The Passage of Time

Four yeas ago, I was preparing to graduate from high school and launch into the unknown waters of what I imagined to be “adult life” but actually turned out to be a category unto itself. The time spent in undergraduate studies (when completed in the traditional manner) is truly this bizarre liminal space between the teen years and full-blown adulthood. Standing on this side of that quirky season of life, I can now say that those years were messy yet wonderful, hard yet beautiful.

DSC_0028 5

Four years ago me (oddly enough to the day) on the cusp of adventures I couldn’t yet imagine.

Three years ago, I was in Romania, having fantastic conversations with the Word Made Flesh staff, enjoying the bounties of the garden at their children’s center in Galați, having my heart broken over the poverty and suffering I encountered daily, and confirming my calling to cross-cultural ministry.

20140522_215745

Embracing my inner world-traveler in a Moldovan kitchen!

Two years ago, I was resting at home before embarking on my adventure to Nepal. I vividly remember the difficult wrestling I did during those weeks between school and my trip as I processed through what I can now officially claim to be my hardest semester of undergrad, struggled to come to terms with the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and grappled with my own mortality as I prepared to go.

11054819_825565367528824_7576300108188623939_o

Here, I was tired and confused, but about to enter one of the neatest seasons of my life thus far.

Last year, I sat on the edge of a promising summer that did not deliver. There’s so much I have already said and could continue to say about the difficulties of those four months, but on some level, that season remains fresh enough that I’m still healing and coming to terms with all that transpired. However, I am beginning to see tender green shoots pushing through the dirt of what I initially perceived to be a wasteland, and if it weren’t for last summer, I would not have even noticed them, much less celebrated every inch of their progress.

image10

In spite of the chaos, I enjoyed some definite bright spots in my first summer in Oregon including a visit to the Portland Night Market.

And now I’m here, with a BA in History, working at a grocery store, living in a new town with new roommates, becoming acquainted with my first car, struggling with my health, weathering massive shifts in most of the relationships in my life, and having no plans beyond December. Yep. Even six months ago I couldn’t have imagined being where God has currently plopped me, but I’m discovering that this place is beautiful in its own right. Hard, so hard, but undeniably beautiful!

DSC_0030

I made it – in no small part due to the encouragement, support, generosity, and love of the dozens upon dozens of people who have helped me every step of the way. I know I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – my life is peopled with beautiful souls! 

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote quite a while ago, but never had the occasion to share.

Time
You’re never what I expect you to be.
You move forward at a consistent pace
bringing the dreaded and the longed for with equal speed.
You’re like a snare drummer,
keeping the beat with remarkable precision.
And yet, you’re unpredictable.
A short ten seconds of words can flip a life upside down
while completely altering the trajectory of innumerable days.
You’re often nonsensical,
allowing a minute of joy to pass in a flash,
and yet, letting the blissful taste of that minute to linger far longer.
You heal
and you steal,
one moment a beloved friend,
and the next a detestable enemy.
You’re needed,
and loved, at least by me,
but sometimes I don’t want you because I can’t regulate your tempo.
I know you’re a gift,
intended for my well-being,
but you often feel like a curse,
hell-bent on destroying me.
And yet,
someday you’ll be irrelevant.
But until then, I’ll surrender my metered days to the author of all time.

Advertisements

The Music We Breathe

As I sit on my bed, two weeks before finals, trying in vain to write a research paper, my thoughts drift back to a typical summer day at home…

I wake up to a cool breeze kissing my slightly sunburned cheeks. When I open my eyes, they are bathed in the golden glow of summer sunlight. Sweet birdsong floats through the open window, and downstairs I hear the familiar melody of George Winston’s “Fragrant Fields” playing through our Sonos wireless speaker system.

I go downstairs to greet my early bird mother. At 7AM she’s already spent a solid hour in her beloved garden, pulling weeds, and checking on the progress of the tomatoes and cucumbers and raspberries. Now she’s back in the kitchen, making homemade granola, and listening to our favorite summer soundtrack – George Winston’s album entitled Summer.

As I get ready for the day, I listen to Hillsong United’s Zion album on my laptop. Lately I’ve been feeling spiritually dry and complacent, so I’m trying to make a conscious effort to fill my mind and heart with truth. Hearing the familiar melodies paired with the lyrics “Who loved me through my rebel way/Who chose to carry all my shame/Who breathes in me with endless life/The king of glory Jesus Christ” helps me keep my desperate need for God in the center of my thoughts.

