Why do I always forget how blessed and lucky I am? Why do I always have a hard time recognizing the many things I should be thankful for? How every little thing in my life—both easy and hard, painful and pleasurable—has been orchestrated by God to form a purpose far grander than my own ambitions?
Because “Autumn” in L.A. is negligible at best, I have to live my seasons vicariously through media. I tend to make music playlists, for example, to play in my car or iPod whenever I want to feel like I’m living in some crisp, fall-like place. I do this for other seasons as well. It works fairly well, I think. Anyway, the following is my “Autumn 2009″ playlist.
The start of every summer is always so full of excitement—the promise of endless free time, lazy mornings, late nights, swimming in pools and oceans, climbing trees and mountains, reading books. Every year around late May, the summer looms so large. It seems so immense. Those endless days! Those boozy low-pressure thunderstorm nights! And so little that must be done!
I’ve been thinking back to “early summer” memories like Vacation Bible School, camping trips, mowing the grass twice a week, Memorial Day barbecues, the cold water of early summer pool swimming, seeing Coldplay at Red Rocks in 2003, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with my parents last June, seeing Jurassic Park one humid afternoon in 1993 after a morning at Bill Self’s basketball camp. And the list goes on.
I went home for Easter weekend. Home to Kansas City, where my family lives. I'm writing this in my old bedroom, where most of the stuff I've collected over the years but since forgotten about still resides. It's always a little weird coming home--such a flood of memories. Looking through old yearbooks, scrapbooks, and faded photo albums of almost forgotten family trips, birthdays and azalea festivals. So much has changed since Easter '89. Relatives have passed away, I have two college degrees, 9/11 happened, etc.
In terms of how we live, what we long for, and what we find beautiful—so often the nexus of it is something that is absent. Absence drives our existence more than just about anything. Absence, I suggest, galvanizes us in our protestations against apathy, malaise, and debilitating continence. It gives us a reason to be passionate, to burn brightly and agonize over things like truth and beauty. It gives us hope; and we need hope.
The middle of Lent. 17 more days until Easter. It’s a time of waiting, anticipation, sadness and hope. It’s wearying and rejuvenating in awkward intervals. It's Psalm 88 one minute and 89 the next.It’s life.
T.S. Eliot once said “April is the cruelest month.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that March is one of the best months there is. We have Spring Break vacations, St. Patrick’s Day, and, most importantly, the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For college basketball fans, March is one big, energy-filled party. It’s madness. And hopefully this year it’ll be Jayhawk madness. (Again.)
The stakes are high. We cannot look flippantly on a human life—even strangers or enemies or the annoying people who sing too loudly and demonstratively in church. Whether we like it or not, all of these people are holy beings. As Lewis reminds us, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
It’s a cold December night, less than a week from Christmas. The third Friday of Advent, to be exact. In two days, I’m going home. Home to Kansas for the holidays.
Following in the footsteps of Fraulein Maria (and Oprah too, I suppose), here are a few of the things that have been my favorites in 2008.
I spent the weekend in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, BC and Seattle), and I have to say that it was one of the loveliest autumnal weekends I've had in a long time. It was alternately rainy, misty, foggy, crisp, clear, and smoky. And the fall colors were enjoying their last vibrant bursts of showy seasonality. There were swirls and cyclones of deciduous death, good coffee and pubs and plays and Rilke poems. It was glorious. And Explosions In the Sky and Fleet Foxes, which is always good music for fall.
These songs alternate between a sort of shiftless urban malaise and a midwestern harvest-time sturdiness.
Today I get my Masters degree in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. It’s been a quick but rigorous two year program, and for the most part totally worth my time. This is my third graduation in seven years (the others being high school and Wheaton College), and I have to say that I love putting on that cap and gown every time (and this go ‘round I get a special hood!). There’s something nice about inserting yourself—even for just a few hours—into the centuries-old lineage of academic decorum that is represented in the four-point hat and gown regalia.
Growing up, Easter was Cadbury eggs and pastel ties. It was The Ten Commandments on TV. It was hymns like “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “In the Garden.” It was Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. And it was Cadbury eggs.
T.S. Eliot once said “April is the cruelest month.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that March is one of the best months there is. We have Spring Break vacations, St. Patrick’s Day, and, most importantly, the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For college basketball fans, March is one big, energy-filled party. It’s madness. And hopefully this year it’ll be Jayhawk madness.
On December 3 (today) I turn 25. Now normally I steer very clear of these sorts of diary-esque, stereotypically “blog” type entries. I find the whole “publicizing the personal” thing rather annoying, actually. But since it’s my birthday, I’m going to indulge.