Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Dear Amadeus

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mozart!

In honor of this day I shall sing The Queen of the Night from the Magic Flute over and over.

On second thought, I don't want to scare the baby....

I met someone today named Amy Grant. I thought to myself "Amy Grant.....? That sure sounds familiar. I must have gone to high school with someone named Amy Grant." So I tried to put a face with the name, but I couldn't.

She must have smelled the rubber burning in my brain because she said "You're thinking of the singer, right?" Oh, ya. I felt pretty stupid. She said she gets that all the time.

In other news, it's a pretty good day when I can get a cinnamon roll AND a piece of fried chicken at Van's Pastry Shop. Oh, ya.

Life is good.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Post in which I use lots of links, colons and other punctuation and many words that are not recognized by Spellcheck

Check it out: Ayekah did a very lovely Thought for the Week Dedicated to Captainwow.

Thank you - I love it. Just came home from the Doctor's office for our 9 month prenatal visit to find this and I'm very honored!

Update on the Little Dude: He is head down, and he's "dropped". This explains all the bionic bladder bonking and extra pelvic pressure recently. Doc says everything looks great and we are All Systems Go to begin the countdown to Blastoff.

Makes me think of: I have a friend who's brother is an astronaut. He says in his book Off The Planet that it's an amazing feeling to be strapped into the space shuttle before takeoff, sitting on top of a literal controlled nuclear explosion, waiting for the 3...2...1... It's both exhilarating and terrifying. Well, ok maybe that's a little extreme for an example, but I do feel both excited and scared at the same time.

For the Cat Lovers out there: This Article is funny.

In Other News: We're all feeling much better around here. Even Hobbes has had issues, which were corrected at least in part by a good dose of Cat Lax.

Today's Quote: "I stink. Therefore I am." - Mocha

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tagged, I'm IT!

Tagged by Brenda:

Four Jobs you've had in your life:
1. Private Flute Teacher (since about age 17)
2. Donut Maker (Time to Make the Donuts! - loved it)
3. Bank Teller (hated it)
4. Office Manager (loved it and hated it)

Four Movies you could watch over and over:
1. Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)
2. Johnny English
3. James Bond Movies
4. Animated Disney or Pixar Movies

Four Places you have Lived:
1. Ohio
2. Central Michigan
3. Western Michigan
4. Northern Michigan
(not in that order)

Four TV Shows - What, that I like or I hate? :o)
I like:
1. Lost
2. CSI
3. Friends
4. Seinfeld

Four Places you've been on Vacation:
1. Camping in Michigan, Colorado, Utah
2. Costa Rica
3. Various States - Maine, California, Florida and several in between
4. St Kitts, West Indies

Four of Your Favorite Foods:
1. Dark Chocolate
2. Pizza
3. Cinnamon Rolls
4. Sushi

Four Websites you Visit Daily:
1. My usual Blogs
2. Gmail
everything else is sporadic

Four Places you'd rather be right now:
1. In Bed, sleeping soundly for a 10 hour stretch
2. Playing Frisbee in the Park in the sun, nonpreggo, full of energy, healthy and strong!
I don't know other than that.

Four Bloggers you are tagging: anyone who wants to do it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back From The [Almost] Dead

I am coming up for air finally, after a long haul with being sick and having at the same time a lot going on. Yup, I'm still dragging around with this cold or viral thingy or whatever. Eventually it turned into a sinus infection. I went to the doc yesterday morning and have been given the gift of antibiotics. I'm not sure if it's in my head but even after one day I feel a little better. I actually slept most of the night last night. Interrupted only by having to pee, having a big needy kitty wanting to purr and snuggle under the covers with me, and the patter of raindrops on the window. Blessed SLEEP! I woke up 3 minutes before a friend was supposed to arrive for coffee.

