The little things are the big things…

I hunger for big things: the grand romantic gesture, the one time blazing act of martyrdom, the finished marathon, the diploma in hand, the wedding vows stated in front of all.  I wanted to save the world.  (And if I’m being honest, I still do.)

I read of the violence in the Central African Republic, the discplaced in refugee camps all around Syria, the trafficked, the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable.  I hear the stories of the immigrants who have come to this country in search of a better life, and the children of those immigrants who have braved deserts and rivers and violence and death in search of their families.

I see the brokenness, and I want to fix it – to be the hero – to solve the problem – to make it better, in one grand gesture – in one quick fix.

But I know my smallness – and also have come to know that, if I’m honest, I’m not that special.  I’m not the smartest, or the hardest working, or the most creative.  I’m not the most loving, or the most disciplined, or the most faithful.  I’m above average in some ways, below average in others – mediocre in more ways than I care to admit.

And that is OK.  (At least they say it is…  sometimes I believe it.  But more often than not, I don’t.)

—–

I’ve heard this before.  I’ve known this at times.  But I forget.  I learn, and forget.  I remember, then forget.  I see the stories, feel the need, taste the darkness, and all too easily become overwhelmed.  It hurts too much to care about this beautiful, broken, frozen frozen world.  It disappoints you.  People let you down.  They are broken, but it can feel like a betrayal.  I let myself down.  I am broken too, but it can feel like a betrayal.

To open ones heart to the world is to let it thaw – to open oneself to pain.  And all too often this past semester I have chosen the easy way – the lazy way – of sitting, of withdrawing, of sleeping.  Of shutting out, of building walls, of numbing.

I noticed, but waited for something to change – for some epiphany to strike, for something to happen that would result in change and redemption and newness and hope.

These last weeks, I’ve been thinking though…

I’ve been thinking about decisions, and hope.

I’ve been thinking about faithfulness, and about small steps.

I’ve been pondering what it would look like to be living a life that is abundant.

I’ve been pondering what it looks like to live fully, richly, in ways that open myself up to the present – to possibility – to the risk of rejection – the risk of failure…

To remind myself that living courageously is sometimes not a matter of standing in front of the tanks or lying to the SS, but sometimes it is to step into possibility knowing it may not work out.  Sometimes, it is to risk that rejection one again, even if you don’t think you could survive.  Sometimes, it is to risk failure, even if you have failed time and time again, and you think that one more failure will destroy you.

Sometimes, that is courage.  Sometimes, that is what living faithfully looks like.

And sometimes, it is putting on layers and going down to the lake and running through the ice and snow.  Sometimes, it is building a fire and connecting with your roommate and picking up the guitar that you haven’t touched in months and playing until your fingers ache.  Sometimes, it is making that phone call, writing that email, praying the examen and really listening to your heart.  Sometimes, it is a posture of gratitude, and doing what needs to be done today, even if you did it yesterday, and even if you’ll have to do it again tomorrow.

And sometimes, that one small act really is the grand gesture – the simple act of beauty that will save the world.

 

The games we play

Sitting on the freeway this morning: barely moving, ominous clouds rolling in, lightning skipping between clouds in the distance and thunder rumbling in your core.  Late for class, and we’re not moving because of the rain.  Impatience.

And then this:

Games Part 3: On the Winning Side by Radiolab

(it’s all good, but the juicy goodness starts at 15:27)

—–

Yes…

(Dang it NPR.  Why do you always make me cry…)

New favorites

The last two months have felt like trying to ride a bike on a treadmill – fun, but you just know it’s going to end badly.  Lots of stuff on my plate as I transition slowly from and to: complicated (in good ways) by beginning school again, work, and the delightful visit of my favorite Korean speaking sister (which included bike rides through the woods, visits to the apple orchard, road trips to Indiana, Peruvian food in Chicago, and lots of laughter and good conversation.)  But in light of all that (plus a few other things here and there), I haven’t made time to write.  But here’s the deal…  I want to.  I need to practice gratitude – search for beauty in my daily life – and live intentionally – and writing here helps me do that.  So, in light of all that, here’s a few things I have been delighting in about this transition:

– fascinating classes, exploring family dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and delving into theories of the mind…  challenging both my mind, heart, and spirit.  I’m loving it.

– four fun guys to share a home with – an oasis (and occasional place of celebration) in the middle of the city and the busyness.

– runs down by the lake, enjoying the play of colors on the water, the way the city looks like a different place depending on whether it’s a gray rainy morning, a blustery fall afternoon, a crystalline sunset, or the contrast of city lights shining in the darkness – the interplay of light and shadow…

– a cohort of solid, passionate, compassionate students who are learning with me.

– the gift of being with people who know you and know you well, even if it’s unexpected and short.  Spent a weekend w/ Liz and Car – we’ve been present in each other’s lives for over 20 years, and sharing a plate of ceviche and lomo saltado while savoring a pisco sour just made it that much sweeter.

– glimmers of community, belonging, rootedness, worship, and a place of service that I’m VERY excited about.

– reminders of beauty, hope, adventure, laughter, community, creativity, and play, such as this video by Ben Howard:

 

 

– near daily reminders and challenges (both in class and out of class) to take risks, to engage, to move forward, to enter into relationship and life with others, and not simply be content with safety and comfort…

Today in class, we talked about C.S. Lewis (in The Four Loves), who says:

          “To love at all is to be vulnerable.  love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung, and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Sobering words, as I ask myself, what do I really want?  Comfort?  Safety?  Normalcy?  Complacency?

Or do I want risk?  Adventure?  Movement?  Growth?  Discomfort?  Failure?  A life lived for others?  Giant slip-and-slides down mountains?

Yes.

I’m thankful for the big “Yes” that this transition has been so far.  And I’m excited and eager to see what unfolds as I continue to respond “Yes…”