Tuesday, January 29, 2008

chocolate for breakfast, trolls in trees and warm shoulders

-Having my favorite coffee shop be out of bagels, "forcing" me to eat a chocolate croissant for breakfast.

-Eavesdropping on a teacher leading ten bundled-up children away from the woods, with them asking her all about the trolls who live in the trees, and her explaining very simply that they live under the trees in winter (because it's so cold). They were fascinated, and so was I.

-When entering the chilly farmer's market (I know, I'm there a lot), being able to make the pashmina around my neck a really warm shawl of sorts.

Monday, January 28, 2008

somewhere within the rainbow

-While walking past the sanctuary Sunday afternoon (when I was the only one still at the church), I noticed the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows onto the floor and walls. I stood and basked in the bright colored light for a moment, and felt God. I think that's what walking through a rainbow might feel like.

-Working really hard and then sleeping really hard.
-Catching a glimpse of the orange sunset at the treeline right before night came.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

enthusiasm, reminiscing, and decoration

(picture taken in May 2005 on the Ponte Vecchio in front of the Arno River in Florence.)
-The way my Grandmother is enthusiastic about absolutely everything. When I told her I was going shopping with friends, she said, "hallelujah!"

-Watching Under the Tuscan Sun while going through my old pictures from my trip to Italy a couple of years ago. It awoke the lover of travel in me to see the same things on the tv as in my pictures, and to remember the adventures behind me and dream of those before me.

-Jessi and I decorating ourselves with random objects in Karen's backseat as we drove to meet up with friends for game night. Jessi ended up wearing a knit hat with strings attached all night, while I wore (a less logical) bandana on my head. Wearing something silly on purpose seems to bring out the youthful joy in everyone, so we enjoyed singing and dancing to the radio at the top of our lungs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

life is like a bowl of cherries...

-A bowl of cherries.

-Peace flags hung up in my favorite Mediterranean restaurant.

-A day of pampering myself: sunflowers, finding treasure in a used bookstore, coffee, a James Taylor record and a magazine. What a nice day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

community & cooking

-The man in the car next to me who gave me a genuinely kind smile and tilted his twead fedora-adorned head towards me. No matter how individualistic our culture has become, we can still find community.

-The joy of going to the farmer's market with no list and only the idea to make some winter vegetable soup. I ended up adding vegetables to my cart by color, so that my soup would be white (potato, mushrooms and onion), green (parsley and celery), orange (carrots) and yellow (squash). I also found my favorite Irish cheese to top it with and couldn't resist pairing the cheese with some rustic multigrain bread as soon as I got home.

-The fun of peeling carrots in long, delicate strips.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

snow, fire, water

-Snow that fell all day long at our youth retreat at Calvin Center. It was so great to be out of the city and play in the snow.

-Warming our feet constantly by the fire. Some of us even slept by the fire last night, bringing our mattresses and sleeping bags from our rooms. I haven't made a pallet and slept in front of a fire since I was a child, and it brought back fond memories. We all agreed we slept amazingly well with the warmth, dancing shadows and crackles of the fire lulling us to sleep.

-Watching the snow begin to melt, forming beautiful crystal-clear drops on everything.

-During our footwashing ritual in closing worship, one of the youth who had earlier been freaked out by the idea motioned at me to come foward and she washed my feet. It was such a guesture of love and vulnerability, and meant so much.

-Watching our group bond with each other and another church in lasting ways.

-Seeing one of the youth play at Eddie's for his piano recital and being blown away by his talent and candor.

Friday, January 18, 2008

happy to be here

-Dancing in my class until my legs ached, and then dancing some more.

-Yesterday was one year from a very scary experience I had in Jamaica, where I had an allergic reaction that was very serious. My friend Karen decided then that it was essential that we celebrate my being alive with a Red Stripe. After chatting over our beers for a while, she gave me a big hug and said, "I'm glad you're alive." I am too.

-Starting the day with the melodic and familiar sounds of my Out of Africa record and a cup of Irish tea....bringing together two places I love.

(a fourth today)

-Getting an email that a dear friend who is enduring cancer is feeling stronger, and hungry.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

winter wonderland, warmth and sleep

-It snowed! Instead of Bible study, some youth and I just went outside and played in it for an hour. I loved the crunch under my feet, the glittery while surface on everything and sticking our tongues out to catch snowflakes. The warm cup of cocoa once we got back inside was also a nice end to the fun.