So, the silent retreat - was great. Had a lot of time to do nothing. I couldn't hear very well for a few days either, due to the mutant cold packing my ears solid, so the first day I felt as if in a cocoon, silent and somehow safe and protected. It initially seemed like bad timing to go on a retreat since I've already had so much quiet in my life, but as it turned out I forgot how just being in an environment where nothing is calling out for doing is very peaceful. Entering into the retreat I expected to get a little bored, and the time stretched out before me looking like a long long road. But the time went fast, and that surprised me.

I met with The Oracle once each day. The meditation she invited me into the first day was to read Mark and try (as best I could) to experience Jesus as if meeting him for the first time. She also loaned me a book called Who do You Say that I Am? by William Barry. What would I think of this guy if I met him on the street? Who would he be to me?

Now, please do keep in mind that I know just as well as you might the Sunday School answers to these questions. I know the "right" answers, but it's another thing to think about this from outside of that context, and not all that easy to do for a former "conservative, fundamental, evangelical" Christian. (whatever that even means anymore) So please don't go blasting my "theology", because I'm just thinking through things here, wrestling and questioning, not instating a new cosmos or anything like that. Also, I'd like you to keep in mind I generally keep these things to myself because I realize I have not yet learned how to verbalize what I think in a way that is not scattered and incomplete. But I am going to go out on a limb a little and trust that you who are reading this will be patient with my sometimes incoherence.

So anyway, it struck me I might have been both drawn to Jesus and his message and I might have also avoided him. I think today he'd have dreds and wear Birkenstocks, but I've thought that for some time now. I think he'd be very cool but unnerving. He probably didn't smell all that great. I would like that he hung out with the "rough crowd", and slammed the hypocritical religious folks of the day - the people who took advantage of their position and lorded it over the "little people". I would have been freaked out by his directness, his ability to "heal". I like it that Jesus was reluctant for the folks to put him too high too soon on the Messiah pedestal because he knew they did not know what that even meant, but he was always gentle to the folks who came to him. He was full of paradox and made no bones about it. He didn't try to resolve all the mysteries of the world for us, and that would have frustrated the crap out of me. All this talking in Parables??! Cut it out with the storytelling and give it to me straight!!

But the biggest new thought for me was that if Jesus was both God and Human, which I have always believed, then there are some aspects of his humanity that perhaps I have sadly disregarded given my need to maintain Jesus as deity. In fact, I somehow perceived I should DEFEND this position. Ironically, this belief for me made most of his life not as remarkable, just part of the story. In fact it made it fairly acedemic really, that of course he made no mistakes, wouldn't have been confused about anything, couldn't have gotten it wrong about returning very soon, couldn't have done wrong, etc... because he was GOD, for crying out loud. We must have just misunderstood or interpreted wrong, or something like that.

In discussion with the Oracle, we discussed the possibility that IF Jesus was fully human and fully God then the Fully God could limit Himself. This makes the pondering of his humanity all the more remarkable and meaningful and mysterious to me.

He didn't usher in world peace. Did he think he was going to? It reads in the Gospel of Mark like maybe he did. Did he even know EXACTLY what the Kingdom of God was supposed to look like? He was left alone in the end - his disciples, his family - they didn't understand him. If he didn't think there could be any other way for his death but crucifixion, then why did he ask God to change the circumstances for him? I am chewin on questions like these. Because it changes the face of Jesus altogether in my mind.

In addition, It doesn't take anything away from my faith to say that perhaps the writer of the Gospel of Mark (who was writing this all 3rd hand and many years after the life of Jesus) might have embellished some, might have gotten a few facts mixed up here and there. This used to offend me when people would suggest things like "error in scripture" because I was afraid that it took away from the Bible in some way as The Word Of GOD. (which I also felt responsible for defending) Now, I don't have as hard of a time with that. I'm coming more to the opinion that the guys writing the things we read now in the bible were human, they weren't maybe even aware that what they were writing was going to be picked apart someday and analyzed to death, they were just trying to get a message across, writing in a historical and cultural context what was burning in their hearts to get out on the paper. They probably wrote for the same reasons we write today. Only in retrospect did anyone call what they wrote "The Inspired Word of God". So there is no need for me to defend the Deity of Jesus anymore. I don't need to defend the Bible. I believe Jesus was who he said he was. I believe the life of Jesus really happened in some order or another very similar to how it is stated in the New Testament. I believe there is a great deal of value in the Bible and that God speaks to us through it if we let Him. I believe this stuff, and I'll "preach it" if the moment seems right for the preaching. However, people will either come to the same conclusions I have or they won't, and that is not up to me because truly those who seek will find. And those who are not seeking, well I don't have to make them do that, either. What a blessed relief! (especially for them)

