Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer is Slipping Away...

I feel it. The little tiny voice is whispering...enjoy each precious second...summer is slowing slipping away...

My classroom is calling me to come back to set up and begin another year. It is time to prepare the classroom. I look forward to meeting new faces and going through the rhythms of another school year.

Looking back on summer...this will be the year I remember the tiny yellow finches. I love how they fly, their beautiful songs floating in between their swoops in flight. Two bird feeders in the backyard at Vickie's bring me joy as I drink my coffee in the morning and sit on the back deck. It is the year of learning the life of a creek. Several creeks are in the neighborhoods where I live and riding my bike all summer exploring has been a lot of fun. There are lots of frogs that live here. I even saw a tadpole in between the tadpole and frog cycle of life! It had a leech on it but my friend pulled it off and saved his little life.

It is the summer I truly learned how to fish. I love the full days of being out in nature and there are so many beautiful, wonderful places in Michigan to explore. I have been to two dams, several ponds and lakes and had several adventure days at the Blue Water Bridge. I have my own pole now and have even baited my own hook with worms and lures. I have caught all kinds of things; catfish, brown bass, green small mouthed bass, large mouthed bass, blue gills, carp, rock bass, creek name a few.

I have spent many evenings watching my friend play hockey at several Ice Arenas in the area. It has been healing and meditative for me to watch the teams go back and forth with the puck and I also have gotten into watching the NHL last winter and spring. I know most of the teams now and many of the key players...on top of following the Red Wings, of course.

I had the best fourth of July with some of the best fireworks I have ever seen and I have done more sparklers this summer then I have done since I was a child. Celebrating my independence this year. My freedom is not taken for granted. I lit roman candles for the first time and my first bottle rockets...I have laughed and had fun.

I have returned to reading, listening to music, writing in my journal, working out at LIfetime. I am even practicing piano. Guitar has stayed with me throughout it all. I forced myself to continue my lessons throughout the last year...even when I didn't want to go. The discipline has paid off and I am enjoying it once again. I am returning to who I am. My Mom cried the other day when I was visiting and played her favorite song "Hello Again" on the piano...she feels like I'm myself again and I've come back again to being myself.

I have not returned to church yet. I am not sure when I will. I tried returning on a Wednesday last week and there was not a time listed on the Kensington website. I am not quite sure where I fit in at church. I think so differently than the typical churchgoer and do not enjoy any of the politics or socializing associated with it. I do miss contemplating in the pew and worshipping in a group setting. I occasionally miss the sermons (more like pep talks really) and I do miss hearing the scriptures read outloud. Somehow Kensington seems to yuppie-like for me. This is the summer my childhood church, First United Methodist in Pontiac, finally had to close the doors. Not enough members. It has been an inevitable thing, but it is sad to see. It was a traditional, simple church and sometimes seemed more like real church to me... So, I do wonder where I will go next and where I fit in...I am leaning towards a more traditional Methodist or Lutheran church.

My faith is still strong. I believe in a loving Creator...I worship on my own, pray on my own, read and write and ponder spiritual is and always will be a foundation of who I am. I don't think it makes me a better person- it is just part of who I am. I am grateful to believe in a forgiving, caring Father...I believe in loving others as imperfectly as I can and above all, not judging others.

So, before I forget, there are some tidbits of the summer of 2008. It has been a time of reflection, peace, quiet and coming back into who I am. A summer of returning to my maiden name, changing my driver's license, voter's card, bank accounts and endless paperwork changing beneficiaries, name and address. I have done it slowly and carefully and in my own time. I signed over my condo and am now saving up to buy my own home in the next year or two. I forgot how much fun saving money can be and I never realized how much money I really do make, all on my own!

It will be strange heading back to school with my new/old name but I am looking forward to the future more than I ever thought I would. I feel peace and joy and hope for the future. One day at a time...

My saying goodbye to summer will end with one grand trip to San Francisco. I have never been there and am so looking forward to traveling again...seeing the world will always be a part of who I am. When I return on Labor Day I will take a deep breath before plunging into another new beginning and another new year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Springtime is Here

Springtime is beginnings. A long winter was filled with change; filled with hard things. I am ready for spring sunshine, healing and mercy.

It has been so long since I have written in this blog, I hardly remember how to do it! One step at a time. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hold Me Jesus

Such a beautiful song by Rich many times can I play it in a row? Countless...

Hold Me Jesus

"Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all,
when the mountains look so big and my faith just seems so small.
So hold me Jesus, cause I'm shakin' like a leaf
You have been King of my Glory
Won't you be my Prince of Peace?

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark,
it's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart.

So hold me Jesus, cause I'm shakin like a leaf
You have been King of my Glory
Won't you be my Prince of Peace?

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want
Then take what you give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down
I'm falling on my knees

And this salvation army band is playing this hymn
And your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so small

So hold me Jesus, cause I'm shakin like a leaf
You have been King of my Glory
Won't you be my Prince of Peace?

I'm singin' hold me Jesus, cause I'm shakin like a leaf
You have been King of my Glory
Won't you be my Prince of Peace?"

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Blessing

"It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letters and Papers from Prison

Hold me together God. Hold me together.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Conversation with Class

This is an interview between Woody Allen and Billy Graham. This is an example of respectful dialogue mixed with humor and a healthy dose of not taking themselves too seriously. They seem to be genuinely enjoying one another and it is one of the best conversations between two people I have ever seen. It is in two parts due to the length, but it is well worth the view.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Gone with a Tip of His Hat."

Dr. Seuss died today at the age of 87. I have to admit, when the students bring in yet another Dr. Seuss book for me to read to the class, I moan slightly because my mouth gets tired by the time I reach the end! When they bring one in they want to read to the class, I know it is going to take longer than I would like for them to do so. His books go on and on. However, the children LOVE hearing the rhythms, patterns and word plays. They love the characters and wacky stories he masterfully wrote over his lifetime. For many these are the first books they learn to "read". I am amazed at the creativity and imagination of Dr. Seuss and read more about him over at Today in Literature.

