Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Best of List:

Your Best of 2015:

It's that time of year again - and since it was so much fun last year I thought I'd just copy and paste the same questions over for everyone this year. Post, share, and enjoy!

Favorite Movies:

Best Books:

Top Album and/or Songs:

Most listened to ‘old’ Album and/or Songs:

Favorite TV Shows:

Best Meal:

Top new flavor experience:

Favorite new home-cooked recipe made:

Top Beverage:

Favorite travel/vacation moment:

Best new location visited:

Top family get-together:

Best event attended:

Favorite piece of art:

Memorable sporting event or news item:

Top game (board, video, card, or group):

Most memorable learning moment or class:

Conversation had:

Most fun had:

Most touching moment:

Experience most desired to be forgotten:

Best piece of wisdom:

Most rewarding experience:

Lasting image:

Favorite new clothing item:

Favorite gadget/toy/tool/appliance:

Best thing given up:

Memorable sunrise/sunset experience:

Top work-related moment:

Funniest/ most embarrassing moment:

Other memorable moments:

1 Word to sum up your year:

Just reply with your answers, or share!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Falling by The Wayside: A wanderer's need to tell my story.

I'm not actually sure how to tell my story. There are several different ways that I could present myself.

Do I follow my resume and show the trajectory, and failed opportunities, of the career choices that I have made?

Do I present my achievements, education, and accolades, showing how diverse and talented I have been?

Do I talk about where I am now, my failures, insecurities, the unfulfilled hopes and struggles of my heart, and present a tragic or cynical story arc? 

Do I present the unique and difficult situations that I have faced and persevered through and show a survivor or servant?

Do I present the desires of my heart and the intentions I have made through the decisions for my life, giving a glimpse into the inner workings of what drives me?

Do I frame things in relation to what might be expected of a conversion or witness story, linking everything together into something that seems nice and tidy, even in the midst of the messy and broken?

There are many ways that I could frame my story, and none of them are the only way. None of them are the sole truth of who I am. All of them are a part of me. I know I need to express this story in some way, to reclaim some sort of footing at this time in my life when all seems so deferred and unwanted.

I know I must speak honestly in a coherent reflection on my life that gives expression to what I have learned, grown, discerned, and experienced so far. 

The desire to tell my story is not one of narcissism, but of the need to belong. One aspect of my story is that I have found myself isolated and without much of a community to which I unequivocally belong. A community to belong that encourages and enables the sacred and safe telling of their own story: the real stories of people. A place that sees the faces behind the masks of success or approval or coolness or normal or having it all together. 

This would be a slightly messy place, and it would most definitely be a broken place. 

Yet it would also be beautiful, thriving, and alive. 

A community of authentic people sharing their authentic stories and bearing with authentic others,
this is one of the strings in my heart that continues to strum down deep. Perhaps the rest of my life seem discordant, with no graceful rhythm or seeming direction to it, but there is this steady strumming that continues to hint at the way things can be. I might be idealistic, but I truly do not think I am. Rather, I believe it just is something that is not answered by the machinations of the baser ways we try to fulfill ourselves in our society: consumption, materialism, power, sex, in-grouping, fandom, career, economic stability, and winning. I speak to the underlying urges and values that motivate both individuals and communities. There is another way than what is swirling around these days. 

My story ends in this other way. Perhaps it is a lonely road. Perhaps there are fellow sojourners who stumble together, asking directions or helping carry the load of another for a bit. I hope they are people who see that everyone has their own road ahead and that they can give a safe space to share the sacred story they are encountering in that moment. Maybe they continue to travel together, or maybe they go their own ways having been encouraged by kindred spirits. I know my story leads to such a place. 

A place that helps people wrestle with the circumstances, struggles, successes, and questions of their own lives. 

A place that allows people to belong because they are present. Nothing more.

A place bound by love.

That subtle strumming in my heart seems to present a name for this community: The Wayside. It is not a place people seek out as much as they stumble into. People and places "fall by the wayside." Waysides are local places, tied to the people, larger community, and geography. A wayside is a place to fall by and get rest, be refreshed, get assistance, and learn about what lies ahead and around. The wayside accepts not just the influential, the businessmen, the artists, the outcasts, or the huddled masses. It accepts the travelers, the wanderers, the sojourners, and the pilgrims. It is not a place of conflict or strife, but of rest and restoration. 

No matter how I tell my story, I see the way in front of me leading to The Wayside. I am not sure how it will be actualized, or where. But I know I must continue to wander life's path before me and create spaces and places where this community springs forth. Anyone care to walk alongside for a bit?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Re-embracing Colossus

Perhaps the most un-American saying uttered by many Americans is some form of "if you don't agree/like (name the policy or idea), then you should leave."

It disgraces what America is and always has been about. It totally ignores history and in fact is just plain ignorant. America is a place of opportunity and freedom, which inherently means diversity and being a melting pot society. Such tribalism and arrogance of thinking one subset of our population is the only one that should be citizens in this great union flies in the face of what the founders and builders of this nation have done for 200 years.

May we always be generous enough with our beliefs to allow for difference of opinion and ideas. Embrace diversity and differing ideas/culture. Let us not fear that which is different.

Etched upon the base of the Statue of Liberty is the New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. It's concluding lines are the perfect reminder of what America is:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”