For Each Tree Is Known by Its Own Fruit

re-1After reading the foreword, I did not foresee that each discourse would be so packed. I imagined short discourses that would focus on one area of how love is displayed through our actions. Instead, I found the first reflection to be much more in depth than I expected. The first discourse was on love’s fruit and how it can be recognized. However, the piece did not only compare love to a tree that yields fruit but it addressed subjects such as hypocrisy and deception and how they are an obstacle to love yielding its proper fruit. Within the discourse, there were a few passages that I found to be the most revealing–at least personally.

I have had many conversation about short-term mission trips with my roommate. We always say what we think and comment on what we have seen and the experiences we have had with such trips, but we are always left with one question: is it really for the good of others, or is it for our own good? There was a passage in the first discourse that quickly reminded me of said conversations:

“There are, indeed, acts which in a special sense are called works of love. But, in truth, because one makes charitable contributions, because he visits the widow and clothes the naked–his love is not necessarily demonstrated or made recognizable by such deeds, for one can perform works of love in an unloving, yes, even in a self-loving way, and when this is so, the works of love are nevertheless not the work of love” (30).

It makes me ask myself, when I think I do something for the good of others, is it them that I truly have in mind or am I acting to make myself feel better, look better?

Now, the second passage that called me to reflect further read,

“For the divine authority of the Gospel speaks not to one man about another man, not to you, the reader, about me, or to me about you–no, when the gospel speaks it speaks to the single individual. It does not speak about us men, you and me, but it speaks to us men, you and me, and it speaks about the requirement that love shall be known by its fruits” (31).

How many times have I judged others’ actions by placing them as self-loving, as opposed to seeking the good will of others? Perhaps, I should stop wondering about people and short-term mission trips. Maybe I should let them carry on with their action and let the Gospel speak to the single individual.

There is one last passage I want to leave with you to ponder on: “To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity” (23-24).

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Journeying into Love

works of loveA few months ago, I began going with Mercy to Barnes & Noble to study. Every time I would give myself a break after finishing an assignment and would wander from aisle to aisle while admiring the books. One afternoon, I walked through the Philosophy section and grabbed a book title Works of Love. I read the review and was tempted to buy the book, but when I looked at the price decided to place it back in its shelf. However, my mind changed after a few visits and I decided to spoil myself, so I bought the book.

It was not until yesterday, however, that I was able to begin reading Kierkegaard’s piece. I read the foreword, translators’ introduction, author’s preface, and prayer–then I stopped. There were two things that kept me from reading ahead: something mentioned by the author of the foreword (George Pattison), and something mentioned by Kierkegaard.

First, Pattison suggest a way in which we ought to read the Kierkegaard’s discourses: “Although…there is often a clear link between one discourse and the next, each is a self-sufficient entity that it can be read and appreciated on its own. We are not to finish one and hurry on to the next, but are to consider how each can be made fruitful in its own terms” (xvi).

Second, Kierkegaard writes in his own preface: “These are Christian reflections; therefore they are not about love but about the works of love” (xxvii).

These two statements make me both excited and afraid to read the reflections. Works of Love refer to my actions as a Christian, as a product of the love in me, as a reflection of Christ who lives in me. I am afraid to continue reading and find that my actions are not the fruit produced by God’s love in me. I’m afraid I will find that I have not been a good enough neighbor, friend, daughter. Nonetheless, I am anxious to read on and be illuminated. I am anxious to know  if my actions have not been the fruit of love, for if it is so, then I will be challenged and changed.

Additionally, Pattison’s statement calls me to take time and think about each reflection read. As a form of reflection I will write, blog; And hopefully invite anyone who reads this to be illuminated and transformed along with me.

God’s Sovereignty

Lately, I have been reading some stuff by Abraham Kuyper. The book I’m currently reading focuses more on his idea of common grace in science and the arts, but it also touches slightly on his idea of sphere sovereignty. Now, there is a sweet and short introduction to this book that briefly explains Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty:” “from God’s sovereignty there derives more discrete sovereign ‘spheres’ such as the state, business, the family, and the church… Sphere sovereignty describes a pluralism of both social structures and world views and is one prominent feature in Kuyper’s approach to public life” (Wisdom and Wonder, 2011, p. 24-25).

Last night, during Bible Study, we looked at chapter 9 of Romans–God’s sovereignty, best known as predestination. After going through the chapter with the girls that came, we had a discussion. There is one girl who usually talks, but while she pulled a personal application of the chapter, her voice began to sound shaky and her lips began quivering. I looked over and thought she was on the verge of tears. Then she mentioned how overwhelmed she was by the fact that accepting God’s sovereignty also means accepting that God is present in every area of life.

