Monday, June 29, 2009

mysteries of children

I claim that I'm not good with kids, but some children seem determined to prove me a liar. And when they do, I'm grateful because there's nothing quite like having a 4 month old baby fall asleep in my arms while I'm holding him or snuggling up with a toddler in my lap. I suppose I treat little children like cats in that I don't rush over to pick them up or play with them, but when they approach me and want my affection, I feel honored and blessed and happy to oblige them.

Today, not quite two-year-old little Zoe climbed up onto my lap while I sat at Ari's kitchen table. Uninvited but welcome, she took one bite of her apple slice while I munched on mine.

"Do you think she remembers me?" I asked, referring back to a year ago when I was more of a presence in Zoe's life, "Or is she just friendly with everyone?"

"She's definitely doesn't approach everyone like that," Ari replied, "But sometimes it almost seems like she seeks out people that need love from her right now."

And love from a precious blonde-haired, blue-eyed, smiling, babbling child I was happy to receive and to give back to her.

Maybe I am ok with kids. Or maybe there are certain children and certain times when we are both just perfect for each other.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

summer evenings

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future."
Ecclesiastes 7:14

Back porch + book + baked custard – bugs = bliss

Though my baked custard didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, though a mosquito still bit my knuckle (having only sprayed my feet and ankles with OFF!), and even though barely a paragraph into my latest chapter, I received a phone call that whisked me away from my lovely back porch back to the clinic where I work to attend to a minor crisis, when I returned from work for the second time, I was finally able to settle into my book and enjoy the last remaining minutes of daylight and enjoy relaxing yet stimulating bliss.

We’re nearing the summer solstice, and I’m loving the long summer days of sunshine that lasts nearly to 9pm, but I’m also saddened that once summer solstice occurs, the days will slowly grow shorter, and there will be less sunshine for me to enjoy. Nevermind that this cycle repeats itself, nevermind that I actually love fall weather, and come mid-July will be yearning for cooler temperatures, right now, I want the days to just keep getting longer and longer, and the thought of losing even just a minute of daylight dampens my spirit. And I hate that I’m thinking this way, and I hate that I’m thinking this way about a lot of things. Why can’t I just be, and enjoy the blessing of the moment, the present, all that I really truly ever have which is that in front of me, around me, within me?

I’m thankful that this past month or so that the few of us still here for the summer from our comgroup have been rapidly growing closer. This is such a special time for us to bond, as we’re all here in town, and many of our usual friends are gone for the season, and even though we’re working, in school, or looking for jobs, the demands and stress of life inevitably slow in the summer. The conditions have all been right facilitate more quality time together in ways that I just don’t think could have happened during the usual school year. I continue to enjoy such rich times with these friends, laughing, rambling, ranting, bantering, confiding, listening, encouraging, advising. As much as I’m enjoying these special times together, the nagging feeling that this season will end at the end of this summer is present with me. It seems inevitable that these times together will change, as people move, as fall schedules start, as other friends return. I don’t anticipate that we will grow tired of one another or that our times together will feel old, but it seems that the conditions around us will change, and our friendships will change as a result. But why I am even thinking this way, when we’re right in the middle of a wonderful, fun, precious season with each other, when we’re still sneaking candy into Pixar movies together, when we’re still staying up late on rooftop bars, discussing God and how we relate to him? Why am I anticipating an end when in many ways, this just seems to be the beginning? I know that I won’t stay close forever to everyone that I grow close to for a season, but it is possible that though things will change, close bonds will remain, friendships will continue, even if there is a physical distance between friends. Most of these friends will be living here for another year or two at least, and we will continue to go to church together, and we will continue to have opportunities to spend with one another. So even looking forward, I see continued friendships, I see growth, I see hope for us.

I guess I should blame my white American culture, but why am I so future oriented and so obsessed with marking time? So many of my thoughts seem to be looking toward the future, planning something, eagerly anticipating something, dreading something. So many thoughts given to things that have yet to occur. Things that could never occur, or that could occur very differently that I ever could imagine. And I’m always marking time forward or backwards. It’s so many days/weeks/months until x occurs. It’s been so many days/weeks/months since y happened. And usually there’s a judgment. Since it’s been x amount of time since I experienced y, I should be feeling z. Since it’s j amount of time until k, I should be doing l in preparation. I think it’s good and healthy to look back and categorize seasons and learn from them, and of course I need to look ahead and plan, but I don’t want my plans or my judgments about time to master me. I want to be more engaged in the present. I said that for the first time over a year ago, and I’m still learning what that means and how to do it. And there I go, making another time-related judgment of myself :P And now I’m judging myself for judging myself, which is even more absurd! But I’m not too frustrated at myself at the moment, more bemused that it seems inevitable that I will continue to think they way I don’t want to think, and to do the things that I don’t want to continue doing. That sounds pessimistic, but I’m trying to learn to have more grace with myself, the same grace and understanding and forgiveness that God offers to me, and that I’m trying to learn to offer more to others, I’m also trying to receive and offer to myself.

These past few weeks, I’ve also become aware that I’m approaching or perhaps have already reached what is likely the halfway point of the portion of my life that I live in Bryan/College Station, TX. There’s a feeling of accomplishment in having come this far, but it also is a tad daunting that the time I have remaining about equals the time that I’ve already spent. And with this remaining time, I’m expected to propose and collect and analyze data for a dissertation and to apply and interview for internships? I feel that I’m losing my academic excuses of, “Oh, I’m only a first year, a second year.” But I also fear that I’m losing my excuses to myself, “Oh, I’ve only lived here a year, year and a half, of course I don’t have the friends I like, of course I don’t feel more at home here than I do yet, give it more time, dear one.” But I have accomplished a lot in my short time here, experienced many new things, grown and developed in a myriad of ways, and am becoming more mature in some ways, and feel much more at home, certainly than I did last summer. Again, I’m tempted to judge myself, to judge my life, and where I should be, what I should have learned, what I should have accomplished. But I am where I am, and I’m meant to be here, and I will be further along in this journey when it’s time for me to be there. I like the me that’s 24 and one month. I like the me that has lived in BCS for not quiet two years. In some ways, it’s not the life that I hoped for at this stage, but in some ways, it’s better than I imagined. And it’s just as it should be.