Thursday, December 16, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
“He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” – John 13:5
During my second summer on staff at Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp, our Wednesday night worship included a foot washing modeled after the story in John 13. Staff members took turns washing campers’ feet at a basin on the floor near a makeshift altar. The ceremony was at once beautiful and bizarre for both the spectator and the participant. Each week, kids confirmed that it was an incredible experience for them, and yet so foreign. Their camp counselor washed their feet! They could identify with the awkwardness felt by Jesus’ disciples as Jesus sat on the floor before them. Maybe campers could begin to see the staff as Jesus’ presence in their lives.
The foot washing is one of my favorite stories. Jesus demonstrates so much love, and as usual, his method catches his disciples completely off-guard. As we know, foot washing was a rather mundane act in Jesus’ time; his disciples were not shocked by the gesture, but by the person who offered it. I think today that’s akin to throwing a dinner party in Jesus’ honor, only to have our Lord jump up from the table and wash the dishes. His disciples would be surprised and probably embarrassed; Peter would say, “No no, Jesus, let me get that, you sit down.” We would feel both blessed and confused, but it wouldn’t cause the discomfort we imagine when we think of Jesus touching our tired, dirty feet. Often, in our foot washing at camp, kids wouldn’t participate because of the insecurity they felt about their feet. If we translate the metaphor – if we teach kids to serve each other by washing each other’s dishes – the message is clear. In John 13:15, Jesus says, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” In a simple act of service, by scraping our plates, Jesus would show us how to love each other.
Many people, places, and events have shaped my own foot washing story. I was born on December 21, 1984, in
I was soon joined by a sister and two brothers – Courtney, now 23; Jeff, now 20; and Christian, who just turned 16. Courtney, my best friend and just 15 months my junior, studies social work at
Jeff and Christian were both born with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder on the autistic spectrum. Christian also has Down’s syndrome. He is non-verbal, and his disabilities manifest themselves in an aggressive behavioral disorder. Because of the care he requires, Christian now lives in a group home. Raising children with intellectual disabilities is overwhelmingly difficult, yet my parents took every measure to ensure that all four of us had typical childhoods. Because of this, and the time we’ve spent together in the trenches of stress, we’ve gotten the best of both worlds – normal-kid experiences, plus an emotional interconnectedness unparalleled by any family I know. It shimmers. We’ve united through our unique experience; we all take turns washing each other’s feet. Truly, honestly, our family bond has shaped me into the person I am today.
I was raised in Spirit of Joy. Our family worshiped every Sunday, and I was confirmed there in May 2000. Because there was no youth group at my church, the only time I engaged with other Lutheran kids was the week I spent at Sky Ranch every summer.
Camp made me feel alive. I loved my counselors. I loved sleeping in cabins and helping clean dishes. I loved singing songs at worship, overcoming my paralyzing fear of the high ropes course, and walking through the woods at night. I made friends from faraway states with whom I still keep in touch. Camp, although just six days long, set the stage for my whole year. It was like an intensive retreat where I was re-baptized into the body of believers, and for the 12 months that followed I could go there in my mind and be reaffirmed in my faith. But that was it for me; other than Sky Ranch, my faith was stagnant.
For much of high school and college, I had something like cotton brain. Looking back, I see how I puttered through life, putting minimal thought into major decisions. In school, for example, I always did my homework on time, but I rarely studied for exams. Few things truly affected me, with the distinct exception of my experience on staff at Sky Ranch. For five summers – as kitchen staff, then a Mountain School Instructor, then the ropes course coordinator, and finally as the community director – I delved into the experience. I read, and I thought, and I ran, and I asked questions, and I played guitar and stayed up late and woke up early and scrubbed the floor and swam in the river. God was in every ounce of it. I had my feet washed, and I washed those of my friends. Living, working and playing in community – especially a community of Lutherans – changed my life.