They write, "...When Geisel was a student at Oxford, and banned by school regulations from driving a motorcycle, he tied dead ducks to his handlebars to pass his vehicle off as that of a poultry deliveryman. When living in New York City and finding himself with a telephone number one digit different from a local fish market, he would send his own cardboard fish to those who called him with their order. When trying to quit smoking in his fifties, he carried a corncob pipe empty of tobacco but full of dirt, in which he had planted radish seeds; he would suck on the pipe while riding the bus, stopping every now and then to take out an eyedropper of water and squeeze a few drops into the bowl. To anyone who took the bait he would explain that he was "Watering the radishes."

At the age of eighty, Geisel had his anti-nuclear war Butter Battle Book on the best-seller lists for months; at eighty-two, he published his last book, You're Only Old Once, and told reporters that "Age has no effect on me. I surf as much as I ever have. I climb Mount Everest as much as I ever have...."

". . . Then we saw him pick up
all the things that were down.
He picked up the cake,
and the rake, and the gown,
and the milk, and the strings,
and the books, and the dish,
and the fan, and the cup,
and the ship, and the fish.
And he put them away.
Then he said, "That is that."
And then he was gone
with a tip of his hat."

We miss you Dr. Seuss.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jesus Camp

I finally watched this movie over the weekend. The beginning had a variety of things being said by conservative Christians, one of which mentioned something about how we were in a "culture war". The voice said something like, "we didn't start it, but we will end it." Then you see the radio DJ, Mike Papantonio, from the Ring of Fire radio program mentioning that he was also a Christian but he grew up hearing the Sermon on the Mount from the book of Matthew that spoke of the peacemakers. He does not see the entanglement of religion and politics as a good thing.

The movie talks of children being taught that global warming is wrong and doesn't exist. We can cut down all the trees we want, use the environment however we want to because this is not our permanent home anyways and the Earth belongs to the Lord. I do not hear humility in words like this. I see in Genesis God giving Adam and Eve very special jobs to name and care for the animals and the garden and his creation. I hear an arrogance in these other words.

There are some wonderful children in this film that I believe have a sincere love for God and have many different talents. They are special and sweet and captured me. A ten year old little girl named Tory, loves dancing and admits to sometimes dancing for the flesh and how she needs to rid herself of that, but that oftentimes she dances for the Lord. I see her at the camp later and she gets quite emotional. I see her as a wonderful, sweet, honest, loving girl who wants to please God and others. She has deep compassion as well. I worry that as the camp focuses on sin and guilt that she takes on the shame and guilt of the world. She is wise and I hope she hears the message of how loving and forgiving God is and how he accepts his children. Another boy seems extremely sad at the camp as he admits to how much he doubts God at times. He is an intelligent boy in my mind that doesn't blindly accept things without examination and I hope that someone teaches him how strong a faith can be even when there is doubt. He is surrounded with very charismatic people and I hope he learns that is not the only way to worship and be a Christian. The most dynamic duo are a brother and sister, Rachel and Levi, and I do adore them. They love the Lord in a charismatic, on-fire for Jesus kind of way and they are clearly entrenched in that life. It looks like they have been given clear answers though on everything there is a question for. Rachel talks about the difference between "dead churches" and "real churches". She seems to have opinions and beliefs for everything you could think of. She is about ten and has all the answers and I do not think she is even asking questions anymore.

Most of these children are home-schooled. A statistic was given that 75% of homeschoolers in America are Evangelical Christians. I have strong reservations about home-schooling children and one thing I see in a statistic like this is that children are being indoctrinatied only into whatever their parents believe, instead of learning about the world and being given the gift of thinking for themselves. They show children watching creationism videos and being told that science is "stupid" and doesn't prove anything. The public schools must sound like very scary places for these children, as does Harry Potter. At the camp Pastor Becky preaches on Harry Potter being a warlock and that warlocks are enemies of God. She talks about that Harry Potter would have been put to death back when warlocks were put to death. At dinner later that day a boy talks about how a child at the table looks so much like Harry Potter and that his Mom doesn't let him watch it, but when he stays with his Dad he gets too. You should see the looks on the other children's faces! The horror that he watched Harry Potter!

The camp is run by a very charismatic pastor that admits how tiring her work is, but she does seem to have a deep passion and love for children. She has a gift for speaking with kids and I believe she connects with the children at the camp. She listens to them, gives them her time and attention and the response is strong. She teaches some interesting object lessons that I actually would not mind using if I ever end up teaching a youth group again in my lifetime. However, it does seem to go to far extremes. The camp shows children telling ghost stories and then getting a lecture for telling them instead of honoring God. I see a lot of fear being taught and at one of the meetings they wash their hands with bottled water to repent of their sins. There are lots of tears and emotions and drama...

Near the end the Pastor gets interviewed by the radio DJ and she mentions how children get told what to believe. The sad thing to me is they do not really get to learn, they get fed what to read, what to think, what to do. The gift of childhood is a time of discovering and guidance is definitely needed along with wIsdom, love and support. The problem is when someone is dealing with extremes, taking the gift of choices away from a child, not allowing a child to figure some things out on their own. I think of children on the other side of the world, learning hate and warfare at an early age. Children are so impressionable and it is a tricky thing to balance what and how to teach. The parents in this film believe they are doing what is best for their children, bringing them up in this way. I pray that God helps these children to learn the art of loving and compassion and thinking and seeing things from more than one point of view.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Keeping My Soul Awake

I think that it is a challenge to keep the soul awake. The first few weeks of work have been packed and heavy with many tasks. The beginning of the year can be exciting, but also exhausting and overwhelming at times. Today, I actually started reading again. I began a book called The Kite Runner and it felt so wonderful to be entrenched in a story again. My soul started waking up a bit.

Also, I listened to my ipod tonight for the first time in a while. Such joy filled me! I listened to Bob Dylan's Buckets of Rain, Joni Mitchell's Circle, Modest Mouse's Float On, Bill Mallonee's Chameleon, a bit of Tori Amos and some classical piano. I could feel the layers of air that had been covering me begin to lift and waves of peace came on me as I felt myself remembering my true self. Emotions also come along with this as I realize if I'm not careful, precious days of my life can slip by unnoticed. Time is so priceless and limited for all of us.

The beginnings of fall crept into Michigan this weekend and oh, how I love it here! The trail at Yate's cider mill is a path I have been walking for over ten years and I never get tired of it as I revisit each autumn the first chance I get and continue to go as often as I can until the mill closes after Thanksgiving. Walking the trail was refreshing and awakening as well. The sunny, crisp, clear blue skies fill me with gratitude for life.

