On This Ground I Dance Upon Called Earth

On Rest and Renewal

I always am blown away by spring. Breathless, I delight in the colors of spring, dizzy by their hues and shapes. I am drunken by the intoxicating  fragrance of magnolia blossoms. I am constantly in awe of new buds on trees, blowing on wishies, plucking wildflowers from the ground as I place them my hair.

Today was one of those beautiful spring days where that feeling just seeps into the enclaves of the chambers and walls of my lungs, heart, and arteries; a day where you are convinced that you are literally breathing in life, with every breath.

Brian whipped out his camera as we marveled over the reflection of the blue sky on a water droplet on the leaf of a daffodil. I got up close to a baby bee roaming around on a weeping cherry blossom tree. I looked at it from different angles until I was literally staring into its eyes.

We went on a “Sabbath Walk,” where we barely spoke to each other except for a few faint whispers, “I saw a fox!” We meander through creeks and logs and hear the chirps of birds high above, singing joyfully. My mind feels like I need to be doing something, need to be praying, need to be singing a worship song to God, but I realize that I have no words; that all too often I rush around doing things when really all I need is to be. To learn from the joyous songs of the birds, to listen to the cool creek water trickle down hills, and be completely convinced that there is nothing in life I need to worry about. It’s hard to feel anxious when surrounded by such beauty. It’s hard to dwell on your fears when you realize that if God can help flowers grow, He can surely help you with whatever is so pressing on your mind.

Time stops in such moments. Nothing else matters in these moments. I decided yesterday that I will continue to create time and space to make sure I have these moments of quiet awe-filled worship on a weekly basis, because in those moments, as I’m captivated by nature, or breathless by stars that are so so so so far away, I realize that there is so much more going on here than we realize. That nothing is normal about this human experience; that there’s these little tiny things called cells and they make up the leaves to plants, animals and human beings. That right now I am actually standing somewhere on an Earth that is moving and rotating, though I can’t even feel it. I am held down to this Earth by gravity, which keeps me from falling off. I.can’t.even.feel.it.

Flipping through scripture, I am always refreshed when I hear God speak about creation. Jesus tells us to look at the birds (Matthew 6:25) and to learn from the wildflowers (Matthew 6:28). In Psalm 23, we’re told that God wishes for us to lie down in green pastures; to be lead beside quiet waters. Job reminds us that God “spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.” We are reminded that creation itself is meant to teach us- yes, to learn through their actions, not their words, for they need not speak verbal language. “Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all.” (Job 12:7-10)

So today I will learn from the birds in air, and the shoots developing on trees. I will look at the wildflowers and how they are able to grow, year in, year out. I will remain in awe of you, Lord, and the works of your hands. I will remember your calm, your peace, your authority over all things, even at work this week, where there are days in which I feel as though I hear nothing but sirens, see nothing but trash on the streets, and yet find you in unexpected ways through the smile of a stranger or the excitement of neighborhood kids riding their bikes after school. And be it inner city, forest, behind the desk, or out in the community, I will ponder you, God. I will seek you, God. I will find you and be awed by you as a precarious child of you, God. And I will celebrate you on this ground I dance upon called Earth.

My favorite part of my parents' home is their Magnolia tree in the front yard.

Photo Credit: Scott Otterbein

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Just a Bus Driver…

3.15.12

What would you say If I told you that I won’t be by today?
Would you say that I’m just a bus driver?
And what do I know
Just a bus driver, and what do I know?
Just a bus driver, and what do I know?
Just a bus driver
Well don’t believe that
We’re all just bus drivers
And it’s time to go home…

I didn’t think anything of it when we had a different bus driver on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. I thought that John was sick, no big deal, he’d be back soon with his friendly “good mornings” and “good nights.” But today I found out that John died of a heart attack.

John was an African American man, in his sixties, with a cheerful African accent. I’ve only been riding the employee shuttle to work since November, when I could no longer bike to work because of evening darkness, but I’ve been riding it since, even now that daylight savings has begun.

John would greet each person who walked aboard that bus. He’d make conversation with us. He’d smile at us and wish us a good day as we left the shuttle to begin our daily 9-5. At 5:15, we’d see him again. He’d announce each street name with a thick African accent. “Cheee-staar” (Chester). “Anyone need Cheee-staar tonight?” It was hard to think about your long day when you heard such an enlivening accent.

