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Thursday, September 19, 2019


I’m teaching Intro to Worship this fall, and the focus of this week is the Church Calendar.  Clearly, this could be the subject of an entire semester; but in an intro class, you only get a week.  This has me thinking about not only the great significance of marking time in terms of sacred feasts and sanctified souls but also more widely about how we mark time in a variety of ways.  Discussions lend themselves to everything from the civic calendar to particularities in the local community to family traditions.  The liturgist snob that lives inside of me wants to just push the Church Calendar and move on, but how inauthentic is that?  We do not live in a vacuum, and the rhythms and patterns of time that undergird our theology of new life… giving way to death… giving way to resurrection (way oversimplified, I know) are cyclical and intricately tied to our actual experience.  It’s all very important to discuss and debrief.     

In addition to all of the established ways that people have kept time for millennia, we are always creating new systems.  In an attempt to be more attentive to my use of social media, I have recently started scrolling through all of my Facebook Memories while on my commute.  Now, hear me out, social media is a poor substitute for actually capturing a full life.  It is certainly not even close to my only outlet for attempting to archive the events that have been most formational to me or the people who have been most beloved.  Of course, even my best attempts at memorializing such things will fall short of reality.  I’m always writing from my own perspective, through some narrow lens that cannot be expanded beyond my senses and intellect.[1]  But the purposes of this little experiment of mine, in which I subject myself to my own words and images from the past decade, day after day after day, is about considering what things I have found either important enough or ordinary enough to share publicly.  I have not actually decided which way the pendulum swings on this.  It might be a little bit of both.

So, mid-September…  It’s a weird time for me.  Ten years ago, I was downing pizza for breakfast, throwing up all day long, and trying to hold on a few more weeks before announcing my last pregnancy.  Last year I was sitting outside the very building I am sitting inside, now, drinking coffee that was really just OK with brand new people, who are really pretty great.  Somewhere in-between, there were academic paper proposals, a need for a new can opener, listening to my daughter play piano, subbing for second graders, quiz meets, and an inquiry into which neighbor might feed our fish while we were out of town.  Is this the stuff that marks the time of my life?  I don’t know.  Maybe.

If I’m honest, though, this mid-September week always brings with it a frustration for me if I stop to think about that one year when it may have been the dumbest week of my life!  It wasn’t the most tragic or the most painful or the most insanely busy (although there were elements of all of those things), but when I look back over it, the only appropriate word I can muster is “dumb” (well, and all of its synonyms).  It was not enough and too much, all at the same time, and the truth is, that’s exactly how I defined myself (hear me here, not the week, not the experience, but my actual embodied self) for far too long, after it was over.  But this post is not about that, at all.  Not really.  Because, today I ran across the funniest glimmer of hope, couched (perhaps too neatly) within the memories of that week.  This is what I wrote:

”Spraying my jeans with glitter just became the top priority in my life… I love vacation time…”[2]

I’m thankful the subway wasn’t very full, because in addition to laughing out loud, I also teared up.  That seems to be how emotion works for me lately.  There is almost always this tension between hope and lament.  And no one who knows me is surprised in the least.  I had such a strong reaction to these words, because I know myself, and I know I had reached a moment in which I could do nothing else.  All my cards were on all the tables, so I took a deep breath and let go for a second. 

There is hope for the future in this.  In fact, I was thinking just yesterday about what would happen if I suddenly failed at everything I am attempting to do with my life now (just FYI, I don’t think this is an issue anyone should be concerned about, I was simply pondering all the possible endgames I can imagine, as is fairly typical for me by week three of any school year), and I had the strangest sense of peace about the fact that I would still be me.  I would still be the girl who has enough hope left that even in the midst of stupid seasons, she can take a moment to spray glitter on her jeans.  Because here’s the thing, friends:  Those times are going to come.  You can count on it.  But, they’re not going to last forever.  Hope on…


[1] This, of course, makes collaboration all the more important!
[2] Me, Facebook, September 19, 2015.