4.19.2014

Stay here and keep watch

This week, I remembered the power of the resurrection. It has the ability to touch and transform our daily lives. God's desire to renew all things is as much for the earth as it is for the heavens. "The power that comes from God is ready to be brought into our human situation, and in such a way, as to transform it."


Yesterday we remembered the journey to the cross and sang, "Stay here and keep watch with me; the hour has come. Stay here and keep watch with me; watch and pray." It was an incredibly poignant time together, as we prayed, remembered, sang, and sat silent. We closed with a mass pilgrimage to the altar, an open invitation to kneel at the cross with your prayers and burdens. The three o'clock sun streamed in the high church windows as people queued quietly. I was struck again, as I often am on Good Friday, by the current of hope among the people. We sing somberly and hear the heart-wrenching story of Jesus' journey to his death. The mood is solemn and earnest. But as people rise to go to the cross, there is a profound hopefulness. We know that we keep watch not only for the seven last words of Jesus, but we also watch and wait for the resurrection. Because Sunday's coming. We have the gift of living on this side of the cross. And after 40 days of spring-tide and a holy week, we're ready to celebrate.

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' "

4.03.2014

Here's the thing

I forgot how much I love couscous. I've been eating a lot of other kinds of grain – bulgar, coconut rice, wild rice, orzo (pasta disguised as a whole grain), Israeli couscous – and while I love all those grains, tonight I'm really digging regular couscous.

It's been a hell of a week. There's no other way to put it. Actually, that statement stands for this week and last week. It's been a while since I've slept through the night. I was awake from 3 to 4:30am the other night, because once I was awakened by my neighbor getting ready to go to work, I started thinking about the state of the world. My coworker asked me if I then wrote a "state of the world" address. Probably. I just don't remember it. I'm sure it was very thoughtful.

I was so inundated by various forms of communication today, that when I finally made it to the fitness center to run off the stress of the week, I turned my phone off. I forget sometimes that I don't have to interrupt my run/shower/solitary dinner/or daily clips from the Tonight Show to respond to my phone. Here's the thing: almost always, it can wait. After taking calls and answering emails and responding to chats and sitting in meetings all day, I'm sorry, I don't have it in me.

That said, as it turns out, you can fairly easily make couscous while on the phone. And stir fried veg. My goal this week was to a) survive, and b) eat up the this-and-that floating around my fridge and freezer. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but it's all thanks to Trader Joe's jar of Peanut Satay that tonight's phone-made couscous with stir-fried veg was such a success. I don't usually do pre-made stuff, but this peanut satay sauce is really incredible. It's essentially what I like to do with Thai chili paste and coconut milk and peanuts, just already done – so that I can be on the phone making dinner at 8pm and still eat by 8:30. I'd say that's a win.

As Jimmy Fallon would say, "Thank you, Trader Joe's, for rescuing my dinner from being a bowl of cereal."

As previously stated, this little moment in life's history has been a real treat. I was telling a friend recently that it felt like there was this crazy under-current of bad and messy and exhausting that seeps into every. single. day. Then today Chicagoans woke up and it was 34 degrees and pouring rain and dark. Uh, no, thanks, I'm good; I don't need anymore gloom or doom.

I've been working on a writing project for the last few weeks, with a word count to meet each night as a means of motivation after I've trudged home from work or the fitness center, showered (maybe), made some toast or hard-boiled eggs or couscous(!) and lost all focus. I've met this self-proclaimed goal exactly 2 out of 5 nights this week. That's not a very good record. Can you blame me? If you think of it, maybe say a prayer for focus and energy and magic, in hopes that something writerish will happen.

Amidst all the "weight" of this week, and by this week I mean the last few weeks, I've been steadily prompted to keep perspective. Almost never is the stuff that we're stressing about life-or-death. And when it is, all the other rubbish doesn't matter a whit.

I was reminded of these wise words from the Gospel of Matthew, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

I'm grateful for people like Rachel Held Evans, who reminds us that we have this in common:

We are resurrection people.

Our God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life, so if we want in on God's business, we better prepare to follow God to all the rock-bottom, scorched-earth, dead-on-arrival corners of this world – including those in our own hearts – because that's where God works, that's where God gardens ... It’s just death and resurrection, over and over again, day after day, as God reaches down into our deepest graves and with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead wrests us from our pride, our apathy, our fear, our prejudice, our anger, our hurt, and our despair.

We may be deep in the season of Lent, dear friends, but the party's fast approaching.