Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Traffic and Weather

I was driving the other day, listening to my favorite news radio station for the express purpose of hearing the weather update.  (It's a somewhat compulsive habit during RennFaire season.)  It should have been a quick and easy assignment.  After all, the station gives updates every 10 minutes.  I even have the clock in my car synchronized to the station so that I can know how close I am to the next broadcast.

But I kept letting my mind wander at the crucial moment.  I'd zone back in right when the weather guy was ending his spiel.  This didn't just happen once.  I spent my entire drive home missing an update that happened every 10 minutes.  (Though in my defense, after missing it three times I had the following epiphany and my brain was on a track all its own.)

"His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

"It's taken me years to recognize God's voice: those whispered words of encouragement when I'm down; that sudden sense of caution when I'm ready to launch a testy zinger at someone; those much-needed directions at the street corners of my life; tender words of love when I least deserve them; even humor at odd moments." ~ Virelle Kidder

As reliable as the traffic and weather updates, his voice is speaking.  His grace and guidance are present.  Sometimes I may let my mind wander.  Sometimes I feel like I've *just* missed something that I really needed to hear.  But it's ok.  If I hang on, set my radio dial, and wait for it, he'll say it again.

And again....and again...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rilke Poem

You are not surprised at the force of the storm - 
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who put them into action are priceless.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Truth and Trivia

The Euphrates river, 55 mph, the Pecan State -- these things have an odd commonality.  Want to take a wild guess what it is?  Each is a representative of an answer, given with pride and confidence, that proved to be inaccurate.  Whoops!

I had my Pecan State moment while studying the last chapter of "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World."  The author started talking bout the well-known story of Mary and her alabaster jar, anointing Jesus' feet with oil at dinner.  She identified Mary as the sister of Martha...and my catch-every-little-thing radar went crazy.  Everyone knows that the alabaster box Mary was Mary Magdalene!  I've heard the sermons, I've listened to the song.  This is one Biblical fact I knew.

Armed with my righteous indignation, I waited for Bible Study night.  And when we got to this chapter, I asked if anyone else found this passage interesting.  My best friend spoke up.  She said, "It seemed off to me.  So I looked it up, and it turns out that it was Martha's sister Mary."

Look it up?  Why didn't I think of that? I was just ready to dress the author down for her obvious mistake.

But indeed, there it is: "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." (John 12:1-3)

Mary, Martha, Lazarus.  The family trio that is at the center of several of Jesus' most relational moments.

I immediately thought of a commercial that's been on the radio.  A reporter is talking about a new salad or something that features pecans.  The restaurant in question gets their pecans from Georgia (apparently Georgia is a treasure trove for pecans).  The reporter is talking back and forth with some pecan farmers, and at the end of his spiel he says, "And that's why I call Georgia the 'Pecan State.'" ::pause:: A farmer replies, "But Georgia is the 'Peach State.'"  The reporter, ::a little uncertain:: "Well I call it the 'Pecan State.'"  The farmer, ::you can just see the flat look and possible eyebrow raise:: "Well...that's weird."

When did Christian pop culture get the Mary's mixed up?  (And when did I start letting pop culture dictate the things I take as truth?)  Is it because Luke says this woman "lived a sinful life," so obviously he must be talking about Magdalene?  Whether or not it makes sense or a good sermon or a moving song, that's kind of mean when you think about it.  But however the seed got planted, it's grown to be the pervasive opinion.

As a side note: I think there's something beautiful and profound about the Alabaster Box song if you swap your mental picture from Mary Magdalene to Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Because really don't know all of her back-story. We know that Jesus had a very special relationship with this family.  But we -weren't- there when it started.  We don't know the scars that Mary carried.  Those answers and mysteries are between Mary and Jesus alone.

