Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All I Heard Was Love

The wedding was at my parent's farm. Coby and Liz worked to clean out their 100 year old barn and make it shine. They are such gentle, sincere, kind, easygoing people, and their wedding reflected them.

My brother Joe came in from California, we love him! 
The cousins will not leave him alone, everyone is so happy when he is home.

Rehearsal dinner at El Papa's

The girls were flower girls. They had their hair done and wore new dresses and partied hard for four days straight. They will always remember this weekend.

My Dad and Emma

My handsome husband

A beautiful day

Her mother's dress!
My Aunt Sharman performed the ceremony

wild flowers, mason jars, local wine and honey

My mom and Annie . ..
oh, my this girl loves to dance!
If you've got it, you got it.

We like to move it move it

A gorgeous sunset to end the day

Coby and Liz worked incredibly hard to pull it all together, but I so admire their laid-back, relaxed approach. They seriously do not sweat the small stuff, but know how to focus on the parts that are meaningful and lovely.

In addition there was a really beautiful community effort- their friends and family who took pictures, played music, made the cakes, sewed the dresses, did hair, cut flowers and made the arrangements, brought lettuce from their gardens, donated lamb for the dinner . .. and my parents have some of the greatest friends who took on all of the details during the reception- serving and clearing plates, etc. It made me realize again how fortunate we are to have such an amazing community of friends and families willing to come together and serve one another. It is so beautiful.

All I Heard Was Love is the title of a song Coby wrote. You can listen to some really great music by State Bird here.

Coby and Liz invited their sisters to share a few words during the ceremony. This is what I said, if you care to read it:

Today we are here to celebrate Liz and Coby and the hope and commitment of their love for one another. But there is more than that. There are occasions when it is good and necessary to come together and acknowledge that life is a miracle.  And this is why we are here today.

As individuals we have experienced the delight of the presence of Coby and Liz in the world. Some of us for only a short time, others since the day they each were born. And life is a miracle and we know it from being with and knowing Coby and Liz. We know it because of their particular spark and particular person which is so endearing and that we love and recognize as something amazing and unique, that can only come from God. 

Today we can look around and acknowledge with the land the miracle and mystery of life. These hills and fields formed by God have been here far longer than any of us can imagine, they remind us that we participate in something far greater than ourselves. 

I have to imagine many sunny days in May, and my Grandparents working on these hills, while a few hills away, Liz’s grandparents are working as well, both, for love of the land, for love of one another and their children, love for God, and who would have known that these two stories would one day be woven together, here, on a sunny day in May.

Coby and Liz join together today not only their own lives, but also their separate families, and histories, their separate communities into a new family and a new community. Together we are here to celebrate this new and more vibrant community.

This occasion, a wedding, is a good time to reflect on the fact that we are here because of the work of love, we are bound together by affection, because life is a miracle. And living is holy work, and marriage is holy work, and today is a good day to celebrate.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Five Years of One Wild and Precious Life

Josie, this week

Today is the five year anniversary of this blog, and all week I have been thinking, I will write a post about this blog. Why? I don't know, why do I ever blog? This is what I keep trying to figure out.

I finally hit publish on my first post in the living room of the church parsonage on a sunny day in May. I had no idea what I was doing, only that the sun was shining.

I didn't know when I began what I hoped to happen with blogging. We still had dial-up internet. The only person I knew who blogged was Ruth, and hers was the only blog I read except maybe Dooce occasionally.

Five years. Geesh. It's like the 1800's of the internet.
Blogging has changed, life has changed ...

Annie, six months
I guess blogging has chronicled my motherhood journey in this way: I am always trying to figure out where to put it. Just like everything else in life.

It's like when I was a waitress, and I would pull out a huge giant tray, and carefully arrange four or six or ten platters of food, and then there was that one glass of lemonade someone needed and so I would rearrange all of the plates in order to perch the glass in the center before heaving it onto my shoulder to carry to the table. That tray is kind of like my life, and this blog is the glass of lemonade: one last detail I try to fit onto the tray. Not really a necessity, but nice when it can fit.

Maybe I blog because it is one small thing I can do for myself, a creative space that is just mine. It doesn't ask for things or require craft glue or peanut butter or clorox wipes. It's always here, just like I left it, and I can ignore it for days and that's okay too.

I have over these years wavered between deciding that blogging is stupid, and a waste of time, I am going to shut down the blog and leave the internet for good; and then deciding that I really should take this blogging thing more seriously.

There are blogs I envy sometimes, the more prolific or professional mom-blogs, the incredible amount of good blogging they are able to produce. How do they do it?

Eventually I learned where to put this, how to fit it in among the five or so plates I am balancing, and I find that it occupies a pretty small spot. But also that it's a sweet spot, I'm glad it here, like the dark chocolate I keep hidden on the top shelf.

Thanks to blogging I have made new friends, or have other friends who I know a lot better because of their blogs. I have been able to grieve with friends and rejoice with them along their own journeys, through their own words, and for this alone blogging is beautiful.

I write because I cannot speak, and I have felt a little more understood thanks to this blog.

There are posts I have published that I am glad to have written, and a lot that I would like to burn down.

Most of all I think I blog because it is a way- my way- of acknowledging the wild and precious in life.

It is a way to Cling to what is Good, and oh, in this world, that is the only thing to do- to cling; to look for the good, search for it, cleave to it, fixate on it, hold it to your chest for dear life. We need to cling to good.

Blogging is a way I have found to pay attention, a way to say Me Too, and thank-you, and life is wild and precious so what will you do with it? Blogging is one way, my way, to say that Life is a Miracle.
I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.
-Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle
And so I am thankful for this little space, however unpredictable and imperfect and incomplete, just like life.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are, even if you never comment or we have never met.

