December 30, 2010

sparks

It's one a.m. and I feel very happy. Finally there is time and peace to write, and it blesses me. I love writing, I say, and yet I know I don't blog much. But it's quiet and unbusy and I so much want to write and I am not tired. I wonder about my audience: why I'm writing - is it simply for myself? I think it almost has to be, and yet I might not take time to articulate it if I wasn't thinking of my friends reading this. :D

This thought relates: recently, I've been thinking often about love as faithfulness. How I can look back on the way people have related to me, and see how beautiful is has been, how loving they have been to me. Not because they always bent over backwards to accommodate me, but because they simply loved sincerely, desiring to do right by me and trusting God. Perhaps, the things we say are so full of possibilities and unknowings (I cannot fully anticipate how what I say will be received) that how I love must be based in conscience. Kierkegaardy, I daresay.

This morning when I was thinking about my video today, I thought that much of what I aim to communicate (or rather, what I feel and see to be meaningful) is not an idea or a word, not something captured, but an earnestness, a longing, that is all of what is and how I abide. Wendell Berry, from Hannah Coulter: 
"To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. . . .And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
This reminds me of Butterflies.

Today... I feel like what Liz said, though it wasn't about this day. "today was, just dipping my hands in some water. Not thoroughly drinking it, or absorbing it, but feeling it, and knowing it was real." Today I went to a swing dance party. It brought back memories of the summer, and was a lot of fun.

I have an image in my head of sweeping a floor. You try to be methodical about it, starting out at one side and working towards the other. But you push the broom (it's a large floor and a big broom) in strokes that gather together the dirt, isolating it like an island. That's a bit like what I feel like now and yesterday. I am pulling together fragmented thoughts and experiences and friends from so many different spheres. I want everyone to know that they are part of where I am and how I am and that I think of them all when I look for completion. Last night, at my graduation, there were my family, my neighbors, homeschool group friends, friends from both communication organizations, and my pastor and his wife. So I have this new sensation of feeling as if there isn't such fragmentation anymore. Lord, only let my words be true. . .

Right now I feel like I am both communicating externally and introspecting. It confuses me a little. I think, I like hugs for a similar reason: because they are quiet and wordless, the way I feel, and yet they bring in someone from the outside to where I am.

I am not quite sure why I titled this post "sparks." Possibly - because there are bits of thoughts and memories flying around but instead of being broken and burdened, they are living.

I feel more tired now. I yet wonder what it means to have graduated high school. "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. . ." My dad gave me a wonderful charge speech that I was beaming all throughout.

I spoke about [or meant to speak about - I didn't say it in these words] being of one mind with your parents. Could I write this thought here to seal it? I don't know if I've written about this before on my blog, but I don't think I understood how to trust and love my parents until I saw that my heavenly Father meant my earthly parents to fill a similar role. I wanted to tell the students coming after me not to hide things from parents, and to trust that they want what is best for you. I wanted to tell the parents to see the potential in their children. I talked about "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." There were so many stories I could have expanded upon, but I only barely touched them. But I think I hit most of them.

I talked about surrender and letting go of winning debate rounds and the ability to create. How we must realize that everything good in us is from God, or He will find a way to show us.

And I talked about belonging and community and, I don't know if I captured it completely, but this sense of wholeness in my many friendships. I don't know how to preserve the joy of being with friends and how to belong, except that much of it has to do with where and how you dwell: scattered or secure? I think of Josh Harris's Stop Dating the Church and how the church, the living church, can be the "dearest place on earth." All I can say is, and hesitantly, He keeps me. I am yearning towards my God and that is all I can be sure of about how to be happy. And when I have sorrow, He still keeps me. I will choose joy, I will believe. It is not so important that I stay in a certain mood, knowing that He is all. "High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art."

And this is what my speech was about: seeing already in small experiences the truth that runs throughout all of life. Learning to desire God foremost, and hope in the glorious ending this story I live will have. ". . .that you may know the hope to which you have been called, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. . ." Knowing what I have received, and holding on. Trusting God as my story becomes more faith and less sight. Perhaps - perhaps these years so far have only been an introduction, with character development and foreshadowing, setting the tone for what is to come. And I might anticipate the ending, but I can hardly imagine all the grandness that I will live by to get there, all I will go through to prepare me for an eternal weight of glory.

December 23, 2010

maybe you've noticed how much I love closure

I get to give a senior speech [in three days].
This means so much to me.

December 17, 2010

Communion

For days, I was itching to write, wanting a way out of the bubble in which I was suspended.
There I was, huddled inside, looking out at everything around me. The questions I wanted to answer. The ideas I wanted to understand. The people I wanted to engage. ("Someday I'll understand" is what I think to myself instead of despairing at not being able to speak truly) I could only try pushing my way out of my isolation for so long before I bounced back into the things I did know: the reassurance of responsibilities.

I once heard part of Psalm 68:6 as "God puts the lonely in families." That resonates with me more than my own translation; I think of it often. And it's true, for me at least. . . I love you, family.

Maybe loneliness means missing being known. I think that is what I have been wanting this week, wanting to present myself as I truly am instead of stumbling over words or simply being silent and not responding (this works better over the internet than in person). When I'm deeply moved by something or someone, I think of myself as a house with its door blown open. And what is closure?

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." -1 Cor 13:12

I want to turn from feeling lost, so I seek.

Today in JI Packer's book Knowing God, I read a quote from a John Newton hymn, as if it was God speaking: "These inward trials I employ from self and pride to set thee free; and break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may'st seek thy all in me."

It is good to wait on God. And now to receive - by being able to write this - I realize how everything I have is a gift of God's grace.

December 11, 2010

Loud

I don't like loud.
I like deep rivers in caves
so quiet that
the drip - drop of water
is all that interrupts
the silence.

But sometimes
I want the quick unthinking
car horns and crossing pedestrians,
the bustle of movement
and big thoughts blaring
out of speakers.

I make hasty glances
from side to side
and pressed by the crowd
I rush into the street.
Peddling my trash,
I'm part of the noise now.

But I can't hear a true thing
I know I need to leave.
So I trudge home
to the solitary studio
keep the lights turned off
and listen.

December 6, 2010

I am young
and I have walked through many afters
by the closed doors of not yet
feeling foolish outside those gone before.

I am growing
full out of experience
tall beside my newer friends
and wise to those who follow.

I am measuring
but places shift, unsteady
better to become a child
and dwell outside of time.

December 5, 2010

Lamentation - Andy Warhol

A couple of months ago, The Examined Life featured an article about Andy Warhol's artwork. It made the case that Warhol's artwork does have something to communicate, and is worth examining and learning from. I appreciated the article, and mentally filed away my new knowledge.

Now I've been thinking of concept art for my novel's cover: it's very rough right now, but there are a lot of images to choose from. I found myself thinking back to one of the images the article referenced: a work called "Lamentation."


When I saw first saw this, I made myself study it and try to understand it more deeply. Perhaps it worked a little, since I remembered it, but it didn't transport me.

But this time was different. I started sketching it, with quick strokes for the fabric she has wrapped around her head. And drawing it, I began to feel some of the violence in the lament. The taut cloth contains the force she feels, but see - it forms a sort of triangle around her, with the three points at her elbows and head. It's as if all the pain must be enclosed within her, straining her but so hard to release.

Next I tried to draw her face. There's an angularity in her chin, and I feel like she's turning her head aside as if someone had struck her. I can feel the suffering in her lips, but her eyes aren't clenched in anguish, instead they are quiet and sad. There isn't anger in the curve of her eyelid, only cold grief.

It took three attempts to draw her right hand, the one held closer to her. Her knuckles are hard but the way her hand is held up shows me that the main thrust of her arm is from her elbow. The hand looks like it's closed mostly for balance, firmness. The only thing I can say about her left hand is that it looks more surrendered.

I'm not sure why Warhol chose to outline the woman with lines that look like neon lights, but I like the way they stand out from the picture and add another dimension. And the shadows are fascinating to me - why is the right side brighter than the rest of the background? I would like to say the shadows are well-placed, but Warhol knows more about art than I do, so I'm not sure if my impression means much.

I went on to sketch the wrinkles on her blouse, and they communicate to me her vulnerability, the longing in her chest. Do you know this feeling? - it is very close and sacred, like being touched.

And so all of this is lamentation. I shall remember it.