I feel a bit of a sore throat coming on, a bit of familiar exhaustion from day to day living creeping in and I've only been back with students for two weeks! Somehow I hope to keep capturing moments of rest in the midst of the working. A balance is possible and is necessary in order to live well.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeleine L'engle

Madeleine L'engle passed away Thursday. She was 88 years old. I loved her dearly even though I never got the opportunity to meet her. I know so much about her from all the wonderful stories and books she has written over the years. I have never felt so much affection for an author. I am certain we were kindred spirits of sorts. She valued so many of the things I do.

I have been thinking about her a lot today. I think about how she loves to travel. She actually traveled to Antarctica once! I loved reading about her adventure into such a unique place to go. I remember how everyone had to wear red so that if they were lost when they were exploring they could easily be found.

I remember how much she loves classical music and playing piano. She was able to relax as she played and got lost in her songs. I feel the same way. When I am practicing, I often think of her. She also loved nature and needs to walk outside to remember who she is and what she is about. I also need this time to unwind. So many people do not seem to need their solitude and I often have felt like I am the only one who does. Then I read some of the things Madeleine has written and I do not feel so alone in those feelings.

She also believed strongly in male and female friendships. That is almost impossible to find in today's society. It is a breath of fresh air to hear her talk about it. I feel validated and assured that my ideas are not so strange, just different.

She loved the theatre and had such a brilliant imagination. She loved children. She loved animals. She loved people. She loved God. She was one of the first intelligent Christian women that talked openly outloud about how metaphors can still be real. She loved the art of a story. Stories have so much truth in them. She was an intelligent, thinking, loving person that had a unique way of seeing the world and didn't try to be anyone but herself. I respect her so much and look up to her.

I feel like pulling out everything I have by her from my bookshelves and reading everything all over again. I want to be near her ideas right now and honor her memory. She was one of a kind. She will be missed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day

It seems an appropriate holiday to end the summer break on. I return to work tomorrow to begin my thirteenth year of teaching. I always look wistfully back on the summer and there is a fair bit of adjustment returning to a work routine after a couple of restful months off. However, I must say I am very grateful to have a job and I love my career. It is hard work but rewarding to spend the day with children. I love being able to start fresh every September.

I look forward to sharing wonderful stories, songs, lessons and conversations with my students. We will share seasons and holidays together for a large handful of days and bond in a way that only a teacher and student can do. I pray that I can do my work well and be a blessing to my students and their families. God please help me to have patience and love and understanding for all the individual personalities that enter my classroom tomorrow.

A Quote about Seeking

"The end of all seeking is purity of heart- a clear, unobstructed vision of the true state of affairs, an intuitive grasp of one's own inner reality as anchored or rather lost in God" ~Thomas Merton

Friday, August 17, 2007

Harry Potter- Yes, there are SPOILERS!!

My dear Harry Potter series. I cannot believe it is really finished. I have been hooked on it from the very beginning. JK Rowling has helped me feel like I was a part of the world she created and it feels like a very real place to me and I continue to visit it in my imagination quite often. I imagine being a student or teacher at Hogwarts. What a delight it would be! A good story can take us into another time and place. She is a master at this.

I enjoyed the sequencing pattern to her stories. I love the rhythm of her beginning each part in the summertime right around Harry's birthday. Then the preparation for school begins. The traveling to school, the plot moving forward with the seasons and school year schedule. Christmas holiday and finally spring comes. Then everything breaks until the next school year. I think her organization has been superb. I am also amazed at her details. I cannot believe how detailed her setting was, her characters, her plot, her themes; all of it amazes me.

The relationships between the characters make this adventure so memorable. This is at the heart a story about friendship, loyalty, growing up and discovering who one is. It is about responsibility and caring for others. It is about love and loss and life. It is about sacrifice. I especially love the relationship the Weasley family share with one another and all those around them. My favorite relationships, of course, are the friendships between Harry and Ron and Hermione.

This last book was solemn for me. I read it in a gulp, I couldn't stop and had to keep going until I knew what happened to everyone I grew to care for so much. I was heartbroken over Hedgwig. Why, oh why, did this innocent little creature have to die? I still think about the little owl almost everyday. It is such a sentimental little thing but I can really picture it being crushed in the cage after an entire summer of not getting out to fly and it makes me quite sad. Thinking like a writer I see that perhaps it would have been quite a task to try and keep Hedgewig in the story this time around as Harry was traveling all over the place and the pattern was a bit different from the normal school routine. As a writer it seems almost practical to me to allow the precious owl to rest in peace but that did not help my grief as a reader.

I thought I might miss this structure of Hogwarts during this last book, since they did not return to school, but I did not end up missing it. Seven was my favorite out of all of them but perhaps it is because of all the previous books put together. Also, I was grateful that the last battle of all did take place at Hogwarts so we were able to go back and visit one last time. What a battle! I think I forgot to breathe for the last ten to fifteen chapters.

The end of Chapter 34 was so solemn. I closed the book at that point and pretended it was the end of the story. I allowed the moment to be as it was. I sat there and felt that quiet feeling one feels in the soul when someone actually dies. I sat there for quite a while before finally going out to get a drink of water and continue with the story. Only then did I allow my mind to see the hope in the pages remaining in my right hand and the redemption that would follow.

I was so pleased with the ending. She satisfied my every longing for the last book and honored all the characters that died along the way with dignity. It was rough to see so many die! I have to say one of my favorite parts to the story was when all the paintings in Dumbledore's office gave Harry a standing ovation when the battle was over. I cried and got the chills while reading this part! I was so happy to see there was an epilogue, but somehow this was the only part that felt way too short and I wish more had been said. I did want more about all of that, but the story was ending all too quickly and then it was done.

All is well though. All is well. And that really is the point of the story and something we want to know from all the stories we read, isn't it? To know that all is well in the end, all is well. We are not alone. Love is stronger than evil. Friendship endures no matter what. Good prevails in the end. I can't say this was a "happy" ending. It wasn't a feel good sentimental type ending. It was an ending that was hard fought with scars everywhere and losses too. But even yet, all is well.


