Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Daily Sacraments

I'm reading a book right now by Anne Lamott entitled Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. The book is a memoir, but it's also helpful to think of it like a book of sermon illustrations. In each chapter (which are very short), Anne shares from her life and then reflects on that experience in such a way as to provide insight into who God is and what He desires of her. The remarkable thing about this book is that her experiences are so diverse. She's experienced, abortion, heart break, redemption, hope, devastation, loss, single parenthood, abuse, travel, and that's only in the first half. It's also remarkable because it's written so authentically. Often, these 'connections' to God from personal experience leave me thinking, "I think you're trying just a little bit too hard." When Anne writes, I feel that she is actually in the moment experiencing an encounter with people but simultaneously experiencing an encounter with God. It's not that she has a good story to tell, and then racks her brain trying to come up with a way to have that experience say something about God. Rather, the center of her reality has shifted in such a way that every encounter is an opportunity to see God reveal who He is. And, as I was thinking about this, I was thinking I would love to experience reality in such a way.

Here is my first attempt to do so as I'm thinking about today: Thanks be to God that I had a perfect reunion with a cousin that I have had little interaction with in the past eight years. Thanks be to God that my brothers and I were able to stand side by side in a portrait studio, accidentally wearing the same color pallet, and somehow have our style and posture be a reflection of where we all currently stand in life. Thanks be to God that I am still healing from a broken relationship with a father, but that my community of faith lifts me up. Thanks be to God for laughter, and luke warm food, and reminiscing about movies, and building new friendships, and talking too much, and emails, and silliness, and discovering the need to mature, and saying good bye. I'm no Anne Lamott and I doubt that I would be able to reflect on my life with as much poetry as she is able, but these moments are sacraments. They are moments where ordinary elements are made extraordinary because of how God is working and I hope that soon I will be able to recognize these moments as sacraments, not just in retrospect, but as they occur. Each day is bursting forth with God's revelation of the sacramental nature of reality and I don't want to miss it. I want to slow down, breathe deep, and jump in so as to experience a different view of reality that in actuality is the only REAL reality that exists.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sweetness

Okay...it's true confessions time. It is very important to me that I be considered a funny person. I want my friends, family, strangers, acquaintances, boys I think are cute, co-workers, people older than me...EVERYONE to think I am funny. Most of the time I would consider myself to be pretty self-confident, but there are many moments when I feel my 'healthy self-image' meter start to malfunction. I forget all of the messages I've heard from others and told to others about their value as a human being and the way they were created in God's image. I start to fear that I am going to be forgotten. I worry that if I stop talking, stop making jokes, and just sit quietly that there will be nothing that distinguishes me from everyone else. It's a problem, I'm aware, but I'm working on it.

The point is, that my humor is what I use to become the shining star. And often it is dry, biting, and cutting. It would be too easy to label it as merely 'sarcastic' as often my sarcasm crosses a line. I was thinking today about two middle school students and a high school student I had some interaction with on Sunday. In my interaction with them I was unnecessarily silly, commenting about awkward things they said, behaviors, etc., and now that I think about it, I know they weren't completely comfortable. In fact, they might have thought I was being mean to them. And as I was thinking about this I concluded that "I need more sweetness in my life." That was who I used to be. I used to be the sweet girl, but in my quest to prove that I was worthy of being remembered, I traded in sweetness for sour.

My friend Karen and I will be moving in together shortly, and I am so thankful, because she makes me a sweeter person. We don't know each other incredibly well, but we laugh easily when we're together, and it's never at the expense of others. I'm not depending my life on her 're-sweetening' me or anything like that, but I'm thankful that on the same day I came to the conclusion about how I need to treat people that I realized my soon to be roommate will be challenging me, without even realizing it, to live a different way. One of those perfect moments of serendipity. So bring on the sweetness! I'm ready to remember who I am, and have people remember me for a reason other than my ability to throw down a quip.