12.10.2011

The Sacredness of Safe Places

This has been beautifully rich week in conversations--the kind you just don't have with everyone. Anytime we are completely transparent with someone (especially about our doubts and our struggles) we are taking a huge risk--we may have no idea how they are actually going to respond.

The one thing that I have felt the deepest this week, is how sacred it is when a friend takes that risk and trusts you with the fragile parts of their journey and their heart.  Such things are more valuable than gold.

I've also realized that transparency begets transparency.

May we always be a safe place for our closest friends to take all the facades down and be themselves, be honest, and be loved.

9.05.2011

Finding Truth

I was talking to a friend the other day who asked why there has been a long silence in this space, and I mentioned that I had actually found some answers. They responded that I should talk about them here. So this is for you, my friend (and anyone else who is asking, wrestling, and seeking).

I have to preface this by saying that I think its a good thing to question your belief system.  It's not comfortable ... but it does make you really examine everything to see if it's really true (instead of just accepting it because that is what you've been taught your whole life). And after having my worldview shaken down to nothing, and taking a couple years to wrestle through truth, here are the ideas that I have found to be solid:


1. The universe is too brilliantly and beautifully designed for it to have come together randomly. Isn't this something we know in our gut as creatives ourselves.  Whether you are a graphic designer, writer, engineering, artist or builder, the elements and materials we use don't just randomly create something all by themselves.  It takes intelligent, thoughtful design to create something beautiful and useful.  So doesn't that concept scale up? Especially when we are talking about the design of complex life forms? Plus, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly confirms that the universe exploded into being out of nothing.  Either someone created something out of nothing, or no one created something out of nothing and sheer randomness just happened to create galaxies and species (all of which are brilliantly engineered and beautifully designed).  In all honesty, it seems like the later requires more faith.

2. So who was He, really?  After doing a lot of research on the person of Christ, I've realized that the guy made some huge claims (specifically that he was God). They were so huge that I can't just say "he was a good teacher."  He was either self-deluded, crazy.... or he was who he said he was.  And it seems to me that the truth of who he  actually was hinges on one event....  the resurrection.  Did that really happen? Because if it did, then He was God. The one idea that convinced me that the resurrection actually happened came from a strange place.... Watergate.  If you're too young to remember that event, basically a dozen men who were loyal to their leader (President Nixon) decided to band together and cover-up the truth that they were the ones who paid 5 guys to break into the Democratic Party's Headquarters and set up illegal wiretapping.  It only took 2 weeks for one of the guys to break down and tell the authorities the truth ( to "save his own skin") even though that only meant prison...  not death.  So if there is something about human nature that will choose self-preservation over loyalty to another person, what about the 12 disciples who swore 'til their dying day that they had seen (talked to and touched) Jesus after he died?  All of them had the same story, and stayed true to that account even when it meant they were going to have to die for it.  If it wasn't actually true, I'm sure they would have broke down to "save their own skin"...  at least one of them.

3. Beautiful. So if Jesus really did rise from the dead, he was probably also right about the other things he talked about. I've especially fallen in love with the relationship that seems to exist between the Trinity--there is such a deep love and respect happening between them. And I love the way Christ interacted with people--being attentive to those the current culture overlooked (women, children, lepers, etc.) and standing up to the religious institution that was distorting truth for the sake of men's egos, power and greed. There is something about him (especially when you go back to original texts) that is really beautiful.

4. The only way? Although there was one thing that Jesus said that took me a long time to accept... that "no one comes to the Father except through Him." Christians have used this statement over the last two thousand years to say they were the only ones that are right (as well as say everyone else is going to hell).  The way some people have held on to that thought while simultaneously committing hate crimes against other human beings makes me want to throw up (the crusades, manifest destiny and the native americans, racism, etc.). Even today, I know people who call themselves "christians" and are also judgmental, unkind, and even somewhat-racist. It doesn't make sense to me that they are in better standing than some of my other friends (who happen to be Hindu, homosexual, agnostic, etc.) but are also deeply respectful, kind and loving to everyone around them. It just doesn't synch up.   But I finally found some resolution in the thought that we probably don't really understand what that means, especially when He also said that eventually "all things will be reconciled to Christ" (1 Col. 1:19-20) and I doubt we know what that is going to end up looking like...  plus...

5. Non of us can judge. We don't have the full understanding, capacity, or right.  It's not our place. Even though we all love to sit in the judges' seat (whether its micro-judgements we make while "people-watching" at the mall, or watching shows where we get to vote for the best talent, or in the daily conversation we have about the people around us) judging makes us feel important. And its not just the "religious" people of the world.  We all love to judge (the most judgmental person I know is a staunch atheist).  I actually think it goes all the way back to when we made the decision to choose the fruit of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"...  we wanted to 'be like God" and judge what was good and evil. We wanted to judge.  And I was one of the worst – self-righteous and judgmental to the core.  Which is also why I can say there is so much freedom that comes with accepting the fact that its "not our place" and shift into a place of non-judgement.  Even changing the micro-judgements I used to make while people-watching, into micro-blessings/prayers radically changes the way the world looks.  So a huge thank you to the people in my life who have modeled this for me (my sister and brutha!). This also leads me to another huge issue I've wrestled with....

6. Ok to be gay? Yes, I know there are a couple passages in the old testament and new testament letters that mention homosexuality (whose interpretations can actually be debated), but I choose to take the same position that Jesus did. And he said absolutely nothing about it.  But He did say a lot about loving the people around us ... (There's a lot more to say about this, but it would be better in a face to face conversation).

7. Staying open. This has actually been one of the biggest epiphanies for me in this season, realizing that throughout our history, whenever someone attains greater understanding of a concept its really hard for people to be open to a new idea (especially when it conflicts with the paradigm they have built their worldview on).  This happens not only in the religious communities, but in the scientific communities as well (the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, etc.). Even the ancient Jews who had studied the Torah for hundreds of years, waiting for the Messiah, missed Him because they had a certain image in their head of what he was going to look like (a physical King who would rule on earth).  It's just a good reminder for me to stay humble and open to whatever the truth may look like....

Plus, I love embracing the idea of the "Great Mystery"  ...that none of us have it all figured out.  But we get the chance to experience the wonder of life...

So those are the foundations that I'm building on now.  I don't know where you are at in working out your own belief system, but I hope my own transparency helps you a little (it was a hard decision to make ...  to talk about such personal things here).  But I love the idea that we are all on the journey together.  I didn't come to these conclusions by myself (each one represents lots of conversations, reading of others' thoughts, and experiencing the love and truth in the people around me).

We need each other.  And that in itself, I believe is by design....  and beautiful.

1.25.2010

Hitting ground zero

I guess I should actually start articulating the journey I've been on the last couple years. I've decided to do this for myself (as a digital journal to aid my failing memory), for my daughters and future grandchildren (because I would love to know about the spiritual journey my grandmother experienced and I can no longer ask her), and for you (whoever you happen to be... hoping some raw honesty and wrestling with big ideas is in some way encouraging to you).

