So they’re laughing at our clothes..and it’s barely been a decade.

Two of our lovely Wesley girls going through some of my scrapbooks from college as they are sitting in my office right now.  They are laughing at our fashion (which I don’t think was all that different) and our giant computers and the craziness of what they remember of Y2K. 

Times have changed a lot.  Hello facebook, twitter, blogs, and all of the other trends in fashion, entertainment, etc.  But in many ways – things haven’t changed all that much.  College students still have awesomely awesome days when they run in jumping up and down about new friends or finding the right major or studying abroad or joining a sorority or getting that internship or part-time job they’ve been working for or at Winthrop especially finding the right guy or girl.  College students also have craptacular days as well.  Especially with facebook statuses, you can see the low points and even in the midst of our still lack of air conditioner at this point, they’re still choosing to hang out here even on the bad days.

I loved my college experience here.  There were good days and bad….and according to them some bad hair and fashion choices, but it was a time of discovery and growth and awakening like no other.  This time in young adulthood is so critical in this important work of figuring out self and world and community and faith.  There was a quote I saw the other day from Keating saying, “‘Discovery’ is usually about something that is outside us. ‘Awakening’ is about something that is inside us-that is already there.”

I like that.  Isn’t that’s what our journey through life is.  This process of awakening to all that is inside of us and discovering the possibilities that await us in the world.  There is a world of possibilities both for us to discover and awaken to.  Y’all know that famous and oft quoted saying by Harold Whitman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Awaken to what is inside you – to the God given passions and gifts and graces inside of you and let the world catch that light!

My parents brought me a box of “memory stuff” as I had written on the box, from my grandparent’s house on Saturday and in looking through it I found some hilarious stuff – a time capsule that some of us made in college – talk about random, a mixed cd, a poem I wrote as an “Ode to Waffle House” in college.  Talk about trip down memory lane.  As I listened to the cd in the car yesterday, circa 1999 – it was back when napster was big and random songs abounded – I thought about this process of awakening and discovery and how it’s not just something for young adults or teenagers or college students.

This awakening and discovery is a lifelong process that is something we all can relate to.  You’re never too old or too young to figure out what your life’s passion is or what this part of your life’s passion is.  We’re never completely lost or boxed in or corralled past the point of being able to open ourselves anew to the possibilities before us.  It’s not always easy work and it’s often dirty and hard-thinking work, but it’s worth it.

So yes these scrapbooks and these boxes of “junk” or “treasure” you make the pick – they’re funny and embarassing and they show someone trying to discover who she is from movie tickets to newspaper articles to pictures to that completely random time capsule.  But I am thankful for the ride.  For the good days and the bad days, for the awakenings and discoveries both challenging and freeing, for the friends and confidantes and family not just by blood but by life, that have traveled through.

My hope for myself, for my students, and for each of us is that we continue to awaken, we continue to discover, we continue to ask the Spirit of God to dwell within in and among us as we see both the absolutely ordinary and the completely radical with possibilities open for each of us.

To show you how random we were…some of the music….Hansen’s MmmmBop of course and Hello World by Belle Perez – very important when Felicity cut off her hair after breaking up with Ben.

You gotta love Des’ree’s You Gotta Be…

No Negative is Positive

So that’s what the doctor said today.  No negative change is positive news.  Mike and I went to see Dr. Smith today and he showed us the scans.  I like to have visuals so I’m glad he showed them to us.  There’s still a bright part that could be scar tissue, swelling or still some of the tumor – but as Mike said – there’s no new players in the band.  Ie. there are no new negative things.  So that is good!

Mike started asking a lot of questions in typical deep voice, serious form and Dr. Smith responded, “Right…you’re the questions guy.”  That was funny.  He asked why the image still looked like that with like a hole there and he said that I would never have another normal looking brain MRI again.  The brain doesn’t grow back and the tumor was in part of the brain matter so therefore some of it is gone.  Very little though.  Ridiculously I was taking it very personally that Mike was talking about my brain and part of it not being there even though I know I’m still me and I’m okay.  Anyway, the funniest thing of the afternoon – Mike says well we only use a small percentage of our brains anyway, and Dr. Smith says something along the lines of well she didn’t really need that part anyway.  Yay!

Mike is excited by all of this news!  No negative change is a positive report.  We’ll keep doing MRI’s every 3 months for awhile and we’ll see what happens.  Dad on the phone earlier asked what could have made the news perfect?  Well that my brain is normal of course.  That it’s not always going to look like that on an MRI.  That there’s no bright smudgy line that’s still there.

