Sep 24, 2007

Dream World

"You've been living in a dream world, Neo." Morpheus haunts me. I had a professor that looked, acted, and talked just like the character from the Matrix. When we were still in college, he took Carolyn and I out to dinner in a little over-priced bistro in Nyack, NY. I don't remember much about the dinner, but I will never forget our conversation later that night.

Dr. M (we'll call him) was a very interesting man, he regularly left for days on end to play piano for Russian and Chinese Royalty, but he lived in our dorm building, in a small dorm room (at least he had a private bath) right between students. Every morning he walked the halls in his bathrobe and was a regular at all of the guy's dorm happenings. But he carried himself with grandiose stature and commanding presence. He was also very mysterious, mischievous and wise beyond words. He took a small handful of us into his care and built into us in ways that I am just now beginning to understand. To some he was like a father. To others, he was like a brother. To me, he was like a sage.

Like many college students, I was rambling through life without much experience. He gave me plenty in very little time. He was well versed in all of the subjects that intrigued me: philosophy, art, music, literature. He spoke of them on levels that I had never considered and forced me to keep up with his ramblings. So, when we returned from dinner and Carolyn had gone up to her room I was anxious for his take on my newfound love.

Dr. M, dressed in a dapper suit complete with a long black trench coat (I kid you not, he seriously looked like Morpheus and talked with the same calculated deep tone), stopped walking, put his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes.

"Carolyn is a very special girl. She is exactly what you need." He turned and walked away. So did I. "Also, don't deserve her."
His last line bothered me. Why not? Why don't I deserve her? Of course I do! But now, I understand.

We live in a world of plenty. But, very few of us have any. And those of us that have, have a lot. Those of us that have, feel entitled. The media tells us that we deserve a lot of things. We tell each other that we deserve better. We tell ourselves that we deserve the best. But, really, none of us deserve anything.
So, when we get a shiny new thing (whatever it is) we call it a blessing, or a happy stroke of luck. But, if getting things is a blessing, then why do millions of people not get blessed? That does not jive with my understanding of God, the Universe and everything.

Thoreau said, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." I think he is on to something. Maybe the "things" that we work so hard for are really challenges, tests, opportunities. They are not blessings. That makes more sense. Those of us that have more, are more challenged than those with less. So what do we do with the entitlement mentality? Toss it.

When Dr. M told me that I didn't "deserve" Carolyn, he was bringing up a very good point. She was a challenge for me (and still is :)) and to think I deserved her love was to completely miss the point of our relationship. He later elaborated on why Carolyn was good for me. And I took all he said in. Most of it did not make sense for a long time. But now I realize the truth, "there is no spoon," (sorry, I couldn't resist) but seriously, the truth is that Carolyn and I are perfectly matched.

Okay, this has been a long way to the point, so thanks for hanging in there. Carolyn and I are living in a dream world right now. Nothing is as it seemed. Our world view is changing. Our perspective on God is changing. Our needs, wants, dreams are changing. In a very real sense we feel lost at sea. But, we are also pretty sure that we're heading in the right direction. I'm glad that we are together on this journey. Dr. M was right, I don't deserve her, but, she's exactly what I need.

Sep 16, 2007

Somewhere Else

Ah, Fall is in the air. It is cooling down and the trees are beginning to turn. I love the fall. Every sense in me awakens during this season. The air smells better, the light is more abstract and the food tastes better.
We spent Saturday in Apple Hill, a collection of small apples orchards and farmers markets not far from our home. We found some delicious fruit and preserves and indulged in fudge/caramel apples--complete with sprinkles. One of the larger farms also has pony rides. Once Violet saw the ponies...we were going. Period. End of discussion.
Wyatt and Violet saddled up and were rather uncooperative (as far as my photographic agenda was concerned) which I mentioned to my wife. "They're somewhere else, Matt. Wyatt is a cowboy on some far away range and Violet is gliding through the forest on a unicorn's back."
I've thought about that a lot since Saturday morning. Of course, Carolyn was right. The kids were somewhere else while they rode. That is the beauty of being young and untainted by responsibility. Kids can imagine things so closley to reality that the two somehow intermingle and coexist. When we grow into cynicism and self-doubt and rampant responsibility, a fissure begins to divide our worlds. Often we jump toward our dreams and fall short, clinging reluctantly onto someday. As the chasm gets wider and deeper, we try to find a way to cross, but it is a nearly impossible task.
Our dreams are important. I believe they are God's way of directing us toward earthly fulfillment, but when dreams begin to happen somewhere else, life loses its luster. That's where I have found myself a lot in the past few years.
Children are closer to God, they have less between them and eternity. They have less of a false self to protect from an all-seeing creator so they are able to operate in both worlds simultaneously, so maybe...just maybe; the better we get to know God, the more we too can bring our dreams and our reality closer together. Maybe we can truly live now and live in a dream world at the same time. I like to think so.