I know we all have different experiences that shape our world view, so here's a brief summary of the past forty years just to give you some context of the way I used to think. My parents are incredibly beautiful people and both have a deep faith. They raised my sister and I in love and kindness, with a heavy focus on obeying/respecting authority, and were deeply devoted to the Independent Christian Church. I took ownership of my own spiritual journey when I was a freshmen in high school (after I had several intimate experiences with the Divine) and became hungry for everything I could learn. In the 25 years between then and I now, I've met hundreds of people and experienced many of the circles (or I like to think of them as "flavors") of Christianity: Church of Christ, Baptist, Catholic, Assembly of God, house churches, megachurches, community churches, postmodern/emergent churches, etc. I lived in a bit of a bubble, and if you knew me back then, you probably wouldn't like me (I don't even like who I was back then). I tended to be judgmental and a spiritual elitist with a "us-them" mentality of people who didn't believe like I did (even if most of those thoughts were only internal).

It wasn't until I moved to Arizona that I started friending the people I used to consider "them" and really listening to their view of the world (especially their view of Christianity). The more I listened (with my defenses down) the more I also allowed myself to ask really hard questions:

Why is there so much blood and violence in the Old Testament....
and church history?

Are the personal experiences people have with the "Divine" delusions... are we making this stuff up because we want to believe it so badly?

Why do several of my gay friends have more of the
"attributes of God" (love, light, compassion) than many of my
Christian friends (who say God hates that lifestyle)?

Why does every religion say they are the right one
(some of them the "only right one") to connect to God?

Is there really such a thing as sin,
or did men create that idea to control other people?


These are a few of the questions that shook things up for me.

...especially considering what Einstein said:
"Truth is what stands the test of experience."

8.02.2009

the long silence....

There's actually a reason its been over a year since I have written anything in this space.

The thing I love the most about the blogosphere is how you can unravel ideas together in the "universe of dialogue." But sometimes the questions we are wrestling with shake our entire belief system. That's where I have been actually... ground zero.

But maybe that's ok.

A very dear friend of mine told me a while back, "Cindi, it is so refreshing to watch you go through your spiritual crisis." That comment really surprised me. How can a person with no answers, who feels like she is tangled up in all these huge questions, be "refreshing" in anyone?

It still feels a little scary to just expose all of these raw nerves here, out in the open where you have no idea who is reading it. If you and I were sitting down over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and we could look each other in the eyes, it would be so much easier.... and safer.

But tonight I stumbled across someone's blog and totally connected with what they are thinking and feeling in their own journey. And I have tons of respect for people who are brave enough to talk about the really sensitive areas of their lives... their deeper thoughts. And it felt like such a gift that they let me have a window into their inner life. So with that, I will risk it myself... and talk about the hard stuff.

7.23.2008

dance, dance, dance


I just realized the other day that there has been a reoccurring theme in our lives this month--dance.

A couple weeks ago, one of my dearest friends, Nina, invited me to her bellydancing recital (I bet you've never been to one of those before). Nina and several of her friends decided to take lessons after going to a Persian wedding together and later realized it was a great work out. Nina was fantastic (as you can clearly see) and the whole event was such a great time. But the one thing that really intrigued me was the way the small children who were present could hardly contain themselves--they had to just get up and dance too.

Nina also explained to me that in the Persian culture, anytime families would congregate, they would dance together (even when several of them were just getting together for dinner). How cool is that?

The week after that, we took the whole family to Disneyland. Before we went, I told the girls' boyfriends that I would pay for their way if they would learn how to dance (trying to hide my culture-envy of the Persians). We rented videos on how to swing dance, and all had the best intentions but we never actually learned how. Although once we got to the dance pavillion at Disneyland and saw all the different people out having a good time, lessons didn't matter. It was amazing to watch these old couples in their 70s, a mother and her teenage son, and even a guy in a wheelchair out dancing--not caring who was watching. Their carefree attitudes were contagious and we had to jump in (even though we were terrible at it). It was a fabulous time.

Then when we got home, I found this video that an old friend of mine left on my Facebook wall. It made me realize that dancing is such a great connection we share as human beings. No matter where we are, or what our culture, we all love to bust a move.



And then a couple days ago, I reconnected with one of my old students (who I hadn't talked to in years). Which reminded me of the card they gave me when they left college (probably one of the best cards I have ever recieved). The more I think about it, I realize this is true: "those who hear not the music, think the dancers mad."

5.08.2008

compassion

One of the biggest issues I've been struggling with in my journey recently, is how to respond to tolerance and intolerance.

I'll be honest... I've lived in both circles (with people who believe tolerance waters down truth, and with people who believe intolerance is just arrogant judgementalism rooted in spiritual pride). I can see the validity in both sides, and have struggled to find the place to stand.

But the other day I heard the ideas of Karen Armstrong (an ex-nun who just won the TED prize to build a Charter for Compassion). Something about her words resonated with me. Especially the ideas that:

"... when we have compassion we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there, and once we get rid of ego, then we are ready to see the divine"

so

"..any intrepretation of scripture that leads to hatred or disdain of other people is illegitimate..." and "...we must not leave the scripture until we find the compassionate intrepetation of it"

personally... this felt right... this is the place i choose to stand...

this transcends tolerance...

Plus, the whole idea of dethroning ourselves is something that will radically change all our relationships... especially the challenging ones. I want to see the divine in everyone that I'm around....

Listen to this beautiful scholar and her beautiful idea...


4.10.2008

butterflies or web design

Today at work--during a long day of trying to figure out code--I reached in my purse to get some cash and found a piece of paper that Momo's Hospice chaplain gave our family last month. As I read it in my office, I wept.

I decided to post her experience here on my blog, not only to share these thoughts, but in fear that I will loose this piece of paper, and I want a digital copy for myself....

________________________

As her hospice chaplain, I have had the privilege of getting to know Mary for the past few months, and to spend time with her and her wonderful family as she lived her last days.

Mary Blethen was 84 years old when she left her human cocoon and became one of God's beautiful butterflies. She had been diagnosed with dimentia, and her confusion escalated day by day, week by week. Underneath it, though, her clarity and sense of presence grows stronger as she prepares for her own death.

It was a few weeks ago that she began the process of actively dying. Sitting by her bedside, she looked deep into my eyes and said, "I need help." A tiny tear trickled down the outside of her left eye and she added, "I don't know how to do this."

For a moment I paniced. How am I supposed to know how to help someone die gracefully, fully? Tears filled my eyes as i stared at her and held her head in my hands. I leaned forward and we both cried openly with each other. She pursed her lips to give me a kiss and I leaned in and kissed her back.

"I love you, daring," she whispered. "I love you too, Mary. You can do this," I said, the tears streaming down my face. "You are a glorious child of God."

I guided her through a breathing exercise, asking her to relax more and more with each outbreath, to surrender into the process. Something deeper than the normal way of being was at work. And so we sat together, doing our meditation. Mostly we were in silence, and I held the space of acceptance and God's grace. She held my hand and allowed me to be her guide. Of course it was actually her own process that was the guide, and i was simply there as its muse.

When I saw Mary on Friday, her eyes had begun to cloud over, and though they were open, they gazed at something beyond the world that is familiar to you and me. Her earlobes had begun to sag down (a sign that she is leaving her body) and she could barely move her limbs.