During my second summer at camp, Joel Abenth – my boss, the program director at Sky Ranch – asked me to facilitate the adult Bible study we held each morning for our pastors and sponsors. Since I had never participated in a Bible study, I hesitated, but Joel said he needed someone “who liked to drink coffee and talk about God,” and I definitely fit that bill. Despite my reluctance, I loved it. I relished the chance to pick the brains of both doctors of philosophy and
Through college, every Wednesday night, I taught confirmation to seven girls at Spirit of Joy – Catie, Courtney, Elke, Kayla, Olivia, Stacey and Tonya. Each week we spent a couple of hours together sitting on the floor of the sanctuary. Sometimes we’d plunge into the lesson, and sometimes we’d just talk about life, but no matter the topic I always felt better for the energy and love the girls committed to me. When one of them was struggling, we’d cry together; in equal measure, we celebrated each other’s triumphs. Over those four years, I was supposed to teach them about Martin Luther, but more often than not we were confronted with life lessons – divorce, suicide, even just bad grades. In the foot washing story, Jesus says, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Now I realize that by helping the girls work through these lessons, I was learning them myself.
My college experience was marked by unprecedented learning and personal growth. It was also fraught with stress, as I struggled through my chosen field of study. I declared a major in Biochemistry, intending to follow a path to medical school, but before long it became clear that science was not my forte. It seemed like no matter how hard I studied, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the material – big concepts or small. For years I felt disheartened. I pressured myself to persevere, but for most of school I barely had my head above water. I threw myself into areas where I could be successful – I volunteered; I worked a part-time job; I was the founding secretary of the Biochemistry Club and planned all of its functions. I put medical school out of my mind, and I implored God to please speak up and tell me what, exactly, I was supposed to do with my life.
At my graduation, having earned a degree I didn't feel I'd achieved and with very little idea of how to move forward, I decided to think more radically: I prayed harder, and started planning a solo trek through
To my great fortune, God is persistent. Because I was resisting, I think God started to say the same things in different ways, and finally I’m beginning to understand the message. Right now, I don’t feel a strong call to a particular ministry. I consider this a blessing, because I feel even more open to the needs of the whole church. I feel a call to seminary: I want to study theology and get a Master’s degree in Divinity. Looking ahead, I see myself teaching at the collegiate level. I am open to – and maybe even hopeful for –the change and flexibility of this plan. I think that Jesus, in his infinite wisdom and wacky sense of humor, led me down this meandering path specifically so that my busy mind had more time to process the glory of God’s great plan. I feel like Peter, and God is still saying, “Later you will understand.” I see seminary not as the “be all, end all,” but as the next in the series of steps that is God’s will for my life. Although the plan is vague, I am confident that God will point me in the right direction when the time comes.
Last fall, I flew to
By this point, I had plans to move to
My own plan pacified me for six months before I felt Jesus saying, “Unless I wash you, you won’t be part of what I’m doing.” The anxiety I felt thinking about returning to school became anxiety over not going back. So I read theology. I found myself in long “God conversations,” sometimes about the relationship between Jesus and Peter. My boss ensured I always had Sundays off – another external sign – and every week I drove the 49 miles to Good Shepherd in Glenwood Springs, the closest ELCA church to
This brings me here: 24 years old, ecstatic to be alive and truly blessed beyond all reason. My people – my family, whom I adore; my relatives; my wonderful and extensive network of friends and peers and colleagues – enrich my life to a greater degree than I ever thought possible. Between working, running regularly, and really exploring my surroundings (hiking, biking, skiing and lots of travel), I have created a life that fulfills me. Making myself happy, healthy, and financially independent has shown me that I’ll be able to do that wherever I end up. Looking back on my life, I see the path that led me here; looking forward, the path I see leads to seminary. My eyes are wide with anticipation, and I'm ready and excited to move forward.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
A friend of mine in college, JKM, spent his summers in Pagosa Springs as a raft guide and waiter at the local steakhouse. He used to joke about having to paddle fat tourists down the river, and then turn around and serve them huge steaks at night...thus shooting himself in the foot. I think my winter is sort of similar, except in reverse: I get to ski with kids all day and then turn around and babysit them at night. If I've done my first job well enough - and the kids are sufficiently wiped out from skiing - then my second one is a breeze.
