Friday, February 26, 2010

Lent Fail


I woke up groggily today. I was not ready to face the day. So I do as I normally do: hit the power button to the laptop, wait for the bright light to hit my eyes, perk me up a bit, and deal with any panic emails sent in the night. I typed in my address and password and hit enter. It was halfway through the page change that I realized that I had just been welcomed back to facebook. Epic fail. In my fatigue, my fingers had gone by habit to check facebook.

These days are rather harder than I thought. But then again, what else do you expect in a fast, especially when you've never quite successfully pulled a real one off?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Another year of the Jubilee conference has come and gone. I returned from Pittsburgh on Sunday, completely exhausted. What surprises me right now is that I do actually feel rested though the weekend itself was anything but restful. In fact, I was overwhelmed there as I had never been overwhelmed before. There was so much to learn and take in; so many old friends to catch up with; so many fantastic sessions; so many chances for conversation (and so many of those chances lost); so much unexpected fun and frustration. I was just stressed by how completely unpredictable one moment could be from the next. In many ways, it was the best Jubilee I have been to yet. It is equally true that it was definitely the hardest. I had much on my mind and heart going into this weekend. There were things at school that I was mulling over, from the ministry that is slowly finding its feet and focus in my building (from CCO partnerships) to my vague and frustrating thesis mulling and my current disconnect (due to time constraints) at Navigators. I was also trying to be with my dear ones from Ocean City Beach Project and others I have not seen in a very long time (like the fabulous Jen Davidson and run ins with Stephen Rayner). All in all, it was a rewarding, if exhausting time.

I think the highlight for me was hearing Makoto Fujimura speak on John 11-12 Sunday morning. I had been waiting eagerly to hear him speak and he was as eloquent as I imagined he would be after reading Refractions. He talked about Christ's compassion in weeping with Mary and Martha at Lazarus's tomb. He did not come with a "magic wand" seeking to solve the problem of death in one moment. Fixing the problem was not enough. Instead, he stood and wept with them. He mourned. Christ was anything but utilitarian. And in response to this gift of weeping, in response to him giving life, Mary (and Martha in a sense) offered the extravagance of perfume to annoint him for his death. Again, the further thing from being "useful", but a beautiful obedience and worship. I was reminded by these words and those of the other writers I listened to, the power of art, of writing, to worship and to weep with one another; that writing is a way of giving shape and body to grief and to worship in one motion; that to do so requires attention and compassion, neither of which is humanly achievable without Divine Grace. Ack... I sincerely wish I could express this as Mako did! This was an encouragement I desperately needed in the months when my writing has painfully stalled, and even blog writing is a chore that I find great reasons to avoid rather than complete.

Through this, I also accidentally came upon the realization that I was asking all the wrong questions concerning my thesis topic. I'm most definitely leaning towards doing some sort of creative writing project, giving myself a chance to creatively respond toward these ideas through fiction, poetry, and spiritual memoir, rather than trying to construct an analysis of community and identity. I am not at a place where I have enough experience to discuss this subject with any authority and so little has it been explored... I'm not even sure I know what I thought I was asking anymore.

Jubilee itself seemed to be a matter of gracious extravagance for me this year. The moments of joyful madness and play gave strength to limbs and heart, even as I wandered discouraged through so many of the weekend events. There was swing dancing on Saturday night, running into old aquaintances (like Stephen Rayner!) and dancing like mad (and pretty well, if I do say so) with some of the staff; there were two hours spent over chai tea with a dear friend rather than going to a session; there was apples to apples late in the night in which I won Rusty's green card every time; there was sprinting through open spaces to get hugs; there was buying the book of Wendell Berry poetry and mulling over it sleepily during the drive back.

Breaking by Wendell Berry
 Did I believe I had a clear mind?
It was like the water of a river
flowing shallow over the ice. And now
that the rising water has broken
the ice, I see that what I thought
was the light is part of the dark. 

So all in all, it was a lovely time. It was hard to focus, to stay where I happened to be with both heart and body, and to focus on the people around me. It was scattered, but it eventually gathered and ended. My thoughts turn towards the Encounter Conference in two weeks and I am excited by the thought of going to New York City for the second time (the first was in highschool).


Two other wonderful friends of mine also responded to the weekend. The first are the thoughts of a CCO campus minister from Penn State. He was responsible for leading three sessions and brought two students (who were brilliant and so much fun) who would describe themselves as atheists. The second is a video by my friend Kent Mast (from OCBP last summer) which is a lovely appreciation of some key thoughts in the main sessions and how it all tied together to be a very worshipful weekend.