She
spoke at intervals.

"Butterflies" she said punctuating a long silence.

"It's changing.
It's different," she added, moments later.

I thought of Mary floating through the forest, a beautiful fairy with wings. I often told her that she was a fairy that came to visit us humans only to remind us of all the magic around and inside of us.

I leaned toward her and said, "Thank you, Mary, for allowing me to be here with you as you travel down this sacred path." We cried again.

Chris sat with me for a long time, with Mary. Chris has the patience of a mountain. She rests comfortable in the space of not-knowing, of not-fixing. She is truly a nurse-mystic. She, too, served as a presence that allowed Mary's process to organically unfold, fully accepted and embraced.

Thank you Mary. May you be liberated from all the suffering of this life and realize your true nature as you let you. May you fall into the lap of God, and, as the prayer you so loved says, may you "seek not to be loved, but to love." You truly are the light of God's love.

____________________

And as I sit here now, it nearing midnight and I'm still struggling to get my javascript to work in a drupal web page.... my heart hurts. Not only because I miss my soul-friend, my Momo, but realizing that I spend so much time creating, and designing, and coding ephemera.... stuff that means quite little when you look at the big picture.

Maybe I'm doing the wrong thing?? After after 25 years of being a professional creative, a pixel-slave at times, my heart longs to serve those on their last chapter... those walking down the sacred path....

(heavy sigh)

4.02.2008

a wedding in red


I absolutely adore weddings.

I love the dresses, the flowers, the tears, and especially the dancing.

Last weekend when we were shooting our friends', Wes and Leesha's, wedding I realized that I could really get addicted to doing wedding photography. Just getting the honor of capturing the essence of the day in images that means so much to the bride and groom and their families... capturing expressions and moments, details and and emotion... becoming a member of their family for a day....

Its a beautiful thing.

For more beauty and funness of the day, head this way....

3.13.2008

finding truth in chocolat



This week we had our annual Chocolate celebration--a bunch of girls in the neighborhood get together before Easter and watch Chocolat together among a full spread of chocolate goodness. I absolutely *love* that movie, and not because of Johnny Depp (even though that why my hub thinks we love it). It just such a beautiful story about the difference between legalism and love.

Even though this is our fourth year, it surprises me how I find something new everytime I watch it. This year what really stuck out was one of the first lines, when the narrator says, "What is truth?"

I've been asking that a lot lately.... on several different issues. But instead of going into all those issues, right now, I'll just soak in the truth that I know to be true.

The sweet little Père Henri said in his humble Easter message: "Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord's divine transformation? Not really, no. I don't want to talk about his divinity. I'd rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, his *tolerance*... Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around... measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think... we've got to measure goodness by
what we *embrace*,
what we create...
and who we include."

2.24.2008

death & life

This has been a weekend where much of my thoughts have centered on death.

Yesterday, we went out to the cemetery (although I like the term "Memory Lawn" better) and found the gravestone of my Grandma Bates. This may be wierd, but I have always loved memory lawns. I love to just walk through them and read all the stones, and think about the lives that were attached to those names and dates.

Today I found out that one of my favorite people in the world, my Momo, passed away this morning. (I'm still not sure how to say that out loud?... "passed away"?.... "died" has never felt right because I know there is still life on the other side... I don't know..." crossed over"? What is the best way to say that?

Maybe John Donne says it better...

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume;
when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book,
but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated..."

However you say it,
I still miss her...

She was more than a grandmother.
She was my friend.

2.16.2008

Pursuing Peace



We have a joke in our family where my sister and I always give each other the peace sign behind my dad's back. You see, when we were little (in the early 70s) flashing the peace sign was just as bad as saying a curse word. My father had some very strong opinions about hippies and the peace movement back then and didn't want his little girls showing any signs of following that path.

After hanging out with my sister last weekend, I learned a lot about an initiative that she has been volunteering with called The Peace Alliance. This grassroots movement has great ideas about establishing a Department of Peace (which ironically was first pursued by George Washinton's administration). And there is currently a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 808) to create this Department of Peace.

As I've been thinking about the whole idea of peace this week, I've come to several conclusions:

• it really takes a lot of time and energy to work for peace... it doesnt just happen...

• peace isn't just about international conflict and situations out of our control... its how we handle situations at work and in our relationships

• being a peacemaker doesn't make us flakey or "airy-fairy"... its an ancient and beautiful idea

2.10.2008

silence and rhythm

As I started to write an apology for being silent for so long, I looked back at these entries and realized that I have already done that a couple times this year: last summer and the this time last year. And I thought, "maybe this is my rhythm.... to be silent/to absorb/to incubate every once in a while instead of always spewing thoughts" I guess that's more natural anyway, right? We have to breathe out... and in.

This has been a good time of questioning and exploring, and many of the ideas I've been wrestling with will be articulated here soon. If you are one of my good friends who happens the frequent here, I just want to thank you for the grace you have given me to be silent.

11.07.2007

trust = gold

I was having a quiet conversation with a friend today–one of those where you share similar struggles and empathy with each other. And it surprised me when she ended the conversation by saying, “only two people know about this, you being one of them.”  I felt honored that she trusted me with such a sensative piece of her life, thanked her, and said, “trust is like gold to me.”

And then it hit me: in our culture today
trust really is gold.

In the Gut
Terri Shafer gave a great presentation yesterday on branding where trust also became the focus.  Because branding isn’t about our logo, our color palette, or the way we look.  Branding is our user’s gut feeling about us.  Branding is about trust. I could go on and on about that idea (because it gets me charged up) but I’ll spare ya.  But if you do want to know more, check out this quick presentation on The Brand Gap.

Looking good
Don’t get me wrong, looking good is still incredibly important.  In fact, Stanford   conducted research on public perception of a website’s credibility and were surprised when they found out how much depended on the look of a site. How professional our digital presence looks really does matter.  Everyday we are subtly communicating to our users that they can trust us (or not). And none of us can do that by ourselves.  Its definitely a collective effort.  Here’s Stanford’s top 10 guidelines for increasing a site credibility, in which functionality and content are also important.



Hype vs. Crow
Content is huge.  In fact, it became so obvious to me yesterday when I was listening to several different people speak about ASU.  The first person we heard was a very charismatic, energetic, good-looking guy who was there to motivate the group.  Nothing against this guy, but I have to be honest with you, the whole time he was talking it all felt cliche–like it was just hype.  But when President Crow came and spoke, it was like night and day.  He wasn’t emotionally overcharged, yet everything he said was so meaningful and motivating.  It was absolutely packed with big ideas and tons of information (dang, that guy can remember data).  And in my gut, I trusted him.  I honestly believe in what we are trying to do here… so much that I will give everything I can to it:  time, energy, extra-effort, my first-born child  (just kidding… but she is a student here).

