Out my Window: Not sure what that is right now… slain… not quite sleet… then big fluffy snowflakes
Enjoying: The early morning skies have been breathtaking with predawn moon and stars and gorgeous sunrises. Getting to eat twice at my favorite crepe place with one of my favorite people. Reading. Podcasts.
Listening to: Weekly release of Holy Post. I did some extra driving this week, again, so back on the podcast kick. Tried a few that did not capture me, but thoroughly loved Onbeing with Krista Tippett. They were so good! https://onbeing.org/programs/greg-boyle-the-calling-of-delight-gangs-service-and-kinship/ I am already a Greg Boyle fan. He is one of my heroes. I highly recommend his book Tattoos on the Heart. I now need to read Barking at the Choir. The next one I listened to was with Marilynne Robinson who wrote the Gilead series that I enjoyed. Lila was my favorite of them. It was an intriguing discussion about wonder and who we are from an author’s point of view and a physicist who is also a poet. Very interesting. I now want to read Absence of Mind and The Dancing Universe and Tear at the Edge of the Universe. https://onbeing.org/programs/marilynne-robinson-marcelo-gleiser-the-mystery-we-are/
I kept going into the Onbeing interviews because they were so intriguing. The next one was fascinating on the brain and the need to reset it at times. Erik Vance talks about the power of the placebo. It was fascinating. Much to think about and another book for the list, Suggestible You. https://onbeing.org/programs/erik-vance-the-drugs-inside-your-head/ The last one was an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates Imagining a New America. https://onbeing.org/programs/ta-nehisi-coates-imagining-a-new-america/ I appreciated his incite and honesty about the narratives we (white culture) have been telling for many years, and his shedding light and naming what the darkness really is in our history and modern culture. https://onbeing.org/programs/ta-nehisi-coates-imagining-a-new-america/
Reading: By my bed: Bob Goff’s new devotional Live in Grace Walk in Love and Adorned: Living out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth.
My carry around book: I focused on Not from Around Here: What Unites Us, Divides Us, and How Can We Move Forward by Brandon O’Brien since I need to write a review before I leave town. I did finish. I feel like between the podcasts and the read there is the sacred echo of narrative and identity. Am I letting the truest story and my truest identity be found in Christ and the Kingdom or is it in other things or places…? I will be putting out a review of the book hopefully today. My next book is Saints: Becoming More than Christians by Addison Bevere as I received it for a review. I will also be toting along Seth Haines’ new book The Book of Waking Up: Experiencing the Divine Love That Reorders a Life and Danielle Strickland’s The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You I will be loading my Kindle with some variety also, due to my fear of running out of reading material, or not being interested in what I pick.
Pondering: All the podcasts. There was so much in each. I am thankful that Krista Tippett includes a transcript because I was tempted to pull the car over to write down some of the ideas and quotes that were mentioned. Here is a sampling of the ones that caught my attention.
From the Greg Boyle interview:
Bertrand Russell or somebody, said, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.”
…it’s about being in companionship with Jesus. And St. Ignatius, in his spiritual exercises, has a meditation called “The Two Standards.” And in it he says, very simply, “See Jesus standing in the lowly place.” It’s not about saluting a set of beliefs, necessarily; it’s about walking with Jesus and being a companion.
So how can we seek a compassion that can stand in awe at what people have to carry, rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it? And I think that’s sort of the key here.
so you’re trying to imitate the kind of God you believe in. You want to move away from whatever is tiny-spirited and judgmental, as I mentioned, but you want to be as spacious as you can be, that you can have room for stuff. And love is all there is, and love is all you are, and you want people to recognize the truth of who they are, that they’re exactly what God had in mind when God made them.
Marilynne Robinson and Marcelo Gleiser:
Symmetry may have its appeal, but it is inherently stale: Some kind of imbalance is behind every transformation. -Gleiser
This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it. -Robinson
It’s the asking of the question that is the mystery, not so much how you find the ways to answer it. -Gleiser
Te-Nehisi Coates: (this interview has many thoughts to be pondered as they were expressed, but not too many quotable quotes… still much to ponder that is not easily bite size)
I’m saying, as a way to answer your question: That is just another way of saying that from 1619 to 1865, it was legal to torture black people. It just was. It just was. That period is, in fact, longer than the period of freedom. And for 100 years after that, it was basically legal to lynch black people. That was fine. That was accepted. And in the period after that, it is now basically legal for someone with a badge, if they feel afraid, to kill you.
