Thursday, June 30, 2005

Currently Reading...

Life of Pi
By: Yann Martel
Piscine Patel, son of an Indian Zoo Keeper is stranded on a life boat with a tiger for seven months after his family's ship sinks enroute to Canada to start a new life. Much of the story centers around this--the lifeboat--the struggle for survival.
Pi has always been deeply religious, practicing Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. His love for God and His creation is profound. He is drawn to the diversity of the rituals and practices of each religion. The Story of Christianity at first dumbfounds him, yet he is drawn by Christ. The devotion and prayer of islam fascinates him.
He has a lot of criticism for people who claim to love God and feel a need to "defend" God (the creator,sustainer of the universe)--without loving or defending widows, orphans, and the poor. His thoughts on Hinduism are beautiful, though... in some ways, i don't completely accept the interconnectedness of the faiths. But the understanding of God and our soul is very thought provoking..."The force which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing. The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite. ..the same way that the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit relate, mysteriously."
When he meets Jesus Christ through a Catholic priest, his Hindu perspective of the story of Christ is so enlightening:
"The first thing that drew me in was disbelief. What? Humanity sins but it's God's Son who pays the price? I tried to imagine Father saying to me, 'Piscine, a lion slipped into the llama pen today and killed two llamas. Yesterday another one killed a black buck. Last week...The situation has become intolerable. Something must be done. I have decided that the only way the lions can atone for their sins is if I feed you to them.' 'Yes, Father, that would be the right and logical thing to do. Give me a moment to wash up.'"
"I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying. Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag--religions abound with stories. But Father Martin made me understand that the stories that came before it--and there were many--were simply prologue to the Chrisitans. Their religion had one Story, and to it they came back again and again, over and over. It was story enough for them."
"The Son must have the taste of death forever in His mouth. The Trinity must be tainted by it; there must be a certain stench at the right hand of God the Father. The horror must be real. Why would God wish that upon Himself? Why not leave death to the mortals? Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect?
Love. That was Father Martin's answer."

more of my thoughts on books I'm reading

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"The ache for home..."

I've mentioned before-the quote in my living room: "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place..." - Maya Angelou.
While riding through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan yesterday and today, I felt this ache...powerfully. But today, I finally walked into my own house and into Ryan's arms.

It was a very fun trip. Apparently,Josh, Mandy's husband who drove the entire trip there and back (except for a few hours when Mandy took over) has been tricked by my "eloquent and thoughtful blog" into thinking that I was quite mature and "level-headed."

He retracted those compliments after spending several days locked in a moving vehicle with me and two other female college friends. We were a bit obnoxious. But we (Mandy, Rachel, and I) had great fun. This is Mandy, entertaining us all with bandaids. I think we were in Kansas.

Mmmm... Baskin Robbins somewhere in Missouri.

The wedding was beautiful, and reminded me again of the beauty of marriage. Some weddings leave me frustrated and hoping that the couple has a better understanding of marriage than their wedding portrays. This was not one of those.
Also...the bride was beautiful, the garden ceremony was elegant, and there was great music, dancing, and fun at the reception. I was once again reminded how much I love my friends from school. Even though our lives have changed, it is still deeply refreshing and comforting (and fun) to be least for me. I miss them already.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


hibachi chefs,
teriyaki salmon,
rich conversation with distant friends,
wedding celebrations,
long hours of travel,
reading in the park,
friends with new blogs,
very late fun nights with the girls,

missing ryan.

Monday, June 20, 2005

i want to learn the easy way

I'm feeling precarious.

My life is so carefree and easy and full of joy right now. My immediate family, though flawed and strange-with strained relationships at times, is full of love, warmth, and honesty. I have a loving, strong, funny, intelligent, dashing husband who loves me and respects me and lavishly shows his affection for me. I find great fulfillment in my job, teaching music, helping students love music, and love their creator who gave us music. And right now, I am enjoying a VERY light work load...enjoying simple pleasures of life-reading, soaking in the sun, friends, contemplation, yard-work, rest, running....

I know that life is full of joy and pain, relief, rest, fear, sorrow. it's complicated. we are becoming who we are because of the complicated, messiness of life. But i feel like i've gotten to enjoy the easy part for so long. that maybe i have grown flippant, apathetic, too self-assured, too unaware. that maybe it won't last forever. it can't. what may be coming? this feels too easy.

