Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to me.....

In exactly thirteen days I will be thirty-seven years old.

I love my birthday and always will and will never be one of those women who feel the need to remain perpetually twenty-nine or thirty-nine or whatever it is these days.  That line from Sunset Boulevard says it all and still holds true, "There's nothing wrong with being fifty, unless you're still trying to be twenty-five.".  I want credit for the years I've made it through and want all of them represented in the candles on my cake, and yes, no matter how my metabolism deteriorates, I will always want cake. You will not see me demure from the sweet stuff no matter how my waistline may wane.  Life is short, People, Eat The Cake! (I'm with Marie Antoinette on this one.)
I love being thirty-seven (almost!) because for one thing it means I'm not twenty-seven...My twenties were my own personal pergatory, the bootcamp of my life, and I am happy to have them over with.  I don't get all misty-eyed and morose when I hear songs like The Summer of '69 that sing the supremacy of youth.  To me this smacks of the Israelites-in-the-Wilderness scenario, the unbound bondslaves bemoaning their precious Egypt and the leeks and onions they left behind.

But none-the-less the illusion of youth's grandeur is perpetuated every where you look: American Idols tending to be no older than seventeen, no less than a C-cup, and having an IQ no greater than forty-two, commercials and sit-coms depicting juveniles as just barely tolerant of their 'antiquated parents' and 'outmoded elders', plastic surgeries being performed for practically anything and everything (I love the New Yorker comic that depicts two women meeting on the street and the one saying to the other, "I love your body!  Where did you get it?!" Funny, Sad, and True.)

How much we miss ever only looking back, seeing more of ourselves in the past than in the present, clinging to a time gone by and buried, allowing what has been to become the be-all-end-all, lingering over leeks and onions when we could be having cake.

I will spend the next two weeks, not in restless rumination and existential examination, but rather in anticipation and in celebration, of the day to come, of the year to come, of not only what has been, but of what is and what is yet to come...

And of course, when the day rolls around, I will blow out all my candles, extricate them one by one, then pass out the pock-marked pieces to all my friends and loved ones...

and yes, I will eat cake...

....with gusto...

...with abandon...

...and with very little restraint.

"Your life is not over, it may not even have begun..."

Happy Birthday to me

: )

"One thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  -Phillipians 3:13

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ramblings of a Runner

If you haven't yet figured it out from the timestamps on my previous posts, I am a Night Person.  Especially of late.  My Bio-Rhythms seem to be thrown off six ways from Sunday and I am presently pillaging my way through a package of Oreos (as there is not much else to do at eleven thirty on a Monday night), telling myself that I'll jumpstart my diet in the morning, calling this a carb-load for my theoretical training run tomorrow versus what it actually is: my slow decline toward a tractor hauling me out of my house through a hole in the wall.  I seem to be walking a knife's edge this month between my marathoner self and some sort of portly pasta making Italian grandmother just dying to get out and take over...

Not sure when I traded in my CamelBack for the cookies, but I chalk it up to all the feelings there are to stuff these days; It's a mad mad mad mad world, as they say, and it aint gettin glad anytime soon as far as I can tell...Add to that each person's personal pile of poo and you've got a recipe for - ooh, chocolate chip cookies!! - um, yeah, I'd say I've fallen off the wagon pretty good this time...hurled myself off is more like it. 

"It's not what you're eating, it's what's eating YOU," a friend told me the last time I fell off the wagon, rolled down the hill, and ended up in a carb-laden lump at the bottom.  "...what's eating me..." hmmm, could be a small village for all I know; at the rate my little midnight munchfest is going there's certainly going to be enough of me to go around..."Just doing my little part to make a dent in world hunger!"...which would make up for my making a pretty serious dent in the world's food supply.

