Accompany us, then

I'm in my last day of reading week. This week has been a much needed break from class – which has mostly meant catch up on all the reading and papers coming up. But I've also been able to spend some quality time with friends (!) from school, which was just what this lonely soul needed. I continue to long for community in the deepest and truest sense. I know that I don't go it alone, though. And God has done a really great job of reminding me of that this week.

Reading week also meant great timing to celebrate fall in all it's fullness. My roommate and I trekked out to a pumpkin patch in a more rural area of Washington – which felt so much like the midwest I may have teared up a bit at the rows and rows of corn. We picked the finest pumpkins we could find and totally dominated a corn maze in less than the average time. I may or may not have eaten 3 warm apple cider donuts. Worth it.

We came home with a sack full of squash. Perfect for my friend Sue's butternut squash soup recipe, which was a welcomed warmth in the un-endingly wet and cold week.  I really detest group projects; so when the week called for a group meeting, I baked pumpkin bread crusted with sunflower seeds and slivered almonds, in hopes that our group project would somehow be more fun. And the spicy-sweet squash bowl from Pinch of Yum is a go-to fall recipe for me. Perfect for weekday lunches.

But what I really love to do on a wet and cold day is crank the oven up to 500 and bake bread. I woke up the other day feeling a little disoriented, stuck in the cognitive space of a brain that's working on over-drive to get through the day's reading, exhausted and emotionally drained. I needed to do something with my hands, something simple and rooted. I've heard bread making spoken of as a spiritual practice, which I think I'm on board with. Sometimes, we need to do things that pull us back to earth, that ground us and remind us of the weight of the earth beneath our feet. That's how I feel when I sink my hands into a bowl of dough. It felt so good to do something that didn't require a book, a conversation, or a coherent thought. And as I mindlessly shaped my dough into loaves, it was as though the bits of my mind and spirit that had been scattered, started to settle into place. I could make some sense of the world again.

I was telling a friend this week how these days feel a bit like a wilderness. At school we talk a lot about the need to name the hard thing for what it is, to live into the difficulty, pain, or tragedy of our lives in order to experience healing. We are being asked to the hard work of lament, of not rushing through to the other side, but allowing ourselves to dwell in the not-ok for a while. Which is not really that fun. Often, to name something that seems unnameable costs you something. It is a laborious task. But, I am coming to believe, a necessary one. I'm naming the wilderness for what it is. Like Israel, I believe the pillar of light goes before me. And I have a hope. A hope in the promise that is on the other side. He has rescued before; he will rescue again.

This morning at the church I visited, we sang Bob Dylan's song Pressing On. It's not only super rad that Bob Dylan played a role in my experience of worship this morning, but it's a really great song. A side of Bob Dylan not often heard. In it, he sings, "What's lost has been found, what's to come has already been."

The poet Julia Esquivel says we have been "threatened with resurrection"and this is what keeps us up at night.

Accompany us, then
on this vigil
and you will know
how marvelous it is
to live
threatened with resurrection.


What you hope in

Can you tell I'm a grad student by how long it's been since I last wrote? I can. Lame. So there's that – the whole back-to-school thing – and then there's the craziness of coordinating a conference for 2,500 people and traveling through 3 time zones to the total opposite side of the country to work like mad 24/7 and then fly back to a new-ish city to be a grad student again.

So yeah. I guess I've been a little busy.

One of my brilliant professors, the great Dan Allender, says what you hope in, you will bleed for.

I hope to be a great writer. But I guess I don't hope in it enough to bleed for it. Right now I just bleed for school. Because I also hope to finish grad school. I sincerely hope in a great many things, but I find myself having to be very selective about the things I practice.

Another of my professors asked, if practice is who we are becoming ... what are 2-5 things you practice? This made me want to be far more intentional about the things I practice. She challenged us to do one thing every day that feeds our soul.

So, I'm trying to practice feeding my soul.

I spent 2 blissful days with my family en route to Raleigh for the great conference. It was nice to see a familiar skyline and be with people who feed my soul.

Raleigh was the culmination of a year's worth of work for me and multiple years for many of our local members. What a gift to be able to share in the joy and goodness of the Spirit with 2,500 friends working in community development. I am privileged to be a part of such an incredible community.

I flew back to Seattle late. It was strange to be flying "home" to Seattle. I had to take a cab home, which felt even stranger. I felt a little like I was starting all over again, as a visitor in my now home-city. It still surprises me to drive over a bridge to downtown Seattle and see the Space Needle. I still kind of expect to see the Sears Tower. Since then I have felt the acute ache of loneliness. Granted, I am not actually alone. I have a wonderful roommate and a really lovely school community. But what I ache for is to be deeply known. Which I fully recognize comes with time. I imagine many of my school compadres feel the same ache. So this week I've been praying specifically for that, for all of us.

My aforementioned wonderful roommate has the hookup at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island, where we spent last weekend. It was truly a balm for the weary soul. We stayed a mere stroll from the water, surrounded by trees beginning to change, and witnessed the best sunset I've seen maybe ever.

The phenomena of visiting or living on an island is totally new to me, as a girl hailing from the land-locked midwest. Ferries and islands are a big thing in the PNW. And it's kind of great. Waiting for the ferry forces you to slow down a bit. A mere 2 hrs from Seattle, Whidbey Island felt like a haven.

We drove the long way around to get home so that we could go through Deception Pass, which I had no concept of until I saw it. It is this stunning part of the island that makes a sudden drop to the water. The water swirls frighteningly far below the greenish bridge. It is breathtaking.

I am so privileged to be in a place of such beauty. It lessens the ache.

Another thing my prof Dan Allender said in my Faith, Hope, & Love class has been ringing in my head ever since. He was talking about the nature of hope. He said hope is remembering the future. We have this promise: God has rescued before; He will rescue again.

This is something I believe we must remember and live into daily.
So wherever you, whatever story of tragedy, fear, love or apathy you may be living, know that he has rescued before and he will rescue again.