Sunday, June 10, 2012
After an incredibly long and unintentional blogging hiatus, I am back. I think that everyone should have a bucket list. I don't think that they should be tools that discourage us when we've realized that we didn't accomplish everything in life that we wanted, but something to help motivate us to live big and never stop. We'll never accomplish all we want, and we could be taken tomorrow, but it's never wrong to have something to aim for. Let's dream big! I've never written one, but I figure my blog is the place to do it. Here goes.
Study the Bible with someone alongside my discipleship partner, Stephanie
Randomly approach a woman, and spend time getting to know her heart
Write a novel
Star in a musical
Take a dance class
Meet one or more of the following women: Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Tina Fey, Lisa Kudrow, Ellen DeGeneras, Jennifer Aniston, or Zooey Deschanel
Run a 5K
Design and make a dress
Learn how to play the guitar
Draw a portrait of every person in my spiritual family and family of origin
Take voice lessons
Watch all the Star Wars movies in a row in one day
Get a tattoo
Paint a mural on a wall in my future home
Sing a solo accompanied by an orchestra
Come up with a groovy catch phrase that really catches on
Go on an unlimited shopping spree at Target
Go to the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios and get my own wand from Ollivanders
Ride the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake (scared out of my mind to)
Eat a slice of New York style pizza in New York City
Read Lord of the Rings
Take an exercise class
Read the entire Bible all the way through in a year
Do a cleanse
Have over 100 followers
I am sure if I really spent the time, the list could go on and on. I challenge you to do the same. Yes, we really need to focus on today and the moment. Scripture says not to worry about tomorrow, but this is not worrying. It's dreaming. It is looking forward to the adventures of life. It is giving us another reason to face the challenges of today with our chin up. Have fun friends and stay cheery.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I don't celebrate Easter. There, I said it. For those of you who know of my faith, but are not part of my fellowship, this may come as an immense shock to you. Where does this crazy notion of a Christian not celebrating Easter come from? You might ask. It goes back just over three years. One thing that many people know about me is that I'm nutty for random information and facts, and that I love to know as much as I can about everything. I have spent many a free afternoon and late night exploring Wikipedia. One very interesting chain quest I found myself on landed me on the Easter page. This very accessible article contained some very disturbing information that left my stomach churning. My favorite holiday of all time, the one that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, was named after Eostre, an Anglo Saxon pagan goddess of Spring. Why? Why would the Christians do this? Why would that name the most important day of the Christian calendar after a pagan goddess? To confirm this information I took a cyber journey to find more trustworthy articles not only to discover that my findings were true, but that there was more to the story. A common practice of the post 3rd century Christian church was to take Roman and Anglo Saxon pagan rituals and traditions and adapt them into Christianity to attract and appease new converts. I was appalled.
Very shortly after I found out this information, Easter came. I sat there in my protestant church completely torn. I know these people are here to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and I know that even among the many traditions rooted in Paganism that came with celebrating Easter like eggs and bunnies, that I was taught in my home the real reason we celebrate. But something just didn't feel right. I chose to accept things as they were because I didn't know what else to do. I figured as long as Christ was the center of my heart on the day, it didn't really matter what it was called. And that was okay for then. But a few months later my eyes were opened even more. I moved to Rochester, as a previous post states, and learned so much about Christ and myself. My life changed from trying to cling to my struggling faith, to having a firm foundation centered on Christ. And with this enlightening, I realized that I couldn't do things as I had always done. Easter had lost it's meaning for me. And I felt lost with it. I wanted so much to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, but what did that look like now?
So I went on a new rampage of cyber information searching, and also asking people I trusted. And then of course I looked in scripture, which should have been the first place to look. One thing I found out is that the Apostles did in fact celebrate the Resurrection. First of all, they celebrated it every Sunday with the Eucharist which is something I now do. Second of all, they too celebrated even more specially on specific day a year, and that day was the same as day as Easter. This is because Easter always falls on the week of the Pesach or Passover, a choice made by the church which conveniently most often coincided with the month of Eostre, the goddess, April. After all, the death and resurrection took place during Pesach. And this had so much more significance than I could have ever thought.
