Tag Archives: prose

one for Megs

 

“Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness and affection. These are ways of saying ‘it’s good that you are alive’; ‘it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth…'” Henri Nouwen

meghan

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog for almost everyone in my family but ran out of steam just before the end of the year. Meghan, my younger sister by 18 months, has reminded me from time to time that though we are quite close, I had stopped the birthday blogs before her birthday that year. She’s mentioned being unimpressed.

Never fear. Birthdays come annually, and Meghan’s is tomorrow. Here are some things you should know about Meghan. She loves fiercely. She gives generously. She communicates clearly. She works hard. She organizes our motley and over-sized crew for holidays and birthdays. She got on a plane the moment Betsy Claire’s birth happened so that she could hold our very first niece and be there for Bridget. That’s the way Meghan does life: giving of her whole self to those she loves.

Oh, and Meghan is really, really, really funny.

When we were kids Meghan and I shared a room for most of our growing up years. As adults we shared several apartments.

When Mom had cancer, Meghan and I took on nine of our younger siblings for one very long February while Mom and Dad were away seeking treatment. We had no idea how to handle the kiddos in the midst of everything going on, but somehow, together, we did it. And only one of us got bit by one frustrated tiny brother. Way to take one for Team Blinn, Megs! We even managed to keep the kids alive.

We live fifteen minutes apart now, and we talk on the phone most days. We don’t agree about everything, but I cannot, cannot, cannot imagine my life without my beautiful sister. Her birthday is cause to ponder God’s goodness to me, to our family and to the world. When you’re gifted someone as fantastic and beautiful as my sister is, you can’t help but uttering the best one-word prayer I know. Thanks.

Happy birthday, Meghan! Can’t wait to celebrate it up tomorrow night.

today: Sunday, saving me now

Sunday, and I wake, hitting the snooze button three times while I determine that my hair needs washing. Plans for an early morning run abandoned in favor of clean hair for church result in a longer-than-normal walk for the dog. We walk a loop of birds chirping and insects buzzing. Still, it’s relative silence. I shower, say prayers, plan the day. Tea brews while I stir oats and unload the dishwasher.

I take a moment to realize I’d awakened with time and space (after abandoning my run) for quiet. We need more quiet, I think, most of us. The television is off, no music plays, and I am home alone. Just these few minutes, they are saving me. Right now. God makes his presence known. He is here, has been here.

How often I miss him for the busy. How consistently he is willing to meet me where I am. And now, still and silent on a Sunday morning, Sabbath. Joy comes and oft craved peace joins it. Steady breaths and quiet heart beckoned to life, again and again.

Joining with the amazing Sarah Bessey, whose blog feeds my soul.

today: february

“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s February, and one year ago, North Texas sat still and silent, held captive by sleet. This afternoon, I ran ten miles in 70 degree weather, arriving home sweat-soaked and thirsty. Quite a contrast. It still feels like winter, if not in temperature. It feels like winter, because life moves slower for me this time of year. I find time to think and pray, to create for the sake of creating, to stop and reflect and be. I crave wonder.

It’s February, and I’m looking forward to this month of quiet before things steadily build momentum for the rest of the year. I’m hopeful. And I think there will be stories to share. Last night I sat with friends who were praying for me, and I realized that sometimes I forget to remember all the goodness and grace in my life. For months I’ve lamented the writer’s block that seems to strike whenever I sit down to blog or journal. “I have no stories to tell,” I moan to my audience of no one. But alas, that is untrue. I have stories that weave a beautiful story, a compelling story, a redemption story. I just forget to tell them sometimes.

It’s February, and this blog is written with one purpose: to say it’s time for me to write. So write I shall. And wonder shall ensue. What provokes wonder for you?

today: Potager

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”
-Michael Pollan

The year’s end arrives with unseasonably warm weather resulting in a respite of outdoor activity under a canopy of blue. Did Christmas really pass last week? The rush leading up to the holiday literally ended Christmas Eve, and I stood in church with a lit candle singing “Silent Night” trying to remember silence. My family gathered, we celebrated sans one brother and one sister, and by Boxing Day, all I wanted was my own heavenly peace to sleep in. I love the end of the year and the way it makes me want to reflect and daydream. I become a child awake to the wonder of possibility, infinite. It seems we are wired to ponder life on a grandiose scale when the first day of a new year stares us down.

I’ve never been the type to make resolutions, but tonight I sat around a dinner table with Collin, his sister and her beau, and I hoped for some things for 2012. We ate at a little place in Arlington that we love, Potager Cafe, an outside-the-box, hole-in-the-wall with real food and genuine community. You can eat as much as you like from the menu comprised of local fare. It changes based on what is available. You pay what you want to pay for your meal. Tonight a diner at another table offered Collin a glass of wine from the bottle on his table when Collin asked if it was good. Cynthia owns the place, and she hugged me when I left, wishing us a happy new year and promising to email me about an idea we’ve discussed the last few times I’ve eaten there. These things happen at Potager. We love it.

