Tuesday, March 31, 2009

at the end of the semester...

There are some days that my "only child" tendencies come out. I notice myself getting easily annoyed and with moments of anxiety.

You know those moments when someone comes to you, and is talking to you about something that isn't really first priority on your list (which, by the way, has a lot of items on its agenda, none of which are what this person is talking to you about), and they just talk and talk, and you have this moment where you almost laugh out loud because they just keep talking, and you're really just ready to LOSE IT!??

Well, I don't have those moments all too often anymore - I've learned to focus, and remember to value relationship over task, and learnt that in most other cultures, there is no timeline...which is a great lesson, one which I almost always remember...until the end of the semester hits.

It all comes back.

I have to really say that I'm truly sorry for those of you on the other end of this. And also, please remember that I'm human and that while being an only child is not a sin, there can be some negative consequences sometimes (as with all states, but somehow the state of being an only child is more obvious...).

Therefore, the following post may reflect some of my recent annoyances and anxieties...and while I may write a retraction in two weeks time, having regained my senses, I hope that the majority of this is truth.

So we begin...

(and you thought THAT was the beginning!)

As you can tell from my last few posts, I'm thinking about a lot of things. Big things. Topics of materialism, greed, consumption, hunger, global politics, and my role as little ole me. Some days I get overwhelmed with it all.

I read rants by some of our students, and I hear a lot of bitter attitudes towards what "we" are. North America. Bible College. Students, academics, graduates, with too much money, too much debt...too much. And then I get overwhelmed with that.

There needs to be some middle ground. We can't stop talking, but we also can't condemn everything...otherwise people won't listen to what we're talking about. I read something the other day that was a bit of a rant on North American culture, and I immediately stopped listening...even though I agree with it. But I'm just kinda fed up. Filled up. Tired of eating the same thing.

I'm reading "Jesus for President" right now - written by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Excellent book. Page 153 features the following statement: "The greatest sin of political imagination: thinking there is no other way except the filthy rotten system we have today. Is it possible we can't see the destructiveness of our economy, not because we don't know it's terrible, but because deep down, we feel that it's necessary and that therefore it's hopeless to criticize it?"


The problem is bigger than what we can solve by ourselves...little ole me and you? On our own? We can't go too far. But then I watched the best documentary I've seen in a long time: "Garbage Warrior" in which one man saw a new way, and gathered others to him who shared the vision that he cast. And it took a lot of fighting. It wasn't easy, and it's still not fully accepted....but he's doing it anyways. The most ironic part? His work is fully accepted in 3rd world countries, where disaster has struck and completely fought against in the US. What does he do? This man builds homes out of garbage. And it's brilliant. He calls them "earthships" because they look a little out of this world, but are really made of it. (see below). I would tell you all about it, but I think the documentary does a much better job, so just go and watch it instead, ok?
But that brings me to this point. I looked at the calendar in my office today and saw a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

So this is my challenge. I need to keep learning, to keep seeking, to keep talking...but I need to find a way to speak that will seduce the reader to keep reading. To not turn away, or become overwhelmed. But I also need to recognize that it takes a fight, whether outwardly or inwardly. My own disability of annoyance and anxiety need to be dealt with. I must hear in order to speak. I must stop in order to go.

And these days my biggest enemy?

Myself...at the end of the semester.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The freedom to fail.

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." - Mahatma Gandhi

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the danger in taking risks. Taking risks means that I just might fail. Failing scares me sometimes; mostly it scares me because I'm worried about what people will think when I actually fail (gasp). The truth is, I fail in little ways all the time - that's how I know I'm human. If I stop taking risks for sake of being scared to fail...what all will I miss out on? I believe that there is much more to gain from taking risks than to lose.

So what does this mean for me today? I don't know...

...but I'm thinking about it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The simple life...

“When someone steals a man’s clothes we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
Basil the Great (Bishop of Caesarea, 365)

Lately I have been thinking about this a lot. I desire a simpler life...one in which I spend less time thinking about myself and more of others. One in which I recognize just how much I have, and thinking in terms of what I need, rather than want.

This summer I will spend some time in Costa Rica, not as much as usual, but some time. The rest of my summer, I prayerfully have decided that I will not necessarily pursue full-time work, but rather rest and take work as it comes. I will trust that God will provide...

Right now, about every other day, I have a mild panic attack about this. I start to think, "how on earth can this happen? Will I make enough money to survive? What if I overspend and end up with no money by the end of the summer?" And then...I remember that God is teaching me. He is my Provider.

I have been thinking on Proverbs 30...

"O God, I beg two favours from you before I die. First, help me never tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name."

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs...

Could you imagine if North America lived this way? What would our economy look like today? What would the rest of the world look like?

While the nation of Israel wandered in the desert, God provided daily for their food...manna from heaven. And yet, some doubted that He would continue to provide and so tried stockpiling their bread. And what happened? The maggots came and destroyed the stockpiles.

Perhaps that is what we are facing today in the North American economy. We've been greedy and tried stockpiling...and now we face the infestation of maggots. Should we be so shocked that this isn't working?

We talk of helping people around the world...which is wonderful. However, we tend to think of helping them so that they can "live like we do." The truth is, WE can't even live like WE do...it doesn't work...it's not sustainable. Greed is not sustainable. Ghandi said it: "there is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed".

May I learn how to live selflessly.