Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Disruption of Hospitality.

This weekend, I hopped in a van with some friends and drove to Milwaukee. I caught a ride from them after I overheard them talking about going home for the weekend, and decided to visit some friends in the area. The road trip was filled with laughter, sleeping, and conversations about the importance of Outkast and the evolution of music, according to our lives.

After being dropped off in downtown Milwaukee, my dear friend picked me up on a curb, and took me to one of the cutest coffee shops I have ever been to, filled with a lovely staff, organic scones, and incredibly appealing light fixtures. After having a wonderful and refreshing conversation, I was dropped off at another friends house for the rest of the weekend.

Now, this house isn't really like others. There is a certain warmness about this place that I will never be able to fully articulate. Upon entering, you are hit with a rush of love and joy that fill every corner of the home. The house is located on a small lake, that sometimes looks impossibly still. There is a handmade pier that juts out into the lake, submerging you in it's beauty. The house is framed in trees, but the sun always seems to make it's way through at all the right times. I was staying in a room with 5 windows all pointed towards the lake. It's the closest thing to sleeping outside, without sleeping outside. Laying in my bed, I couldn't help but notice the tree branches stretching towards that sky, and the majesty of the stars perfectly placed between them. I was exhausted, but fighting to stay awake for the sake of keeping my eyes open just a little bit longer.

The thing that gives this home the most beauty, however, is the family that lives in it. This family loves the way Jesus did. They understand what it means to be hospitable in the name of the Lord, which is the most beautiful kind. They all love God in a unique and real way that is so encouraging to witness. I see Jesus in the way they are as individuals, and as a working family unit. They have an indubitable understanding of the character of God, and live their lives accordingly. This family has been through a kind of suffering that I can't understand, and wouldn't know if I could bear, but they love so loudly throughout it all. Spending time with them this weekend completely shattered this "college routine" that I had gotten so stuck in since being at Taylor. They reminded me what it was like to have a living and breathing relationship with God.

They disrupted my life in the best possible way.

This idea of "disruption" came from a church service that I attended this morning with this family. He was talking about the importance of open-mindedness and the danger of becoming black and white with our framework of reality. The whole service, I sat there as each word went into my ear and straight down to my heart.

The word "disruption" I feel has a connotation of something that happens suddenly, without warning, and often, annoying. It almost makes it seems that disruptions are an inevitable force of nature.

I would like to suggest, however, that we must seek disruption in our lives.

Capernwray completely shattered my ideas of myself, my relationship with God, and Christianity as whole. This was the best thing that ever happened to me, and while I was going through it, I kept think that this was the one time in my life that I would be broken, and that my new ideas from the lectures and fellow students would stay forever. I have come to realize, however, that keeping the things I learned at Capernwray is a daily effort that I most actively be watering and nurturing.

I need to understand what it means to seek disruption for the sake of growth.

Let us not be controlled by our routine and become comfortable.

Let us be disrupted, and let us be the ones to disrupt.

and, let us do it for His sake, with His grace.

Now, please, go on an adventure, and ruin your routine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Minimums for Maximums.

College, so far, is hectic balancing act of social interactions, extra curricular activities, new people, and, yes, of course, academia. I am taking quite an easy schedule this semester, which is nice. I get to do a lot of things that I wouldn't normally be able to do, and get really plugged into the community that defines Taylor. It's great. I've already had some really wonderful experiences, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Now, I'm not sure if you are aware, but at college, I am required to take classes with other human beings. This means that learning takes place not only through the knowledge of professors and the text that we study, but also from the input of other classmates that have, sometimes, very strong opinions. It's so important to learn from one another. What a poem means to one person, means something entirely different to another. True learning only takes place within a community. Ya know, the whole iron sharpens iron thing.

Something that I have seen in every classroom, however, is a group of people that simply want to get things done. They want the grade, they want the teacher to think they are intelligent, and they want to do it in a way that requires the least amount of work. They are building a beautiful home with all the decorations and furnishings of a perfect student, but they are building it on sand. Efficiency becomes the most important thing, and excellence isn't even considered. I just participated in a class that was student-led. The professor wasn't there, a college kids dream, right? But we were left with specific instructions of what to do. The assignment was fairly simple, something we could've gotten done in half the class time. Instead, we just schemed and made-up brilliant ways to make it look like we did what was assigned to us. We were planning these mistaken impressions, while, every five minutes the cliche kid in the corner chimed in with a banal, "Can't we just... leave?"

Now, I am avid user of sparknotes, and don't always things get done by their due date, but I also have a hunger for knowledge, and a responsibility of excellence. "Blah blah blah education is power. Blah blah blah education is a gift." I realize that I'm being painfully cliche here, and, if you have any experience in an educational facility, you've been told not to take advantage of your education. But all of these people are aware of that. They are just lazy, and they work hard at being lazy. Ironic, huh?

I want to embrace the quality of being outstanding, and apply it to everything I do.

Because of the love of God, I am already set apart.. so why don't I start acting like it?

We need to understand that the result of a situation is not what we're working for. It's the journey that gets us there. It's the long hours in the night when we only have one more page to go, it's the proofreading, it's the re-reading, it's riding our bike instead of taking our cars, and it's cooking a meal instead of grabbing something to go.

We are all excellent creatures.

So, friends, let's get off of the lift, and hike up the mountain.
See you kids at the top.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Recital of Events.

I've been working on a new blog for awhile now, and today, when I came back to work on it some more, I read it... changed some things... read it again... and then deleted it.

Today, I was reminded of why it is that I love to write.
I just want to tell a story. A story of significance. A story of honesty.
I want to be able to string together my day to day beings, struggles, and interactions in an eloquent way. And when all of these anecdotes make their long journey to articulation, I pray that they will point somewhere else entirely. I pray that they would point to the One who is really stringing all these things together.

I want to help someone. Not for the sake of myself, but for the sake of my God.

I am just so wildly in love with the stories of these other beings that are living around me. When I see someone, I just wonder who they are. Why they are where they are. Everyone is a story. A beautiful one.

We are stories of redemption, of adventure, of heartache, of epic success, and epic failure. Stories of love, of loss, of friendships, and of music.

The greatest things I've learned about life, love, and other mysteries (Point of Grace reference?- Absolutely.), have been from the stories of other people. Honest ones. Honesty, I believe, is the greatest teacher. It's when we all step down from our pedestals, and we realize that we are so fortunate to be creatures that experience grace. It's when we let our human struggles show, for the sake of the representation of the goodness of God. The sharing of stories is so important. Really.

It's just the brave ones who choose to write it down.

Today, this is my story:

God is good, and today I was reminded in so many different ways. Through the Swell Season's album Strict Joy (this album is beautiful in 100 different ways, it makes your heart speed up, and slow down, and gives you goosebumps at all the right times. These heartbreaking lyrics will remind you how to feel.), the smile of a familiar face, the inspiration of an unexpected conversation with an acquaintance, the keys of the piano, and the perfect breeze slightly blowing across campus.

Somedays, nothing can make you feel more alive than the wind kissing your cheeks and dancing across your eyelids.

So, my honest friends, go and live.
and may the story of your life burn brightly as you go.

(and also listen to Strict Joy. I promise you won't regret it.)