Monthly Archives: May 2009

tonight: seeing red

Today I got to spend the day with the girlies I love… and then I got to do some photos of some old friends. And taking photos is so life-giving. That makes me think towards revising life in that direction… creating more space to create… So, a poem.

red

snap a few photographs
and find a little life
snap a few pages back
and wonder at the strife
conflicted and addicted to
this reality
restricted, contradicted by
the ways i cannot see
i follow love who loves me
and sometimes cannot breathe
the way we walk together
less
so, so, so tires these feet
the mess it seems is me

today: happy birthday

It was a good day. Two favorite things:

Leslie calls me “Uncle Erin” because I went to visit her with my sister who is her Aunt Bridget. Her mama posted this for me today:

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And my brother sent me this this morning:

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It is good to know you are loved.

today: 30

“Very slowly do we plait the braid of friendships and affections. We learn slowly.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars

First of all, if you haven’t read The Little Prince, please read it. Do it for me. Antoine de Saint-Exupery takes all these big what-it-means-to-be-human ponderings and creates a poetic world that answers big questions. And his illustrations? Don’t get me started.

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I think I thought I’d hit a certain age and start to feel like a grown-up. That has not happened. I think I thought I’d know how to do relationships and be friends with God and have a take on the world and politics and all that stuff. Instead I have stacks and stacks of memories, in dusty journals on shelves and in the corners of my brain. I have stacks and stacks of questions. I have some things I want. I have some things I fear. I have some risks I am willing to take. I hope I am teachable.

And I have a lot of people. They love me. I love them. I really can’t ask for much more than that.

When you turn thirty, people ask you if you’re okay with it. At lunch today, Ryan asked me what the best three things about the last ten years were. It was a great question. It made me think of a lot of memories. The three things I listed were being in Capetown, South Africa when the new millennium began, watching the sunset when I sailed into Ghana with Mercy Ships, and having my brothers and Debo join me at camp for a week when my mom was sick. I don’t know that those are the three best things, but they’re what I came up with on the fly. Because in the last ten years I’ve also

had chairs with Carla
believed God is writing a bigger story
held babies who were dying (and made them laugh)
watched Pie come into the world
become a runner
traveled and traveled and traveled and traveled
done things I don’t love because they were the right things to do
done things I do love just because I can
said hard things
let go of good things believing there is better and more
watched my brothers and Debo grow up
learned to wait hopefully
learned to distinguish good beer
stopped believing I was a great guitar player and became okay with mediocrity for the love of playing
started believing I am beautiful (thanks, Nate)
started believing Jesus really, really loves me. a lot. and you too.
become a pastor
and a writer
and a photographer
and a teacher
and a dreamer (well, I was always that)
and I’ve laughed a lot
and I’ve cried a lot
and my life is full

So thirty? Hell, yeah, bring it on.

Then Ryan asked if there were three things I haven’t done yet that I want to do. Also a great question. I said write a book, go to South America and run a marathon. Anna said I could do all those things in the next five years, no problem. I guess I need to work on a more challenging list.

Thanks for being in my life. You matter. You make it better.

tonight: spotlight debo

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
-Marion C. Garretty

Debo came at the midpoint of childhood… right when I started thinking I knew what was going on… On the best days, wealth is measured by the people in your life. Debo is pure gold. She graduated Friday night.

debo1

that baby girl of ours grew up
and never outgrew her curls
and never outgrew her love of beauty
and never forgot to believe she could be
somebody who is something
amazing
and that baby girl of ours grew up
amazing indeed
and hopes and dreams seem easier
somehow
with her around
greatness stepped across the stage on friday
a girl in a gown and cap
her curls beautiful
and outshone by her heart
and i looked down, eyes wet
pride expressed not in words
but in the pounding hope building in my chest
that this baby girl of ours
is the beautiful in our lives
she always knew how to see it in others
may she see herself
as she is
standing in life’s spotlight
shiningly lovely
wonderfully ours

debo2

debo3

today: some good things about today… and mcdonald’s

282. Never swing at the first pitch. But don’t be afraid to strike out. No man bats 1.000.
-from this site, discovered today… love it…

Today I decided to take photos of inanimate things I love. And then I decided to notice a story happening around me, because I’ve been a little stuck in my head these past few days… This is my way of swinging the bat hard today. Today was a great day.

1. Not new info, but running feeds my soul. The sun and the sky and God and music and the movement and outside… these are life to me all combined and sweaty. I’d kinda like to write a love song to my running shoes. All 4 million pairs of ’em.

run

2. Speaking of sky, the weather this week? Perfection in sun and breeze.

sky

3. Prescription sunglasses. Goodbye dry eyes. My contacts have been relegated to occasional use. These babies? Cheapo from the men’s section at the Target Optical Center.
4. Organic peanut butter. Who knew that no sugar and a little stirring action could create such perfection in something that was already pretty much perfect?
5. The aux cable and i-pod combination in my car makes me very, very happy. So does Kate Nash.

