Wednesday, July 19, 2017

decorating the hallway



I sat at a splash-pad in a community park in a lovely, gritty part of Lincoln, Nebraska.  I put my phone down.  I had thought about leaving it in the car, but the 100-degree heat didn't seem friendly to expensive electronics.  I watched with a soft smile from behind my knock-off Target shades as my son and daughter screamed with glee, chasing children and being chased across the sprays.  They slid face-first down the slide, speed increased by the lubrication from their wet swimsuits.  I glanced up at the sky, letting my eyes drift into middle distance as the clouds slowly swirled into new and interesting formations.  I felt such deep peace and satisfaction.

It had been a very hard day.  We were eleven days into our grand tour of the Midwest:  a seventeen-day road trip that would bring us to friends and family both old and new (some brand-new, in the case of the new babies that we hadn't met yet, and the new husband for my youngest cousin).  We were all feeling a little weary of this adventure, and ready for the comforts of home.  Especially Todd, who had taken to plaintively observing, "I'm more of a home person."  Vicki Jo was being more aggressive than normal (which is hard to do!), feeling a need to exert control over her environment.

But in that moment, as the damp, cool air from the sprays pleasantly washed over me, I just felt like I needed to stop and observe this moment.  It was pure joy.  Summer and swimsuits and sticky heat.  Bodies that would expend all their energy and collapse into sleep happily once the sun set.

After all, this is my hallway season.  I intend to stand here for a whole year, carefully observing circumstances and changes and my intuition.  But I don't just want to stand in a bare, uncomfortable place.  If we are going to dwell in this little hallway, we need to decorate.  We need to bring in fresh flowers.  We need to paint the walls.  We need to make it feel like the home it is going to be:  not only functional, but also beautiful.  And so, as I let joy twist my mouth into a smile at the splash-pad, I realized that these memories are decorating this hallway.  All these moments frozen in my mind, and hopefully etched onto the brains of my children, will be the perfect design scheme.

In Kansas City for my cousin Abby's wedding, we stayed with my brother and sister and their families in a beautiful airBnB in a historic part of town.  The owner had done a professional-quality job decorating and adding those special touches.  The downstairs bathroom was wallpapered in a gorgeous, bold, large-scale floral design.  It just worked perfectly in that small space.  I thought about how perfectly it would translate to the tiny little hallway in our own home.  I have been putting off painting and decorating my house for the last five years because I "haven't had time."  Well, now I have time.  And the hallway will be the first place to be re-imagined.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

my truest love



As I slowly cull my office library, i make trips to McKay's, then bring home a box at a time.

The commentaries on one shelf, the journals stacked vertically next to them. Philosophy of religion and theory and method, Christianity, and Judaism each get their own stack. Krishna, Islam, and Chinese religion get combined.

Lexicons, grammars, and Bibles join church law on the reference shelf.

Theology, Biblical studies, ethics, Christian history are jumbled because i still have trouble ironing out their intersections. Wesleyan studies gets one big interdisciplinary stack.

Philosophy gets its whole own shelf (thanks Columbia College core curriculum. Contemporary Civilization is still changing my life 14 years later). No fewer than three copies of the red Marx-Engels reader.

Literature also gets a shelf. Two copies of "Crime and Punishment," but i can't bear to part with either one.

Some works are very difficult to place. Where does the Kierkegaard go!? I spent at least three hours pondering this the other night.

As I lovingly place each book, I often thumb through and find my notes - my handwriting growing and changing over the last 20 years. That time when i made a conscious decision that I was going to change the style of my "f." Those heady times when I first made a connection and it felt so fresh and almost dangerous, like maybe I was the only one who ever had this idea.

I also think of all the different ways I can combine these voices and messages. Interesting courses I may one day have the privilege to teach. Perhaps combining "The Formation of a Persecuting Society" with "The Sacred Canopy" and "The First Urban Christians" to talk about the fine lines of schism and heresy and how it all gets constituted. Perhaps even adding that to something standard like "Wesley and the People Called Methodists," and then adding in "Visionary Women," to talk about Wesleyanism as a schismatic movement!?
I get so excited. It feels like I'm formulating a new cocktail or testing a new recipe and I just know that people are going to love it, and be challenged by it.

These books have followed me around for a generation. They have seen me fall in love, get married, have two babies, get divorced, fall in love again. Have my heart broken, both by men and by the world. Helped me put those heart pieces back together, stronger and more beautiful. I have a lot of best friends, but perhaps these books and ideas are my closest ones.