I saw a delightful movie last weekend called Stardust. It is based on a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. This movie is a fantasy that takes the viewer into a whimsical, otherworldly adventure. Two worlds are divided by a wall that should not be crossed. Tristan (played by Charlie Cox), the hero of this tale, crosses the wall to try and bring back a fallen star to Victoria, the woman he considers his beloved and whose heart he is trying to win (without really thinking about why he wants to win it). The fallen star is a quirky, beautiful woman (a stunning character played by Claire Danes) and as Tristan attempts to bring her back to his land, he encounters many problems along the way that lead him to a deeper understanding of what true love is. He encounters a witch who wants to capture the star for herself so she can have eternal youth (played by the very talented Michelle Phieffer) and Captain Shakespeare (a hilarious pirate played by the legend Robert DiNaro). Throughout the movie there are four brothers of the king (played by another legend Peter O'Toole) also trying to get the star so they can be the one to take the throne next and three of the deceased brothers watch everything going on and are filmed in black and white. The deceased brothers are a very comedic thread in the movie and it really works to create something original and entertaining. I loved watching this movie and surprisingly discovered that it is one of my favorite films of the summer. I did not anticipate that it would be and was not prepared for it to be so good. The wonderful thing about this is it grew on me more and more as the story went on and by the end I was quite hooked. As the plot moved I enjoyed discovering the rules of both lands and all the nuances that came along with it. The characters had depth and the story intrigued me throughout. It was also very beautiful to watch. I look forward to enjoying this one again in the future and love when a movie can surprise me in this way.

True Spirituality

I read a good book last week called True Spirituality by Francis A. Schaeffer. He is a pastor and also founded L'Abri Fellowship, a spiritual retreat center in the Swiss Alps. This book was written thirty years ago, during a time when he was struggling with his faith. He reexamined his entire belief system and began a very detailed examination of spirituality.

Schaeffer studies and searches for what true spirituality is and how it can be lived. Right from the beginning he establishes that he believes true spirituality is freedom from the bonds of sin. I love the main point of his first chapter that states this process begins on the inside and begins with the foundation to love God and others.

He describes this in a fresh way; "First, to love God enough to be contented; second to love men enough not to envy."

I have always felt that the law of love supersedes all other laws in the Scriptures and is a foundation to my faith. However, I have not heard it stated in this way before and it is a new lense for me to examine my own spiritualiy against. It is a very personal, inward question to ask oneself and is a convicting one for me. I have been thinking about this for days now. Do I love God enough to be contented with what he has given me in this life? Can I love others enough not to covet or envy whatever has been given to someone else? In chapter two he states that "if this does not feel hard to us, we are not really letting it speak to us."

There are rich points throughout the book and my copy is extremely marked up with underlining! He quotes a lot of scripture in the book and I can see how he comes to his conclusions as he goes through the Bible examining how his faith can be lived in the modern day world. It appears to me that he tries to present things in a clear and concise way. He comes across as very logical and matter of fact as he works his way through this map of the spiritual life he presents.

One section deals with Christianity in relation to psychological problems. He describes psychology as "man's relationship to himself in the world of thought." The problem is man's separation from himself and one's attempt to integrate the personality of how one thinks, feels and acts. He examines man's separation from himself in the area of rationality, morality and emotions, but I particularly like how he described man's separation from himself in his morality and will.

"Man cannot escape the fact of the motions of a true right and wrong in himself...and yet, beginning with himself, he cannot bring forth absolute standards and cannot even keep the poor relative ones he has set up. Thus...trying to be what he is not, as he was made to be in relationship to God, he is crushed and damned by what he is will and action- but everything cuts across my will. I would do a certain thing, but I cannot put my will into infinite action, unlimited action. Even in the small area of a painter's canvas, I cannot do it. I cannot have an unlimited action in the smallest things in life, let alone the largest. And so if I am demanding infiinite freedom, whether it is in the whole of life, or in a small area in life, I cannot have it; I cannot be God in action and practice. So again I fall to the earth, crushed with natural tensions in myself, and I lie there like a butterfly that someone has touched, with all the lovely things gone from the wings."

I can really relate to this section. I want to make wise decisions, eat healthy, exercise, practice my music, write, stay organized, be kind, help the poor, be a good steward with my money, be ethical, do my jobs in life well, pray regularly...but so often I find myself doing the very things I do not want to do. I find myself neglecting the important things and lacking zeal. This can be very discouraging and disheartening.

Later he states that "the basic psychological problem is trying to be what we are not, and trying to carry what we cannot carry."

We walk around with the desire to be perfect. We walk around with the fear of the impersonal, the fear of non-being and the fear of death. We also struggle with feelings of superiority and inferiority in relationships with other people. He addresses each of these areas and how he believes basic Christianity can solve these issues within man. He even mentions that Carl Jung will tell patients to meet some of these fears by "acting as if God were there." He argues that Christian psychology can actually solve these issues within man more than secular psychology.

He argues the point that he believes in a very personal God. He illustrates us to be like icebergs where we will never know everything underneath our surface, but with faith in God we can believe that he is taking care of that which is hidden below. As we confess the failures we know of, we can be assured and trust that God is taking care of the rest.

Frances A. Schaeffer tries in this book to accomplish a very huge task. He tries to bring a unified Christian teaching to the table and he works to help solve many of the dilemmas he sees people struggle with in life. He offers Christianity as an answer to help a person deal with these life issues. I truly appreciate his efforts. He gives me a lot to examine and think about in regards to my own Christian faith.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Rule of Paul

I just finished my first John Howard Yoder book called Body Politics. He focuses on five New Testament practices that were central in the life of the early Christian community. Binding and loosing, baptism, eucharist, multiplicity of gifts and the open meeting. He believes the original intent of these practices is important to recover in the church today.

For today, I am only going to focus on the Rule of Paul, the last practice Yoder writes about, although all of the topics could be discussed in a lengthy fashion. The question posed is how should a meeting of the church proceed? Paul discusses this in depth in Corinthians, chapter 14. There is no reference or mention to a single moderator, such as a priest or minister, as is the practice in Christian circles today. There appears a pattern of decision making based in open conversation. God's will is made known through discussion where all voices are heard. First Corinthians points out that it should be moderated only to keep it orderly and the conclusions reached should be recorded.