After Chester came what began to be known as the “almost there” stop. Some people park in between Chester and the next stop, and if there was a red light, he’d let whoever would like to leave hop off the bus before the next stop. He’d always say funny things like, “anyone want the almost-there today?” or “Today, for you—it’s free.” We’d then turn the corner, I’d hop off and say “Goodnight, John,” to which he’d respond, “goodnight honey.”

One of the ladies who rides the shuttle told me once that she came on the bus with a couple of packages. He made some joke about the packages not being allowed to be brought on board because of policies (which may have had some half-truth to it), “but today, you can come on with them for free!” [The shuttle is always free.]

John seemed like a very simple guy. He didn’t complain. He smiled. He was content with the life God gave him. I wonder how many times my attitude has not been like John’s; peaceful, calm, and friendly.

I need to cry a little bit. I’m going to miss John. It is very hard to accept that life is unpredictable; that one day your bus driver is there and the next day there is someone else… permanently. It makes me sad and challenges me once again to live every day with abundant life, not dwelling on the paltry things of life; to celebrate this life we’ve been given because we have no business in taking it for granted or for complaining about our trivial “problems.”

I will miss you John.

But here’s a little song for you that reminds me of you.

I hope you realize that this song is all about how important each person is in the world. You were important in mine.

Thank you.

Searching, Finding, Getting Lost in all the Things I Can’t Explain…

I don’t know what it is that I’m looking so hard for, searching so constantly for, unceasingly, when I have a God who tells me that everything I need is to be found in Him. He tells me where to go; He tells me how to find it: it’s in Him. I know the one big thing I’m searching for is your peace, God, but even that I find directly in you and from you. You allow it to be made visible through your trees, your birds, your mountains, your still waters, but ultimately, it’s YOU, Lord. It’s you my heart wants, even when my head wants explanations to “whys,” and burning bush answers to my paltry prayers. It’s you who my soul was designed for. It is you who created this persistent thirst in my spirit, whose water comes to rescue my dry  mouth with your very own hands.

I don’t know why I fall apart when it would be so much less heartache to fall to my knees.

I don’t know why I think I can protect myself from life’s inevitable heartaches when there you are, telling me how much you love me. That you’re big enough to handle my biggest pains and heaviest weights. I don’t know why I worry about things like money when you’ve taught me how to be responsible and you’ve told me over and over again to enjoy my life. I long to visit cousins in Colorado, to feel a cool misty morning over the backdrop of the Rockies; to camp underneath the stars at the base of the Grand Canyon. But I feel like I shouldn’t spend my money on myself, or think I should save it for this, or be giving to that…

That’s not my voice, you say.
I am not the one holding you back.
I am not the bad guy here.
I want you to enjoy your life, the life that I gave you, forever, whether here on Earth or in Heaven above.

I want to cry; I feel so loved. I want to stop thinking about how it literally sounds crazy that God, an invisible being, can whisper words into my brain, bypassing the hairs you say you can count the number of. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t make sense of it. The more I try, the more I don’t know. The more I go along with it, and allow myself to be brought into wonder and awe and holy mystery and grandeur, the more expansive the world, your world, your kingdom, seems; the more deep your presence, the more I need you to be my answer for everything I can’t explain…

I don’t know why it is that I rush around, run to keep busy, doing tasks, creating to do lists, not sitting down, as if that’s what solves problems or hurts or nagging longings. I don’t know why I settle for these distractions when all you want is to be with me, to be with us, beside us, your child,  your beloved.

Everything you need is to be found in me, you say.

God, I think I’m finding myself in You. And I think I know what you’ve placed on my heart and want with my life. But what if the things I think are you and your will actually aren’t? Just because I think it is doesn’t mean it actually is. You know my heart better than I do. I think I need a blessing, a break, a “Yes” or “No” audible answer, a change of circumstance, a change of scenery, and you think I need a challenge, a chance to grow so that later on I’ll remember how you brought me through the difficulties I’ve faced, reminding me that I’m stronger than I think I am in You.

I know we’re searching, Lord.

Us.
Your creation.
We’re searching. You created us with this need for touch, need for human connection, need for wonder and rest and laughter and love, deep, deep love that is stronger than our own human ability to love.

