Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hides in the bushes and makes weird noises!

This is the best quote EVER!  Yes, I am a bit sleep deprived and suffering the first symptoms of the Warbler Ague, but hey, it's spring!  Actually the proper quote is: "hiding in the bushes and making weird noises," stolen from Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman, describing the yellow-breasted chat.  Whoever thought I'd be caught quoting a guide to birds, next I'll be enthused about something in my reptile and amphibian guide, or worse, the fish book.  Thankfully I don't own a guide to mosses or fungi.  Wouldn't that make a fabulous blog title?  It is a great description of blogging, save the quote describes an auditory event whereas blogging is visual, but still, it is the same concept.  I should go get some sleep...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Weird and loving it!

So yesterday I took a slight detour in cyberspace and ended up wandering around for hours in a neighborhood I had never previously visited; it was something of a culture shock, but enlightening in its own feral way.  I don't tend to spend much time meandering along the various boulevards of the 'interweb,' rather I tend to visit a very few specific sites, conduct my business there, and move on.  But I had a little time and a google search led me to an article which led me to a website that inevitably sucked me in.  It was a 'gasp' website for parents, particularly moms, though I had heard of it previously I had never ventured thither.  What intrigued me was not the articles and their content, but rather the people behind the articles: those who wrote and read them.  It was something like the time I went to a 'big' movie theater for the first time in ages and found myself rather astonished at the clothes people chose to wear for a night out and their behavior thereupon.  I sometimes forget the ways of the world at large!

While some of the information was helpful, even encouraging, and often amusing, it was more the language and the writers' way of viewing the world that caught my attention.  I often forget that to some people, certain four letter scatological adjectives are as necessary to their grammar as breathing is to life.  I would also never have kids after reading about them on that site, but that is another article entirely (and yes, I am a parent).  But the one thing that really caught my eye was an anonymous post in their 'confessional' message board where you can post your worst mommy moments, etc.  It was a brief statement going something like this, 'I finally made a friend with a fellow parent at my kid's school but…'  The author went on to state, 'I am an agnostic, bisexual, and a liberal,' (I wanted to interject, 'who isn't?'), but she ended with the words, 'and terrified.'  That gave me pause.  And the reason for her disquiet?  The friend in question is a Christian.  That was pretty much all there was to the post, but I found it both tragic and intriguing.  Why was this person terrified?  It was certainly an interesting look at how the 'world' sees the church.

Now if the person in question was a zombie or a werewolf or a vampire, that would be cool (to most moderns).  Or if they were Buddhist, New Age, or a fellow agnostic, that too would be hip.  Their race, gender, sexuality, doesn't matter, except the more 'diverse' the better.  If they were a sociopath or a serial killer, that might raise a few eyebrows, but I had never thought of myself as terrifying!  What's weird about this whole perception is that apparently every other group/religion/race/occupation/gender/sexuality/organization on the face of the planet is composed of flesh and blood people, but the church is something utterly different and you can't be friends with its adherents without taking your life (or at least your social standing) in your hands.  But then if your only exposure to so-called Christians is through the media, this view is unsurprising as it is the last 'group' you can safely depict as evil, annoying, stupid, etc. in our obsessively politically correct culture.  But the church is just like any other group of people: there are smart people, not so smart people, nice people, mean people, saints and jerks, introverts and extroverts, etc., to say we are all weirdos just because we are Christians is stereotyping, or is it?

This is far from the first time in history the church has been seen as weird or even dangerous.  The Romans accused early Christians of being atheists and cannibals.  Peter calls us sojourners and exiles.  Jesus Himself said we'd be hated because He was.  I guess the church is weird and was always meant to be, for it has something the world both desperately wants yet utterly despises.  Which got me thinking about another matter that has always puzzled me.  Why is Christianity so despised in modern culture when everything else is either tolerated or ignored.  If you want the church to die a quiet death, why keep drawing attention to it?  This is like telling a toddler to leave something alone, hoping it will place his thoughts on anything but the forbidden object, but it achieves exactly the opposite: he can think of nothing else.  Why not just ignore the church and hope it goes away, vanishes into obscurity like the Cult of Zeus and the worship of Molech?

But there is always some new book claiming to debunk scripture or a TV program aimed at explaining 'what really happened.'  If anyone who can even remotely be associated with the church does something mean or stupid, the media can't quit talking about it.  Every Easter and Christmas, another issue of a certain magazine proclaims the 'truth' about Jesus.  I really love the 'controversy' over 'God's wife,' inspired by some little scrap of parchment, considered by most to be a forgery, but it crops up every now and again on a slow news day.  The entire collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls never got that much attention.  Why so much effort to discredit what should be an obscure religious sect?  You never see this sort of stuff aimed at Hinduism, New Age, Wicca, Islam, etc.  If the world is trying so hard to make the church look weird and stupid, perhaps there is truly something there to be afraid of.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Someday my finch will come

In my experience, the best way to find something is to look for something else entirely (your car keys).  This applies to bird watching as well.  The spring migration has begun and we northerners (at least those of us crazy enough to know what a limpkin is) eagerly scan the ponds and bushes, hoping for the chance of seeing something we have never seen before, a new species to add to our much feted 'life list.'  There are various birds lumped into the category of 'northern finches,' and as we moved about as far north as one can and still be in the lower 48 states nearly eight years ago, I was eager to add a few of these unique creatures to my list.  In seven years and countless attempts, I never saw any of these coveted birds.  Then we moved 500 miles west and south and all my hopes of seeing those particular birds sputtered out, though I found myself in an area with a plethora of new and interesting birds to discover, I was a little disappointed, but life goes on and cannot revolve around one's obsessions.

