Archive for the ‘potential’ Category

Quick Check-In

Just a quick check-in from the winter wonderland of New Jersey. We’re out here on our annual holiday vacation visiting Rob’s side of the family, and having a great time. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are anticipating the new year with joy and hope.

Rob and I are preparing for a talk we’re doing on Sacred Simplicity on January 9th. I think I’m going to go back and check out some of my own meditations on the topic from 2008 (“The Complexity of Simplicity” Parts One, Two, Three, and Four)…regardless, we’re excited to be speaking together again. The last time we did a talk together was for an LMU retreat. We spoke to about 60 college students about Sacred Sexuality. I love speaking with Rob, and I think we make a great team. Now it’s just a matter of getting our thoughts organized on paper!

Finally, we’ve also been spending some of these last days of 2009 considering our blessings from this year and our hopes for the next. We’re excitedly thinking about our future garden, about ordering bees, about expanding our family (both animal and human). 2009 was quite an adventure, and now with our new homestead, I am certain that 2010 holds many memories yet to be made.

I love this time of year because of all the potential it holds. So many things held in the tension of hope and wondering.  So many opportunities yet unknown. Fears will be conquered, barriers will be crossed, all while we continue the journey of expanding ever-outward. So, as we journey together into 2010, I pray that we each have the courage to go willingly where God takes us. Sometimes that’s scary, sometimes exciting, but always blessed.

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Things to Come

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Sorry that the posts have been a little thin lately. There’s so much to do in preparation for the move, I’m struggling to fit everything into the few hours each day allows. Yet it’s all done joyfully, and so far I have not felt the debilitating stress that so many have warned come with a big move. I try to remain centered in prayer, focused in my intent, hopeful in the displacement that approaches.

I love two things about this future home of ours: its present state and its future potential. The photo above is of the chicken coop on the property–a coop probably not used in about 20 years. We may not be able to have chickens for at least a year–there are other things that need to take priority–but its very presence promises something to come. I like that. I like that the house is ready to move into, beautiful in its present state, and yet ripe with many possibilities.  The potential of the home dances in shadows across the walls, and I am both grateful for what is and excited for what is to come.

The boxes continue to mount against the living room wall. Our cats have decided that this is a wonderful new playground:

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The pictures are coming off of the walls, the books are leaving their shelves. Like us, each thing in our house is leaving the home that it has known for the last three years. And as each piece of furniture moves, as each box stacks up against the wall, it seems less and less like our home. It’s becoming an unfamiliar space again. This is bittersweet–we don’t want to stay here, but we also are deeply grateful for this, our first home together. It is the slow process of saying good-bye. The former things are passing away.

Packing Up

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Our current apartment is slowly morphing into stacks of boxes against the living room wall. I’ve been going through the closets, cleaning out old boxes, packing away elements of our lives for the transfer into the next chapter. A few boxes actually hadn’t been opened since our last move, so I’m determined not to have “open much later” boxes this time around.

It’s interesting going through all of our things. In many ways we have already done a pretty good job of simplifying and taking stock. But looking through old letters and memory boxes, or seeing things that were really important to me three years ago that seem so much less important now–it’s a thought-provoking process. In some ways it’s like a longer version of an examination of conscience. Where have I been? What has mattered most to me? Who am I becoming in the wake of these experiences?

I think about where I’ve been and the contrast of dreams to come. I think about the long road Robert and I have walked to get to this point, and the work that lies ahead of us. I thank God for the trials and the blessings, those in the past and those that are inevitably waiting. This process is blessed, even if it is, at times, a painful or scary one.

Feeling anxiety about the unknown is also inevitable, I think. No matter how wonderful a future seems, leaving the warm comfort of one’s known world requires no small amount of courage. As I pack up each box, I think about all the things that will be different when it is opened again. It thrills me and makes me nervous all at once. The passage of time is stronger than the movement of glaciers across our lives. Each second gone, one second closer. I embrace the coming of this dream.

Three weeks to go, and it’s all I can do to keep my mind on school. I’m already planting gardens, hammering fence posts, sewing clothes. I’m checking the temperature in the greenhouse. I’m taking our dog on a walk. I’m watching our family grow older and bigger in this new home. I need to remind myself that the present is sacred, too.

And I cherish it. I cherish the “lasts” of living in the city. The last few times a Barnes and Noble is right down the street.  The last time visiting our beloved vet. The last time driving to my parents is an easy 40 minute car ride. Last, last, last. I cherish the lasts, as I anticipate the firsts. But I feel the tension of being caught in the middle.

Yes, I embrace the dream to come. But I also embrace the one that is here.

Getting Closer

house_pano_compressWe took my parents up to the house on Sunday and gave them the grand tour. We also got a closer look at the details of the place–we went inside the root cellar, took a peak inside the jacuzzi, gave a the chicken coop a once-over. The grape vines might be able to be salvaged, but they haven’t been watered in a very long time. There’s also an unused foundation that may someday turn into the goat barn–who knows! Some fruit trees are already planted, but I think we are going to expand the orchard. The chicken coop will need some protective wiring around the area. I can’t wait to watch the sun rise out of that kitchen window.

