Monday, September 22, 2008

God, the comedian

So, I have this weird affinity for Praying Mantis (or is it Praying Mantises? Praying Manti? Ha). Anyways, I think they are cool. I mean, they look lives leaves and like a prayerful monk all in one.

I snapped both this pictures in Hawaii. But I've seen one around STL recently.

Ok. So the point is this: I've had a few people in my past who have chosen certain ordinary things that they have asked God to use to remind them that He is thinking about them or loves them or whatever. My mom's is a butterfly. I had a college pastor who chose red balloons. Anyways, it was literally yesterday when I was at the park that I decided I would make my little 'reminder' be these fabulous green weirdos. As in, whenever I saw its weirdness in action, I could be reminded that my Father is thinking about me and loves me no matter what.


So. Today. My mom and I were taking a mid-morning walk because today is another one of those beauuuuuuutifulllll Fall days. Toward the end of our walk, my mom shrieks,
"Oh Jennie, look!" she says while pointing downward. What's she pointing at?

A dead, squashed Praying Mantis.

Literally, it looked like someone just took the little guy and laid him perfectly flat on his side and squished him dead. He even had his little 'praying' hands at ready. So there it was: the symbol I had chosen to be a sweet reminder between me and God that my Creator thinks of me -- flattened mercilessly and dead as a doornail.

Cool, God. Real cool.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"confessions" of his ; exhortation of mine

...If souls please you, let them be loved in God; for in themselves they are mutable, but in him firmly established -- without him they would simply cease to exist. In him, then, let them be loved; and bring along to him with yourself as many souls as you can, and say to them: "Let us love him, for he himself created all these," and he is not far away from them. For he did not create them, and then go away.

They are of him and in him.

Behold, there he is, wherever truth is known. He is within the inmost heart, yet the heart has wandered away from him. Return to your heart, O you transgressors, and

hold fast to him who made you.

Stand with him and you shall stand fast.
Rest in him and you shall be at rest.

Where do you go along these rugged paths? Where are you going? The good that you love is from him, and insofar as it is also for him, it is both good and pleasant. But it will rightly be turned to bitterness if whatever comes from him is not rightly loved and if he is deserted for the love of the creature. Why then will you wander farther and farther in these difficult and toilsome ways?

There is no rest where you seek it.
Seek what you seek; but remember that it is not where you seek it.

You seek for a blessed life in the land of death.
It is not there. For how can there be a blessed life where life itself is not?"

But our very Life came down to earth and bore our death, and slew it with the very abundance of his own life. And, thundering, he called us to return to him into that secret place from which he came forth to us...

For he did not delay, but ran through the world, crying out by words, deeds, death, life, descent, ascension -- crying aloud to us to return to him. And he departed from our sight that we might return to our hearts and find him there.

For he left us, and behold, he is here.

He could not be with us long, yet he did not leave us. He went back to the place that he had never left, for "the world was made by him."[104] In this world he was, and into this world he came, to save sinners. To him my soul confesses, and he heals it, because it had sinned against him.

O sons of men, how long will you be so slow of heart?

Even now after Life itself has come down to you, will you not ascend and live? But where will you climb if you are already on a pinnacle and have set your mouth against the heavens? ... Tell this to the souls you love that they may weep in the valley of tears, and so bring them along with you to God, because it is by his spirit that you speak thus to them, if, as you speak, you burn with the fire of love.

- St. Augustine, "Confessions"
book iv, chapter 12

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear God,

I'm kinda annoyed at you right now. Please know that I am extremely grateful for how you care for me and watch over me. But I just don't the heck know where my life is going or how I could even begin to do your will if I don't get to hear from you.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

into the wild

As I spent some time with God today, I was overwhelmed by my gratitude and overall happiness -- only to be shocked to find myself suddenly worried and anxious that I was going to miss something by my simple contentedness. I still want to go. I still want to travel. I remember the night before I left for YWAM, as I was packing, I thought to myself (in the midst of butterflies that were turning into a painful ache) 'Why do I always want to leave what's comfortable and safe?' There I was, in the peacefulness of my home, about to leave and start something completely unknown. And why? I guess it's childish to want to leave and explore and venture. And my thoughts brought me to Thoreau's famous quote about "sucking the marrow" out of life. I read the beginning of Walden, and found so much of what my heart speaks and didn't even know. Save and except the fact that Thoreau was probably an evolutionist atheist, I believe his searching is fairly true to life. As I read, I think it's become more clear why I have the desire to leave -- my experience at YWAM was hard and uncomfortable, and most importantly, simplistic. And I think that's why I felt so alive, and why it was my own Walden, respectively.

"When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality...children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure"

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it..."

- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden", excerpts from chapter 2