The next verse says that we are to "be devoted to one another in love." (Romans 12:10) It seems that understanding one another is a first step toward love, and the written word is a good step toward understanding. So, thanks.

And if you blog, thanks for blogging. Thanks for all of the authentic, imperfect and lovely blogs out there clinging to what is good. Your art is important, and needed.

And if you don't blog I hope you have your own space somewhere, your own creative enjoyment and your own way of expressing the miracle of life.


so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:5-10,21

Saturday, May 11, 2013

soup: May 11

It was a sober week in Cleveland. I cannot stop thinking about the three women found alive after a decade. (Read news about it here). Once again we are faced with the depth of evil in our world, and the goodwill of most, and the survival of the human spirit.

This column about Amanda Berry's now deceased mother made me weep.

I have nothing more to add to the conversation, except for this: Pray.

Nighttime is the time of day when our anxieties are heightened and fears seem the most real. Often at night my imagination will race and many nights it is with thoughts of prisoners. We know that there are prisoners held in nightmarish conditions all over the world, and as I would pray for prisoners everywhere the thought would occur to me of the possibility that even within my own radius, there are people being held prisoner. I believe the Holy Spirit was prompting me to pray for these women, maybe others.

It was a reminder to me that our random thoughts or intuition are more than just that: that the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray even when we do not know what to pray for.

Other links this week:

Bookish I just discovered this site, and I love it- a way to choose your next book to read. This will be helpful as I am in a reading slump- I have started and decided not to finish my past four books. (Any book suggestions?)

Poetry as Therapy: Curator Magazine

Have you seen this?

This is water video

What a week of groceries looks like around the world

Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?: Huffington Post

Homeschool: This week we got to enjoy a Concert for Kids from the Akron Symphony. So wonderful!

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I never want to forget that this can be a painful day for so many, for many reasons, my heart will be with them tomorrow.

Thank-you, Sam, Annie, and Josie, for making this mom's life so sweet. I am so grateful.

Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some people would think.One of the many sad results of the Industrial Revolution was that we came to depend more than ever on the intellect, and to ignore the intuition with its symbolic thinking.  The creator, and the mystic, have tended more towards Platonism than Aristotelianism, and to be willing to accept Plato's "divine madness," with its four aspects of prophecy, healing, artistic creativity, and love. 
These divine madnesses have been nearly lost in this century, and so we've lived almost entirely in the pragmatic, Cartesian world.  I wonder if Descartes knew what he was doing when he wrote his famous I think, therefore I am, and subsequently, if not consequently, we began even more than before to equate ourselves with our conscious minds. . . if we insist on intellectual control we have to let go our archaic understanding and our high creativity, because keeping them means going along with all kinds of things we can't control.  
And yet, ultimately, our underwater, intuitive selves are never really incompatible with the above water, intellectual part of our wholeness.  Part of Jesus' freedom came from the radical view of time which allowed him to speak with Moses and Elijah simultaneously, thus bursting through the limitations of time accepted by the intellect.  Yet what he did is not at all inconsistent with what contemporary astrophysicists are discovering about the nature of time.  Secularists have long tended to laugh away the story of "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon," but according to some new research, it now seems as though something actually did happen to the physical world at that time; the earch may have shifted slightly on its axis, and time would have been affected, and the sun for a moment may indeed have stood still.  
For the astrophysicist as for the saint, chronos and kairos converge.  Robert Jastrow in his book, God and the Astonomers talks about the astronomers, after all their questions, struggling up to a mountain peak, and finding the theologians already there. 
-Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water, 90-92

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Are People For?

When I am weary, or when the world feels jagged I turn to Wendell Berry. I am so glad that Wendell Berry wrote books. I am so thankful for a farmer in Kentucky who writes words both provoking and healing, moving to a New York Times columnist or a Cleveland housewife.

This week I listened to this podcast with Wendell Berry on Indiana Public Media, and read a book of essays, What Are People For?

Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world that we did not make, that has no price? Where is our sanity but there? Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?

It is a book about living consciously.
"My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed. And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves."

I was ashamed, as I read, of my previous post in which I boasted about the large haul of clothing I had bought for such a small price, and also this week as we watched in horror the news of the Bangladesh factory collapse , with a death toll now over 500.

I am a participator in this industry that manufactures cheap, disposable fashion by robbing the poor and putting their lives at risk.
The religion and the environmentalism of the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something they do not really wish to destroy. We all live by robbing nature, but our standard of living demands that the robbery shall continue. 
We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. 
The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do.
I have, like many others, attempted to research and find ways to buy clothing that is made fairly, even if it costs a little more. There are two fair-trade clothing stores nearby, and I have shopped at both with the intention of finding one or two quality staple clothing items that I will pay more for, buying fewer items, knowing full well it is fair both to the store and the people who made the clothing. In the end I simply could not afford the prices.

The only other option seems to be to buy used clothing, which we do. But there are occasions, like the upcoming wedding, when I want and need to buy new clothes. Buying as cheaply as possible seems to be the responsible approach, but maybe it's not. I am not really satisfied with any of my options. We can hope that events such as the factory in Bangladesh will help to drive change. (Salon: How shoppers can help prevent Bangladesh-type disasters).

One f my favorite essays included in this collection is a famously provoking title, Why I Am Not Going to Buy A Computer. It was originally published in The New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly, and was reprinted by Harpers with letters in response, and Berry's response to those letters. This was fascinating. You can read it here.

This subject then led to an essay titled Feminism, The Body, and the Machine, which I found equally fascinating on several levels, and hope to write about soon. You can read it in entirety here.