-A little older man in church seeing that I was a bit cold and saying, "We need to get you a warm coat, young lady!" I explained that my coat was downstairs, but thanked him for his concern. I don't love being called "young lady," but I can see that he was trying to show me care.

-Blessedly dreamless sleep.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

play, plan, play

-Using the really fun silicon strainer I got for Christmas. It pops out and fold back up, and feels more like a toy than a kitchen tool.

-A planning meeting where we all got energized by each other's ideas, and agreed together that we've all had our faith in group process restored.

-Getting to go to an intimate "friends of Dave FM" concert with Mark Cohn performing, the musician who sang "Walking in Memphis." He has a beautiful voice and plays the piano so well, and it felt more like a jam session with 30 people there than a large concert. It was great to watch one of my favorite radio DJ's talk with him about her favorite song, and then to see her off to the side of the room, silently wiping away her tears as he played it. She must genuinely love her job.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

productive, assurance, rhapsody

-An amazing surge of productivity.

-Waiting for takeout in my favorite Thai place and having the waiter and owner smile at me in recognition each time they passed me, offering me water and assurance that my food was almost ready.

-A room full of people making fools out of themselves (me included) singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of their lungs, accompanied by one amazing guitarist.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

dancing towards unity

-Trying something totally new with a friend: belly dancing! I'm enrolled in a six-week class, and it's taught by a Middle Eastern woman who explains how this dance is an act of power, liberation, wholeness and sisterhood for women from her culture. She also talked about how we won't only be learning to dance, but also about how false media stereotypes of Middle Eastern women are. I think I'm going to love it.

-God providing much in the past couple of days: inspiration, energy, rest, help, eventual youth participation, movement and peace.

-A really thoughtful gift from home.

Monday, January 07, 2008

a walk in the woods

-This glimpse is a lot all in one: Tired of being cooped up in church, I decided to go for a little walk in the small wood behind the church. It's amazing how even the smallest encounter with nature can feed my soul. I sat and watched the little lake in front of me, amazed at the gracefully changing shape of the water's surface. Then, I walked along the water and found the tiny stream flowing out of it, forming bubbling small waterfalls along mossy green rocks. The feel of the cool water was invigorating as I dipped my hand in it. I also loved the peeling bark of the tall, skinny trees being lit by the late afternoon sun. All in all, my little brief venture into nature stirred up in the me the feeling of wonder and magic I held for the outdoors as a child. I hope I never outgrow that feeling.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

born again

-A pink and orange striped sunrise which made me jump out of bed and to the window, just so I would see it in time.

-Having some plans fall through suddenly, only to have my friends selflessly and immediately offer to fill in and help out. It makes me wonder why I ever waste time being discouraged, when God always makes a way.

-Two nights of birthday celebrations--one mine, one a friend's--where I was able to be surrounded by people who have added joy, challenge, laughter and encouragement to my time in seminary.

Friday, January 04, 2008

the arts of pilgrimage & life

-Having my first "conversation" with PCUSA mission service folks. There's something about saying my call out loud to someone who can help me get there that makes it real.

-Right before going to bed, I absently picked up the book that's been on my bedside table for months (The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau), which I hadn't yet read. I was instantly pulled into it, and one paragraph in particular spoke volumes to me:

"Centuries of travel lore suggest that when we no longer know where to turn, our real journey has just begun. At that crossroads moment, a voice calls to our pilgrim soul. The time has come to set out for the sacred ground--the mountain, the temple, the ancestral home--that will stir out heart and restore our sense of wonder. It is down the path to the deeply real where time stops and we are seized by the mysteries. This is the journey we cannot not take.
On that long and winding road, it is easy to lose the way. Listen. The old hermit along the side of the road whispers, Stranger, pass by that which you do not love."

-Today's my birthday. :) I've already received several email well-wishes and I'm looking foward to a great day.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

a snapshot of warmth, readiness, contagious joy

-A random and really jazzed up picture of me and some friends playing guitar appearing on Columbia's newsletter. It's nice to imagine playing guitar outside in warmer days, while it's 16 degrees here.

-Actually being ready for classes to begin again.

-After a really long day, having a meeting where my colleague's energy and enthusiasm for our work rubbed off a little onto me.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

thought- & hope-full

-Positive graffiti under a bridge.

-Remarkably patient friends who, when plans change unexpectedly, respond with resilience and humor.

-The hope and promise a new year brings.