the story room

Friday, February 25, 2005

As promised: Some thoughts on Lent

Last year, for my Life of Prayer class, I had to journal every single day. I was flipping through that journal earlier today, and found an entry I wrote almost a year ago. Looking back to it now, it puts a new spin on my understanding of Lent:

"There's something about hearing people breathing that really affects me. And it's weird - sometimes I love it,a nd sometimes it really bothers me. But it always affects me.

"I remember when I was little, probably about three or four years old, and my mom would sleep in my bed with me. Sometimes I would lay my head on her chest and listen to her heartbeat and her breath. But even as young as I was, this was never a comfort to me. In fact, it really bothered me. It bothered me so much that I'm still affected by it. And when I was young, I knew exactly why it bothered me, too. It reminded me of how fragile life is. I didn't like hearing my mom breathe because she's the person who, more than anyone else, brings strength to my life. It always unsettled me to feel her weakness.

"Sometimes I wonder why God designed us to breathe. Well, for one, God put His breath in us - the breath of Life. It reminds me that life can never come from myself. I take a breath every few seconds, and can go no more than a couple minutes without it. Sometimes I'm very aware of my breath; most times, I don't even think about it.

"But I need air. I can't see it, and I usually don't feel or smell or hear it. I almost never taste it. But I need it. My life depends on air, coming in and out of my lungs. When I think about breathing, I realize that every single second, I'm dependent on something that I could never produce. Without air, I'll die.

"Two Wednesdays ago, we laid hands on each other at our prayer meeting. While I was concentrating on the words, I was also focusing on my hands, on each of my friends. One thing that struck me was that when my hands were on their backs, I could feel them breathing. And I was acutely aware of my connection to them. It reminded me of how weak we were, but how we were in God's presence.

"I know that probably sounds funny...but it's true. I think it draws me to people because it reminds me of how alike we are. We're all so different, but we're made of the same stuff. We're frail; we need air. More than that, we need Christ, who breathes that Life into us.

"I breathe. My mom breathes. Those who have left me and those who love me are breathing right now. So are you.

"When I think of it, I can't help but be drawn to my brothers and sisters...and to the God who gives us life and holds everything together."

That's part of what Lent's about, I think - recognizing how utterly dependent we are on Christ. We're so weak...we can't even sustain our own lives. And we're all brothers and sisters, in this together. In Lent, as I recognize both the world's frailty and my own, I'm drawn to long for the One who sustains us, makes us whole, and invites us to share in this incredible Life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I care now.

I spent this past weekend at Wheaton, doing a lot of listening and thinking about the AIDS pandemic that's going on in our world. Before I left, I really didn't all seemed so distant to me.

I care now.

There are so many things I could share with you all: stats I learned, brand new information, a new way of looking at things. Maybe I'll go more into that another time, but right now I just want to share the couple things that struck me the most.

The statistics about the number of AIDS infections and deaths are I won't give them to you. But behind every single number, there's a face. The people who are dying right now...they're us. They're doctors, teachers, students, sons, daughters, parents. They're smart, they have dreams for their lives, and they have stories to tell. They're really not that different from us at all. God knows them just as well as He knows me and you...

And what gets me is that this is an issue that the Church has been silent about. We are the strongest force in the entire world, and sadly, by and large, we don't care. But as God's agents in the world - Christ's Body - we need to take a hand in the healing of our world. We need to be the force of compassion here, and our theologies need to be lived out in this issue of AIDS.

Three major things I really came away with...

-- I need to care, and I need to help others care. (A great place to start is to watch the documentary called "A Closer Walk"...I think it's a movie everyone needs to see...if you're around and want to watch it with me, I'd be more than happy to.)
--Any little thing helps, even if it's just talking to a friend about this stuff, commiting it to prayer, or donating a couple dollars here and there. Everything helps.
-- I'm learning to be more compassionate in my everyday life. How can I love AIDS victims so deeply and not love my neighbor? Compassion seems to breed compassion: the more I'm caring about one group, the more deeply I care about others. It's so cool...

Gosh, I don't want to be preaching here; you guys didn't come for that. But still, I'm convinced that this is something our eyes need to be opened to.

May God guide us all, stirring us to care, and providing us with opportunities to live out the love of Christ.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It smelled like spring today...

Even though the weather is still pretty icky here, it smelled like spring. Things like that help me to be patient even though winter's still here. I can handle the waiting if I know there's a promise that's going to be fulifilled.

(Oh, and on a totally unrelated note...I drove our school's 12-passenger van tonight, to drive a group over to our prof's house for Bible study. I was scared at first, but I ended up feeling empowered. I know it sounds dorky, but that's because it is. Anyway, I was excited!)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Because I love Jenn (and Matt is my fan) ;-)

I know I haven't posted in a while...things have been incredibly busy! You know that feeling where you're underwater, and just when you think you'll be able to get your head above water for a minute to take a breath, you get swept underneath again? Yeah...I'm swimming right now.

In spite of my busyness, things have been good. We started a theology club on campus this semester, and I am so excited about it. It sounds kind of dorky, but it's not at all. This week, the group's getting together and talking about how Christians should respond to violence. The emphasis for this meeting, though, is to start out with how it works out personally. Violence is more than hurting someone physically. Gosh, even pretending not to see someone could be an act of violence, in a sense. We're planning on hitting on a lot of relevant and compelling issues, and we're really being pushed to think. I also really appreciate the prof who's working with us on this; he's really challenging us to lead and I appreciate that a lot. I'm being stretched so much, but it's definitely making me stronger.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a conference at Wheaton College, called Acting on AIDS. A bunch of college students from the US and Canada are coming and we're going to talk about what we can do to help serve the people suffering from the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to going...maybe it's just because I've been so overwhelmed with stuff the past few weeks. But I know that God will be with us, and there's a reason why we're I want to be attentive to that. I'll be fine once I'm there, and in a couple days, I'll be back. I pray God will use this weekend.

I've been thinking about Lent a lot. When I get a chance, I want to sit down with some well-thought-out reflections...or at least a quote or something. ;-)

So yes, that concludes my update.

Jenn and Matt, you guys crack me up. Your requests to get me to update this make me feel special!