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6. Pineapple and I get along oh-so-well. I get my produce from an organic co-op and don’t always love what I get. The last three cycles have included pineapple. My belly thanks the co-op powers that be.

pineapple

7. I have a love-hate relationship with Dallas and traffic. Turns out if you have great music and sunny skies and the aforementioned perfect weather none of that matters. Life is good. I am thankful.

dallas

8. My most favorite things. Period. So full of all the stories and words and poems and thoughts and prayers from more than half my life…

journals

9. Then there’s this:

Every six months or so, I wake up craving McDonald’s. I don’t know if it’s whimsical nostalgia or what… I want a cheeseburger. I want fries. I want Coke. When such a day arrives, I pick up a value meal rather than attempting to talk myself out of it. My mostly-vegetarian-organic-borderline-granola eating habits should diminish the majority of the harm of a thousand or so calories of not-quite-food, right?

That’s what I tell myself.

This morning that craving greeted me before my eyes opened as my arm flailed in search of the snooze button. I stumbled towards the coffee maker salivating over those pickles that make a McDonald’s burger. And ketchup. And mustard. And sub-par bread. I met up with Heather for a morning walk and went for a run after that, so I started the day with an 8-mile calorie void rumbling in my stomach, the rough equivalent of the desired burger/fry combo.

I went for lunch. I did not drive through. The line of cars at the drive-thru snaked around the building and into the neighboring gas station parking lot.

The manager was taking orders in Spanish from the one guy in line ahead of me. A middle-aged guy with a sleeve of aged tattoos came in behind me. He greeted me, and I tried not to stare at his swelled-shut black eye.

I ordered. I waited for my food. The manager greeted the man behind me. “You look different,” she said. “You look good.”

He smiled. “I got a job. I cleaned up.” He put two dollars on the counter and pulled a quarter out of his pocket as he ordered two chicken sandwiches. “Can you throw in some fries?” He asked. “That’s all I got, and I don’t get paid until Friday.”

The manager nodded. Done.

That’s how a much craved McDonald’s trip allowed me to see that the best of humanity shows up in even the tiniest sliver of grace. I love that.

tonight: the grandness of the inevitable…

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Something that they don’t tell you when you sign up to be a pastor is that it’s not really a part-time job, even if that’s what your job description says. This year, my 4th at Grace, has been tough. Many days my vision blurs with weariness and doubt, not of my belief but of my role at this stage in the game. Bob, the lead pastor at our church, has brilliantly adapted his leadership (most days) to meet me where I am. I hope I lead like Bob, able to forfeit expectation if that means the ability to see and believe in those being led right where they are… that’s a whole other tangent…

bob

Bob’s office is a safe place to work things out, and Tuesday we met to go over the details that add up to a bi-weekly meeting. He turned to me at the end of our meeting, “you know, this is something we get to do.”

Oh. Yeah. We get to. I wake up in the morning and go to a job that is seeing and being with and loving and believing in people and (hopefully) helping them love God and others. Not everyone sees their work married to their passion. But we get to, Bob and I and the other staff we work with. Sometimes our work means people who are sick or hurting get healed. We get to meet people’s needs, sometimes big needs that they cannot otherwise meet. I get to take teams to Mexico a few times a year, and we are watching two communities transform: theirs and ours as we feed the poor and pray for the sick and invest in the kids…

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Then I get done at church and go home to the photography half of life (Again, a part-time photographer is a bit of a myth as well…). That’s a get to as well. The more I learn of photography, the greater the sense of awe within me grows. I love telling a story visually. So much of the work of photography feels like play. And that is very, very good. I found my feet in a whole new way.

feet

None of this is what I expected when I moved home four and a half years ago…

The struggle for me, then, is to be okay with being here now, perhaps for a longer time than I thought. All my dreams for as long as I can remember have been tied elsewhere. The grandness of the inevitable, though, is that often when a dream or desire dies, its death ushers in a new, more full dream or desire. This isn’t just about me and what I want. But it’s not not about me either. I find myself tired tonight but expectant. There is more. That more looks like hope…

Perhaps incomplete thoughts, but what I got for tonight… Thanks for being with me in this.

jake

today: weekend

“I’ve been thinking Hobbes –”

“On a weekend?”

“Well, it wasn’t on purpose…””

-Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

No pics today, b/c I’m tired. My weekends lack Sabbath. It’s not that they’re not good. This weekend included a lot of friends, old and new (even a duke). Seeing who I saw and doing what I did brought up lots of thoughts, mostly good and some not-so-good. It seems that this next season is transition. It seems that I never escape transition. I don’t know if that is providential or if I am stuck. Eleven days to the big 3-0. I don’t have much figured out just yet. You who walk with me, though, I have this figured out: I so, so, so need you in my life.

You keep me hoping and dreaming and believing for more (most days). And there. Is. More.

I hope more is world change in the big and small picture. And knowing God. And loving people well. And finding love and joy and laughter and hope everywhere. And bringing love and joy and laughter and hope where it lacks.

It’s not all figured out just yet, but this process… may it lead to more.