Friday, July 30, 2010

Trite, but True! I-Heart-NYC

Back in the Saddle with Friday 5 and RevGalBlogPals! It's the I-Heart-NYC edition!

Friday Five: Love the One You're With

This Friday Five will post while I'm at the beach which for me is more than a vacation destination, it is a trip home. I have found it quite easy to wax nostalgic about the places I used to live (well, except for one) and have begun to wonder what it is I like about the place I'm living now? For instance I sure do love the beach, but this picture was taken about 30 minutes away from my house - not too shabby!

And so I ask you to please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like.

1. Diversity Diversity Diversity!! New York is a slice of the world passing by! Languages, faces, politics, food, histories, mysteries... Love it. People watching is the best free thing going in the City.

2. Public transportation! Yes, the rate hikes are getting ridiculous, but you can get practically anywhere... fabulous.

3. You WILL fit somewhere here in the City. Got a unique interest? Someone else does here too. Haven't found a place you feel comfortable elsewhere? Bet you will here--though it might take effort to find it, it's here waiting for you.

4. Parks and public spaces--funky finds all over. Little surprises of green civility.

5. Walkability and ease of finding one's way in Manhattan. Three cheers for the grid system! (Until you get far enough south...but....) Going out on a wander just to see what there is to see is such an awesome thing here. Hidden independent coffee shops, historical markers, unique architectural details, flower stalls, fruit displays, public art...

And one thing I don't like...

Let's just imagine... 8 million people and their garbage + an insanely hot summer. Sometimes it just plain stinks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bearable Lightness of Being

It is not often that one has a chance to pair the absence of coffee in the can with a curious sleepy ponder about whether there actually is just a little less gravity holding things in place.

So it was this morning at 5:30 when I opened the cupboard and was reminded in one sad sandy shake that I’d forgotten to replenish the grounds of caffeinated morning glory. Ah, well. There was no paper yet either. Well, ah.

Yet, there was the corner of the couch just like usual and the table with a bare spot just big enough for the plunk of two heels. There was also the fleeting peace of being the only one downstairs and engaged in the quotidian personalized rituals of rising wakefulness.

Coffee or not, these moments are precious to me and I was keen to take advantage. I tucked into the corner, put my journal on the next cushion, and closed my eyes.

Whether it was the lack of liquid stimulation or simply the temporal proximity to my former state of being, I quickly entered that embracing in-between-ness of neither completely asleep nor entirely awake.

I love that place. I can’t describe it to you, and in fact, think it is different for everyone, but I know that it is a place where I feel intensely close to God. A space of welcome vulnerability where, as I wrote later, “things can float freely though your mind and heart for an hour—an hour when gravity has a little less hold and things can be examined, removed from an internal pocket and set in front for flipping, spinning, touching, tracing, manipulating, with the aim to come to know and perhaps, though not necessarily, understand.”

This morning, some of those things included shedding some residual from a conversation I’d had recently, concerns about my father, preparations for Rome and things left to be done, upcoming travels, future ministry and living situations…

It is a place of trust and presence and safety. It is a place of desire—a place I desire to be, a place to discover God’s desires, a place where I am desired to be by God. And it is not something I can plan or even where I would choose to go every time I pray. Which is a good thing, because it certainly doesn’t happen every time I pray.

This morning I went one place among many places—many rooms. Some spaces are bare, some are crammed, some are with one cushion, some have stadium seating, some lit with a candle or the stars, some without power.

This house of prayer is a fascination, it is. It is entirely enticing and without end.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


In these last weeks, I have been to the library quite a bit. I have found new mystery authors to enjoy, yes, but the real thrill has been 641.5. Not six-hundred forty one and a half, 641.5. Cookery. I have been devouring cookbooks and food writing books. And not only reading, but putting into practice! I have made lime-chili-sesame green beans that sagged my socks, a blueberry cake, the left-overs of which made 5:30 in the morning a truly dreamy moment, and roasted tomato-garlic pasta with balsamic parmesean zucchini that did little somersaults of joy all the way down.

In thinking about this spate of spatula toting, I was drawn back to earlier journal entries.