So the Passover became of interest to me, which to be honest it kind of always had. But there was still so much to discover about the Passover. And now after knowing about it for over two years, I couldn't imagine seeing it the other way. For Christians, the Passover is all about the death and resurrection of Christ. The Passover is a week of celebration commanded by God for the Jews. It is a memorial to the time when the Jews were in Egypt and to be save from the wrath of God's plague they sacrificed a lamb, spread its blood on the door post, and were saved from the death of their first born. Then they were freed from Egypt. In the Christian belief, Christ was the last sacrifice that was made. He was the perfect Passover lamb. On the day after the Sabbath, He rose from the dead to show that He conquered sin and death. The day after Sabbath during Pesach is called First Fruits, the day in which the first and best of the produce that year would be sacrificed. To me, the significance of this is mind blowing. Not to mention the Afikomen which is part of the Sedar meal being wrapped in linens and hidden. When the youngest child finds it, he or she receives a gift, just as when we find the risen Messiah we find eternal life. The Afikomen is Matzo, and its appearance is bruised, pierced, and without leaven (sin). I could go on, but I won't.
In retrospect, do I celebrate Easter? No, I don't. Do I celebrate the Resurrection? Absolutely. With every Sunday gathering and Eucharist. With each Resurrection Sunday, First Fruits, and Passover Sedar. I do, with all of my heart. And I don't care if you celebrate Easter. Each person has to come to their conviction about it, but I do know that if I'm going to celebrate Christ, He is going to be the only thing I celebrate.
It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations. Exodus 12:42
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
An example of literary journalism for my creative writing class:
The most dreary of all months is the very last of all the dreary months. Is that ironic? March. So leafless, so colorless. Much that covers the ground almost makes one wish for snow, but that is backwards. Backward to the lifeless winter that no matter the temperature always causes ones heart to long for spring. This month, of all months aches the most. The geese fly over our heads likely wondering to themselves, “Did we come back too soon?”
However, in the darkness of winter’s last hoorah, a hope for the inevitable seeps in, ready to sprout buds, push back the clouds, and open the doors of hibernation. We know it’s coming.
So now we are in mid March which is so often a time of heavy anticipation, as if millions of Upstate New Yorkers are carrying huge bricks, waiting to be able to set them down and relax. This year is so incredibly different though. It seems that there is little to be anticipated. A strange foreign feeling of warm breezes have already grazed the skin of our arms. The sun has shone its light, bursting forth and embracing the earth. “I missed you” it says. The grass has slowly begun to transform from the dull brown green of winter’s wrath to bright, bold shades reaching for the sky. The temperate climate of New York is more pleasant than the consistent climate of California cities like San Diego and San Fransisco. Geese are flying over wondering if they came to late? “Perhaps we are still flying over North Carolina” they say. The clear night skies lead the way to late star gazing which satisfies the soul and yet still makes us yearn for eternity. The poor skiers have wondered so longingly, “Where has our winter gone?” This year they never really had it. The anticipation of Spring’s awakening is already a thing of the past.
But is it? There is still a sense of longing because as beautiful as the weather is, something just doesn’t seem right. The weather is beautiful, but the outdoors as a view is still so ugly really. When Spring comes in March there is one thing lost in our memories. And even with birds chirping their happy tune, there is still an emptiness in the early March Spring. Nothing is in bloom. There are no flowers, no leaves, no new plants making their way out of the cold ground. The beauty of the earth has not yet shone its face. The wellness of colors and smells are yet to be enjoyed, melting our hearts and causing us to fall in love. The trees are not yet clothed in their formal suits, giving them the appeal to sit under and read or to climb. So for those who have not forgotten what Spring is really about, there is still great anticipation. There is still magic yet to be seen.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I could have slept for days if there had been no where else for me to go. But to keep my eyes closed would have been a sin. An ocean so cerulean blue my eyes could hardly take it all in. An ocean so clear that even from the lowest part of the ground you could see where the finite shallow world of sand ended and the everlasting bottomless deep began. I wondered about that world. About the life so deep in the earth that no human has ever laid eyes on it. Would living in that world feel free? Free from time and space that confined me to that small piece of paradise in those fleeting moments. But that world is dark and vicious. A waste land of prey hiding under rocks, buried in the earth. That was already a world I knew.