December 2, 2010

story-telling / writing / acting

Today I was telling a story to my family in the car. I found myself thinking ahead of the words I would say, the same way that I do when I write. Story-telling is interesting, because you have to think how to describe things and deal with dialogue (the different voices of the people you're telling the story about) and I am going to insist on spelling dialogue like that.

Now I'm revising my novel, and I find it enriching and also difficult that I have to understand my characters in order to make their words sound like themselves. Mother Graham is telling a story right now, if that's of any use to you to know. I'm not completely sure how she speaks yet. I ran across this same phenomenon during NaNoWriMo, too, especially in the beginning: the feeling of acting, like interpreting a piece of literature, the bopping back and forth from character to character, channeling their motivations and backgrounds.

I think it would be very cool if I now drew a connection between acting and story-telling, just to make this thought come full circle. Um, acting is a way of communicating a story, though not a real-life one. There we go, that was quick.

I've told quite a few people they can read my novel and I so hope I communicate what I mean to with it! This is not to ask for affirmation but simply to express what I'm thinking. There are just a lot of things I don't know how to do in writing, I've found myself thinking to the characters of Till We Have Faces and the writing style of A Separate Peace and the imagery of George MacDonald's fantasies because I want to know how they did it so well.

Today in Psychology class we talked about how people learn things, and according to Behaviorism (which isn't completely right, but this is the jumping off point for the thought) learning is a fairly permanent change in behavior. Apparently, when someone receives reinforcement for certain behavior, that behavior will be increased, even when the reinforcement is only occasional. Dragging out the interval between reinforcements steadily increases someone's (okay, the example was a pigeon pecking a button) tendency to continue the behavior. Eventually the pigeon will reach a point of "functional autonomy" where they subconsciously think, hey, I like this! I peck the little button not because I get rewarded every 5,000 times (no joke) but because I actually enjoy doing it for it's own sake. Long story short: we work best when we like what we do.

I like doing what I do, mostly. And I try to always do what is the right thing to do at that time, which means trust and patience and stopping things to write poems.

It's kind of relieving to write freely like this.

November 30, 2010

[writing an application]

and it's hard to be, to remember
through all the silent things that happened
but I've lived a different kind of grace
and I can hide away, loved
without the words to prove myself

November 28, 2010

There's a fierce delight, a fearsome pain
in loving someone you may never see again.

November 23, 2010

"when more than was lost has been found"

I would never give you
what you wanted
just because you asked me to.

But now you aren't asking
and I find myself wanting
to give you my gratefulness.

I think this is freedom
to be falling deeply in debt -
there's a love I can never repay.

So we'll owe eternally
but when these loves overlap
the extra comes out as praise.

November 22, 2010

Creativeness

The longing clears my mind,
draws me forward.
Let me out into the living world
fresh flush with the city,
the rush of wind meeting my face.

Today I have an energy to make something, and it's refreshing. This feeling is somewhat of a response to this post, and somewhat of a pleasant swing from feeling very uncreative lately. There's such a vast difference between doing things out of routine and gloomy obligation, and simply expressing the life inside.

I see three reasons for creating. I've moved from the first, the desire to have the making done, to the second, the desire to make. The third is the desire to make for the sake of what is being expressed. This I have not yet reached - I don't know how to climax my novel, I don't know what inspiration I'll find. But I suspect that the idea can sometimes develop through the workings of creating. Something is behind the desire to create, I hope, a story longing to be told. And the advice to the artist is nearly always, show up. Do your work, and the miracle of creation will happen again.

November 14, 2010

a small disaster.

I'm grieving for one of my characters, who just died.

Dorothy Sayers writes of the tension between the sovereignty the maker has to shape the story according to a controlling idea, and the characters' free will to do what their natures necessitate. And in a true story, the characters' natures acting in free will aligns perfectly with the author's idea and message.

But today I realized that Tarvas's character didn't accord with my idea for the book, and his personality made the plot impossible. I tried, (really, I tried!) changing my idea, but it simply ran into dead ends. So I've killed him. It wasn't a dramatic death; it happened silently, and he'll simply disappear from the story.

I'll keep his memory alive in the photo montage I made last week of my characters before this development came along. I'll still cherish him, especially in the delightful cooking scene he was in. But I'm afraid he's pretty much gone, and the closest I'll get to resurrecting him is in the character who will replace him. Yes, that character will be closer to the true nature of the character the story needs. I certainly hope it makes the story more meaningful and more true. But I miss him already.

November 9, 2010

three idea poems.

I imagine the ticking of clockwork,
of sanitary steel and manufactured surfaces
spiders of cerebral connections
stimuli dropping like miniscule beads
clicking through machinery.

Then the rough heartfulness of earth
warm like sheep's wool
fertile and red.

For the mind is the sky
and the earth is the body
held together, fact and feeling
by what's deeper than both
below the earth's core and beyond the sky's expanse
all shall be one.

--
Could not love shake the ghost from me
With its flaming accuracy?
Dispel the specters with whom I spoke,
Purge the air of crawling smoke.*

--
you made the music glisten
with a sharp needle and a silver thread
sewing in what we've made it be
and now I cannot listen
without seeing, too, that sparkle
in my persistent memory.


*Note: This one is inspired by a poem by George MacDonald, which was inspired by a painting called "The Haunted House." My poem also correlates with a part of my novel. 

November 6, 2010

that was fun.

November 3, 2010

sublime

When I get to the last lap, I run as hard as I can.
I was looking at Makoto Fujimura's paintings, and they were so dazzling, I could barely take them in. "Soliloquies - Joy" kept moving, clicking like beads. So do I turn away, glad, or stare longer and learn more?
Discipline. Maybe it brings a higher sublime.

Yesterday, I read a short story by Dr. Reynolds. And I didn't know why, but I was shaking by the end of it. "I realized that I served Dad, I did not love him." I do not think it would be wrong to say I am very conscientious about the principles I live by. And I had been caring, very much that day, over expressing things rightly and creating something worthwhile. But my idols were now knocked over, and joy came in.

Today I was reading a book assigned for school, Green Mansions, and I was frustrated by it, the style of writing was tedious and the author seemed very self-absorbed. I told my mom what I thought about it, and she told me to trust the author at least a little longer. I saw that I was thinking myself so above, so superior, when instead I was again dealing judgment rather than mercy. I returned to my book, and the entire mood of my reading of it was changed.

Be faithful. Give mercy. Love God. And remember that every moment can crack open to let in grace.

November 1, 2010

Procrastinating on writing by writing.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be about writing without restraint. So far, I've been writing a lot but very slowly, and I'm not sure if I should try to keep up the thoughtfulness.
This year's novel is very character-centered, and so I feel like I'm acting when I write. I have to keep in my mind who the characters are and switch between them. But it's very enjoyable, even though it's slow and hard. It makes me feel like I'm writing something worthwhile.
It interests me to think what makes action in a story. Today, I'm kind of passively tired [from an awesome weekend of being  in the city :D] and the productive things I've done include sitting at my computer writing, sitting on the couch studying psychology, and sitting on my bed reading books. That's not a lot of action.
Similarly, I wonder what kind of action to talk about in my novel. I realize I know a lot more about writing than I did last year. I've read Don Miller's book on editing his life, I'm halfway through Dorothy Sayers's book about the creative process, I'm paying more attention to Reading Like A Writer (which is the kind of book that's been in my radar for while, on an off). It reminds me of how much more exciting watching movies is when you pay attention to details, and ways the filmmakers are subtly communicating.

So this kind of writing is easier than my novel, because I care so much about telling a particular story and making my characters come alive. I am beginning to like my characters very much, because they interest me. Perhaps I'll post an excerpt on here later in the month. Right now I can't decide what to share without giving it all away. I can say the theme I'm thinking about is Love Conquers All.

I think I'll go back to writing it.

October 28, 2010

a separate peace

I'm shouting out on the open plain
Furious under a wide sky.
I'm a geyser shooting up despair
Releasing rage into the air.

I just want peace, real peace
Not censored screams or polished prudence.
I'm crying save me even though
You have already, I know. . .

Dear God, I believe.
You're taking all my anger away
I'm licking up acceptance, almost greedy-
I'm sobbing, blessed, thankful, needy.