The potential just seems to ooze out of every element of this place. I can see all the different possibilities of what we can do, and I am still in disbelief that this is actually my life.

The best possible scenario is that we move in over Thanksgiving weekend. And we will be giving thanks indeed! For now, a slow and steady pace of work will be necessary for the short run. Juggling seminary and packing will not be easy. But, in a strange way, I’ve always enjoyed packing. The potential and hope of the new place always keeps me going.

At this time of year, it gets around freezing at night in Tehachapi. I’m going to have to find a good winter coat. This isn’t the Southern California beach weather anymore, Dorothy!

Each day gets us one step closer.

A Cautious Hope

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It makes me nervous to actually write the words…dare I say it? We’re in escrow! This is the northward view from our new house(!), which we’ll hopefully be able to truly call our own  in a little over a month. The air vent you see in the bottom right is on the roof of the root cellar on the property.

It’s a dream.  A dream I’m afraid can be snatched away at any moment…but, as I said before, there is value in any dream. So we wait and hope and prepare. It’s possible that just after thanksgiving we may be in a home with a greenhouse, a root cellar, and a chicken coop. Everything we’ve been working toward. Everything we’ve hoped for.

It takes a willingness to change–change jobs, change level of convenience, change the entire pace of life. But we’re ready. More than ready…we’re excited for it.

We’ll be moving two hours away from where we are now, away from the smog and traffic and LED billboards. We’ll be actual country folks, with an acre and a half to call our own. We can have chickens and goats and bees, and we’ll can and pickle and freeze our summer harvest so we can taste a little of July’s blessings in January. We’ve already decided what to call our little homestead: abbondanza. Abundance.

And if this dream is fulfilled, if we actually get to live here, then we will always do our best to share in the abundance. For it isn’t really ours in the first place…our breaths are on borrowed time, so how could we even think that we could actually own a piece of earth that has seen tens of thousands of millenia? But for this time on earth, let us be able to share the blessings. May it be a place of safety, of welcoming, and of community.

We wait and we hope.

Still Dreaming

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Our dream of a true homestead may be closer than we ever could have anticipated. I’ll post more when we know more, but for now, we’re saying some extra prayers.

Communal Hope

IMG_5416Rob and I spent some time chatting with LMU students last night about Creation Care. Officially, he and I were speakers on the topic for a “Theology on Tap” gathering. But, as seems to continally be the case, I found that as we ministered, so we received blessings tenfold.

These young men and women were mostly seniors in college–about seven or eight years younger than me. They are filled with a vibrancy and hope that inspired both of us.  I am finding that as I speak to more and more people, it becomes clear that the ideas are out there. The motivation and desire exist.  Most people just need one or two things: a little direction, and the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey. This is why I am so passionate about speaking on Creation Care–not because I have an abundance of knowledge to impart, but rather to give people a reason to come together. As we share ideas, talk about what one another is doing, and make connections, we build a network of support for one another.

Which leads me to comment on the thought that has been turning over and over in my head throughout the last three weeks of this quarter: the lynchpin of all sustainable Christian movements is communty.

True community is sorely lacking in many of our most foundational Christian gathering places.  We seem to get very comfortable in the way things have always been, and are anxious when we consider things being different. What if we really knew the people in our parish–really knew them? What if we extended our boundaries beyond Sunday Mass or meeting with fellow parents in the school parking lot, and decided to try to model the early Church of Acts? I’m speaking mostly to my Catholic brethren now, because this is the community with which I have the most familiarity. My experience at Fuller has taught me that there is much we can learn from some of our brothers and sisters in certain Protestant denominations.

I had a class last quarter with a young man (he couldn’t have been over 24 years old) who had formed a group of about fifty people within his church. They decided to be a type of “emergency ministry.”  Any time a person in their congregation had a personal emergency–a woman’s transmission suddenly blew out, or a father lost his job unexpectedly, or a family didn’t know how to pay for a child’s school supplies–they went to this group of people. Everything was out in the open and nothing was secret. The person would talk about the problem with the group, and they would find a way to help. The natural checks and balances within the community kept the system sustainable; since everyone saw eachother at least once a week, people could continue to see how the person was doing as the emergency passed. Likewise, the person knew two things: they could depend on the community and that they were responsible for how they responded to the gift. The young man described great success with this program and told us that it did bring the church community much closer in their support of one another in time of need.

I tell you this story because I believe it shows the importance of community in our Christian lives. Often we look at the problems of the secular world and feel overwhelmed. How do we counter a culture of overconsumption and spiritual starvation? The answer, I believe, lies in community. We must break free of the idea that we need to “go it alone” or accomplish everything as individuals. In community we are stronger, and in community we can accomplish more through our combined gifts than we ever could on our own.

Back to the idea of our experience at LMU last night. Forming a small community–even for a moment–was just one example of how we might support one another as we seek change in our world. I think that every opportunity should be taken to do this. It may be for one night, it may be for a whole year. But forming community and supporting one another is essential. We cannot live out Christianity in solitude. That’s just not how it works.

Thank you, LMU students, for giving me more to think about–and for giving me more hope. I am continually amazed and grateful for the potential that God has placed in each of us. Think of what we can do with that potential….together.