Name the river that runs through Baghdad:  the Euphrates  the Tigris
In the movie Speed, what was the minimum speed at which the bus must travel:  55 mph  50 mph
What is Georgia's tag line: the Pecan State  the Peach State
Who anointed Jesus' feet with expensive oil: Mary Magdalene  Martha's sister Mary

Thank you to my best friend for reminding me that instead of gloating in my "rightness," sometimes it's a good idea to check the facts.  When something seems off (and even if something seems right), it's always good to go back to the source instead of relying on someone else for the truth.

Can't you imagine me as that little reporter?  "And that's why I call her Mary Magdalene."  "But it was Mary the sister of Martha."  ::a little uncertain::  "Well I call her Mary Magdalene."  ::eyebrow raise:: "Well...that's weird."

Monday, September 20, 2010


My morning on the  Renaissance Faire site started out as it usually does:  double checking supplies, lacing bodices, making up crazy lyrics to familiar songs, talking in movie lines and half accents...playfully bantering with my fellow hairbraiders.

So it caught me off-guard when one of my friends reacted very strongly and negatively to a comment I made.  I meant it as banter.  Slightly sarcastic, admittedly flippant, but honestly meant as jovial.  It was a harmless.  But what I didn't know is that there was a whole lot of extra details to her initial statement.  I even foolishly tried to defend myself -- walking through brief exchange and letting her know where my intentions were and why I said what I did.  But then she started listing all the things I didn't know, I felt terrible.  You know that feeling when your stomach sinks and you just wish you could take it back?  When you feel two inches tall?  Just like that.

On one hand, I didn't know.  I couldn't know.  My words were not meant to be hurtful.  And there was no way I could have had all the perspective I needed to recognize that this was not banter.  It was deep and emotional and "real life" stuff.

On the other hand, when in her chastisement my friend said, "Well maybe you should think before you say something."  She was right.  (Perhaps a bit harsh for the situation.  But right nonetheless.)

For the rest of the day I thought long and hard about that.  About how my speech should be intentional.  About how as an adult I've consciously changed my habit of speaking to move away from sarcasm and double-meaning statements...because it's just too easy to pass off real cut-downs and malicious statements as jokes.  In fact, it's for that very reason that in my last relationship I specifically told my boyfriend that I didn't want us to let sarcasm be part of our dynamic.  I wanted him to always trust the things I said and wrote.  No secret wondering as to whether I was joking or serious. And I expected the same from him.

Words are powerful.  They build up or tear down.  And once they are out there, they can't be taken back. I had gotten lazy, and my friend has a point.  My words should be thoughtful and beautifully coordinated for the occasion.  Ironically, I have a reputation for doing just that -- for finding the right word and being careful about what I say.  I think that's why her correction threw me for such a loop.  It's something I care very much about and I blew it.

It was an innocent blunder.  But it reminded me that if I truly want my speech to build up, then I have to be careful even in my banter. 

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The video window on my computer screen showed a screenwriter talking about his experience in the film industry.  He had an idea.  A story.  He wrote it, polished it, pitched it, watched in battle it's way through rounds and rounds of approvals and reviews....and years later it became a movie. 

The movie had a mediocre showing, and was bashed by critics.  He took it all in stride, but was disappointed.  Was it as bad as everyone said?

A few months later at an industry party, a woman came up to him and asked if she could have a few moments.  She proceeded to tell this screenwriter about how she had lost her husband months earlier.  About how both she and her son were grieving, but were doing it separately.  They just didn't know what to say or do.  But after watching the movie this screenwriter was instrumental in making, they broke through the wall and were able to cry together.  His story made the difference.

And this screenwriter, talking through emotion that was still poignant at the memory, paused and looked at the camera.  He said, "At that moment...I knew.  I had made the movie for her.  And that was enough."

Can I be inspired, polish and pitch and battle, and wait and endure both the criticism and all the ways my hard work falls flat....and know that it all might just be for that audience of one?  One that I may not even know is watching?  Such a simple reminder, but a good one.

I hope I tell my story with integrity.  That will be matter who's watching.

Photo by CoolMcFlash