"When you’re a little kid, you’re a little bit of everything. Artist, scientist, athlete, scholar… Sometimes it seems like growing up is a process of giving those things up, one by one."
- The Wonder Years
- The Wonder Years
I love living in Roanoke, because I can take a quiet walk at dusk, smell delicious Texas-style food, and listen to the visitors chat over their meals. (Taken with Instagram at Roanoke, TX)
During my “college years” (the internship), I randomly met a girl at Barnes & Noble in Tyler, TX, who was a part of the same ministry I was interning for. I don’t know how we ended up there with a few other girls I didn’t know, but we all picked out a favorite book and sat in a corner to tell each other why it was a favorite. This girl picked “No Greater Love” by Mother Teresa. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know anything about Mother Teresa, except she was a nun who cared for the poor in India. I also didn’t know anything whatsoever about India, except “they worship cows”. But this girl radiated a humility I wanted, so I thought, “I am going to buy that book.” Buy it, I did. Read it, I did. At the end I was almost ready to join the Catholic church, and very ready to accept my fate as a wrinkly old lady in the nastiest slums earth had to offer.
Of course, this happened while I was on track for moving to Hollywood. Conflict of interest, you say? Yeah. But I wasn’t making any life decisions for a while… I was in the middle of those wretched years as a Christian college student, “burning” with passion for my savior, ready to “go to the ends of the earth” and eat slugs for Jesus. I don’t mean to mock these years, as they were a great gift from God, but they have been over for some time, and since I’ve realized that it was never helpful or necessary for me to promise or remind God I would lay down my life for Him if He would tell me where to go. It’s not that I didn’t mean it, it’s that I had a certain picture of what laying down my life looked like, and it just didn’t jive with who God is. It kind of took me years to fix that mess in my soul, but I would never change it. All good.
Back to Mother Teresa. This quote is from that book, No Greater Love. And, though I recognized it as something very special at the time, has now become much, much more important to me. It puts words to what I have felt was true for years, even though I haven’t lived it.
All this to say, there is nothing more strikingly beautiful to me in a person than humility. It’s something you have to hone your vision to see (“takes one to know one” sort of applies?), and down right fight for in your innermost being if you are ever to make progress. When I meditate on humility, I think of 1 Cor. 13, the love verses, and think I could easily substitute humility for the word love there. Humility is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, does not boast, keeps no record of wrongs… I mean, I don’t want to change scripture here or anything, but when you say love, people think of so many things. Obsession. Worship. Devotion. Physical closeness. Desire. Heart-shaped boxes and roses. More often than not, we think of ourselves, what we need. And that would not be untrue, just not the whole truth, and not the most important part. So, if I want to know what to do in a situation, I think, “The greatest of these is love. To love effectively, I must be humble. What do love and humility look like? Patience. Kindness. No envy. No boasting. No pride. No jealousy. Keeps no record of wrongs (very hard for us humans). Rejoice with the truth. Always protects. Always trust. Always hopes. Always perseveres. Proceed with humility, or you really can’t say you loved them. Love never fails.”
Another question I ask is why would we ever do anything but love and walk in humility? This quote sheds light on that, because we don’t know who the hell we are, and we think maybe this guy or that girl, or the masses, or our pastor can tell us? So we seek the instant approval of man, we fear their judgement, and we form our lives around what they socialize us to believe is good and right. But as the wise Mother put it, no praise or disgrace should touch you. Are there naysayers? God is my defender, so I can keep my mouth shut. I never have a call to get angry over criticism said about me, inside or out. I’m nothing without God. I can present their criticisms before Him, asking, “have I done wrong?” Remember that it is against God and God alone that we sin. Are there praisers? It’s neither here nor there. I can’t stand on anything good anyone says about me, only what my Father says about me. He is the only one who searches my heart where no human is capable of searching… He knows very well who I am and He still speaks well of me (and you), loves me, and humbly gave His life for mine.
Now if I could just remember this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of my days…
Let me take this moment to pause and reflect on what an idiot I am.
I’m an idiot.
First of all, I started a 40 day juice fast on March 2nd with little to no experience or plans. I also started “Couch to 5k” with my sister about the same time. Oh and did I mention I’ve been fasting twitter and facebook at the same time as well? (and I have cheated a hint on each of these… who knew I wasn’t perfect?!)
Second of all, I started college in January, and I have a research paper I have to get done this weekend. I have no idea how many years it has been since I have done a research paper… 7 or 8 maybe?! I’m beginning to recall the secret of BS, but I have gotten so dang honest these past 7 years! It’s killing me!
And lastly, which should have been firstly, I am editing a 10[ish]-minute documentary video for an event on the night of April 19th.
I just tend to do EVERYTHING at once.
Like not eating food over the weeks that I’m working harder than I do at any other time of the year, while also adding a little implausible scholarly twist.