October 18, 2010

What I thought of Hannah Coulter

I have a room in my imagination where the walls are lined with paintings, full of fields and full of faces. Beside each painting in its gilded frame is a white screen, like a blank board, but I sense that it's more alive than that. For constantly I go to the screens with an old cloth and a spray bottle of water, and rub and rub to get them clean. But as soon as I've scrubbed them - hard in the center and all around the edges - they start sketching, etching brown marks onto the surface. And as I turn back to look, I realize why I was trying so hard to keep the screens blank.

Inside the painting I've just passed, I see people in stories, connected to one another. I step backwards into the center of the room, now a great hall, and I'm reeling with so many paintings before me at once. Here's a whole history laid out, births and friendships and deaths and loves, always loves. But the faces - the faces are what stand out to me. They're living, and I think I can see myself in some of them. And as I draw closer to look more intently, I see that the other faces - the ones that aren't me - are matching the drawings on the white boards: every line and pencil-mark is being transferred to a richly-painted interaction. When I've cleaned a board, the corresponding face is hazy, undefined; it's a telling and I am a hearer. This, this is what I wanted.

I can pause with my cloth resting still on the clean screen, and held, the pictures shimmer and move me. If those stories are mine - I hope they are - then I won't go writing them myself. If they're not mine, I can't claim them as my own, but only appreciate them by beholding them. In this measured balance, the moment is sacred. But I can't stay. I turn to go until I find myself standing at the doorway. One last look, and I slowly turn off the light, and pull the door shut, sealed. I'll keep tonight forever.

October 16, 2010

Information and water bottles

My family and I just finished watching this documentary about water, called "Tapped." At first, I unimpressed with it; it seemed kind of socialist in the way it expressed anger at big water companies making profits. But it was eye-opening, too, to realize the legitimate points it made. Such as: the sickening amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean, the fact that tap water is more tested for purity than bottled water, and the dangerous types of chemicals existing in plastic water bottles. It makes me think that the world would be a lot better if we stopped drinking out of plastic water bottles, and filled our own reusable bottles instead.

The first time I tried writing this (just a couple of minutes ago) I realized I was ranting, and for a moment wasn't sure what to do with myself. Information seems so obnoxious sometimes; it's burdensome to realize how many causes there are to get angry or mournful about. I didn't see the purpose in complaining.

Perhaps what makes the difference is the way in which information is presented, if it's in a spirit of self-service (anger, pessimism, unintentionality) or in a spirit of honest concern. Today's documentary was the latter, which is what made me want to listen to it.

I was thinking of redemption while I was watching. In this context, the good work is to do right by the earth and believe in the possibility of a better future, at least in one respect. To make better what you can.

And it also makes me think about the variety of human concerns and causes. How I shy from forming political opinions and how I dislike thinking about legislation, focusing on more on changing hearts and beliefs. I'm ever more thankful for people who've taken it upon themselves to understand and make known things I don't stop to think about. My parents have always been very careful about chemicals and vaccinations and foods they expose us to/feed us with/give us, and I'm just a little bewildered by how much there is to be wary of, and glad to be  their child, not having to worry about medical things. I hope I'll be conscientious enough with my kids, if I ever have any.

But most of all I'm reminded of how there's good work to be done everywhere. And I can't do it all; I just have to learn how to listen to what concerns me, and make the kind of small changes other people's big movements need. Interdependency makes me want to be informed.


[side note: I was trying to find the appropriate label for this, and I realize just how little I blog about current events, there's not even a category for it. Alright, I'll stick it in the general truth category.]

October 12, 2010

"Christ in you, the hope of glory"

Futility: It's not hard to stagnate, spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Meanings slip through my hands, disappearing. Deeds and words are all shells, with their essence missing.
I want a reason to live.
Purpose: The Spirit puts meaning back into the body. It's space and spark contained by the physical, a whole being.

Finity: There are arcs that begin and climb higher and then fall down, ending at that edge separating life and death. The flame expires and we're left in darkness.
I want to live forever.
Eternality: There's a line thrown into the air which soars in a curve and passes through the curtain of death. It's the soul of man powered by the life of God, drawn by a belief in the unseen.

Disconnect: If we could stay on this earth, we would remake the world, forge a future that ends in peace. But the story is grander, spanning past time. So where shall we go?
I want to lose my life to find it.
Unity: In resurrection, we leave our old natures, so the world that remains exists to worship him. It's a hope sustained by an unending purpose, satisfied by the glory of knowing an infinite God.

solidity.

When I tell stories or write essays, I try to ask a question big enough so that I see the threads all cast outwards, diversely, and then am able to weave them together into one. Or else there's hardly a point in writing.

But sometimes I set my sights on a problem too big for me to understand, especially in one sitting. Or two, or three. Such is the problem that I have for the essay I am writing right now, about my aspirations. Such also is the state of a poemish thing I was trying to write today, about future and purpose and redemption. The complexity of the problem is so linked to my own understanding of ideas, my own history, that I am having trouble expressing the true answer, apart from the answer I found which brought closure in the context of my own life.

So this post is a break from universals into the satisfying particulars of my life. I mainly want to say that the sky is glorious, and gave me an answer today. The way the sun glows through the clouds, the way the sunlight reflects on the water, the way the clouds shaped a pink dove with wings spread broadly across the sky: all of that reminded me of the expanses of the glory of God. And it's a beauty I remember even when I can't understand the extent of my question or the doctrinal answer. I want to get my mind around things and understand them fully, but it's good sometimes to let things surround me, and instead of containing them, be within them.

October 3, 2010

This evening when we walked in our neighborhood I was worrying a lot about my future, vocation, education. Asking questions when no answer was what I was looking for, expecting to know everything.

"Can I pray with you?" my mom asked, stopping my train of thought. She'd been listening to everything, trying to help. And I didn't want to be treated like a problem to be solved, but she wasn't giving me pretend answers.

She thanked God for my walk with Him, affirmed how I needed to read His word, and listen, and follow. I was … convicted, and agreed. How I’d put myself on shaking sand, being hit when I’m not fully armed… And then she said I was hearing a lot of voices telling me I needed to be something, do something, make something out of myself. I’d been listening to my college mail more than listening to God, His promises. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Of course the questions and the answers will be in discord when I’m not remembering my foundation. I was worried about where I was going; but the problem was where I’d begun.

My iTunes library was at “Daisy” by Switchfoot when I just opened it.

...Trust.

September 28, 2010

Swan stamp

My latest art assignment was to design an image featuring an animal that could be used as a stamp. I chose the tundra swan. The "AIS," which is in the place of the cost of the stamp, stands for Art Instruction Schools. Yup.

September 26, 2010

"...by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit"

I walked out, untied to anything
following my crooked heart
and what I found was perversion.
The steam drips down my chest
and I'm flesh sweating in the heat.

But a storm's coming
cold through and through
gray rain, puddles - and sunshine.
The fog billows away in waves
It pours and I'm washed clean.

I'm so chilled and emptied
brushed smooth like glass.
My heart's whole beneath my shivering skin
And drawn around the warmth within
I'm held and free.

September 19, 2010

I've been thinking quite a bit about writing lately. Hannah Coulter is gracing my imagination, some of my friends are really good writers, and I have a college application essay due soon. I wrote maybe half of it today, but I may end up putting aside the whole thing and starting again, being less self-deprecatingly dreamy.

I am hesitant to say I love writing, because the statement so incomplete. I enjoy the process of explaining the significance I find in my experiences, and seeing the way the words come together and the concepts get clearer. I like tight writing, where I can feel myself wrapping out the thought, and knotting my ideas together until they form a neat conclusion. Poetry is only kind of like that: instead of being a sturdy basket, poems are more like cloth with an intricate pattern, threads that straddle several lines and overlap until the complexity finally ceases and the images come together as one.

When I feel writerly, it's usually in the self-indulgent way where I want to play with words for their own sake. I have to ask myself, do I really have something to say?

Maybe today I'll stop looking deep inside myself for a story to tell, and instead I'll just float on the surface, and listen.

September 16, 2010

Be

shyly, even - apologetically
this, confession
of what is so real
how can we help it?
when life
is in us
is who we are.

the Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want
he makes me lie down in green pastures
he leads me beside still waters
he restores my soul.

rest.
it seems so small now,
all that crushed me
I'm so sorry
for the frailty of my trust.

realities.
every now and then
I walk into wilderness
thinking, this is
all.

then
soul and will
crying silently
to find the peace
that's mine

I have known God
and I believe.
life will never leave
and in him I'm found
in Him, I am.

