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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Barn Raising Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Showing Up)

Come Creator God, to fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. By the light of your holy spirit instruct us and guide us in your wisdom, so that we may be about the work of justice, of peace, and of love. Amen.
As far as church internships go, I’ve had a pretty unique one. For those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know me well, for the past two years I have had the immense pleasure of serving as the intern of an emerging church in Vienna, Virginia called Church of the Common Table. Our little community of about 30 regulars gathers at least once a week to worship in a coffee shop and music venue called Jammin Java. And contrary to what you might be picturing, the church does not primarily consist of V-neck wearing-twenty-something hipsters. In fact, most of Common Table is over 30, married with children, and decidedly against revealing chest hair.
We are a congregation of teachers, writers, bureaucrats, gamers, Episcopalians, Agnostics, atheists, disenchanted Evangelicals, cranky Methodists, and Kevin — who really defies categorization.
At our gatherings I am often reminded of Lutheran Pastor Nadia-Bolz Weber, who upon realizing her congregation consisted of everyone from transgender runaways to suburban soccer moms, thought to herself: “I am unclear what all these people have in common.”[1] For us, what we have in common is as simple and profound as a table.  
            It’s hard to believe, but this Sunday will be my second to last week as the intern. And while I am sad it’s ending, I’m excited that I still have a chance to attend our monthly Barn Raising — I should probably explain: Once a month we forgo our regular worship service at Jammin Java, to gather at the home of someone from the community, who has asked for help with a specific project.
The term “Barn Raising” comes from the 19th century practice of a community coming together to build a barn for one of its members — think the Amish, or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, depending on your knowledge of playfully sexist musicals…
Past projects have involved laying mulch, painting, pulling weeds, assembling Ikea furniture, and raking leaves. Of course, there are times when the tasks have gotten a little more intense. For instance, when we dug up a chain link fence held in the ground by giant blocks of cement. Or, the time it took four of us to cut a fossilized dog crate out of a giant bush that had swallowed it whole. On the very first day of my internship, I drove 45 minutes into Virginia to help a family I’d never met install wood laminate flooring.
Now I love these gatherings, but I confess to you that I haven’t always felt that way. Because, basically, these events are pretty chaotic — especially when our work is outside; clearing yards full of trash, hacking away at overgrown bushes, mining the dirt for glass and rusty nails before the one of the kids inevitably pick them with their bare hands. It can be a hot, sweaty, chaotic mess. And while I thought about writing an Earth Day sermon on something like “the revelation of God in nature,” lately I’ve been thinking a whole lot more about the role of chaos in creation.
In the first creation story of Genesis, the writer tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep. The Hebrew word for this pre-existent dark matter is the word tehom, and because of its connection to the Babylonian creation epic, where the world is formed out a sea of primordial chaos, there is growing support that the biblical authors understood Yahweh’s creation of the world in much the same way. And, if you ask our Hebrew Bible professor, Denise Hopkins, she would say there are still pockets of chaos wreaking havoc in creation, a darkness that persists in spite of our best efforts to dispel it. 
In the Christian tradition, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a woman acquainted with darkness. We know from Luke 18 that seven demons were driven out of her, which Mark attributes to Jesus’ healing ministry. In John’s gospel, the first mention of Mary Magdalene is at the cross and in our passage tonight the text says she goes to the tomb while it is still dark.
John sets the scene this way: its three days after the crucifixion, Jesus, whose followers believed was the messiah, is dead, murdered by the Roman Empire. The disciples are hiding out in someone’s home, mourning, afraid they might be next. But Mary, apparently by herself, goes to the tomb.  And I’ve always wondered: why Mary? Why is she —and not one the disciples— the one who shows up? t can’t be that she has more faith. The text says when she discovers the empty tomb she freaks out and runs to get help.  And it can’t be that she has a better grasp of the scriptures, because even if she did, the crucifixion was an unprecedented event. No one could have seen this coming. Which I think is good profoundly good news for us, because if resurrection depended on our ability to figure it all out, or muster up an unbreakable faith, its likely Jesus would be in that tomb a long time.
In one of the icon’s we’ve set up on this side table, taken from a 14th century Psalter, there is a picture of Mary Magdalene telling the disciples what she’s seen. It’s a great picture, because almost all of them are pointing at scrolls, looking confused, while Mary has her finger up as if to say: shut up and listen!
All I can work out is that Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, because when she was broken, Jesus showed up and loved her back to life. Mary doesn’t anticipate the resurrection; she just wants to be near him; to pay her respect for the extravagant grace and friendship that shown to her. Love draws her to the tomb. Which means even when she thinks he is dead in grave; there is still something about love that transcends death. Mary is the patron saint of just showing up.[2]
I actually Googled this to see if she is already the patron saint of anything, and I’m not kidding, apparently Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of: sinners, converts, hairstylists, perfumeries and perfumers, pharmacists, and women — which would make for an interesting resume…But I digress... Mary doesn’t spilt when the you-know-what hits the fan. She shows up.
You’ll notice in another icon she’s not standing next to the tomb, she’s standing in it. And I can't help but think that — in its purest form — this is what ministry looks like: showing up for our people in their darkest hour, when the light has been gone for weeks, or even years.
Helping each other see the dark for what it is. Announcing that there is a love that goes before us, a God who makes a way when there is no way, and that the light of Christ cannot, and will not, and shall not be overcome!
The first time Mary sees the resurrected Jesus she mistakes him for the gardener — a subtle reference to creation stories of Genesis, where God tends to the Garden of Eden. The text also notes that Mary discovers the empty tomb on the first day of the week, a clue that this is the first day of a new creation.
When Mary finally recognizes Jesus, he asks her to witness to the resurrection. To announce that a whole new world is bursting forth, right here in the midst of this one. That the cosmos are being healed and every thing restored and renewed to the place we know it is meant to be. So we show up:
To pull weeds.
To plant bulbs in Jenny’s garden. 
To catch up with each other and test run Stav’s new grill. 
To help Sarah and Chris clear the leaves out of their neighbors yard, on the anniversary of his wife’s death. 
Each month it’s something different, but we always start with communion.
A few years ago, one of our members wrote a liturgy just for these occasions: A Liturgy for the Metaphorical Raising of Barns. In it he describes the paradox of creation: that our world is both beautiful and broken, that the church is a messy place but it is — if nowhere else— a place where we experience connection, acceptance, and love, and that the work of showing up is a backbreaking enterprise. It is not for the faint of heart. But there is no other way. We are compelled to respond to the love we have been shown. And as we show up for one another, we are gradually loved back to life. Made new again, and again, and again, and again: Our hearts slowly shaped in such a way that we become witnesses to a new creation, made visible as we gather around a common table.
Emptier of tombs, we stand in awe of your resurrection. Of the way you pull us of out the graves we dig for ourselves and turn chaos into raw material of a new creation. Be with us now, as you were with Mary in the garden, restoring us to the wholeness that has been ours from the very beginning.  May we be filled with your light, so that as we feel our way through this suffering world, sparks of praise will splinter in the dark like hope.