Don’t misunderstand me; I am not in need of pity. It is at these times that I am reminded most of the invisible net of grace that catches me as I fall. I haven’t been caught by it yet, as I am still in mid-fall, and I’m sure I won’t feel it’s safety until I hear the audience applaud at the end of the video.
[Not applauding me, of course, and I don’t say that to be modest. Most of them don’t know who made the video, and I like it that way. My videos are not about ME, and the highest compliment I can get is for someone who is watching not to think of me at all, but to rush over to meet the girls who are the subject of it, and to pray for them in earnest and offer their assistance to the cause.]
It is a strange thing, to feel in a state of panic at the micro-level of one’s circumstances, but at the same time, to know on the more important scale of my whole self, I am falling into the same grace that has caught me every time before now. It—rather, HE—won’t let me break my neck, and that is all I really need to know.
Well, I have a lot of work to do, so I will leave you to your thoughts.
Oh, and P.S. I have tried time and time again to write about my juice fast, but it just always seems to turn to mush or piousness, one of which is pointless, the other of which does not support the reputation I wish to have. So, I just won’t write about it for the time being I guess. I do get a lot of questions from people considering a juice fast of their own, and that I am quite willing to help anyone out with. I was first inspired by whoever these sweet girls are, and I watched this, and I did a bunch of online digging for information, juicers, and juice recipes. But if you want to ask me about it, tweet me. (Or email or facebook me if you already have that info.)
I need to get a group together to buy & share one of these… Who’s in?
"…combining his NASA experience with his love of the outdoors, he worked to create an innovative lightweight, compact, and flexible small environment in which to travel and explore the world we live in.
The result is Cricket.”
Backstory: Six days ago, I embarked on a juice fast, and unless I inebriate myself with water and need medical attention, it’s going to be quite an extended odyssey, so I might as well make myself comfortable… or, at least audacious.
I fully intended to write this first blog about how “wonderfully” my fast is going and how “serene” my soul is—because those are true, it has been going rather wonderfully and I am at peace most of the time. But today in the halls between classes, I heard the kids calling out “Sping BAKE” and my stomach rumbled in reply [they should learn to pronounce their r’s and stop torturing me with mental images of yurt-sized bread bowls—a warm bread yurt—Oh my cuss, that’s brilliant].
The point is where I began: Tonight, after seven days and seven nights, I believe the sleeping monster Hunger is finally come out of hibernation, and unhappily, though I think I may have managed to render him extremely disoriented.
I’m starting to see why Jesus went into the wilderness to fast—there is no reason I can think of for anyone to experience you or I on a fast. Ideally, we could be alone. To focus on God, certainly, but as this writer put it so eloquently, “When a whale fasts, it stinks.” Fasting is not meant to be a pretty process, and it would be nice if I could deal with my spiritual/emotional/etc. shalala without anyone else having to experience it. With that, I apologize to you all, and would also like to remind you that “I’m not Jesus, okay?!”
I want this to be a good time. A fruitful time. A prayerful time. But so far it has been a juice-ful time where I have to work so much at getting used to this new, albeit temporary, lifestyle that I don’t have time for the rest, the spiritual good stuff.
This is where the hunger comes in. I’ve been doing okay all week. A few fits of anger here and there, but nothing to the magnitude of “uprooting.” It’s been pretty smooth sailing, but now Hunger is making me really face the harder stuff. It’s forcing me to make a decision every time I feel it’s pang. It’s helping me consider long-suffering, and what it might do for a persons character, and what it might do for others. It’s making me roar to the heavens, “WHY did I decide to do this stupid thing?” Because I know now that I’ve set out to do it, I have to do it with all my might.
Happy Spring Bake, y’all ;)
Paintings by Eric Fuchs “Hier Apollo 11”. Love them.
(At some point I will be less obsessed with NASA and my grandpa, who worked for NASA for a few decades, and during Apollo 11. It’s just that I’m realizing now things I knew about my family but didn’t think anything of as a child. Not that that should dazzle anyone that he worked for NASA… I think he was manager of food supply or something. I mean it dazzles me because he’s my grandpa and I can’t imagine him as anything else but my grandpa the way I knew him, and that is why I blog about it. Anyway, I’m not trying to give the impression he was some understudy to Armstrong or anything. Food supply. That’s all I know right now. …Maybe next week my obsession will be my paternal grandmother and raising white boys in Montgomery, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. Or maybe it will be about my sister coloring my hair. Who knows.)
[My Grandfather & Grandmother. We called them PawPaw & Bunny]
I remember PawPaw grabbing and pulling me onto Holly, his horse, to ride bareback & swiftly to the other side of the farm. We fell off into some leaves by the wooden shed. I remember being disturbed but unhurt.
[This is Holly, a few months before she died. She was over 30 years old. I spotted her in a field that belonged to an old friend of PawPaw’s. This lady had kindly taken Holly in when he had to sell the farm.]
