sabrina’s quest, part 1

Here, in the South (now, I realize Virginia is only the tip of the iceberg; I have not experienced the deep South), there is an air of nationalism that makes me nervous.  There seems to be an expectation that if you love God, you will be unwavering in your patriotism, and always vote Republican.  This expectation is one of the reasons that I’ve been avoiding Baptist churches, since they always seem to be the most nationalistic. (I could go off on a rabbit trail here, but I choose not to.  If you want to know what I mean about nationalism, ask me in a different forum.)

So, if I’m avoiding Baptist churches, what’s left?

In the past, I’ve been a part of the EFCA, and IFCA (admittedly, my church was fairly progressive for the IFCA).  I write the IFCA off, because, you know, it’s the South.  What happens when one combines fundamentalism and the Southern spirit?  I don’t really want to know.  No offense.

I look up the EFCA, and find a church that is several miles away.  It seems to be a fairly conservative, run of the mill, evangelical church.  No problem, right?

Introduce Sabrina’s Problem.  Or, if you will, Sabrina’s Quest.

I’ve been finding over the past several years that typical evangelical churches leave me wanting for something more (yes, the church I grew up with).  You’ve got your worship teams + slides for music, your once-a-month communion, the focal point of the service, which is the sermon.  There’s usually no good visual art, lending itself to worship.  Add to the fact that seminary has ruined my ability to politely sit in church and take everything in without analysis; this means I examine everything. (Not that I never examined anything before, but seminary just gave me more ammo.) In summary, a typical evangelical service does nothing for my spiritual personality, unless the sermon feeds my mind & soul.

I’ve been slowly discovering that my mind & soul need to connect with something more meaningful than praise songs and a sermon and communion once a month.  I need substance and beauty that I can see AND hear.  I need some kind of connection with a tradition.  (Last year, I was blessed to have the opportunity to plan a Sunday communion service for my beloved IFCA church in which I may have threw some for a loop, but I am not counting on that opportunity again anytime soon.)

Well, there are a couple United Methodist churches down the street.  Okay.  Over all, pretty watery for Sabrina.  Watery sermon, bland music, although the sanctuary was gorgeous.

There’s also an Episcopal church down the street.  Not my first choice, for a number of reasons, but I want to see if highly structured liturgy feeds me, and if the beauty of the old church lends to worship.  There’s beautiful, historic liturgy.  An okay sermon that did little for me.  Hymns accompanied by organ and choir.  A gorgeous place of worship.  A focus on communion.  But…something seemed missing to my evangelical self.  There’s a prayer for the dead that I don’t understand, an overall sense of dullness amongst the parishioners, and I already mentioned the sermon.

I think I can do better, so I look up the ACNA, find Church of the Good Shepherd, and write the pastor, asking for a ride on Sunday.  I received a very gracious response, and when I finally made it on Sunday, everything clicked.  A beautiful chapel, scripture saturated & historic liturgy, a good sermon, animated worship, focus on communion.  Boom.

But Sabrina…Anglican?

Maybe.  Look for part two sometime next week.

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hello.

I may start blogging again, soon.  The past couple years or so allowed me exhaust my writing on school related assignments.  Well, now that I’m nearing the end, I’m itching to write a little more outside of academics.

toodles!

on apathy and action

I like Seattle.  It is home to some of my favorite coffee shops, favorite bookstores, favorite ice cream, favorite scenery, favorite buildings, favorite people, favorite chocolate, favorite weather, among other things.

In this city, I can usually share about my faith in a nonchalant manner, and receive neither an overtly negative nor positive response.  This usually results because someone, (who sits, or stands across or beside me as we wait for some function/event, or stand in line, or share a coffee shop table, or wait for the bus) in doing their small talk duties, will ask about my background.  After I respond, they nod and say, oh, that’s nice! and perhaps inquire with a benign, follow-up question or two.

I spoke with a woman the other night.  A very intelligent, congenial, beautiful, older woman.  I remember her green eyes and dyed red hair, but  I don’t know even know her name.  She sat next to me and began to talk animatedly, as we anticipated the introduction of an admired philosopher, underneath the starry ceiling of a temple.

She began with chit-chat topics, and eventually got to the infamous “what do you do.”

Most people do not expect from the likes of me the kind of answer I give them.  MDiv student, yadayada, books, etc.  Oh, what will you do with that? they ask.  Be a nun?  (Okay, actually, that’s not fair.  I’ve only gotten that response a couple times.  But still.)

Instead, this woman was very attentive and wide-eyed as I explained my aspirations, and she was full of encouraging words as she proceeded to  relate to me how her parents had been missionaries in Japan for over 40 years, but she and her late husband were not particularly “religious.”  She remarked that in her life observations, it did not seem to matter what kind of “faith” someone claimed to have; no matter what their religious alliance is, that faith has been rendered null and void unless that person’s life reflected change.  Claiming a faith means nothing unless others can see what tangible difference it makes in your life.