Sep 9, 2007

Goodbye Girl

Today was a little tough, we had to say goodbye to a good friend. Mel (Melody) has been the family dog for almost three years now. We adopted her from a friend. She was always gentle with our children and frighteningly vicious when she sensed trouble. She was fun and wry, but she was also very old.
It has always been tough for me to lose an animal. I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I feel like they are my responsibility. It has always hurt me deeply.
I haven't had time to really process Mel's death, but now that the house is quiet I miss her panting. Somehow it just doesn't feel like home without her here. I guess this post has very little to do with simplicity except that life is precious, even if it's the life of a family pet.

Sep 7, 2007

Stumbling around in my soul

Ok, I was going to post this in my own blog, but, eh- that seems like alot of effort when I could post it right here, right now.

One thing that has spurred me personally on this journey to simplicity has been questioning my beliefs. At first it was just questioning the things related to material things. But it has been a deeper rabbit hole than I first expected.

I've found myself for the first time in my life surround by people who don't believe as I do. I would have, in my old thinking, called them simply, NON-Christians. Thus implying somehow that they were non-people. Because thats what I thought.

Why wouldn't you be a Christian? What could possibly be wrong with the way I believe, worship, live?

Well, theres a lot for me to say about all this, but I'm going to give you the Cliff Notes version as I'm just plain tired right now.

Being surrounded by people who haven't been raised in COnservative Christian families has really shaken me. Because they are often much more Christ-like than the Christians I've been around all these years. There is so much honesty, so much ease, so little legalistic drama and ego.

It's freaking me out.

What have I been doing all these years?

Now, don't hear me wrong- I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I know the Spirit dwells in me every moment. I want to follow Christs teachings.

But the whole American Christian culture thing is left me with a resounding "yuck".

So, what am I reading? Where am I headed?

I've read everything Rob Bell has written so far. I feel like Velvet Elvis really started this transformation for me. And his NOOMA videos remind me of whats still RIGHT about Christianity.

I read Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd. Amazing book. Disturbed me profoundly. She makes some great points, and I was really inspired (or enabled) to search deeper into the roots of what I believe. But, I have to say, I'm still processing a lot of that book as, it was very troubling for me in some ways.

I talked to a Pastor last month about whats going with me. I told him a lot of my friends are Pagan, or at least, kicking the tires on becoming Pagan. I feel like a lot of the Pagan belief resonate with what I've always felt or "known". So, the Pastor suggested I look into the early Christians in Europe- the Celtic people.

I didn't look exactly where he told me too. I read a book called Listening to the Heartbeat of God. It talks about the time where the Celtic people were evangelized and at what point the earth based beliefs where abandoned and the church based beliefs became standard. Very interesting. And still....disturbing for me.

I also read a book called Pagans and Christian by Gus DiZerga. It's written from a Wiccan point of view (yes....GASP...Wiccan). It compares and contrasts Christianity and Pagan beliefs, calling for unity between the two. Very informational. The jury is still out on this one...but it helped me understand what the HECK Wicca is. And I think that's important, since I have a few friends who consider themselves Wiccan.

So next I'm off to read Celtic Christianity. I haven't started yet- I'll let you know.

Some scary territory for a nice closed minded Christian girl. But I know at the end of the day that I'm together with the Holy Spirit. And I am comforted by the songs I've known all my life. Whenever I feel sort of lost I sing:

I life my eyes up, unto the mountain
Where does my help come from
My help comes from you, maker of heaven
Creator of the earth
Oh how I need you Lord you are my only hope
You're my only friend
And so I'll wait for you to come and rescue me
Come and give me life

The photo I submitted here is of a drawing I did for my old church. I have always liked this one in particular. My Jesus. I just want to know who he is.

Sep 2, 2007

Weekend Walks and Mud Pies

Saturday's usually end up a mess in our home. Usually, we plan a terrific amount of house work , yard work, and DIY projects into the morning followed by tremendous childlike adventures in the afternoon. By Saturday at lunch, nothing is done, everyone is angry, hungry, tired and the day is pretty much lost. So, this week, we changed it up and decided to spend our Saturday playing.
I came home from work a little early on Friday to an interesting scene. Our three children had found the hose and a lot of dirt...the fun began. By the time I arrived, Scarlet looked like a pirate. Captain Mudbeard (okay, cheezy, I know, but...).Upon seeing their faces, I knew that we had to go on an adventure. So we packed up and left for the park...on foot. We have a very nice park a little over a mile from our home. Usually we drive, but why? Well, usually, Violet (3yrs.) is why we drive. She's quickly becoming very heavy to carry and she loves to dawdle, so walking to the end of our driveway is often a time-consuming challenge. This weekend was different. She was excited at the prospect of an "a-ven-ter" and walked both ways without much prodding. We spent an hour or so at the park playing, laying around looking up at a bright blue sky through the trees, and picking ripe blackberries. Then we made the trek back home.
We walked in and there was a message from my mother-in-law, asking if she could take the kids for the evening. The kids were elated, Carolyn and I were excited for some very rare alone time, so we accepted. Carolyn and I spent the next few hours dreaming about our next adventure (keep looking for details) and enjoying a well earned ice cream dessert. We toped the evening with coffee and a good book. I cannot remember a more simple, relaxing, enjoyable weekend...and we have two more days to go.