[1] Nadia Bolz-Weber,  “Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace” OnBeing, Interview with Krista Tippett, retried from:
[2] Nadia Bolz-Weber, Sermon about Mary Magdalene, the masacre in our town, and defiant alleluias

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The One I Love --- Synchroblog, #BlessedAreTheCrazy

Thanks to our news media discussions about "mental illness" often conjure images of mass shootings, celebrity suicides, or controversial court cases. Hollywood, on the other hand, tends to romanticize mental illness, more or less suggesting that all one needs to overcome a debilitating mood disorder is a quirky girl that really "gets you." 

While I don't think I'm quirky enough to replace someones medication, I do happen to be in love with a wonderful man diagnosed with a mental illness. 
And it's hard. 

It's hard enduring ignorant comments from our friends. 
It's hard negotiating who will receive this information with kindness and who will judge. 
It's hard watching him swallow pill after pill and go to sleep nauseous. 
But harder than all of that is knowing there are some days when there is no way to convince him that he is loved. 

Today (October 7th)  is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. So pray — not for the media caricatures, but for real people who live with a mental illness. 

Pray. And when you are done praying get to work — ending the stigmas and the misrepresentations and the insensitivity and the marginalization. Do it because we are all connected. Do it because someone you know may be suffering in silence. Do it for any and all reasons. Do it for the one I love. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Friends, I don't want to frighten you, but there is a dangerous epidemic currently targeting the millennial generation — I know what you're thinking but it's not ironic facial hair.