Today, there have been small occurrences that have made me attune to this teaching. My small revelation for the day has been that God’s sovereignty is present in each one of our lives in a way that is not oppressing, but in a way that offers grace and mercy to humanity (which, if you want to know more about, please read Romans 9).

Lastly, someone saw me reading the book and asked me why I was reading it. I told them that I recognized the author’s last name from some history class in high school; so, I picked it up. Then, she asked me if I was sure that’s how the name was pronounced. I realized I wasn’t sure, so I decided to look. I found confirmation in this awesome video–on one theologian from another theologian.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8B1A7oPe-8

Playlist for 28 Nov ’12

There’s has been Joy inhabiting within me lately. Joy has been kindled by God, family, friends, gratitude, art, music. I could write a list of all the things that have brought Joy into my life, but I would not be able to go to bed before midnight. Instead, I have chosen to post a playlist of all the songs that have fostered Joy and which I have listened to throughout the course of my day.

1. Saving Us Tonight by Satellite (I’m counting down until their first album is released on Feb 19th, 2013!)

2. I Will Be Light by Matisyahu

3. Towers by Bon Iver

4. All Praise to You by All Sons And Daughters

5. Flags by Brooke Fraser

Gratitude

“Thanks:” such a simple word, yet it carries so much weight.

Lately, I have seen the power of gratitude. When we learn to live life by giving thanks for all the things that we have–that we are blessed with, yet we don’t deserve–we are much happier. This semester I’ve had to learn the art of thanking. The amount of homework for my classes had become overwhelming; the other duties I had to fulfill were starting to feel like enslaving shackles, as opposed to opportunities to serve those around me. However, as I began giving more thanks an being grateful for another day of life I was being granted by God, I realized my spirit was uplifted and strengthened. Such a simple word, yet it brought so much light into my life. Although I became pessimistic about all the things I felt obligated to do, the gratitude I felt towards God enlightened the gratitude I felt toward those around me.

Tonight I had the opportunity to share the moving and changing force of gratitude–although I might say it is as powerful, moving, and changing as the force of gravity–with the girls on my floor. Earlier this evening, we gathered in the basement of our building and broke bread together. We prayed. We gave thanks; we were grateful for God’s grace and forgiveness, for our families, for our roommates and friends, for our floor’s community.

There is nothing else I can write that can truly portray how I feel about gratitude. All I know is that I am happy and content. I am grateful for God’s love, my family, friends, and community. I give thanks and I am at peace.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world” ~John Milton

Idolizing

The summer is ending, and it’s almost time to go back to school -less than 10 days, now. There are thousands of thoughts that pass through my head every hour: What will I do the day I get back to school? How will I move the furniture to re-arrange the room? What will I do for my senior  thesis? Will I be a failure as an RA? How many times will I get sick this semester? Well, those aren’t exactly thoughts, but questions. However, knowing that my last days at home would be pretty empty of work, I decided to make my hands busy with organizing and crafts.

Every time I finish something my mom looks at it and tells me how beautiful it turned out. If there are other people in the house, she’ll get up to go show them what I just made. They will also approve of it and praise it. I really, really, really dislike praise. See, I used to have a problem with pride and self-sufficience, and it was hard to overcome it. Praise takes me back to my addiction. If I pay too much attention to the compliments I am given, I begin to think too highly of myself. I begin thinking that I am a good student, writer, artist, daughter, etc., when in reality, I’m not. I am only a good student because it pleased God to help me get good grades. I’m only a good artist because it pleased God to give me hands, to give me dexterity to hold my instruments, and to give me a head to think creatively. So, really, I don’t deserve any of the compliments I receive, but God does.

Thanks to my crafting, I’ve been receiving compliments. Every time I hear one I have to remind myself to think, What if I had no hands? What if I suddenly lost them? Thank you for the hands you have given me, Father.  My reading this morning reminded me of the way I am prone to think of what I make,

” All who make idols are nothing, and the the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant to their own shame… The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it our with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory. that it may dwell in a shrine. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Be he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meals and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.’ From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ‘Save me; you are me god…’ No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I use for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a destestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?'” (Isaiah 44: 9-19)

I may not make carve idols out of wood or bow down to what I make, but am I not idolizing my hands by feeling proud of what they make? Am I  not idolizing the talent  I did not conceive, but which is given to me only because God is gracious?

I pray I remember idols are not only made out of wood. I’ll pray I remember to look for those tangible and untangible things I tend to praise and idolize.

