The Art of Losing My Mind

I just found an article that ran several years ago in the London Telegraph entitled “The Man Who Keeps Falling In Love With His Wife.” Here are the basics of this crazy love story: a married man contracts a virus that destroys the hippocampus, the memory center of his brain. He is a perpetual amnesiac with a memory span of seven to thirty seconds, although his considerable intelligence is preserved. He still recognizes his wife and knows he’s married to her, although as with all other events, he has no memory of the ceremony. Every time he sees her enter the room is occasion for a tearful, clinging reunion scene, even if she only left for a moment.

She is heartbroken by all he has lost, and after several years she decides to get on with her life. She arranges for him to receive the best of care, then divorces him and moves to another country. Still, she cares about him and wants to see him. On one visit, she realizes she’s missed him so much that she feels like a tearful, clinging reunion. Somewhat after that, on a phone call to a friend one night (as she parenthetically mentions in her recounting of events) she finds God. She remarries her husband, and the ceremony is an amazing moment for both of them, although it’s a moment he cannot keep in his mind. He continues to live apart from her, under caretakers, but yearns constantly for a visit from her. “Come at dawn,” he urges, even as she’s just left. “Come at the speed of light.”

What I love about this story is that it’s a dramatic reflection of a universal (or at least very common) story, which it also completely transcends. Many of us will live long enough to lose our memories, to a smaller or greater degree depending on heredity and other factors that are less well understood. This will not be a comfortable process. For those of us who have put great stock in our mental processes and our intellectual prowess, it will be even less comfortable. I consider this very good for me to reflect on after having made the decision to go to graduate school: learning is a good thing, but it is a good thing that ultimately, I probably won’t be able to keep.

But there is something more permanent, something that’s worth trying to possess. Having lost his memory completely, this man’s life was not a waste, among other things because of his great love for his wife. His effusive, gregarious affection for her is evident throughout every interaction with her cited in the article. Though his wife says he has not been immune from bouts of rage and frustration over his condition, when speaking of her he seems self-forgetful, not at all self-pitying, simply because he can be in her presence and enjoy her. Though their marriage lacks much and will always carry an element of loss, in the important ways it is immensely healthy and vital.

I can only hope that, should the time come when I lose my mind, the fragile consciousness on which I’ve pinned so many hopes, that love would shine through so brightly for me. There’s a strong streak of dementia in my family, and an even stronger one of mental illness of many types, including schizophrenia. I’m completely aware that only by the grace of God and the mysterious balance of brain chemistry does my reality hold together. And yet, I know that if my spirit is strong, none of these things would be able to diminish it. I, too, could be known for my love, a love capable of shining through disease and decline and decay. It’s something to which I hope I can be wise enough to aspire.

Scripture speaks of “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” May my continual desire be for the only beauty, intelligence, accomplishment that lasts: compassionate love. Without it, my greatest achievement wasn’t worth the effort. With it, even the most tragic thing that happens to me holds the promise of immense worth.

The Craziest Career Choice Ever

Well, to make a long story incredibly short, I am going to graduate school this fall by the pure, pure grace of God. It wasn’t an easy decision, it didn’t go at all as planned, but I learned a lot along the way and I trust that things worked out exactly as they should.

And of course, people want to know what I’m going to do with my Master’s in Biblical Languages (assuming God’s grace gets me that far).

“After that I plan to go for a PhD,” I say. “I want to be a professor. You know. Teach.”

And at that point, they give me that look of mixed admiration and pity, like You poor sweet thing.

I know.

If – if! – everything in the next several years goes according to plan, those will be several years in which I give up the chance to, you know, make money. I’m going to go through rigorous tests, face stressful deadlines, write the longest thing I’ve ever written, and learn how to guide impressionable students. And then I’m going to get spit out into a job market that’s getting tougher all the time.

And that’s just the practical side! There will be other tests, far more important than the academic ones: tests of my character, my relationships, my determination, my love for what I am doing. I will need so much prayer and humility to get through.

And even should I make it out alive, the tests will go on. Scripture says, “Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, for you know that we who teach will be judged more severely.” And Jesus, though he was himself called Rabbi, had many negative things to say to the “teachers of the law” who didn’t follow their own teachings, who loved the honor their positions brought more than serving the people they taught.