...on father's day, we found out that my grandpa andy, my only living grandpa, who is closer to ninety than eighty, was feeling chest pains due to blockage in his heart. About two decades ago, he had a heart attack, open heart surgery, and a prognosis of only a few more years of life. But, i've been blessed enough to grow up with him...healthy, active, and full of life. He's had multiple complications and operations over the years, but he's always been fine. tomorrow he will have a heart cath, a new stint installed, and angioplast? i don't understand all the medical procedures, and the risks involved, but i know that his veins are thin, and he's not in his seventies anymore.

i'm worried.

i shouldn't be fearful, but i do feel precarious. i want to be understand the lessons that i am supposed to learn from the darker, difficult side of life, but i don't want to have to go through loss to learn it.

whenever i recognize that i am worrying, i think of matt. 6 "do not worry..." and i try to twist it into some sort of quick comfort that "it's all going to be okay. don't waste time worrying...just focus on the positive"

but i don't think that these words of Christ were meant to keep me from considering the possibility of loss. i think Christ's message there was more about worrying about temporal things, seeking to gain wealth and things...clothes, food, "for the pagans run after all these things" (v. 33) "but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness"...take care of others needs, live as part of his kingdom...reflecting and generously pouring out his love wherever you go. i think that's what its really about.

do i have to suffer loss to really learn that? please. no.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I found these words from sacred space gave me a different perspective on my thoughts about freewill.


There are very few people
who realise what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace. (St Ignatius)
I ask for the grace to trust myself totally to God's love.

...things i've often heard, and sometimes begin to understand, but often don't acknowledge with my life. what a beautiful freedom, to be formed by his grace.

i recently read a beautiful post that drew an image of God as a composer, uniquely composing music for...(and with)...each of us. i keep absorbing that image more and more. God, shaping intricate melodies... sometimes rich and full harmonies...layers and layers of sound, and yet sometimes the melody is only a solo...or even silence. the music is often dissonant, sometimes (vivace) full of life, or dolce (rich and sweet), and other times lonely and haunting.
but the music is His, and it draws us to him.
i hope your day is full of beautiful music "formed by his grace."

too far away

Originally uploaded by AngandRyan.
i miss these two rudds very much today.

They're both much bigger and older and even better conversationalists than they were when this picture was taken.

less than a month ago, they slept in my house, jumped on emma & liam's trampoline, raced to a soccer game with me, helped make blueberry waffles, gave great hugs, and planted little army men all over my house for us to find long after they returned home to ohio--all in a very short and rushed weekend.

come back soon, and stay longer!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice?
I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations
and open to what God may be saying to me."

~from sacred space daily prayer 6.15.05

hyper neighbors

emma upstages liam
Originally uploaded by AngandRyan.
a week ago, i opened my door to this sight. emma and liam were knocking to say "goodbye"--before heading to disney world. a few pre-trip pictures will show that emma is not always 'the shy one.' they were both pretty excited.

emma danced in front of my camera for quite a long time. every so often freezing if she thought a certain pose would make a good picture.

liam sat in the van ready to go for more than an hour before they actually departed.
they're still gone, and Puffy...or Fluffy...(the small rodent that Emma keeps as a pet) is fortunately still alive under my care.

other happenings...

our main drain is clogged, so we have some lovely raw sewage in our basement. hopefully, "Ted Douglas & Son's" will be here soon to clean it up and unclog the drain.

the carnival came to town

sherman bowling
Originally uploaded by AngandRyan.
one of my brothers, who doesn't live in muskegon once said that if he never gets a picture of this sign before it is taken down, he would die...or regret it forever...or some kind of dramatic, life altering consequence.

so, to avoid any early deaths, life-long regrets, or other crisis, i took a few pictures. and the carnival was in town. so you get the ferris wheel too.

there are a couple more pictures on flickr.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

time travel and freewill

today is gray, rainy, and cold. a relief from the thick heat of the last couple of weeks. the sun and the beach has really been fun, but a long brisk walk in the misty coldness of today was a different kind of great. it felt better. more real. not my usual taste. but it matched my mood.

just finished "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger.

i know i allow myself to live stories way too much. movies, books,.. It doesn't matter. ryan says that i always think i have become one of the characters. so, for the last few days, I have felt a strange awareness of time. no, not that I am no longer late for things-not that kind of time awareness. actually, the opposite is true. I feel detached from the present. as if the past and the present and the future are all happening simultaneously. so as i stood in front of the sink last night to brush my teeth, confused and only partly awake, bleary-eyed from reading for too long, i felt suddenly trapped. that my freewill is nonexistent. how much is my life already determined? has my future already played our unalterably. and i just have to live it out without being able to change it?

Henry, the "time traveler" wrestled with these questions only a few times in the book--when he would visit his past, knowing what would happen, but being unable to change it. He talked about chaos and determinism. But he didn't believe in God.
so as i read, i thought again about the nature of God and his relationship and role in his creation. questions that i haven't really thought or cared about in years were brought to the surface. how does my theology and my view of salvation explain or affect the rest of life and my ability to choose? not that i don't mind resting in God's complete control over the details of my life--if that's how it is. i know he's better at it. but I don't know if that's exactly how it works either.


this mattered a lot to me last night. i'm not so worried now. still curious though.

i used to be really sure about most things. now i'm pretty much unsure about most things, but the uncertainty doesn't bother me.