This week we had a BILLION kids at the Treehouse. My friend IY is just like Mitch Hedberg, except still alive and with Cuban heritage. Together we taught 24 never-evers on Sunday, and it was awesome - we had that magic carpet running like an assembly line. I had to be at the Ute on Monday, but I had many of the same kids again Tuesday-Thursday, and they were a) well-behaved, b) really good skiers (I had them at Level 4+ by the time I was done on Thursday), and c) pretty funny. One of them fed me the line that is the title of this post. I'd forgotten how much FUN it is to teach skiing to these kids.
My bracket doesn't totally suck this year. Of course I'd picked Nova and Notre Dame to both go into the 3rd round, and NO one saw Murray State coming, but otherwise I'm faring much better than I have in recent years. I have Syracuse taking it all in one bracket - which is probably not going to happen - and Kentucky in the other. (I hate everything about Kansas.)
I always pray when I wake up in the morning. Lately it's been mostly: "Thank you for loving me even though I'm such a screwup. Please help me to not suck so much today, and to love other people as much as you love me."
Katie gets home today! She's been in Scotland for 11 days for a school spring break trip, and I am absolutely losing my mind without her. It's almost embarrassing how often I've texted/FBed her even though I know she can't respond and won't get any of my messages until she's back on American soil. On a typical day, we talk about every two and a half hours, MAX. I can't cope right now.
Chaco makes dog leashes now! I mean, why wouldn't they? That's two of my favorite things in one - yellow labs and quality webbing.
So my friend ES works at the Nastar race course at Snowmass. There are big shacks at the top and bottom of the course, and they're heated, so he keeps his ski boots there overnight. He told me this story: The other day, at the start of his shift, he put his ski boots on. One boot felt weird, so he tried to ignore it, but after a moment he somehow came to the conclusion that there was a MOUSE in his boot! He called a couple of kids over to him - they were in ski school and about to race - and said, "Watch this!" and took his boot off and dumped it over. All three of them watched a terrified little mouse go sprinting across the snow toward the trees. :)
Happy Vernal Equinox!
Monday, March 8, 2010
This is by far this week's best PostSecret:
I love the results that show up when you Google my name. (Can I say that without sounding like a total narcissist? It's my blog...I guess I can say whatever I want.) It's an accurate, relatively concise portrayal of my online life. Twitter, Facebook, and this blog are there; so are my race results (everything from running to uphill races to erg sprints at CU), the CSU Biochemistry Department, and the activity of my friends. I'm not embarrassed by any of it.
Last night Courto and I had one of those only-because-we're-sisters moments, just posting and reposting the lines from one of our favorite movies on her Facebook wall. I miss her. I really hope she gets to come visit me next week.
Wednesday afternoon, it was so nice outside that I let my Capilene dry in the sunshine on my porch:
It looked cooler in person.
My propensity to buy an artist's music correlates directly with what kind of person I perceive him or her to be. Like, I want John Mayer's new album SO badly, but he has turned into such an awful individual that I won't spend money on it. Instead, KD is burning it for me. Barefoot Truth, on the other hand - and/or the Avett Brothers - are totally worth the money. Why support someone's lack of character?
Quentin Tarantino is a freakin' weirdo.
This bottle of wine was amazing:
I think all pinot noirs are good, but this one was ridiculous.
I'm beginning to love Anne Lamott the way I loved Orlando Bloom back when I was in high school, except in a non-crush sort of way, which is to say: I loooove her. I love the things she says and the things she's involved in and the way she writes and talks. I don't love her dreadlocks, but I think it's sort of rad that she has them. Oh, her writing... I would give anything to write the way she does, and to have the insights she shares. Par example, from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith:
"But I prayed: Help me. And then I drove to the market in silence, to buy my birthday dinner.
I flirted with everyone in sight, especially the old people, and I lightened up. When the checker finished ringing up my items, she looked at my receipt and cried, "Hey! You've won a ham!"
