Perhaps a bit inappropriate on this day of springtime snow, nevertheless…
“Springtime God… we need your persistent love to disturb… our heart’s rigidity.” –Kate Compston
My heart is feeling rigid on account of it’s FREEZING and we had a mess of precipitation last night, but besides that, Joan’s thoughts are a bit deeper. (Le sigh… such is early Spring in Wisconsin.)
“I love the image of a ‘springtime God.’ Isn’t God always in the growing season in us? Isn’t everything that happens in life simply seeding something to come — and isn’t all of it God? But if that’s true, the question is, then, Are all our thoughts new seeds of life to be pursued? Because if so, then I am being called on and I am, as usual, reluctant to go.” –Joan Chittister
I suppose that everything, every seed, every thought, no matter how big or small requires a bit of coaxing on its way to growth. I’d like to thank chemistry for that basic concept– activation energy.
And as in chemistry, some things have a higher activation energy than others. Keeping with the spring theme, crocuses seem to have a relatively low activation energy… sometimes managing to peek their lovely purple, white, and yellow blooms out from beneath the still standing snow.
I actually don’t have any yellow ones, though. That’s a little sad. The daffodils the spring up right afterward make up for it.
And then there’s the late bloomers, the ones who need the earth to be not just pre-heated, but consistently warm with no chance of cool before opening up. Like my beautiful pink and white hydrangeas. Just as lovely either way!
Maybe this year I’ll work on turning some of them blue… although I do love the pink.
Flowers are nice and everything, definitely a good example. Bacillus anthracis (aka anthrax, it sporulates, and what sporulates must also germinate) would make a great example too (shout out to all you toxin folks!). But I think what Joan is really getting at is the way we let God work to activate the thoughts we have and the things we feel most deeply. Reluctance, a barrier to activation, is definitely the norm though. It’s easier to live with the status quo, isn’t it?
I think, however, that Joan is calling us to germinate! To let the sunshine in and to bloom bloom bloom like the beautiful flowers we can be. To really let God work in our lives, springtime or otherwise. To be willing to grow.
Maybe I’ll feel it better in my bones once the white stuff is gone for the season. I’m sure we’re almost there!
Just now, like just this very minute, I finished my very first official manuscript review as myself. I can’t honestly say it was my first because we all know that grad students do lots and lots of manuscript reviews as their mentor as basically some sort of twisted pre-req for doctor-dom. But this one? Me. And it’s open access, so my name’s going to be all up on it.
I do not even mind a little bit though! I was thoughtful and respectful and I think the paper was really very good. One more to go in the next couple of weeks– and the next one is even more super relevant to me: mammogram utilization in women susceptible to STDs. Ummmm. Someone’s got me pegged!
Also today, an uppity up and muckity muck and so on and so forth called me a “talented people-person” and that was pretty nice. Especially because I’m obviously a super good pseudo-extrovert. Yesss…
Anyway, Lent is still going on regardless of all the things I’ve got going on. And even though I’ve been super bad about telling you about it, Joan and I have still been reflecting daily. It’s just Satan and his temptations, you know, all up in my business! On Friday it was cards and in-laws (so fun though! and me and Marilyn swept the floor with the men in shmear (is that how you spell it? shmeer?)– the second round, anyway), on Saturday it was crafts and The Bachelor (The Bachelor may actually be Satan-sent in a legit way), and on Sunday it was work, work, work. But I got SO much done! So anyway, here we are on Monday, and it’s time to get back to Joan together!
“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” –Matthew 10:39
Spoiler alert: Joan gets this so right!
“Whatever we do, we do for a purpose larger than ourselves or there is no use doing it at all. The real purpose of our lives is not for ourselves alone. It is to co-create the world. It is to bring the rest of the world to the point of humanity we think ourselves to have achieved. It is when all I care about is my life that I begin to have it seep out of me into a pool of selfishness so deep that I miss the juice of all the life that is around me.” –Joan Chittister
If I force myself to come to the computer every day and pound out a reflection simply because it is lent, I lose the larger purpose. It’s not about Satan’s temptations, for me, I’m not wandering in the desert– I’m living my life, with purpose, and that means sometimes I’m going to miss, and that’s ok.