September 14, 2010

Baptize my love
so it's born of the Spirit
bury it in water
and raise it again
In that resurrection
the seal of redemption
to live before God
and not to please men.

September 7, 2010

human beings.

I'm rereading Socrates Meets Jesus, because I'm using it in the apologetics class I'm teaching. There's this thought about how "I AM" unites the particular and universal, as both a "someone" with a will, and universal being. Reading that made me think of how people are called human beings. (I kind of - but hardly at all- talked about this before.) If being is such an unchanging, constant, quality, than maybe our identity as beings is only because of the nature we have, as creatures made in God's image. I wonder how this relates to Christians taking on a new nature in receiving the Holy Spirit.

September 5, 2010

Water (or, why I love museums)

The city next door to us has an art museum, and today it was open for free. Besides the free admission, my family was drawn to go today because of a new exhibit they have, on Water. I was filled with anticipation, trotting up the low steps, entering the building, smiling at the receptionist lady. She explained to us that the water exhibit was downstairs. "You'll love it," she said. And she was right.

There I saw water explored in metaphor, religion, sound, shape, film. One wall contained a quote about water that I very much liked, by Thomas Cole: "Like the eye in the human countenance, it is a most expressive feature." Maybe you know how significant water is to me; I have a long-time love affair with rain compounded with a recent affinity for it in my mind's imagery. Water shows up in my poetry and even that turtle story. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the exhibit very much.

I stopped to talk to a few of the museum guards (talking to people is exciting). I asked one girl what her favorite piece in the exhibit was, and she directed me to go to a film about water. She sent me off saying, "Tell me about it when you're done." I walked into a room where a short movie was playing, called Amazing Grace. Side note: I'm having a blast raving about the museum, and it's strange to switch into honest discussion of what I thought. I'd rather talk about something than just talk (as much fun as talking is). I felt like the scenes played, an ocean with a woman splashing and floating in the waters, expressed how water was both over-powering and yielding. The waves are strong, yet the water flows, liquid. Strength does not have to be brick-wall solidity. The movie showed her first splashing by the water's edge, then being taken farther in. Surrender, and rest. It reminded me of that CS Lewis passage about actually going into the ocean of God. So what is grace, what did it communicate about grace? There's the obvious metaphor of "grace like rain" or God washing us. The film explored that for me, how grace can be strong and shining, something to trust in, yet it also understands, moves around, moves with.

"To be seen and known — I think it's something every person craves in this life. To experience the deepest connection is to be truly found out, and still be loved. The Bible calls it grace." ~Kara Schwab

I was so excited about this conversation about grace I was going to have, but when I skipped back to talk to the guard, she told me that I had gone to the wrong room. The film she wanted me to see was called Ablutions. This one portrayed a stream of water being poured from the top of the screen to the bottom, in two screens played simultanously. One contained a man, another a woman. This film seemed to make water the flow of time, traveling from dawn till encountering humanity, then remaining as the people fade away. I was interested to see the people wringing or smoothing their hands through the water, both to mold the water and be moved by it. It was slow, calmly so, a moving stillness where the peace brought out every emotion you experienced.

When I finished watching this one, the girl had been joined by another guard. We had an interesting conversation about what the art meant, what it made them think about. I realize that I need to listen more, even when I want to share what I have to say. I'm, trying to analyze why I'm writing all of this. Part of it is because I wanted to get it all down somewhere, but I did write things in my notebook. Why tell stories if people don't want to hear them? Is my thought all for myself, or is it for your sakes? Will there always be doubt in speaking about my experiences, not knowing if other people are obliging me by listening, hoping I'm not trying to portray a certain image?

This becomes a tangent which isn't one at all, this wondering about wanting to talk with other people about what brings me so much joy. I'm afraid that sharing of ... dare I call it wonder? is only loving upon the condition of the other person wanting to hear it. But should things really rest upon another's affirmation? I don't think so, I don't think I'm looking for reassurance. Now I'm thinking of mutuality, how taking can give, and giving take.

To speak - or write, in this case - is an act of belief that someone will listen. In my head, it makes no sense to talk to people who don't want to listen. In the way I live, I think that saying what I want to say is more important to the common good than other people really consider it to be. I will learn, I will. The more I care about truth, the more I'll care that I speak in a language people can hear. For this is the work, interpretation.  For truth, or a word of life, which belongs to someone separate and Other, to be integrated into a person's soul, into a person's life.

So I was looking for forgiveness for not caring enough about the guards themselves - I cared in my mind but not my heart and words - and then there was water, a reminder of grace. The steadyness of the waves ask for surrender. There was one part of the display that featured a speaker playing the sound of waves. And now I understand, "as I went down to the river to pray."

There was more at the museum. There were sculptures that I felt I could interact with, paintings I thought I understood, one I copied part of.
Janos Mattis-Teutsch
Untitled (Two People), Late 1920's
There was an exhibit of animals in children's art. One was dedicated, "To Love and those who dare put all their eggs in one basket," which I liked very much. So this all goes to say that I really enjoyed my trip to the museum today. And in a strange sort of way, I'm glad to be able to share it with you.

September 3, 2010

Goodness, I just saw years of my life flash past me. I sorted a year and a half of school papers: essays, agendas, tests, and then went through two solid years of NCFCA competition.

I decided to keep only the certificates (but I daresay I could throw out most of them) and particularly insightful or encouraging ballots. It was especially emotional for me to see the debate ballots, calling back to mind rounds that meant so much to me. I can still picture them with clarity, the rooms, the arguments, the people. I remember the judges least. Perhaps that goes to show something? Heh.

I've ... been taken through so much. I feel like my two years of Lincoln-Douglas competition changed me irrevocably, the first in my discovery of other people like me and the riches of ideas and values. The second, this past year, molded my soul and changed my perspective.

Debate feels so far away. I find it strange that I can be so busy without even adding in any time preparing for the next year's topic. And I think I'm going to miss having judges paying close attention as I give speeches on a given topic. In competition, I got to flex and flourish taking on a question or quote. Now my speeches need a ... deeper? purpose, to be valued by their relevance to their audience, instead of conformance to rules. Oh! Have I mentioned my community speaking ideas for this year? I have a rough cut of The Little Prince and a potential platform for Animal Farm: a Tea Party group. :D

I'm enjoying being part of the video project. The structure of the videos encourages me to develop a thought more fully than I would on this blog. Now I'm a little puzzled about what the purpose or audience of my blog is.

I wonder about who I am becoming. So much is changing, and where do I stand?

"O Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations..." 


There are still so many questions.

unity.

Turtle swam for miles and miles, mingling with all the creatures of the sea. One day, turtle washed up upon the shore, falling hard on the sand, and found herself facing a great tree with rough and bumpy bark.

Turtle drew beside the tree, and he spoke to her. "You are lovely," he said. "Belong." And he bent one of his branches to stroke her stony shell.

Turtle grew very afraid and shrunk inside that same shell. She rolled away, farther from the tree. But the sun grew hot, and turtle crept back into the water.

She came across her ocean friends, but they wouldn't look her in the eye. The water floated fragments of sentences to her, that, pieced together, she could tell were about her. And turtle was afraid.

"Belong," the tree was saying, his words repeating in her mind. And a little fish darted past turtle, stirring up the water in her own fear.

"Come back!" turtle cried, weeping turtle-tears the water hid. The little fish swished her tail and hung there. But she slowly approached turtle.

"I thought you didn't love me," the fish whimpered. Hugging to turtle, she confessed, "I thought you loved that hard island and the shady tree."

"Oh, my dear," turtle comforted. "I love you. Nothing changed."

"But the tree. . .?" fish asked fearfully. "You won't love the tree more than me, will you?"

Turtle's heart grew heavy at that. She answered slowly, "I cannot say." And fish fell back a bit and let out a disappointed, "oh." Then she swam away and turtle was left alone.

Turtle dreamed that night, dreamed about springs bubbling up on the land. She dreamed of swimming in pools of water under the steady tree's shade along with other sea creatures and saplings and old trees. Turtle dreamed of unity and she dreamed of peace.

Then the morning came, and turtle wondered.