Other books recently finished: The Chosen (Chaim Potok) and Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

Any new reading suggestions for a teacher decadently enjoying summer break?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

what i learned today while teaching

Today I watched Emily, a five year old who has not been to Kindergarten yet, slowly unlatch the case, uncover, and carefully remove a tiny (one-eighth size) violin. She smiled with pride as she told me that she could play the first two pages of music in her book. This was her second lesson. We sang with the piano and plucked on the violin several different arrangements of the notes D and A over and over again. She is so tiny. And so excited about the world. And right now, about being a real violinist. I always have this great and noble desire to empower my students, to let them know that they can do anything, be anything. But Emily doesn't need to be taught that. She totally believes it already. She doesn't mind making mistakes, starting over, trying new things. She hasn't learned to be afraid of messing up yet. When do we learn that we shouldn't sing in front of other people? (Rudd's are not included in that question--regardless of the truth, we all tend to think we have GREAT singing voices) And when do people label themselves as non-musicians, or bad artists, or not creative, or whatever?
Another student, Laura, just graduated. She's never played for anyone in her life, except for me- during her lessons. She doesn't even practice around her parents. She told me at every lesson before the recital..."Now, I probably won't show up for the recital, you know. I just can't play in front of people." Then later it was,"Well,... I promise I will come to the recital, but I probably won't play." She came. And she and I, together, stood up in front of well over one hundred people and played Shubert's Serenade (a duet). It was beautiful. Not the music,... I mean that was nice too...but the confidence and the satisfaction that she couldn't disguise on her face was beautiful. I was so proud. She isn't going to become a famous violinist, professional musician, or a music teacher. She may not ever perform on the violin in public again, but she knows that she can if she ever wanted to. I hope that she can see her own beauty, and talent. Somewhere between Kindergarten and Highschool and adulthood, most people lose that hopeful, honest, understanding of themselves. They think that mistakes, differences, uniqueness make them somehow less able, less valuable. I hope Emily doesn't lose her honest, innocent confidence. And I hope Laura regained a little of hers.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Happy Be-lated Birthday...

bride mandy and allison
Originally uploaded by AngandRyan. Allison, my elegant, med-student in Chicago, ballerina, artistic, intelligent, faithful college and life-time friend.
I didn't forget the day--I just was in a blogging slump May 25th. Did you get your card?
I love you. See you soon!!

Just in case you haven't been checking my links...

Originally uploaded by AngandRyan.
...yes, this is Isaac. I know he is perfect.
There are many more exquisite pictures of both of my new nephews on brother daniel's link.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


June is finally here. Happy Birthday to my friend Rachel in Cincinnati!
She is probably out on the town salsa dancing with friends. I miss you, Rachel, and I can't wait until our Colorado road trip later this month. Happy Birthday!

I am so excited for summer. Tomorrow is my last full day of teaching. My grades are already finished. For the first time in a long time, the weight of stress is almost non-existent in my life. As my schedule winds down, I am already beginning to enjoy more quiet evenings at home with Ryan. I'm in the middle of a novel by one of my favorite authors, Chaim Potoch. My favorites of his are My Name is Asher Lev, and The Gift of Asher Lev. Now I'm reading The Chosen. It is very decadent to just be able to read, without feeling guilty about something else I should be working on. Monday, we spent the whole afternoon in the sun, just reading, talking, and relaxing by the pool (not in the freezing pool) with the David, Marianne, Daniel, Andrea, and all the kids.

I've even had a few beautiful mornings at home--like today when I had no classes until 1:00! This morning was spent sleeping in, running to the beach, slowly eating breakfast, reading, and anticipating a summer full of days that begin just like today.

Even though I'm feeling more freedom, I know Ryan feels a lot of stress right now--with school and work. He's been running like a maniac, taking care of our lawn, spending lots of time with me, going to all kinds of school and family functions, and somehow earning his master's degree while working full time. He is amazing.

Tonight, we picked up a pizza from Greek Tony's, our favorite local pizza place, and drove to the beach to eat our dinner. I love moments like that with Ryan. Just enjoying spontaneous pleasures, good pizza, warm yellow sunlight reflecting on the water, laughing together. I'm trying to soak in the beauty of right now. I know the freedom of this stage of life won't last forever. But I don't dread changes that will come eventually. I just want to enjoy where I am now. I love having a best friend that is always waiting for me at home, that likes to just be with me. He usually knows how I feel about things before I even express them.

"(S)He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time (s)he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his/(her) eyes and mind those virtues which it possesses."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)