Repeats



There’s something amazing that happens when I’m at home: I am able to shelter from the infuences. While I’m home I don’t have to see people that might
distract me from walk with God, I don’t have to answer my celphone because there’s nobody that’ll call me. While I’m away from school there’s no Hulu to watch during my free-time, there’s no need to spend much time on trivial and banal websites. When I have nothing to distract me, I can spend more time talking with the ones I love -my family-, reading, writing, crafting, and praying. Although I’ve seen how my home country has been slowly americanized, life is still simpler and not as distracting and endulging as the american life style. While I’m away from disturbances I’m able so hear better and see clearer. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been working with women for the last couple of days. Well, while working with them I’ve heard some repeating things. The first day I was with them I met one of the people that helped them organized their small business. She asked me where I was from and where I went to school, and things of that sort. Later she asked me what I thought about doing after I was done with college. She wanted to know what I would do with an Art degree, I told her I wasn’t sure, but that I was certain that God has something in store for me. I told her I knew I liked working with people and sharing my passion for art with others, but that I had no idea what I would do after I graduated college. She looked around at the work we were doing and with a smile said, “maybe you’ll work with other women just like you are doing now.” I remained silent and simply nodded. Her words struck me because the same thought had been in my head the day before; I thought maybe that’s part of God’s calling for my life. Working with women is an idea that was accidentally instilled by my mom. I have been a witness of her work with women since I was a kid. When she was still practicing law, she volunteered at a center who needed a lawyer to take cases of women who suffered domestic violence. When she stopped practicing law and took up cooking, she worked with churches to teach women how to bake and help with their families’s finances. Then I was given the opportunity to work in a similar way and share the talents God has given me. That was a thought that had been roaming my mind for a while, but nobody had ever thrown that idea back at me.

Another interesting thing that keeps happening is this verse I keep hearing. Yesterday was my third day working with the women and one of them decided to turn on the radio. First there were some songs playing and then I heard someone start preaching a message. I was focused on my embossing but I could still hear bits and chunks of the message. I knew the man was talking about Elijah and once I was done with my task I payed more attention to the radio. the central verse/passage the preacher used was 1 Kings 19; the same passage I’ve kept hearing throughout this summer! I’m not sure what’s going on with all those things that keep repeating in my life lately, but I’m sure my Father does. 

Rushing Days

Yesterday was a hectic day. After my dad came home in the afternoon I realized that I have about two weeks left at home! When I came home in May I felt like I would be here for a very long time -almost forever. However, my time in Nica is almost over. Today was my second day working with the women at Iglesia Verbo and by the end of my time there I felt exhausted, but it was so worth it. Yesterday felt odd because I didn’t really know any of them, so all we did was work. However, today I got the chance to talk to them more and get to know them; I was overjoyed! The more I get to share with these women, the more I feel this is what I was ultimately called to do this summer. One of the most amazing things about today was seeing the progress that they made. When we began embossing, they were a bit confused about the steps and about which side of the alumninium they needed to work on next. They got their project done yesterday and their final product was good, but it was not as crip as it could be. Today did another project and worked on wood. Their work with the metal was fantastic! It did not look like they had only learned yesterday. While we worked, we were able to talk about our families and I was able to hear how they all worked together to make the products and bring some income into their families. I am sad that it will time to leave my family again, but the sadness and worry went away when I started working with these women. Their spirit has been a great encouragement and example to my life these days.

Children, Women, and Whispers

Working with children for the past five weeks was probably the greatest challenged I’ve had to face this year. When I said ‘yes’ to the task I thought it would be easier. Once I was asked for lesson plans I knew it would be harder thatn I thought. Then kids started crying and not listening. They threw up their food, were unable to go potty by themselves, and were uncapable of putting on their own swimsuits. Then I knew that it was gonna be a challenge. As the weeks passed I became discouraged.

A few months before school got out I began praying for a summer job. I didn’t want to work with mission teams anymore because I didn’t want to invest any more time into something  I was not going to do after college. I asked God to put me to something that would prepare for whatever He had in store for my future. I never wanted to be a teacher, and I still don’t, but I took the teaching job. When I became discouraged with teaching I began questioning God and getting mad for being in the place where I was. But God knows better and he sent a subtle answer. Every morning before class, the staff met to have devotions. One morning Tim mentioned a verse that had been showing up in my life recently: “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” I noticed that the verse had to be important since I had been hearing it a few times -and it isn’t one of those popular verses; however, I am dumb and couldn’t make sense of it. While I worked with children some opportunites came up and I was asked to work with a group of young women from a church. I was supposed to teach these women how to make jewelry, but they were a bit irresponsible with schedules and assignments and I once again became discouraged.

