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

" 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


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.

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

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

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.


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.