Saturday, June 30, 2012

okay so yeah but really: a memoir

You guys.

I'm exhausted.

I felt this way last Friday as well.

But last Friday I didn't go to bed until 5:00.

The difference between last Friday and this Friday is that this Friday I have to get up at 5:00.

We have to drive to Massachusetts. Clearly, the best time to drive to Massachusetts is in the early morning. Preferably before 5:00, which is that magical  time of the morning when even coffee shops are not guaranteed to be open, causing many an addict to cry out: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

You guys, in general I'm getting a lot of sleep.

Compared to the amount of sleep I got during the school year, I look like a sleep glutton.

But there's just this feeling you get at the end of a week of Vision when all you want to do is curl up in a ball on a soft, not too-hot, not-too-cold surface and snuggle with a stuffed animal and/or human being and shut your eyes.

Vision is the best summer job I will probably ever have. It's about becoming a better person while helping others to become better people.

Hi, we call that a win-win.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

polaris of my soul

On Sunday, the feast of John the Baptist, father gave an amazing homily (which I was very distracted during, and mostly didn't pay attention to until the end). It was about a statue of John the Baptist which resides in the Vatican. (I think?) Visitors encounter a statue of John, gaping, which points the way to Christ.

This, I realized, is exactly what being a Vision mentor is all about. It's about pointing those who encounter you towards Christ. And, in life in general, that is the calling of the Christian. To live in a way that points towards Christ constantly.

Vision Week Two: answering the call to be prophets of a future not our own. And, as our parish priest, according to mother said: being a prophet doesn't mean speaking the future, but speaking the truth.

Monday, June 25, 2012

cauterize my soul's uncleanness

"For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) Love is strong as death, It's flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. (Song of Songs 8:6)" 

And that's why she writes love on her arms.
"Darkness cannot overcome darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot overcome hate, only love can do that." --MLK

Sunday, June 24, 2012

so heart be still

During our crash-course Vision class, we read Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation. His work is undeniably amazing. He speaks of contemplation, saying that through contemplation, we come to find God, and through finding God, we come to find ourselves. We find ourselves as we truly ought to be.
That day, we were charged to go spend half an hour in contemplative silence. It was actually really difficult. I realized that I often have a million different thoughts and interior conversations going on in my head and heart. I'm a chatterbox inside and outside. But I went out alone and sat in my favorite tree that overhangs the lake. And there, in the stillness and the sunlight, and the fish in the water, and the reflection of the watery light dancing on the green leaves, and in the wind on my face, the blue sky, there was the beauty of God. And in that moment, I just let myself be overwhelmed by the immense love and beauty of God. The love that created the beauty of everything around me. It was beautiful.

Vision has been, so far, a very busy experience. There's a lot going on, there's a lot to do. It's jam-packed with activity. But, since sitting on that tree for half an hour, there's a quiet that's taken up residence in my soul. It's a quiet that comes when I actually listen to the words of the Psalmist and "Be Still and Know that I am God." The challenge of the call to be a "contemplative in the heart of the world" (Mama T) is remembering to constantly be still and know who is God, while busily engaged in God's work. 

That's the challenge that I'm taking up this second week. Here we go. Vision 2012, Take II.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

did you ever fly a kite in bed?

"These things are fun, and fun is good."

Dr. Seuss says it best. Fun is good. The thing about fun is that you can't force it. You can't create something to be fun, and it's sole function is to be fun. Because that's shallow. And kind of really boring. Just as something that's designed to be comforting, and solely comforting; or deep and solely deep; ends up banal and dull, fun is meaningless unless it has meaning.

That's why babies don't like baby toys. Infants are brilliant beings. They would rather create rhythms on pots and pans as makeshift drums than play with the silly bright pieces of plastic that toy manufacturers and marketers have decided their supposed to be interested in. But, if you notice, older children enjoy the baby toys. They find them interesting and fun, because they know something bigger and better than the infant toy.

Music is kind of like this. Popular music is fun. Mostly just fun. Not trying to make an artistic statement, not trying to stir up deep emotions, but mostly just to be fun. It's just trying to be fun. Pop-y church music is somewhat like this. And don't get me wrong, I enjoy both pop music (I may or may not dance around my room to One Direction, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. It's okay. No worries, guys.) and pop-church music (Okay Canticle of the Turning, here we go. On Eagles Wings? I'm down). Because I enjoy having fun. It's good stuff. Fun is good! 