I forced those thoughts to escape me so I could bask in the sunlight and the warm bay waters. I took in the smell which pierced the nostrils. Had I not an awareness of my surroundings, I would have been fooled into thinking I was surrounded by thousands of pomegranate shrubs and Hibiscus flowers. The view of the surrounding vegetation was magnificent. Every shade of green imaginable surrounded the waters, the land hugging the sea. Olive, lime, teal, forest, apple, mint, jungle. It was all there gripping the blue expanse as if it too was trying to hold on to its little piece of paradise for as long as it could. It gave a new meaning to the phrase plant life. Every so often a color not within the green palette would burst forth, an explosion of red, pink, or orange as if exclaiming Costa Rican independence.
Freedom, independence. This thought would not leave my mind. In that precious breath of steam that I spent on that beach was but a reminder that I did not feel free myself. I watched it. I examined it from a point of view that I may never get to experience again, but I felt trapped. Not just by time and space. I felt trapped by my own insecurities. I was in the company of sunbathers and swimmers, some of whom I knew, some who may not have been able to appreciate the sight that was before. Though with my appreciation, the inclination my mind clung to was that I was the undeserving one. I sat in the ocean waves experiencing the ocean’s freedom, but I couldn’t help but feel out of place in it all. Alone. I felt as though I sat in the orchestra at a grand symphony, so close I could nearly feel the swell of air from the bassoon. But the company with whom I came, along with the rest of the audience, was sitting in the Mezzanene. There was no way to escape the familiarity of this feeling, even thousands of miles from home. I was stuck in the mud of my thoughts which blinded me to the goodness of my own heart, and to the experience which had been laid before me.
That moment is rekindled in my mind over and over again. It was a time that could have been magical, and I allowed a dark sadness to sweep over me. Though I have often in my memory chosen to acknowledge this account as purely paradise, I know deep within that this is not so. As I’ve grown into adulthood I know this more than ever. Perhaps it is because to call myself a different person than I was then would be quite an understatement. I never knew then the joy I know now or allowed myself to acquaint with peace. Those are simply traits that define me now. Or perhaps I have always hoped for the chance to know this paradise again. Without regret. To go back and to not just observe freedom, but experience freedom. Someday.
For I know that the LORD is great
And that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
Psalm 135: 5-6
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Three days, four trains, and a boat ride later we have finally arrived. I can’t say it was all entirely unpleasant. You know how I love to see the French countryside, and I have never experienced anything quite like the Mediterranean Sea. Your father had quite a difficult time because of his sea sickness, but I think even he would say it was worth it.
The city at large is quite chaotic as expected. It helps me to realize that my decision in not bringing you was the best. Part of me wishes I had, but even though we are seen as tourists here there is still a danger that I would rather you not be exposed to. Perhaps when you turn 18, you and I can take a trip here, just the two of us. I think it would be good for you to see some of your own family history. Now, as you well know you were named after your great grandmother, but I wonder if you know that she was named after the place where Abraham was blessed by the angel of the Lord. It is also argued that it might be the place of the Temple Mount. It is a beautiful name, and I hope you know that with your heart.
Yesterday we took our first trip into Old Jerusalem. I can’t tell you how much meaning it had to know that I was walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. And not just our Jewish ancestors on Bubbi Moriah’s side, but the generations of Christians that are behind us as well. To walk the dirty streets where Jesus walked is awe inspiring. But I came here for Bubbi, and for your grandmother.
It was Bubbi’s dream to come here, and even though I’m thankful she never had to see the destruction of the war or had to be taken away from her home or have to watch the deaths of her children, I so wish she could be here with me now. Perhaps on some level she is.
I think this morning is when I missed Bubbi and my mum the most. We went to the wall at the Temple Mount. The western wall is all that is left of the second temple, and so Jewish people from all around the world come here laying their hands on the wall, praying and weeping. The sight of it all is heart wrenching. It is the only remanence of the second temple, and it’s not even part of the temple. It was the wall of the outward court. To be Jewish, and to know that the place that was once the home of God is not only destroyed, but overtaken by another religion that your people have been in conflict with for thousands of years is a truly morbid thought. As I approached the wall I began to tremble. Your father supported my steps, and then I knelt at the stone structure. An old man was kneeling about 10 feet to the left of me. He wore a beautiful shawl on his shoulders, not unlike the one my grandfather used to wear. The tears poured down his face. A familiar sound came from his mouth. It was a Hebrew blessing, not unlike the ones your grandmother would speak to me before I went to sleep as a small child. He was so passionate that I couldn’t help but envy him. His heart. I prayed silently. I didn’t feel like I had been there long at all, but it was close to an hour before I opened my eyes again. Your father never let go of my hand the entire time.