The day I finished working at the school, I got some news from my mom. Earlier that day she had visited this project at a local church, and she had met some women that also worked with jewelry so being a stellar mother, she told them about who I was and what I do. Well, these women were interesting in learning metal embossing which I happen to know, so my mom told them that she would talk with me, but that she was sure that I would be more than willing to teach them. When I got home that day, all I wanted to do was sleep for the rest of my summer, but when I spoke to my mom I knew that wouldn’t happen. I was still discouraged by the attitude of the previous group of women, but I accepted to meet them and ask them what they wanted to learn.

I visited the place today and almost cried when I realized how enthusiastic they were about learning! I will be going back tomorrow and couldn’t be more excited to work with them. After meeting them, I got back in the car to go to my mom’s work. While bearing with traffic, the bible verse came to my mind. Today I realized that I had been looking in the wrong places. God is always with me, but the answer I sought from Him was not at the school. I saw the work with children as my sole job, as what God wanted me to do, but I was wrong. I was not hearing His gentle whisper as I worked with the women.

Teaching at the school built my patience and tamed my tongue -words must be watched when one is near children, they’re like little sponges that absorb all they hear and see. Having gone through the challenge of loving little ones prepared me for loving grown ups. I may not become a teacher in the distant future, but I know that I will be working with people. Perhaps I will keep being blessed with the chance to work with such precious women 🙂

Roads, Sunrises and Sunsets


Today has been a little bit of an overwhelming day, but it has also been a reminder, a good reminder.

The one day I didn’t have to go to work, I still got woken up early because we were heading out on a small trip. My parents and I go out often, but only to places that are close to the main city. My parents love greenerie, but they’re not real fans of the outdoors. On the other hand, I really enjoy spending some time outside -when it’s not too hot. I like the beach, I love the forests and mountains. Today we drove almost three hours south to go visit one of my uncles, and go to the beach. On the way there I finished reading a book that I had been wanting to finish for a day or two.

After seeing my uncle and his family we headed out to spend some time at a quiet beach. When we got there everything was very serene. There were less than twenty people on that large stretch of sand and salty water. We parked at one end of the beach and I took of my sandals to walk to the other end and back. It had been a long time since I had last felt the wet beach sand under my toes. My parents didn’t follow me to where I walked, so my only company became the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks at the other end of the beach stretch; it helped me think about what I had just finished reading.

While walking I realized that it had been years since I had had peace at a place like that. I remember one morning six years ago, I was at a youth group retreat and woke up early one morning. It must have been around 5 a.m., since the sky was starting to show its blues without displaying any sun rays. I got out of our cabin and walked to the small dock that led the way to the lagoon, and I just sat there waiting for the sun to rise. I remember having watched the sunset the day before. On the same dock I watched night fall and storm approaching. There had been some people swimming when it was all dark, and I would wait for the light of the thunders to shine on their faces; it was the only way I could distinguish who was still in the water. This were just some of the many times I’ve sat contemplating my natural surroundings, gazing a creation. Today was a reminder that I need to go back to sunsets and sunrises, for these have been moments that bring tears to my eyes. They remind me of how small I am, and of how mortal. They remind me of God’s precission and His incredibly attention to detail. They remind that I need to be in such silence, and in company of His creation, to be able to hear His whisper. The thoughts that raced through my mind today cannot be written in one blogpost, and they certainly cannot be digested in one three-hour ride back. However, there was one passage in the book that I identified with as I got through the day:

God is an artist, I think to myself. I have known this for a long time, seeing His brushwork in the sunrise and sunset, and His sculpting in the mountains and the rivers. But the night sky is His greatest work. And I would have never known it if I had stayed in Houston. I would have bought a little condo and filled it with Ikea trinkets and dated some girl just because she was hot and would have read self-help books, end to end, one after another, trying to fix the gaping hole in the bottom of my soul, the hole that, right now, seems plugged with Orion, allowing my soul to collect that feeling of belonging and love you only get when you stop long enough to engage the obvious.”

-Don Miller, Through Painted Deserts

Thank you, Father, for making sunrises and sunsets.

Equally Skilled

From the first time I heard one of Jon Foreman’s songs, all of his songs have spoken to my soul. His songs aren’t upbeat, but they make me feel safe and at peace; I had not understood why this was. This morning, I finished reading the book of Micah. While reading, I came across a verse and instantly thought of a song by Jon Foreman. After I was done reading, I went to my room to listen to some music, and after scrolling through a few artists I ended up listening to Jon Foreman. I went down to the song that I had remembered this morning and as I listened to the lyrics, tears began to fill my eyes. It made sense! The reason why his songs speak to me and give me a sense of peace is that the come from the words of the One who gives me peace. The words of the songs were God’s words layered with the notes of an acoustic guitar. There are no words more precious than those who breathe life into me; there are no songs more precious than those that remind me of such words.