No, there is another name for this anomaly. Some have dubbed it "wedding fever." Over the past few months I have come to affectionately refer to it as "open bar season." Call it what you will, but for me it has meant having to attend an extra-ordinary amount of weddings this year.

In just under eight months I have attended five weddings — all in different states and one on a different continent. Just a year ago I hadn't been to more than two weddings in my entire life. Now I'm supporting half the wedding industry. What's the deal people? Did Tiffany & Co. contaminate our drinking water? 

I don't mean to be snarky, but watching all these couples take "the big step" has been more than a little overwhelming; because the thing about weddings is, like funerals, you're less likely to think about the persons whose day it is as you are to think about yourself.

Sitting at the reception table tonight, I realized that since my Dad passed away last summer I have had to endure five fathers walking their daughters down the aisle; five father-daughter dances; and five proud-father toasts to a happy wedded life. It's really enough already; remembering hurts.

I may be wrong, but I think this is how some of us feel about Ash Wednesday: Why do I have to be reminded that I am going to die? It's uncomfortable and depressing.

In The Mystery of Death, Dorothee Sollee says remembering our finitude feels akin to sojourning into a strange and unfamiliar land. During Lent we are nomads, wandering in the desert of our mortality, continually in search of a safe place to call home. What we want is a land where the memory of death grows dim, but Ash Wednesday demands that we stop and feel our way around the wilderness of death for a while. 

Lest we forget, the bible tells us that Abraham does not return to the land of his ancestors, Moses never enters the land of Canaan, and as soon as the ancient Israelites feel secure in the possession of their land they loose it to the Babylonians and end up in exile.If we are honest, the human experience is one of never feeling like we are quite at home. 

Sollee goes on to say that reflecting on our mortality is an essential part of what it means to be human. Remembering is essential because it saves us from the numbing of denial and frees us from passively leading a static and unexamined life.

For me, being reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return in the lead up to Easter, feels a bit like the unwelcome reminder of death at a wedding. It's unsettling and out of place. In fact, it hurts like hell. But as a friend said shortly after my dad's death: 
Hang in there and remember that in the darkest moments our God is the light who leads us through. Even in the hardest times when the light seems to flicker & waver, it is never extinguished, even if we struggle to see it. That light heals the broken hearted, but not in an instant, as it honours the love which caused the brokenness.
So, I decide to receive the ashes and to wear them in fearful humility. And I try to remember how the darkness honors the love that's been lost. 

I remember because it's better than forgetting. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Mystery of Death

 In the Lenten spirit of self-reflection and repentance I confess to you that I hate blogging.

No, I really hate blogging.

I hate it for a number of reasons. First, I don’t think I am very good at it. I’m not an especially skillful or articulate writer. I tend to ramble on and only sometimes get to the point. Second, I don’t have the same desire to be heard that most bloggers seem to posses. Lastly, I am a journaler, which means that most of what I write is deeply personal and excessively flowery. Writing for a public audience puts me in the awkward position of walking the thin line between the private and personal, which frankly are subjective categories anyway.

I see the irony of confessing all of this to you in a blog post. However, I've done so because I’ve decided to take up blogging during the season of Lent. As many of you know, Lent is a liturgical season in the Christian year where believers prepare themselves for Holy Week, the week that recalls Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. To stand in solidarity with our suffering God, who —on the cross— stood in solidarity with us, we simplify our lives during this season by committing to fast from certain luxuries. By fasting we remember the frailty and finitude of our human flesh. During Lent we realize anew our fundamental need for a transcendent and eternal God.

The season begins on Ash Wednesday, a day when the church places ashes on our foreheads as a solemn reminder of human mortality. Throughout the 40 days of Lent, but especially on Ash Wednesday, we are forced to confront the reality of death so that come Easter we can fully embrace the victory of Christ’s triumph over death in all of her manifestations. 

Last summer, my Dad passed away unexpectedly after a long period of hospitalization. Beginning when I was a teenager, my Dad would regularly tell me that he was going to die. I think he told me this in part because of depression, but also because he was trying to overcome the fear of death, the paralyzing terror of the unknown that can stop you from living life to its fullest.