Leaving the old city was very intimidating. There were many Palestinian guards all over the place. They all seemed to look at us with contempt. Did they know we were English? Did they know I had Jewish ancestry? It was as if we had been suspected of some great crime. Every Muslim woman I passed looked at me as if she was looking right into my soul. I thought to myself that they must be brave. To live in this world where they are in constant war. To submit to it under the leadership of the men.
I still wonder if leaving England so early on was cowardly knowing my mum was in France, but she was stubborn. It was one of the things I cherished so much about her. Besides, she would have been devastated if she thought that her only grandchild was anywhere near London during the air raids. I hope you know how much she loved you, and how much your father and I love you now. It’s funny to think that in my heart I see so many similarities between my mum and these Muslim women. The bravery, the loss, the devotion. She would be appalled. I’m afraid that is one area where your grandmother lacked, understanding for others.
Anyway, there is still so much to see. You will hear from us in a few days. After a week here to explore the Holy Land, we’ll travel back north to Greece. I can’t wait to come home and tell you all about it, and to spend the rest of the summer with you my darling. Give your auntie our love. You are in our hearts.
Your Mum (and Dad)
The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”
Exodus 15: 17-18
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I confess to you that I've not been lazy about my blog, but have truly had writer's block. I haven't known what to write about. I'm sure it will come back to me in time. As for the next couple or few entries, I've decided to offer up to you some of my work from my creative writing course. I'd been assigned to write a fiction piece set in the culture I'm familiar with. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy.
The only thing she hated about summer was the fact that the neighbors seemed to enjoy sharing their personal lives with the entire block by screaming at each other outside.
“Come on!” Leah thought to herself. “It’s three o’clock in the frickin’ morning.”
To be honest she didn’t know for sure if it was this argument that was keeping her up all night, or the one she had 15 hours earlier. Ava left rehab again and refused counseling.
A free spirit on the surface, Ava had a storm of turmoil constantly brewing in her heart. It was the inner anguish that she felt that turned her to drugs in the first place. In the beginning, she was simply taking a prescribed anti depressant, but it wasn’t enough. She quickly turned to the mind numbing effects of narcotics. For a long time Leah had sympathy for her sister. After all, she knew why she hurt so badly. Ava miscarried in her late teens and never recovered from the pain searing loss. But enough was enough. It had been too long, and she had hurt too many people in the process.
The anger Leah felt toward her little sister was boiling in her heart. Nothing seemed to dial down its intensity.
“She’s ruining her life!” Leah screamed into the blackness of the night.
The one thing that she really needed to focus on could not remain in her mind long enough for her to feel the weight of its importance, her topical presentation for her dissertation. Leah was an archeology doctoral candidate that was falling apart. She would have liked to have compared herself to Indiana Jones, but she couldn’t keep her head on straight. He could save an ancient artifact from getting into the wrong hands and still teach a lecture on the difference between Egyptian and Central American pyramids. Leah couldn’t even maintain a relationship with her sister to say anything about focusing on her future.
Leah had always seemed so much stronger than Ava. She was a statue which protected her emotions and heart. She had always known what to do and what to say, following her mother’s lead as they looked after her fragile baby sister together. It could no longer be that way again. Leah’s watchful eye could not protect Ava from self destruction.
The hours moved so slowly, each minute that passed ached. She became very conscious of each motion she made, tossing and turning every 30 seconds. The thought occurred to her that she should just get up but stopped, thinking, “If I only get an hour or even 20 minutes I could....”
The thought was never complete. She knew that an hour or 20 minutes would make no difference. As the blaring oration next door died down she began to replay the conversation she had had with Ava in her head.
“I can do this, Leah. I wish you could just trust me.” Ava pleaded with her sister.
“How can I trust you after all you’ve done?” Leah felt like she was choking on the words.
“That’s not fair. I’m not the only one who has done something wrong here. And I’m trying to change, but I need your support.” Ava begged.