Equally Skilled by Jon Foreman

How miserable I am
I feel like a fruitpicker who arrived here
after the harvest
There’s nothing here at all
There’s nothin at all here that could placate my hunger

“What misery is mine! I am like one who gather summer gruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave” -Micah 7:1

The godly people are all gone
There’s not one honest soul left alive here on this planet
We’re all murders and theives
Setting traps here for even our brothers

“The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net” -Micah 7:2

And both of our hands
Are equally skilled
At doing evil
Equally skilled
At bribing the judges
Equally skilled
At perverting justice
Both of our hands
Both of our hands

Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts. the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire- they all conspire together” -Micah 7:3

The day of justice comes
And is even now swiftly arriving
Don’t trust anyone at all
Not your best friend or even your wife

“The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you… Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace” -Micah 7:4-5

For the son hates the father
The daughter despises even the mother
Look! Your enemies are right
Right in the room of your very household

“For a son dishonor his father, a daughter rises up against her mother” -Micah 7:6


And both of their hands are equally skilled

No, don’t gloat over me
For though I fall, though I fall
I will rise again

Though I sit here in darkness
The Lord, the Lord alone
He will be my light

I will be patient as the Lord
Punishes me for the wrongs
I’ve done against him

After that he’ll take my case
Bringing me to light and to justice
For all I have suffered

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen I will rise. Though I sit here in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness” -Micah 7:9

And both of his hand are equally skilled
At ruining evil
Equally skilled
At judging the judges
Equally skilled
Administring justice
Both of his hands
Both of his hands are equally skilled
At showing them mercy
Equally skilled
At loving the loveless
Equally skilled
Administring justice
Both of his hands
Both of his hands

Woven

 

Lately there have been pending decissions in my to-do list. They have mostly been about next school year’s housing plans. In my mind, the decission to live in an intentional community comes from wanting to live with other, wanting from and share with our peers. Throughout this past week, I’ve been doubting my idea of intentional living. But I’ve also been reading an inspiring book. This is a passage that reminded me why we must live together in fellowship and discipleship, despite our cultural background, skin color, and age:

“If we are not careful, in all of our infatuation with ourselves we lose the secret of Jesus… When we spend so much time looking in the mirror, we are no longer looking at Jesus. That’s exactly what discipleship is all about, surrounding ourselves with folks who remind us of Jesus, and hoping they rub off on us a little. As one of my friends says, ‘Discipleship means finding a Rabbi we follow so closely that we get covered in the dust behind him.’ Intentional community is just choosing a group of folks to do life with because they will move us closer to the person God wants us to be” (97). Follow Me To Freedom

My hope is that next year we might be so involved in one another’ lives that we might grow together. I hope we enlighten one another with our knowledge, and that we may lead each other closer to the calls God is prompting us to answer.

Resolutions

As rough as it is to admit, this is the proof that Johnson has left a mark in my life. I believe this to be the first time I write a resolution. It’s not that I have something against them, I simply believed that writing something down did not mean I could or would accomplish it. My beliefs on resolution have not changed, but maybe writing it down would serve as a reminder that I should worry about meeting the goals that I have set before me.

These are my resolutions for the summer:

1. Journal and pray daily

2.Read my Bible.

3. Read a book weekly.

4. Excersise for a minimum of 15 minutes daily.

5. Eat as little meat as possible (beef, chicken, fish, etc).

6. Blog at least three times a week.

7. Hone graphic design skills.

8. Finish the short story I began writing over spring break.

This is where my list of resolutions will end, for now. There are probably many more things that I should think about accomplishing this summer, but these I should give greater priority. I thought of another one:

9. Don’t bite my nails.

 

