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Showing posts from January, 2011

kind numbers

On Monday after a few hours of research, I walked to the grocery store to buy some snacks for the week. As I am prone to do, I began by thinking I would get only a few items. I started to pile drinks and bagels and yogurt in my arms and then had to set everything down and go looking for a basket. After wandering down a few more aisles of goodies, the basket was starting to get pretty full, too, and a clerk asked me if I wanted a cart. What? No! I did a re-think and put some items back, reminding myself that I had to carry everything back to my room which was a 15-minute walk away, and I was only going to be here for 5 days.

I had one more thing on my list: fruit. Finding something good was a challenge. The apples and pears didn't look very appetizing, the grapes - meh; there was not much else for selection, and all of it was expensive. Finally, I found blueberries for 99 cents! Yay! I picked up 3 boxes, added them to my pile of popcorn and yogurt, and headed for the checkout.

Everyt…

it's awfully quiet here

I am currently in Alexandria, Virginia. That's just 15 minutes outside of Washington, DC, in case you were having trouble placing it on the world map. I am sitting here in a dorm room at Virginia Theological Seminary, sipping tea and putting off getting to the evening's homework after spending several hours in the archives researching thesis stuff. Not that much different than at home, really, except there is no loud television playing some 'guy show' in the background and this particular library houses an Evelyn Underhill Collection.

I took a 16-hour train ride yesterday to get here. It was interesting, to say the least. Some of the people that crossed my path, ever so briefly, are still with me in some way. I don't know what to make of them, and honestly, I guess I don't need to make anything of them. That would be bordering on judging. Spending a week pretty much by myself, without a single soul that I know and only a few people in sight (the seminary is virt…

the first day

Today was the first day of a seminar I am taking on University Teaching. As with all first classes, there was that period of awkward self-consciousness when you first meet the professor and your fellow students. There was also a sense of confidence when I had ready answers to questions the teacher was asking because I had done my reading and have some teaching experience. Then there was the brief surge of being overwhelmed when I looked at the assignments due in the next 10 weeks, as well as some excitement at knowing that yes, I will get it all done, and I will enjoy the learning process.

Life resembles the first day of class in many ways, and I think that's a healthy thing. It means that I showed up instead of opted out of a learning opportunity. In fact, one could say that the three elements that I identified above can serve as a good indicator that one is alive and well and making progress in life.
1. Unfamiliar and Maybe Awkward: I think there should always be something that m…

Lost and Found: A play in two acts

The location: automatic carwash at the gas bar
The actors: Matte, 2 black gloves, gas bar attendant
The setting: dirty CRV, cold winter day, line-up of 5 cars for the carwash

Act One: Friday

Scene 1: Matte gets in the line to wash the CRV because it is filthy from winter sludge. It will be a 20 minute wait, so she takes off her gloves, pulls out her iphone, and amuses herself. Her turn finally comes, the door to the carwash opens, and she slowly drives forward. She is careful to keep one eye on the ramp the left tire must hit and the other on the lit-up direction board in front of her that will tell her when to stop. She keeps driving...past the washing mechanism and halfway to the exit and still the direction board says GO. What? Something is wrong! She drives forward and back and forward and back and tries to make the direction board say STOP, but everything has shut down. Argh! What to do!

Scene 2: Matte sets her iphone down, gets out of the car, runs out the open garage door at the end…

11 things that made me feel alive

Very often, I am struck by the unique importance and beauty of each day. I try to savour every minute, each mundane task or challenging moment, and not only do it well, but with fervour and grace. I work hard not to let frustration, worry, anger, fear, or petty criticism steal any of these moments away from me. I don't always succeed, but I am getting better at it.

Here are some of my richest experiences in the past 24 hours. This list may not look especially momentous or impressive to anyone else, but even in the grand scheme of things, I can't think of anything else I would rather have been doing at these very moments.
1. Last night on my way to the theatre, I managed to miss two buses in the space of 20 minutes. I ran for at least a kilometre in the cold night air of Montreal between 3 different bus stops, and finally caught a bus at the third one. I tried to text the person I was meeting to let them know I would be late, but the texts refused to send for some unknown reason…

presence

I had to take Jazz to the vet for a shot yesterday morning. I asked Dean if he wanted to come with me and he said no, so I bundled her up in her cage and we trundled off to the garage. Our garage opens with a keypad, so I held Jazz's cage in one hand while I entered the code and got the door open. Our car fits rather tightly into the garage, so I struggled with the heavy cage as I dodged a hanging bike and opened the back car door a crack to wedge her cage through the opening without scratching either the wall, the car door, the leather seats, or myself. Not an easy feat. Finally, we were on our way and Jazz serenaded me with her rendition of "I Know Where We're Going and I Don't Like It!" all the way to the vet's office.
I won't regale you with all the details, but because of the slushy mess on the ground and a large bag of cat food that I acquired at the vet's, more awkwardness ensued in various parking lots. I finally got Jazz in the door of our c…

contrast

I am currently a teaching assistant in a course called Introduction to Christian Origins. One of the books that I just finished reading for this course is a fictional, but historically-based account about what life was like for Christians in the first century. Yes, it inevitably ended with one of the main characters being martyred. Nowadays, the word 'martyr' has somewhat negative connotations because we associate it with radical political and religious action, such as recent terrorist acts. That is unfortunate, because by devaluing the term we miss out on some incredible lessons in devotion and courage.

I have been thinking about what it looks like to be someone who has devoted their life to following Jesus in the present age. The three M's, becoming martyrs, monks, or missionaries, are no longer the obvious options for whole-hearted surrender that they were at different times in history. But then, is a radical change of lifestyle, location, and livelihood vital in order t…

more nothing and a few other things

I don't really do resolutions, but I do like to learn, so here are a few things that I would like to get better at in the next few months by turning my attention to them.

1. Not complaining. This is not merely a matter of squelching the oft-present urge to see the negative side or stuffing my tendency to criticize deep down inside of me where it can fester. Instead, I want to redirect my energy, my attention, and my focus to the goodness of God all around me. Gratefulness is the secret weapon that can transform not only my perspective but the tone of any interaction or task. I want to take gratitude out and wield it more often.

2. Being True. One of my favourite tv shows right now is "Lie to Me," a drama about a deception expert who reads faces in order to tell if someone is lying or hiding something. The amazing principle present here (and yes, the show is based on an actual science) is that our bodies are made to tell the truth! Every time we venture into deception, our …