I know what you’re probably thinking, and yes, I am crazy.

The only hope now is for me to become the right kind of crazy: crazy for the love that breaks chains, shoots light into darkness, turns lives upside down in the best way. Crazy like Someone who would weep and bleed and embrace and feast and live and die for the sake of those he loved.

Please pray for me, that I would be the right kind of crazy. And if you want, I will pray for you too.

We Are the Story Retold

Have your nose in a book

(Photo credit: fmgbain)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known how to live life as someone other than myself. For much of my childhood, it was an effective and unobtrusive means of escape.

In first grade, too shy to join in games of tetherball or foursquare, too scared to flip my body in perpetual motion around slippery metal jungle gym bars, I became Ramona Quimby. I had read all the Ramona books over and over to the point that I could flawlessly narrate my life in third-person limited. While others screamed and laughed with their friends, I sat under the desert schoolyard’s lone tree, softly murmuring a carefully edited and stylized version of my day, merged with a few exotic details of Ramona’s Oregonian existence.

I escaped chicken pox that summer by pretending to be Pippi Longstocking the entire time. My teacher heard my family was calling off our summer trip to Disneyland (my first and, as it turned out, last opportunity to go) and lent me a big box of books, Pippi’s eponymous novel among them. As my illness dragged on, I drove my mother nuts by insisting she call me Pippi, braid my hair every day, and let me sleep with my head at the foot of the bed (she harbored a nagging fear I’d suffocate under the covers).

Later in grade school, like so many girls, I became Harriet the Spy. I couldn’t tell you why her persona in particular is so addictive, but I lived her life for years. I kept a journal with a faded blue cover in which I recorded true stories of my life, interspersed with episodes from the book which I wrote out word for word from memory. My desire to be her is pretty comical in retrospect, since our lives could hardly have been more different. Harriet attended private school begrudgingly, came home to a house with a cook and a largely superfluous nanny, and then shot back out again to soak up and analyze the bustle of New York City. Meanwhile, public school was my refuge from a sometimes very unstable home life, and we lived so far into the untamed desert that I literally had no one to spy on. Our nearest neighbor lived at least a quarter of a mile away, and beyond that, I could barely make out cars pulling up in front of distant houses, even when I used my binoculars.

Another lonely summer, I discovered Anne of Green Gables, and despite being a lifelong brunette I made my home in her carrot-haired head. I kept another journal in her persona, romanticizing events like my parents’ separation and my mother’s stint in rehab just as Anne bestowed magic on her prosaic farm life.

As an adult, my need for escape has lessened, but I still catch my thoughts slipping into the style of an author I’ve been reading. My internal monologue can come in clipped, powerful Hemingway sentences or string clauses together in Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness style. In a real sense, you could still say that I am what I read.

The book I’ve read most consistently over the last few years is the Bible. In the next month or so, I will have read the whole thing through  for the third time. My daily reading of Scripture is a recent development. I still have an old New International Version I got free from Campus Crusade for Christ shortly before my conversion, and while the spine is taped and re-taped back together, the cover frayed, the pages bent, this doesn’t necessarily mean I read it much while in college. Its wear and tear is mainly the mark of travel; I took the cheap paperback back and forth with me on cross-country flights home for holidays, even on overseas journeys, but I rarely cracked the cover, apparently seeing it as more of a good luck charm than a good read.

I still don’t find daily Scripture reading easy, particularly in dense parts of Leviticus or Revelations. Reading along with others has been helpful, as has breaking the task down day by day with a ready-made Bible reading plan, of which there are many. But I think I’ve also really been helped by my long habit of entering the story, letting it affect the way I think and see the world.

This is more difficult with the Bible than with other books, and there are two reasons why. First, sometimes it’s too strange. It’s hard for me to identify with people from another culture, time, and place, and although a good commentary can provide much-needed background, it takes a lot of study to come close to savoring the authentic flavor of the text as its first audiences did. Second, sometimes it’s too familiar. Particularly in the Gospels, sometimes the words have already echoed in our cultural consciousness so long that they’ve become mere background noise. How can I recapture the shock value, for instance, of these words ringing out for the very first time: “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone”?