Undefined

This post is as undefined as the nature of the relationship between S. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale. I don’t think I would have been able to write the previous sentence if I had not gone through major philosophers this semester. I don’t think I would have been able to take the previously mentioned class if it had not been for Robby’s classes and Lewis’s literature. I wouldn’t have been able to take Robby’s classes if a mistake had not been made when I registered for my classes, fall semester of freshman year. It would have taken me longer to discover Lewis if it had not been for a sixteen hour trip to Guatemala , and The Great Divorce as my only enternatinment -given that my discman batteries had died after the first four hours of our trip; yes, I read it during an era when I still made use of a portable discman. The Great Divorce would not have landed in my hands if it hadn’t been for former Ms Partridge, current Mrs. Deibert. I would have never obtained the book from Ms Partridge if I had not attended NCA. I would have not attended NCA if I hadn’t been transferred to a bilingual school. I would not have been transferred to a bilingual school if we wouldn’t have moved to Honduras. I wouldn’t have moved to Honduras had my dad not taken a consulting job there. My dad wouldn’t have taken a consulting job in Tegucigalpa if he had not gone into project management and development. My dad wouldn’t have gone into the previously mentioned field if he hadn’t continued his studies. My dad would not have continued his studies, had he remained as a surgeon at the hospital. My dad would not have worked at a hospital if he had not done his service years as a medicine student, during war-time….

A break in my though process…

If my dad wouldn’t have done his service years, he wouldn’t have met my mom. If my dad hadn’t met my mom then I wouldn’t have been born….

If I hadn’t been born I wouldn’t have been raised by my parents; wouldn’t have moved to Honduras; wouldn’t have transferred to a bilingual school; wouldn’t have attended NCA; wouldn’t have met former Ms. Partridge, current Mrs. Deibert; wouldn’t have been introduced to The Great Divorce; wouldn’t have read The Great Divorce in my sixteen hour trip to Guatemala -a trip where my discman’s batteries decided to die; wouldn’t have been introduced to Lewis’s works; wouldn’t have had a partial motivation to take Major Philosophers; wouldn’t have come to Bethel; wouldn’t have had a mistake in my registration, fall semester of freshman year; wouldn’t have been part of Block 7; wouldn’t have taken any Robby classes; wouldn’t have had a partial motivation to take Major Philosophers; wouldn’t have learned about Lewis and Johnson; wouldn’t be able to describe the nature of the relationship between S. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale as “undefined”….

Wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

I had not written in a while because I was not able to define my thoughts; but tonight that barrier has been lifted.

I am able to write again.

The Captain Shall Remain Unknown

I had never thought about the importance of footnotes, until I had to write my first paper in Chicago style. As a college student, I was only familiar with MLA and APA; but, one day I was asked to write a paper in Chicago style -a style that I was not acquainted with. Something very particular to this form of writing is footnotes or endnotes. I’ve gotten used to them. They are better than being interrupted by a really long parenthetical reference in the middle of your paragraph. In all books I read, I look for the numbers next to my words, and then look for the appropriate footnote so that I can know what the author is  talking about. However, footnotes vary from author to author, and some footnotes are more helpful than others. Lately, I’ve had to read Lewis’ scholarly work and I’ve found that his footnotes are not very elaborate. They merely take me to the main source. Yesterday, while reading one of Lewis’ book, I came across this thing called The Captain. The text was in italics, and the element was part of a comparison. Next to the text, there was a footnote number. When my eyes scrolled down to the bottom of the page, I realized that it did not explain what The Captain was. So, I turned to one of my best reading budddies: Google. Then, I remembered that the web was vast; therefore, I couldn’t get the answers that I wanted. From Google, I got references to soccer team captains, to Captain America (apparently there was also a Captain Britain), to captains from the army, etc. I’ve kept searching, but my search is futile. Unless I can bring Lewis out of his grave and ask him what he meant, the identity of The Captain shall remain unknown. Perhaps I could just ask someone who has read the book before: my professor.

A Collaboration of Knowledge

The human condition can be traced through all of history, through all the disciplines. If  I didn’t think about this two months ago, it is probably because I was not taking the classes I am taking now.

This semester I’m taking two classes that are not part of my major -Utopian Movements, and Major Philosophers; I thought these classes would be completely different from one another, but I have found out that they are more intertwined than I expected. Maybe it is just the way I think of Utopias, or maybe I’m just too sleepy during my classes and feel like all the material belongs to one same curriculum. Recently we have been reading Lewis’ Abolition of Man, while also acquainting (is that the proper conjugation?) ourselves with More’s Utopia. For some strange reason, I feel as if both books address man’s ignorance and imperfection. More’s book  contains many biblical references and allusions, while Lewis’ book, althought does not adress God explicitly, does present Truth as the foundation upon which all human knowledge should be based and built.

I ‘m not sure what I was getting at with this blogpost, but I certainly needed to get these thoughts out of my head. Maybe I’ll expand on the subject on a later blogpost.

Dreams of Sunset

The earth was bleeding; I could see it through my airplane window and it made me cry. I was looking at the earth’s horizon at sunset time.