And so I know this sounds utterly crazy, but tonight I say goodnight to you, like a father, like a mother, like a genuine best friend, like a pervasive and persistent lover. I no longer feel as though you’re far away; in fact, I can feel you right here in my chest. Don’t go. Please stay. I love you…

Living in the Tension of the “Now” and the “Not Yet”

3.14.12.    Living in the Tension of the “Now” and “Not Yet”

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
Tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be… 

It was the next time in as many times that I was going on and on to someone passionately about another example of social injustice, pulse increasing, inflection rising, my hands probably moving about frantically in some direction (that I was of course unaware of).

It didn’t go so well.

I think I might have just been making noise because I talk about these things so frequently. The person I was talking to called me out on it, pointing out to me that essentially, my life had become unbalanced and I wasn’t embracing the abundant life Christ talks about. He didn’t have to convince me. I knew it.

The past five years have challenged, refined, and shaped me, for better and for worse, as I learned about, cared about, and took action about global suffering, human trafficking, social inequalities, racial polarization, poverty, the realities of war and America’s contributions of bombings in more countries than I’ve ever realized, people being mistreated for their sexuality, etc.

I met people living with HIV who shared painful stories, like how their one and only life partner never told them of their status, or stories of not being able to leave the house because their current medication regimen causes awful side effects. I listened to the stories of people who are gay. I moved to the inner city, where I can no longer deny white privilege and racial polarization. I worked with patients who told me the realities about SSI, Section 8, and food stamps from personal experiences. I went to developing countries and saw inhumane poverty. I read books about refugees, microfinance, and women’s health. I watched documentaries that horrified me. I raised my voice. I sent emails to my senators supporting everything from anti-trafficking legislation to commitments for global HIV funding. I tried my best to live out Jesus’ prayer for God will to be done on Earth as in Heaven.

My life felt full, active, alive, and like I was living out the priorities of the Kingdom.

…And then things got ugly.

In the past year and a half or so, I became angry. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that if each person truly knew the realities of what was going on in this world, like many are choosing to do as they’ve watched Kony 2012, they too would experience what Lynne Hybels refers to as “righteous anger.” But unbalanced, this turned into cynicism. I became critical of people who don’t volunteer. Who claim to know Jesus, but don’t know the poor. Who prioritize “saving souls” to “get” people into Heaven after death, but who cared little about the hells on Earth- where poverty, disease, violence, and trafficking are rampant.

I grew resentful of Christian circles that told females that being a good Christian woman meant respecting your husband, having lots of babies, being nice, and constantly telling girls that they are beautiful, as if every Christian girl struggles with that the most. Believe it or not, some actually don’t. 

I traded in “Captivating” (woof) for “Half the Sky” and “The Irresistible Revolution.”

I traded in Bethany Dillon’s, “Beautiful” for U2’s, “Get on Your Boots.”

I spent less time pursuing deep relationships and more time trying to serve and learn and do, do, do.

I had less and less patience for those who claimed to be Christians but didn’t care to learn about, talk about, or do something about the suffering going on around us.

I muttered things privately and publically about the Michelle Bachmans and Rick Santorums who claimed to know so much about homosexuality and how deplorable it was, but never bothered to listen to the story or struggles of someone who is gay. There are people, with faces, feelings, and dreams, behind nouns such as “homosexuality.” We do great harm when we forget that.

I laughed less.

In summary, my life had become quite uncomfortable and being totally honest, I wanted other peoples’ lives too as well.

It hasn’t felt good. Learning about the harsh realities of life on this planet in which excess wealth and destitute poverty clash; where one kid gets raised with two loving parents, while the other grows up precariously in the projects, wondering who or where his dad is and when mom will stop getting high. One kid drops out of school, while a girl in rural Africa is denied education. None of this is supposed to feel good.

But it’s not supposed to lead to burnout, cynicism, bitterness, divisiveness, nor criticism.

But slowly, ever so slowly, that’s all changing. Luckily I’m learning from a few great friends and family members (who may not even know that they are teaching me this lesson) to stop taking life so seriously. Sure there’s a time to be serious. There’s a time for action. But there’s also a time for rest (Matthew 11:28), Sabbath (Psalm 23:2), and yes, even laughter (Eccl. 3:4).

When you mix enjoyment of God and standing up to action, I believe you rise up in the dare to move.