Bruce and Cluetrains
These ideas about trust were also reinforced today when Bruce Mau was talking about how “everything communicates.”  He said our ideas of communication have to radically change, because its not just about what we say, its about what we do (and he gave a great example of a huge shoe company who has spent millions of dollars on advertising but were stripped of revenue and trust when the public found out about some of their labor issues). The market is so transparent now. The ideas he talked about reminded me of the Cluetrain Manifesto –how all of us have refined BS-filters and we just don’t buy in to marketing-speak anymore. And why would we??  We are bombarded everyday–with marketing, advertising, spin, propoganda, and even lies–approximately 2000 messages a day.

So if the value of a commodity is determined by how rare it is,
maybe trust is gold.

But now I’m wrestling with what to do with that idea.  How can we collectively earn, value, and protect that trust.   I’m excited to hear about how Bruce Mau proposes to evolve our brand/presence.


11.04.2007

HACK #27: Play Mind Music

I'm reading this very interesting book right now, Mind Performance Hacks. One of the most helpful ideas I've found so far is this concept of playing mind music when you are working. If you are in a job where your output is creativity/ideas, I'm sure you can relate to those days when you just can't pull focus. The idea behind this hack is to condition your brain by only listening to a certain kind of music while you are thinking. Then when you are having trouble concentrating, you can create a conditioned response (kind of jump start your brain) by turning this music on. I noticed that I accidentally did this to myself with stress-relief. Whenever work feels overwhelming, I always play Sigur Ros... and now, those guys can always calm me down.

It took me several weeks to find the right music to think to, but last weekend, I absolutely fell in love with Yo-Yo Ma's interpretations of Bach's Cello Suite. Its so beautiful, I find myself wanting to work, just so i can listen to it.

9.29.2007

death and love

Hundreds of us gathered together yesterday to say goodbye to our friend, Danny Pasanella. It hit me, as I sat in the presence of probably 800 people who loved Danny, how far one life can ripple out when it is full of light and laughter. As Steve Isaac spoke the most real and comforting words I have ever heard at a memorial service, I realized that life isn't measured in years, but in how much we have loved. And I know that Danny is more alive now than ever, is free from the struggles he had here... and is probably closer than we realize. We love you, Danny.

9.24.2007

the cello

About a year ago, I fell asleep while the whole family was watching a movie and I started to sleep talk. The girls make fun of me because I told them, quite emphatically, while I was sleeping that, "somebody needs to play the cello!" The strange thing is the very next night, it happened again.... "somebody needs to play the cello!"

My three older girls all played the violin for a year or two in school and I thought I could convince Madison to play the cello this year... but to no avail. So I decided, if no one else was going learn, then I would. So a couple weeks I went a rented a cello and we've been spending a lot of time together. I so want to learn her language....

9.19.2007

the whole world...

I met a new friend this month--one of those friends that you connect so fast and so deep that they feel like an old friend. Its unexplainable, actually. As we were talking about life, she brought up this book, Eat Pray Love, several times. Then the other day, when my friend Anish (a fellow ASU designer) was talking about how much he loved the same book, I figured I'd make it my new "bus-read".

The book is about a woman's journey to find the balance between enjoying life and being devoted to God, and she takes a year off to travel the world, looking for the answers. I'm only in the first section right now (Italy), but I was surprised at how much a writer can take you with them, just by sharing their experiences in detail... I almost feel like I've been to Italy.

I also appreciate my friends that have travelled several countries this summer and have taken me with them (through their blog). I love to travel--exploring how beautifully diverse this whole planet is--the places, cultures, people... so many beautiful people.

I think thats why I love living here in metro Phoenix, and working down at ASU... there's so much more culture (especially compared to the small midwest town I loved living in for 20 years). There's definitely better food: tons of Mediterranian, Thai, a cute little Irish pub/restaurant, fabulous sushi, and my new favorite... Ethopian.

But I've realized that not only has my taste in food expanded, but so has my view of the world. I was thinking the other day that out of all my closest designer friends here at ASU, several of them are from other countries--India, Lebannon, London. And its the life stories of such friends that really expand your view.

Then I stumbled and this video last week... check it out:



Pangea Day... what a beautiful idea.
When you have time, make sure you check out Jehane's TED wish (under About Pangea Day). http://www.pangeaday.org/

8.25.2007

questions...

First, I have to apologize for long silence (for those few good friends of mine that actually read this). Sometimes I just need to stop talking... and listen.

The last six weeks have been a time of wrestling though ideas and asking a lot of questions. In fact, this morning as I was going to meet a bunch of friends for breakfast, i thought, "you know, the older I get the more I realize that I don't have things figured out."

...but maybe thats ok....


"The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries
of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend
a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity."
-Einstein

7.07.2007

the bus... and free hugs

My car has officially been in the shop for over a month now. But to be honest, I really don't mind because it has forced me to start riding the bus down to Tempe. I love the bus! Its such a great time to read, to just close my eyes and feel a prayer.... or to just watch the people around me (which range in this beautiful spectrum of diversity... on many levels, actually).

Anyhow, as I was conversing with my bus-comrads last night, it reminded of something that was said in the movie, "Crash." Don Cheadle's character said, "In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something. "

I absolutely love the thought of getting out of our own private-spaces (whether its our houses, or our cars, or even just our personal comfort zones) and interact with the rest of the world... especially the ones we don't know...

And as I was googling that quote this morning, and found this fabulous video that just brought the whole point to life...

enjoy.

7.01.2007

holy... and adored....

So I've still been thinking a lot about the idea of being human, and adored... (yeah, call me slow, but it takes a long time for me to fully-absorb an idea). And then the other night my husband and I jumped in the car to run to the store. I had my arm out the passenger side window "playing with the wind" (he always makes fun of me for that), and I looked up and there was a crystal clear view of the full moon. I don't know if it was just the beauty of the night, or the closeness of His Spirit at that moment, but my whole being was flooded with this deep appreciation of beauty, intelligent design, and life itself.... absolutely everything around us is a gift. And I couldn't help but respond, "oh my God... I *adore* You!!"

and there was something about that deeply felt prayer that resonated like I never felt before...

... as if God responded...
"I love being adored...
just like you guys love being adored".

Don't you love it when God shows you who He is by letting you feel a glimpse of the same things He feels? Even when the things you experience are painful (ask Hosea)... you still feel so much more intimate and connected to Him when you have shared the same emotions. I love that about Him. I love Him.

yes... God...
we absolutely ADORE You!!

6.14.2007

sing to me...

Last night I had to work late, so the whole fam came down to Tempe and we ate at one of my favorite little spots, Rula Bula (seriously... half the fun is just saying it). Anyhow, we lucked out because it happened to be open-mic night, so we got to have live music with our "traditional Irish Fare". It was a good night.

But as we sat there listening to this beautiful old black man (with dreads, no less) singing from his soul, there was a person next to us that I couldnt stop watching. He looked like a grad student (loaded with homework) and he sat there alone at his table all night. But when the music began, he put away his books, closed his eyes and just absorbed the music. I was beautiful to watch him just take it all in.

And it just made me realize that there really is something mystically powerful about music. I mean, isnt it kind of funny that we as the human race sing to each other? There's some deeper connection that is going on there, that I just don't have my head around...