About six months ago I had a dream. In my dream I was painting. When I woke up I couldn’t understand what the dream meant -if it had meant anything at all. Lately, I had been thinking about painting, so the morning following the dream, I went to the art store with my dad. There are technically only two art stores in my hometown. One of them has been there for a long time, although they don’t even offer the best quality art supplies; the other is a national chain that sells the art supplies that most colleges require for their design students. I went to the first and oldest art store and bought a pre-made canvas and an easel. When I got home, my dad and I put the easel together  and I set my painting space in our living room. I mixed my colors and began the painting process. However, I didn’t paint what I had been painting in my dream. Because I had been thinking about this for weeks, I knew that I wanted to paint something symbolic for the week of creation; wanted this painting time to be a process about a process. I put my base color and then waited a few days to sketch what I wanted to paint. After I got my sketch and my first layer of paint, I dreamed again. My dream was about the same painting that had been in my first dream but there was something wrong with it this time.

In my first dream I had been painting a landscape that was very similar to something I had painted when I was in middle school. When I had the dream, I couldn’t tell whether I was seeing the sunset or the sunrise, but the colors were beautiful, surreal, and like nothing I had ever seen before, and I have seen many sunsets and sunrises. In the second dream, the landscape was still there but there were also circles of dissonant colors that covered part of the canvas. It seemed like a had painted those there, but my role in the dream was to fix what I had ruined. Towards the end of the dream, I worked on getting rid of the circles and painted what was originally supposed to be there.  It was a landscape and and the sky had the features of a human face, and extending to the earth were a set open hands; I was not told what it was but I knew those features were a representation of God.

The following day, I woke up and put two layers of white to cover what I had initially ruined. I began working on the painting from my dream, but I left for another semester of college and never finished the painting. When I went back home this Christmas, the easel and the canvas were just where I had left them, but I didn’t work on it because I was unsure of what I was painting; how could I ever paint something I had never seen before, something I had only seem in dim dreams?

I took the plane to fly back to Bethel on the second. My flight departed from Managua at two in the afternoon, so we would be arriving in Atlanta at sunset time. There were only twenty minutes left until our plane landed so I lifted the cover off the airplane window and I saw it. The colors were the exact colors from my dream, and after a moment of staring at the horizon my mind was taken back to the painting I had left unfinished. It was a line of orange red -the color of fresh blood- and it ran from one of the earth to the other. It created a separation between earth and sky and I wished I could have pulled that image over my canvas. The colors were amazing, a dream come true, but they were not what made me cry. It was the idea that I didn’t need to see the features, the hands, to know that the striking image was the representation of God.

Beautiful Tunes

Although, I have absolutely no musical talent, I love music. I go out of my house and sometimes I leave my ID or my license behind, but never my Ipod. A friend gave me an itunes gift card before I left for Christmas break and I’ve spent most of my free time, at home, thinking of songs that I would like to buy. I decided to wait until the end of 2011, ’cause that would give me an excuse to start 2012 listening to some good music. I asked two friends of mine and they both asked me if I had checked out Gungor. So I listened to some of their songs and found many that I liked; In addition to Gungor I also got some songs from Satellite.  These are some of the most beautiful tunes with which I’ll welcome this new year.

Turning On My Own by Satellite

beautiful-things

Happy 2012, peeps!

Writing as Prayer

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I had to stop writing because my feelings kept getting in the way.

I cannot write fiction; at least I haven’t matured enough to write something fictional. Rather, I write as a response to a scene I see at a stoplight and as a response to pretty much anything. My writing is not elaborate, does not have fancy words. I don’t write with a voice of grandeur but with the same eloquence I have on any of my conversations with someone else; because my written response is the same as the oral response I would give in any conversation, it has simply been transfered from sound to ink on paper.

While I’ve been at home for Christmas, I’ve read three books and I’m making progress on a fourth one. The first two were novels, one of them I have alreay blogged about. The second novel, Gilead, was essentially a long letter from  an old congregationalist pastor to his son. In Gilead, John Ames reflects upon his ways in life and writes about how his sermon and prayers formed. The third book, however, was a book about prayer. Hence, prayer was the one that the three books had in common. Although one of the books was written by a secular aughtor, the other by a christian author, and the third by a pastor, the books were linked by the individual’s thoughts on spiritual practices. Now, the book that I’m currently making progress on is a book about writing; but it sometimes adresses writing as a form of conversation. After a semester of reading literature and writing about it, I’ve learned that I have a spiritual relationship with writing. When I was in middle school and high school, the only reason why I wrote was to pray. I found that the only way I could remain focused during prayer was if I wrote out my conversations with God. After writing a longer paper about my relationship with Jeremiah -which can also be read as a paper about my personal relationship with God -it struck me that Jeremiah was not only a favorite book but a living character in my life. Therefore, after writing the first five pages of the paper, I read it to myself, erased, and re-wrote the paper as a letter and a conversation; in the first part of the paper, always adressing Jeremiah in the second person, and in the last portion, re-creating the voice of Jeremiah.