I felt blindsighted by the news. I had asked for help, not a ham. This was very disturbing. What on earth was I going to do with ten pounds of salty pink eraser? I rarely eat it. It makes you bloat.
"Wow," I said. The checker was so excited about giving it to me that I pretended I was, too.
A bagger was dispatched to the back of the store to fetch my ham. I stood waiting anxiously. I wanted to go home, so I could start caring for suffering people, or turn on CNN. I almost suggested that the checker award the ham to the next family who paid with food stamps. But for some reason, I waited. If God was giving me a ham, I'd be crazy not to receive it. Maybe it was the ham of God, who takes away the sins of the world."
She keeps going with the story from there, but the 'ham of God' made me laugh so hard that I had to call Mom and tell her about it, except I was so giggly that she couldn't understand the message I left on her voicemail.
"Grace means you're in a different universe from where you had been stuck, when you had absolutely no way to get there on your own."
"At times like these, I believe, Jesus rolls up his sleeves, smiles roguishly, and thinks, 'This is good.' He lets me get nice and crazy, until I can't take my own thinking and solutions for one more moment. The next morning, I got on my knees and prayed, 'Please, please help me. Please let me feel You while I adjust to not getting what I was hoping for.' And then I remembered Rule 1: When all else fails, follow instructions. And Rule 2: Don't be an asshole."
This is why I love her: she is at once so full of grace, and so screwed up and relatable. She loves the same God I do, and for most of the same reasons, and we can both be pretty pissed off that God seems to stand by while bad things happen but also understand that there is SO MUCH we don't understand. When I started reading her stories, I felt like: 'YES, I'm not the only one.' Part of why I'm so excited to start seminary is to meet other people like Annie.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Outside Magazine recently published a list of "51 Perfect Things" - an Editors' Choice sort of thing that was so perfect, so absolutely flawless, I can't help but write about it. Except I can't write about it. Any comments I create can't do it justice. Just read the list yourself and know that it makes my heart flutter a little bit. It's right here.
I'm vegan now. The details as to how and why are totally mundane, so let's just pretend it's because a sparkly mermaid told me that eliminating animal products from my diet would make the world a little happier. It's not at all an ethical thing...just a health thing. The first couple of days were sort of complicated - more than once, I had goldfish or yogurt raisins or something in my hand and realized I couldn't eat it - but now I couldn't be happier with the change. My energy level is through the roof! My caffeine consumption has been cut by 2/3, my skin looks better, I'm sleeping better. I recommend it...and allrecipes.com.
A couple of weeks ago at our SkiCo bowling party (at El Jebowl - I love that name), I sat down next to my friend AG and asked, "How was skiing today? Wait - that's too easy. Give me your answer in Haiku." He took the bait, thinking for a second with his hand on his face, before responding thus:
"It was sort of good
This one girl sucked really bad
Wished I'd been alone."
Lately I've had the great fortune of enjoying long conversations and frequent Facebook back-and-forths with a dear old friend. RC and I talked for well over an hour last week about all kinds of things - school, concerts & music, past relationships, dogs - and we've traded messages since. Even now - even at 25, with what I think is a more-aware-than-ever-before brain and an acute appreciation of life's blessings - I am still shocked that God has given me so many friends who care SO MUCH about me.
I'm watching the Oscars right now, and Jeff Bridges just won for Best Actor, and I'm so excited for him.
Best Recent Quotes, Edition 4 (I think):
"The hardest part about a zombie apocalypse would be pretending I'm not excited." - my coworker BW
"I bet my unicorn could RUN faster!" - AE, a fellow instructor, on the Austrian skier who set the world record for speed on skis at about 140mph
"Hey Kels, did I leave a loaf of bread on your car yesterday?" - my delightfully oddball friend MS after a trip to the grocery store in mi coche
"I tried maté one time. I thought it tasted like drinking cigarettes." - AB's friend
"I feel like Robert Downey Jr, and I'm just waking up in rehab." - my dear friend JH after a big night on the town
Forget wanting to look just like Helen Mirren when I'm 65. I want to look like her NOW. Even though her dress looks like the one I wore to senior prom, she's radiant.
