Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Shack

Upon recommendation from a close friend, I picked up The Shack by William P. Young unsuspectingly excited about delving into a new read. With only four chapters left, I'm walking away astounded at the way Mack (the main character) met God and how Willie (the author) was so eloquently able to recapture the story. The question "Where is God on a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" permeates at the heart of Mack and God's interactions, continues right off of the pages, and penetrates the depths of my soul. The following are some snippets, but I highly recommend them in the full context of the book.

A bird's not defined by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image. -Papa (God) to Mack

It's the one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you. Once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you. -Jesus to Mack

Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don't ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To lay in a white, wooden bunk bed next to an open window secretly listening in on the conversations of the birds. To perch on the bench on the hill overlooking the lake and sneak smiles at the turtles poking their heads above water. To hike the trail, in the rain. To find delightful little surprises like new ferns, ant hills the color of fire, the grandfather tree, the swamp. To wander in the forest and wonder at the creativity that came from our Creator. To experience some peace. To lavish rest. To find contentment for the soul.

Monday, April 07, 2008

memories from the womb

At one of the schools where I teach, I have a class of 4 and 5 year olds. In that class, I have a set of twin girls who are absolutely hilarious. The following is a a quote from a story that one of the girls was telling me this morning:

When we were in Mommy's tummy, Mommy would eat broccli and we would play catch with it. Then one day we decided we wanted to come out of Mommy's tummy. I said "I want to go down the big slide first." Sissy said, "No, I want to go first." Then I said, "No, I want to go first." Then Sissy said, "No, I do." So I said, "Okay, you can first." Then Sissy went "Weeeeeeeeeee," all the way down the slide. I went down the slide after her. I remember.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

mind. body. soul. it takes them all to run the race

It was a frosty morning. A large growl escaped me when my computer flashed the current 37 degrees outside. I wanted with all of my being to throw the covers over my head and escape back into my overactive dreams. But it was 6:15, my mind was awake, and the gun for the 5K would sound at 7:30. My alert mind jerked my body into action, and soon I was scraping the thin frostiness off my car and driving into the sunrise.

Since registering for the 5K, I had dreamed of what the race would be like; somehow I had thought that running with hundreds of other people would motivate me. That I would have some sort of supernatural energy spurring me around those runners in front of me. I failed to dream about the start and finish lines which became very quickly the most exciting points of the race for me. After using a quiet, warm corner of a close building to stretch and pray for protection from death (okay, I'm being a little melodramatic), I found my way to the starting line where I waited in anticipation with about 800 people.

Before I knew it, I was being squished by a whole lot of people I didn't know as we tried to herd ourselves through the relatively small entrance to the know, the one that triggers your chip to start recording time. The next moments are blurs of crowds, yellow-shirted volunteers, and really old worship songs that kept creeping into my head. It wasn't until the middle of Mile 2 that I really felt like I wasn't going to make it. It took everything I had to avoid plopping down onto the grass! Just as I was thinking that I was running too slow to make my 40 minute goal, a man passed very close to me and whispered, "You're doing a great job. Keep going." He didn't look at me. Didn't stop beside me. Just a simple word in passing followed by a thumbs up a few steps later. I caught my body picking up my pace, and my mind giving thanks to God for the middle of the race encouragement from a stranger.

As I finished Mile 3 and neared the finish line, I decided I didn't have it in me to pick up pace and finish any stronger than I was already running. However, I rounded the corner to the finish line and immediately heard my name "Go, Miss SALMOND!" It was Andrew and Katy and the kids. Just after spotting them, I noticed the finish clock said 34 minutes! My body must have extracted energy from the cheering and the clock as it picked up pace again without my even thinking about it.

My official chip time was 33:58, and I finished 192/567 women which is in the top third. My dreams of the race were nothing like what actually took place. It was much harder mentally than I thought it would be...much colder...and there was a greater feeling of accomplishment than I imagined! Would I do another? Ask me when my body has recovered. When my mind is fully prepared. When my soul needs that kind of nourishment.