This week’s adventure was celebrating Easter-that Jesus is alive-by singing, eating delicious food, laughing, watching children hunt Easter eggs, playing pictionary, enjoying the warm sunny day, and snuggling up on the couch for popcorn and TV. It was a good day to punctuate this season of lent and Holy Week with celebration.
Technically I skipped week 10. As I was falling asleep at the end of my busy Sunday a little over a week ago, I thought “no! I forgot my blog post!” And then I just let it be. So this’ll last through the 1st week of January 2017.
Last week’s adventure was celebrating little John’s birthday! I was a nanny for the past coupe years and my little friend turned 3 on Saturday. I went over to visit and celebrate and ended up getting to help make cake pops with John and his mom and sister.
John decorated about 12 cake pops and said, “Can I eat this now?” after every single one. My favorite is pictured below
Of course the answer was “yes.” What are birthdays for if not to consume copious amounts of sugar, and of course to celebrate the gift of such a precious little life!
One of those big, scary words to avoid, or to cover up.
But, along with ordinary, failure is actually to be reclaimed by a spirit of adventure. That can mean confessing and learning.
My adventure for this week is failing to have one. I didn’t plan one and there’s nothing about which I can blog freely that counts.
I was reminded this morning that I am defined, not by my failure or success, but by the love of a good Father.
So, in failing this week to write anything, I want to give you words of freedom that I found full of grace on Sunday last week. This is from Malcolm Guite’s wonderful poetry anthology The Word In The Wilderness:
Most of us are under pressure, external and internal, to do everything, be good at everything, be accountable to everyone for everything! It is not so. In the divine economy each of us has a particular grace, gift and devotion. Finding out what that is, and learning how to be guilt-free about not doing everything else, may be part of what our Lenten journey is for.
Sometimes I live weeks that are thoroughly ordinary. So, this week’s adventure is bookish.
I read “The Story Girl” by L. M. Montgomery, who is well-known as the author of Anne of Green Gables.
With tulips poking out of the earth in my yard, I’m looking forward to spring and summer with this benediction from The Story Girl in my heart:
Our summer was over. It had been a beautiful one. We had known the sweetness of common joys, the delight of dawns, the dream and glamour of noontides, the long, purple peace of carefree nights. We had had the pleasure of birdsong, of silver rain on greening fields, of storm among the trees, of blossoming meadows, and of the converse of whispering leaves. We had had brotherhood with wind and star, with books and tales, and hearthfires of autumn. Ours had been the little, loving tasks of everyday, blithe companionship, shared thoughts, and adventuring. Rich were we in the memory of those opulent months that had gone from us-richer than we then knew or suspected. And before us was the dream of spring. It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter.
Do you remember the classic Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”?
It’s filled with quirky, funny illustrations and rhymes and surprisingly poignant insight about life. I’ve always loved these lines:
“you will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
The uncertainty here resonates with me, and so does the desire to decide and to keep on walking. The book sends its reader in a confused break-necking run down “weird wildish” “wiggled roads”. And, even this seems true to life. When I face dark windows and unmarked streets, I tend to turn and flee.
Next, we end up at “The Waiting Place” which is a rather gloomy state of affairs where everyone is just waiting. Seuss isn’t a fan of this space. Everyone is wearing blue and he warns, “NO! That’s not for you!” and assures that you’re much better off in “bright places where Boom Bands are playing.”
Now, I like to speak words over my life. I choose them carefully and I try to make them true. This year I chose “adventure,” and sometimes it doesn’t feel possible for it to describe my life. Maybe it isn’t that the word “adventure” misses, but that I haven’t realized how much it can mean.
I tend to think that adventure is roadtrips and pushing on through difficulty, being frightened and not backing down, working hard, being sore and tired, doing new and scary things and surmounting problems. It’s Christmas-tree dumping and babysitting, and interviewing for a new job.
Sometimes Jesus speaks words over my life and they are good, and often I miss that he is the one speaking and that what he says brings life. I’d like to capture “adventure” and tie it up and squeeze life out of it. Jesus, I think, has wrapped up “waiting” and set it on my doorstep and I keep gingerly stepping around it because I’m nervous that it isn’t a good gift.