Yesterday, out of the blue, one of those 'northern finches' wandered into my life.  A whole flock of red crossbills had invaded the neighbor's yard and I was within four feet of three of them busy at the bird feeder.  Life is kind of like that: when we least expect it, we trip right over something that changes our lives forever.  When we look to the future and try to plot and plan and hope, often there comes no clear answer, but then we lay aside thoughts of our 'destiny' and then run headlong into something amazing when we weren't looking for it.  If you need proof that there is a God or that He has a sense of humor, just look back at your own life or listen to the tales of others.  His timing and provision are perfect, it is our impatience and demand for immediate satisfaction or perhaps our longing for something we cannot have or that will not be good for us that drives us to think that He is absent or uncaring or non-existent. He answers prayers, but often the answer is 'no' or 'wait.'

I still don't like waiting, I want to open my christmas presents now (yes, it is April), which would utterly ruin a year's worth of planning and anticipation on the part of my family and friends, rather I must quietly abide in dire curiosity and pray that I not burst with the effort.  Rather than focusing all our attention and hope on something: a vacation, a future career or love interest, college, owning a certain house or car, getting rich…perhaps we should focus on Someone and we'll trip over the relatively minor details whilst our attention is focused elsewhere.  This is not to say one should not plan and prepare for certain things, but all our Joy should not be found in the fulfillment thereof.  The thing desired cannot become an idol to draw our attention away from the One who provides everything, else all is vain, for no 'thing' can ever fill the gap in our souls that is the source of all such longings.

Again and again, I have fallen into the trap of 'life will be awesome when…' even though I know better.  He has faithfully provided again and again, but yet I still fail to trust Him or look to Him for the easing of that eternal ache that can never be truly healed in this broken world.  But rather, when I do focus on Him, the wait is not nearly so bad, and suddenly the thing desired is before me long before I thought to look for it, or so it seems, for when I am waiting for 'something,' the days are long and the hours cruel, but when my attention is fixed on the Source of all good things, when my hope is set on things 'not of this world,' time is swift indeed.  The wait can be a blessing or an agony, why must I always choose the self-torture and the pain?  If I can trust Him to provide the sparrows, can I not trust Him with the far more important aspects of life?

Monday, April 6, 2015


My goal to beat our adoption agency's record for fastest placement has (not surprisingly) failed, so we are doomed to wait indefinitely with all the other record non-breakers.  But interestingly, this has reminded me that waiting seems to be what we spend most of our lives doing: waiting to grow up, waiting for a dream vacation, waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right, waiting to graduate, waiting for the perfect job offer, waiting….but looking back at my life, in retrospect at least, it seems to have passed rather quickly.  Did I not once think I'd never be done with school yet it is nearly ten years since I graduated from grad school!  Strange how that works, you cannot wait for 'it' to happen and then it does and suddenly it was last month or last decade or even last century!  I even get impatient waiting for my seeds to sprout in the spring, so it not a thing innate to adoption or even parenting, but to life itself

In our technologically obsessed society, waiting seems all the harder when we are blessed (or cursed?) with almost instant gratification, remember the days of dial up?  Or think what it must have been like waiting for a letter to cross continents and oceans via horse or wind driven ships.  And we fret and fuss when it takes five minutes for someone to respond to a text.  But yet, even with all our technology, there are some things for which we must still wait.  We have not found a way to speed up gestation, the seasons, or high school gym class; they must pass one second at a time, as they ever had.

But can we not do something with all this waiting?  Can we not use it for our good or that of others?  I believe it is in these valley of waiting in which we grow most as people (and no, I'm not talking about physically from all that stress-induced chocolate consumption).  It is in these 'trying' times we learn who we are and stretch the boundaries of who we might become, or not.  We are told to 'redeem the time, for the days are evil,' that is, put it to good and productive use.  Just because you are waiting, does not mean you get to stand idly by with your hands in your pockets, besides, that's an easy way to drive yourself mad: waiting with nothing to do in the interim!  But then, there are also times when we must, 'be still and know.'  Perhaps we just need to quit fussing and fretting, relax and use the time to reflect on that which is most important, rather than the thing waited for.

The day will come, eventually, but fretting about it won't bring it any faster, instead, enjoy the time you have and put it to good use, and the day will be here before you know it!  Now if only I could take my own advice…

As it was recently the Easter season, it is interesting to reflect on One who knows what it is to wait.  From the very Beginning, a Promise was made, a Rescuer was expected.  Kingdoms rose and fell, the whole face of the world changed, and yet, He did not come.  Then on a night no one expected suddenly He was here, only it was shepherds and cattle that bore witness to this wondrous moment.  Then thirty years would pass before we hear of our Hero again, save a little vignette of an incident in His youth, we know nothing of what happened in the interim.  What would it be like to be God, yet dwell in mortal flesh for thirty years before starting your mission?  That is patience indeed!  We are called to be like Him in every aspect, I suppose this is no different.