Even though he spoke of it regularly, I think both of us were unprepared for his death. We were unprepared because he also had a voracious appetite for life. He fought to live so that he could go on loving me.

As I’ve struggled this year to cope with his absence, a mentor and friend recommended a book called, “The Mystery ofDeath” by noted German theologian Dorothee Sollee. Finished only days before her own death, Sollee probes the meaning of death in history, literature and religious tradition. Clever, yet intensely personal, she revolts against our cultures denial of death as she herself comes to terms with it. 

So, as an act of solidarity with my Dad, with Dorothy, and with the “great majority” who are no longer with us, I've decided to spend the seven weeks of Lent publicly reflecting on the mystery of death. 

I want to explore the questions I never asked my Dad while he was sick. I want to honor the experience of death in stillness, silence, and prayer.  And I want to contemplate my own mortality in the defiant hope that life can still be born in death.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Today is my Dad's 69th birthday. 

What follows is the eulogy I wrote for his memorial service, delivered to my home church by Pastor Fawn Mikel. 

Pastor Fawn,

You asked me what is one thing I want people to remember about my dad. I told you it was his self-sacrifice, and it’s true, but this splinters off in so many ways.

One is how charming he was with everyone. When I visited him in the hospital/rehab center the staff loved him. You have to understand, most of their patients are ill tempered because of pain, losing their minds, or unable to communicate at all. But he had such a report with the nurses. 

One of the nurses called him Tom Tom. She said she would come in the door, say hello, and he would say, "is that my Jackie?!" When I was there they acted so clinical with everyone else, but they would come in and start catching him up on all their personal lives. Everywhere he went he made friends and made people feel at home in their own skin — which I think is a rare and beautiful gift. 

Another dimension of his self-sacrifice that I want to re-emphasize, is how important it was in my formation to watch him talk to people who would come up out of nowhere to tell him their life stories. His obvious outward signs of suffering bred solidarity among other people struggling to survive. And he was so kind; we'd be on our way to run errands or catch a movie and these people would just talk and talk and talk, and he would just listen forever... 

And he would listen forever to me. He was my best friend. We talked about everything. There wasn't one experience he didn't help me verbally unpack, and that's why now it’s so painful. Because I want to sit down with him and discuss how hard this has been, how sorry I am for not having come down sooner, how much I miss him already, how perfect his love was and how grateful I am for it. 

You asked me about dad's faith, and I can tell you that he lived with an expectant hope and honest trust in God. I have a number of letters he sent me and in every one he says things like: pray for us, I hope God hears me, and “I trust in God's love to get me through this or that.” I also know this because we talked about it a lot. He believed in the power of prayer and in the love of God. He was so very grateful for Christ Church because of how it fostered my relationship with God. In one of the letters he says: “My life is so hard, I sometimes feel as if I am cursed; But then I think of you and that all goes away. I realize how much God must love me because he gave me you." 

On Monday, I told him how honored I am to be his daughter. How I love him more then life itself and I will love and miss him until my very last day. I told him that heaven is a reality I participate in now, and therefore we would be able to participate in together. That love would keep us together and that he should not be afraid of anything that could happen because love drives out fear.

His whole life he gave and gave and gave and gave to me. He would call me up randomly just to tell me how much he loves me and send me cards that said,
"I love you, guess that about sums it up." 

His love was the greatest gift I have ever been given, because he allowed the love of God to flow purely and abundantly through him. I will miss every moment we spent together; how in those moments I knew how much he loved me and was so grateful for it.

On Tuesday I had a major break down because I knew my dad fought through more pain then he could handle to wait for me to say goodbye. I asked David, "How does someone fight off death? How is that even possible?" And he said: "Love." 

My dad loved me so much he gave me life and then fought off death. His love was THAT powerful. It shook my world and made me happier than I ever deserved to be. 

There are only so many people in this world who love with the love of Christ — and he was one of them. We cannot afford to lose these people, or miss out on experiencing their incredible light. His love surely outshines mine, but I love, I love, I love him...