Quite an accurate and interesting observation, from someone who claims no faith.   I thought she was just repeating James, you know.  But the manner and content of her communication did not relay such knowledge.  She was earnest with that statement, and she hit the nail on the head.

Then I got to thinking…perhaps…this is WHY it’s so easy to be open with one’s faith around here.  Nobody cares, because it’s mostly just talk. So, who gives a fig about what you believe?  It’s fine to be “spiritual” anyway you like….right, ’cause everybody knows you won’t truly act on it.  Laziness and apathy.  Apathy and dishonesty.  Hypocrisy.  Ouch.  In the end, apathy becomes our greatest enemy.

Something is very wrong with that picture, people.  Especially if you claim to know, love, and follow Jesus, yes?  Do others see that?

…yes?  How do you know?

…no?  Well, what in the world are you going to do about it?

I hope you act prayerfully.  If you don’t want to act, I suggest you have a good, long conversation with God about why.

And let’s keep this kind of stagnate-producing-apathy at bay.

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how’s your story?

sometimes, you just run fresh out of ideas. your brain feels all dried up. bone dry.

so, you brainstorm.  then what?  free-write, hoping something will just magically appear and take shape from among the nonsensical string of symbols?  no?

what do you do, then?  drink more coffee, take more vitamins, hoping for an increase in brain performance?  or, if you’ve been in dark, do you sit in the sun?  what if that doesn’t work?  what happens then?  do you throw your pencil against the wall, take an angry hand and attack the ruined pieces of paper, scrunching them into misshapen balls, and tossing them all over the room, then throw yourself on the couch and mope around?  no?  do you take a walk outside?  do you wander around inside?  do you pick up the remote and surf mindlessly through all the television channels? do you watch twitter like a hawk, hoping for the appearance of a nice writing prompt?  do you go to work in the kitchen, cooking and baking and eating to forget?  do your laundry?  madly clean house, even though it’s not really dirty?  knit, crochet, cross-stitch, sew?  take your frustration out on the piano, djembe, guitar, saxophone, drum set?  do you read someone else’s work? do you go work in the garden, relishing in the smell of dirt and herbage?  do you play scrabble or words with friends, looking for a new word of inspiration?

do you change environments, plant yourself in a coffee shop or a bar for a while?  do you call up an unsuspecting friend for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or a drink, then proceed to bewail your writers-block misery, dumping all your sorrows on him/her?  or do you just call up a friend and get straight to the sorrow-dumping?  do you get in your car and drive to nowhere in particular, blasting the music or ruminating in silence?  do you take a run to nowhere in particular?  hop on your bike for a long ride?

do you break out the music, turn up it real loud, and dance ‘til you drop?  or sing loudly ‘til your heart pops?

or do you do nothing, and just hope and pray for eventual inspiration?

no?  what do you do, then?  are you writing your story?

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poetry has moved

here

you won’t find it on this blog anymore.

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buh-bye for now

The craziness of autumn all begins tomorrow. I think I have mentioned some of this before. Well, it has arrived. It’s really, truly here.

~hamartiology and soteriology
~pastoral epistles
…..
along with:
~music, music, music. with bo’b, and with the worship team
~ESL teaching (oh, poor students)
~teaching little ones
~student council
~oh, and I almost forgot: working
~additional miscellany as it comes along

Catch me on twitter, FB, or skype, not to mention e-mail.

Au revoir.

God help us all…

..I’m actually going to need a semi-grown-up planner for this upcoming school year.  No more of those simple monthly spreads.

I have this perspicuous reminder in front of me ; I’m getting older, and I forget more things every school year.

Ergo, the planner.

Dang it, I knew I shouldn’t have already made a rough time map, but as they say about me, curiosity kills.  (I have a million lives, though, so no worries there.)

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*yawn*

Tell yourself you really don’t want OR need to read this.  Tell yourself it’s a complete waste of time!  Boring!  Sleep-inducing!  Truly!

Consider yourself warned, then I shall proceed.

1) Are you still reading?  Go away!

2)  I had this gut feeling (whatever you want to call it)  that this year would be different from the past few years, and by golly, my gut was right.  I’ve got a new job I’ll absolutely love, dear friends old and new, a cute place to live, and for better or worse, a new and different grad school that is partially the same as it has always been.  Oh, and I made the student council.  Look out, world.

3) Not to mention new ministry opportunities.  The ESL students at church are going through Living by the Book, and I get to help teach!  I’m excited to see what else I can pack into my schedule….right.

4) Still reading?  There’s no hope for you, I’m afraid.

5) Last, but certainly NOT least, Roomie is getting married to Rascal tomorrow.  Never thought I’d live to experience the day(s) of living with a preoccupied, bedazzled, forgetful, bride-to-be.  Okay, well, that is not entirely true.  I figured these kinds of days would come soon enough.  I’m nearing 30 quite rapidly, after all.

6)  STILL reading?!?!  I sentence you to at least a two sentence comment!  There!

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counting stuff; it’s fun.

The number of things that have had to be repaired in ze auto this year: about six.

The number of people who have gotten engaged/married this year: I’ve lost track.