And then, on occasion, I actually see it. Waiting is mostly a different flavor of adventure. I spent from 11pm-2am in the airport one night this week waiting for Amy’s plane to arrive late. I sat praying in the interfaith prayer room for a bit, and then I people-watched and read in the welcome area. When Amy arrived, we laughed about the weirdness of being in such a normal, public space at such a strangely late time.
What Dr. Seuss is getting at, I think, is a sense of discontendedness, a waiting around for things to get better. I don’t want to wait for my life to start. I want to live my right-here, right-now life. But waiting isn’t always negative or wrong; we can be quick to think that standing still is bad because moving forward is good, because we’re pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps people.
Waiting is quiet and still. Waiting listens patiently. Waiting receives and observes and is present to the moment it is in. Waiting in an airport for a plane to come so that you can go…is an opportunity for adventure, because sometimes adventure is doing the ordinary stuff of life with wide-eyed wonder, waiting in expectation, pausing to see what is in front of you. Waiting is quiet enough to hear my heart and to hear Jesus; when I wait, I see that the world is broken, I notice small ways that I can bring wholeness, and I realize that I can’t fix everything. Boom bands and bright places may distract me and they are a great way to celebrate, but the waiting place is a gift because it stops me long enough to reorient me to what is true about the world.
So, that’s my adventure for week 7: gratitude for airport couches and lent and traffic and grocery store lines because they are waiting spaces that help me pause long enough to pay attention and remember who I am.
This week it finally snowed enough to cover the grass, and the world just happened to turn white on my day off! I celebrated by playing in the snow!
I love the way snow clings to everything and makes it lacey and white and lovely. Snow looks gentle when it falls. It brightens the inside of my house by reflecting the light. Snow makes the whole world quiet.
We are five weeks into the year, so New Year’s resolutions are beginning to feel distant and, honestly, this week didn’t feel like much of an adventure.
This week mostly held the ordinary stuff of life. Work, trying to balance friendship and introversion, babysitting, serving on a student ministry retreat. Plenty of things that happened were adventurous, but none of the moments of this week resonated with me as “adventure” moments.
Maybe in weeks that are hard for no easy or obvious reasons, adventure is keeping on saying “I want to hear that other voice, the one that belongs to Jesus who says he loves me and is with me and rescues his broken world.”
So my adventure this week was sitting in an empty cabin during free time praying in poem that I would see the light of home in teenage laughter and warm effort and frosted grass and costco muffins.
Sometimes it is adventure enough to look for the moon in the dark, to love the stars too fondly to fear the night, to keep hoping that the stories are true.
There is a tree tied to my car.
We finally took the Christmas tree out of the living room today and I brought it over to the place that will recycle it, only to find that they were closed. So I ran my other errand with a tree tied to my car and laughed at the sheer silliness.
This week’s adventure is a silly one: I took a pine tree for a drive and I’m letting it sleep outside in the balmy winter tied to my car.
Thankfully, my house no longer looks like this:
In the words of G. K. Chesterton, “an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”
I’ve hardly had time to breathe for the past few days, which is dangerous space for an introvert. My ideal day involves a book, quiet, and a pot of tea. These days have involved a lot of people…
And it has actually been really refreshing and encouraging. Good conversations. Laughter. Good food. New friends and old ones. Encouragement and love and welcome and a tiny baby.
This week’s adventure is Totato soup, teamwork style. After church today I went over to Sofia’s and we chopped carrots and celery and salt-rubbed potatoes, and slightly-burned sausage, and mixed all sorts of yummy spices and meat and vegetables into a pot an heated them up and finally ate lunch around 3:30. Music played in the background, along with Rowan babble and sizzling oil and laughter. We discovered that cooking with a friend makes the process slower and less stressful.
For three lovely hours we told stories and made soup and ate together. I wrapped a hot, soup-filled mason jar in an old borrowed towel and cradled it like a baby to carry it to my car. The best adventures involve good food and friends. And leftovers, of course.