A great example is given of the Quakers using this forum today in their church meetings. They wait in expected silence until someone is moved to speak. This is considered worship. I especially like the example that the "...Friends bring together warring parties to foster the potential for dialogue among individuals even when their institutional loyalties are in conflict."

My favorite quote referenced is by Gandhi when he says, "The reason one renounces violence in social conflict, is not (not only, not merely) that bloodshed is morally forbidden; it is that the adversary is part of my truth-finding process. I need to act nonviolently in order to get the adversary to hear me, but I need as well to hear the adversary."

The bottom line of the chapter is that conversation is the setting for truth- finding. This is so counter-cultural to the way churches and secular institutions are run today. My first thoughts are that it is very time consuming. In today's world we want everything instantly. Products and results need to be produced as quickly as possible. We are an impatient people with our own selfish agendas. Listening to people who think differently than we do can be for some, like nails running down a chalkboard. If we can become more comfortable with a practice like this, perhaps instead of just getting quick fixes and decision, we could actually begin to solve problems.

A positive by-product of this practice is that minority voices can be heard. So much can be learned from the voices of people in a minority group or of a different opinion than the masses. This connects briefly to the third practice of the multiplicity of gifts. Every person has a gift to share with the world. We should indeed work as teams, each using his "grace-given" gifts and when this is done, much more can be accomplished than by a few elite trying to do everything on their own.

I like seeing some of the Emergent churches taking this kind of approach with their services. Oftentimes, they mention that the pastor lecturing is one of the least beneficial parts of the service and as they attempt to create meaningful worship, this means for some to create an atmosphere conducive for everyone to participate. Some of the churches sit the congregation in a circle and have a dialogue with the pastor and each other.

Change never comes easy so the question I find myself asking is how can I adopt this practice more in my own personal life? I think for me, this means trying to make sure that voices and opinions are shared in meetings and conversations that I participate in at work, at church, at social gatherings or even in my own home. Also, speaking up myself, when my opinion differs from another. Gently and humbly trying to conduct open conversations, which is actually something I already value a great deal. The trick is doing this in an orderly fashion. The question I often ask myself when in the presence of someone very different from myself (and aren't we all quite unique?) is what can I learn from this person? Really listening takes time and putting down one's own walls of defense.

It often feels like an uphill climb- and it is. It is the work of the Kingdom.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Robert Frost

Robert Frost first published "The Road Not Taken" today back in 1915. Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets. More information can be found about this at Today in Literature.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Spirituality of the Psalms

I am currently reading a little book called Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann. He is doing the kind of Bible Study here that I long for in the church, but cannot seem to find. It is a deep look into the Psalms that has had me digging into and studying the Scriptures for days; and it feels so good to be home among them again. This time I visit the Psalms with fresh perspectives and new ways of looking at them.

The picture on the front of this book has captured me. I find myself staring at it. It is art and it speaks to me of the despair of man. We are down in this huge pit and our only way out is if the hand of God will lift us out of it. We reach and reach for Him...

Bruggemann has organized the book on three general themes. He discusses how life moves in certain ways and there are psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation and psalms of new orientation, that appear as prayers to accompany the journey.

A settled orientation is when life is ordered and patterned. One is grateful for nature, creation and God's goodness and wisdom. We sense his hand on our lives. Psalms of orientation praise and thank God for his goodness. It is interesting to note that these psalms most often are prayed and come from those who are well off. Life has been good to them.

The next phase, psalms of disorientation, are often ignored by the church. The church and people in general, want to go from "strength to strength". However, life is not always like that. It is filled with sickness, tragedy, death and unjust situations. This walk through the darkness is when the psalms of disorientation come along. They are usually a plea or complaint addressed to God, followed by praise and the assurance of being heard.

Finally, the break through happens. We are surprised by God intervening in a way not previously thought of by his children. He comes in and does the miraculous. There is grace, mercy and here one finds the trouble is restored. This is when psalms of new orientation come into play and life is never quite the same again.

I am still working through the book and I am hardly doing it justice here. There is an interesting discussion throughout of personal versus communal prayers in all three areas of orientation. Also, Brueggemann makes the point that we are "speech creatures". One of things we can glean from the psalms is that we need to speak and address God as part of the process in whatever area of life one happens to be in at the time. The speaking makes it reality. One should not ignore the reality of where they are at.

In light of that, I have written my own personal psalm to God and although I find it to be a little full of self pity- it is an attempt to be honest with God and to bring myself to His altar in a new, creative way for me. I have been in a phase of disorientation for many years so that is the angle from which I write.

A Psalm of Disorientation

I see no way out of my troubles
~hope is so hard to hang onto.

Years have slipped away
Your silence hurts my ears
~and my heart.

My thoughts have no where else to turn
~but to You and You alone.

Please do not abandon the girl you raised
~the one who loves to sing and praise your precious Name.

It is hard to trust
when one feels so abandoned at times
but it is my only choice
I have no other way
~no other options.

I have placed all bets on You.
Please take my broken life and make it whole
~Restore your child.

If you do not come, then one day
I will return to dust
~and that will be that.

You and You alone can change all of that!

Hear my plea~
Answer my cry from the dark alley
~where you will find me shivering.

If you rescue me, or if you don't
My life, is in your Hands
~forever, either way.

What benefit is there to helping me then?
Only that You will prove to me your worthiness and your truth.
All the stories of redemption and grace will come to life for me-
~show me the power of your love.

Do you hear my cries?
Are you tired of my pleas for help?
~I am still waiting...

If I could figure this all out on my own
Believe me I would-
I have only myself to blame, but that is why I need a Savior!
~be my Savior!

You saved the world- can you save one more?
My life is rushing by at warp speed-
I fear it may be too late.
Still I beg and plead for a way through the darkness
~which has blinded my eyes and clouded my vision.

You have rescued others, when is it my turn?
The days will come and go until you intervene
~and rescue me.

...I'll be here.

When you do come with your refreshing wind
I will clap and jump for joy.
I will shout and sing and dance around.

When you do come I will be renewed in my vigor for You.
~we will do great things!