But you know what's more fun? Music that exists to awaken something deeper and greater within me. I remember the first time I found that really good music--all good music, not just good church music-- awakens in us something sterner and more splendid than just fun. It makes us more human. It awakens our souls and makes them "homesick for something they never had." And that's more fun, so much more fun than just having fun. 

Today, we sang the Divine Praises in adoration. Okay, and here's my thing about the Divine Praises: they are amazing. The music of the spheres is captured by the incredible rhythmic pulse of their phrases. I love the Divine Praises so much. But for the benediction service at the end of adoration, they were put to this rather banal melody that just made my soul sort of sob it's heart out. It cheapened the beauty of the words, and robbed them of their power. It was as if someone had tried to make Oh God Beyond All Praising more "accessible," which in this case is a synonym for bad and cheap. Oh God Beyond All Praising is the most transcendent, incandescent piece of music my ears have ever had the privilege of listening to. And you can bet your boots it's the most fun music I've ever been able to listen to. There's nothing more fun than being lifted up out of yourself through music.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the fall of a sparrow

If I'm confused, or upset, or angry, if I can go out and look at the stars I'll almost always get back a sense of proportion. It's not that they make me feel insignificant; it's the very opposite; they make me feel that everything matters, be it ever so small, and that there's meaning to life even when it seems most meaningless. 
--Madeleine L'Engle

"everything matters, be it ever so small"

The other day, I walked by the lakes, and as I was crossing the road back to my dorm, I noticed a small animal figure on the pavement. I gasped an "OH" when I realized what it was. It was a freshly killed squirrel. The blood was still bubbling out of it's broken little body. [Well, not that little. Honestly, rather plump. It had been well-fed on dining hall cookies.] But it was a horrific sight. I don't know that I've ever seen a creature who had just died. I've seen roadkill, but never roadkill that only a few minutes before was a living, breathing animal. A fluffy little creature, hopping, running about, a joyful part of the beautiful creation around it. To be honest, it gave me this awful sick feeling in my stomach. You may think I'm being a sap, because it was just a squirrel. But still. Death is death. And there's something horribly unnatural about it. It's unnatural to see a creature born for life, lying still as a stone, it's warm blood pooling around it. There's something bizarre and out of place about the thought that if I had walked by five minutes sooner, I wouldn't have seen that squirrel dead, it would have been living. Five minutes makes such a difference.

So I walked up the grassy hill to my dorm, thinking about the little squirrel life that was no more. That was my first experience of seeing anything dying. It was just kind of awful. Then, I looked over, and running about in a very natural squirrel-y manner was another little [read: plump] squirrel. And that little squirrel running around the tree gave me such a rush of joy. It was such a happy sight. I was overwhelmed by the comforting knowledge that life can still thrive in the midst of death. Death--the violent end of life--that inevitably approaches does not have the last word. The Resurrection lies in store. 

Edith Stein Posse

Check out this fantastic post by Seraphic. Shout out to Edith Stein in it, a true feminist for the ages.

During Vision, each mentor is paired up with a Model-in-Faith throughout the summer, whose image is on our group poster, and who's our pray partner through the next weeks. No joke, Edith Stein is my prayer partner. I'm totally down with that. 

Today was definitely a humbling day. Midday I went through the Basilica (Air conditioning+Jesus=yes please, Basilica), and I stopped at my favorite station of the cross. I love this station, because Christ stares right out at you, with a haunting, beautiful expression. He seems to be inviting you to join your pain with His--this suffering Christ understands what it is to be having a rough day and wishing you could press the "reset" button. I noticed that He wasn't actually carrying the cross in that picture. I checked what station number it was. Sure enough, it was station number five: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross. 

That was definitely a call for humility. If there's one thing I'm bad at, it's asking for help. "I can do it," is the  battle cry of three-year-olds and myself. I want to prove that I'm old enough, brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough. 

Christ couldn't even do it alone. He needed help. The task of Redemption--casually the most important task in His life (or in the history of the world, no big deal)--was a task Christ needed help to perform. Christ lowered Himself to experience the most humbling aspect of the human experience: admitting you need assistance. Confessing to someone that you need them, that no one can carry a cross on their own.  Not even God.

How difficult dependence is. But how beautifully necessary.

"If you trust in yourself, you will never accomplish [the cross]; but if you put your trust in God, you will be given strength from heaven."