I remember PawPaws trucker hats, as I would later call them. I remember his jackets. I remember how he mixed 3 or 4 different kinds of cereals into a plastic container. It was his favorite. I remember how he loved pecans. He always had a bowl of them and a tool to crack them laying on top of the pile. There was a discard bowl for the shells and bad parts. I remember him always singing, always rum-pum-pumming like he was in a marching band all day long. He had a tuba and a big drum. I remember playing dominoes at night. I cheated and wondered why no one caught me. I remember watching Apollo 13 with him. It was his favorite movie. I didn’t understand why then, but I liked it, too, mostly because I loved Tom Hanks.
I remember his house. The light post. The big crepe myrtle we climbed in. The giant gold plate on the mantle. The fireplace with real wood. The bag of blocks in the closet. The upright piano in the entry way. The metronome. Trying to play the sheet music that sat there with too many notes and signs for my inexperienced fingers to get past the first bar successfully. I remember how it smelled when you walked into the apartment that was added on at some point long before I was born. All the tile was so ugly. Everywhere the tile and carpet were ugly. I wondered why old people liked ugly floors and wood paneled walls. If I close my eyes I can smell each of the rooms. I don’t know how to describe the smells, except the bathroom. The bathroom smelled like cheap bar soap.
I remember his things. The TV with a dial you turn by hand. It had 4 channels. The typewriter. The Macintosh computer with it’s tiny screen. I remember plastic flowers in vases and porcelain figurines. The Mother Goose Rhymes book. The antiquated jack in the box that I expect gave me horrible nightmares. But the pictures! I loved the pictures and the paintings on the wall, and the way they hung all over. I remember the table with the glass top that showed a drawer full of seashells that my mother and her sister had collected when they lived on Kwajalein Island, part of the Marshall Islands. Mom told me PawPaw would take a boat to the neighboring islands where the natives were to teach Sunday school. Kwajalein is the ends of the earth to me, and I want to go there so badly. There was one shell in the drawer that had googly eyes glued onto it. I always opened the drawer to see that one. I can’t quite remember what it looked like. It had a bit of coral glued on it… I can’t remember. Mom has the table now. I don’t know where the shells are.
[Kwajalein, Marshall Islands]
I remember PawPaw’s room. The closet with the sliding mirror doors. His bed with a canopy from the ceiling. It must have been Bunny’s doing. Bunny was my grandma. Her name was really Bernie, but we called her Bunny. She died when I was about 5. She had Leukemia. I wish I knew everything about her. I remember her in pearl earrings and lipstick, but I could be making that up. I wish I could get in my red silky little girl nightgown and fall asleep around her neck like I was doing in the only picture I seem to have of us. I think she would have been my very favorite person in the whole world.
I remember the back yard. The deck. The gazebo. The roses. The garage. Once, PawPaw accidentally rolled up my neck in the station wagon window as we were pulling out. I tried to scream but couldn’t. Cherilyn told him to roll it down. I laughed about it the next day. It’s still funny. I remember his truck—the seat covers made of wooden beads. It smelled like the feed we gave Holly and the donkeys. I remember the red metal gate we opened and closed by hand. There was a chain wrapped around it with a padlock. I remember feeding the cows sugar cane. He bought a young cow with a ring in its nose. It got spooked once and jumped over Cherilyn. He sold that cow. I remember finding earthworms under fallen leaves to fish with in the pond. I remember the fishing hook shooting through my pinky one day and going to the emergency clinic on Broadway. They kept the hook somewhere in a jewelry box after they fished it out. I remember realizing the farm wasn’t a farm, just a piece of land with animals and a pond, a wooden shed, peach trees and a hay bale with boots sticking out.
[I jumped the fence with some friends once, years after PawPaw had sold the farm]
I remember PawPaw. I remember his hands. Old and stiff and needing to be held. His scratchy stubbled chin when he kissed my head. His wedding ring finger that ended abruptly at the middle knuckle, and the middle finger next to it that was only a little longer. He had stuck his hand in a mower once. I remember he liked marionettes and puppets. And children. He wrote a book of Sunday school skits to be performed with puppets. He liked writing. He published a book. When I read it, it reminded me of his truck and the farm. And him. His real name was A. C. Chance. As a boy, he decided that stood for Atlas Christopher. Atlas! If I ever have a son, I am quite determined to name him Atlas.
I remember a flat iron figure from Japan that hung on the back porch wall. I took it from the boxes when his Alzheimer’s became quite bad and they had to move him to a home. I took his Apollo 11 badge then, too.
I remember when he sold the farm.
He was my last remaining grandparent. When he passed away, I was in India and couldn’t come home.
I remember when we packed up his things and sold the house. I wish we had never sold any of it.
…It’s okay, though, because I remember everything. You wouldn’t believe some of it. I hardly do.
Typed this up for a few friends & thought you might enjoy. I love good masala chai the way they make it on the street in Bombay.
Donnabelle and Teresa, two women I live and work with when I am in India, taught me to make this. They are like a sister and a mother to me, and take care of me so well, even though they have many other far more important things to do, and their own families. Thanks DB & T!