Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Good Cry In My Tent

Time for a 'deep thoughts' post. I have to tell myself it's OK if I'm not funny, because being funny and deep at the same time is a challenge for me. And I have to remind myself it's OK if nobody likes my deep thoughts, or thinks I'm funny for that matter. (Sheesh, this blogging thing can really make a person feel vulnerable ;) 

I want to talk a little about an experience I had while camping...I would call it an "ah-ha" moment,  if Oprah didn't annoy me so much.  My sister gave me a book for my birthday called "One Thousand Gifts", and I brought it with me on our trip to read.  It's funny that I should mention Oprah getting on my nerves, because when my sister was explaining the book to me she said, "It's about making a list of the things your thankful for...but not like Oprah".  And even though I'm not a fan of Oprah's, I was a little put off that my sister would imply that just because Oprah is a non-Christain, her ideas about thankfulness are wrong.  But that's because I'm really in a defensive state when it comes to Christians, even though I would still consider myself one.  And being defensive is ugly, and I really don't want to be.  However, I just don't know how I fit into Christianity anymore.  My beliefs have changed, and they are not consistent with what most Christians believe.  It makes me feel separated, and well...defensive.  Still, I feel convicted when I read things like this:

How can there be oneness and unity when there are countless multitudes of Christian people disagreeing on many points of doctrine and belief, and considering one another’s beliefs and practices as error, superstition, heresy and dangerous perversions of the truth, while at the same time all the different groups claim the authority of Christ and his apostles in support of their own views?  If the basis of our unity is purity of doctrine and practice, then it is impossible.  But the basis of our unity is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is not our understanding of his teaching and belief in his atoning death which unites us (for our apprehension of truth is so diverse), but our longing to worship and obey him according to the light which we have.  He is the ground of our oneness.  If only we would accept the fact that we all are wrong in some respects, and that lack of love and oneness lies at the bottom of our varying interpretations of the truth, surely we would be willing to go back to our first love and acknowledge our oneness.

And I believe this, and I want to live this out...then I remember that the woman who wrote it (Hannah Hurnard, author of "Hinds Feet on High Places") was completely ostracized by Christians for having some of the same change of beliefs that I do.  (I saw one website where she was called a witch...doesn't really help with my defensive problem)  Nevertheless, here I am reading a Christian book...but I'll confess, I had my guard up.  Except I found the book beautiful, and it touched me deeply.   Here is a quote: (with my editing)

Is this eucharisteo (thanksgiving) the way to that elusive fullest life, the one that lives in the moment?  What my sister urges when I get angsty and knotted about tomorrow, when I sorrow for what is gone, her words always tugging me to stay right here--"Wherever you are, be all there."  I have lived the runner, panting ahead in worry, pounding back in regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive. "Wherever you are, be all there" is only possible in the posture of eucharisteo.  I want to slow down and taste life, give thanks, and see God.

I know 'living in the moment' is such a buzz phrase right now, but I don't care.  It's how I want to live, and it has nothing to do with being trendy.  (And maybe that's all my sister meant when she dissed Oprah...I know I dissed Oprah too, that's why it's supposed to be funny.  I told you I'm bad at being serious and funny at the same time)

So, to explain my "experience" I mentioned at the start: While we were camping, my youngest had one of her overly-stimulated, overly-tired, overly-emotional meltdown moments.  And when she gets like that, I really just want to give her a long, hard shake.  (Is there such a thing as "shaken 10 year old syndrome"?  Not funny either?  Sorry, I'll stop.)  But I was doing my motherly duty...calming her down, helping her put on her lotion,  laying down next to her in the tent and stroking her hair so she could fall asleep. (She has eczema, and rolling around in the sand all day is just the thing for it...oops, there I go again.  Does sarcasm count?) And I could hear everyone at the other campsite (where the fire was) just laughing and having a great time...and I resented it.  I resented having to do my motherly 'duty', and I couldn't wait until she was asleep so I could get out of there and where the fun was. 

It's hard to explain what happened next, but I'm going to try.  God seemed to say, "Why?". (In my heart and mind--I know there's no proving it was God.  I'm worried it sounds arrogant to say I heard from God, but that's probably just my defensiveness at work)  So, God asked me why I wanted so badly to be over there, instead of being right here.  And it just clicked, how much I've missed and lost and haven't enjoyed because I wanted something other than what I had. Please understand, even though my whole life I've struggled with shame about being 'ungrateful', I wasn't experiencing shame at this moment. Tremendous regret and sadness, yes;  but also mixed with wondrous joy and hope...because it felt like I was changing.  My resentment was gone, totally gone, and in it's place was happiness--and it was real, not me gritting my teeth and saying "yes, I understand I'm supposed to be grateful", but a complete appreciation for how awesome it was to sit in that tent and stroke my beautiful, amazing, flaw filled daughter's hair.  And also an even bigger appreciation and love for God, who gave me the eyes to see it.  One more quote (again, with some editing) from today's reading. (I'm on chapter 9)

Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace.  Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will.  And I can empty.  I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me.  I can empty because I am full of His love.  I can trust.  I can let go.  Dying to self demands that I might gratefully and humbly receive the better, the only things that a good God gives.  This eucharisteo is no game of Pollyanna but the hard edge of blade.   This is the way the self dies, falls into the arms of Love.  This is why the fight for joy is always so hard.  I accept the gift of now as it is--accept God--for I can't be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives.