From my journal entry of 28 March, 2010, written after a much needed massage soon after returning from Chile…

I get a good vibe from S…it is that feeling that allows the trust to have her care for me in that way. It is not there for me with everyone…I am grateful when I do feel it. It is the sense that with her you can let go and she will help you and keep you safe all at the same time. For that hour, someone you trust is helping you on the journey…and it is okay to rest and allow it.

And a quotation I found yesterday, 13 July, 2010, while paging through The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters….

It is the many dimensions of sensual experience that make cooking so satisfying.

These two ideas are intimately related, I think. And the link has something to do with the absolute need for the beauty of the senses in my life. I feel the lack of it when it isn’t there. I remember thinking just before the massage—Ahh, touch! Thank you, God, for that. For the touch of someone I trust…for being able to feel the relaxation moving within me, the gratitude, the warmth, the sense of being home in those moments, of being with God.

In the kitchen, it is the textures, the colors, tastes, feels, smells, that do it. The sensory input, the providing for others, the delight and marvel of the science of it…how an understanding of the chemistry leads me to new understandings of the depths of relationship—relationships of harmony, that lead to beauty or a fullness of taste that could not otherwise be achieved.

The idea that certain spices draw out the best in certain foods is not unlike the idea that certain people draw out the best in certain others. Friends! We know our best ones because they accept and allow our humanity while calling us to be our best selves, to live more intimately our important, though fractional piece of the image and likeness of God. And, in my experience, they do this by the questions asked, by support given, by being still enough often enough to allow the other to do likewise and together create peace.

And I imagine that this sort of peace, rightness of relationship, is something like the meal created in Babette’s Feast—balanced, flavorful, full of joy and surprise and both personal and communal exposition and delight—if we allow ourselves to participate in it, to be touched by it, to be made vulnerable by it.

And how often, in the midst of such a meal or such relationship, silence comes welcoming with the coffee or quiet smile--silence not for any sort of lack, but for the sake of savoring the fullness.

Amen, I say.

And then comes the joy of bringing some small part of that experience and knowledge to others...not by dint of force or subjection, but rather by allowing it within myself. Allowing it to shape me, touch me, yes, change me. And that is what I walk with and the well from which I share... and cook.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


From the journal

6:07 AM

And so the morning begins in cool and breezy silence….at least for some moments. It is a passing but welcome peace that settles here in the living room where I am tucked into a couch corner with the front section of the paper and mug number one of caffeinated glory. But first, important and handy words I learned while translating last night. My favorite is matiz, nuance. SO nice to know how to say that! Amparo- protection; al amparo de- with the help of; to say nothing of learning the words for each sense! There were more than a couple moments of “Oh, wow, there IS a word for that!”

I was telling someone about the wonder of that and she asked, “Why didn’t you simply look it up in the dictionary if you needed it before?” In other words, the word has always been available to me, why such a revelation?

Hm. To explain or not to explain? I opted for not. But, for the record, here’s why.

Some of it is because of the moments of “I need a word that means….” Sometimes you know the meaning of the word you want to translate but not the word itself, which renders a riffle through the dictionary potentially interesting, but not precise.

And then you have those times when you might be thinking of the word, but when you look up the word, it is not translated with the same word you might encounter later on that more accurately suggests it. Matiz for nuance is an example. Faceta, facet, is ~ish to matiz, nuance.

Also, sometimes it is simply neat to know that a word means multiple things. Colmar can be used for both fill-to-the-brim and to fulfill. Knowing both translations might color your choice between various options and on a rather basic level, you have the added satisfaction of knowing that you made a conscious choice to use the fullness of a word. You chose the word for a particular use because you were aware of its depth. The reader or other half of a conversation might never know that is why you used it, but the writer or the speaker knows. For me, that counts for something.

This is much, I imagine, like the feeling might be to just once pull out the stops when you drive in order to feel the full potential of the engine’s design when under ordinary circumstances you might be testing it at about half capacity. Ever after the layout, the driver knows the engine’s fullness. It is felt within and at the same time both a thrill and something that passengers need not necessarily know or experience. The driver knows and that is enough…most of the time.

But sometimes, it is just too cool to not share.