August 30, 2010

I am a ripple now, breathing a little fast but soft, soft.
Imagine stretched staircases rising from the mist,
Broad and sturdy, separate from dew-laden spirit.
I stood, I stand; climb, one hand on the rail
The other, fingers lingering over a whisper.
Could I not be the water, steam turned liquid
Lapping up the steps inch by inch?
I remain. Whole and alive, to rise,
A tide in a path I've never known.

August 25, 2010

neediness

I watched you.
You wretched one.

I followed you as you scattered flowers through the air.
Who can do nothing at all.

You slowed down and held my hand as we walked together.
Do not forget to be merciful!


Be merciful to us more fortunate ones!
I let myself be next to you. You call it acceptance, I call it home.


I’ve been toying around with this quote (the italicized part) from Kierkegaard, with me as the wretched one, who can do nothing at all. I wonder if shame and pride are the same thing: attention-seeking and unredeemed. Holding on to your broken self.

Perhaps mercy is belonging where you are. It's not quite the same as the unloved, poor, and lonely letting themselves be helped, letting the strong slow down. I think that acceptance of compassion can only really happen when we are able to stand without shame. People are only able to encourage when they aren't my savior.

I'm still not yet completely sure. Does that make times when I'm sad or lonely untrue?

August 22, 2010

liquid.

Isn't there a solid knot in my throat
and a heat in my mind
grieving my eyes?

I shall escape
the draughts of thought
in blank smoothness, no creases on my face

until the peace
ripples my skin,
and earth and heaven be one.

August 17, 2010

"My heart is star, not grieved."

my weightless heart
I will be
a diminishing, a steely soul
if only for you

misguided bearing.
my burdened heart I am
and lonely, full
I cannot take away your tears

I was left
to listen to the sea
the shell to my ear, bending
my heart to harmony

August 15, 2010

peacock, pedestals, prison, pain, place.

I painted this today; it's called "Psyche."

The image came into mind, piece by piece, and then I had to paint it. I don't completely understand it, but I do know it is about being made separate, both by grace and by nature.

August 13, 2010

it's in the friction
(crooked meeting straight)
touch
where sparks fly

you only bleed
when the thorn strikes your flesh
so it's in the movement
that love comes out

warm hearts, apart
freeze over like the pond in winter
trees lose the soaring outwards
for the growing underground

knowing the presence just past your wall
(hand on wood to hand again)
it's the testing of your faith
in this place, amen.

August 11, 2010

Leadership

I am alone when I trust no one.
I wish to have spiritual leaders in my life, but I have hardly any idea of what that's supposed to look like: people I'm needy towards? People I can go to, asking for their advice? Or are they supposed to come to me? I think in most mentorships the one wanting to be mentored asks for guidance.

I am not alone, if my trust is in the Lord. And my parents become more and more an encouragement to me.
What about all the adults who could have led me, but whom I hardly feel close to? But there are some who've cared about me, and been role-models for me.

My sister is coming next week and I'm glad. But I was never meant to place my entire trust in people. Instead we are to bear one another's burdens, a mutual trusting, through reliance upon the provision, the grace, of God.

August 10, 2010

The Life of the Mind

Wheatstone asked me yesterday to write them a few-paragraph testimony of my experience at the Academy: how it changed me, what made it worthwhile. What I want to say is that it made me care more about learning for its own sake, helped me realize that there is so much more to know.

But now I'm in a place where I don't know how much I want to know. Even this post, I began it with a question burdening my mind, and now I can barely recall that original question. Perhaps it will disappear completely. It seems to keep resurfacing, though.

I've had a lot of experiences lately, times where life itself forced me to learn more. When you're presented with a problem, knowing how to solve it takes on a lot more significance. But before I face it, I could hardly care less. This, utilitarianism, bothers me. I am divided: part of me thinks that seeking God continually is all I can do, and He will weather me through every difficulty, the Holy Spirit will keep me. The other part questions that mindset, saying that the Holy Spirit works through human words and thoughts I've picked up, to connect ideas so that I understand. And isn't it foolish, unfaithful, of me to let the talents I've been given fall to the wayside? I'm thinking of that parable, where the master went away leaving his servants behind.

This is an idea I thought a lot about during my involvement in debate competition, too: that the right attitude toward competition isn't flippancy or a need to win, but faith. Trust that God will work out what he wants, showing me himself through a win or a loss (-my hope is not built on how I place), but with that trust, action on my own part, to do the best with what I've been given.

Side note: this is mostly my head talking, quickly, running like a train down the line of thoughts. I'm mostly writing this so I can get it down, work it out.

So the question, right. There are times when I can hardly manage to counter the tasks at hand, much less prepare my mind for the future by stretching it. But, I think, I must care about the life of my mind in those in-between times that make up the majority of my life. I think of the question submitting on the Year of Questions channel, "What is the purpose of education?" Perhaps I wouldn't mind so much answering it. Speaking of the video project, I have yet to decide what I should talk about tomorrow. Yay. Not this, it'd be far too boring.

So what am I still wondering about? Maybe I don't know where to go: I try to read often, but I don't know what to focus on. I love poetry, but have hardly read much, only a smattering of poems, and not studied them in depth.

I think this thought connects to any sort of study. My mom's been cleaning house, and today I looked at an old portfolio from an art class I had taken years ago. I've liked art for a long time, and wonder how seriously I mean it. My art course is tremendously good for me, to help me make time for art, but I wonder if even so I've lost something I used to have - creativity, passion, maybe even technique? And I wonder what I'd do with art. I'm thankful for pictures for their expressive powers - much like I'm thankful for poetry - but by thankful I mean I have a use for it. Am I being utilitarian again? Maybe it's called practical. I've never been one for applications in debate, but I'm all about application in everything else, it seems.

So I wonder, how deeply can I get into art, so that it benefits more than just myself? So that I can praise God through creating beauty, or - somehow - be a truth-teller, a warning of the way life is. If that is indeed what artists do.

This, of course, relates to the ever-present college thought. I'm excited for college, because I desperately want to keep learning, to be revived, to find joy in learning and understanding, and to live better. To have substance to my thoughts, in such a way that I discover things, form opinions. In the present, probably the biggest area I'll get to do that is as I dig into this year's NCFCA topic. Yay for political philosophy! And yet I admit that though it's interesting, I hardly take it seriously because it doesn't relate to what I'm doing. I wonder if it's right that I find English to be so much more enchanting than most other subjects, because (as I see it) it's subject matter is life itself.

I want to see how this all ties together, unfortunately I'm not yet sure what I'm looking for (Meno's paradox, a bit). This is what I think I know: study, learning from others, adds to understanding. Understanding of truth. This then adds richness to life - isn't it a sweet feeling to describe something precisely and see light dawn on someone else's face? - but more importantly, rightness to life. To love God fully, my whole self must be engaged.

So what next? Faithfulness, again. To take the opportunities I have - conversations with friends, life experiences, books, prayer. To search for where else I should be going - asking questions, thinking about college some more. To trust that it is by God's power alone that my time and my mind, my heart and my living, bring glory to Him. And isn't that all I want?

P.S. I feel like a published author.

Summer :)

The pieces are up in the air,
I'm in the middle
They fall like fireworks, like confetti
Somehow I'm not afraid.

I totally slept in this morning, when I was going to wake up early to read Downright Dencey.Whoops. By the way, the book is lovely. The story especially. It reads quickly, because it's a children's book, but there's so much of it that I sympathize with; I see my own friendships echoed there.

This week I'm so happy, glad about what there is to do. Learning how to manage my own kitchen, tutoring a girl from my homeschool group, planning a dream room for a home economics assignment. Thinking about colleges, (how much I want to go to Biola because I loved the Wheatstone discussions) tackling my delightful list of books, waking up each morning with more to learn about God and love.

I was planning yesterday to write a post about self-examination, and perhaps the thing in my soul still needs to be pondered about, but it's better today, though I don't stop to remember the details. I clearly never found the time to write it, but in my head, I sang to Willy Wonka's tune about "a world of self-examination."

August 7, 2010

Wrap me up as part of Your history,
I don't want a lone identity
My life is full of mystery,
but it never was my own.

----

Please don't say less because you fear you'll make me sad
Didn't I tell you though I thought you might get mad?
I want you to be honest, to see light once again
so don't hold off your questioning, and let me bear the pain.

August 5, 2010

1 John 4:7

all of it is joy
still tinged with aching tears
and I cry for beauty

I let go
told him I could not bear this alone
and he lifted me into love

I've found a waiting peace
seeing you as you are: how you have your being
we are blessed to be his.