The number of times I’ve injured myself in the past twelve months: three. That’s a record.

Out of those three injuries, the number of times I’ve injured my feet: twice.  Right foot, inside metatarsal tendon.  Left foot, outside metatarsal tendon.  What are the odds?  (Well, with my royal clumsiness, really high, actually.)

The number of times I’ve had to speak with B of A this year: twice too many.  (Time to switch.)

The number of times I’ve eaten a bowl of popcorn for dinner in the past ten months: umm…….???

The number of books I’ve gotten for free the past ten months: maybe twenty?

The number of books I’ve touched in the past ten months: I’m guessing around ninety thousand, give or take a little.

The number of cookies I’ve eaten: a lady never tells.

The number of pages I’ve read in the past year: sorry, lost track.

The number of Lara bars I’ve consumed the past year: around two hundred and fifty.

The number of poems I’ve composed this year: too few.

The number of stories I’ve written in the past few years: [blank]

The number of babies that have greeted this evil world in 2010 or will be before the year has past: that I know of?  About fourteen, at least.

The number of times I’ve tallied stuff like this to a T: never.  I haven’t even given you numbers for everything.

Happy summer!

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I’m Sorry cards

Working a retail job one Saturday afternoon, I helped a woman move her walker from her car to inside the store.

After I pointed her to the greeting cards, and set the walker down so she could sit in it while perusing the cards, she asked me if there were any “I’m sorry cards.”

“Uhm, I don’t think so, but I’ll look.”  I knew I had never seen any inside this store.

Bible bookstore.  Wouldn’t this place carry I’m Sorry cards?  (You’d think.)

After my search come up dry, the woman began to tell me that she had come looking specifically for an I’m Sorry card, and proceeded to tell me why.  As she opted for the Thank You cards and enlisted my help in finding just the right one, she got further into her story, and began to weep tears of regret (2 Corinthians 7 came to mind, particularly verse 10).  Unsure of what to do or say, I ran (well, not literally, but almost) to a tissue box, took it, returned to the woman and offered her the box.  She took quite a few tissues, as is to be expected.

An older woman, just out of surgery from the VA hospital, in search of an I’m Sorry card. Coming up dry.  Crying her eyes out.  She was really sorry, and didn’t have the right card.  I was beginning to feel sorry, myself.

Pondering this situation much later, I wondered if the lack of I’m Sorry cards  pointed to a much larger problem in Christendom. (At this point, this is where you may want to stop reading if you do not wish to unravel different thoughts and attempt tying them together.  I am quite capable of making my own head hurt, along with yours.) Perhaps we have lost the art of saying “I’m sorry” and truly meaning it.  Maybe we have treated “repentance” too flippantly for the sake of keeping on a serene holy mask that would fool anyone, letting pride sit on our hearts, slowly eating away, just like a lazy worm.

After doing a preliminary search for Apology cards, I discovered that they are quite difficult to locate and obtain, although they do exist.  Then a random piece of trivia came to me, a piece that I had probably read in one of hundreds (thousands?) of books I’ve flipped through (the problem with working with books year after year is that one can arbitrarily come up with little pieces of information, and have little recollection of how that information got into one’s brain).  The piece of information in my brain said something like:  constantly saying “I’m sorry”  reflects a low image of oneself.  Call it “low self-esteem” (self-esteem would be a whole ‘nother blog post, so I’ll avoid becoming side-tracked).

Hm.  If this is how people think, no WONDER Apology cards are hard to find.

Although, that piece of information is quite legitimate in some aspects.  I could see situations in which that would be very applicable, to which I will leave to your imagination.  But flip the coin.  Wouldn’t that also be indicative of pride?  Apologizing more than necessary to avoid punishment?   Saying three little words to sweep it all under the rug and say, All gone now.  Done.  No worries.

“I am sorry.”  Those three words have certainly depreciated.

As people in general, it would be nice if more could truly say, “I’m sorry.”

But take it back to the Bible bookstore.  How many books would you find on, say,  conflict resolution, community life, repentance, reconciliation?  Not many.  How many books would you find on Becoming a Better Version of oneself?  Too many.  As followers of Christ, we have to learn to live with each other, not just one person (myself, yourself).  That means having to say, “I’m sorry” and not just saying it.  None of us is better than the other, and none of us are above screwing up.  We need to show others what “I’m sorry” means.  (Check out 2 Corinthians and Philippians, just to name a couple of resources on living as family in the kingdom.)

P.S. Just so we’re clear, I am far from having this whole thing down.

P.P.S. I think apology cards are only the beginning, but they need to be more easily found.

P.P.P.S I am not surprised that apology cards were nowhere to be found in that store, and difficult to be found anywhere else.  After all, [insert dry tone here] according to Joel Osteen, aren’t you supposed to be Activating Your Faith and Achieving Your Dreams?  Come, now.  Who has time for I’m Sorry cards?  Think positive.

P.P.P.P.S.  Forgiveness deserves a separate blog post, too.

Fin.

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