Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mission Year Curriculum Book List

I no longer need these books, but I am leaving the list up for a bit so the people who are sending them to me remember which titles they are sending!

My email:

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art, Madeline L’Engle 
Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning
Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Simple Spirituality, Chris Heurtz
Welcoming the Stranger, Matthew Soerens & Ginny Hwang
Flat Broke with Children, Sharon Hays
The Re-Entry Team, Neal Pirolo

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Don't Want to Reason Anymore

I have found myself enthralled with Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I didn't give much thought to the book when I first heard about it (mainly because I thought it was about math...) but when my friend asked, "Are you sure you didn't write Life of Pi? It just seems like you." I was intrigued. Since then, he has let me borrow the book and I have seen my own thoughts scrawled across the page. It's surreal.

Here are a few gems:

...atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them--and then they leap.

Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. 

Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love--but sometimes it was so hard to love.

Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thanked God it always passed...The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving. 

If you haven't read the book, I highly suggest it. Don't bother with the movie. Read the book.

And I'll leave you with a song I've fallen in love with. Unity by Trevor Hall.

Take me to the table where we all dine together
And pluck me from the crowd and return me to my sender
Whatever path you follow push on till tomorrow
Love all serve all and create no sorrow
So many rivers but they all reach the sea
They telling me he's different but I just don't believe it
Love is the glorious and everyone shall reach it
Who ever seeks it
Seen and unseen

I don't want to reason anymore about the one I love, the one I love
I don't want to reason anymore about God above, God above
I just want to melt away, in all His grace
Drift away, into that sacred place
Where there's no more you and me, no more they and we, just unity
Yeah yeah, just unity yeah yeah, 
Just unity yeah yeah, just unity yeah yeah

Well I don't wana count the leaves of the mango tree
I just want to taste it's sweetness
So you can defeat this above and beneath this
Come one and all, come stand tall
And whatever your approaching dance or meditation
If you got love along than you shall reach the station
You find a road, the supreme abode
In this city all hearts shine like gold

Me and Jesus, Buddah, Moses, and Gouranga
All dance around, dancing on your thunder
Drunk on the wine of love for thee
Well tell me when will I be blessed to join the bliss of your company
Blissful company goes from sea to sea
From the depths of the valley to the mountain peaks
So many stories and so many fables
Of how the king sings of how the wall wails
Jerusalem to the Holy Himalayas
From Mount Zion to the hills of Jamaica
All land is holy, all land is sacred
All shall leave this world completely naked
Completely naked, completely

I don't want to reason anymore about the one I love, the one I love
I don't want to reason anymore about God above, God above
I just want to melt away, in all His grace
Drift away, into that sacred place
Where there's no more you and me
No more they and we just unity 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Church on the Mat

I have not felt like myself lately.
A little less secure.
A little smaller.

Today I went to church.

Maybe you think of a building, a gathering, a congregation.

When I say "church," I mean I went to a warm upstairs room, the sun shining through the windows, sat on my yoga mat and conversed with the Divine, surrounded by other seekers doing the same. I found my flow, moving with the Spirit, praying without words.

The instructor talked to me afterward. I told her I was only in town for a few more weeks, visiting family.

She laughed. "We all think we're enlightened...until we visit family."
Tell me about it, sister.
"We lose ourselves, our patience, and need to be reminded of who we are. We are not who we were with them before, but we revert back. It's hard to hold onto who you are now... So, I understand. Everybody feels this way sometimes."

She took the words right out of my mouth.

I haven't seen my parents for three years, haven't grown and changed with them, haven't been able to share my new experiences and revelations with them. It's very strange feeling like such a different person, then suddenly shrinking back into my old self because that's who I was the last time they were around. This has definitely been an opportunity to seek peace and determine how to remain "myself" in the midst of emotional confusion. Lots of meditation. Lots of yoga. Lots of nature walks. Reminders of things that never change: God.

I love my crazy family. We've all got our quirks and things to work through. But I'm taking advice from The Beatles: Let it be.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Choosing My Future Self

"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." ~ Buddha

“More important than winning is getting better.” – Commentator of the Lions game

I don’t think we become the people we want to become without doing it intentionally.  Who you are is largely about where you’ve come from, what you’ve gone through, and how you were raised. But who you become, from this moment forward, is completely your choice. Once you are aware of who you are now and why you are the way you are, you are now aware enough to choose who you will be in the very next moment. You can choose hate, or you can choose love. You can choose frustration and anger, or you can choose joy and acceptance. If it doesn’t seem like a choice you can make, you may need to sit a little longer with yourself and find out why you feel what you feel.

Over the past few weeks I have found myself remembering my friend Bev’s words to me during her yoga class. “The heat of life is unrelenting, but not life threatening: a perfect place to practice peace.” And with this advice in mind, I have decided to choose how to respond to each circumstance only after analyzing the initial reactions that rise in my mind. Why am I angry about what this person said? Why did I suddenly want to defend myself? Why did what that person said make me so sad? Why am I frustrated in this situation?

Only after asking myself those questions and really being truthful with myself about the answers can I choose my response. And often, I’ve found, my response must be silence. In that silence, as I process and choose, I meet with God and bring my thoughts and feelings and all my messiness to her feet, asking permission to let go.

I give myself permission to feel, to hurt, and to cry. And then I give myself permission to let it go. I give myself permission to let go of anger, frustration, bitterness, and control. I give myself permission to love through pain.

And it is a choice. It is always a choice. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's So Great About Michigan?

On Wednesday July 31st I caught a flight to Midland, Michigan to begin a five week adventure with my family. I arrived at about 9pm on the 31st, after being stuck on a runway in Detroit for an hour as the plane burned fuel trying to get us to a proper landing weight to arrive in Saginaw airport. Since that night, it has been nonstop movement.

My siblings and I picked up my parents from the airport the day after I arrived. My parents have lived in Kenya for the last three years running an orphanage in a village called Joska. This is their first trip back to the US since they've left for Kenya, and my siblings and I were able to be there to pick them up from the airport.

The first thing we did the day after they arrived was go to a Loons game. The game ended up being canceled after three hours of waiting for the field to dry after a random downpour. But we had an awesome time anyway.

I was also pleasantly surprised when my grandmother gifted me with a handmade quilt. I sent her a bunch of my saris and materials from my visit in India, and she put them together on a quilt. 

That weekend we had our McDonald family reunion where my parents were able to get reacquainted with their family who they haven't seen in over three and a half years, especially my great grandma, the matriarch of our family. 

My mom and I spent another day thrift shopping with my Grandma Rusty in her Lady truck. 

And of course at some point I had to walk down to the Tittebawassee River to find peace and do some yoga. 

My brother, Mark, left today to head back to Phoenix. I'm really bummed about it because I know I'm not going to see him for at least five months. My mom and I were introduced to Duck Dynasty as we sat watching tv here in Midland, and we realized we were watching a show about my brother. So, my grandpa bought him a Duck Dynasty shirt. My brother looks like he belongs on the show. 

Even though my brother left today, and my sister will be heading back to Phoenix on Thursday, I will be hanging out in Midland, Michigan for the next month with my parents and extended family, baking cookies with my aunt, thrift shopping with my grandma, and getting my great grandmother's life story.