I’m trying to get there. But if I’m honest, sometimes, often times, I feel stuck in the tension. The tension of how the world is and how it should be. The tension of where I am and where I want to be. The tension of the now, and the not yet. And accepting that that’s how it’s going to be, because I’m only on this side of Heaven. But one day, I won’t be. And I’ll want to look back seeing where I merged my life to create Heaven on Earth as much as possible, filling my days with grace, love, action, serving, hope, and endless, unstoppable, contagious joy.

I find myself waking up to where I’m getting it wrong. Desperately wrong. In clamant need of forgiveness. And asking for it, pleading for it.

All of these human experiences, when put in balance, aren’t meant to lead to exhaustion. They’re supposed to lead to grace and mercy.

So I’m making this my desperate prayer, to be “reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy in the next,” as Reinhold Niebuhr put it so eloquently in the serenity prayer. Today, I’ll say thank you to those who have been patient with me and return the favor to the next soul who needs me to be patient with them. I’ll learn to appreciate the passions, giftings, and talents of others. Not only will I be thankful, I will learn to celebrate such diversity alongside that person.

Today, I will pray for grace. That I would humbly receive it, and, even ask for it at times that I’ve been over-zealous and flat out wrong. I will say thank you to those who’ve so readily supplied it and ask God for more so that I can readily distribute it.

To the cynic.
To offer it lavishly and freely for the doubter.
To offer grace to the do-er, do-more-er, and for the courage to stop “doing” and start “being.”
Grace for the inquisitive, who have more questions than answers.
Grace for the on-the-fence.
Grace for the scared-to-start.
Grace for the I-don’t-want-to-start.
Grace for the rich. Grace for the poor.
Grace for the fearful. And the fearless.

And grace for all of humanity just trying to live life as best we can in the tension of life on this side of Heaven, on this stumbling, spinning, persistent halfway home called Earth.

The Winter it Didn’t [Really] Snow

It feels like just yesterday that it was late September and my roommate and I were praying for a mild winter. She’s from Louisiana and a total hippie (yet another one of the reasons why I love her so much) and I, well, I just like the feel of glowing sunshine on my face and hearing birds sing and feeling a warm evening breeze brush against my exposed arm. So when the local news station forecasted an inch of snow in October (before Halloween!!!), I braced myself for what could be a looong winter. I imagined myself learning how to dig my car out of snow in this new neighborhood I moved to back in July and envisioned checking my work’s website in hopeful anticipation of a snow day (it had to take nearly seven or eight inches of snow to get one-and only one- last winter).

As the last of the leaves dropped their leaves, and evening darkness pulled closer and closer, my roommate and I promised that we’d make the most of winter. In fact, some days I’d announce rather enthusiastically to my friends, “Yeah, but this year’s going to be different!!! I’m going to embrace winter and make the most out of it!” I’d say this through a smile and shivering teeth, secretly craving hot chocolate. My friends probably thought I was weird and that winter is inevitable and wondered why I was making such a big deal out of it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas went by surprisingly fast (although I’m beginning to feel as though everything is these days) and in came January. I smiled at the fireworks lighting up the Baltimore Harbor that New Year’s Eve and let my eyes linger to watch a firework “boom,” then dissipate its final ounce of color and energy, as it slowly disappeared into a cloud of smoke. I had some things of 2011 that I was ready to leave behind. As the final firework went off, I let out a small sigh and a deep breath, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. This is going to be a great year, I felt deep in my core. I made a list of “12 Mantras for 2012” (aka 12 New Year’s goals) and taped them to my mirror.
                                                                                               —
It always helps me to have something to look forward to. This winter, I had the pleasure of looking forward to 10 warm, inspiring days in sunny Cambodia with Women Who Stand*. Sure enough, after attending my final workout class of my January one month cheap membership to the gym (thanks, Groupon!), it was time to head off. It felt strange packing knee length skirts and short sleeve shirts in late January, but boy was I glad to be doing so! The trip was amazing (you can read about it here) and I remember one of the ladies (pretty much all of them) checked in with home (sorry Mom and Dad, and Brian too- I wanted to be completely “unplugged” and wanted to avoid technology for 10 days). Her family member reported that daffodils were starting to come up. In February!! I thought, and chuckled as I thought back to my hopes of a mild winter.