In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, imaginatively entering the stories of Scripture is encouraged as a way of digging deep into the text and writing it on your heart. You’re invited to imagine yourself standing there with Jesus, hear his challenging words afresh, watch his tender and decisive actions, join the throng in following him. And this process is far from a narcissistic, me-first approach to Scripture. On the contrary, you can learn from it how best to tell the great Story to others, to translate it into their language, to “become all things to all people” as St. Paul did. More than that, if you go deep enough, it can be a way to acquire “the mind of Christ.”

This is my reason for writing what I’ve been calling stories retold. By retelling these narratives, I don’t seek to appropriate them, but rather to find an imaginative place within them, their overlap with my own life. Perhaps you’ll want to come with me as I take a fresh look at old words or step into another time. Perhaps you can write your own retelling, flavored with the lessons unique to your life. In this way, entering the story becomes not an escape route, but an invitation to live more fully.

Stop. Prayer time.

I did have a post for today, but when I went to post it this morning I saw all my Facebook friends from the Boston area reassuring us all they were safe. In light of all that’s happened this week, I think it’s time for a virtual moment of silence for the victims (and perpetrators) of violence worldwide. And that’s all of us in one way or another. May we realize it, and may we choose to change the cycle.

I’m posting the Litany of Nonviolence in its entirety of this time. Thank you, Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Provident God,
aware of our own brokenness,
we ask the gift of courage
to identify how and where we are in need of conversion
in order to live in solidarity with all Earth’s people.

Deliver us from the violence of superiority and disdain.
Grant us the desire, and the humility,
to listen with special care to those
whose experiences and attitudes are different from our own.

Deliver us from the violence of greed and privilege.
Grant us the desire, and the will, to live simply
so others may have their just share of Earth’s resources.

Deliver us from the silence
that gives consent to abuse, war and evil.
Grant us the desire, and the courage,
to risk speaking and acting for the common good.

Deliver us from the violence
of irreverence, exploitation and control.
Grant us the desire, and the strength,
to act responsibly within the cycle of creation.

God of love, mercy and justice,
acknowledging our complicity
in those attitudes, action and words which perpetuate violence,
we beg the grace of non-violent hearts.
Amen.

Moshi Moshi, Jesus Desu: Approval Addiction Again

SORRY, WRONG NUMBER!

(Photo credit: marc falardeau)

“I think you need some Jesus time,” my partner told me more than once this week. When someone who usually rolls her eyes affectionately when you start chattering on about Jesus again says a thing like that, you know it’s true.

Earlier I wrote about my struggles with what I’ve been calling approval addiction, and several people followed up with me to say, “Wow, I really identify with this, and I really like that prayer you posted.” It’s something I’m really glad I brought into the light because it seemed freeing to people to have someone else admit they were wrestling with a similar problem. And in that spirit, I have to tell you, fellow members of Approval Addicts Anonymous, that I fell off the wagon big time this week.

I prayed at the end of Lent, Oh Jesus, grant that I may desire that others be chosen and I be set aside. And recently, I got a chance to test that out. Right before Ash Wednesday I’d sent in my application to go back to school to study Biblical languages. Nerdy, I know. And nerd that I am, I was also hoping to win a big merit scholarship so I wouldn’t have to completely mortgage my family’s future to pursue my dream of being a Bible scholar.

I got accepted, but last week I found out I didn’t get the scholarship I’d hoped for. Someone else was chosen.

Now, regardless of the practical implications of this (and I’m still not sure whether I’ll decide to go back to school or not), there’s a spiritual component as well. I’m so tempted to succumb to the pain of having failed at something I wanted so much and tried so hard to get and to let that pain justify dejection and destructive behavior. I’ve been struggling with that, and am still struggling. More than anything else, it’s a struggle to see my life as it really is. A struggle to see myself as worthy, as beloved, no matter whether I get awards or ego strokes. Here in the middle of my story there is much darkness and uncertainty, but I have the ultimate spoiler alert: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Just before Easter, I checked out the first book I’d ever read by Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging. Here is a man who knew exactly what the addictive cycle was about, who dedicated his life to trying to get out and help others get out. He called his inner addict the “impostor,” and his works candidly detail his own attempts to find freedom from addiction, both to alcohol and to adulation. The point of all his writings was this: if we can’t accept ourselves for who we really are, we can’t really be ourselves with God, and we can’t really accept the love God has for us.