Monday, June 18, 2012

live with a senseless logic

Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 
Romans 8:17

The saints are the ones the light shines through.

Here we go. Today is the day. ND Vision 2012 begins. Today is the day 300+ high school students show up to learn that God is calling them on an awfully grand adventure, which is the adventure of a vocation to live their lives in self-giving love. Cool. So we just mentor them and help them begin that vocation. No big deal, I guess.

Big deal.

This weekend, we had a beautiful retreat to prepare for the high schoolers arrival. I must admit, I'm not a big retreat person. Okay, to be candid, I really dislike retreats--modern, youth-oriented retreats, that is. I just don't like them. I'd rather be by myself in Mass. I think, in general, that's a better way to grow in your faith.

But this whole weekend has been one stop after another of just sheer beauty, and definitely a challenge. And the challenge for the next five weeks is to remain completely present for these high school students and to give my entire self to this job. It's kind of a mega-daunting task. Until you remember it's really not about you--it's about the Holy Spirit working through you and allowing yourself to be an instrument of His peace and healing. It's about modeling the saints--who let the light of God shine through their colorful personalities, their broken humanity, and in Him they find their unique radiance.

Those who work without prayer--no matter how sincere the minister--soon dry up inside. They have nothing left to give. Or the work fails and they have no faith to sustain them, no perspective to encourage them. More importantly, real prayer changes us. Prayer delivers us from our own internal oppressions, the burdens we put on ourselves, the bitterness we carry, because it enables the inbreaking of God in our lives. 
--Sister Joahn Chittister, O.S.B

Sunday, June 17, 2012

artes liberales

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." 
--W.B. Yeats

In Renée's world, to be well-educated means these five things:
1) To love learning, to love gaining new knowledge
2) To have the humility to know that you know, in comparison to the amount of knowledge to be had in this world, absolutely nothing.
3) To be a good conversationalist. A good education teaches you to talk. Teaches you to form beautiful  sentences of depth but also style. It teaches you to ask questions, to be interested in the thoughts, stories, and ideas of others. Teaches you to how to discuss and enter into conversation.
4) To be a thinker. Education teaches you how to tame and master this amazing creation inside of you known as your intellect. An education teaches you how to integrate your intellect and intuition. Your thoughts, feelings, and gut instincts. An education does not ignore any of these, since all of these are a part of a human being. An education teaches you to be fully human.
5) Recognize the beauty of Jane Austen. I guess you don't have to be as head-over-heels in love with her like every other writer/genius/person of intelligence since her time has been. But you should recognize that her work (most specifically Pride and Prejudice) is worthy of the highest adulation.

Behold, a portrait of the well-educated person.

what really shakes my steak

Summer nights.
Late-night shenanigans.
Singing in the car.
Running in the rain.
Get loose.
Get that funky on.

Summer nomz.
Get some milkshake in my belly.
would you rather
watermelon or strawberries?
All you want is cold
ice. smooth as crystal.

All I want is to become coldness.
Water. Water. Water.

Water from the sky.
Raining and pouring.
Windy rain and sunny rain.

Night rain.

Watch the lightning crackle across the midnight sky.
Summer lighting.
Bold. Brave.
Resplendent and dangerous.

Friday, June 15, 2012

who you were at the start

Today, I rode a horse. This was a big deal for me. The last time I rode a horse, I was about four and my Uncle Joe led my cousin and I around the paddock.

Yeah, so I'm not exactly an equestrian.

But, all that ended today. Today, I rode Simon. Simon was a sassy little mahogany beast. My eye lit on him right away. He was a trip and a half. If it had been in the Phaedrus, that horse was definitely the spirited part of the soul. The horsekeeper assured me that once Simon was on the trail, he would follow the other horses. 
Yeah, no.

As soon as we left the paddock, Simon decided to canter towards the lake. 

I wasn't cool with that.

With the help of the assistant horsekeeper, we got Simon on the right trail, following the others. I was instructed to keep him at the back of the line. Simon had different ideas. He decided his place was at the front of the line. The beautiful thing about riding a horse is that you unite your will with the will of this powerful creature and you work together to get to your destination. Simon and I had a relationship of give-and-take, compromise and negotiation. If he wanted to gallop, I would let him (and yes, sometimes encouraged him with kissy noises. [sidebar: all animals {except skunks. They're annoying.} love kissy noises. We learned this from a dog trainer long, long ago, and I've found recently that many different animals respond to it. Simon responded to kissy noises by galloping. Good to know, right?] And then when I'd had enough, I reined him in with a concrete pull on the reins and a WHOA. It was exhilarating. Running through the woods on a beautiful horse is the sort of adrenaline rush all roller coasters are trying to mimic.

