Laundry Liturgy

I often dream about laundry. This seems odd to me, though it should not. In the pie chart of my life, the laundry slice could easily feed four or five. Last night, dream-me stood in the laundry room before a washer filled to the top with colorful, clean children’s shoes. I remarked to no one about how brand new the shoes looked, how well they had washed. This morning, real-me picked up my daughter’s mud-covered tennis shoes and threw them in the washer. They’d been sitting on the stairs for a week, at least.

My life is plain these days, and my dreams are uninteresting and plain. I spend my time washing, cleaning floors. Gathering the things we need to clothe and feed the family. Wishing I had better coffee and a little more freedom. Days like this, in Georgia, I might have taken a walk but May here in Santa Rosa isn’t agreeable for walking, and this holiday weekend, the pools, beaches, and roads are crowded with visitors.

Tired this morning, I sit, hot on the porch—hot coffee even so—swatting at mosquitos in silence. My head rings with words from somewhere.

“Are you looking for an exciting life? Stop it. Go the other way. Go through. Go in.”

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Indiana Jones and the Baptized Imagination

A fifth grade birthday party: I was a few months past ten years old, crammed into a school cafeteria with a dozen other pre-adolescent boys, toting sleeping bags and snacks, ready for anything. Everything about that night likely would have drifted into the ash heap of memory, but for one major reason: Indiana Jones.

Someone popped in the videotape, the fluorescent lights flicked off, and I was transported deep into the South American jungle. There he was, Dr. Henry Jones, Jr., fedora and five o’clock shadow, plucking the golden idol from its place atop the stone pillar in the bowels of the earth and running for his life from the giant boulder. Then came the natives, the Nazis, the bullwhip, the one-liners, and the face-melting. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I left that party changed. The world was wilder and bigger than I had known.

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Album Review: Joy Ike, Bigger Than Your Box

Joy Ike’s new record is going to take you places; your only job is to enjoy the ride. Ike’s fourth full-length studio production, Bigger Than Your Box bears surprise and yearning in its arms. The songs address you by looking you straight in the eye. The experience is like sitting at a welcoming table, talking to that person who both intimidates and encourages you at once. Yes, you listen to the album, but lyrically, spiritually, it feels like the album is listening to you. If you’re ready for it, it’ll flip your world in the best way.

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The Last Minute

“It is within my power either to serve God, or not to serve Him. Serving Him I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not serving Him, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good which was within my power to create.”
—Leo Tolstoy

“If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”
—Homer Simpson

I love the last minute. All the high stakes moments in sports happen in the final seconds: the buzzer beater, the shootout, the hail mary. Also exciting: barely making it through the yellow-turned-red light, the climactic movie scene, witnessing the countdown to LIFT OFF. The last minute provides a rush of adrenaline that my otherwise jittery attention span locks onto.

I’m sure this “rush” is the only conceivable explanation for procrastinating so badly on a recent challenge I accepted. The task was simple: take $100 and see how much you can multiply it for good in a year. The possibilities of multiplying $100 looked bright at the dawn of 2017, but each week I tallied the same dim result: nothing risked, nothing gained.

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The Great Joke

G. K. Chesterton in his study. (public domain)

G.K. Chesterton has intrigued me since my youth minister first introduced me to the big man’s writing in ninth grade. I tend toward melancholy, and there is a powerful current of joy running through all of Chesterton’s work that has since mystified and captivated me, even as I’ve struggled to believe in it at all. A recurring concept in Chesterton’s writings is that only those who take something very seriously can really take it lightly. Chesterton is known as the Prince of Paradox, and this one has stumped me for many years. I might say it has haunted me. It didn’t make any sense, but still I sensed it to be true.

Joy has been elusive to me. At one point, I called myself a ‘detrimentalist’, and wondered why, since I seemed to take everything so seriously, I wasn’t able to break through to Chesterton’s way of taking things lightly. The only kind of lightness I really knew how to do was, in reality, flippancy, which is a fear-filled unwillingness to take a serious look at anything. Joy was hidden from me. I would arrive as the thread of smoke straggled from a just-extinguished candle, or feel the lingering warmth of the brass door knob as I entered the room, coldness billowing through the open window where some fiery angel had only just vacated the place. There was some Presence I simply couldn’t find my way to.

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Awakening to Beauty

Balthasar van der Ast Stilleven met schelpen en herfststijloos 1593-1657

It’s that time of year when our senses awaken again to beauty. Though winter has its own beauty, there is just something about spring. New life, new growth and warmth, all come together to somehow make us feel alive again after the long, dark and cold days of winter. Every time I see redbuds coming out in the spring, I cannot help but think of my mother.
She adored redbuds and every spring her enthusiasm never waned for their bright beauty and the vernal hope of spring. That woman loved beauty. Her entire life, she loved beauty. Even when she was in the middle of her battle with Alzheimer’s, she was still awake to the beauty around her. Whether it was singing a hymn, or filling her home with little trinkets that she found lovely even in her confused state… she was constantly surrounding herself with beauty even at the end.

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