Sunday, January 28, 2007

i played a Stradivarius yesterday.

I will never forget it.

It felt and sounded as exquisite as any 2.2 million dollar violin should.

Monday, January 22, 2007

wishing I wasn't 'the rich young ruler'

Poverty is so hard to see
When it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town.
Where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood.
Where He’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash.
He says, more than just your cash and coin,
I want your time, i want your voice.

I want the things you just can’t give me.

So what must we do?
Here in the west we want to follow You.
We speak the language and we keep all the rules...
even a few we made up.
Come on and follow me,
but sell your house, sell your SUV
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor.
What is this?, Hey what’s the deal?
I don’t sleep around, and I don’t steal.

I want the things you just can’t give me

Because what you do to the least of these
my brothers, you have done it to me.

Because I want the things you just can’t give me.

-The Rich Young Ruler by Derek Webb

And despite the simplicity of the truth, I'm left feeling conflicted.

I really do love people deeply, and most of the time, generosity is an inherent response (though my motives aren't always innocent). My heart is ridiculously soft, pliable, sensitive, compassionate. But my unweildy pride and greed (thinly disguised as good and honest hopes, dreams, ambitions, plans) have grown up around it...twisting and intertwining like gnarled roots. They somehow convince me to just not care. To pretend to be ignorant to the depths of the poverty around me, to justify my choices by comparisons.

I really like to be known as a person that cares about social justice. To be 'all about' peace and love and anti- consumerism, materialism, and corporate america, and Western values that promote self any cost. But to be completely honest, I spend so much of my time imagining an even better life for myself... time and money to travel, a bigger house with more space to entertain, a 'study' with room for all our books to be stored in elegant book cases, dressers for our bedroom made of real wood, a dining room set with matching chairs (instead of our hand-me down, wobbly table, and chairs the wrong color....poor me, right?), a porch, a fireplace, a whirlpool tub, a washer and dryer like the ones all the cool people have...(I'm already feeling that familiar buzz of pleasure just imagining it all again...) There are uglier ways to put it. When I'm altogether truthful, I'll call it covetousness, greed, lust.

At a dinner party once, Jesus said to his hosts, "You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy--full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over."

I can do that...I give gifts to the poor. Pretty generous ones (...I like to tell myself). But they're still gifts that don't really hurt, or stretch my budget. Ones that allow me to maintain (maybe even upgrade from time to time) my lifestyle.

And to someone else with a similar fortune to mine, He said, "There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your posessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me."

"...I want the things you just can't give Me."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Walking on Water

In the last few weeks...(or has it been months?), I've had an insatiable appetite for the words of Madeleine L'Engle. Not her fiction. I haven't read any of that since middle school when my sister, Lynn gave me A Wrinkle in Time.

I just started A Circle of Quiet: the Crosswicks Journal Book I. It was a Christmas present I had requested. And I am loving it. Her wisdom about faith and writing translates for me to my art, music. And each time I go back to read more, I am nourished again. Validated, despite my insecurities and failures....or maybe because of my insecurities and failures. I think I'll post some of her words soon.

This week, I finished reading Walking on Water, her essays about faith and art. My thoughts these days have been influenced by her words more than I even realized. In fact, as I began typing this post, a strange memory was triggered in my mind... an incident from last night that I had somehow forgotten...

A few of my students were with me in the back yard of my parents' house. We were having a conversation about Jesus walking on the I suggested that we all put our toes in the pool. You know, to just feel the sensation of water under our feet, as He must have. It seemed the right thing to do at the time.
We were spaced apart all around the pool, maybe seven or eight of us, laughing and joking about actually stepping out onto the surface. I'm not sure why it scared me so much, she was standing at the shallow end of the pool. But as I saw her leaning over the water, I lurched forward, trying to keep Morgan from, walking into...onto...the water... To my relief and surprise, she was fine. Not drowning, she was hardly wet. Her feet weren't quite staying *on* the surface, but she was actually walking, well sort-of bouncing on the water. To the rest of us, it looked as if she were stepping on a trampoline covered in six inches of snow. With each step, her foot plunged only inches beneath the surface. I was amazed. So the rest of us joined her. We were delighted with our discovery. Why hadn't we tried this before? There wasn't really enough room in the pool. But despite being a bit crowded, it was incredibly fun. I made a mental note that I'd have to try this in Lake Michigan soon.

And then, without any more twists in the story or explanations, I woke up.

But maybe we *can* walk on water??

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

i bought a calendar today

2007 has been looming for quite a while. A steadily growing list of important dates...meetings, doctor's appointments, rehearsals, performances has been floating around in my mind, scribbled on tiny scraps of paper. I was getting nervous.

So I got a refill for my planner.

I still haven't filled it all in yet, but at least I have a place to do it.

The new year seems both a fresh canvas of possibilities and a large obstacle to trudge through. Part of me is full of hope and excitement, thinking of all the ways I'm going to be better, accomplish more, live more fully.

And yet another part of me is exhausted already...'three days down,three hundred sixty-two to go.'

Actually...I guess I just feel the drudgery of making it until June.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the 'post Christmas school year.'
I wanted to be more have a complete plan for the rest of the school year for all my classes.

No, a complete plan for the rest of my life.

A much weightier list is floating around in my mind... The BIG things that occupy my near...and distant future. Whenever I start to think of New Year's Resolutions, I get excited...then nervous, and soon I am overwhelmed by the formidable obstacles and questions lurking within me and before me:

finishing....or even just starting my Master's Degree,

containing and organizing the constant clutter that threatens to fill our house...and drive me insane...

how long and how much will I continue to teach... next year, for the next seven years? fifteen years?

where and when will I ever work on being a better violinist?

transitioning Maya to drinking from a cup, from baby food to solid food, from rolling to crawling & walking, diapers to the toilet...

teaching her to love people, to love God, to be compassionate, independent, thoughtful, wise...

will we live in West Michigan forever? are we farmers....or gypsies?

But for the moment, I'm ready to rest. To be at peace. I think that's going to be part of my New Year's Resolution...
To find ways to be still. To rest in the assurance that my very existence is sustained by God's loving presence all around me and in me.

Once again, I've kept myself from sleep for too long. My healing, emotional outlet is actually becoming a destructive force-keeping me from going to bed.
So goodnight.