Monday, December 31, 2007

traveling mercies

I finished my first book since school got out about a week and a half ago. I read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. The book made me laugh out loud, and it was a great book to pick up in the post-semester haze that makes reading anything hard for a bit. Lamott's stories moved and created space for deeper thought, reflection, and insight into one's own life in a memoirish type manner, but without the typical evangelical language and coziness of a more reformed framework of Blue Like Jazz. The short stories that make up Traveling Mercies both worked together, yet had enough differences to not become redundant. And it was funny, really funny at times, like I'd laugh out loud on the plane, or in the doctor's office, or just sitting on the couch (or sometimes toilet). I loved it, and it was just the right book for the holidays. One of my favorite things about the book was the interspersed poetry, whether by Lamott, or most-often quoted from others.

I was also reading over on the McCarty's blog, and saw the most recent poetry post by Kristen with funny picture to boot, and I thought that this would be as good a time as ever to ask for some recommendations on some of your favorite poets or books of poetry. I try to keep a book of poetry open throughout the semester, but would love to make some new poet friends through their work. Any recommendations? I'd love to hear who you are reading, or who you think I should read...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

preview of my favorite tunes of 2007

Hello friends. I hope you have had a great Christmas...before I share my favorite albums of 2007, I'll give you a link to a good list, of which I thought had a good deal of great albums. In fact, one of my comments on one of my favorite albums of the year made the review list, check out this link, and look for The New Pornographers album titled Challengers, where my comment made the cut list for eMusic.

Big thanks to my folks for getting this album for my birthday. For those wondering who The New Pornographers are, I believe the story of their name came from a famous preacher who said that 'rock and roll is the new pornography' and thus informed their decision in creating a band name. Great stuff, not my favorite album of the year, but really, really good.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

soccer and life

The last couple of weeks have been rather busy, wrapping up papers, finals (got to turn the last one in tomorrow) and the start of a new soccer season. This is my first season playing indoor in a long time, and it is a lot of fun except that the game times are on a college schedule. We played at 10:00 p.m. tonight, and our game was at 8 and 9 p.m. the two weeks before that. It is a lot of fun, pretty intense compared to outdoor, but all around a good time.

The youth and I have been working through the season of Advent together, and it has been a good time. We are going to have a worship gathering this Sunday that should be wonderful, and we are joining in the Advent Conspiracy, and will be taking up an offering together to share our resources with Heifer International. I'm proud of the kids for wrestling with what this Christmas season is all about, and what it means to them. It's late, but I hadn't posted in a while, mostly out of being spent. I hope all are well...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

new connections with Catholicism (pt. 2)

Last week, right before the Harp 46 show, I had an opportunity to go to the mass for a friend Marc Gherardi who was taking his perpetual vows to become a full member of his community of monks, which is the order of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. My good friend Ben went with me (as seen previously in the night zombie pics from this summer) and we had a great time at both the mass and the Harp 46 show. I don't know if you've ever had an opportunity to experience a mass where someone takes their vows, but it was beautiful.

During the mass, at one point there was a time where Marc laid prostrate before his community and God, while we sang and prayed for him as he humbled himself before all so as to demonstrate and embody humility and hope in the grace that he believes God will provide to help him live a life of service. It was quite moving. I was thinking about all the other times that I'd seen protestant leaders demonstrate that kind of radical humility, by laying face down on the floor in the middle of the gathered community, humbly demonstrating their dependence on God and the help of the community. It was a quick thought, because I'd never seen it happen with a protestant leader...and probably never will. Can you imagine the ordination of a pastor in a Baptist church which includes the candidate laying face down on the floor while the community prays and sings out their support and hopes for them?

Along with following a lectionary, it's amazing how serious Catholics take the Bible, and how often they read it, quote it, and share it throughout the service, especially in the language of the liturgy. It was a wonderful evening, and for the first time, along with getting to catch up with some of the other Oblates I know, the service was held in a cloistered convent, which is also something you don't get to experience everyday. The Sisters of the Visitation of Tyringham hosted the mass at their monastery. They were very kind, and I was reading up on them a little bit while I was there, and also online, and for those who wonder what cloistered nuns could possibly be about in a hyper-connected world, this is from their website:

The Visitation Sisters of Tyringham are cloistered, contemplative religious whose lives are dedicated to prayer and to living in community. In great simplicity we strive to be a gentle presence in a world threatened with terrorism and war. Our Salesian spirituality teaches us to be gentle towards ourselves, with each other, and with all persons with whom we come in contact.