Maybe its about the resonance... the vibration... the rhythm... or the way a poet can create a space out of lyrics and harmony for our soul to soak in. Or maybe when people sing, what they are communicating is coming from a deeper place?

I don't know... but i love the song...

6.10.2007

human... and adored...

I was reading through this book the other night--Human which has all of these visual explations of our body, mind, cultures and people, and oh my gosh... its beautiful! Its so rich, and detailed, and textured and it just makes you love being human.

...but as I was looking through it, I read this section about empathy and it said "empathy is shown by movements that unconsciously echo those of the other person." I know they were talking about body language, but there's something deeper there...

i love that thought:
unconsciously echoing the other person....

echoing...
reveration....
resonance....

and as i was just sitting here absorbing that thought,
something hit me....

a universal need we rarely admit to....

i really think we all desperately need
......to be adored.

....
by our parents
by a best friend
by our dog
by our grandpa....
by our significant-other...

(whether that need is being filled by several those
or maybe just one..... i think that undercurrent is always there....)

and i realized how rarely that feeling is articulated...

and maybe, the truth is, it shouldnt be so rare...
we should feel it more....
we should say it more....

5.18.2007

emotional constipation
and the economics of love...

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time with my family in Denver, including my very funny brother-in-law, Mikey. We all tease Mikey because he reminds us so much of Chandler Bing... in fact now that I think about it my sister is also a lot like Monica (a gorgeous brunette whose house is always spotless). Anyhow, Mikey has a hard time taking our family because we are all so touchy-feely (always hugging, affirming, and patting each other on the back). So I told him, "you know what the problem is, Mikey?....
you're emotionally constipated."

And his reply was, "well if that's that case,
you have emotional diarrhea."

I don't know... maybe he's right. Anyhow it got me thinking about the balance between restraining and blurting our emotions/affections.


A couple months ago I was talking with one of my friends at ASU and she was telling me about how her relationship with her boyfriend finally got to the point where she took the huge step of saying "I love you." I'm sure we've all been there--that point in a relationship where you are feeling it, but are scared to death to be the first one to say it.

Anyhow, my friend took the leap... she said it first. Unfortunately the other person wasn't ready yet. She said it hurt, but she was glad that she was true to her own feelings. She felt good about being able to give love whether it was verbally recipricated or not.

I guess I forget its such a hard word--the "L" word-- for us to say to each other sometimes.

And as I realized how our society makes such a big deal about actually saying "i love you" to someone, I wondered if i freak my colleagues out sometimes. Because, the truth is when I feel it, I just blurt it out... I work with this amazing group of people who inspire me, support me, and make me laugh on a daily basis and I can't help but blurt out "i love you" in response... its unrestrainable.

but shouldn't we say it, if we feel it???

who cares if its not the norm.

Surely love isn't ruled
by the same principles
as economics.
I mean, gold is valuable
because it is so rare
(simple supply and
demand theory).


but I can't believe that love becomes less valuable
the more we articulate it...
the more we feel it...
the more we give it...

Oh sure, I get the whole thing about not saying you're in love with someone you've just starting dating (and how important it is to handle each other's heart with a deep and delicate respect). And we probably all know the feeling of unrequited love (whole novels have been written around that one).

But today when I was listening to "All is full of love" I was reminded of how much we are shown love... and in so many unexpected places. ...and if we are given love unrestrained, shouldn't we also give it unrestrained?

twist your head around...

5.10.2007

wine, hammocks, and connections....

don't you love it when random things in your life surprise you and start making these deep connections?

ok, well before I go there, i guess i better explain the wide spectrum of thoughts and experiences I've had this month (since its been so long since I've processed ideas here):

wine
Last month several of us ASU webbies got to go to San Francisco for a conference. I love San Francisco! I love the city, the huge spectrum of people there, the great food, and the wine. The wine was better that usual that week, and I don't think it was just because we were close to Sonoma Valley. It was more about connection.... the connections we were making with each other over long conversations every night.

hammocks
A couple weeks ago our house was totally full of family for a wedding. It was so full that we ran out of beds. So we gave our beds to the guests and my hub graciously slept under the pool table and I slept outside in the hammock. What surprised me though, was how much I loved it. There was this gentle breeze all night, and instead of that annoying alarm that I beat every nine minutes (for at least a half an hour), I woke up slowly to the sun rise and a whole chorus of birds around me. And it hit me--this is the way we were meant to wake up! It felt so much natural to be connected to the rest of the earth as she woke up... I'm going to sleep outside more often.

the power of full engagement
I've been reading this great book about how to effectively manage our energy. Between the rich ideas here, and even more so in the conversations with some good friends, I'm really embracing the idea of how intergrated we are (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) and how important it is to find a rhythm of spending and renewing our energy on all of those levels. Rhythm is such a beautifully poetic concept....
speaking/listening
working/resting
creating/absorbing others creativity
loving/being loved
giving/receiving
reading/writing
the beating of our heart
breathing...
its a beautiful design...

wine & heaven
So yesterday when I was listening to some of Rob Bell's thoughts about "Wine & Heaven", everything over the last month started connecting.... how wine is deeply symbolic of peace and connection... how we are integrated beings... how connected we are to each other... and to the earth....

i love connection.

4.09.2007

easter non-production...

I been going to Easter services for the last 30+ years and have probably seen the whole spectrum of how people celebrate together: the litigurical service, the deeply-reflective (even emo) experience, the media-rich emergent service, the super high-energy celebrations, and the highly produced dramatic presentations (of the Passion, etc.).

But yesterday we gathered with a community (that we are falling in love with) who just listened to people's life stories before they were baptized: a sweet high school girl who had struggled with depression, a college kid who felt safe enough in the community to be really open about his deeper struggles, a really funny guy from NY who was a bitter atheist for years....

It was so refreshing to just hear (in a simple, honest, non-flashy way) stories about how people's lives have been drastically changed by a God who is alive and well on the earth today. Just to see the way Christ is actively moving in other people is enough for me...

3.24.2007

web 2.0

My apologies for the recent lack of posts... work has been kickin' my butt lately. We did just find out that a group from our team gets to go to the web 2.0 expo in SanFran in a couple weeks. It should be fabulous... all the big-guns will be there (Google, Yahoo, Flickr, Amazon)... I can't wait.

I love the web.
I love web2.0 (even though I don't think I have my head completely wrapped around the whole concept)...
I love the idea that the web is about people.

Here's a little video that I have found to be the best explanation of web 2.0
Web 2.0: The web is us/ing us

Labels:

2.24.2007

transcending place...

One of my favorite things about the blogosphere, is how it helps us connect to each other... be a part of each other's community even when we live thousands of miles away. Here's two of the coolest connections I've found this week. Check these out:

Polaroids for orphans in Uganda theLongbrake is heading to Uganda next week and has this great idea for another community project. Join us....

Mars Hill XYZ Project
Listen to Rob and Don talk about this brilliant idea (that originated from Muhammad Yunus). Listen to The X, Y Zs (Feb. 18th) and engage with us...

2.19.2007

love transcends language....