As it stands I have exactly six months and seventeen days to prepare for a half-marathon I signed up for to fend off the foodie within...A sort of carrot on the end of the stick for me to chase (quite literally) through twenty degree Winter weather and rainy Spring mornings till the big day arrives (If it were an Oreo and not a carrot, I'm fairly sure I'd run faster and farther, but I was not around when said simile was authored, so there it is, and here I am, perpetually persuading myself that this "carrot" is indeed worth the effort.)

So I have within me, daily dueling for my devotion, the Glutton and the Runner...The gratification of giving way to the Glutton is ephemeral at best and always ends in self-loathing and lethargy lording over me, whereas rendering to the Runner its due respect yields a bounty of boundless energy, tremendous self-satisfaction, and certainly serves an an affront to aforementioned tractor/hole-in-wall scenario.

So why the debate?  The answer is obvious: The Runner should win hands down every time, n'est pas?  But no, au contraire mon amis, (dang, now I want a croissant...) the gravitational pull of the Glutton remains, and half the time I feel like a dam holding back a huge body of water - er, well, maybe just a huge body - just waiting to spill out and change the landscape of my life.

As it stands, the dam is holding, despite the thousands of calories I just threw down my gullet, and my running schedule remains, hanging dutifully on my fridge, like a sentry ceremonially guarding the frozen fortress of food...

...mainly against me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beauty in the Beast: A "True Love" Story

A rickety rowboat, weathered and worn, docked in it's disrepair, broken, battered, still buoyed, but just barely...

...The name it hides behind, "BEAST", a feeble diversion, a flimsy distraction, the assertion a futile attempt at subterfuge, "Ignore the man behind the curtain!" it begs passersby...."See me as Strong and Stalwart, a Rock, a force to be reckoned with! See the mask and not the man that hides behind it...See the armor only and not what the crusty covering conceals...See me as Brawny and not Broken, See me as "BEAST" and not Beaten..."

And I see in this diminutive dingy, my own haggard heart, all the bruises and brokenness endured over time, the rust from my recklessness, the bits that have been battered by storm after storm on this ocean that is life. I see my smallness against the backdrop of the sea, and I see the moniker dually authored by Fear and Pride, the title behind which I intuitively take cover, masking the marks of a heart not impervious to pain.

But there are two pictures here, a variant view……

....I see through the fray to my fortitude, through to a bold and bouyant heart defying despair; I see sturdy, stubborn resilience, triumph through tragedy, still waters and safe harbor....

....And I see a knot

Securing the skiff in to safety, skillfully, carefully, lovingly tied, by Hands desirous to keep the craft close to its Captain's side...

That singular knot tells the story of is the difference between life and death, despair and hope, lost and found, sinking and staying afloat…It is the mark of Redemption.

She is Mine, She is MINE!” this knot seems to say, “In this ‘Beast’ I see ‘Beauty’!” it cries to dubious onlookers ashore…

And I see myself, and my name, in this light, in His light….

No longer Abandoned but Accepted

No longer Betrayed but Beloved

This Ugly Duckling declared a Swan

This Homeless Heart now Home...

All because He saw beauty where there was none....

All because He saw 'Beauty' in the ‘Beast’.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Segues, Seeds, and Seasons...

Though the temperature belies the fact, Summer is, indeed, finally over...Seasons do eventually change no matter how hot or how dry it gets, no matter how endless things may feel, whether we desperately want things to stay the same or whether we're waiting with bated breath for something new...It is the nature of things, the way of life, ever evolving...

Sometimes we defy the transition so stubbornly, like a toddler throwing a tantrum when her parents insist on throwing out some favored but now ill-fitting garment, with no understanding that something newer, better, and much more comfortable is in the making and forthcoming.  With that same futility and short-sightedness we hold on to bygone seasons with a mental vicegrip even after the season has grown old or stale or has ended all together, but, as my Mom use to say, "it doesn't matter if you wear your galoshes in the Summer, Honey, it isn't gonna make the Spring stay."  We need to trust that as much as we loved the garment of the time gone by, however familiar and comfortable it was, there is something better in the making.  Something that will fit our evolving life and that will foster further growth.

