Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Stone Cold

While running the other day I learned it's better for your joints to run on asphalt instead of concrete (ie, the road instead of the sidewalk). It was one of those insights where I kind of went, "duh, that makes sense, why didn't I think of that sooner?" However, due to the slant of the road, it's not always good to run on there either...

Any way, the whole thing got me thinking about the physical attributes of concrete vs. asphalt. I once read a joke about Wisconsin that said it only has three seasons: football season, winter and construction season. I don't remember when, but I learned a long time ago (probably when I was working for the city parks dept) that concrete and asphalt have to laid at a specific time of year and at specific temperatures in order to provide the highest quality and safety.

You see, all objects expand and contract with the weather. It's a physical attribute of matter: when molecules heat up, they move at a faster speed and the substance of which they comprise, expands. When they cool, molecules slow down and compact a little more, causing the object to sort of shrink. This is why I can't make rings pass over my knuckles in the summer that will fall off of my hands in the winter.

Have you ever wondered why there are man-made partitions in sidewalks? It's so they can inhale and exhale with the changing temperatures. If they were one big slab, they'd break apart in the winter or crunch together like teutonic plates in the summer. Asphalt has a little give and take in its composition, so it breathes better throughout the seasons. It also gives a little more underfoot for runs.

God states twice through the prophet Ezekiel that he will remove hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Usually when I think about a heart of stone, I think about being stubborn, about putting up walls to try to keep things in or out. I never really think about the inflexibility of a heart of stone. A heart of stone can't expand and contract without cresting or cracking. It is unable to "breathe," or more importantly, unable to beat.

When I harden my heart, I'm not just putting up walls, I'm closing off my life lines-- literally. Figuratively I'm cutting off friends, family, God. Literally, a heart of stone can't swell and fall with the pressures and depressions of life. When heat comes, it will crust up and when cooled, it will break open- revealing chambers suffocated by the swell. It has no give and take. It has no respite and requires a consistency found only in death-- a fate all too assured for such a heart. For in the end, all stone can do is fracture, fragment and fail.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What's that? You Want a CD Recommendation? Alrighty Then.

So, if you haven't heard of Aqualung, I'm sorry. However, the good news is that I just told you! yay!

For those of you who have already heard of the greatness that is Aqualung and are currently saying, "duh, I could have told you that." Well, to you I say, "why didn't you?"

Although the album, Strange and Beautiful released in March, I just picked up and expect it to haunt my CD player for quite some time. After numerous attempts at band formation, and a couple of record deals for said bands, Matt Hales finally branched out on his own. If you can remember far back enough, you might recall Hales' launch pad into fame with 30 seconds of haunting music in Volkswagen's 2002 (or was it 2003?) ad for the new Beetle.

Haunting? Maybe I should call it "strange and beautiful." At least, that's what Hales called it. That's right, it appeared on his 2003 release and is the title track of my current new favorite CD. Wait, did I just say "2003 release?" Yep. He's a Brit, so the UK got first dibs and then apparently there was a Japanese release of Still Life in 2004. Meanwhile, we didn't get the Strange and Beautiful release here in the states until this past March. And now he's playing here in Nashville this weekend. mmmmm.

What does he sound like? Well, Rolling Stones put it this way, "Hales delivers keenly focused keyboard-based drama that blows away all pretenders trailing in Coldplay's wake," and then gave it four stars. For those of you well accustomed to my musical pallet, no great surprise lies in my enamored review of Matt Hales' drowsy, whimsical style. Therefore, I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.

The end.

Monday, June 13, 2005

They Must Not Know Me

I am a weak person. When it comes to my "spiritual life," I don't have a "thorn in my flesh," I have a freaking briar patch. Honestly. They may not all prick at once, but they're still there-- always. They don't go away. They're like incurable cancers for my soul. They might go into remission-- but they're still there, bidding time until the chance to become active arises once again.

Depending on how I move and turn, a pricker is there to remind me of my faults. And you know what? Sometimes the pain feels good. No pain, no gain, right? bah. And yet, it's true that sometimes I relish the pain; I play chicken with the pain. I see how far the thorn can dig into my flesh before I cry uncle and crawl back into the only Healing Hands I know.

Yesterday was Communion Sunday. Usually I *love* communion Sunday. I run to the altar, ready to lay my wretched self before my God. Yesterday I felt hobbled. I prayed for God to meet me where I was, to pick me up and carry me to the table-- to cradle His beloved between His shoulders. I prayed to even be that beloved one.

Eventually I shuffled to the front, briar patch in tow, and cried and hugged friends and took the body and blood of Christ to my sour lips. I felt as if my body might reject it-- or worse, it might reject being in my body. I prayed that it would, like a drop of soap in a pool of oil, dispel the darkness, displace the yuck.

And people asked me if I was ok. No. No, I'm not-- but I will be, hopefully, someday. Someday.

Then, in the wake of feeling so inadequate as a person, much less a Christian, one of the Church elders suggested I lead a class or something! Say what?!? I had sent him some of my writing and he loved it. From these short essays (things I've published here), he determined that I have a lot to teach the women, the people, of our church. To teach our church (since the people are the church). I felt like running and hiding. Me? You've got to be kidding me. You must not know me that well.

I wouldn't know what to say! I wouldn't know what to "teach"! I'm far too inadequate to teach others! I once asked my dad to teach me how to golf. He said no and that there was too much wrong with his stroke to teach me.

People, when it comes to spiritual strokes, you might as well call me Happy Gilmore--I have my own, not-so-graceful, form, etiquette and style. He asked me to pray about teaching; about leading some sort of small group or however it is that God would want me to lead others. hmmm, I guess that means I *actually* have to pray... something I don't seem to do much. So, I'll pray. Um, and freak out. And then try to pray some more-- or at all.

Who knows. Maybe God wants to teach the Church about taking sloppy strokes, replacing monstrous divots and cute plaid pants. Maybe nothing will happen at all and the whole silly idea will just slip away. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with anyone else, maybe He just wants to work on my stroke... we'll see.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Whudda Thunkit?

So, I've hit a few milestones as of late. I believe they're share-worthy.

  • I took my first real vacation as an adult two weekends ago. Since college, I've gone on missions trips and spent numerous weekends heading back to the motherland or attending to wedding festivities, but two weekends ago I got to go to Florida and sit around doing nothing but soaking in rays, reading and enjoying the fellowship of some great friends. Now *that's* an actual vacation.

  • As of last Saturday morning, I am officially signed up to train for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, October 23 with Team in Training. Over the next five months I will not only get to kick my butt in gear (Saturday was my first run in about a year... four miles, not too bad) and get a Tiffany's Necklace for a medal-- I will also get to raise money to help Leukemia and Lymphoma research-- and yes, I will set up an online account so that you can all help me raise the $3,800! This is a big step for a girl who would duck out of the mile warm up in 8th and 9th grade track practices! Whatever, I was a sprinter! Remind me to get new shoes and refill my asthma inhaler... Seriously, I don't know which thought seems most daunting right now, running 26.2 miles, raising $3,8000 or having to be at group runs at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings in order to prepare. ;-)

  • Thanks to Teacher Dave for letting me know that Relevant picked up my Skydiving essay! It's my first time being published!!! yay!!

  • fun times, friends, fun times.