Truth be told, my faith is being tested in this time... But the other day I was thinking about what people might bring to the memorial service — things like food and cards, simple gestures of condolence. Then I thought about what Christ would bring, and I realized he would bring a cross. He would drag the cross down the aisle and place it beneath his picture and say a prayer. He would talk about how he was there with him the whole time, when everyone else was caught up in his or her own worlds. How he suffered with him and for him, and how unfair it was that he had to suffer at all. He would shed tears and show us his scars, but then he would have to leave as quickly as he came. He would leave our world to find my Dad in another one and he would hold him close to his chest, tell him about the service, and how much we all miss and love him. And they would smile and talk of old times. And in that moment I hope with everything that is in me that he would understand how deeply I love him and how his love meant the world to me. I will never forget it, because it has carried me. 

I love him crazy. The world was a better place with him in it. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


This is how i feel today. 

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A New Birth Day.

Two days ago one of my best friends gave birth for the first time to a beautiful little girl named Ellie. 

In Italian “to give birth”— “Dare alla Luce”— is literally translated: “to give to the light”

If we think about birth this way, it makes sense why Jesus named what we typically call conversion, "the new birth." 

Peter Rollins says conversion is like birth because you don't experience your birth, rather, being born allows you to experience everything else. 

Conversion, then, is a transformative journey; one where God is continually bringing us into the light.

Each moment carries the opportunity to be transformed by the light of life, a new birth day. 

Will we allow ourselves to be given to it? 

Welcome to the light Ellie. 

Friday, April 19, 2013


On Wednesday, my Emergent Gathering professor led us in an exercise called "Midrash." Midrash is the Hebrew term for a unique style of storytelling used by Jewish Rabbinic Sages to explain passages from the bible. 

Midrash is a creative way to fill in plot gaps, add detail to whats been left vague, and explore biblical personalities. Midrash is not exegesis, which seeks to extract meaning. Instead, midrash is a form of eisegesis, wherein meaning is given. The beauty of doing a group midrash is you get to hear a variety of voices all give their take on a single passage. 

In my very first month at Wesley I was accused of being a midrash-fangirl. While this statement is somewhat of a hyperbole, I do enjoy a good midrash. So, I thought I would post mine in the hope that something I've said will resonate with you, or perhaps cause a rupture that leads you to deeper truth. 

Given 15 minutes, we were asked to listen and then reflect on John 10:22-30.
The Sheep.
A sheep, on his way to the slaughter, overheard the words of Jesus as he walked through the temple. “How long will you keep us in suspense?” the teachers of the law asked him. “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” The sheep, intrigued, lifted up his head to hear Jesus’ reply; even as it bumped and scraped across the cold floor of the temple through which he was being dragged.

The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.” 
Hearing this, the sheep bellowed; hoping Jesus would recognize his voice and save him from the altar. Again and again he bleated, “Oh Lord, I am your sheep! Save me! Look how they have snatched me from your Father’s hand!”

But Jesus carried on teaching and admonishing; all the while unable to recognize the voice of the very sheep he brought to sacrifice.

As the sword traveled along its short path of destruction towards the sheep’s throat, he thought he heard the voice of Jesus — muffled by the crowds— proclaim: “The Father and I are one.”

By then it was finished.
Jesus’ sacrifice had been made. 


In the John 10 passage, Jesus is walking through the temple in Jerusalem on the Feast of Dedication — known today as Hanukkah (v.22). As he walks, some folks gather around to ask about his messiahship. Jesus (like he does) gives them a vague and nuanced answer. But according to Jesus, his identity is clearly identified by those who believe. This group cannot believe because they do not belong to his sheep (26), but Jesus' sheep can hear his voice, he knows them, and they follow him (v.27). From this point on, he makes all sorts of claims about keeping them in eternal life and saving them from being "snatched" out of his Fathers hand (v.28-29). Jesus' monologue ends with: "I and the Father are one."  

In the past, I've heard sermons based on this passage focus on the intimate relationship between Jesus and his sheep. There is something almost romantic about the sheep being able to recognize the shepherd's voice. Earlier in chapter 10 Jesus calls himself the "good shepherd." But sitting in class after Monday's Boston Marathon bombing, I wasn't ready to see this passage through rose colored glasses. At this point, I'm not sure I'm ready to call Jesus good again. 