“You would have my support if you were more willing to get help.”
“I am willing.”
“Really? Really? Is that so? Then why the hell are you in my living room instead of rehab? Why aren’t you sitting down with a therapist rather than laying frickin’ problems at my feet? You are completely unwilling, ungrateful, and selfish? You don’t think about anyone, but yourself!”
“I couldn’t stay there.” Ava said still pleading. “The doctors, the counselors; they didn’t care about me. And the people there, they were nothing like me.”
“You mean addicts? Because you’re kind of wrong there.”
“I don’t mean that. I mean they just.....they....you won’t understand!”
“You’re right, I don’t. I don’t understand how you can be so selfish! How you can just throw your life away without giving a thought about those who love you and care about you!” Leah shouted. “I’m done being your crutch.” Her voice became muffled.
“My crutch? I don’t need a crutch. I need a friend, a sister.”
“You don’t even know what that means. But I’m afraid I can’t be that for you either. Please leave.”
“Yes. Get out!” Leah’s voice cracked. “I can’t even look at you right now! You’ll never be anything more than this, and I can’t watch it. Get out.”
Leah’s face went from a burning pink to ghostly pale. She walked to the door slowly, but with visible force. Her eyes glared intently into space as her head tilted downward. She opened the door of the apartment not once looking up at her sister. Ava went from a state of confidence, which had been clear in her stature, to complete brokenness resulting in a waterfall of tears. She covered her face and ran out. Leah wouldn’t look, but she still caught a glimpse of her sister’s burgundy curls flying out the doorway.
A single tear fell down her gray cheek as she slammed the door shut. One minute went by, then two. The strong statue finally fell. Leah, still clutching the door knob, collapsed under the weight of the conversation. The tears quickly became uncontrollable. She crawled on her hands and knees to the living room rug, curled up into the fetal position, and cried for what seemed like an eternity.
As the moments of the previous day were recaptured in her memory, a sudden shift occurred. She repeated in her head the angry words she had said earlier over and over again. “You’ll never be anything more than this.”
The anger melted away, or perhaps not. Perhaps it was just redirected. As the repetition of thoughts lingered in her head a small voice deep in her heart began to say, “What have you done?” Had she completely ruined her relationship with the one person who has meant the most to her?
Seven AM slowly approached. Leah quietly lay as a new tear trickled down to her pillow, the slow motion of a sleepless night seemingly making it splash. Her heart slowed, and she began to drift off. Beep!! The new day was here, and she would have to make it through her presentation with only 30 seconds of sleep.
The morning was full of just going through the motions. Somehow Leah was showered, dressed, and ready to go without recollection of any of it happening. The coffee got made, the bagel got toasted, and the cat got fed. The robot that was Leah functioned without a thought. However, the pieces of her heart still lay on the living room rug. She sat on her couch to collect her thoughts. “How can I possibly get through this day?” She asked her tabby cat Elvis, who reveled in each stroke of Leah’s hand on his velvety neck.
As strong as she could make herself, Leah stood up. She leaned over to put her cell phone in her purse. She stopped for a moment and stared at it’s blank screen. There had been no calls, no messages. Her heart sank. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
Leah called Ava. “Hello?” Ava answered.
“Leah? You there?”
“Yeah.” Leah pushed the nearly inaudible words out of her mouth. “I’m here.”
“Are you okay?”
“Leah, you’re kind of scaring me.”
As if Leah had picked up the pieces of her heart off the rug and tried squeezing them into her chest she confessed, “I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, Leah.” Her words were filled with tenderness.
“We’ll talk.” It was the only sentence Leah could think to say.
“Of course. Good luck today.”
“Thanks.” It was a quiet release, but the word was strong.
As Leah hung up the phone, a flood of emotion came pouring into her soul, yet somehow a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Her sister was okay, and now so was she. She didn’t know how to help her sister, but she realized that she loved her. That was a start. There was no resolution. There was no ending to the story, but she knew that at the very least a new beginning could be had. Leah put her things in her purse, and walked to the door. Her strides had conviction. She was going to love Ava wholeheartedly whatever that may look like, but for the next few hours she would be focused on her future. Maybe she was at least a little bit like Indiana Jones.
Colossians 3: 12-13