Steph and I ran down to Mexico last weekend with a bunch of fantastic younglife people. We went to build a couple houses, but it felt like we were given more than we gave. I have to admit, its incredibly frustrating trying to communicate when you only know 10 words in Spanish. But the one thing that I really learned was how much we communicate with eye contact, expressions, movement and touch. We absolutely fell in love with the families we were serving and the neighborhood kids that loved to both work and play with us. I especially connected with Emelda (the beautiful little girl in pink). She was so loving towards her little brother Lalo (always guiding him and kissing him on the head). And she was also fun-loving (particularily fond of stealing Josh’s hat). On the second day, she gave us necklaces that she made--and after I hugged her tight and told her “te amo”, she pointed to my chest and asked “Jesús”?

sí, me amiga, sí!

It’s a beautiful thing to learn about the love of Christ from a sweet little 8 year old in a different country....

The other thing I realized was how much I love to hear people tell their stories. I only knew a few of the people we went with so it was great to just hear about people’s lives (especially their passions). I met some beautiful people who are rich in compassion (especially for Africa, the elderly, and the people around them). When we were sitting around the camp-fire one night, someone said something that really stuck with me... they said, “I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I love doing stuff like this, and hanging around people like this.” I thought about that for days....

...how the religious are concerned with rituals, rules, and temples. And how ironically enough, the first century Christians were called "atheists" by the Romans because they emphasized the fact that they didn't need these things. In their minds, they didn't have a religion... they had a Person-- who knew them, and loved them. So to them prayer wasn't a ritual--it was a conversation. Worship wasn't a religious ceremony--just love songs. They had no list of rules--they just lived love ("love God, and love each other.") They didn't have a temple--but believed Christ's presence was always with them.

Just spending a couple days loving people in the sand and in simplicity, made me wonder... maybe all the extra stuff is just man's attempt to make Jesus into a religion, when what he really wanted was to dissolve religion--and just show us how to love God, and love each other??

more pics of beautiful people ...

2.09.2007

red moon rising...

Two years ago I read a book that totally changed the way I thought about prayer... actually, it totally changed me. When you read Peter Greig's stories of what has been happening all over the world, you get this feeling, deep in your gut, that this isn't some guy trying to sell an idea--but a bird's-eye view of something that's happening inside thousands of people all over the world... a connection that couldn't be driven by anything man could produce. After I read it, I couldn't help but give it to all the people i love, and pass copies out to all the spiritual leaders I knew at ASU.

Well, last weekend Peter came all the way from England to talk with a bunch of us here in Arizona. Friday morning a small group of us met in Danforth Chapel (this small little chapel in the heart of the ASU Tempe campus where the students prayed 24/7 for 56 straight days last semester). After we had this beautifully intimate time of worship together, someone mentioned that we had distinguished guests among us. But to be honest, as much as I love Peter's heart, it really felt like the distinguished guest was the Spirit of Christ... He was so present, you could feel him in the room. I absolutely fell in love with Wendy, David and Peter as they shared their hearts and what they were seeing happen with the rest of us. I wish you were there.

But one thing I just learned from theLongbrake, is that you can almost take people with you if you share: your experiences, the things you learned, and a good set of notes. So here's my attempt....

The Church:
• "The church is the only organization that exists for the benefits of its non-members" C.S. Lewis
• The spiritual battles going on right now with determine what the church looks the next 50 years
• No personality, product, or brand is going to get the job done
• The only place that things really start to happen is in our brokenness, our need, our longing (in prayer) especially when we are really honest (Peter talked about being "naffed off" at God) ;) I love Brit-slang.

Peter told stories of people he knew that lived through the spiritual awakening that happened in Scotland in the early '50s. And when that occurred, many of the life changing experiences happened to people when they were by themselves (they would wake up out of a dream, or have really intense feelings of the Spirit moving inside of them). Man wasn't controlling it, the very living presence of God was just moving.

Prayer
• "Hell is an eternal church service without the presence of God" His presence is the most important element.
• He's seen prayer room/places where the presence of God is so real and thick that non-believers are drawn to it and can actually feel it
• God doesn't always speak to us with words - we don't have to limit our conversation to Him to just words
• The way that people from all over the world have been drawn to come together and prayer is a movement of the Holy Spirit on the earth. Peter said with fear, "no one can claim this or take credit for it"
• We aren't creating this wave... we are just catching it.

What we are being called to: Isaiah 62
1. Unity (coming together across denoms)
Continually asking God to make the church beautiful (vs1)
• "Pray like it depends of God, live like it depends on us"
2. We are called to be watchmen on the wall (vs 6-7)
• Ascend this "wall" (in prayer) so we can see things from God's perspective, learn to hear His voice, and can recognize what God is doing in the world and in our culture.
• Sometimes when people are looking for revival they are thinking of the way is happened hundreds of years ago. Its probably going to look a little different. We have to be really open to how the God is going move (when Simeon was told he was going to see the salvation of Isreal, he probably wasn't expecting a baby)
3. Go out of the gates and remove the stones (vs10)
• Lets get out into the world and serve and bless other people
• Take the stumblingblock (sterotypes) out of their way - be Visible and Accessible
• Lets be both intercessors and activists (combine prayer and justice to bring the needs of the world before God, and the bring the love of God to the world)

Wendy then spoke of how her and David were amazed at what was going on across the universities. She had this beautiful epiphany on the night before Good Friday of how Jesus was in the garden asking his friends to stay up with him and pray. And now 2000 years later, students were rising up to answer that -- nearly 70 universities were engaged in 24-7 prayer.

The rest of the weekend Peter spoke at the Take My Life gathering (I hate to call it a conference, because it felt like more than that). I expected a couple hundred people to show up, but over 500 students from NAU, UofA, ASU, our local colleges, and even LA were there. Some really beautiful things happened that almost feel too sacred to talk about here. If you're interested, give me a yell. That's a conversation that needs face-time.... and coffee.

And its so exciting to see how the Spirit is going to move in the valley. Not only are the ASU students are going to start another 40days, but I know of several local churches that are also engaging ( Open Door and Living Streams) and I'm sure there's more....

2.04.2007

stress relief....

The new ASU Research Magazine came out last week which had this incredibly interesting article. It was about the effects of communicating affection based on the research of one of our faculty, Kory Floyd who says that "affection can be a simple, non-pharmaceutical, cheap way to reduce stress."

Kory's research involved his colleagues in kinesiology, psychology, and nursing where they measured the stress response in certain conditions. They took a group of people, and after raising their stress levels, they divided the groups into three: one group wrote an affectionate letter to a loved one, the other just thought about people they love and why they love them, and the last group just sat quietly. The last two groups' stress levels remained the same or even increased... but the group that actually expressed affection dropped sharply.

interesting, huh?
that its the action that brings the response...

We should definitely assimilate this one into our lives... and the next time life feels too overwhelming, take five minutes and send some eAffection to a friend...

...deeply...