When you do come it will show the world that you are a God who cares and loves me-
that you are a God who forgives, restores, redeems
...even me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I love Madeleine L'Engle

"It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die."
~ Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Remembering Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye is a lady who touched my life. As a child my family would watch Jim and Tammy all the time. I appreciated the message of hope she would give her listeners. Her love for Jesus made an impression on me. I also enjoyed watching her sing. I actually bought a few of her albums with my own money and her daughter, Tammy Sue's album too. I remember being so excited to see my purchases come in the mail. I do believe it was one of the first mail orders I made on my own. Her songs offered comfort to me. She encouraged people to not live in fear, to not spend life worrying, to take one day at a time, to make lemons out of lemonade. I can still hear her deep, strong, soulful voice coming out of her little body, singing those old hymns and a few of her songs still visit me and return to my conscious mind and I find myself humming or reciting one of her songs.

There is something about her that reminds me of my own Mom and I couldn't quite say for sure what it is. Something about her fragile heart perhaps. Something about her vulnerability. Something about her love for Jesus, her trust in Jesus. Something about her love for her children. Her love of animals. Something about her beauty. Yes, I think she is beautiful. She felt she needed make-up and clothes, but really I could see through all that to more of her true self. Her eyes truly were a window to her soul. I read recently that the first time she put on mascara, she immediately went and wiped it all off because she had always been told that make-up was of the Devil. I am glad she was able to let go of that misbelief and perhaps that is why she wore so much of it. There was freedom in her make-up.

Tammy loved to laugh and be silly. I was heartbroken back in the late eighties when everything started falling apart for them. It was a publicly humiliating, tragic time as Jim and Tammy made the front headlines and the PTL Club (which I was never able to visit) came tumbling down. She had reminded me of a little girl on so many occasions and I could not imagine how she could survive such a mess. She did survive though and overcame to forge a little piece of the world with what was left of the ashes. I believe her faith helped her. I have not a word of judgement to offer.

Someone had seen an interview with her and asked me what I think she wants to be remembered for. I immediately knew the answer; her eyelashes. I have to say though, she will be remembered in my heart for quite a bit more. Her voice, her personality, her way of being and her love of Jesus.

"One day at a time, Sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking from You.
Just give me the strength, to do everyday, what I have to do...
Yesterdays gone, Sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine,
Lord give me the strength, to do everything
one day at a time... "

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vinita Hampton Wright- The Soul Tells a Story

Just when I thought I was finished with Cornerstone entries! The very first workshop I was able to attend this year was a writing workshop run by Vinita Hampton Wright. She is an author and I have to admit I have not read her work. I would like to read the book she has written called The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life. She did mention that her favorite novel she has written is called Velma Still Cooks in Leeway. and it only took her one year to write. One of her later books, called Dwelling Places, took her five years to write.

She also has worked as an editor for fifteen years and currently works part-time for Loyola Press in Chicago. This workshop has been running for six years around the country. She shared a lot of wisdom. I was only able to see one session but was glad for the opportunity. She actually ran a two day workshop in Grand Rapids last weekend before Lauren Winner, but again, I was not able to attend.

She said good fiction involves having a character that really desires or fears something. When she begins writing fiction, she starts with the characters and scenes; not plot. I really like the questions she asked us to help us come up with ideas for writing.

~What fears have influenced the way your family operates?
~What desires have influenced the way your family has been?

She, like Lauren Winner, encourages daily writing exercises. She calls this "tapping the well". Tapping the well is right-brained and very intuitive. That material is not the art, that is a "holy mess". After that one must go to the left side of the brain which is analytical. I think it is natural to hope art just comes to us already pre-packaged and flowing out of us, but it involves a great deal of work. She said art is first going to work on the writer. God gives us gifts to help us be the whole person we were meant to be. We are the first witness to the art.

If a person is writing non-fiction the intuitive side would involve your theories, passion and voice. She recommends starting with the analytical side when writing non-fiction. She suggests first having one point to make per chapter or even for the whole story.

There were two points she wanted us to leave the workshop with more than any other.

1. I cannot control the process. (you do not know where a story is going to end up)

2. I must master my craft. (making it original, beautiful, establishing voice, care of words)

She quoted John Gardener from The Art of Fiction. He says, "The story is a dream and your goal is not to wake up until you read the last page and the last word." I certainly feel like JK Rowling mastered this...

A couple other questions she asked were, what makes the tension run out of a story and what causes a character to go flat?
Then she had us write. She gave us an exercise and said to write for about ten minutes a story with the idea that the character knew she had one hour to live. I appreciated the exercise and at some point may go back to finish what I started in that short time.

She recommends writing a paragraph and then picking three words or a sentence and then writing about that. As one develops in this way, the craft improves and becomes more specific. She gave us more questions to get us thinking about our writing.

~What do you think the point is?
~Where do you want more?

Then she touched on a delicate point with me. She said the more advanced the writing is, the more technical the critique can be. The wrong criticism at the wrong time can really hurt your process.

I have first hand experience with this. During my writing workshop in my class this year, I had given my students a topic to write on. A little girl came up very excited about fifteen minutes later with her piece. It was about why she thought we should be a blue ribbon school. (We were applying to become one.) This was not the topic and as I mentioned that she burst into tears. She thought I was going to love her writing. She struggles with reading and writing and looking back, I should have recognized the effort that went into this. I apologized to her and made it clear how valued her writing piece was. I displayed it in our window to the hallway and kept it up there the entire rest of the year.

That was not the time to teach her about staying on topic. I had made a grave mistake. That was the time to encourage her for writing from the heart. She had tapped the well and I had not even noticed. I pray that I was able to make that up to her and not get in the way. I pray that all the time; that my teaching does not get in the way of my students learning. It is a huge responsibility and one I do not take lightly.

Vinita Hampton Wright finished the morning by recommending that we take writing classes to make sure that our craft keeps up with our intuition. Buy grammar books! Also, she said don't talk away your energy. If one talks too much about a great idea, the enthusiasm dwindles and one no longer has the desire to write about it.

I do not know if I will ever write a book, but I do love writing and would like to keep the possibility open. Also, being a teacher of writing nudges me to keep up with my craft, so as to help others develop theirs. These notes will be here to help me along and remind me what makes good writing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lauren Winner: Writing Your Own Spiritual Story

I cannot believe it has been over a week since the writing workshop I attended in Grand Rapids at Calvin College. Lauren Winner did an excellent job leading the day. I have been wanting to reflect on it since I have returned, but life has been busy. It is a constant battle to carve time out of life to write, but it is a battle worth fighting.