Here’s the biggest thing, though… I feel like the reasons I missed were so much bigger than the impact of the posts I missed. So much.
We went out for a fish fry on Friday night with my mother- and father-in-law. We hadn’t been to the Belvedere in ages and it was delish! We came back to our place after the fact and had a blast playing a couple hands of cards. A win for the women? Finally? I’d say that’s a higher purpose, eh, Marilyn?
On Saturday, I got together with a lovely friend to catch up on The Bachelor (we’re like waaaaaay behind) and we did a crazy ton of crafts. It was such a blast. That show is CRAY and Emily and I are both Harry Potter obsessed… so it was perfection! We made book wreaths out of Harry Potter books (the little stars from the corner of every page show on ever curl of the wreath) and used the chapter headings with the little illustrations to make tile coasters. Plus, we started some mirrored mason jar vases and made big plans to keep on crafting. Friendship, fun — totally worth it!
On Sunday, I did work. And I worked hard, but again, it feels so worth it. It feels important, like if we get this grant, we have a very high likelihood of really helping some people in Wisconsin’s northwoods. And that matters to me. It gives me purpose.
I suppose it would be very easy to think of cards, reality tv, and work as vices, temptations, non-worthwhile pursuits, time wasters, etc. But I disagree. Am I rationalizing? Maybe. But Joan suggests that perhaps that’s not the case. And I’m pleased about that.
Anyway, the grant is almost wrapped up, I’ve got time on my next review, Seth is out of town, and the weather is GORGEOUS, so I’ll be back again shortly.
My sweet little sister got all excited when she saw that “Velcro.” was the title of an upcoming post so I thought I’d flesh that one out first. I think it’s a little weird that velcro would excite her so much, but who am I to question someone else’s passions? I’m nervous that I’ll disappoint, so as a preemptive measure, I’m posting for your visual enjoyment a false-colored scanning electron micrograph of velcro because it’s been one of my favorite SEMs since I first saw it a long long time ago:
Today (as in the day I started writing this post, which was actually several days ago) I decided that I will never purchase another pair of velcro shoes. Terrible choice.
Little odd for a thirty-year-old woman to have to say something like that. I know. But I got these super cute shoes last fall from Zappos.
I always expect the shoes I order to a be at least a little bit different when they arrive on account of no store in their right mind would ever picture the size 11– things become considerably less cute the larger they get, it’s a fact. So when they arrived and they were still super cute, I was thrilled… except that I discovered that they had a velcro closure, not some sort of buckle or clasp. Sometimes surprises can be good (like when your friend rents herself an accordion player as entertainment on her own birthday), and I really didn’t think the velcro would be such a big deal.
(Side note: I used to literally feel embarrassed at mentioned my shoe size, as though I had anything to do with it. Now I’m embarrassed that I felt embarrassed about it. My feet are my feet. Short of binding them, ancient Chinese-style, there’s really nothing to be done. Just like my square jaw. Sometimes we just have to accept the body we are in and be glad to have it!)
Unfortunately, for the last year I’ve been walking around in these cute shoes getting more and more frustrated at the dang velcro.
(And yes, spellcheck Satan, I understand that velcro should technically be Velcro, but I’m not going to capitalize now or ever– on principle. Because you told me I should.)
Turns out, velcro is a terrible way to secure the strap on a shoe like this. Especially in this size. Just terrible. The closure kept getting worse and worse every time I wore them and today, I couldn’t even make it from my office to my car without stopping twice to reconnect. Lame. No more wearing those shoes.
I wonder about the cobbler (is that what shoe designers are called? or just shoe fixers? shoe makers? let’s just say cobbler for the sake of making my upcoming metaphor sound good…) who would use velcro as the sole closure for an adult-sized mary jane style shoe. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
…and here comes that metaphor — ginormous leap…
So what about the soul cobbler who seems to have attached my mood, disposition, whatever, to the sun with what basically amounts to velcro?
You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you miss a step and feel like you’re going to fall?