So, despite that one time Simon tried to bite another horse, and that time he kicked a little bit, and the time he almost rode us into the lake, we had a great time together.

Just call me ReNEIGH I'm an equestrian. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

living mystery

A Russian priest, Father Anthony told me, "To say to anyone 'I love you' is tantamount to saying 'You shall live forever."
I am slowly beginning to learn something about immortality. 
Our children are hungry for words like Father Anthony's. They have a passionate need for the dimension of the transcendence, mysticism, way-outness. We're not offering it to them legitimately. The tendency of the churches to be relevant and more-secular-than-thou does not answer our need for the transcendent. As George Tyrrell wrote about a hundred years ago, "If man's craving for the mysterious, the wonderful, the supernatural, be not fed on true religion, it will feed itself on the garbage of any superstition that is offered to it."
--Madeleine L'Engle

Sunday, June 10, 2012

ridiculous & glorious in pure, unsullied joy

The sweetest.

My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
--Sonnet 87

breath, you invisible poem!

You may have guessed that I'm having a love affair. And yes, it is with this webcomic. Late have I loved you, O xkcd, ever snarky, ever true, late have I loved you! Late, but loved with fiery passions.

"Whenever I want to visit Facebook I just head to xkcd and hit the "random" button. I think it's made me a better person."--C. R. G. 
Best. Advice. Ever.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

womp. the repentiles are near.

This is excellent advice.
(I think. You see, it's advice about how to deal with women. And that's just always tricky. Women are hard for other women to deal with. Why? Because honestly, every single situation is one of those "I'm d-mned if I do, d-mned if I don't." If you don't tell your friend that another friend said something rude about them, when the truth does finally come out they'll say: "Why didn't you tell me?!?" But if you never tell them, they never have to undergo the distress of knowing something rude was said. Hashtag Dilemma. These are the dilemmas that women face every single day.)

Why am I writing this post? I have three papers to write. So I behooved myself to my beloved Quincy's, and promptly did NO WORK AT ALL. But I've had some really beautiful coffee (much better, I am overjoyed to report than that dishwater stuff). So I really feel pretty good about my life choices this morning. I woke up, read some stuff, and did stuff, and ran around and exercised and stuff and got stuff done, and just you know, found stuff to do and all sorts of stuff like that. 
Then guess what? You won't, so I'll tell you. There were strawberries for breakfast at the dining hall. Is this exciting and worth commenting about? YES. Yes it is. Welcome to the life of a strawberry-deprived college student. I missed strawberry season in the window of time I was at home. And that makes me sadder than sad; it, in fact, makes me distraught. I'm pretty sure my friend hyperventilated a little bit when she saw them. It was an adrenaline-filled moment of wonder. Then we watched cat videos at breakfast. And that's okay. 

Also, my bag weighed in at 49 pounds at the airport (in case you were interested. You probably weren't. I was. I was very interested, in fact I had a vested interest in making sure my bag weighed no more than 50 pounds. So you can imagine my interest in the fact that my bag weighed 49 pounds. I was interested. Mucho interested).

Also, ND's wonderful security police force stole my bike. I know, I know, it's confusing. And also kind of really ironic. So that was very nice of them. And by "nice of them" I mean "rotten" and "corrupt to the core" and also maybe a demure, lady-like expletive or two. But I'm actually not that upset. I mean, I am upset, because that bike is my bike, and I would like it back. But I don't think I've ridden that bike since October of freshman year. I may have ridden it last summer, but I doubt it. Biking is nice, but walking is better. Nothing in the world is as therapeutic as walking. Except maybe procrastinating writing two my papers (whoops) in an air-conditioned coffee shop. 

Gosh I love summer.

babbling brook begets a wild creature

Yes, I'm addicted to xkcd at the moment. No, I don't see that as a problem.

So I have a pretty weird relationship with music. I'm not one of those Music People. Music People know music really well. I mean like really well. They listen to NPR and know the Tallest Man on Earth and the Presidents of the United States of America. (I don't mean they've befriended Guinness Book of World Record Entries and memorized a list of our country's commander-in-chiefs; I mean they've memorized every lyric to every song on every EP produced by this artist and this band, respectively.) I've just never been able to "get into" music. I have so many friends who definitely are--into music, that is, and super knowledgeable about it-- a fact which serves to A) make me feel wildly inferior and uncultured. [Silver lining: feeling like an utter philistine is always good for the ol' ego.] B) exposes me to really awesome music. So yeah. There's that.