But I digress.... back to the humanity thing: If Jesus was fully human, perhaps he didn't know what was going to happen 100% of the time. We can't deny that different gospel writers have written what he said sometimes in 3 different ways in 3 different places. But if 5 people wrote a biography of Alexander the Great, there would be discrepancies and no one would think anything of it. It doesn't change who he was and what he did, in general. I wish that Joseph and Mary had the ability to read and write and kept a good baby journal or something - a written account of their family and the life and times of their kid(s). That would clear a lot of stuff up for me I think.

The thing I hang on to in the end is that the heart of Jesus' message was not simply about heaven and hell and how to get there (or not). Not to take anything away from that but to say that He was way more rounded than that. He was compassionate toward the people that no one liked. He showed mercy to the one the religious people wanted to stone, he turned the social expectations upside down and those with no voice had a place in his heart. He had no patience for hypocrisy in religious folks who pretended to be perfect and disregarded the hearts of the people they should have been leading. These are not things that much of the world has a problem with. Ghandi liked the message of Jesus, he just didn't like Christians. The message of Jesus - the Truth that winds its way through the Gospel message remains no matter the historical evidence. No matter who one says that Jesus was/is, it doesn't eventually come to empirical data. Going Jesus has a T shirt on her site that says "Jesus died to take away your sins not your mind." I want to be a Christian who thinks, but I don't want to be intellectualized into spiritual imbecility, either.

I read recently someone's opinion that some scientists are better theologians than many of the so called theologians, because they're always looking. Maybe if we approached theology more that way it would be better in some ways. Not ever feeling we've arrived at The Answer. Collectively, we used to think The Earth Was Flat. What do I/we believe about God or Jesus or what it means to be a Christian that corresponds to such a colossal mistake? We'll never know if we sit here thinking we've got it all nailed down.

So again, I am left with just a little more mystery. The older I get the less I know - for sure at least - and the more OK I get with that. What will it be like when I'm 70?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Emerging Retreat Thoughts

In her book Walking On Water, Madeleine L'Engle says this:
"That old iceberg analogy has become blunted from overuse and nearly destroyed by jargon, but it's still true: our conscious minds are indeed only the tiny tip of the iceberg which is above the water, and the largest part of ourselves is unseen below the water, below the conscious level, and it is not easy to admit to this, to admit it and not fear that large part of ourselves over which we have very little control, but in which lies enormous freedom, and the world of poetry, music and the region of that deepest and truest prayer which is beyond all our feeble and faltering words. We need the prayers of words, yes; the words are the path to contemplation; but the deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence."

In a few days, I'll be taking my very first stab at a directed 3 day silent retreat. This is a "suggested requirement" for the spiritual formation class I'm taking at Marywood. It's also something I've meant to do for a long time but haven't ever exactly done. I've spent a great deal of time alone before, but I've never done a directed silent retreat. I'll go to the Marywood center, check into my room and spend 3 days virtually alone. I will meet with my spiritual director (The Oracle) for one hour each day, but other than that I will not talk with anyone or watch TV or listen to the radio, or busy myself or be around people. The timing of this is interesting to me, since I feel I've already had 2 weeks of quiet and of doing very little. But I know that is not exactly the same thing.