August 1, 2010

"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

I would be quiet, I would rest with. I would speak, I would break from imagining into communion. (Would in the sense of my will, not "I would if I could.")

I wonder about mistaking God for people, or people for God. I'm coming to realize that I cannot see God's face. I think I talked about this in my "image of God" post. This upset me for a while; it's hard to talk to someone you can't stare in the eye. Eye contact is very significant to me. I've talked about this with a few people here: who is God? How do you think about him? What I think is that God is a presence, a greatness, that demonstrates himself in people, in the sunset, in beauty. They don't simply speak about God's nature, or declare the glory of God, they communicate him, in a way.

But. I can think about this in the wrong way, somehow upsidedown. (I overuse the word somehow.) I can try to picture God and put the face of my friends there, subconsciously. Or when I miss people, or feel mournful or poetic, I wonder if I breathe by feeling or breathe the spirit of God. Yet God is not pure feeling, nor is what is intellectual spiritual. The song "human" took on significance for me two days ago, as I witnessed people who live by feeling, brimmed, and myself, seeming hardened, devoted to nothing. But love is as much reason as it is emotion. Logic is found in love.

I am... weighed down now with what I've found through examining myself. I'm tired, of course, but there's more to it. Do you know how it is when you feel like there is much you need to pray about, people who you want to feel loved, people you want to enjoy, your own self you need to be made right, and yet you don't seem to have the strength to pray to God sincerely heartfully as you should? It's like that. Which is no comparison at all. Wry smile.

Something I was meaning to say as a continuation of my thoughts from my last blog post. The reason, I think, we say "I love you" both as a statement of excitement or spontaneity and to promise responsibility towards a person, is found in the different types of love. The more lighthearted love is more of a "taking joy" love, an appreciative love, seeing them as they are (as they could be), while the more serious love is agape love, or sacrifice. On that note: something that stuck with me from Wheatstone was what Dr. Reynolds said in response to a student's question. "I look at you and all I can see is how amazing you could be," he said. And so I want to see. I am ... humbled by those who do see, and right my perspective. It is joy to see clearly, to think of people as redeemed creatures. "I knew now, that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another." I tell you, Phantastes changed me.

The evening program was true, startling me in its depth and beauty. A work of art, in that it lifted me from incessant work and reminded me of all there was to think about (similar to, oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!) and live by. I hardly caught anything, except an appreciation of its theology and George MacDonaldesque scenes.

...
1 Peter 1:22-23: "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." 

To speak is a gift, not a hope (like happiness is added to joy, not enough alone). I long to explain my heart, how... something so simple as writing a blog post makes me wonder if I care about expression more than I care about God and honesty. And to stop and listen, and grace. The holy spirit. I felt the Lord asking me if I loved him more, if I could seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. I answered that I wanted all things to be added to me. I saw what it was to love from a pure heart. Obedience to the truth that God is above all and everything and that I am His. So reminded of my identity, of the permanent, (of the new covenant ... 2 Cor 3) and secure in loving him, blessed by how he yearns jealously over the spirit he has made to dwell in us, I may then love humans, love them through the love of Christ.

It was as if God called me to his side, and I spoke with him intently, then filled with joy, asked if I could go off and enjoy the other people there. Yes, he said, and Catey walked into the room and demonstrated the perfection of the will of God.

I go off singing.

July 29, 2010

Smiling and secrets and quotes from Phantastes. (What I sometimes call joy)
Kind memories, and wanting to love and find God.
Metaphors for faithfulness, earth and grass and wind.
Peace? Thinking of being more of a protector than the one kept safe, held. not that I've lost innocence.
Romans 8, again. You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but the spirit of adoption as sons. And irrevocable identity, hoping that what I go through is me being humbled, thinking I am never far away from God though yesterday I felt I had lost something.

I wonder how hard it would be to change my tone and really talk to whoever is reading my blog.
There are a lot of people here, who are interesting to be around and listen to and watch. I could talk about them for a long time.

I don't know about repeating what I've learned or am learning here, as if it unintegrates my life.
I've become better at being open and letting other people help me. I realize that I often am better off when not leading. I wonder about using the word love. I may have become more deadpan, erring on the side of understatement, as I tiptoe around expressions of affection because I want them to be very true.

When I say I love someone, I mean that I will be silent when my words would hurt them, and forgive them when I feel hurt, and think the best of them when I don't understand or know them, and listen to them without being concerned about myself. Love means that I will suffer when they do, or when I see suffering coming to them, and that their happiness will bring me joy. So I don't want it to simply mean I think they're fairly cool and don't want me to think I don't like them. And it doesn't just mean that I miss them or wish they were there to pay attention to me. I want to love everyone, and love many people, only I'm very aware that love is much to promise.

What does it mean when Jon Foreman says love isn't made?

Works. matter-of-factness, then. (I know that doesn't make sense: it means, a lot of what I think about is what I do and so I don't need to talk about it.)

I'm happy.

July 23, 2010

(the image of God)

Father God, I can't picture you - I can only try to imagine you around me. I try to speak to feeling but long to look you in the eye. So can I be excused for staring fresh in the face of this beautiful world, hoping to find you there? My focus falters in darkness.
What is this divine romance-
God taking hold of me,
Shaking out my soul;
How can there be room for any other?

Silver words drop into me
scalding me, searing me
but refashioning my disjointed heart.
I welcome the work of healing

Accept the unity
Let go of the conviction that riddles can't be solved
God may break through,
And teach me to love my brother.

July 21, 2010

Reworking how I live

I just finished watching A Beautiful Mind. Good. movie. I want to discuss it sometime.

During it, I was thinking about how I respond to movies, and innocence, and being loved and understood as I am. I don't know about becoming... callous? I wonder about being able to interact with most people, or being left out... integration. real life... what it means to be an adult?

I also ponder, in a "hum..." sort of way (vague, not frantic, just.... wondering) about hallucinations. Or rather, convincing yourself of things, and different levels of reality. "You can only remember what's written on your face." Some things being true in the right, intense context, which, lifted out of their place, hardly seem to fit.

About the title: here things are changed a lot from what I've been used to over the past ... while. I'm trying to figure out how to interact online while being fully present here. Part of that is, I want to pause and be focused when I read blogs or write or think, but here there's hardly a spare moment to be moved by words on a screen. Perhaps I'll find that that begins to be untrue as the weeks progress.

Conversations: they seem to be wonderful, surprising. That I can ask a question and talk about it as it occurs to me, or that working through emotions can be easier with a sister than writing to my computer. In other news, Kristen loves me.

July 19, 2010

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for PREP week[s].

I'm so tired. I want to really talk to God, and let His strength be shown in me.

Thinking about:

"Even in darkness, love
shows the circumference
of the world, lightning
quivering on horizons
in the summer night."
~Wendell Berry

July 10, 2010

Witness, Part 2

I paused as I came down the hill to the park. In the stillness I felt drawn, aching, concerned, and I saw the parents and children. People - right there, and I thought of how I want to speak to people about God and love them. How much of that was for myself, my consistency or self-respect or courage, and how much of it was for love's sake. Was I even in a state to try to witness when I wasn't fully clear in my own head what I had seen and how I would testify.

I drew closer, uncertain, and still smiling for joy and for peace and for His presence always being there. And all I did was to smile at a mother, and confused, swing slowly back and forth. There were the Jewish dads talking by the toddler swings, there were the moms talking or playing with their kids, there was the man sitting and watching quietly on the bench, and all I did was to get up from my swing, and venture a "hi" to a girl walking past me.

I feel both the weight and the lightness, the weight of a concern I don't understand, if I could love with this self of mine enough, oh to be used by God. Wanting to do what I am made to do. Yet the lightness, the face of God and a conversation He's kept and promises He will keep.

July 7, 2010

Phantastes, Part 2

I had a dream that I had already written about Phantastes a few months ago, so I'd have to go back to my last post and retitle it "Phantastes, Part 2".~ (irony mark)

July 5, 2010

Phantastes

Oh, we may be fairies too, to love endlessly without word or touch, shining like stars in the night. And because we know this, we can look up at those same stars and hear them laughing, feel them loving, and be joined in a unity deeper than the world.

Pendulum.