(All mah freaky hipster friends salivating over Radiohead at Bonnaroo prompts these kinds of late night posts. That's where these random thoughts are coming from.)

And I also like that each song has memories attached to it. I will always think of that one friend who loves Peter Bradley Adams, or who first introduced me to the Avett Brothers, or the first time I heard Mumford. The memories and the music become linked together. And I like that. I like that the music represents different relationships, moments, memories and stories. That's more my style anywhoodle.

So what I do is garner music from all these friends, from the interwebz[shout out to Pandora], from my own findings. I often will find a piece Iove that I listen to over and over again, an inappropriately gluttonous amount. [See: "The Girl," "Uncharted," "Summertime Clothes," and "Samson" There's something so satisfying about replaying a song over and over and over and over, until it becomes integrated into your soul. So perfectly woven into the soundtrack of your life.

Friday, June 8, 2012

an inconceivable intimacy

More like:

Love is one of those mysteries that everyone (including the adorably snarky xkcd ) spends years of our lives trying to figure out. Dr. Seuss once said: “You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” We keep trying to grasp the unfathomable mystery. Because, without love, we simply won't be able to ever make sense of our world. It's a fact. Love is the currency which the cosmological economy operates on. If you don't accept that economy, you're going to be continually frustrated by the universe. If our worldview doesn't operate on the logic of love--total, self-giving, utterly sacrificial love--the world doesn't quite click, the story of salvation looks like (to be candid) complete bull, and religion is easily written off as a joke slash collection of passé rules and ridiculously restrictive taboos.

See, the thing is, the ultimate reality is Love. Let's back up here and break this down. See, we say from the moment we enter Sunday school that "God is Love," and the unfortunate thing is we say it so often we really forget the incredible, audacious wonder of what we're saying. God. Is. Love. The ultimate reality is God. God is the One Thing that necessarily exists. He is the One Thing that has always existed and always will--the reality that will never change (As Peter says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: "If things are real, they're there all the time." Just so, Peter. The most real thing is God--who has never not been.) So God is the ultimate reality. Cool. Well, who's God? The Trinity. God is the Trinity(--just celebrated Trinity Sunday, liturgical calendar shout-out); and the Trinity is Love. The mystery of the Trinity is the Father begetting the Son and the Son loving the Father. And their radical self-giving love is the person the Holy Spirit. The Trinity=divine love. Powerful, radical, beautiful, divine love. That love is what created the universe. That made the universe good, that made man and woman in His own image. Humans and basically everything else in the universe falls into place when it operates in accordance with the ultimate reality. When we operate according to that love. A love that shatters our narrow definitions of love. Just as in The Last Battle, the garden of Narnia has worlds within worlds contained with in it, this divine self-giving love of God has eternal depths to sound.

It's cray. It's hard to put into words just how mind-blowing it is. But it's pretty cray.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

clash and careen

Today, my dear friends, I again experienced the power of caffeine. And let me tell you, it was a joy. The only truly great thing I did with my summer at home before I came back to ND for Vision was get a massive caffeine high, and write a series of ridiculous tweets about bath towels. It was pretty pathetic. Behold:

BYOBT. Bring Your Own Bath Towel. 
Bath towels: robbing us of our dignity and robing us in soft pima cotton since the beginning of time.
A model eco-conscious lifestyle=modal bath towels. 
Jason Oliver-Nixon: a bold trailblazer/avant-garde in the fashion world. And a bath towel connoisseur.
"I use bath towels just as I use the accessories in my wardrobe. They give [me] some sizzle and style." --Jason Oliver-Nixon
Tea with the Queen this afternoon!! Dress code: Garden cocktail semiformal. Translation: Egyptian Cotton bath towel with pearls.

Really pathetic. So, after casually abusing social media, I ran around my house giggling like a child, which subsequently scared my sisters. Then, in a moment of grace and self-control I realized I was being annoying, and left the house. As the giggly high of caffeine passed away, I was left with a lot of energy and a fluttering heart rate. (But don't worry, that wore away quickly, and my two-hour walk was a wonderful work-out of that extra energy).