My parable of "The Sheep" is a reflection on the mutuality of our relationship with Jesus. We can recognize the voice of the good shepherd, but can he recognize ours? Because surely if he did our prayers and laments from this past week would not go unheard, or unanswered. Yet when I put myself in the shoes of the victims families, I imagine screaming into a dark abyss for the God who can make meaning out of meaningless, only to hear the echo of my own voice. Hollow, abandoned, deserted... 

The saddest part of this story (in my opinion) is when you realize the sheep going to slaughter was offered by Jesus himself. Jesus, whose presence is supposed to mean a year of Jubilee —a release for the captives— is still contributing to the burnt offering. The literal sheep of the story embodies the metaphorical sheep of Jesus' teaching. If we are the sheep in this passage, then in my parable Jesus is giving us up to be sacrificed. So while we like to think Christ's sacrifice has paid for the heavy wages of sin, that death has lost its 'sting,' sometimes it still feels as if we are the ones left to pay. Death still stings. 

There are all sort of other allusions I think this parable is making, but I will finish my thought process here. I pray for the victims and their families, and for consolation in the midst of unwarranted suffering. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


As part of my Spiritual Formation class, I'm required to visit a local non-profit with a small group of peers. This past week I visited the Father McKenna Center (a Jesuit run day shelter for homeless men) for a final time before the end of the semester. I chose the Father McKenna Center for a number of reasons, not least of which is the feeling of genuine concern for these men I get from the staff and volunteers.

Perhaps one of the more unique features of the center, is their midday "check in" group. During this time, the men (numbering in the 40s and 50s) share their feelings, anxieties, joys, and dreams with the group. A moderator oversees the meeting, answering technical questions about affordable housing or job training, and sometimes delivers a motivational message. In general, I tend to be suspect of self-help style pep talks. In my opinion, they have a propensity to communicate the destructive myth that your value comes from what you produce. However, I rather liked the message this last moderator had to deliver.

Speaking of his time on the street, he told the guys about his desire to reach a daily crescendo. Crescendo, of course, is a term used to describe the dramatic build up (usually in music) that leads to a final resolution. The speaker went on to say that over time drug abuse and random acts of violence desensitized him to a "normal" pattern of life. He was addicted to having an adrenaline rush, so for this reason he sought out highly dangerous and emotionally-charged situations. He found it difficult to let a day go by without incident.

After beginning a recovery program and landing a job with a steady income, he struggled with the uneventful nature of normality. One day, he says his brother sat him down and said: "You wake up in the morning and go to work. You come home, eat dinner, watch some TV, and go to sleep. If you're lucky on the weekends you can set work aside and catch a movie or something. This is normal life."

Compared to a daily crescendo of gun violence and other illegal activity, a little dinner and some TV sounds like a good alternative to most of us. But he confessed normalcy was actually a loss he had to grieve.

The more I think about this bizarre idea of "crescendo," the less I see it operating outside of what I expect from my own life. There's something about the nature of life that causes us to feel as if it is building up to something important. I suppose for some of us singles that "thing" is marriage; or if you're married, having kids. For others it might be a successful career, or even attaining a certain physical appearance. Essentially, we think of life "in the meantime" as a drumroll for what will ultimately give our existence meaning.

But I think the truth is that life, is just life. There is no intensifying movement towards an ultimate "resolution," at least not one that is capable of satisfying us in an eternal sense. Operating under an "if-then" paradigm (e.g. IF I get this job, THEN I will be happy) will always disappoint us because it promises what it cant deliver.

I think there's something to be said for the mundane details of our everyday lives.

I see the value of this sentiment most clearly when I reflect on my Dad's current health situation. Fully aware he will never have the physical capacity to achieve one of these "crescendo" moments we wait so fruitlessly for, he is holding onto life for the moments we so often take for granted: trips to the grocery store, making coffee, getting up early to go to work, staying up late to tell stories... All of these innocuous moments are precious because this is the stuff of life. On the surface they seem of little value, but in the finite reality of our humanity they should resonate as invaluable.

Every time I act as if my days are a "crescendo" and then they don't live up to what they've promised, I feel myself losing sensitivity to the present. When we can accept that life isn't actually building towards anything, we set ourselves free from the lie that what we have today is less than what we could have some day. 

Perhaps Abraham Joshua Heschel put it best, when he said: "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."

God rid me of my lofty expectations for the consolation of a simple life humming with reverence.