look for a lighter; Grandpa ran to his car. Meanwhile, Mom found a box that contained exactly two matches. I lit one and it immediately went out. Mom lit the second and started in on the candles. She topped off the last candle and blew it out, taking out half of the candles with it. After two attempts to relit a match, we successfully had all 6 candles lit and the singing commenced. The troubles were over….or not so much. My sister sang in German, my dad sang off key, and Mom made up some random verse about candles. Grandma and Grandpa sang tride and true…at least I think they were singing.

I think this whole thing is a sign that my birthdays will no longer matter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the mourning of a room once had

I’ve returned to the bed that holds me a few times a year. To the house that was once my home…still is my home…becomes my home in this transient life. The walls are yellow, not white. A request I made in honor of my late grandma. I used to sleep on the hide-a-bed in the yellow room back when it was her painting room. She did such lovely art. Except for the yellow walls and the rocker, the room is void of what was her. It’s void of what was me as well. Somehow I like it better…cleaner…less cluttered.

This room was once mine. It was once my home. The place I went for rest and comfort. In my mind, it still is mine. I grew up sleeping in this bed; read thousands of books using only the light from the street, the real reason I now wear glasses. The quilts, handmade by my mother, protected me from the cold-weather and the snakes that used to crawl around on my floorJ In the summer heat, they became my nemesis as I tried to stop the sweat from dripping down my back. I used to sit in my grandma’s rocker and watch the rain pour down the window outside caught in dreams of a world beyond. I would watch as people cruised…from Dave’s to the end of Main Street…from the end of Main Street to Dave’s, a pleasurable waste of a night.

Somehow, as I became transient, my room morphed into my less transient sister’s room. Then it became a guest room. Now it is referred to as “Emily’s sitting room.” Emily is the sister chilling out at home before she becomes transient. Each evening, after work, yoga, and dinner, she sits in her sitting room and knits. Her eyes see different things out the window…the bed is a different character in her story…the room carries a different meaning.

Tonight, the rain is replaced by snow and the rocker is too far from the window, but the bed embraces me as I drift into dreams of a world beyond. For just a few short hours, the yellow walls become my haven, the quilts my protector, and the room… mine.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My friend Chris says that I should blog more (see comment on October 24th post). I blog everyday (dramatic pause) in my head. Between three jobs, friends and family, and sleeping, I don't really have time to get my blogs from head to web. Maybe it's actually just a matter of being more disciplined.

I'm currently hanging out in one of the ritzier hotels in the Lou with some of the coolest people I IV coworkers. One of the things I love about this job is the fact that my coworkers are really my friends. I share the same alma mater with many of them. We didn't all join staff at the same time, but gradually over the past 6 years. It has been really powerful to see how the Lord meshed our experiences together in college into a vocational ministry. For example, this weekend we are doing a manuscript/inductive study of the Gospel of Mark. I learned how to do inductive Bible Study from a man named Jon, who is my coworker. When I learned it from him, we were both students. I remember sitting in Jordan Hall with my Mark manuscript in front me totally in awe of the way Jon (and his coteacher Barat) could pull apart the scripture. And now, almost eight years later, I'm sitting next to him studying the same passage.

I also love this job because it isn't really work to be around these people. We have a lot of fun. There is always a competitive game of basketball during free time, jokes that travel with us from conference to conference, and really creative games (last year we did Project Runway with the five eldest men being our models).

Another thing I like about being in a vocational ministry environment is that individuals are always trying to challenge me to grow. There is one man in particular, Bum, who likes to push people's buttons - in an almost healthy way. Many of you already know that I am a "J" on the Myers-Briggs, or maybe a bit anal....organized, particular, and such. Since living with Tanya, I have lightened up qutie a bit. BUT apparently not enough for Bum. He strategically placed himself beside during our study of Mark this morning which was what caused the following events to unfold:

1) After helping my boss set up some easels, I return to my spot to find Bum eating my half-eaten bagel. Just for the record, that was my breakfast.

2) When manuscripting, one often uses several colored markers. I happen to use the fine tipped Sharpies. Bum proceded to break the little clip-thingy on one of my markers and then when I told him not to do that went for a jump at the rest of my markers....and then attempted to steal the rest of my bagel.

3) As we were breaking into small groups to discuss our observations of the passage, I noticed some pink marker underlining on a page we had yet to do. At first I thought maybe my marker had leaked through the paper, but my investigations proved otherwise. BUM!! marking on my clean paper.

4) At the end of our study, we broke into pairs to discuss what part of our lives we needed to allow the Lord to have authority over. Bum, of course, was my partner. He said, "I can answer for you. You need to give up control of your manuscript."

I think I just shouldn't sit by him anymore:)