It’s like that for me, teetering at the edge of depression, now that the sun is disappearing earlier and earlier each day. Here in Wisconsin, it’s completely dark by 7:30… then 7:20… (and that was few days ago… we’re looking at about 7:00 pm now…) we’re scheduled to lose 1.5 more hours of daylight by the end of the month. Factor in the end of daylight savings time and that puts us at dark by 5:00.
As much as I love everything about fall– the colors, the crispness, the smells, the holidays– the sun going away makes everything else slowly dull.
As the sun progresses, so does my mood.
Good lord, I could never survive in Alaska… not without being diagnosed as seasonally bipolar, anyway. Manic 6 months of the year, depressed the other. I guess at least I would know it’s coming…
I’ll never go north of the UP! (Hopefully someday I’ll convince Seth to come back to you, beautiful UP!)
Don’t worry, I’m using my special light (the one I cleverly cropped out of the phone picture I posted in my most recent post– it’s right behind that and I turn it on every morning in the morning, and sometimes for a little boost in the afternoon) and I’m aware of these feelings and I really think the stupid shoes were not helping. So with my light, and my trusty [read: ugly and oh so comfortable (I’m sorry for making fun of you, mom)] Danskos, stomping through the leaves to and from work has been kind of ok (also, I love leaf stomping). And taking my pup on weekend walks in my blue paisley waders is even better. Again, no velcro.
Here’s the hard part, the thing I hate myself a little bit for finally admitting:
FALL IS NOT MY FAVORITE.
In theory, it is, of course, but in practice… man… it kills me. I want to love the leaves and the pumpkins and the corn stalks and the chill in the air and such. But my velcro lets go as the sun slips down earlier and earlier and I simply cannot love it as much as I really want to.
As such, it’s now finally time to admit the following:
SUMMER IS ACTUALLY MY FAVORITE.
In theory, again, it shouldn’t be… I don’t like hot and sticky, when my head gets hot my hair gets crazy frizzy, and mosquitoes and black flies and other insecty creatures make me crazy. But, all that sun? Late night runs when the sun is just slipping below the trees? Windows open, breeze in the house… I kind of do love all of that.
Maybe that’s the real reason I want to move to the UP so badly… because even summer there isn’t so hot. It’s gorgeous every single day. And the greatest of all the great lakes– the Superior one, is the most amazing place in all the land!
(Actually, my grandparents lived there when I was little and trips to the UP were when I got to see them and all of my cousins on my dad’s side so it was really my dream to live there just because I loved how it felt to be in the UP when we were all there. But that was then. Summer is it now. Part of it, anyway.)
I have always tanned easily– it’s my sturdy Polish peasant stock. (I don’t remember if my mom or grandma said that to me, but I love it so much. I like coming from sturdy stock! It makes me feel like in a past life I wrapped my head like a babushka and harvested wheat from a sun-filled field… yes, I can romanticize even back breaking labor.) And even when I do burn, it generally fades into a lovely brown relatively quickly. I love Cabo San Lucas more than any vacation destination I have ever had the pleasure of going to (even Hawaii! even Europe! I’m so serious– love love love that dry, sunshine-filled heat). And SoCal is always calling my name (now that I’ve been there and when I forget momentarily that earthquakes scare the pants off me; even if they’re bitty… bitty earthquakes, not bitty pants).
I guess I’m just a full sun kind of plant. Goodness knows I am always thirsty. (Do you know me in person? How often have you seen me without my Nalgene? Did you ask me if it was in my car or in purse if you didn’t see it?) I whither without extreme amounts of water (ironic for someone who likes Cabo so much… but did you see the other part about the great lakes???) and I think I’m in need of full sun too.
The changing of the seasons, in every season, is something I actually look forward to. I like the variation, life and death and new life, year after year after year. I am learning, however, that those months characterized by less sun here in the northern climes are probably always going to be a little harder for me. Turns out, my soul is more important to me than shoes, though. And even the shoes, despite their unwearability on account of the stupid velcro are still pretty cute and I’ll probably go out looking for another pair just like them… with something a little more secure as the closure. I’m stuck dealing with the soul velcro, so to speak, but even more than the dang shoes, it’s worth it. Worth it to fight. Worth it to stop walking every now and again to secure it.