Of necessity the prior seasons that coddled us and were conducive to our growth must fall away to make possible the new life.  But leaving these confines is not always easy, the space that felt so manageable, so secure, like a butterfly's cocoon.  The transition, while natural, can be traumatic.  It's so easy to feel disillusioned during these segues.  We are uprooted from the old, but not quite yet rooted in the new.  We are waiting to find our footing and even when we finally do, the new land can feel so foreign and we go through nothing less than culture-shock as we venture forward.  New beginnings are rarely wrapped up pretty with a bow on top, but rather tend to be trademarked by screaming babies, shattered seeds, civil wars and the like. 

During a devastating time of agonizing uncertainty in author Elisabeth Elliot's life, she recorded an instance where, completely distraught and disoriented, not knowing which way was up, she ran out to her back yard, sunk onto her knees and cried out to God for answers...The answer the form of an acorn.

Her eyes fell on the little seed beneath her and the words that flooded her mind were these...

"When the acorn falls and is buried, all it knows is the falling and the darkness and the dying; it has no idea of the oak tree that's going to come out of it's life.  If it did, the death would seem insignificant, and instead of fear there would be joyful abandonment into My plan.  Look at the acorn and trust Me."

Perhaps it's time to let go of the crumbling scaffolding of past seasons...allow what has died to be buried, so that new life can come, so that we can see when it comes... will surely come.

Look at the acorn and trust Me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Finding Peace in Purpose

"It is not a chaos, it is a cosmos...And here I was, near the axis of the world, in the darkness where the stars make a circle in the sky. At that moment the conviction came to me that the harmony and rhythm were too perfect to be a symbol of blind chance or an accidental offshoot of the cosmic process; and I knew that a Beneficent Intelligence pervaded the whole. It was a feeling that transcended reason; that went to the heart of a man's despair and found it groundless."  -Richard Byrd, Explorer, speaking of our universe from the solitary perspective of the South Pole.

"In its most general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from a Greek term κόσμος meaning "order, orderly arrangement, ornaments," and is the antithetical concept of chaos. Today the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe." -Wikipedia

"He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing....He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness...It is He Who sits above the circle of the earth..." - Job 26:7,10, Isaiah 40:22

"I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see him walking on the sea...God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now." -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Amidst bewilderment and brokenness
Perturbed peace and pain,
There is One who weaves our wanderings
Into His Higher ways...

The One who wove the universe
Fearfully and wonderfully made
Formed your heart from nothing
And fashioned all your days

He also formed this wilderness
To make for us a way
To bridge the gap from death to Life
To Dawning of the Day

The night is deep, but Day is at hand
As He did long ago,
Love gives the command,
"Peace Now.  Be Still."
Spoken into the storm
Of the hearts He created
Now weathered, and worn

Like this pilgrim's path plodding
through desert's dark night
Nail Scarred hands lead us on
To Promised Land's Light

-E.A.A. 9/22/09

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life, Liberty, and Superman Sheets...

" poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possesing all things."
-2 Cor 6:10

The image is sparse, marked by the absence of excess.  The bed of an orphan in Jamaica.  Underneath is a small suitcase, containing this child's all, and on top is a single bed sheet, a Superman sheet, no less, betraying the profundity in the simplicity of the scene.

The photographer suggests paradoxically that this child is wealthy beyond words, not because of what he has, but because of Who he knows, because of Who knows him, and loves him, and because of the lives of the people surrounding him who personify this Love.  The intrinsic value of his life consisting in things not temporal, not easily found and not easily taken away. 

Unwarranted is the scaffolding of the superflous that holds up so many of our lives these days, our structures compromised and weakened for all the leaning we've done on shaky supports and surrogate strengths, excess at every level and the forgotten freedom of simplicity.

