Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cyclone Aila

"Cyclone Aila tore into the southwestern coast of Bangladesh on Monday, wreaking havoc in ten coastal districts and killing more than 150 people. BRAC staff have been working around the clock since before the cyclone hit to evacuate people and immediately launched relief efforts. The storm, with tidal waves caused by winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (Reuters), has rendered hundreds of thousands marooned homeless, and many are still missing."



Monday, May 25, 2009

Red flags and crazy cardinals

We all struggle, so I guess I shouldn't launch (immediately) into rescue mode when I sense that someone else is having a hard time spiritually or just searching. I should kind of feel out the situation and pray. I found this library book in my house after I got home on Saturday:

The Power of Soul: The Way to Heal, Rejuvenate, Transform, and Enlighten All Life (Soul Power Series)
In the twentieth century, mind over matter was emphasized. In the twenty-first century, soul over matter will transform all life.
The Power of Soul reveals divine soul secrets, wisdom, knowledge, and practices to transform the consciousness of humanity and all souls, and enlighten them in order to create love, peace, and harmony for humanity, Mother Earth, and all universes.
The Power of Soul teaches soul healing, soul prevention of sickness, soul rejuvenation, soul transformation of every aspect of life (including relationships and finances), and soul enlightenment. It offers you practical soul treasures to empower you to apply all of these teachings. This is the divine direction for the fifteen-thousand-year Soul Light Era, which started on August 8, 2003.
The Power of Soul is the leading authority for Dr. Sha's entire Soul Power book series. The divine soul secrets, wisdom, knowledge, and practices in this book will lead humanity and all souls to the universe of soul over matter. This book shows humanity and all souls the way to heal, rejuvenate, transform, and enlighten all life.

Whoa, whoa, whoa

So if I'd read this two years ago, even a year and a half ago, I wouldn't have been as unsettled to have this book in my house as I am now. Coming back from a retreat where my own faith was pounded and extruded a few different ways, I'm convinced of the need to swear by the cross and by Christ's sacrifice, even if I'm not quite at the point where I'm actually, you know, doing that. My mom's been borrowing books from the library on Buddhism and spirituality for years. I think she's been looking for concrete principles, something to reaffirm her, something to give her direction, something to hold onto. Something that sounds true and virtuous and will give her new purpose for living. It's never struck me that the places and texts she sought for answers might be leading her further astray, or that her mind and heart might be in urgent need of love and intervention. Not even intervention. Just someone to listen to her thoughts. Someone to walk with her and a human voice to say, You know, God's walking with you everyday.

I was really bad about reading my Bible during Finals Week. Unguided, erratic, . . . unfocused. One thing I became convinced of last week was the authority of Scripture and how if you let it heal you, if you believe that it is true, it can accomplish amazing, uplifting things for your outlook and your approach to life. The opposite also shows when you let your self-discipline slide. I'd become distanced and damaged - and was surprised and hurt by it, all self-inflicted - and I'm still dealing with the consequences. But the ways we confuse ourselves and the times we walk away don't stop God from working. It didn't stop Jesus from loving and it didn't stop Him giving up a beautiful life just so we could stand closer to God.

Mom, it's all in the Bible. Look there. Be renewed.

And, well, I guess there's also this: My mom bought "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper. (If that's not a red flag, I must be color blind.) We read this in Cell Group this year. Great book based on sound theology and written with a good amount of self-examination - well, maybe that's to be expected from the title. I have no idea anymore where my mom is spritually and whether or not the Scripture references or sometimes-"Christianese" will speak to her, but I pray that it'll beckon her heart and open her mind to something more solid than "Soul Power."

Which - okay, this is for a separate post, but - makes me pause and "tsk tsk" myself because I need to learn how to grow in my faith while being tolerant of other people's beliefs. Love others without necessarily loving their lifestyles. I don't know how to do that. Okay, that's Not true, but I think it's becoming increasingly difficult for me, as well as negotiating the point at which I try to talk about spiritual things. Maybe it shouldn't be a switch, like "On/Off," but a natural outpouring, honest and up front about faith from the start. Gee, I've heard that a lot before.

This makes me think of something I mulled over with friends last week, "needing to do stuff" and feeling obligated to grow yourself a certain way, like you're a botanist grafting and hacking at your own messed up tree of life, and when you're unhappy with the way it looks, disciplining the branches into shapes, one way or another. Sigh.

My family bought a bird feeder about a month ago, so now we spend half our meals watching for birds and commenting on the wildlife flying outside our bay window. My sister said there's cardinal who comes back to the window repeatedly and hovers outside our kitchen, like he'll run into the window sometimes and then he'll do it again a day later. She says she's pretty sure it's the same bird and she thinks he remembers the window's there. And she says he's a crazy cardinal. I said, Let's name it. I chose "Richelieu," nickname Richie, for the backseat driver to the French monarchy, trusted advisor while France had a child king - Crazy! But I've just looked up Cardinal Richelieu on Wikipedia, and he doesn't seem as crazy as I remembered.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"This I Believe"

I'm excited about our RA summer reading! It's called This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. I just picked it up from Angie (Housefellow) at SDO and it looks really good. I skimmed the table of contents and people's essays look kind of quirky but truthful, and that should be cool and thought-provoking. Then I randomly opened to something by William F. Buckley, Jr., who's been on my reading list for the last year (, and his piece is on something very dear to me, "How is it Possible to Believe in God?" I can't wait to see what else people have written about and size up their beliefs next to my own, and am definitely going to try to read with an open mind, with my own beliefs ready to be shaped.

It'd be cool to do this with residents, someone talked about "six-word memoirs," asking people to summarize something very important to them (like a principle or guiding piece of wisdom or something they learned from an experience) and maybe put it on their doors, then get together in small groups and share stories.

Yes, I have something to read on the way to Michigan!

Okay so I wasn't kidding about wanting to learn Hindi, and it turns out my library back home has Hindi language CDs! I'm going to spend a lot of time driving back and forth from work this summer, so I decided I want to do something with it, either invest in good music or maybe learn a language (a couple people have also suggested books on tape, which could be cool). The library has the Pimsleur Language Program CDs, which I just looked up, and the reviews for Hindi aren't so hot, but maybe I'll at least be able to translate "Jai Ho" for you!

Ooh I could also spend the time praying.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rock candy's melted, only diamonds now remain

I can't wait to go home.

I needed something beautiful to look at, so I started looking at family photos and vacation pictures.

I don't even know if we're going on vacation this year. I don't even know if I'll be able to go if we do.

But I can't wait. Summer at home. I feel so at peace just thinking about it. And excited, but right now, just serene.

I feel rooted in time, somehow. The last wave of stress has ebbed away and now I'm just here, neither looking backward at something unchangeable nor peering into the future at things to be done, sitting on the shore and not moving. I'm just basking in the idea of my sunny Maryland summer and memories of my family hanging out together. I love them. I love the four of them as individuals, but I love spending time with all of them at once. My dad plays jokes on my siblings and my mom makes the room light up when she's having a good day. My sister and I sing songs at dinner and my brother and me do voice impressions. We're kind of quirky when we're around each other, but interdependent and mostly functional. I'm idealistic and think we're better when we're together. And even though we change and learn and grow over time, God makes a way for us to still relate to one another and want to support each other. It's incredible and makes me smile.

Friday, May 8, 2009

relational evangelism

"i carry your heart with me"

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A risk, a chance, an opportunity for adventure

There's no better time than the present. If there's something you've been meaning to do or dreaming to do, go for it!