Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dreamers Unite

In high school I fell in love with my English teacher. I'm sure he loved me too; he just didn't know it.  Or, he couldn't admit it 'cause he'd get in BIG trouble. 

My one-sided love affair began when he introduced us to Langston Hughes...

Hold fast to dreams;
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

On that day in my Junior year I read Langston's (yup, we were on a first-name basis) poem as a die-hard romantic, and I soared! 

Finally, someone understood.  Ideals, romance, day-dreams, hopes, longings...all these incessant fantasies soul-stirrings served a purpose. Without them I'd never fly or climb or soar. Without my dreams I'd never get to see the view at the top of the mountain. My romantic high school girl-not-quite-a-woman self pictured the top of the mountain and it was perfect--the view, I mean--inside my head, inside my dreams.

Langston Hughes, I love you. Mr. Dreamy English teacher, I love you. Sorry, can't use your real name, Mr. Dreamy English teacher, 'cause what if you read this and then you'd have to face the truth that you loved me, too? And then you'd try to find me and that would lead to nothing but BIG trouble. Mostly you'd be crushed 'cause it's too late for us. I'm a married woman and I've long since gotten over you. Sorry.

Anyway, see how easily my mind still flies off in another direction?

I had always dreamed of flying--not just flying in an airplane or a hot air balloon. Oh no. My dreams of flying involved flying as just me, with or without wings. 

Isn't that one reason why so many of us love angels? They're usually pictured with wings. Whoever heard of an angel without wings? The angels that we picture fly above the crap, stuff, fray and reach heavenly heights, right? Of course they do.

Maybe that's why I dream of dabbling in ornithology some day. In my spare time. I L-O-V-E birds, and I'd love to hang out with them--binoculars around my neck, a bird guidebook in my hand, and a seasoned birder at my side. (In case I was too busy looking up and didn't want to bring my eyes down long enough to read...)

Here's a truth that's been hitting me between the eyes lately... 

The dreamer inside me too-often feels dead. lifeless. buried. So much stuff has happened since that high school girl met her dear Langston. 

Life's hard realities, life's junk, and my own messed-up life-lenses have wrapped themselves around my day-dreamer's heart and formed walls around my wings. How sad. How awfully, terribly, pathetically sad.

But then another truth hits me right between the eyes... Yes, I have some serious bruises between my eyes--just in case you were wondering... 

The dreamer's not really dead. She or he can't ever really die. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer.  'Cause dreamers will always dream and hope and long for something beautiful. Dreamers will fantasize, romanticize, and idealize. We may forget a lot of our dreams; we may stuff a lot of our hopes and longings down deep inside and convince ourselves they're stupid. But they're not really dead. No ma'am. No sir.

So at age 51 I'm dusting off my wings. Inside my soul there are still plenty of possible impossibilities. I'm reminding myself that a lot of my dreams have come true; they just came true so differently--they've looked very little like they looked inside my head. I dreamed of that? You're kidding?

But, I admit--a lot of my dreams may never come true, and, frankly, that kind-of stinks, 'cause I'm kind-of attached to them. 

AND a lot of my dreams may still come true. Look out, Langston. Thank you Mr. Dreamy English Teacher. I'm back, and I'm livin' the dreams...

Hold fast to dreams;
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

What about you? Do you have dreams? Are you one of my soul-stirred sisters? If so, tell me your dreams. I'd love to hear them.  'Cause in the telling--in the naming of your dreams, hopes, longings--your soul may stir, sister, and then... Who knows? You might just take a step closer, or fly, or soar even.  At the very least I'll offer you this:  I'll listen, I'll love, and I'll pray. I promise.

...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31


Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Puzzled

I think I'm halfway through a 1000-piece Noah's Ark puzzle that my husband gave me for Christmas... We were supposed to build the ark together, but I'm swimming solo on this one. Maybe that's what Noah thought. Sigh.

One of the reasons it's taking me a while to piece it all together is because there's plenty going on visually. Animals, birds, plants and people are in places where you'd least expect them. Sure enough, Noah and Mrs. Noah must have thought the same thing: This place is flooded with people, animals, and birds!