Dallas Willard says this about Solitude (on this website):
"There is nothing that requires more energy of the typical American Christian than the discipline of doing nothing. The hardest thing you can get anyone to do is to do nothing. We are addicted to our world, addicted to talk. Talk is the primary way we have of managing our image for ourselves and for others. You may have a perfectly intelligent person who is alone and, when they do something stupid, they will talk to themselves and explain to themselves why they did that. Believe it or not, controlling our tongue is very important. James said that "anyone who can control their tongue is perfect." How do you control it? You get it to stop. You discover that you can breathe without talking. You discover that life goes on.
The issue is the same with solitude. The problem with solitude is not being alone, it is convincing ourselves that we are unnecessary, that the world will not collapse if we go away. Solitude is the discipline of letting go of our self-importance, letting go of our belief that we are necessary for the world to continue."

I've been alone lots lately, and very quiet, but I realize getting away from my normal distractions will have value. I'm a little nervous about it to be honest, where usually I would very much look forward to something like this. Sometimes I crave time alone, but lately, I've had plenty of it, and I wonder if I'll get bored. ::GASP! the HORROR!:: And maybe I'm not excited about not having distractions, the ability to avoid the noise I create in my own head. I'm not sure, but for whatever reason I sense in myself a little anxiety, but I also think that the way to the bottom of the iceberg is to submerge and explore, in that place where words have little meaning.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pregnant Ranting

Did you know that if you drive a Hummer or an Excapade or whatever enormous automobile that guzzles ridiculous amounts of gas and in addition you are super skinny and pretty and extremely well dressed that everything you do is twenty times more annoying than if anyone else did it?

It's true.

If you're one of these folks, you should know that. You were wondering why everyone is so irritable when you're around, right? Well, now you know - that's probably at least part of it.

Perhaps part of it is envy on my part, but I'll just ignore that detail for ranting purposes.

A few days before New Years Eve, I was unable to find parking available in the only stork parking spot or anywhere close to the entrance at Meijer. As I approached the building and walked by the stork parking, a tall skinny girl catwalks primly out of the store talking on a cell phone in her 3 inch Gucci heels to get in her gigantic shiny fuel sucking vehicle with her triple huge coffee from Starbucks - looking very stick figure like and flat tummied and in fact very UN-PREGNANT!! THE NERVE! She apparantly thought it would be most efficient for her to park in the spot for PREGGO people! Here's me hauling my big belly in from the back of the parking lot, tired, out of breath and aching -- while she parks in THE closest spot to the entrance! Feh!

Ok, she might have BEEN like 3 weeks pregnant or something. I'll give her that. But she was not pregnant enough to use that parking spot!

Of course I might have been much less annoyed with her if she were average looking, driving an average car and wearing average clothing and not talking on a cell phone....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Muted and Misty

The world is gray and muted here in Captainwow Land. Gray, because it's rainy and gray out. Which, for me is not a bad thing. I don't mind this kind of weather. Muted, because I can't hear very well. I've been battling a mutant cold thingy for over a week now, and my ears have been more than a little affected. It's nice in a way. Everything sounds so quiet. I can't hear the street noises at night. I can't hear them during the day either. I can't hear my neighbors yelling or honking at each other or slamming car doors at 3AM, which is a blessing. I also cannot hear the phone ring unless I'm right on top of it and I can't hear half of what anyone is saying to me. I was in Target today and thought "WOW it's just so QUIET in here! Amazing!" Then I remembered that I am currently hearing impaired. I had a lot of ear trouble as a kid so this is not unfamiliar territory, but it's been many years since I've had this experience of not being able to hear very well.
So that's the way it's been around here. Now Amazing Man is also battling the crud valiantly so we're both a little debilitated.
In other news, we had materals for an entire new roof delivered to our house early this morning. Which was cool, except that we didn't order it and we don't need a new roof. The contractors arrived late morning to install it and I was able to stop them before they ripped our roof off to replace it. Apparently, the guy had already been up on the roof (I of course heard nothing) and said he thought we might be a little crazy asking for a complete tear down of a roof in such good condition! Well, WHEW! At least HE doesn't think we're crazy now.
Fooled him.