A pendulum is a hopeless thing. Back and forth, back and forth it sways, a path unbroken, never gaining on itself or even moving backwards. Caught in the unchanging sines and cosines of its repetitious function; a falling, a rising up, a falling again. Like how we find ourselves free of our pride only to congratulate ourselves and be enslaved again. Of letting go, and grasping back again.

Only, we move with a force unmeasured, unending. Resurrected from the dead - conquering - He is strong enough to rise forever.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16)

But why do I seem to keep falling? Probably, probably because he's releasing me from all the sins that weigh on me. It takes a long time to loosen my grip on everything I want to keep. I've found myself mute on this blog, unable to post anything but poetry, because everything else was tinged with the desire to create something of my experiences or gain the approval of all of you. There are times I love to tell too much, and finding that out was a beautiful letdown.

you heard of being rich
with gold refined by fire
but you didn't know it meant
that all you thought was yours would be burned away
and only My power remain.


So we are not pendulums, bound to futility by some unfeeling force. Every falling is a humbling, to show us how our strength is in Him alone. And He is strong enough to rise forever.

closure

It's harsh, the grating of truth against a broken and rusted soul. And maybe sometimes it slips right in, a key clanking in its place, opening the door to places you'd forgotten were there. But more often than not the pieces aren't in place yet when it comes, scraping against what is wrong.

July 3, 2010

"I have feared to be unknown and to offend - I must speak, then, against the dread of speech."

What if the last word you heard
from me was a silken lie?
What if you wandered anxiously
because you couldn't catch my eye?
What if I left off telling
that between us all was right
What if I disappeared
into the endless night.

July 1, 2010

and joy is like the creeping ivy
arching its way around my home
filmy netting, blown to my face
whispering with the whipping wind

----------------------------------------

you're my raggedy ann
your shoulders uneven
you're eager to go forward
yet with your pieces out of joint

----------------------------------


it's a cautious balance
of word and thought and life
if I stay I stagnate
oh, believe and follow

June 27, 2010

What do I put aside, let go?
I feel that I haven't sought long enough today to be blessed by grace. But I remember his personness, how he startles me, delighting in surprising my expectations.
Comfort and feeling isn't a sure sign of God, but his word, his promise to be ever with us, is certain.

I wonder about pausing, waiting, resting, fulfilling commitments...
And joy in acceptance of the way that is set before me.

June 19, 2010

The assignment was to draw a shoe.

When I took this shoe to my desk, my mom asked if I was a little puppy that needed something to nibble on.

June 18, 2010

unsure

warmth I could call up
and affections I'd renew
yet I stop myself from saying things
afraid that they're untrue

questions, poised and tense
unable to be spoken
why should I try to reach you
when it seems the ties have broken?

the future's so unclear,
I don't see how to proceed
I wonder how to cultivate
a love not based on need

June 15, 2010

living by axioms

Somehow I seem to have had little to say recently. I think about how God turns back every disappointment, and how everything I want to be redeemed shall be. Everything I don't see now is an opportunity to eventually understand.

I wonder if to hope is to have.


I wonder if I'm being insincere. Am I really believing truth without sight, or am I pretending to be upheld by hope when I'm just living comfortably?
There's a lot I know, but I long to really believe.

Reconciliation ("you are wonderful and God has made you")

Why do I do this again and again.
Hearing weakness, and twisting it
to take away humanness.

Unable to appreciate
the greatness of any soul but myself.
Contriving praise to buoy up an artificial insecurity.

My grotesque nature half-hidden
by a film of undeserved promises
Until Christ crushes contradiction.

Crawling again to remembrance
Of our irrevocable identities
Eyes refreshed to wonder.

June 13, 2010

How crooked are our hearts-
Mere words can't make them right
But despite our hurts and vanities
I think forgiveness might

Brother, friend, companion
I was so blind before!
I tried to make you sing my praise
Forgetting all you bore

But now I see your face
And all I do is grin
He paid the price for everything,
Washed away our sin.

June 12, 2010

imitating Christ


eyes turned inward
(for I can’t let out words)
                                                and paradoxes
                                                and impossibilities

                                                            with self-conscious
(seeking)
                                                and self-correction.
Focus not on
            Focusing
            but away
                         & above
                                    & outside…        
{and paradoxes and impossibilities}

                                                                                    a
                                                                                      n
                                                                                        d
                                                                                                wonder

                                                                                    and peace. <3

June 1, 2010

Experience

You're in the middle
and memory swells
like a face in a curved mirror, closer and blown up

Conflict.
to catch, involve, and climax life.

You are, (have) enough
that the situation can pull upon
lifting you up, so you stand full in the the face of danger or delight

Greatness.
but still there is existence hidden.

You lie deep
and the future must scrape up history
for you can only remember what's written on your face.

May 28, 2010

There's a difference between "I want to understand you" and "I want to be understanding," isn't there? I so much want to not respond out of my own desire to be seen as understanding, or able to show sympathy, but to really care about the other person.

This question of how I need people is one of the hardest to answer. I do know you are needed, I need you. And yet... I also know, and try to believe, that seeking God will not disappoint me. ("Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing...")

I keep telling myself that I need to read more of Phantastes so I can have it finished before Nationals... but I find myself scarcely reading it so far.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship... and both recognizing, and hoping to see past, habitual "roles" people fall into. Not to ignore that some people are wiser than me, nor to neglect being more of a role model to others, but... to approach people freshly, willing to see them as they are.

May 22, 2010

"Directness wins over tact with the people I love."

Yet I don't think I'm going to be very direct, because I'm not sure exactly what I am saying. I will try to explain what I've been thinking about over the past few days. Hopefully, in explaining to you, I will also explain to myself. And of course I will question what should be said as I write this.

I have a hard time knowing how to love people. More specifically: I have a hard time knowing how to communicate with my friends who live far away. I believe in comfortable silences, and have peace about not knowing exactly how all of you are at any given moment. Still, I don't want to pull away from real friendships. Most of all, I want to live righteously. I don't want to sacrifice whole-hearted devotion to God for a feeling of being understood by my friends. I don't want to seek attention for myself in the way I write. I don't want to mistake impatience and hungry self-gratification for building up my brothers and sisters.

But I also don't want to refuse to bear the burdens of the body of Christ, because I don't have the courage to love.

I'm meditating on...
"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." [Galatians 6:2]

"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." [Romans 12:4-5]

...and wondering how to apply them. I feel like it's harder to love through the internet. But, I know that I've been encouraged by the truth and empathy you - my friends - have given me, so it must be possible.

So I was reading Colossians today. Colossians 1:9-10: "we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." This is exactly what I want. (If you pray for me, you can pray for wisdom to live in a way fully pleasing to God.)

I wanted to tell you how I am, even if that means being meta.

(I want to learn how to see myself as a part of a whole: speaking my questions without fear and being there for you when God wants me there)

[why I am] moved.

sob ; grieve
even for characters on a screen
where magical worlds are unbelievable

for all that was ; for life
the light shining
which falls to darkness

May 19, 2010

deeper

Fighting to establish evidence
Remembering what I have seen
And holding on to hope;
Is my faith based on its confirmation?

Certainty questioned
But I know full well that my mind falters!
To challenge strips me of being
But is it a lie to remain?

Reluctant to leave life
For feeble listening's sake;
But even as my mind is unresolved
My heart cries Your name



[response to this]

May 18, 2010

[Revelation 3:17-18]

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 
Thinking about trials and holiness. Wondering what salve looks like. Praising God for being near.

May 16, 2010

surrender

I'm thinking right now about double-sided metaphors.

So, for the past few weeks my family has been having an ongoing conversation about relationships between girls and guys. I'm not really meaning to talk about everything it's made me wonder about, but, one thing I was struck by is the thought that marriage is a picture of how God loves the church. And I hadn't very much thought about ...purity? as a way to love my possible future husband before, only as a way to have undivided devotion to God.

Then today I started reading "Stop Dating the Church" by Josh Harris. It compared Christ's love for the church to a husband's love for his wife. Obviously, this is a scriptural idea. But it left me looking at two metaphors used to describe each other.

I don't think I've ever heard other metaphors being used like this: who says that just as Christ is the head of the body of believers, we should let our heads guide the rest of our being? I think, usually metaphors are earthly, practical things, things that we've seen in our everyday lives, that help us understand spiritual things. Oh, another one is the idea of the family of God. The church should be like a family... except that families don't always work like they're supposed to.