February came, leaping into March (cheesy pun intended). Each day, while waiting for the shuttle to take me home work from, I’d observe the buds of the Magnolia tree where the bus stop is. I wanted to freak out when I started to see shoots around the third week of February, but realized most people don’t analyze trees like I do. So I simply smiled and said a mental, “Thank you, God!” It’s now March 9th and the Magnolia tree is in full bloom. I literally cannot believe it. We would usually have to wait until at least late March to see a few blooms; April to get the whole thing in bloom, scenting the air with intoxicating thoughts of flowers and daylight and being able to hang out on a swingset in my fair trade dress.

And so the other day, my roommate and I laughed about our prayer. Though she was secretly hoping for at least one snow day off from work (I don’t blame her), we were both shocked by how that little half-joking prayer turned out. Don’t worry, I’m not advocating that you simply just need to say a prayer about the weather and it will turn out however you want it. But anyway, as I flipped my calendar to March, I said to her, “We made it! I mean, we made it through winter!” (Both of seriously do get that “seasonal affectiveness disorder” thing during wintertime). It felt like an achievement.

I’m not sure if I learned every lesson I was supposed to learn during this winter (hey, there’s still 3 weeks in which God can throw me a curveball) but I certainly learned quite a few. I learned that I can still go on evening runs, even though it’s dark and cold (thank you Charm City Thursday running group!). I laugh as I think about the time when 82 cop cars strolled through my street and I went from literally trembling in fear to thanking the heavens above when I heard Santa Claus shout, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” I remember going to a Christmas party at this nice lady across the street’s house and feeling so grateful for people who are patient and kind and give you their phone number as soon as you move into the block, and invite you over for Christmas parties. I developed a heart for empowering women globally while in Cambodia and who knows where that will take me; if for now just a song that tugs on my heart and I feel as though I’m just brushing the surface of the lyrics.

But I guess the biggest thing I learned is that you can’t anticipate everything, for better or worse. You think you’re going to be calling your boss telling her that your car is stuck in ice and, whoops!, I forgot to buy salt and it’s going to take me an hour to dig my car out because I was too lazy to set my alarm to wake up those extra 30 minutes earlier. You think the next three months are going to draaaaag. You think, you think, you think. But what actually happened? I ran in shorts on January 7th, smiled at crocuses shooting up from my friend’s front yard in late February and here I am in March smiling about blossomed Magnolia trees and daffodils.

Just when you think you know how a season, whether literal or spiritual will turn out, something else happens. Sometimes God truly does just have other plans and intentions for us. I don’t know what they are. I don’t know what they are for you; I don’t know what they are for me. But as our next season ushers in literally (and perhaps spiritually), it’s with a humble spirit of openness that I long to maintain. To be open to change. For God to dare me to see Him do something differently, and then shock me with something totally wild and unexpected. And so I don’t know what this winter was like for you. And maybe you’re reading this from Chicago or Boston or somewhere that saw tons of snow and you’re sick of it (sorry, I really do feel bad). But I do know this- with God, we can come to expect the unexpected and to learn, grow, and ultimately be satisfied in Him in the process.

Happy [almost] Spring,

Love,

Didn’t [really] Snow Winter.

*check out these amazing group of ladies: http://womenwhostandbaltimore.wordpress.com/

**https://melissaotterbein.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/cambodia-2012-learning-the-divine-connection-of-global-sisterhood/

The one time it did snow this winter, I went on a hike with Brittany Kaiser and got us lost on one of the trails for an hour. It was really cold. And wet.

On Unspoken Goodbyes and New Hellos

I often find myself thinking about this twenty something stage of life and how, from a billion different angles, people, places, and things are changing rapidly, like the wind, and I feel like a little wishie dandelion in a big field wondering why I’m no longer yellow, hoping I don’t get mistaken for a weed, and also hoping my seeds won’t blow away all at once. But I am not a dandelion; I am a human being, capable of eating, sleeping, and breathing and reflecting on what’s going on inside these skin and bones.

Ready to journal some of these feelings, I climbed into bed one night recently for a little quiet time. And, as I do like so many nights, I quickly checked facebook and noticed an old friend’s status change from “in a relationship” to “engaged.” I laughed, thinking back on pages in prayer journals from a few years ago, acutely aware now of the answer to that prayer. And that’s when a twinge of melancholy flooded in. I realized that now that this friend was getting married, reality was I would never see him and his family again, and we never got to say “goodbye.”

In that moment, I saw the faces of other friends, mostly from college, swirl around in my mind. Friends I no longer see or spend time with, pining to experience that amity all over again in the present. I’m sure you have those people in your life. Those people who are simply unforgettable, perhaps because of the way imago dei emanates from their soul, overflowing with rivulets of life, life, life, incandescent and uninhibited life.