A lot of us Western Christians seem to have problems with this. Henri Nouwen wrote, “Being the Beloved is the core truth of our spiritual existence.” Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz that one of the things he prays the most for his friends is that they will be able to “receive love.” It’s what I pray for too, a lot: “that [we], being rooted and established in love,may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

I mean, wouldn’t that solve my insecurities once and for all – if I really knew, felt, experienced the radical truth of that love? Sometimes it’s easier to feel beloved than other times, but it’s true every day. And when I can be vulnerable with other people and with God, God’s strength fits perfectly into my weakness. They were made for each other.

It’s one thing to write these words and know that they’re true, and it’s something else entirely to remember them when I’m trying to breathe through that pervasive feeling of failure that somehow also hurts physically, that seems so much more real, concrete, and immediate. But when it comes to the spiritual life, that’s where rubber meets road. I have to learn to carry these truths with me, to cling to the reality of the risen Christ for dear life, to count everything else as worthless alongside the unbelievable truth of how he has loved me.

Thank God for my partner, who sees the worst sides of me at times like this but can still laugh and encourage me to do so too. She put a picture on our computer desktop of a long-haired, bearded man answering the phone, with the caption: “Moshi moshi – Jesus desu” (translated: Hello, it’s Jesus). And seeing it, I smile and breathe a little deeper and try to remember to listen for that call, the call to drop whatever I thought was so important and follow him.

Eucharisto: The Paradox of Service

Thank you

(Photo credit: Avard Woolaver)

The year is 2005. I am on Sophocles Street, in Omonia, the one neighborhood in Athens I have been told to stay out of. I am behind the counter of the Helping Hands soup kitchen, serving soup, two-handed, clumsy. I serve men and women (mostly men) from all over the world (mostly Eastern Europe and the Middle East). They come from cities I can’t pronounce and hardships I can’t imagine. They’re refugees. Some are homeless. Others are trying desperately to support a wife and kids.

I didn’t make the soup. I just showed up, prayed a prayer with everyone, got ready to dish up and smile. I come on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the time I study Greek, eat, visit ruins, enjoy myself. I’m ridiculously lucky to be here, graced with dozens of scholarships, including a $5,000 one that paid for food and plane fare. The semester’s almost over, and soon I’ll be home.

I hand someone a bowl of soup. He meets my eyes. (Not everyone does. Many avoid eye contact, presumably out of politeness or piety.) “Eucharisto,” he says. The Greek word for thank you, one of those that hasn’t changed since ancient times. It’s a beautiful word, and one I don’t get to use very often. Greeks are informal. I’m told I’ll fit in better if I’m less polite. My teachers tell me to say “thelo” (I want) instead of “tha ethela” (I would like) when ordering food, for example. It’s hard for me to do it. I keep wanting to smile at people I pass on the streets of Athens, even though I get no response from stranger after hardened stranger.

My Greek friend, Anna, is behind the counter with me. She’s decided my rotten Greek, after 3 months, is still good enough to show I’m trying. Anna doesn’t fit in in Greece either; she’s from an evangelical Christian family, while almost all Greeks are Orthodox. A big reason why we’re friends is because I get that. Of course, she doesn’t get the degree to which I feel like an outsider. We can’t talk about anything too deep, since her English is hardly better than my Greek. But somehow she sensed my sympathy, and we use our broken words to play at friendship in English and Greek, walking in the park, getting coffee together.

Having a Greek friend is a gift, too. My teachers are shocked that I’ve managed to befriend a Greek woman – they apparently tend to see American girls as rivals for Greek men. And as you might guess, the culture in general is hard to break into. The only other Greeks who ever talk to me are my teachers, random yiayias who take pity on me as I wander around Pangrati, obviously lost, and that old man at a bus station who ranted to me about American politics (as I gathered, barely).

Back to the man with the soup, with a young face lined by suffering, whose dark eyes are looking into mine. Since my Greek is not so good and I’ve been discouraged from practicing niceties, I don’t know “you’re welcome.” I try to think of a reply for this man. What comes out is an echo: “Eucharisto.” He smiles, takes his bowl, the sad eyes lightening for a second. It feels good in my mouth. I keep on saying it.  The refugees don’t notice it’s a strange response because their Greek is not so good either. Clearly they are just glad to hear a kind word, whatever it is.