Amen, let it be so, in me and in all.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Confessions of a Naughty Boy Scout

What can I say about living in Washington state?  For everyone who lives here and is reading this I don't have to say anything. We know exactly what we hate about living here and we like to complain about it a lot. But to my Russian readers (I actually have gotten some hits from Russia--isn't that weird?) I will explain that we get a lot of rain. But going any further to emphasize how dire our lack of sunshine situation is, to someone who lives in Russia, well...the fact you live in Russia really takes all the fun out of it.  Granted, I don't really have a clue what it's like to live in Russia, but my guess is it's much more difficult than living in Washington state.  But if someone from Russia could let me know if I'm wrong, I'd appreciate being set straight.  (Then I'd actually know I have a fan in Russia!)

There is a little secret we have here though...a magical place called "Eastern Washington". You can actually get a sunburn over there!  So, in our quest for vitamin D and a chance at skin cancer, we load up our tents and swimsuits and make the five hour trek over the mountains every summer...and this is the setting for my next two hikes.   The main hike and the one the campground is named after I'll save for next time. The hike I'm describing here is one I've wanted to do for the past two years, but you have to take a short drive to get there. This has been a hard sell, because usually the weather is always so blessedly hot it's pretty near impossible to get anyone out of the water long enough to even think about leaving the campground.  But because this year was much milder, I was able to talk a whole group into venturing out to do Northrup Canyon.
Everyone was excited looking at the little pamphlet that explained that we should look out for snakes (Danger!..awesome) and an old homestead we would come across. (History!...not as awesome as snakes, but still awesome)

The one thing the pamphlet failed to mention, because it was definitely NOT awesome, was the mosquitoes.  I'm not talking a few mosquitoes--everyone knows there's always some mosquitoes...I'm talking ravenous swarms of flesh puncturing beasts that have been lying in wait for days for anything with blood to walk through.
(see all the red bumps?)

And this is why I love my husband, because he is a boy scout...and boy scouts pack backpacks for any and every hike with things like extra water, jackets, AND bug repellent!  So as we were getting sniped from all sides, Ken pulls out the magic elixir and saves the day. Now, when I say "we", I mean just the two of us.(we were behind because this is a group of dutch amazons and my legs are 4 inches shorter than everyone else's...plus I'm in lousy shape, so Ken was compassionately walking slow)

As Ken is hosing me down with deet, he is mischievously watching everyone ahead of us swat themselves uncontrollably and confesses, "I was only thinking of self preservation when I stuck this in my pack".  And this is why I love my husband even more, because he's a naughty boy scout.  Of course, everyone eventually discovered our secret and came clamoring after the spray, praising Ken for looking out for every one's well being...but I knew better.   Thankfully there was enough for all and we made it out of there with a few ounces of blood left.  Next post I'll describe my second near death experience, on Steamboat Rock.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Non-Torture Trail

I really didn't think I would blog about this hike, because frankly, it was pretty uneventful. And well, I want to keep my followers entertained...I have 7 now!!! Oh, the pressures of celebrity! (yes, I'm poking fun at myself, in case anyone thinks I actually think that's impressive) I've even had a couple 'hits' from Indonesia, and 24 from Russia believe it or not...isn't that weird? I'd love to know how they even came across it with all the billions of blogs floating around in cyberspace. But more importantly...do they like it? Do they come back to it because they think I'm funny? Maybe they think I'm inspiring! And before you know it, I actually do become delusional and think any of this actually matters. 

Therefore, I decided to go ahead and blah, blah, blah about this hike once I reminded myself that 1) your not getting paid to do this,  2) your doing this simply because you enjoy writing...especially when nobody is grading it and you can use all the dot-dot-dot's and parentheses you want, and 3) the whole world over, you still only get a couple hits a week, and those are probably just nuts looking for porn. (Not 50 days of sex?  BORING!)  And so, my non-titillating hike of this month is Sugarloaf Mountain. (Ok, all of a sudden 'sugarloaf' sounds dirty to me. I could insert any number of naughty jokes here...ok, ignore the word 'insert' before this gets any worse ;)  

Anyway, mind out of the gutter, this is a hike I was invited to go on with a whole family:  Melissa, her husband Rick, two kids, sister, and Rich, who is "framily". (New word. Honest, look it up.) I decided this was a hike to bring my daughter, Summer, along as well. If anyone has read "The Torture Trail", you'll know why I think long and hard before taking my youngest hiking with me. Summer can bring on the drama in a hurry; but most of the time she's great, so I thought I'd better give her another chance. And because somebody else was in charge of navigation, I figured our chances of getting lost were reduced significantly. (Though Rick did think we were lost at one point and complained that the map was confusing. A small vindication.) Plus, a camera was involved, and like her mother, Summer thinks a photo shoot increases the fun factor of any event considerably. 

When we got to the top, I realized the view would have been worth some drama, had there been any. Though, come to think of it, there was a little, but not from Summer. Melissa admitted she was wearing long johns and got reamed from the guys because it's July. But she was all smiles at the top when the wind was kicking up and the sun was going down and she was all cozy and we were all quivering like a bunch of chihuahuas after a fireworks show. 

But my shivering Summer, she endured it drama free--and she even came up with hiking lesson #6:  "If bringing hard boiled eggs as a snack, be sure to only eat one, no matter how good they taste."  It was a good thing this was not an overnight hike, because that was a lesson hard earned enough as it was, even without having to get up and dig a bunch of holes. And Summer up to this point had not even peed in the woods...but on the way down she swallowed her pride and snuck off trail to take a piddle instead of complain all the way down how bad she had to go. I will consider that serious progress. :)