18 April 2011

I, Benedict Arnold

I have a confession.

I want a Kindle.

ESV study Bible 9.99

Complete works of George MacDonald 1.79

I'm betraying my stacks of sweet-smelling books.

But I don't care.

16 April 2011

What do you call the day after a rainy day?

Saturdays can go two ways: they can either be very productive or very lazy.  I intended today to be the former.  So far it's the latter.  But I suppose there's still hope, maybe with a second cup of coffee.  It's also a beautiful day today, a real spring day instead of a summer day like the ones we've had lately.  Yesterday we had a nasty storm, and in my dreaming last night my apartment was swept away.  When I woke up it was all still here, though.  The day after storms is usually especially lovely, skies clearer than usual and a sweet, new smell in the air, like it's trying to make up for being all furious and destructive the day before.  It would be a good day for a hike, a wet hike anyway, but hiking buddies have been hard to come by lately and I have that whole "be productive" thing to do anyway.
So I will just have to placate the desire to take to the woods by looking at my photos from my last few hikes.  Most college kids hit the beach for spring break, or go somewhere with friends; this year, for my last spring break ever, I decided what I wanted to do most was be with the people I don't get to see, i.e. my parents, and hike as much as possible with my first and favorite hiking buddy, my mom.
 We hit up a couple places out of state.  It's nice to be able to day trip over the border.  But it's also nice that our home state has so many great trails.

 Day 2 we managed to drag my dad along for some spectacular Appalachian Trail views.

 Day 3 we stumbled on an idyllic valley of rhododendron and waterfalls.  It was one of those ancient-feeling places.  We went on a weekday, in the morning, so we had it all to ourselves.

We had to examine the stratification of this boulder.  We hypothesized the other half of the rock was in the creek, near where we ate lunch.  They were separated a long time ago.
This is the creek we forded.   It looks harmless, and it is, but it's over a foot deep.  We felt very adventurous.  Like Daniel Boone, but with an SUV.

15 April 2011

Hobbits, Koreans, and Courage

A couple nights ago I started re-reading The Hobbit, one of my favorite books.  It's nice to read an old favorite before you go to bed.  New books embroil me too much in the plot and I'll lie awake wondering what happens next until I finally give up and turn the light back on.  For instance, last night I tried to read part of of Elie Wiesel's Dawn  and ended up reading the whole book (you should read it).
As I'm reading about my favorite hobbit (yes, Bilbo is my favorite.  Sam is #2, then Pippin, Merry, Frodo), I'm noticing we have a lot in common.  We both enjoy a good cup of tea and prefer going barefoot.  Ah, but there's more than that.  Bilbo loves being at home in the Shire, but also has a deep longing for adventure that sometimes breaks out and puts his ordinary self in very un-ordinary situations.  Every once in a while he feels like he's meant for something more than humdrum quietude and that he must do that something more.  He still loves humdrum quietude though, and that's the problem, and that's what makes him so endearing and hilarious.
I've always been a homebody, content to sit on the porch with tea and book, stay at home, be by myself, just contemplate and create in the comfort of my own environment.  But I've also always been restless, felt like there was something more to do, something more to be, somewhere to GO.  I feel like adventure lurks around the corner and I only occasionally get at it.  New and unfamiliar situations usually make me very uncomfortable, but they awaken and nurture something thirsty deep within me.
C.S. Lewis, another favorite, said, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."  I do believe that this earth is not my home, but I also I believe I have a purpose on this earth, and that purpose is to serve God's purposes.
I have a sneaking suspicion that God wants me to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for him.  OK, I know that he wants that.  But I suspect that maybe going somewhere unfamiliar and doing something unfamiliar are in his plan for my near future.  I know that when I am in situations that terrify me - like approaching complete strangers who probably don't speak my language and asking if I can pray for them (I will elaborate on that story later) - I am forced to depend on God, and utterly depending on him is the most alive I have ever felt.  So I want to be in that unfamiliar situation, even if it means tea and books on the porch alone happens less.
A Korean man said to me in English, whilst with Arabs in a hospital in Israel, when I was at my most terrified, "Be brave.  Be brave and God will bless your obedience."
Those two words, "be brave," altered my life.  Like it was something simple.  But it is simple.  As simple as dying to self and living in Christ - paradoxically the most simple and most difficult thing to do.  When something must be done, it ceases to be difficult.
I guess if God sends me away from "home," away from my books and my instruments and everything familiar and comfortable, it will be easy, because I will abide in him.  He is my home.