After a few repetitions of this, Anna turns to me, ready to help with my Greek yet again. “You don’t have to say thank you to them,” she tells me pointedly. “They are thanking you.”

“I know.” My hands are full with a bowl of soup. My heart is full with gifts. My mouth is full with a strange, beautiful language. How can I explain this to her, how full I feel just being here, receiving a smile from this stranger? The gifts unfold outward in my mind: soup, smile, eyes, friend, Sophocles Street, Omonia, Athens, plane ticket, life, hope, Christ.

“I just want to,” is all I can say. I turn back to handing out bowls, not even able to comprehend how blessed I am to be there.  How did it happen? All the gifts are just that. I don’t deserve all this. Anyone can serve soup.

Years later, I have forgotten most of the modern Greek I learned, but the word “eucharisto” is still my favorite.  It’s common there, like pennies on the sidewalk, used every day, the word that holds the word that speaks the sacrifice that saved me.  And even that word, as Ann Voskamp pointed out, holds the words for “grace” and “joy.” “I am full of grace” is what it means. As a Christian, I say grace, give thanks, before meals to remember that all is gift and all is given to be shared, to remember Jesus as we do what he did: thank God for gifts and hold them out to those around us, and remember that those around us are a gift to us too.

May my stumbling tongue always know this beautiful and humble word. May it be tattooed on my heart, the palms of my hands. I say it to you too, for reading these words. Eucharisto.

Silence Is So Accurate: Knowing God

No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953, 115 cm × 92 cm (...

No. 61 (Rust and Blue), Mark Rothko (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

I struggle with all these words. How can I write about Someone who defies definition, whose best description is the mysterious “I AM WHO I AM”? What does that moniker point to if not mystery? How do I know if I see clearly in the glass or just what I’ve been taught to see?

I have an analytical mind, addicted to judgment and classification. I see a created thing, a part of nature or art, and I ask myself, “What does this mean? What is it for? What does it offer, and should I accept or reject? Is it good, bad, or best? Do I even have time for all this?”

This holding at arms length and squinting is bad enough for created things, much less Creator. God calls me to something different: a relationship. A place beyond judgment or comparison where I can simply be who I am and God can be who God is. The call is always so close, but so quiet that I can often only hear it in silence.

Some rare creations can slip through the defenses of my mind, evade all lines of questioning. All in a flash, I see them as they are, or as close as my clouded eyes can see. They speak to me like a dream, wake me up and make me see the world primal, tender, untaught and open. To me, this is what makes great art.

The late works of Mark Rothko are this for me. When they were on exhibit in my city, I would go visit them almost weekly, just to sit with them like friends, to linger my gaze on beloved details like with a loved one fast asleep. Reproductions can’t do justice to their life-sized worlds of subtle color and delicate, reverent brushstrokes, seeming smudged and uneven, but nonetheless right. Wandering from one painting to another, this one sunrise-colored, another one big green-blue shadow, I couldn’t help thinking the artist looked at these paintings with wordless, unmixed love. Some might dismiss his creations as unworthy of a second glance. He saw each one different, perfect, complete.

And as I looked, God whispered, “This is how I see you.”

This writing about God stuff is impossible. And yet, for you, I want to try. Anyway, God gave me this mind, this quixotic desire to describe. But I need to remember this always: The Good News is not the newspaper. It is the ultimate work of art, unwrapping my logic to ravish my heart.

As Rothko said when asked for an artist’s statement, “Silence is so accurate.”

Liturgy of the Business Hours: Cultivating Prayer in the Workplace

Calvary Chapel Prayer Line

(Photo credit: offstandard)

Did you know I’ve written most of my posts to date from my cubicle on lunch breaks? It’s true! I imagine other bloggers typing away in their little writing nooks or cozy home offices, and then I look around at the colorless cubicle maze around me, and I laugh.

Similarly, I took a workshop on Centering Prayer once that emphasized having your own prayer space, preferably with your own prayer chair. The workshop leader explained that this was important because it would condition your body to associate prayer with being in that space. Also, you could keep all your little prayer accessories there: calming music, aromatherapy candles, your journal... Yeah, I live in a studio apartment with another person and a cat. We don’t have special spaces or chairs. We count ourselves lucky when we’re not elbowing each other in the face.