How did this happen? I asked myself. I drink coffee like it's my job during the school year--how did I  go so crazy over two measly cups of coffee? I remembered that at brunch that day, I'd actually consumed a lot more of our table's carafe of coffee than I'd realized at the time. And that coffee my sister had made was strong and hearty, lumberjack coffee, almost. And, after a finals week and senior week of getting all the sleep I could ever want, it had been almost a month since I'd been drinking coffee at my regular intake. My tolerance was down. I couldn't handle that amount of caffeine--I had turned lightweight.

Facing this realization, the Fool in his heart says:
I have broken my addiction!! My dependence upon coffee is gone!!

Enter today. I was fading fast in Vision class after lunch. So, I behooved myself to the break room to get free coffee. You know how in books/movies/play/other literature, etc. people describe bad coffee as dishwater? I've always thought: oh cute. That's a nice literary metaphor. But bad coffee tastes like bad coffee, guys. Sorry to be Miss Simile Police, but that's an awful analogy. I was proved wrong. That coffee tasted weird. I noticed it after my first sip. I couldn't put my finger on it right away, but then I realized: oh. It tastes soapy. Like... dishwater. Oh. 

Did I stop drinking it?
Are you kidding me?
After two sips of that delicious, magical dishwater, I was a new woman. I could talk, think, crack jokes, smile, flirt, walk, soar.

So much for breaking an addiction.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

waddling to freedom

A week ago, my friend and I were walking along railroad tracks. We happened upon a row of ducklings waddling down the tracks. They were stuck in the railroad bed, between the two metal tracks, desperately trying to hop over one of the tracks down to the bottom of the embankment, where the little creek ran by.

The poor things--we couldn't just leave them. But They were all alone, and to heighten the drama, we had seen a fox in the area only a few moments before. If there's one thing I know about the Circle of Life's food chain, it's that Fox eats Duckling. We had to rescue them. 

So my friend ran off and headed them off, and I scooped them up one by one and plopped them over the embankment. It was an arduous task. They would slip by us, and waddle with the most impressive speed away from us. They resisted being picked up, and trembled in my hands as I lifted them over the tracks. But as soon as they hit the ground, they took off running, tripping over themselves in their eagerness to reach the water. And once they reached the water, they quacked with joy, and eagerly sought out their siblings who had gone before them.

It was some metaphor. Realizing that these ducklings were us. Whenever we get in trouble, stuck on the tracks of life, with foxes lurking in the underbrush nearby, we desperately seek our own solution for escaping. But ultimately, we simply just don't have what it takes to leap over the tracks. We need help. How comforting to realize God is looking out for us. And as terrified as the ducks were of the giant hands coming out of the sky to rescue them, those hands ultimately led to their salvation. We can resist God's efforts to help us, and often do. We, unlike ducklings,  have free will, which gives us the awful, terrible, power to accept or refuse his grace. But just as we were determined not to let one ducky stay unrescued, God relentlessly seeks us, and continually offers His grace with unflagging love.

Wow. What a lover, right? I mean, after being rejected by someone a million times, over and over, I would defs just say: "Sucks to suck. Deuces, bro." and walk away. How comforting to know that God will never just throw up deuces and leave you stranded on the tracks. That's kinda nice of Him. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the color of m'n'ms

Anyone who tries to talk about the question of Christian faith in the presence of people who are not thoroughly at home with ecclesiastical language and thought soon comes to sense the alien--alienating--nature of such an enterprise. --Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity

This is the post-modern problem in a nutshell: we can order our own M'n'Ms. In any color we want. We can pick and choose our own candy colors. The creators of M'n'Ms have no power over us and our consumer choices: No one can dictate what color my M'nMs are no siree, thank you very much. We have taken control of our world and seized the autonomy and agency for ourselves in our M'n'M color selection that we deserved!!

But seriously.
That's not really the post-modern problem.
Because how would we ever solve that? We're all too wedded to our personalized M'n'Ms.
Divorcing those infinite color choices from our lives is an impossibility.
Okay, but for realz, guys, this whole M'n'M color scheme dilemma was a revelation to me. (Not really, but kind of. I just thought it'd be a catchy blog post opening.) See, the post-modern problem is this: we don't like to take a stance. We don't want to decide that we're going to stick with a certain system of beliefs. Because belief--believing in something: a cause, a religion, or even just something trivial like believing that one should always begin your mornings with green tea, not black--means that you're automatically a part of a community. The community of fellow activists, fellow believers, or fellow green tea advocates.