We observe with our Western eyes this child, this "less fortunate" one, a day in whose life has been valued at "the price of a cup of coffee", and our hearts fill with pity (what room there is left for pity)...

...but I wonder, as the message of the rickety bed with the singular suitcase and the Superman sheet seeps into my soul...

.........Who is the more pitiable?............

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"And THIS IS LIFE, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."
-John 17:3

Monday, September 21, 2009

Table in the Wilderness

It's dry, It's dusty, this once lavish land has withdrawn its waters, and we are left, bewildered, parched, in need of a path where there seems to be no path, wandering, weary, worn......Jesus........we are left, we are lost, all the means that seemed so certain, all the ways that seemed so sure, gone, dissipated, dissolved...and we are left, destitute...depleted...drained of all life......

Then let Me be your Life.......Will you take hold of My hand now?  Now that all else has deserted you in this barren place?  Will you know the One Who does not change when all else has shifted like these sands beneath your feet?  Will you hear Me knocking now, and will you at last open to Me, now that there is silence, now that the din of competing deities have stranded you here?  Will you let me be Your Way where there seems to be no way?  In your frailty will you take hold now of My strength?  Will you let Me Love you now, now that all your fickle followers have gone and your lovers have left you loveless?  Will you draw from Me now that all other wells are dry?  Will you finally come to this Table?  My Love, will you finally come?

"Ho!  Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat!  Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.  Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you."  -Isaiah 55:1-3

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another time around........

I guess you could say I was a bit of a religious gypsy back in the day.  I definitely got my feet wet where Faith was concerned...I'm one of those people who took the long way Home (is there any other way?), been there, done that, got the rosary, the yarmulke, the incense, what have you...And while I'm settled in a little more simplicity these days, there are a few little gems that I kept from my 'travels', one of which came to my attention this past week, as I remembered that it was the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh H'Shanah, which began on Friday at Sundown, and, as one can never have too many new beginnings, do-overs, second, third, and fourth takes in life under their belt, I thought, "Why restrict myself to just one on January 1st?".  Don't know about you all, but I can make a lot of mistakes in the space of three hundred and sixty five days and when I found out there was this extra "Get-Outta-Jail-Free" card, just there for the taking, without having to wait till you got alllll the wayyyyy arounnnnnd the board to January 1st, you better know I jumped on it!

'Course, this means making a whole new list of New Years Resolutions...and there's the rub...I still haven't lost the ten pounds on my list from almost nine months ago, I seem to be as disorganized as ever, despite the annual vow to do better, and the quest to "be the person your dog thinks you are" has all but flown out the window (actually, I'm pretty sure my dog just thinks I'm the domestic help, so I'm giving myself that one, albeit on a technicality).  So how would any promises I make to myself now be any different than the ones I make on regular ol' New Years Day? 

I'm thinking since this is the Jewish New Year I'm celebrating, I might get a vicarious nod from the Man upstairs, a wee bit o' help from the angels above, Heaven putting it's shoulder to my little wheel of fortune and what not...

So I think I'll keep the weight loss one, the perpetual plan I have to lose ten pounds before I die, to have someone tell me, just once in my life, "Oh Honey, aren't you getting a little too thin?" (let it be noted herein that if you are the bearer of this benediction, I will, with gusto and without hesitation, kiss you right on the mouth).

Beyond that, I'm setting aside all other cliche commitments, and going for broke.  With the Power that Be behind me, I'm not wasting anymore time with paltry petitions and propositions.

Instead I'll ask for Chrysalis, for wings to fly, for freedom
I'll ask for fountains flowing deep
with laughter here to drown in
I'll ask for mountains, for mountains moved
I'll ask for loved ones' healing
I'll ask for wonders and mercies new
His faithfulness revealing

And Though brash and brazen it may be
I'll ask for one last measure
I'll ask His heart
I'll ask His all
I'll ask to be His treasure

Happy New Year, Everyone,
Good luck to us all this time around.