I thought about the last time I spent with each of these life-giving people and what I would have said or done differently had I known we were going to lose touch and this would be the last time we would see each other face to face.

These changes of lost relationships stung, a hurt not easily pacified, and for the first time, I allowed myself in that moment to grieve their end.

I didn’t know that my twenties would have many times of unspoken goodbyes, unintentional “see ya laters,” only the “laters” never came.

I didn’t know just how absolutely painful it can be to let go of people who have influenced your life in some way, shape or form, knowing that they left an everlasting impression, having influenced your journey into who you are today.

I didn’t know just how often some people will just slowly fade out, like a setting sun sinking beneath the covers of the horizon. You can watch that sun retract behind the silhouette of the city, moving almost imperceptibly, and then sure enough that ruby red ball of fire is visible no more, leaving you with the beckoning of night, the closing of a day, the sunset just a memory stored away in the cells of your brain. And much like those sunsets, those memories with old friends slowly dissipate; your only connection left to such people being their status updates on Facebook or their phone number that you used to text, now dormant in your cell phone contacts list.

I’m not really looking for people to leave my life. Baz Luhrmann* once said, “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few, you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”

Feeling imbued to move beyond grief, I promised myself that from that night on forward, I would start treasuring and hugging those precious few. And to the rest, I would tell them how much I appreciate their influence in my life, or share with them something they taught me, or say thank you for something they did. Though you may end up being friends forever, you also can’t guarantee that you too won’t have an unspoken goodbye and the people around you now may one day in the future, however near or far away that may be, a page you click on Facebook and smile at from a distance.

Looking back on the past and ahead to the future, we’re left with a choice for today. May we speak words of gratitude with the people right around us. To lift someone up. To say thank you. To say something you’ve always wanted to tell someone, but were too shy or scared to do so. This is the time. This is it. There are no second chances. This is the present. This is all we ever have. So may you make the most of it. May you risk feeling awkward or that the other person may think you’re emotional, because you just might touch their life, like they touched yours. May you love well. May you let go of whatever it is that needs to be let go of with peace and courage, a departing coda to a particular journey of seasons and reasons. May we bind up past regret and celebrate brave, unfettered surrenders as we are tied closer to new unforgettables: of friends, of love, of laughter, of glimpses of Heaven on Earth and the face of your Maker in the most unexpected of places. May we accept life’s fragility and the passing of time, treasuring past memories, and then, in turn, may we make many, many more, because life doesn’t stop when the picture is hung in the frame, but rather, needs to constantly be explored, trampled upon, danced upon, cart-wheeled upon, and “whooped up!” because the story is being written and I don’t want to read the same jejune pages, scratching my head, wondering, “gee, where was I all of those years?”

Surely we can learn to make peace with change.
We can trade in rote conversation for beatific communion.
We can be grateful for every single person God has brought into our lives. Even if you no longer talk anymore, you can deep down appreciate how they have shaped some part of who are.
We can learn to say the words we’ve always wanted to say, ask the questions we’ve always wanted to ask, because we haven’t been offered unlimited chances and opportunities.

We can greet the cashier behind the counter by name, converse with the couple who just moved in, new to town, and we can actually listen to someone’s response when we ask, “how are you?” Much like Jesus with the woman at the well, we can take these seemingly ordinary tasks and interactions and recycle them for something better, something beautiful, something more compelling then the status quo.
And together, we can celebrate, that the God who brought such treasured people into our lives in the past can surely bring new community and deep relationships into our lives today.

So with unspoken goodbyes must also come new hellos. Today may you say, “hello” to the stranger who sits next to you on your morning commute and try to learn just one thing about them. May you say “hello” to new opportunities, to new friends, faces, fellow wanderers and travelers, to new risks, to new dreams, to something undiscovered, to something on your bucket list, to the deep end, to dares, to rolling down hills barefoot and unafraid…

Yes, get those hands waving hello, palms wide open, prepare those handshakes, click “register” for that race you’ve always wanted to do, get your camera out and take insanely beautiful pictures and as you do, may you smile with the morning dawn, grateful to be alive in no matter what season of life in which you find yourself.

*If you’ve never heard Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” I highly recommend it. I listen to it every couple months for wisdom and inspiration.