Sunday, June 21, 2015

coffee, rest, reading: my fuel

Life has felt especially full these days. This is because of really good things happening - promotion at work! some lofty, exciting goals on the writing front! good friends, fun travel, fulfilling ministry! And yet, on more days than I can count, I end the day wondering where the time went, when my laundry will get done, and who I forgot to call or text. My oil change reminder sticker shows a date and mileage that have both passed, and deadlines for some important things are coming fast. It feels counterintuitive to take time for things like rest, reflection, and doing nothing. And yet that storehouse needs to be filled. Time will start to feel thin if I don't take time to refuel.

So today is my day for coffee, for reading, for walking slowly. How are you resting this weekend?

Friday, June 12, 2015

get gripped

“I could either shut up, that’s the end, get on with dying. Or, get gripped, which is what happened.” 

-Jenny Diski, on the decision to keep writing after being diagnosed with terminal cancer

This quote really spoke to me this morning. Though Diski is speaking of death quite immediately, I'm thinking of it in more generally - like, isn't that one of two choices we face? The other, I think, is living with desire - or getting gripped, as Diski says it. Facing obstacles or impossibilities - that vast roiling sea on the shores of which we either die or find a way to the other side - forces the choice of allowing the end to come or finding the way forward. The problem with desire is that, often, it feels like it is bringing us to the end, too. Do you jump in the sea and swim? And even if the waters are parted for you to walk across on dry ground, the columns of water at your sides could crash in on you at any moment. But then there is what's on the other side that keeps calling to your heart, gripping you, and you keep walking.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

the echo that did not die away

Loving this:
There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. ... All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it - tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest - if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself - you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeads, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all. 
...Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you... Your place in heaven will seem made for you and you alone, because you were made for it - made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

-C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

i would miss this all so much

A few months ago, I traveled to Minneapolis for a writing conference. This wasn't so much a destination as a stop on my way to somewhere else, namely, becoming a better writer. The day I landed, April was acting more like February, keeping the sun hidden with a think layer of clouds and blowing cold wind to stir up the leaves and trash along the sidewalks. From the airport I took the light rail downtown, and dug my winter coat out of my suitcase to put over top my denim jacket while I waited for it to come. After the light rail, I crossed the street and took the bus a few miles to my hostel. Bare tree branches hadn't yet sprouted their new leaves, and the hostel had an old, creepy feeling (made even more so by the quirky characters who worked there). I looked at my room and one of my first thoughts was, I hope there are no mice in here.

The first day, it rained so hard that my boots and pants were soaked through by the time I walked the mile to the convention center from my hostel, and my coffee had turned cold and stale along the way. Later that day, it snowed. There wasn't much good food to eat or anything interesting to see, and though I liked my conference, I was eager to leave Minneapolis behind.

The next morning, I went for a run. Running a city forges a special relationship between you and it - you feel its roads, see more of it up close, get some of its wind in your hair. I stood by the Mississippi and took photos of the sky and bridge. Later that day, the sun came out. After the conference was over for the day, I walked in the sun's warming glow with some new books in my hand and full of new words and ideas. After dinner, I went to a coffee shop. And I think that's when it happened that I fell in love with Minneapolis.

It was familiar, in its brick and gritty city and white and black and trees and sky. And it was decidedly not Los Angeles, the city which has been my home for nearly 11 years but against which I still like to rail, an adopted daughter who still stands on the edges of her new home. The coffee shops were open late, people weren't trying to make statements, there were old brick churches and skyways and so many things inside instead of out. I liked that it was new and that I didn't have to learn to love it in the long-term kind of way one has to settle into home.

I suppose I have a bit of a wandering heart. On the flight home, I considered what it would be like to move to Minneapolis and have coffee not just one Sunday but every Sunday at that coffee shop I visited and to run along the Mississippi and buy a heavier winter coat. This was still on my mind when I arrived at Union Station from the bus that drove me there from LAX, ready to catch the light rail to Pasadena. I rolled my suitcase behind me and looked up to the cloudless sky that seems so big here. The sun painted the sky pink as it left for the day, and jasmine flirted with the early evening air that was cool, not cold. And I remembered, this is why it's good to call LA my home. I would miss this all so much.