When it comes to prayer, I can’t afford to wait for a special time or place. I have to work it into my everyday life, like my commute. I’ve actually found the office environment is quite conducive to prayer. At my office, as an hourly employee, I have a very regimented schedule: mid-morning break, lunch hour, mid-afternoon break. It’s practically setting me up to pray the Divine Office (no pun intended)! If you are into that, I recommend keeping Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours or the fantastic Common Prayer: Pocket Edition at your desk. But if you’d prefer something a little less formal, here are a few ideas for building a habit of prayer in the workplace.

  • Create a prayer for the start of each workday to remind yourself why you’re at this job (whether it’s your life’s calling, a way to brighten people’s days a bit, or just what you do to support the people and/or activities that are really important to you). Remind yourself there are really no divisions between secular and sacred.
  • Bring your favorite devotional or other inspirational book to read on breaks. I find this really helps my perspective with those annoying customers.
  • Pick a favorite prayer, a selection from Scripture, a psalm, or a quote you love and read it throughout the day on every break. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to start memorizing it this way, and then you will have it in your mind whenever you need inspiration.
  • If your office provides a daily newspaper, read it prayerfully, with an eye to those who are suffering injustice and how you can help.
  • At lunch, bring enough food to share, and make your meal a special experience for your coworkers. Nothing more sacramental than that!
  • Take a walk around the building and pray for all those who work there. Or go outside and find some nature (even if it’s just that one tree in the parking lot) and pray in thankfulness for it.
  • If you can find a quiet, private place to meditate, go for it!

These are just a few possibilities, but basically, don’t wait until you have that perfect, comfy prayer chair or an uninterrupted hour to turn your mind and spirit to the things that matter more than paper-pushing. Seek significance every single day. Know that all your actions matter. Most of all, when you feel like a cog in the corporate machine, take time to remember that you are deeply loved.

Shift of the Seasons

Happy Easter!

(Photo credit: mystuart)

Growing up in Arizona, I barely knew seasons. Sure, the leaves flew down from what trees there were in the fall. Winters were mild and sunny; snow capped the mountains but rarely reached us down in the desert valley. Spring burst forth in March, the heat slowly climbing to an intensity that melted car-strewn crayons as we neared the height of summer, little changing otherwise. Aside from a short time in late summer when blue-gray, swollen clouds drowned our world for a few hours in the afternoon, most every day shared the same forecast: sunny.

I moved to the Midwest for college and I walked around in awe, watching the world self-destruct and resurrect in the space of a year. Oh, sure, I’d traveled to places with seasons before, but it was something else to live in it for years, slowly come to understand the rhythm, the smells and shifts in the wind that signalled coming changes. I came to love the highs and lows and the smorgasbord of experiences they offered. I scooped fresh white from the backyard in winter in a big steel bowl and mixed it with sweetened condensed milk to make snow ice cream. I thrilled to watch the first buds burst forth on trees, the whole world straining toward newness. I hunted fireflies in the lingering heat of humid, sweltering days, braved a chill wind under leafy canopies of scarlet and gold. Seasons hit a sweet spot for me, for my nature that craves both change and comfort.

The downside to seasons, though, is that sometimes you feel stuck in the past, either that or you yearn for change too early (usually in my case wanting spring to mean sunshine in March, like back in the desert). Either way, it can be hard to embrace the moment, feeling underdressed or overdressed and definitely out of place.

This year in my city, Easter mirrored the weather, that Sunday marking the day darkness and rain started to give way to tulips and t-shirt weather. I wasn’t expecting the sun to break through so early. Also, it’s taking me some time to come out of Lenten Mind this year, start feasting instead of fasting. I got some big news during Holy Week, some of it hope-feeding and some of it heartbreaking. And I feel like I’m still digesting, in the middle, one foot still in the desert.

That’s why I’m glad Easter is not just a day, but a season. In the Liturgical Calendar, Eastertide lasts for a full fifty days until the holiday of Pentecost (literally “fiftieth” in the Greek). So I have some time to get in the spirit, discover what is speaking resurrection joy into my life right now. And of course, Easter joy is with me every day, in every season. It’s the day that makes every other day make sense, like the sun that brings light to every day, no matter what time of year it is. There will be plenty of time for me to experience the joys of Easter, turn my face to the sunlight and keep on growing toward it.

How are you experiencing the change in seasons?