Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Saturday, January 3, 2015
In my house, January 1st is the day to "pack up Christmas". Since we always get a real tree, it is about at the end of its supple greenness and its needles are starting to fall by the New Year. Since work resumes on the 2nd, this is a last chance to carefully put things back in their boxes and organize them in the basement, as well as vacuum the living room where the decorations have crowded our living space.
But if Advent has "worked" and I have experienced anew the coming of the Christ into the world, and renewed my anticipation of His second coming, then I don't really want to pack up Christmas, just the cultural trappings that I use to help me celebrate each year. I love my tree and the ornaments that have accumulated over the years, each with its own story or memory. I love my nativity sets, made in different parts of the world, that represent the holy family as African or Guatemalan or Vietnamese. But, of course, those are just things that help my scattered attention light on the Person who really came. The ornaments and nativity sets go back in their boxes, earthly treasures to be brought out next year. But the truths I glimpse during Advent and Christmas, I want to treasure them in my heart. Not packed away to be forgotten.
I want to learn from Mary. Almost immediately after the birth of her first child, an event loaded with amazement and emotions and exhaustion even in the best of circumstances, she is bombarded with a visit from shepherds telling a story so crazy it has to be true. And at some point the new family is visited by Oriental V.I.P.s, with more strange stories and odd coincidences. Luke tells us she treasures these things, she ponders them in her heart. Not just in her mind, but in her heart. God chose a very wise young woman to be Jesus' human mother.
We don't know what Mary was thinking. She had a lot of knowledge of the Old Testament, and judging from her "song" she immediately put her visit from the angel and her circumstances in context by pulling from Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah. This was with her cousin Elizabeth, another wise Jewish woman, and someone who had some inkling of what was happing to Mary. But things must have gotten stranger and stranger as she and Joseph went to Bethlehem. And her reaction was not to "have a melt down" as we say, but to treasure and ponder. Yes, she was wise and I wonder if she had a good sense of humor? Did Jewish people in first century Palestine have a sense of the absurd? Was she just going along for the ride, so to speak, that God was taking her on? I don't mean to be disrespectful at all! I am just so curious about what kind of person she was. I do know she treasured and pondered on what was happening to their young family.
To ponder makes me think of looking at puzzle pieces and thinking how they might fit together. Sometimes you look for a long time before you make sense of an odd piece. Sometimes you have to turn it up-side down or even put it aside for a while before it becomes clear where that odd piece fits in to the whole pattern. Is that what Mary was doing with these events happening in her life? In Jesus' life? Did she have to ponder for 33 years before it made sense? And even then, did she see the whole pattern in Jesus' incarnation and life on earth?
I want to learn from Mary to ponder what God is doing in my life. Not to have a melt down, not to be high maintenance, not to toss aside circumstances I don't like or people who show up unexpectedly in my life. But treasure what God sends my way. Ponder how events or people might be part of God's plan for my life, and how I can respond in faith that God is working out His purpose for my life and His kingdom.
Pondering doesn't imply that you have it all figured out. Mary didn't and neither do I. But that Mary treasured these things makes me think her probing was done with a faithful and loving attitude, not a sulky or bitter one. Like Mary, I want to keep my Christmas treasures out all year.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Being an unpaid intern was hard, but she did come home with vegetables from the massive Project Host garden that she helped tend, and with an occasional treat that the culinary students cooked. Yesterday she brought home a pound of uncooked pasta dough from that day's pasta making lesson and some Japanese eggplants. Today they became the basis for our meal. We cranked out the pasta dough into fettuccine and roasted the eggplants with lemon, garlic, salt and olive oil. I left the eggplants in the oven a bit longer than I should have so they got almost crispy--eggplant chips? Still tasty.
I wasn't sure what I would do with the pasta but was committed to not going to the store for any ingredients. So here's what I came up with that was so easy but also very yummy:
1 jar roasted red peppers from Trader Joes
1 medium clove of garlic from the farmers market
1 large handful of basil from the yard
1 small can of anchovies in oil.
I pureed all ingredients in the food processor, tossed with the hot fresh pasta, and added the somewhat crispy eggplants, chopped into one inch chunks. We added some parmesan cheese at the table. Simple and great!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Read the actual House (H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and H.R. 4872, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) bills, and the visit Congressional Record which contains the full text of the debate and vote (ayes and noes).
Friday, December 18, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
When I began helping at the East Side Crisis Center about 6 years ago, I was taught to interview by a woman from my church, Virginia Mann. We have to ask folks who come to receive help whether they are working, what their job prospects are, what their monthly income is. Part of it is to fulfill a federal guideline. Part of it is to get a sense of what people’s needs are and if there is any way we can help. Our interview ends with me asking people if they would like to pray with me.
Nothing prepared me for the answers I get. People tell me about living on $300 a month, some people on SS get $600-$700 for a couple. Of course some have no income at all at the moment. Some have just had their sister’s kids or their grandkids move in after the mom has gone to jail. Some have had huge medical bills that sapped their resources. Most are folks that have just lived their whole lives in poverty and don’t seem aware that their incomes are shocking to me.
But the really surprising part is that many tell me how blessed they are by God, how they couldn’t get by without God’s help, and I have only met a handful of people who did not want to pray with me. I have been humbled by people who can get by on less per month than I spend on groceries, and who still can count their blessings.
I’m not trying to paint a picture where everyone who comes in is wonderful and spiritual because it isn’t like that. But each time I go I relearn the lessons that there is a big difference between what I think I need and what I really need, and that our sense of gratitude to God has more to do with our hearts than our wallets. It is also a way to remember that there are lots of people, real people, who are struggling on a daily basis just to get a meal on the table. It’s easy and convenient to forget them, and the Crisis Center helps me not to forget.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I read Push by Sapphire last night. The reason I read it is probably more interesting than my thoughts on the book.
I know this guy professionally, Gerald, and he's shy, pretty content to stay in the background. Or at least that's been my impression. We ended up sitting next to each other at restaurant after a day getting ready for a conference we both had a part in organizing. I wondered if we'd be able to find anything to talk about. I asked him what the library branch he manages is like. After some small talk he warmed to his subject, he started talking about some authors he liked, and how he has tried to find African American fiction that his patrons, his customers, will read. He said how he loves Toni Morrison, but he knows she's hard for lots of folk to start with, so he's built up the collection with other books to draw them in.
Gerald really got excited when he talked about Push and how much he is looking forward to the movie. He said even though it's a really disturbing book to read, it is eventually redemptive. I was just loving how eloquent and enthusiastic this shy man had become, so I had to read it.
He made me happy I'm a librarian.