Of course, any good puzzle is supposed to challenge the puzzler, right? In any puzzle worth doing you'll need to spend hours sifting through pieces that look exactly like a thousand other pieces, so at least all puzzlers are in the same boat.

In my Noah's ark puzzle, some creatures and people are tiny and a bit hidden. Others are larger but in similar colors as a thousand others elsewhere. (Did I mention that I'm occasionally given to hyperbole?) I'm guessing that Noah's family had the same problem. They must have found all sorts of--um--surprises--hiding in places we don't even want to picture...

Since I'm spending so much time with Mr. and Mrs. Noah I'm really leaning into their whole flood experience and pondering some really deep stuff. I'm drowning in questions and thoughts that really have me puzzled...

Was Noah in construction before he built the ark? If not, how in the world did he build such a big bad boat?

Were the Noahs even into animals before God told him he'd be holed up inside a boat with two of every feces species of animal?

Who shoveled all that __________?

Did God silence the animals for the entire time inside the ark? Or, did the Noahs listen to a constant cacophony of noise coming from the animal deck?

Did polar bears really wear sunglasses back then?

What did they do all day for forty days and forty nights? Didn't they go stir-crazy? I'm projecting here; in our house we go stir crazy after one day of rain, let alone 40!

Don't even get me started on the stink... I'm still puzzling over a human's capacity to adapt to smells.

But it's January. Christmas is over. The decorations are gone. My family has scattered throughout the US again. I don't feel well. It's somewhat cold outside, and wimps like me don't like to be out in the cold for any length of time. So I'm flooded with way more puzzling thoughts like these...

Why am I wallowing in self-pity and depression when I'm clearly a spoiled North American who has an unbelievable amount of reasons to be grateful?

Why do I pine away for days gone by and a house full of little people?

Beyond my full-time, ultra-demanding job outside the house, what will I do that makes a difference?

What does my marriage look like at this stage of life?

What do my young adult children still want/need from me? Do they need/want anything from me? I ok if they don't?

What do I do with this restlessness? Is God trying to tell me something? Why doesn't he speak up then? My hearing isn't what it used to be. Or, maybe I just wasn't asking for His opinion because life was full and focused around my family.

Jesus had 33 years on earth and he packed them full. He walked (a lot), he talked (a lot), he healed a lot of people, he fished, he hung out with a small group of guys, and he did a lot of miraculous things. He also took alone time to rest, ponder, and talk with His Father. God.

In my better moments I'm still passionately engaged in life and excited for what's in front of me and what's yet to come. But honestly, this isn't one of those moments...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seismic Shudders

Two years the earth shook. Hard. Violently. It opened its mouth and swallowed hordes of people, hordes of landscape, hordes of buildings. It was horrifying, unthinkable, tragic. Was that what they call a natural disaster? What's natural about that disaster?

I remember trying to wrap my brain around the statistics, the devastation. Maybe I even trembled, shook a bit myself. I probably shook a little. Maybe. At least I should have. 

But I'm sure I prayed for Haiti, for its people, for help. I must have. Prayed, I mean.  

Help. Dear God, please help THEM.

For months after the earthquake I remember hearing stories of loss and tragedy, compassion and courage--I wondered what I should do, how I could help. I remember pausing a few minutes here and there to read about disaster relief teams and organizations that were rallying to come alongside the people left in the piles of rubble. And I felt small seismic rumblings inside my chest. But not enough to register on the Richter scale of my soul I guess. Some might even shudder at how little I did to come alongside and rebuild...

I stayed home--in my house, my suburb, my community. I read ABOUT Haiti and felt sad through the rumblings and I thought about how awful it all was for THEM.

Unnatural natural disasters happen. Good, wonderful people die--even beautiful, sweet 12-year-old boys are swallowed up in rivers of death. Seventeen year-old daughters get cancer and are gone in six. short. weeks. Healthy sixty-seven year old Dads go to sleep and never wake up. Children of God go hungry. People get angry and kill each other.