After dinner, we ran errands before Collin headed home so he could get to bed early, as a long ride owns the entirety of his Saturday morning. I kept thinking about Potager. The food is always good there (outstanding, really), but I’m not sure that’s all that keeps me going back. When I eat at Potager, I find myself invited to dinner at a place where conversation flows easy, and no one is a stranger. I don’t know how to explain the dynamic, but the uniqueness strikes me. And I hope to be the kind of person in 2012 who forgets the boxes that social norms create and who remembers that people matter and so does the way we interact with the world.

I think that’s the appeal of Potager. The business model isn’t the type to attract investors: no set prices and an environment that beckons patrons to want to stay long after they’ve finished eating. But I don’t think Cynthia measures the success of her business in profits (though I think she’s paying her bills). I suspect she understands something about the nature of community and the importance of stewarding the earth. She’s created a unique space in the middle of Arlington that resembles a hodge podge family dining room. When you’re at Potager, you’re in the midst of a better story than the typical American eatery.

Real food grown in a garden out back or procured from local farmers prepared simply with real ingredients? Do people eat like that any more? And while eating like that we slow down and learn the names of the people around us and rub shoulders with their stories, if only for a few minutes. We leave full and refreshed- every single time we eat there. Did I mention we love it?

“It feels like church,” I told Collin when we left tonight. He countered that it is better than church, because you don’t have to keep up an appearance to experience a good meal at Potager. Though that’s a post for another day, I say that to say this: in 2012, I hope to be the kind of person who imagines and creates unique spaces that allow genuine community to exist and thrive. I hope to take the kind of photographs that invoke emotion and start conversation. I hope to write the kind of words that provoke the telling of a better story. I hope to live in such a way that heavenly peace is never far off, because the reality of the presence of God holds my attention day in and day out, leaving me full and refreshed and able to fill and refresh others.

I am a child awake to possibility, infinite. Yes.

today: christmas

a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

O Holy Night

“…I do believe; help my unbelief…”

Mark 9:24

In the midst of anticipating Christmas this year, a funeral. She was an 18-year-old college freshman from Collin’s cycling community, struck by a car while riding her bike in North Carolina. She died ten days before Christmas. I met Megan only once, but Collin knew her. Attending a funeral for a girl just stepping into womanhood shocks the system with a forced focus on the aching fractures that exist in the world. The heart breaks, because what else is it to do? The heart breaks and the soul longs for a different story. We long for the world to be set right.

Reading the Scriptures and pondering the Christmas story following Megan’s death made me hunger for God who became man to meet me, to meet us here, now. In any untimely death the questions that come first are often why questions, but that’s not exactly where I landed. My questions arose from looking at the celebration of Christmas coming so soon after the funeral. How does this get set right?

My love of the Bible sometimes leads me, perhaps, to over-familiarity with the over-arching narrative. I forget to remember the significance of a God who came, of the word made flesh, of his life, of his death, of his resurrection. The Hebrew Scriptures foretold the story of a poor baby born to restore history, God swaddled in tattered rags, fully Himself in human skin. It’s a magnificent story, really, that God so loved, that God so gave. That we have life. The world left to it’s own devices is indeed weary. Without the Jesus story, our hope falters and fails.

Last night I prayed for grace and peace for Megan’s family and friends. May they know their loss and longings grieve God. I remembered the Jesus who wept before he raised his friend from the dead. Death wasn’t a part of the story when God made and called this world good. I feel wide awake to the reality that we need something, someone greater to come, to heal, to touch, to redeem.

And we have God, who humbled himself, who became like us, who came. And I don’t understand how it all works, but I do know this: we have great hope. And so I hope. Living that hope out here and now looks like grace and peace. It looks like food for the poor and wholeness for the hurting. It looks like love in the face of hatred, plenty in the hands of want. May we so live.

today: the wonder of it all

“Wonder is the basis of worship”
-Thomas Carlyle

No matter where, no matter where, no matter where my story- or your story- takes me or you, the deep breath yielded by a few minutes outside really looking at creation provokes wonder. It steadies me to see flowers and trees, sun and sky, and the cycle of life. Seasons shift and change. Transformation occurs. The world retains so much of the good God saw when he made it. In the midst of war and failing economies and broken relationships and sickness, even in the midst of death, a walk outside reveals new life. Some days that’s the grace to regroup and calm the heart and slow the pace.

God is here, everywhere. And we are his, loved and capable of loving. I’m captivated.

It’s outside that I most often find myself beckoned into his kingdom and story. I know I am small in the midst of a great grand scheme that is the world. That humbling reality- that very revelation- invites participation into the story of God’s great plan of redemption. I’m certain that truth ought to be taken literally and metaphorically.

today: month fifteen

It was fifteen months ago that Collin turned to me and said he didn’t want to leave things undefined. We didn’t have much of anything figured out. We did know we wanted to see if there was something there worth figuring out. And I suspected he meant business about pursuing me. Today I know that he did.

For this I am grateful. It’s been quite a year and a quarter. I see God’s handiwork in our story. I know that this is grace.

Yesterday Collin had flowers delivered to the house I’m staying at in Kentucky. I’ve been away for work for this past week. I love his thoughtfulness, ever looking for ways to make me feel beautiful, wanted, loved. I love that when I called to thank him I could hear the smile in his voice. I love that this is the page we are on.

Someday maybe I’ll write some thoughts on dating and love and how we’re walking things out. But that’s for another day. Today all I want to say is this: it’s a good story we are living, fifteen months in.