Once I am ready for the day, I decide to run some errands in town. By now my mom is listening to Journey so I yell, “Where are the keys?” over the rich chords of “Faithfully” flowing out of the speakers in the living room.

I find the keys and turn on our Honda Pilot to find the stereo blasting “Long Time Gone,” another summertime favorite by The Dixie Chicks. I keep the volume up, and drive the quick 1.7 miles into town with the windows down, singing all the way.

As I walk back into the house with my arms full of mail and library books and milk, I am met by the thud-crash, thud-thud-crash of my brother practicing on the drum set in the basement. Even though he’s wearing headphones, I can tell by the distinctive pattern I hear that he’s playing along to “Just Like Lightning” by Press Play.

My sister emerges from her room and says, “I just found this awesome new song that I HAVE to show you!” I follow her and hear the acoustic goodness of “All I’ve Ever Needed” by A.J. Michalka for the first time.

While my sister is showing me her newest song discovery, my cousins come bursting through the front door in a whirlwind of noise and excitement. They’re singing “Share It With Me” by Family Force 5, bringing back memories of an old family joke. My aunt has dropped them off so they can go to the pool with my siblings. Their constant chatter and energy would give the impression that we hadn’t seen them in months, but in reality they come over to go to the pool at least three days a week.

As the oldest cousin, and the one with a driver’s license, I have become the designated pool driver. My cousins insist that we listen to Lindsey Stirling at max volume with the windows down. I willingly oblige, effectively earning bonus cool cousin points.

When I arrive back home, I immediately get into my dad’s car to run into town with him. I love that lazy summer days give me the gift of time to spend with my dad. He has a sporty blue Honda Accord with fantastic car speakers. The best part of his stereo system is the subwoofer in the back seat that allows you to truly feel the music, whether you want to or not. We put on “Louder” by D.J. Fresh. My dad has discovered that if you time it just right and start the song right before getting on the freeway, the combination of the music building and the car accelerating simulate taking off in an airplane.

By the time we get back from our errands, my mom is grilling chicken with garden-fresh peppers and onions on the deck to make fajitas for dinner. George Winston’s Summer album is playing for the second or third time, but none of us really mind.

After dinner, it’s time for our favorite nightly routine. Tonight my brother and I are on the dishes schedule, so we set out to pick what Pandora station best fits our mood. We decide on our guilty pleasure station, Pitch Perfect. In our house, dishes absolutely must be accompanied by dancing. Although my sister is off the hook for dishes tonight, she still chooses to join our dance party. My siblings are very good dancers, but somehow the coordination gene skipped me. I’ve got rhythm, but graceful I am not. However, in our kitchen, anyone can dance, and while I may not be a good dancer, I make up for my lack of skill with my enthusiasm. After thirty minutes of heavy dancing and light dishes, we decide it might be time to buckle down and finish the work.

…my roommate walks into the room, jolting me back to the reality that I’m still at college, and it’s not quite summer yet. But in two weeks I’ll be home again, where the music wiggles its way into every nook and cranny of our lives.

Music Cascading from My Fingertips

This is a piece I wrote in my Creative Nonfiction class that harkens back to my high school days…

As I walk around the corner of the high school, I am met by a wall of noise. Trumpets hit the high notes over and over, just because they can. Clarinets and flutes perfect their tricky runs by playing the same few notes on an endless loop. Tubas fill every crack and crevice of the football field with their deep meaty tones. And the percussionists hit anything and everything within their reach, drumming, always drumming.

The wall of noise is wild and untamed. To get to the podium I have to fight through this nearly impenetrable force. When I reach the podium, I climb the ladder, and with those few steps, I am granted authority.

I am the drum major.

The noise continues around me, pretending I don’t exist, until I raise my hands. I draw my fingers together while making a quick circular motion with my arms. Instantaneously, the noise stops.

I feel a rush of power surging through my fingertips. Now that I have my peers’ attention, I tell them we’re going to run the show from the top of the second movement. They scatter across the field to their rightful spots, and with a sweep of my arms, they begin to march and play. This time, instead of blaring noise, they’re creating music.

Lilting melodies and currents of harmony wash over me in a river of musical masterpiece. From my vantage point on the podium, it feels as through the very notes of the trills and runs and full-bellied chords are dancing out of my fingertips.