And when those unnatural natural disasters happen close to home, when the earth shakes hard, violently--I shudder. I cry. I get sad, I mourn. I weep. Sometimes I split in two and there's a jagged tear running right down my middle.

Then I count on the co-tremblers, the co-shakers. I thank God for the disaster relief teams who always show up--the friends, the family--who show up and sit in the rubble with me.

Earthquakes happen. To me. To those I love. To those far away in a country I've never seen. And when they do I want to tremble and shake with God-sized love, empathy and compassion so that it registers on my soul's Richter scale. I want to do more than mildly shudder as though I've just felt a draft.

Easy-peasy, right? Good thoughts, Dawn. Except I live in North America and my life is filled with stuff and comfort and padding and protection. When earthquakes hit I bounce and I shake and maybe I even moan and groan a bit. There's a LOT of cushion around me and it's hard to feel those seismic shudders. 

That's what we all need, isn't it? To feel seismic shudders deep down in our souls every time we experience an unnatural natural disaster? 'Cause if we feel them in our souls I shudder to think of what might happen...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We Ate Moose Poop for Christmas

In early December I hosted my team of six for a Christmas party luncheon. One of my teammates brought an ice-breaker game in case we had time; I don't know about you, but I have really FUN coworkers and that's without a drop of alcohol.

So we made time for his Pooping Moose Game, though I'm not sure that's the real name of the game. We had a blast, and by the time we were finished we were pooped out from all the amoosement.

I loved the game so much I decided to order one for our family and friends to play during the holidays. You're going to want one of these too. Here's what you'll need...
One attractive wooden moose (ordered this one from Amazon)

One giant bag of peanut M&M's

You'll also need a bunch of questions that are color coded into categories. Here are the questions my co-worker asked as we each took turns making the moose poop...

RED M&M - If you had to choose one place (other than the area where you now live) to live for one year, where would you choose?

BLUE M&M - Name one other church (if you're a church attender that is) that you’re drawn to...

ORANGE M & M - What is a project that’s been nagging at you (for years, perhaps) that you would REALLY like to tackle and complete?

YELLOW - Tell a favorite pet story (if you’ve never had a pet in your entire life, explain why).

GREEN - Share one thing about your spouse that others don’t know.

Now I just knew that my family and friends would LOVE this game and that I needed to force ask them to play it with me. 

Our family has a Christmas Eve tradition to fondue together, so I wisely brought it out after our fondue dinner since they'd all be full and happy. As it turns out I didn't need to worry about whether or not they'd like the game. 

Based on my family's experience and in the spirit of full disclosure I must add that this game will appeal to any family members or friends who enjoy saying the word poop over and over again. (You really don't even need to feed them first if they get a kick out of saying it.) Note - If you'd prefer to keep the game less fun crude, just avoid saying the word poop as the M&M's come dropping out of the Moose's ass buttox. 

Let me just say that our moose pooped a lot and we'd have to catch the pieces of _______, preferably before they rolled on the floor for our dog to eat. Then we'd choose one of the poop candy colors and someone would ask one of the questions when we'd tell them what color question we wanted to antler. Now, here's another part of the game that may amoose you: After we antlered a question we'd get to pass the moose to the next person and say, "poop on!"

On Christmas day we hosted my brother-in-law and sister-in-law + their four very fun offspring. Out came the moose and the moose poop M&M's. Since their family is slightly younger (ok, a LOT younger) I made up child-friendly questions like these...

The upside-down photo really gives it that child-friendly look, doesn't it? Please feel free to rotate your computer in order to read the questions--they're really good and well worth the effort.

The day after Christmas we hosted some friends for a brunch and asked our moose to poop again. He was pooped from the previous two days but I must say that he rallied nicely.

I highly recommend buying your very own wooden moose and stocking up on moose poop for those long winter days and nights when you all need something amoosing to do.

Do feel free to tell me about your game, and if you make up your own questions to ask I'd love to hear them. We don't claim to ask all the right questions or have all the antlers.