Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year-end thoughts

As a writer (in my own way), I can’t help but try and put some year-end thoughts down on paper. This year could write a book by itself. I’ve traveled more than 30 thousand miles in my little yellow beetle, and if only I could quantify the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual journeys 2008 has taken me on, I’m sure it would amount to a number greater than the miles my odometer states in my car.
I’ve attempted several times to write something about this past year. As I am rarely brief and short winded, the endeavor has often led into a haphazard rambling mess. So to keep it readable, I’m just going to go for a few lessons learned.

On Passion

Passion is unpredictable, and can lead you to many different places, it can be volatile, jealous, and self-seeking, yet God given. It must be held in an open palm, but not let loose. Somewhere in 2008, I realized I had neglected my passion. In an effort to remember what it was I found myself driving across the country to spend another summer in eastern Michigan. It wasn’t until the end of the summer on a road trip where I found myself in Atlanta, GA that I reclaimed that passion and found the peace to come back home to San Francisco.

On Faith

Faith is yet another intangible that is more easily misplaced than expected. I spent a greater part of the year nursing the wounds that can sadly come with sharing faith in a community. While God is unchanging, people do not have that privilege. Even though I left my church, I can thankfully say I did not leave God. Unfortunately, bitterness settled into my wounds, and my relationship with God and the church as a whole suffered. There came a dark moment that scared the beejeezees out of me, when I realized that losing faith and my relationship with God wasn’t about leaping off the deep end, but rather small quiet steps. Thankfully the end of 2008 saw more steps towards God than away. My bitterness has edged off (I’m not very good at holding grudges for too long), and I’m reclaiming my faith.

On People

People come in and out of our lives. They just do. Sometimes, for better or for worse, people leave when you least expect them to. Other times, people stay when you wish they would just go away. And again, other times you get to do the coming and going. I did a lot of coming and going this year. So, in this moment I’m going to apologize to those who I left. There are a few people I couldn’t have made it through some painful times without, and I don’t think I took nearly enough time in letting them know how much they meant to me. Thank you for being there, and I’m sorry if I didn’t let you know at the time. With that said, I could say something similar (perhaps without the apology) for people who have come into my life this year. God does not leave you high and dry. He created us for relationship, so I’m sure it’s no mistake, as some go, others come.

I think that’s as brief as I can get for 2008. I’m looking forward to 2009 – the changes, the challenges, the triumphs, and the growth.

I hope everyone has (or had) a safe new years eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

ramblings from your daughter across the ocean

This morning I read a facebook note by a teen that I had the opportunity to work with this summer. Tomorrow, the 23rd is the 11th anniversary of his father's death. 44 years young, just a year younger than my dad currently is. He states, "All I know, is that life is pathetically short." I don't know if this is what finally tipped my need to get in contact with my dad, but it struck something deep. So in honor of the memory of his father, and the memories I don't have with my living father, I wanted to share the email I wrote to my dad.

Hey Dad,

So you've come up a few times in my conversations with friends as of late, so I figured I should drop you a line, and let you know I've been thinking about you. The problem is, every time I get the urge to call or write you, I never really know quite what to say. It's always such a long time between the times that we communicate.
This past Wednesday my friends and I were celebrating Advent and we lit the candle of Joy. A friend of mine asked us to share joyful moments, and beyond small moments of joy for the week, I though of the first visit I had back to England when I was 15. It was such a difficult trip, emotionally. I was so angry at how poorly our relationship had been for the first 7 years I'd been living in the states, and I really wanted some resolution. From our conversations over the weeks that I was there, I gained a sense of anticipatory joy. Maybe not joy in the moment, but the hope of future joy in a possible relationship with my dad. I realized as I shared that story with my friends on Wednesday, that some of that hope and joy had fizzled out. We are so horrible and keeping up with each other, and honestly, I don't know what a relationship with you looks like. I feel like the whole father-daughter relationship that kids expect is unrealistic for us to have. Then again, the whole grown child and father relationship doesn't work well for us either, because I don't really know you. Again, neither of us are really good at keeping up with each other.
Sorry if this is completely out of left field (baseball terminology), but I thought I should share my feelings with you... since, well... you're the other party involved. With all of that said, I thought it might make sense to let you know what's going on in my little piece of the world. So here goes...

The next two pages consisted of a long rambled monologue of my current life in San Francisco, which I will spare those who end up reading this.

Life, on this earth feels "pathetically short" sometimes. There are days that I don't want to face the broken relationships that exist in my reachable reality. However, there are days, and people that remind me of the preciousness of life and no mater how messy relationships get, God created us to be in them. Yesterday, we lit the fourth candle of Advent symbolizing love. Hope, peace, joy and love for the coming celebration of the birth of Christ.

It is in this very moment, that I'm starting to grasp onto an idea of what the Christmas season could possibly mean. While I push against what Christmas has become, and the strangeness of all our many traditions. It pulls deeply on my soul that celebrating the birth (even though it's not really at the right time) of an unsuspecting saviour that didn't quite fit the idea of the Messiah in that time, is a powerful and sacred thing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What's your focus?

“In my thinking, church doesn’t exist for the benefit of its members. It exists to equip it’s members for the benefit of the world.”

-Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian

This quote might just incapsulate my greatest struggle with the church right now. Sadly, it is not my only frustration – but a big one. The thing is, how is this measured? Can one church equip one person and not another?