Monday, January 25, 2010

::wright wisdom

Elizabeth Ruhlen, May 2009

Remember the ballerina, who, when asked to explain what her dance meant, replied, "If I could have said it, I would not have needed to dance it."

~Bishop N.T. Wright

Sunday, January 24, 2010

::r u txting?

I am a frequent text-er (-or?).

I am not entirely proud of this, but it's a fact.
My brother Joshua, who is in charge of our family's cellular plan and actually bears witness to the number of texts I send and receive each month, has been known to refer to me as "Textzilla."

I try not to plan New Year's Resolutions in the traditional sense, because my track record of actually clinging to them is spotty at best.
But one thing I did decide this year is, I would love to spend more time ignoring my cell phone.

For me, there is nothing richer than being in the actual physical presence of the ones I love, beholding their precious facial expressions, bodily gestures, subtle nonverbal cues that tell me more than spoken words - or words displayed on a screen - could ever express.

In texting, Instant Messages, Facebook comments, e-mails, etc., some of us try to configure colons, semicolons, dashes, and parentheses into feeble hints of emotive expression.
I suppose we figure that any attempt at conveying tone is better than none.

But typing words onto any-sized screen, while it is convenient, handy, necessary and even fun sometimes, will never even scratch the surface of the joy and satisfaction held by flesh-and-blood interaction.
If I love you, I want to see you.
I want to give you a warm, joyful hug, sit beside you, see your smile, hear your voice, watch your face as you tell me all about the nuances and details of who you are.

Call me old-fashioned if you wish.
And yes, even if you do so via text, I will appreciate the irony.
I may even "lol."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

::la mort

Having experienced several instances of grief in my life, it has become a familiar experience, though never a welcome guest.

This month, I have lost two significant women whose etchings upon my soul are immeasurable.

After losing a close friend to a severe asthma attack at the tender age of 11, I learned very early on that death would be a part of life.
I am not uncomfortable discussing it, referencing it, or even joking about it.
I do not become visibly anxious and agitated when the subject is broached.
I do not dismiss it with complaints about the conversation having turned "too morbid."

The more I think about death, the more I feel convinced that one of the reason why it causes us such pain, discomfort and anxiety is because we have no control over it.
Because of technological advancements and human discoveries, we are able to postpone it, delay it, straddle its boundaries, and even invite it, if we wish.
But ultimately, it remains immune to our manipulations.
We will die, the people we love will die, and we are powerless to prevent it.

In the face of such sobering realities, it's no wonder that we feel so heavy-hearted when death brushes against us.
Having grown up in the Christian tradition, I know very well that God is sovereign over all facets of life, even death.
I'm well aware that the Bible says "we do not mourn as those who have no hope."

But the fact remains, we do mourn.
There is no escaping that disturbing fact.

The last thing I ever wish to sound like is a cliched idealist.
But I do believe there are things we can control that may offer comfort in the face of death's unavoidable encroachment.
We can choose to be kind, empathetic, and patient with one another.
We can resolve conflicts with humble, contrite communication.
We can make concerted efforts to ensure that those we love are fully aware of our concern and compassion for them.

When I was sixteen, I went to Pittsburgh for a short-term mission trip, fixing up houses for low-income families with The Pittsburgh Project.
Our leader and teacher, Saleem Ghubril, instructed us, "Think about what you want people to say about you at your funeral."

I still think about that.
Every day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

::peace and rest

Last week, a significant mentor of mine passed away.
Mary Alice Lacey.

[Mary Alice with her grand-niece, Andrea; photo courtesy of Kim Lacey]

At the church I grew up attending, she was my Sunday School teacher.
She was 89 when she passed, and for 71 of those years, she taught Sunday School.
So, I believe it's beyond fair to say that thousands of children were blessed by her humble, sprightly spirit.

At her funeral on Saturday, more than 200 people gathered to mourn her passing.
But since she was so gracious, and craved neither credit nor fanfare, her funeral wishes specified that she did not want any attendees to stand up and talk about her.

When I was eight years old, she asked me to write and perform a "Tribute to Mothers" for a Mother's Day celebration in our Sunday School Department.
I have never forgotten the way I felt when she requested this of me.
She believed in me.
She trusted me.
She actually took me seriously.
She awarded me the dignity of a legitimate, gifted human being, rather than nonsensically dismissing me as a foolish child.
I suspect there are thousands who could (and should) tell similar stories of her immeasurable impact upon their young souls.

When I ponder the passionate commitment that she constantly exhibited, I am reminded of these words, spoken by Jesus Christ in Luke chapter 18:

Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

These words, I suspect, were engraved upon her very soul.


Related Posts with Thumbnails