A gentle presence in a world threatened with terrorism and war...sounds like they aren't as disconnected as one might think, and that they are doing their part in joining with God for the redemption of the world.

Overall, it was a beautiful evening, and a great time to experience the body of Christ in new ways, and support a new friend taking an important step in his vocation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

new connections with Catholicism (pt. 1)

So last week, along with going to the Harp 46 concert, I had some new interactions with Catholicism, that were both humbling and profound. The first is that I met with Father Louis Fiorelli last week as an introduction to spiritual direction. We met in his office, and he asked many questions about my background, my story, my life and allowed me the opportunity to pray with him. We talked a little bit about how he was certainly interested in meeting together with this 25-year old Baptist youth pastor who is interested in spiritual direction. I think he was even more surprised when we talked about how I was trying to keep the hours, practice silence, and embrace some of the ancient disciplines. I told him that I don't even know what to do with myself, and so if he didn't know what to do with me or didn't feel comfortable meeting, I totally could understand, and he didn't seem fact, I think that we got along quite well, and that this could be a powerful experience.

One of the things that he talked about that we would probably try to work on, was something that had begun to rise up in my own prayer life, and in my own practices of some of the different disciplines, that is: that I would not only experience and enjoy the sense of excitement and newness that comes in embracing the ancient disciplines, but that i would begin to understand the discipline part...that I would begin to set down roots in the practices, and learn to walk in them especially when the newness wears off, and the sense of excitement dwindles. It was beautiful to talk about and to begin to wrestle with. It is very humbling to begin to realize how little I know, how little I've actually practiced these disciplines (on the larger scale) and how much of a challenge it will be to actually follow through.

This actually kind of freaked me out the next two days after we met. I found that I wanted to abandon all of the practices. I wanted to call Father Fiorelli back and let me know that I didn't "feel like this was what I needed." I was so scared of being exposed for the fraud that I know that I am. I was scared to let someone else see into the lapses, breaks, and lack of discipline that is my life. I was humbled to let someone else in (besides some of my close friends) that is trained to help me reflect and take steps for change in my relationship with God and others. And I kind of got angry about it. I was angry with myself for my pride, and angry with Father Fiorelli for saying yes. But after the initial shock to my system...this sense of peace has begun to set in. For all of the things that I'm scared to wrestle with (and its not like there is some deep dark secret I have to let go of or share), I realized that I like control, and I am prideful about keeping things together and I didn't want some of the excitement to end. And it probably won't for a while, but I really hope that this helps me to become rooted like a tree near a fresh stream, that slowly grows and finds strength and over time has deep roots stretching towards the living water. Yet at the same time, I know this won't happen overnight, and that I have a long ways to's to giving it a try.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

partying with Harp 46

Tonight my friend Ben and I attended the cd release party of Harp 46's new album Sanctuarium over at Convergence. It was a great show, and a fun night to catch up with friends and hear beautiful music. How often do you get to hear a harp, bass, and percussion section play music that moves your soul? Also, the addition of Amanda Lee to the group is a wonderful and creative addition to the group of amazingly talented musicians. It has been fun to get to know the band over the last couple of years, and I'm really excited about this new album. They played a couple of songs off of the new album tonight, and they were awesome. If you are interested in the new album, check it out, it's only $15, and you'll get some amazing independent music. If you have a chance to hear them live, don't miss will be a concert that you'll never forget. And better yet, if you get a chance to hang out with April (also here), Nuc, Posido, or Amanda and hear their music, don't pass it up, they are great people playing awesome music.

Think about picking up their new album as a Christmas present! You can buy it here.

Also at the show tonight was the artwork (and person) of Nancy Lynch. Her work seemed very inspired and added to the aura and beauty of the evening. Please consider another local artist and her work!