Monday, March 30, 2009

Making a home

I almost wish we had bought an old house that had an attic jammed full of random junk and treasures. It's one of my deepest pleasures, rooting through old things and imagining the stories behind them. Our new house is mostly bare, full of echoes, but imagine my surprise when we found that the previous owner was not returning for the things she had left behind.

  • good clay pots--tons of them, large and small: I can already envision tomatoes and herbs
  • a huge oriental rug (at least 8 by 12 feet)
  • a cast iron decorative table on the deck
  • flower boxes

  • 2 boxes of Christmas lights
  • a child-sized foam mattress
  • a beat-up basketball hoop
Dubious value:
  • a multi-purpose weight machine
  • eighties-style sconces (saved from the junk list because their function is useful)
  • a creaky outdoor playset

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reversing the trend

We've bought a house.

Jon and I are still a little dazed. We look at each other sometimes and just smile (not that we don't already do that, but this is different). We have to, otherwise we'd descend into the tyranny of second-thoughts and doubts.

The other day, Jon said, "You know, for the amount of money we forked over, we could have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail" (which usually takes around six months).

And I countered, "We could have taken a long and leisurely backpacking trip around Europe."

Instead, we're rooting ourselves in Kentucky, thinking about lawn mowers, roof repairs, paint chips, gardens, a room of her own (an actual library)...

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I watched this clip from an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre performance. I had no prior knowledge of what the dance was about, nor what the song was. Yet, I somehow grasped the meaning of this performance, and not because of any innate understanding of dance. What is it about the choreography, the costumes, the props, the dancers themselves, that opened my eyes?

I'll post my thoughts on this in a later post.

Moving away

We are about to move into a house outside of Lexington. We are ready, but even is what I will miss:

  • hot almond croissants from Magee's
  • being able to walk to places
  • Central Library with its three levels of books (the county library where we will be just doesn't compare)
  • the cats sleeping in the window displays at Decoratifs
  • walking past the twisted trees in Woodland Park at dusk
  • seeing grungy UK students, particularly that one that walks everywhere with a flowery umbrella and one pant leg rolled up (the emblem of the fixed gear crowd)
  • driving through downtown Lexington on our way home
  • living amongst bungalows
  • Good Foods buffet
  • the lights at Triangle Park
  • the old man at the YMCA who faithfully works out on the recumbent bike with all the speed of a turtle
That's all I can think of for now.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Sunday morning

"To see the world, to see ourselves in the light of the resurrection, means that Christians cannot help but discover that our language is inadequate for the task. That is why poetry is so important for the work of theology. For the poet is in an ongoing struggle to find the words necessary to say what cannot be said."
--Stanley Hauerwas, Image, issue 60.

Poetry speaks to the soul in ways that sermons and essays cannot. Why is it that R.S. Thomas' "Via Negativa" says so much in such a conservative amount of words? I got to thinking about chapel at Asbury. 3 1/2 years of attending chapel 3 times a week, and I can count on one hand the number of sermons that stuck with me. This isn't a polemic against chapel--it had its place on campus, as important for fellowship (perhaps more so) than a way to drill sermons into flighty students' heads--just a curious observation that I got more out of R.S. Thomas, Madeleine L'Engle, even Emily Dickinson, than I ever did out of sermons.

Via Negativa (by R.S. Thomas)

Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm. We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection.

When I read this poem, I remember how sometimes when I go home to visit my folks, I would walk into Grandma's house, half-expecting to see Grandpa sitting in the TV room, wearing his typical plaid short-sleeve shirt and faded jeans, eating pickles while watching TV, waiting for his grandkids to burst in for a scratchy kiss (he always had a thick mustache). He has been gone for almost 16 years, but the ache of missing him remains. This poem calls up that ache, so powerful I feel as if I am at Grandma's, standing in the living room, not wanting to look into the other room because as long as I don't, I can entertain the thought that Grandpa is there.

What does missing Grandpa have to do with a poem musing on the perceived absence of God? Well, not much, besides the uncanny ability of poetry to evoke associations and summon memories, bypassing logic to touch the core of our being, using what we know to help us understand what the poem is suggesting.

Poetry is a way of saying what cannot be said.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Itsy bitsy spider

Yesterday morning I woke up to a tiny spider hovering several feet above my face. I laid there, thinking it looked as though it was clambering up the molecules of air, or some invisible ladder, when it abruptly dropped a foot. I moved quicker than I thought possible, and Pope leaped into the fray.

It reminded me of a time in chapel at Asbury College. I was sitting on the main floor, with nearly two stories of open space above my head, when I noticed (along with a good chunk of the student body in the section I was in) a fat spider slowly, methodically lowering itself from the ceiling (I remind you that said ceiling was nearly two stories above). It landed on a student's shoulder several rows ahead of me (which should give you an idea of just how large said spider was, that I could spot it with my naked eye). We all watched with bated breath as someone tapped this student's other shoulder. Since it was a guy, he just casually brushed the spider off his shoulder and resumed listening to the sermon. It was rather anti-climatic, and I always wondered what would have happened if it had been a girl.