March 30, 2013


“The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted. That is why the first event is known to have been an expulsion, and the last is hoped to be a reconciliation and return.” –Marilyn Robinson, Housekeeping

I shared this quote a few months ago, and I have been thinking about it lately—particularly about this “hope of reconciliation,” and what that means for my those in my church who are grieving.

Here’s what I can’t get past: hope does not cover over the visions of the swerve on a snowy road that means my friend’s marriage will only ever be 9 months long.

If I had one wish for her right now besides getting her husband back, it would be that she would never have to think of that moment, and its violence. I’m sure I will think of better wishes for her later—and maybe even have the courage to pray them—but for now that’s it.

Yesterday, I wondered what it means to remember the violence of Jesus’ crucifixion. Not just the injustice, or the sadness, or the ridiculousness of it all, but the ordinary violence. I didn’t try to; the thought has never seemed so ugly to me as now.

And yet I know remembering must somehow be good for my soul. I know that to hear Christ say to us each week at Communion, “This is my body, which is given for you,” implies a violence. And Christ showing Peter his scars means that this violence is not be undone or unremembered, but somehow healed.

Still, this doesn’t help me reconcile violence with goodness, or snowy roads with the end of a life. Things don’t seem to fit, and maybe that’s what “mourning that will not be comforted” means.

March 28, 2013


I have been home in Wheaton for about a week now, writing a lot but not much to share.

Two very sudden, too-soon deaths in our church community have left most of us heart-sore and tired.

There will be a funeral on Good Friday, and a funeral on Easter Sunday.

I know there is a lot to say about this time of year–about death being conquered and the hope of Resurrection–but I also know it is okay to not say these things right this minute.

Now, it’s okay to wonder if we should send flowers, to order pizza with sad friends, to pray sloppily over the phone, to ask for some kind of grace for the families who just want their boys back.

It’s been a rich few days, full of communion and truth and vulnerability, but of course, not at all worth the cost.

A Second Childhood

March 13, 2013


Chelsea at the arboretum.


Rainbows at the Natural History Museum.


Leslie on our roof.


The last couple of days have been almost completely empty, which, seeing as I’m not watching TV, has meant sitting in my back yard reading for hours and hours. My housemates wander in and out of the house, cooking and chatting and doing homework, and these are my favorite types of days.

Christian is playing at South by Southwest (a music festival in Texas) this week, and I love getting his behind-the-scenes texts about how these things work. I’ve told him more than once that I cannot imagine how someone could possibly like “playing a show”—that is, deciding what to do with your arms and legs for an hour on stage in front of a bunch of strangers—but I’m so glad that he does, and that he is getting to do it so much more than he imagined. And even though I sometimes wish I could go with him (like in May, when he tours in Europe, for example), I am also extremely happy to sit here in the sun with my books.

I spent Monday with G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and yesterday with Christina Rosetti’s poetry. Monday was a much more enjoyable day, partly because I do not read poetry well, and partly because Ms. Rosetti loves to write about death. (A topic which, if I may digress for a little bit, I decided to embrace yesterday [much easier to do outside in the sun]…I was thinking about what it means to view life well [in light of death, that is], and I realized Lent can speak to this question. Lent is about loving good things [even big good things, like life] in a good way…holding things tightly without breaking or smothering them. I’m almost positive I’ve read and heard this idea before—that Lent is able learning how to live well and die well—but coming to it organically was nice.) (Also, I really am sorry for all the parenthesis and dashes and ellipses… I just don’t know how else to say things.)

ANYWAY, I loved Orthodoxy. I tried to read it a few years ago but got caught up on all the modern philosophy stuff, so this time around—after just having read a lot of the guys Chesterton is directly addressing—was much better. There were so many parts to love, and I will maybe write about it for my next hundred blog posts, but for now, I want to share just one idea.

At the end of his book, Chesterton takes a few pages to talk about the grounds on which he submits to Christianity as a faith: “that is, that the Christian Church in its practical relation to my soul is a living teacher, not a dead one.”

In light of this, he says,

Since I have accepted Christendom as a mother and not merely as a chance example, I         have found Europe and the world once more like the little garden where I stared at the    symbolic shapes of cat and rake; I look at everything with the old elvish ignorance and expectancy. This or that rite or doctrine may look as ugly and extraordinary as a rake; but I have found by experience that such things end somehow in grass and flowers.

And later, “I have come into my second childhood.”

And whereas a few years ago none of this would have made sense to me, now it is just so beautiful. I don’t know from where or when this wonder he is talking about came to me, but I know I have some of it—I recognize his words.

Sometimes I am afraid I will wake up and not know it anymore, but I think I will be okay even then. It’s enough to have it, even for a little while. And even if it could be stored up and saved for later, that not only seems irreverent…it also ruins all the fun.





March 12, 2013


Here are some photos from two weekends ago, when Christian and I drove up to Monterrey to camp with my sister, Kelsey, and brother-in-law, Tim. By the time we arrived at the campsite on Friday night, tents were magically set up, food was out, and Tim was chopping wood for the fire…  a pretty accurate picture of how the rest of the weekend went (we were so spoiled).

My favorite part of the trip was eating and talking by the fire each night, and then going to sleep to the sound of the 10pm trumpet-song from the camp (?) nearby. A close second was Toby, Tim and Kelsey’s dog, running furious circles around our tents sporadically and with no warning (a phenomenon which T & K have dubbed “Toby time”).