1.25.2007

recent epiphanies...

my ears are old
Jeff and I were playing with this website continually clicking on the higher pitches (I can't hear anything higher than 15kHz) when the younger girls came running into the room screaming "WHAT are you doing?"

people can make you feel like you were there
This is what I love most about podcasts and the blogosphere--that we can almost "shift time, and shift space". With audio, images, video, and our words, we can take people with us... share the experience. Thank you so much, Joshua, for taking us with you to "Isn't She Beautiful." I so wanted to go hear Rob Bell's thoughts on the church, and with your notes, it almost felt like we were there with you... thanks.

isn't she beautiful?
and speaking of which, how beautiful is she? Last night I finally finished the wedding photos we shot of my dear friend, Lisa. Catching the moments/emotions of such a beautiful person, on such a beautiful day, is almost addicting.

for the love of quotes
I had a personal epiphany last Sunday, when I was listening to John Lynch talk about prayer (1/21/07) which was amazing, by the way (thank you for your honesty and vulnerability, john). Anyhow, John said something about using a lot of quotes because he didn't know what he was talking about. ah... that's why I love'em.... I really don't know what I'm talking about ;) And a huge thank you to my team at ASU for the beautifully kind words. I loved that birthday card... its my new favorite quote.

photo collections are just cool
running from camera
watching time
jump
i am the church
strange statues

1.11.2007

silence....

“In the attitude of silence
the soul finds the path in an clearer light,
and what is elusive and deceptive
resolves itself into crystal clearness.
Our life is a long and arduous quest
after Truth.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

...maybe silence is the best place to find answers....

1.01.2007

new years... old stories...


As we were driving home from Colorado yesterday, I spent a lot of time reading a book about the lives of the ancient mystics. When I got to the story about St. Francis, I thought of my Grandma Luci. She was my Momo's best friend, a gentle spirit, a strong woman, an incredible potter, and the person who inspired me to be an artist when I was a little girl. I remembered how much she loved St. Francis--she was always making clay sculptures of him (and always with a blue bird in his hand). But when I read his story today, I finally understood why she loved him so much... I just wished I would have asked her to tell me his story (and why she connected with it) when she was alive. I wish we could have shared that connection back then, when we were together.

That regret shaped my resolve this year--a resolution to tell more stories... especially the life stories that have changed me (both past and present). Who we are is so connected to those around us--those who have taught us, shaped us, and inspired us. And whether we know them personally, connect with their ideas through a blog or a podcast, or are inspired by their life story written hundreds of years ago, we are connected none the less.

There's just something really beautiful about our small lives being part of something so huge... and old... the "ancient historic stream" of stories... the ongoing narrative of humanity.

We should all tell more stories.

12.18.2006

calling all peacemakers

There are times in our lives when we hear an idea that resonates so deeply inside of us that its evident that it originated somewhere higher than within the minds of men. This is exactly how I have felt all week after listening to Rob Bell "calling all peacemakers" (week 411) and not only finding myself unable to stop thinking about it myself, but talking with others around me that are experiencing the same thing.

The one fact that really struck me is that 12% of the world population uses 85% of the world's clean water. But it would only cost $9 billion dollars to provide the entire world with adequate water and sanitation... which is what American spent on "Black Friday" a couple weeks ago, shopping for Christmas. (here are all the statistics that Rob spoke of, if you're interested.)

Usually when I hear messages like this--about how rich and selfish we are (speaking of rich, the global rich list is enlightening), I end up just feeling all this guilt and self-condemnation.

But this time it is different.

Maybe its because its connecting with so many harmonic ideas, not only from Rob, but also from real "doers" like Bono ...









So many times in the past when I have heard about world poverty, the problem just feels so big that I figure no matter what I do it will only be a drop in the bucket. But this week a friend of mine told me about Ryan Hreljac, this (then) 6-year old boy, who just proved to us all that it doesn't matter how small we are, we can change things....

which is exactly the point that Rob and Bono are making... that we can change history.... that we are being called to change history.

I'll be incredibly honest with you, Leo Tolstoy totally pegged me when he said, "Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself."

But I don't want to be like that anymore.
I want to "be the change I want to see in the world."

I personally feel provoked to action. Exactly what/how, I'm still wrestling with. Although I have found some several groups of people who have some creative ideas, like the Buy Nothing Christmas and the 100% Self-Tax.

But no matter how we decide to act on this, the important thing is that we act.

(Leave a comment if you connect with these ideas, and/or have found ways to act. I'm sincerely interested....)

A few people who are acting now:
one.org and partners
Ryan's Well

12.04.2006

beauty in winter

I love winter.

...and even though this one has just begun, it has already been so rich. Rich in laughter, family, and friends that feel like family. In meteor showers, sushi, wassil, and gingerbread. But most of all, it has been rich in young-love, old-(but-enduring)-love, servant-love, and that which can only be described as "other-worldly."

images

11.23.2006

thanks...

As I sit here in the stillness of the morning, before the day becomes so full of loving and serving the huge group of beautiful people that will fill our home today, I stumbled on some beautiful thoughts from my friend, Bryan. And I just wanted to take a moment and echo that thought.

This week has been absolutely amazing. Everyday, He has moved in these intimately beautiful ways... stories that aren't meant for the blogosphere, but can only be shared when we can look each other in the eye, and share a meal together. But don't you love it when God answers the cries of your heart in ways that you don't expect. Don't you love it when God absolutely takes over a conversation, and speaks the very words (through the person across from you) that you just spoke to Him in your secret places the day before. I love how He moves.

I am so with you, Bryan... we have so much to be thankful for, but more than anything... God, thank you for moving.

11.18.2006

stars and showers...


Last Sunday we went out to the Civic Center and worshipped in the chilly night air.... it was amazing. Even though I am a thin-blooded Zonie, being a little cold was nothing compared to the chance to stand under the stars and worship such a beautiful Artist/Engineer. I found myself wishing we were out of the city... out where our artificial lights can't hide how many stars fill the heavens.

Don't you love the stars? I don't know what it is about them.... their distant beauty... or just the incomprehensible number of them? I love how Abraham Lincoln said it... "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."

I've been listening to Kerry's past thoughts on our Floodcast this week. One of them I've listened to multiple times (the "You are Loved" podcast). And I have to be honest--God is really changing me with this one because I've had this whole view of His love for us flipped. I won't go into all the details--you'll have to listen to it yourself.

But as I've been thinking about those ideas all week, I can't help but think of how much glory God really deserves. I once heard John Piper say,"The heavens declare the glory fo God... and the reason for "wasting" so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our Maker, not us." Seriously. Think of everything that's out there--the stars, and nebulae, and galaxies that have never been seen by us... yet exist purely to worship a God of beauty.

I just found out this morning that there is going to be a meteor shower tonight. I don't know about you, but that's just too irresistible--a bunch of us are going to head out of the city, build a fire, and just gaze in wonder together.... as we worship our God... with the stars and the cosmic dust...

11.08.2006

i am the church

The community photo project is up. Check it out. Beautiful people from all over the world. Thanks for pulling this together, Joshua.

And thanks Wes, for being the church with us the other night. One of my favorite places to be the church together is over late-night french toast.

Speaking of Wes, the Van Buren Regulars are playing at OnePlace this Saturday night. If you're in downtown Phoenix, come hang out. You'll love their music.

11.04.2006

never leaving...