Lauren started the day having us write about our names. She gave us about ten minutes and then had us meet in small groups to share what we had written. I enjoyed my small group and hearing everyone share. One of her points she emphasized throughout the day is that you do not have to have a gigantic story to write. We can write about very simple things and still have a story that is unique, creative and ours.

We brainstormed various definitions of spiritual writing. We came up with quite a list. Spiritual writing comes from the heart and soul. It is about God. It concretizes the invisible and is reflective on the interior life. It prompts the reader to think about spiritual things. It can be prescriptive or descriptive, but if the prescriptive is not grounded in descriptive first, no one will want to read the prescriptive part. The most intimate spiritual writing is when one admits to being a seeker and on a journey of discovery along with the reader.

Lauren lectured on the different types of spiritual writing. Spiritual prayer, meditative, a particular theme in the spiritual life or reflection, devotional writing, journal based writing, nature writing, fiction, or theology/apologetics. She advised us to pay attention to what we like to read and that will clue us into what story we may want to write. She encouraged us to learn to write through reading. We did an exercise where we read a beautiful chapter out of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris and analyzed it with the eyes of a writer. When reading as a writer some of questions you are asking yourself are as follows:

~What works/what doesn't
~Describe the narrator
~How does the text give meaning
~What places are evoked...what impact is there
~Is there something that engages me...what sensory images are there (ex. word pictures, poetry, images of God)

Some of the things that work so well in this chapter (Ghosts), is that it describes her experience and is not instructive. She draws out ourselves and makes us think about our own lives. We draw connections as we read about her life. We spent a long time looking at the words. She described the Dakota's as "flat, windy, barren places...almost like a Northern desert...plains like an ocean...makes one feel small." She keeps returning to her childhood and her original impressions, she quotes people throughout the chapter (not overdone, like Yancy; more organic) and she truly opens her life up to the reader.

I found that it was virtually impossible to analyze this incredible chapter from Dakota because I was so caught up in the reading of it. I think that one must first read a text several times simply for enjoyment before one begins to analyze it. I understand, of course, how much she was trying to pack into one day but this was a difficult task for me. She mentioned that when she first started to "read as a writer" she found that was the only way she could read for a while and that it was very frustrating for her. I can see how it would be! Her professer promised her that eventually she would be able to go back and forth between the two ways of reading and she assured us of the truth of that statement.

When I read with my students, we always spend a long time enjoying a piece before analyzing it. I never want my students to lose the gift of reading for pleasure or they will never choose to do so on their own after I am not with them. This is time consuming because I do want them to also read like a writer and dig deeper into understanding what they read, but the journey of going deep into a work is well worth the time it takes to do if done delicately and with care.

Another exercise we did was Lauren wrote a list of words: envy, epiphany, mother, doubt, anger, regret, depression, rest, falling in love, fear, wonder and passion. Then she gave us about ten minutes and had us write a phrase, sentence or paragraph about each word and share again with our small groups. One thing we noticed is how abstract writing can be if not connected to personal experience. Spiritual writing can be done so poorly because it can often fall into abstractions. At some point, one should literally go back and circle all the abstract words and see what is concrete. Don't forget to keep it concrete!

She spent some time talking about revision and one point she made is that the most fruitful revision is when you know it is not going to be your finished piece. My favorite part of this section is something she shared from an interview with Ernest Hemingway.

Interviewer: "How much rewriting do you do?"
Ernest Hemingway: "I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."
Interviewer: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that stumped you?"
Hemingway: "Getting the words right."

When one is getting started in spiritual writing one should first read widely. This will help one to develop your voice and sensibility. When Lauren Winner began writing a book she said she had no idea what to do, so she found some spiritual memoirs and outlined the stories as a model for hers. It helped her answer important questions about sequencing, how to do dialogue, and helped her to focus on reading for craft. After reading widely, one should begin to write widely. Develop themes. Ask questions to help facilitate ideas. What are signs in me of spiritual hunger? How have I grown in prayer? What are ways I live a life of faith that may help someone else? What aspects of my faith have been life changing? What ways do I live life with God daily? What are my spiritual questions that I ask myself and God?

Perhaps the most memorable thing she said was that when you write, it is a journey and a process. If you make a plan and it doesn't change as you go something has gone wrong.

She encouraged us to do daily exercises in writing. She said doing quick exercises for about ten minutes each day can open up help one develop skills and teach what someone may actually want to write about in further detail. For example, she said one exercise is taking a week and writing about different rooms in your house each day.

One of our final exercises she had us do was writing a response to themed questions. They are further examples of ways to search our lives and find our voice. Here are the things she asked us to write about.

~the place that I go when I go to my childhood is...
~the smells that call me most powerfully back to my childhood are...
~as a child God was most present to me when...
~the one object from childhood I no longer have and wish I could have is...
~the day of my childhood I wish I could relive is...

It was a fruitful day. Afterwards I walked around the campus and then sat under a tree and reflected and rested in all that she had spoken about. I am pleased with the progress I have made in my writing. I write in my journal and I am blogging more regularly. I would like to take further steps and try doing writing exercises like she has suggested. Perhaps there is a book somewhere inside me with a story. I think everyone has one somewhere in their soul. Writing is a spiritual practice. I would like to be intentional about it. Lauren spoke of a student she had that made huge progress in a very short period of time. She called the student and asked what had happened to change her writing so dramatically. The student said they had begun the practice of praying before they write.

Writing seems to me to be a holy practice. I write to remember, to learn, to experience and to create. I write to honor God in a spirit of gratefulness for this life he has given me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

God is Green

I was finally able to make it to Mars Hill Bible Church to hear Rob Bell preach the word this past Sunday in Grand Rapids. I have been wanting to go there for many months and have not had the opportunity. Driving onto the street we followed the cars into a parking lot that we assumed was the church because of all the people. Not one sign was displayed. We followed everyone into this huge mall where they conduct their services and it wasn't until reaching the front door that I saw in small letters Mars Hill Bible Church. I read his first book,Velvet Elvis this week, where he says that friends bought this big sign for him when they were first starting the church and he did not like it because he does not believe in advertising or marketing Jesus so they took the sign back.

