Sunday, May 21, 2006

porches

my friend giselle got me to thinking about porches. she wrote about sitting on her front porch with a good book and the breeze and all kinds of lovely imagery...


so everyone who lives in this area knows how awesome the weather has been. i mean, dang. like early spring when it should be like living in a steam bath. so we had The Availables over last night to watch a movie (i always want Steel Magnolias, but can never get an amen from the men-- what is that?) in the yard and strung up lights on the front porch and the tons of food (caroline, all your stuff is clean and i'm bringing it over this week) and hung out there all night. don pulled out the bb gun with bryan and josh and seth, and then bobby and casey and kevin joined them and they played some soccer all across our huge front yard, and the end of the night found a group of us sitting on the front porch telling stories. the storm that was predicted never came, but we saw lighting in the east and the breeze was perfect and i love the south.


what is it about porches? you know, all these little houses are being thrown up around here, each exactly like its neighbor (cute enough, sure), but all without front porches. now, my porch is not big at all. but it's there, and i think about the historic area in our town and the possibilities for community that come with porches. i remember my grandparents' big front porch with my cousins and aunts and uncles and talking to people as they took walks in front of their house while the kids played some demented form of tag in the front yard (seriously, one of our games was called "kill the man with the ball"), and in later years, my precious brother and i would bring the guitars out and we'd sing hymns and a thousand other songs ("me and bobby mcgee"-- oh yeah), wiping sweat off our foreheads and drinking sweet tea and swatting mosquitos (fortunately, the cigarette smoke kept most of them away-- porches really make me miss smoking sometimes...).


there's something intentional about front porches. you are all choosing to sit there for a reason. we experience it at salem campground in the summers, sitting for no practical reason on porch after porch, just wandering from cabin to cabin, talking for a minute, eating popsicles, holding babies and catching up. porches, to me, are invitations to come sit down for a little while, swing or rock and be quiet together or sing and talk.


sigh. i loved last night. i loved the way the grass was so green in our yard and the grass in the field across the way was dark, the field so huge. i loved the darkness of a soon-to-be-stormy summer sky in the early evening looked, threatening (emptily) to pour down on us. i loved the clusters of people, standing and sitting, talking and laughing, eating grapes and playing tag and just being together with no agenda. these are the sort of pointless, dreamy nights that memories are made of -- the things that define "being southern" to me.


we're doing it again real soon. if you're in town, you should come over :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

favorite things

My friend Sherdonna was one of the lovely friends who stopped by la casa de mis padres (you'd think i'd just give espanol up-- "spanish, i wish i knew how to quit you" aigh!!) this weekend, and gave me the most beautiful gift. She brought out the guitar, flipped her gorgeous, brand-new-penny colored hair behind her ear, and opened her mouth, filling the porch with the most beautiful voice that I have ever heard on any human being (I have to add, I have multiple friends with voices like angels, and I'll admit, I have probably assigned this significance to each of them at some point, but I'm an artist-- you'll permit me the luxury of indulging in extreme adjectives)(it's occurred to me that my favorite day would include singing in a choir with just these people...oh heaven. i'm a lucky girl). Anyway.

So sherdonna began to sing, and I began to sing with her, and suddenly we really weren't there on the porch. Sherd and i used to worship on tuesday nights at her apartment downtown, when we were both single and she was struggling with migranes which were a result of a tumor on her pituitary gland. I would sleep at her apartment the night before my wednesday morning drawing classes at Atlanta College of Art, and the two of us, broke and full of hope for the things the Lord was doing in our lives, would drink tea and talk about Jesus, and eventually, sherd would pull out the guitar. it was always like that hymn I love : "heaven came down and glory filled my soul"

sherd can sing harmony. melody. whatever. she's a concert clarinetist, plays every instrument, composes, etc. So we'd start to sing, and somehow she would make her voice fit with mine, going high if I couldn't get there, going low if I couldn't do that-- and something crazy happened with our voices when they met: this spectacular blending of our voices...we would both open our eyes and laugh and say "Did you hear that?"

