Starting this final stretch of college, I was anticipating a dud. Not that life would dud, but classes were duds. I brilliantly saved the dreaded requirements for last. Instead of dessert to top of the course, I get my peas and carrots– good for you, and sometimes yummy, just not as satisfying as a delicious cookie (love my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!). That said, my anticipated dud has turned out to be much less dudish… which I am so thankful for. I have some wonderful professors for the dreaded required classes I need to graduate, thus they are much less dreadful–not dessert caliber, but much more appetizing.
Beyond classes, there have been gems working their way out of the wood work as the weeks go on…
Caleb and I have the opportunity to spend two months in Rwanda this summer. We will be living with a wonderful couple who are gracious enough to “tuck us into their lives.” We are thrilled to be able to learn from our hosts, the people of Rwanda, and a way of life we are not accostumed to. We get to step out of American life…and breath.
Another gem that has arisen is a practice many married folks have insisted upon maintaining: a date night. Last semester we were sure to make it happen for a while… then things got busy. Reflecting on last semester and discussing our hopes for this next and final semester here, we have chosen to truly heed the wisdom of those who have gone before us. So, this last week was my turn to plan a little date adventure for the two of us… We went to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium! I had never been to the pier, and the aquarium is a little guy, only with a few tanks and open pools for feeling sea urchins. The date was inexpensive, entertaining, and educational! We learned all about the effects of trash and pollution on the ocean and its creatures. It was a beautiful day and great adventure!
Another gem has been the company of some wonderful women. I have found some incredible women who are kind, gentle, courageous, strong, hilarious, brilliant, intentional, authentic, and committed. They love the Jesus, all in different ways (so refreshing), and they love other people… thankful that one of those people they love is me. As we support each other and laugh with one another throughout our journeys, I am so thankful for partners living out the hope of the kingdom of God– where all are accepted and welcome and there is peace and wholeness.
And the final gem for the meantime is the book that I am going through which I mentioned last week (Follow Me To Freedom by John Perkins and Shane Claiborne). One thing have been so thankful for in reading Shane’s thoughts, is a motion to think differently. How we use language defines much of our reality–for ourself and for others. It defines how one understands concepts and truths. How we talk about people and cultures, the church and other religions–it all reveals what we believe. As I seek to think differently, I seek to talk differently. Here is another one of those times:
“One of the things we have nearly lost is the simple idea of a neighborhood parish. Every neighborhood should have a congregation or parish they can walk to, worship with and learn from. But we can’t get sloppy with our language. We don’t call services or meetings on Sunday “church.” We call them “public meetings.” Weekly services are great things to do– gathering publicly for worship, sharing prayers and needs and upcoming events, putting our money together, reading Scripture, sharing Communion. But that is not church; that’s just the Church gathering together in a building. We don’t call a building “Church.” Rather, we are the Church. It is who we are–the Body, the Bride, the living incarnation of Jesus in His people…
Most of life happens outside of the meetings–just like huddles in a football game. Huddles are important parts of the game; critical in fact. We need to pull together the team, look each other in the eyes, strategize a bit, drink some water, get some good coaching, bow our heads, and get back in the game. But it is silly to think of a football game that only consists of huddles.” (p. 203-204)
So.. I am thankful for some gems in the midst of some duds (that aren’t nearly as dudish as expected). They are some extraordinary gems. I am thankful that church is not in a building, rather it is those girls that I get to share life with, those in the greater community of Azusa, really… all people. If we want, we can all be in the huddle… even if we aren’t technically on the “team.” I hope you get some huddle action… may it be refreshing to your soul.