That compiles. It compiles over time. It has effects. And so the notion that you can just dance your way — that’s not gonna happen. That’s not gonna happen. If it took this long to get into this, it’s worth asking yourself how long it’s going to take to get out of it.
There’s a whole theory around pain that says that chronic pain isn’t really something wrong with you; it’s just, the chemicals in your brain haven’t been set to the right levels.
If you boil down what your brain does to a single idea — this is fundamentally what a brain is, based on artificial intelligence going back 50 years: It is a prediction machine. Everything your brain does, it takes the past, it applies it to the present to predict the future. And it does it in small ways — it’s basically creating a map of how the world works, based on the experiences that happen to it.
Vance also talks about the “theater” or storytelling that goes along with administering pills or meeting with the doctor… more of metaphors and storytelling. What story are we telling ourselves? Who are we letting set the narrative? Coates talked about the narrative that he had believed and how going to Howard helped him to see a bigger story. His research has helped him to see the underlying narrative of our fallenness. (My words not his) I feel like all these podcasts go along well with remembering Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” and how God knew we needed to renew our minds daily. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 We are set to resonate with story and we need to tune into the truest story or we will not have the peace and joy we desire because there will be a constant shifting of our story and comfort if it is based on circumstance and people because that narratives changes all the time.
Learning: I continue to learn and re-learn the art of being present. Embracing today, this moment, this person in front of me. There continues to be much that rails against that to distract my mind and heart. For me it is a very conscious decision to be fully present to this moment God has placed me in. It is very tempting to run ahead either in fear of the future or in escape of the present moment. Much to learn in this area. I appreciated another section of the interview with Greg Boyle where he shares the mantra of the ancient desert fathers and mothers,
whenever the desert fathers and mothers would get absolutely despondent and didn’t know how they were going to put one foot in front of the next, they had this mantra. And the mantra wasn’t “God,” and the word wasn’t “Jesus,” but the word was “today.” And that that’s sort of the key. There’s a play off-Broadway right now, called Now. Here. This. And that’s kind of my — that’s become my mantra. I’m big on mantras. So when I’m walking, or before a kid comes into my office, I always say, “Now. Here. This. Now. Here. This” so that I’ll be present and right here to the person in front of me.
So simple and yet so complex. Layers upon layers of learning to gain, but thankfully I am also learning how to keep company with the one who modelled this beautifully in the midst of a demanding life, Jesus. He promises to teach me.
Home Life: Craziness, we are sorting, storing, moving, swapping stuff out as we are moving my first born’s apartment into our house since he will be living in a studio on the opposite side of the country. He is taking just the basics. So much cleaning and organizing is happening. While this is going on the trustees have decided to bless us with a repaired and updated bathroom while we are away. Which is exciting but also demands choices and extra cleaning ahead of time. So very busy, but looking forward to all the home changes and improvements as we re-organize and purge.
Fitness and Mental Health: Same: Still doing Pilates not daily but often. I would like to get some schlogging in there, or figure out some sort of cardio, but I am sticking with the something is better than nothing mentality. Mental Health: Leaving the Christmas lights up makes me happy, Vanilla candle burning is so soothing, reading and choosing to be present each day when it is very tempting to run ahead.
Giving Thanks: Subbing, love the kids. They crack me up and challenge me to think and love deeper, time with my older getting his apartment closed down, but getting to have some fun in that, for the fun travel cup he got me from our favorite crepe place, My younger’s ability to organize and focus, he has been so helpful in the house re-organization, for the kind people at the apartment complex in NY and the ones we have connected with in Seattle, for prayers of friends, for a bonus few moments with a friend, for future plans with another friend, for plans and life coming together as we are trying to help our son with a major life transition, books, people who truly live as Christ, for people that are honest and real