I know what happened.

God inhabits the praises of His people. His word says that He literally comes and makes His home in our worship. Can you imagine heaven? When we will not close our mouths during worship, where we will never interupt our worship of Him in order to complain or criticize, where we will not compete but blend blend blend to worship Jesus and paint for Him the most lovely sound He could ever hear....

I have missed that kind of worship. I have missed letting my heart go there in worship. It's easy to forget about the sweetness of intimacy that fires true worship in the midst of the busyness of school, work, worship practice, whatever. Here is one of my goals, now that I am done with my undergraduate work: To recapture that intimacy, to bow my heart again at the feet of my Savior and intentionally reinvest my heart in the worship of His holiness and beauty again. It starts with studying His word, private time spent singing to Him, and just thinking of inviting Him into wherever I am, with no agenda. I remember that's where I last saw Him like that...

Sam

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

10 Days...

about 13 years ago, my friends (Woodstock) graduated from Agnes Scott College, while I was in Haiti. I can honestly say that I did not think of them during those weeks in a little village outside Port au Prince. I was in the right place. How I got there, the mistakes that I made leading up to that time in my life, are impossible for me to get my brain around-- and so this, I chalk up to the sovereignty of the Lord. He knew. How? I don't know. It's funny-- maybe I'm just tired from the seemingly endless line of papers I have been writing, or maybe this thing in me that fights and itches to disprove those things I can't see or plumb is just getting more and more convinced that I am convinced and that's that, but I feel like I can't be bothered to worry about the things I don't get. Because there is this really deep stillness in me that is okay with the mystery. No, not okay-- I'm enamored with it.

He's beautiful. These days before graduation, I am meditating on the power of God to restore those things we thought were lost forever. If you had asked me 15 years ago how the Lord was going to pull the garbage I had made of my life out of the fire, I would never, never have been able to tell you. I wouldn't believe that He could have. It's like this today, right? We don't have to be dramatically off our rockers to not be able to figure out how in the world God is going to guide us through things-- why do we keep trying to figure out how miracles work when mystery is integral to their very nature? He surprises me with His committment to me all the time and His own committment to saving me every day.

One close friend of mine finished up her PhD this time last year, two of my professors are my age (one has more than one Ivy League masters, to go with her Ivy League PhD) and many of my friends already have at least one baby.... Am I behind? Am I on time? Would Don and I have met if we had had our collective butts in gear years ago? Did I damage possibilities years ago that are no longer destined to be part of my life now?

I don't know, but it does not matter (do you hear Meatballs? "it just doesn't matter! it just doesn't matter! it just doesn't matter!"). It just doesn't. This is right. The precious, amazing, beautiful girls I have gotten to share the last four years with are perfect. I wouldn't trade one moment with them to have been "on time" in 1993. In my heart, I see these little sisters and can't imagine my life without them. And the professors? These were the perfect ones. And the husband God gave me, to send me and support me and not leave me when I changed into a demon woman? Sigh.

What is this blog thing? I have a perfectly good journal back in the back, and I should be taking a shower, drinking tea and writing in my journal before sleeping for 18 hours and then starting the final push in the morning-- four major papers and a project nearly done, in 9 days...oy. But here, I think maybe someone else might struggle with why now?, and why like this?, and I would say, from right here, no worries. I would say, from a life that has been stinking fun and good but hard, and not nearly half way over, that it's so okay not to know which end is up sometimes. Go lay in the grass in the park and look at the clouds. Make cookies for firemen. Have a good cry. But remember that all of these things are making up who we are-- these things are the stuff of our future famous memoirs. It's okay, it's good, it's alright. There is a finer purpose to all of this.

As for me, I'm so happy-- and I'm so exhausted I could cry-- but I am so happy. I've been longing for this for so long, and now I graduate-- but not just for the sake of graduation itself: This diploma means that I am just that much closer to the vision I have had for so many years. It's happening.

God is a God of restoration.