Walking into the main sanctuary, there was a huge simple room designed in the round and in the center the worship band was playing and they sounded great! The string instruments add such a beautiful element to music. They played an instrumental song until service started. They sang about four or five worship songs. Then they had a simple introduction talking about some things they are doing around the area to help homeless people and talking about some mission work in Africa they are currently involved with.

No offering was taken. They keep boxes in the back if you want to tithe or give an offering, but no mention of it was made. I only knew about the boxes because we met my friends there, Dave and Stacy, that live in Grand Rapids and attend the church. After the intro, Rob Bell stood up and started preaching. He was continuing a series they have been doing called "God is Green".

We studied Job chapters 38-41 for quite a while as God describes in great detail his construction of the earth and the animals. Here are some examples from Scripture of this:

Job 39:5 "Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? "

Job 39:13-18 "The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor is in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider."

Job 40:15 "Look at the behemoth, (possibly the hippo or elephant), which a made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox."

Job 41:1, 5, 12 "Can you pull in the leviathan (possibly the crocodile), with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls? I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form."

Rob Bell aruges that the point of all creation is just that it exists and God takes great joy and pleasure in His creation.
He believes God's primary posture for creation is not production (what can it do for me), but pleasure. Not consumption (how can I use it) but celebration. He basks in the order and beauty of creation. He pointed out Proberbs 8, where wisdom is talking about the creation of the earth.

Prov. 8:30 "Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind."

He also believes God created the Earth so it would sustain us and feed us.

Psalm 104:14-15 "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to sustain his heart."

He then argued that we are not cultivating the land properly or taking care of it in the way God intended. He quoted current statistics about an acre and a half of rain forest being destroyed every second. 70% of China's rivers of polluted. 4.6 million died of air pollution last year. We lose 50,000 different distinct plant, animal and insect species every year.

He quoted other statistics and then said someone asked last week how we got in this mess and he believes there are two big streams of thought going around that need to be confronted along with these issues; exploitation and entitlement. Deep in the human story and deep in the human heart is a destructive bend to use people and things for our own purposes and leave people worse off than before we first encountered them. In Exodus, Chapter 5, we see the slavedrivers not giving more straw to make bricks and beating their oppressers and the question is asked, why are you treating the servants this way? Sin distorts relationships and instead of living with mutual respect and honor, you see many examples of using and abusing.

Leviticus 25:23 "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants."

Rob Bell then said we have a deep, sinful bend in the human story of entitlement in which we start to think that what belongs to God belongs to us and we don't take care of it as if we were fully aware that this is God's.

This sermon resonated with me. I do see this attitude about the Earth and am glad to see the Church begin to talk about these things. I am surprised with how much criticism and argument there is against these ideas. It seems like common sense to me, but there is a strong distaste for this kind of teaching. They have had many people coming up after service to tell him the earth is ours to use as we wish. Where is the spirit of gratefulness and meekness in a statement like that?

I have always wondered why caring for the earth seems to be a political issue. Why have only Democrats seemed to be environmentalists for so long? It seems like there is a trend for Republicans to also begin talking about these issues as well and I hope the dialogue continues and fosters more opportunity for others to develop compassion towards creation.

Earth Day is one opportunity to talk about these issues. I love teaching about the earth and animals and celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd each year. Children get excited to learn about the earth, our natural resources, and ways we can make a difference while we care for the planet. Children gravitate towards this when they are young; they still have wonder for all the vastness and creativity on this land we reside on. I always tell them, if we don't take care for the animals, who will?

(I am respectful of families that go hunting and enjoy this activity. I believe that this activity can be done respectfully and when I teach my Native American unit, I take time to explain the respect with which the Native Americans live on the land and have hunted for survival. They try to use every part of an animal if they kill it and not exploit the life that was lost.)

I was pleased to hear his sermon today and experience this place that has brought so many people together in community to hear the word of God. I hope to return again one day and in the meantime I plan to listen to more of his sermons here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Police

Tonight I was 14 year old school girl again. I sang my heart out at the reunion tour of The Police. I have such great memories of playing my tapes back in the 80's and listening over and over to the catchy melodies that comprised my favorite group. Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland... I cannot believe I actually had the opportunity to see them live, performing together again! I was beyond excited to be there.

Sting mentioned at the beginning of the night that his first show in Detroit was sometime in November of 1978. I cannot believe that is how long ago they started out! They were so young, innocent and just starting out on tour! Now they are older looking and wiser and have been around the world and back again. They have experienced a life of writing music and sharing it with others.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love live concerts so much is because they take me out of the everyday and bring me completely into the present moment. I love getting lost and found in the now- the center of life. Somehow it is easier to get to that elusive place when you are in community with thousands of fans screaming their lungs out along with you and having a blast celebrating the joy of a few instruments and some good tunes.

Something about The Police and their music has always seemed deep and richer to me than some of the other music of the day. Sting was an English teacher and I am sure that had something to do with it. It was rather fun tonight to notice that I now know who they are talking about when they mention Nabakov in Don't Stand so Close to Me. I like the way they put words together. The literal way the words sound sung in sequence one after the other. I like the phrasing they use, the way they express things, the structure of their music and the way the three of them sound when they mix it all together. It works.

This classic night was something I have looked forward to for months and months. When I first found out they were touring I thought they were only touring in Europe. I called my friend Amy and asked her if she wanted to fly to England for the show. I wanted to see them wherever they were going to be. I am so glad they ended up being right down the street!

It was an evening that flew by way too quickly. I was certain they would finish with Every Breath You Take and they actually came back after that to do one more song as a second encore. That helped ease the pain when it was almost over. I stood in line for my t-shirt and have been in a happy daze ever since.

I came home searching for a clip to post of Invisible Sun with the pictures they had on the screen of beautiful children from somewhere in the world. (Perhaps Iraq, but some research will need to be done to be sure.) Instead, I found a great clip from 1986 at an Amnesty concert of the same song, where a very young Bono came out at the end of the night to do the last verse with a much younger version of the man I just saw on stage mere hours ago. What an awesome moment to capture on camera! It was a snapshot in time of two passionate young musicians doing what they were born to do. I am happy to report I have seen them both live, doing what they do best, in my lifetime. What a great life it is...