But hey – I’ll take “No negative is positive” any day of the week.  This paired with some folks dropping off some paper towels as donations to Wesley – have made the day sunny again – and even in my un-air conditioned building – that is good.

It’s been hopping

If I’m ever not blogging it’s because I’m swamped or maybe even more than I’d like to admit – I’m afraid to “voice” something.  A friend of mine who I love commented on my facebook a few weeks ago when she heard about the campus ministry funding cut – something along the lines of “feeling like Job lately?”

Don’t want to go there because I’m not asking for any other challenges headed this way, but after going to Presbyterian’s Ballantyne office for the MRI yesterday I returned to Wesley to find that our air conditioner has officially passed on to the other side.  When there’s an explosion and smoke and then the awesomely amazing Adams Services guy shows you wires burned in two and half the thing on the inside is black and no fans are moving – that’s not a good sign.

It’s an even worse feeling when he has to bring in the “big guns,” ie. the owner of the company to give me the bad news that it’s good and gone and they can’t rig it up any other way.  The thing worked hard for us so I am thankful for that.  I’m also thankful that it’s not too hot so far today and no one tell the Wesley students that there won’t be a/c tonight – we’ll make do and I want them to still come!

I couldn’t sleep for a long time last night trying to figure out where in the world we’re going to get $8,000-$11,000 for an air conditioner and even more importantly for the winter – the heat pump so that it’s not just straight up gas heat.  I looked up grants and wow that us.gov sight is a monstrosity of crazy info.  I know that somehow, someway we’ll come up with the money to make this happen.  Somehow we always do and I know that God and the people that support this ministry are faithful.

For the past two days Mike has been recording with Tom Conlon in the worship/fellowship room at Wesley.  Many have said this room’s acoustics are like magic and even without AC, the magic room came through.  In walking up to the building this morning and rolling up the trash cans and recycle bins I began to ask myself why do I care about this building so much?  Why do I care about this space?  In the sceme of things what does it really matter?  When there’s bills to pay and things to repair – what stops us from just chucking it all?

My answer is both simple and sincere.  There is magic that happens here.  Tears are rolling down my face just thinking about it which makes me either really sappy or beyond emotional.  This is not a Harry Potter kind of magic but one that happens when community is formed and shaped and grows and changes and is found.  This building is so much more than just a building to me because both as a student and as a campus minister I have witnessed the powerful things that have happened here.  We have shared much laughter and some tears, we have shared in worship and I have seen someone’s call to ministry unfold at an Ash Wednesday service, we have cooked dinner as family and have hung out as friends.  This is part of what the students mean when they talk about Wesley being a home away from home. 

Yesterday after getting back from the MRI I talked to a student who has been coming here for 2 and a half years to use the prayer room several times a week.  He’s only been to one Wesley night but he comes and uses the prayer room as often as he can.  Yesterday he stopped me in the hall and said thank you for us providing this space for him and for people just to come and be.

I think about the student groups and the gospel choirs and the other campus ministries that use this place and how this building and the things that it stands for and witnesses to is greater than we know.  Yes it is just a building – with windows that aren’t the greatest, an exterior paint job that needs some help, and a vacant lot that is probably one of the worst parking lots imaginable – but it is ours and it is home to both the sacred and the sacrilege – the holy and the profane – the mysterious divine and the completely human.

So we’re going to somehow make this work.  Somehow.  By the grace of God and a lot of prayer and hopefully some creative solutions.

Today at 1:15 pm we’ll go to the neurologist and see what’s up.  Do I think a tumor has grown back?  Nope.  Was I very tempted to ask the MRI folks yesterday?  Heck yes.  Am I apprehensive?  Sure.

Ann Curry tweeted this this morning – “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross

The only way I see this beauty is through the eyes of the community that surrounds us.  We get to the other side by the grace of God, the One who sustains us, and those that God has joined with us on this journey.  As I wait and hear what’s up today and as I begin trying to figure out that ever lovely money question for air conditioners and programming and all that Wesley jazz – I am thankful for the arms that cradle each of us in both the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the joy and the loss.

I’ll leave you with a song that Tom Conlon played at Wesley a few weeks ago.  Love this song.  It’s called “Leaning”…

Here’s his “Sacred Things”