I stopped typing to wonder what you people reading this think of me. I suppose having many of my thoughts center on how to relate to people makes talking about what I'm thinking about rather meta. ... I try not to be afraid.

Ah, fear! that reminds me of my question last week, "what does it mean to fear God?" I was thinking about it first because of Psalm 34:9: "Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!" Probably, because I was feeling that I lacked something? I'm trying to remember. I also was thinking about it in a Proverbs 31:30 way, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." I think, sometimes the fear of the Lord is used in a general sense, somewhat like the command to glorify God. It's like, "well yeah, but how do you fear God with the way you live?" But... I don't think fearing God just means obeying his commands. I think it must have some heart state to go along with it. I've heard people talk about fearing God as honor, and respect, and awe. Perhaps that's it? Perhaps it's something like Zach (someone I know from my homeschool group) said, "where we know that that God is awesome, and we are not." But that was his definition of worship.

Maybe fearing God is worship! ... I have a hard time distinguishing love and fear in this sense, now. Let's see... worship - awe - greatness - "knowing God evaporates all pride" - humility ... (sorry about all the elipses)

I think to fear God means to know him as he is. It then turns to let us see ourselves as we are. Knowing how to think about yourself (and hopefully how to not think of yourself at all ... but that might be using the word "think" in two different senses... I don't know ... shoutout to Catey because I'm intentionally leaving this ambiguous)

[writing reminds me of so many of my friends at once, I love it!] {of course I also wonder how many references to include...}

Anyway. Now on to another thing I want to tell you. Half of me wants to tell you because I want you to know, and the other half of me wants to tell you because I like being told about the same kind of things. This is about plans (if they be God's will...).

On Wednesday my mom and I had an exciting, scary discussion about my future. The plan is:
This summer I want to learn more. A lot more. Wheatstone is part of that. I am reading a lot of books, and answering apologetics questions I never took the time to understand. Another part of this learning is hopefully going to prep week (the two weeks when interns prepare for the conference tour).

I'm also going to apply to go to college in the spring. I've thought about this a lot, about how I dearly don't want to be callously leaving behind NCFCA people. Because, I've been in that position - not that I really can explain it very well - it has something to with being very attached to people who are graduating, and feeling left out, and frustrated, and ripped apart. I am fairly sure I haven't learned all there is about letting go of people, and now here I am in the reverse position, looking for peace about leaving, not being left.

Another thing is that I don't want to seem like a cocky overachiever, though that might be inevitable for people who want to see me that way. And I'm also thinking about surrender. Surrendering Lincoln-Douglas debate, a possible humorous interp, my dream original oratory, and, apologetics. And people.

Nationals is going to be interesting, my last NCFCA tournament as a competitor. But, the good news is, I hope to come out to round robins and tourneys. (Here's hoping for a conducive class schedule.) Hayley, Micah, tell me what tournaments you're coming to, if you are, so I make sure to come to the same ones!

I'm smiling because I write such ridiculously long blog posts, but I still have more to say. That is, that I'm planning to apply to intern with a communications organization for the 2011 tour. This is, a surprise to me.

I was concerned that their vision wasn't applicable, and not central enough to what I believe. I find that it isn't about speaking for it's own sake, but communication for truth's sake, for love's sake. And so it does relate to me, and I want to share my thoughts on all types of communication: through art and actions, withing families and friends, not just your standard speaking on the public platform.

I was afraid, for the longest time, that interns weren't authentic. Last year, I saw that they were real people, and this spring, I found myself able live like myself while coaching. I told Michael after the Flood the Five conference that being an instructor there didn't answer all my questions like I thought it would. But perhaps, perhaps it made me realize how little there was holding me back from right out deciding. I suppose, I think slowly. I think it helped me see myself as an intern, and appreciate working as a group.

There's still quite a bit up in the air. I wonder about opportunities: how most people get involved in non-profit organizations; looking for more places to serve. I think about not needing to be original in my desire to be an intern. (It can feel lame, you know? Like it's what everyone does... but I don't think that it's necessarily bad to be drawn towards an organization your family has invested themselves in. And I've not been brainwashed, I daresay. It's been a hard sell.) And I'm sure there's more to think about...

I'm praying for peace, and surrender.

May 13, 2010

I second-guess myself too much.

Someday, I should tell you people about my plans for the next year of my life.
I also considered blogging about what I was thinking about on Tuesday, when I made my video.
but time passes, and my state of mind passes.

I find it interesting that the blogosphere is the primary way I stay in touch with my friends. Maybe that's why I felt like saying something today. somehow breaking the silence.

May 11, 2010

Foreignly, I'm thankful for longing. "I am with you in Spirit."
...to seek Him for His own sake, not simply because I want to be with you.
I am richly blessed.
I like psalm 34.

May 1, 2010

voice / awareness

(how to begin?
I wanted to write a post about awareness. I wondered how Kmac could write posts that conveyed information and opinion, and musing, not necessarily situated in time. somehow themed posts - like this one [links are because I have friends who don't all know each other]  work for her. our voices are different.)

Francine Prose: "we're willing to accept the loopy poetry of a consciousness that registers 'mutilated' luggage..." 
her calling the presence of a consciousness "poetry" is what makes me love this quote from Reading Like A Writer.

much of what I write is the expression that travels distances stretching out to where I want to be. I can get emotional and wax fluidly about feeling insecure, guilty, too attention-seeking. all of which is for myself, not for anyone else, because it's too steeped in its origin for them, that by the time I've been released their minds are still caught, or rather tangled up in fishing-line.

I wonder how much of life should be spent aware of what you do and how you are and the subtleties of those around you. to be aware of individuals feels refined, not refined as in refined sugar, or refined culture; rather, as if you're capable of being moved by the tiny waves of personality emanating from everyone. as if the world is full of color and you live every day in an art museum.

and still, I've left unanswered this question of awareness, "what you do and how you are." & I doubt that that's really what I'm asking.

sometimes I suspect that I'm writing for its own sake. oh the pleasure of feeling like you're creating something, of being able to ramble among clouds and then pin down your frothy daydreams and feel satisfied.

"one day I will sit down and paint clouds, lots and lots of them. and then I will display them and call them art. then people will ask me what they mean, and I won't tell them."


i feel so self-indulgent today that I'm quoting myself and not bothering to capitalize...

One day I think I should like to write a poem about a fictional character. Or perhaps I should write more fiction. The easiest fiction to write are the conversations that happen in my head, between different parts of my mind in dispute.

"I'm being obnoxious."
"No, you're not."
"YES, I am! Annoyed yet?"

I think, (I've picked up unconventional comma usage - I like to write in a way that conveys how the words sound in my head [oh, and I keep trying to find places to use semicolons; it's only sometimes effective]) I think this post has to do with Hayley's blog post today. (I don't know what I think about talking about people! it's so hard to convey what I mean without it, but it feels all prickly and glaring to reference them. I suppose I take on tedium to attempt to record the journeying of today's mind.) To summarize it (because rephrasing other people's words is my way of making it make sense) : this moment exists in all eternity, so "take hold of that which is truly life!" {Strange, how the act of writing can sometimes halt you amid a moving world, and other times, be the only thing that breaks the stillness.}

anyhoo... how this relates to awareness. Seldom (I like the world seldom, but it's not the right one. :restart sentence:) Today, and probably yesterday as well, I haven't thought much of choosing to live life. I was pressed forward, nearly catapulted, from one thing to the next - not catapulted physically, or by the constraints of time, but all was pressing towards the goal. Of this morning's test. (this is something I was/am insecure about, the fact that I've mentioned it so much, makes me afraid I am asking for attention or pity or praise. perhaps I say what is on my mind too much? perhaps I feel that I will be more secure if I have people's prayers, and - what feels like that which is not mine - time taking up their thoughts. I wonder why I say anything if this will be the result.)

Now I have to make choices again. I don't have as much time now as I did when I started this post, but I suppose I do have something to show for it. How much of life is this awareness: feeling and making others feel? Asking for an act of attention, or making one yourself? I may be like a fly, caught in the sticky of thought. There is intellectual activity, but it feels hollow to simply engage in it when it's not needed at present. ...

John Mark Reynolds: "Our problem is not questioning, but where our questions start."


I'm hoping to leave, to be moved, to seek and to find.


["Take me away from here" by Olena S.]