AB calls the Snowmass Police Department the "playground patrol." There are no real laws here.
At Good Shepherd, in the Lord's Prayer, instead of saying "Lead us not into temptation," we say, "Save us in the time of trial." Save us IN the time of trial. I LOVE that. The time of trial exists - it has happened, it is happening, it will happen again. We don't want God to save us FROM it; we want to be aware of God's presence IN it. I love being Lutheran.
So the weirdest things kept happening to me last week. It started when, on Wednesday night at Regal, a South African guy with whom AB works took off all of his clothes whilst on the dance floor. All of them! He was completely naked, and no one except me and the guy with whom I was dancing seemed to care!! Also, later in the night, the same dude punched me in the face as he was being hauled out of the bar, and honestly I found it really funny. (Come on. A South African guy took off all of his clothes on the dance floor at Regal and then punched me in the face. There's a lot of humor there.) Then the next day at Snowmass, I saw a guy skiing with his helmet on BACKWARDS. And then later that day, I saw a coyote at the post office.
Last Sunday was our Rookie Party.
The theme this year was "Angels & Demons," and because I'm no longer a rookie I have no idea how or why the party planning committee picked that. Nor do I care. It was such a blast, so ridiculously fun, and I got to make my own wings and sort of be the belle of the ball for a little while and my friends were hilarious and everyone was there and we danced and drank free Fat Tire all night and I was still in bed by 1am so work the next day didn't suck that badly. I honestly don't think a single person at the party had as much fun as I did.
HIGHLANDS last week was also super fun.
And in retrospect, there's not much to say about it, except that the snow was amazing, my friends were a lot of fun to ski with, and I felt ridiculously happy to be alive - and lucky to live where I do. Cheers.
I've been listening to a few songs on repeat lately:
I'm just really, really, really grateful. I love my life.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Life is so good. I'm happy and healthy, and I laugh a lot - at work, home and play - and every single day I get to work/live/play with and run into people whose presence I really enjoy. That's all I really need from life right now.
"Peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet." - Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
It's been really snowy here the last few weeks, which is AWESOME. Snow is good for business in both of my occupations, and it's incredibly good for my well-being. In fact, I spent a whopping three days this week free-skiing, which is unprecedented for my ski season. (In clarification, I could actually free-ski whenever I want, but the resort snow has been SO lousy - and the backcountry so unstable - that I choose to work. Almost every day. Several weeks, even 7 days in a row. That bad.) Sunday, the snow was so good that I skipped church and skied in Snowmass with a bunch of good buddies - KD, RS, AT, HG, SL and my roommate AB. We lapped Burnt Mountain, which is technically hikable side country (out-of-bounds, but not quite backcountry...just better snow than the front side). Then Tuesday AND Wednesday I went to Highlands. That was so awesome that I'll write more and post pictures later.
I have costume parties to attend tonight AND tomorrow night. That's a good weekend. Tonight, I'm busting out my Elastigirl costume (from The Incredibles - my Halloween costume of four years ago), and tomorrow I'll be an angel for our Snowmass Rookie Party. It's an Angels & Demons theme...and come on, I can't really pull off the demon. Nor would I want to.
I'm a vegan now. I'll write more about that later, too.
I have so many Unexpected Sparks to write about that it's ridiculous, but for now, I'll close with my current favorite:
My senior year of high school I was a journalist for our newspaper staff, and one of the better ideas I concocted as a staff writer was to set up two of my friends on a blind date, which we reported on/photographed/etc. From what I remember, it went sort of awkwardly - not that I'm surprised, in retrospect - and when I texted the female half of that pair last week to remind her that I had publicly embarrassed her way back then, she told me that she ended up making out with the guy at a bar in Fort Collins a couple of years ago. TOUCHE, my friend, TOUCHE. I'm so proud. :)