This has been an incredible week of dialogue (one on one, in small groups, in the blogosphere, and in my 'secret places'). The kind where all the thoughts and conversations seem to be in harmony with each other.

First off, I haven't been able to stop thinking about these ideas of how we view things in boxes. As Joshua observes, "i drive around in a box. i live in a huge box that has little boxes within the greater box. i watch television shows on a box. right now I'm staring into a small box.... we like putting God into our neat, little boxes." And as I was soaking in those thoughts this week, I also realized how much we put each other in boxes.

We analyze, and even judge each other; then mentally put them in these boxes (intellectuals, tech-geeks, frat-boys, emo). We even get more personal, and analyze each other's personality/character, almost as if they are never going to grow out of it (high-maintenance, cynical, flakey, spineless, self-absorbed, etc.) We especially do this in the church. We box in whole groups of people (traditional, emergent, catholic, protestant, charismatic, not to mention the thousands of denominations).

I guess I've been thinking about this a lot this week, because its so painful to watch misunderstandings, conflict, and relational pain happen in the church. In fact, I just met a woman tonight at a banquet who grew up in Argentina (because her parents were missionaries). When I asked her if she liked growing up a "PK", the first thing she said was, "you know there's a lot of pain that happens in the church.... but my parents were really good at showing us the difference between the Spirit of Christ and the politics of the church."

And it made me think about what Joshua continued to say: that even though we view the world in boxes, its really fluid, organic, seasonal.... he said,

"love goes through good seasons. bad seasons.
seasons of wealth and poverty. of joy and sorrow.
of frustration and peace.
people work through things. we fail. forgive. fail. forgive.
we don't give up on people we love because we, too, are imperfect.
people suffer together and grow together. suffering produces growth.
pain has its seasons. growth is never-ending.
love is fluid, not a boxed in idea."

I think the church is the same way. We can't put each other in boxes (either individually or as a group). Because we, as the whole Body of Christ, are organic.... and very connected. Whether you and I agree on how things should be done, the way you are... affects me (and visa versa). If you are a joyful, compassionate, graceful person--your spirit energizes mine. But if you always focus on other's faults, are cynical or self-absorbed--just your presence drains life from mine. We are connected, and we either give life to each other, or drain it. "...there are no neutral exchanges." (brennan manning)

In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, I am also connected to that guy who comes to campus and screams hell and judgement at everyone, because he's not only enraging me, but he's also affecting people's opinion of what Christians are like.

I have been in fellowships before, in the very distant past, where I strongly disagreed with how things were being done and how people were being treated, so we decided to make a stand and "leave that church." And as I thought of those painful times, I realized that even if any one of us feels we can't serve with a specific group, we can never really "leave the church," we are too connected to each other.... we are family. Even if that means I'm your crazy Aunt Mertle who laughs obnoxiously, smokes cigars, and annoys the hell out of you. So I decided... I will never say, "I'm leaving this church" or "that church" or "the church." i can't. its a part of me. you're a part of me.

Then I was listening to my all-time favorite teacher the other day (Oct 22, Week 404... you gotta listen to it). And not only did he have some amazing insight into a story I've heard a million times before, but the things he said were in totally harmony with these ideas I was already chewing on. I especially loved his emphasis on forgiveness... and how the root of the Hebrew word for forgiveness is the same as the root for "to dance."

How beautiful is that?

Then... ironically enough, I went to read Joshua's blog tonight and he has a call out for everyone to send him photos of themselves holding up a sign that says "I am the church." So if you get a chance, send him a pic this weekend. I loved this because when he posted the community photo project last week, he said "we are all a part of this big family who is simply trying to progress and move in this kingdom in which we live... be sure and check out the sites of your family members." ... family members..... 40 people from all over the world, that I have never met... and yet it really did feel like we were family...

11.02.2006

masks...

"To love is to be vulnerable."
- C.S. Lewis

I saw this quote the other day, and haven't been able to stop thinking about this idea.... being vulnerable. Why *is* that so hard? Why is it so incredibly scary?

I don't know... maybe its just trying to exist here in this culture of competition, performance and excellence. (Don't get me wrong, I believe in excellence... but please tell me I'm not the only one who feels like they can't constantly live up to the pressure of it). And its not only my professional/academic life that I feel so much stress... its also my relationships.

I look around and I see friendships form... and then dissolve. Couples unite, and then split. I watch people's perceptions of each other shift (from affection, to criticism). And deep down I wonder how stable my own relationships are... I wonder when the person next to me is going to walk away.

So as a defense, I put the mask on. I'll admit it. Maybe the mask will cover up all my flaws and I can survive a little longer in this competitive workforce. Maybe my friends won't see the scars and imperfections, despise me, and walk away... at least today.

But then I look at that person across from me wearing their mask, and sure, it's beautiful. But when I get close, and reach out and touch their face, its cold... and hard... and fake. And you know, I don't care how many flaws they have, I'd much rather see their face than some painted piece of plastic.

I don't know, that part seems easy--accepting the people around me, no matter how imperfect they are. The hard part for me, is accepting my own weaknesses, and having the courage to take the mask off myself... to expose the reality of my own flaws.

So I guess if Clive is right, and
love = vulnerability
then God... teach me how to love.

10.26.2006

Seasons

I was swimming through the blogosphere today and found some beautiful thoughts of a guy who I later found out writes for Relevant (my favorite magazine). You've got to read his ideas about the difference between the way we think (in boxes) and the way life really is (cyclical and fluid).

I love your ideas, Joshua....
and I'm so with you... that
"love is fluid, not boxed in an idea"

10.14.2006

finding old friends...

...or this week, it was more like old friends finding me. A dear friend of ours, that I haven't seen for over 15 years, emailed me out of the blue this week. He said he googled his name and found this site because I had listed him as one of my favorite musicians. Actually Marlin, you will always be a huge family favorite (especially during the Christmas season). Jessica had a similar experience this month, where she reconnected with a friend of hers from the 1st grade through Facebook. In both cases, we've found so much encouragement from hearing the stories of our old kindred spirits. And it's just was one more reminder that this (the blogosphere)... is really about people.

10.06.2006

finding our voice....

I just started reading a new book that ended up not only being incredibly relevant to some situations at work, but it completely resonates with thoughts and feelings I have about the blogosphere. Don't you love it when someone poetically articulates feelings you already have?

This book actually cited the Cluetrain Manifesto, saying:

"All of us are finding our voices again. Learning how to talk to one another.... inside, outside, there's a conversation going on today that wasn't happening at all five years ago and hasn't been very much in evidence since the Industrial Revolution began. Now, spanning the planet via the Internet and Worldwide Web, this conversation is so vast, so multifaceted, that trying to figure out what it is about is futile. It's about a billion years of pent up hopes and fears and dreams coded in serpentine double helixes, the collective flashback deja vu of our strange perplexing species. Something ancient, elemental, sacred, something very very funny that's broken loose in the pipes and wires of the twenty-first century.... there are million and millions of threads in this conversation, but at the beginning and end of each one is a human being."

Beautiful.

That is what I love about the web, and the "universe of discourse" we call the blogosphere: that its really about finding our voice, and even more so, about hearing another's.