After reading Eat, Pray, Love and Gilead, I’ve learned why writing is one of the things I cannot imagine living without. I can’t bear the thought of having no hands because I wouldn’t be able to make art, I wouldn’t be able to write; and if I can’t write, then how will I pray? I’ve learned that writing is an, if not the most, intimate form of prayer.

“For me writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn’t writing prayer, as I was often enough” –Gilead

“When the crying doesn’t stop, I go get myself a notebook and a pen (last refuge of a scoundrel) and I sit once more beside the toilet. I open to a blank page and scrawl my now-familiar plea of desperation… Then a long exhale of relief comes as, in my own handwriting, my own constant friend… commences loyally to my own rescue” -Eat, Pray, Love

“The greatest stories touch on the sacred, that moment when head and heart and soul combine” -Take Joy

“As a reader I read stories that developed me. As a writer I write to discover what I am thinking and feeling” -Take Joy

On “Eat, Pray, Love”

Having heard that the movie had become one of my favorites, my friend Caroline recommended the book to me. I was skeptical about the novel at first, since I did not want to hear a woman talk about her life for 300 pages. However, my feelings changed as soon as I began reading, for the novel is actually a neverending chain of thoughts. The novel moves from one experience to the next, always depicting them with minute details. Within each paragraph, there’s not only great description, but also really long tangents that allow you to get a better understanding of the author’s feelings and thoughts.

The book and the novel differ greatly. The novel is a chronological mess, while the movie, although chronologically faulty, provides a better timeline for the audience. Nonetheless, both works of art (the novel and the movie) successfully link you to the main character. She is easy to identify with, especially  since the novel is actually a spiritual tale, or the tale of a spiritual journey. Maybe it’s hard to understand why I would relate to a book that talks about “Hinduism and meditation”, when I believe in “Christianity”; the truth is that most of us have gone on spiritual journeys of some sort. Usually, although the subject we search for varies, the process of transformation remains invariable. One of the things that Liz Gilbert makes an emphasis on is our human need to look for comfort in something greater when we’ve gone through a painful situation. In the author’s case, there was not one painful situation, but a combination of many catastrophes. Her book, although never explicitely says it, presents the idea of hitting rock bottom; many of us have been there, and it is when we see no man-workable solution that we seek for divine guidance. The journey that the novel depicts, takes us from suffering, and a search for hope and love, to lessons on how to enjoy life at its fullest -keeping a balance on how to please oneself, while also seeking the best for those around us.

There are many ways in which I identified with this book. For instance, the author talks about crying on bathroom floors; I must confess, I’ve done the same and still do it when life makes wrong turns. The author talks about the importance of writing in her search for God; my most intimate moments of prayer have happened through writing. She talks about her love for food; can’t judge her! All I do when I come back home is munch on anything that looks edible. The book talks about our longing as human beings, and her personal story is a reminder that we are all joined our by spiritual searches.

I’m glad Caroline told me about this book. I can see how she could have related to it; and I can also see that just as our kinship with the novel is based on a search, our friendship has also sprouted from long, vulnerable talks about our spiritual journeys. This was a book definitely worth reading.

*While reading the novel, these were some quotes I found memorable; sometimes even funny. Some of the things the author says are things that I can relate to, for I have heard the same thoughts wandering through my mind before.

“‘Do you have friends in Rome?’ and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will. Mostly, you meet your friends when traveling by accident, like by sitting next to them on a train, or in a restaurant, or in a holding cell” (42)

“And here recommences my strangest and most secret conversation. Here in this most private notebook, is where I talk to myself. I talk to that same voice I met that night on my bathroom floor when I first prayed to God in tears for help” (53)

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight” (115)

“There’s a reason they call God a presence –because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time” (132)

“I wake up crying and shaking. I don’t want to disturb my roommates, so I go hide in the bathroom. The bathroom, always the bathroom!… Oh, cold world -I have grown so weary of you and all your horrible bathrooms” (147)

“I liked having him nearby, opening doors for me, complementing me, calling me ‘darling.’ Then again, I noticed that he called everyone ‘darling’ -even the hairy male bartender. Still, the attention was nice…” (267)