Monday, April 30, 2007

'Tis a gift to be simple.....

or so says the lyrics to that old shaker hymn that is so popular here in my neck of the woods. I have to say I agree with that, simplicity is a beautiful thing, I guess it just depends on your definition of simplicity.

Me, I like things like vanilla ice cream, a great cup of strong black coffee, people who are direct and plainspoken, wildflowers in a mason jar, no blinds on the windows ( yeah, we do have a Roman shade on the bathroom and I do live out in the country off of the main road a ways....)

I prefer white cotton sheets dried on a clothesline, veggies from my garden out back, paper not plastic, blowing bubbles with my kiddos, going barefoot and peanut butter on whole wheat....but who am I kidding, really?

I also like a great restaurant in an interesting city, the complexities of a meal well cooked ( d'you think I have food issues? probably so....) scented candles, a sweet pair of shoes ( yet another problem) a great haircut and color, a trip to the beach....I like simplicity when its added to my complex life, maybe I wouldn't embrace it so much if it were my only option.

I've recently read Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution in conjunction with Lisa Samson's Quaker Summer, and I gotta tell ya, I'm rethinking my position on the way life is lived here on the river. We are a semi-green, quasi-environmentally friendly homeschooling family with a firm faith in Jesus.....but honestly, the picture of the gospels painted in these two books has set this girl on her ear.

Compared to the American norm, we live pretty simply---well within our means, no debt other than the mortgage, which I'm hacking away at , thank you, cook from scratch, raise the veggies, don't buy the latest gadgets, allow the library to substitute for retail therapy kinda family. But I'm beginning to evaluate what we could do differently that might actually impact the world through a ministry of presence. Since we don't live in an inner-city, our ministry of presence might look a lot different than a homeless shelter on the meanstreets. However rural appalachia has her own version of meanstreets, and I mean to find out what changing that might encompass.

Who knew a life of simplicity could be so complex?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The seduction of anger....

I'm reflecting on the sad events at my alma matre, Virginia Tech, today, and have been mulling over a statement made by one of the pastors at today's convocation. He urged people not to give in to the strong seduction of anger-- a powerful image for me.

As I watch the trauma unfold on various news channels, images of the campus I love bringing up fond memories inextricably intertwined with new images--those of hate, destruction, devastation-- I appreciate the reminder that anger is seductive.

So many issues in my daily life tempt me to respond with anger....or at the very least irritation. Church drama, kid stuff, marriage glitches, tax season, manuscript rejections, the number on the scale, a poorly timed phone call--you name it, I can work up a good mad over the most insignificant thing. What a perspective changer, to view anger as a temptress, seducing me from that thing that I am betrothed to.

So, as I am challenged today, I'll challenge you: Let us love. Love our husbands, love our kids, love our homes, love our circumstances, love our lives--wrought with challenges and mistakes, disappointments and failures---let us love. Most of all, let us love God--pursuing Him with all that we are in the face of so many things that don't bear the marks of His character. Let us love God with all we are in a world that needs to know Him.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.