So, here's the root of the issue: Post-modernists (meaning basically everyone in our society. I'm enjoying making broad generalizations. Bear with me,) don't want to implicate ourselves too deeply in anything. Why? Well, for starters, because organizations, communities, are tricky things. Communities and organizations are generally full of wonderful people who believe the same things as us, inspire us, and support us, and that's why we join them. But they're also full of stupid people. People who say stupid things, or are embarrassing, or do or say things with which that we disagree. We don't want to have to lump ourselves into a group with those people. Because then everyone else is going to think we're like them. We don't want to have to associate ourselves with embarrassing specimens of humanity. Then people will assume things about us, and associate us with the peons who are intellectually and evolutionarily inferior to us and everything would just be awful.

Secondly, the post-modern problem is that is that we can't force ourselves to just accept the colors of M'n'Ms that come in the bags. We have to personalize our M'n'Ms, never ordering the same colors if we don't want to. We don't have to make a commitment, we don't have to align ourself with something. We just don't want to have to tie ourselves down. We drift.  It's easier than taking a stand and saying: I am ____. Because what if you find out ____ is wrong, old-fashioned, or (heaven forbid) passé and Out of Fashion. We drift through the world, not having to get involved in any belief system, happily in a neutrally agnostic existence, not harming or hurting anyone, not being offended or misconstrued by anyone, content in our comfortable post-modernism.

I'm calling a red flag on this one, peeps. Human beings were not created to be drifters. Drifting doesn't get you anywhere, except stuck treading water in the middle of the ocean. And, dude, let's be real, that sounds miserable. Belief means that you decide to take a leap of faith, trust the map--even though it may lead you astray-- and swim on, landward bound. Our poor legs are dying for the land. They may serve us well while we're treading water, but they were created to walk on solid ground.

Monday, June 4, 2012

piano is not firewood yet

Well, apparently xkcd isn't a Rules Girl. And yeah, I've been kinda obsessed with xkcd recently. Only the snarkiest, sharpest webcomic in the history of probably ever (or at least the history of the interwebz). And, it became an essential part of my 12-step program for breaking my Facebook addiction. My friend told me: "Whenever I want to visit Facebook I just head to xkcd and hit the "random" button. I think it's made me a better person." I recognize brilliant advice when I see it (usually. Unless it's coming from my mom. It's like a rule that you can't accept your mother's advice the first time she gives it to you. Otherwise how would you ever come to the humbling realization: shoot. I should have listened to my mom?) so I took it. 
And, yes, I think it has made me a significantly better person.

Okay, but the Rules. Someone called someone a Rules Girl in class, and I thought to myself: the Rules?? What does this mean?? So I behooved myself over to Auntie Seraphic's, and discovered that she links to the Rules. And then I found a Wikipedia article of them. (Dear Wikipedia, Have I ever mentioned how much I love you? I know I'm often remiss about it. S0 hear this: you and your endless collections of semi-useful knowledge are my favorite. Love, Renée) And I don't think I buy them. Sure, I'm down with "Be a creature unlike any other" and "Don't think you can change him," and in some sense, I totally agree with "Don't accept a date for Saturday after Wednesday," and I wish I could keep that rule--but although the spirit is willing, the flesh is so weak. And if [insert crush's name here] asks me on Thursday to go out on Saturday, I'm not gonna not. 

And on a more serious note, if you really love someone, you don't initiate power moves like "Always end the date first" "Always end phone calls first," etc. Those are just straight-up power moves when done simply for their own sake. They're saying: okay, I'm busy, gotta run. Nice spending time with you, but I've got Important Things that Can't Wait. And for a prideful person, such as myself, it's humbling when the other person ends things first, or when you see them first walking through the student center, and call out their name and approach them without them seeing you first and inviting you to them, or when you have to make the effort to call them. 

I'm the first person to tell you a man has to pursue you, and keep pursuing you with his whole heart. But love is different than a one-way relationship of ardent wooing (ardent wooing sometimes sound a lot nicer than love. You just sort of stand on your pedestal while men give you flowers and tell you nice things about yourself, and your heart remains happily intact). But we weren't made to be worshiped--we were made to be loved, and to love in return. And in order to love, you have to reciprocate. You have to humble yourself. And sometimes that whole humbling yourself and offering your love to someone sounds like it sort of sucks. But in the happiest way possible.