Monday, September 29


And then their return to the pays natal, where the same old willows swept the same ragged lawns, where the same old prarie arose and bloomed as negligence permitted. Home. What kinder place could there be on earth, and why did it seem to them all like exile? Oh, to be passing anonymously through an impersonal landscape! Oh, not to know every stump and stone, not to remember how the fields of Queen Anne's lace figured in the childish happiness they had offered to their father's hopes, God bless him.
That odd capacity for destitution, as if by nature we ought to have so much more than nature gives us. As if we are shockingly unclothed when we lack the complacencies of ordinary life. In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, and then the thought of what is wanting and what alleviation would be, and how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home. But the soul finds its own home if it ever has a home at all.

- Home, Marilynne Robinson

This is the companion novel to Gilead, which I raved about a few years ago here, here, and here. Home doesn't have the same feel with words that just made me sit in wonder with Gilead, but it's a good book for sure. This piece of the book is resonating with me now as I still struggle at times not to feel as I'm in exile in my home, as I am feeling vulnerable in many ways, but trying to allow my soul to find its home.

(By the way, I had to look up pays natal. It means native land.)

Sunday, September 28

waiting for a bloom

A few weeks ago, the night blooming cirrus on Mimi's front porch was ready to bloom. Mimi invited her friend over, estimating it would start to open around 10:30 PM. She chilled red wine (yes, she chills red wine) in preparation for the little party. I came home around that time and found them on the front porch, in the dark, but with a flashlight that they used to check on the progress of the bloom from time to time.
I had to work the next day, so I decided to go to bed around midnight, after taking a few pictures. I found out the next morning that they stayed up until 2 AM and it never opened. They had different opinions on why it didn't open. It was the night before hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast, so one theory was that it was because it could sense some bad weather was coming. The other thought was that it had just been too hot for it too open.
I took this picture the next morning. This was as far as it got. There are now quite a few more blooms that may end up opening, so we might have another viewing party in a week or so.

Saturday, September 27

a world planted in pennies

But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.
-Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

I'm becoming more and more convinced that "healthy poverty and simplicity" is where it's at. I'm in the middle, or perhaps just at the very beginning, of a reawakening to what it could be to live simply, to actually identify with the poor and the marginalized of society, to love them, learn from them and see the image of God in them.

I recently finished reading the Bible in a year and am now taking a little more time with a few books. Parts of Isaiah that speak to our responsibility to the poor are leaping off the page. I had no idea that I have skimmed over all that just to get to the sections like the calling in chapter 6 and the prophecies about the Messiah later in the book. How could I have read this Bible my whole life and missed these huge themes?

Yesterday at the homeless shelter, there was a young woman who came up to the desk to tell me she felt like she was going crazy. She had been evicted from her apartment, was separated from her kids, and it sounded like she was with a guy just because he was providing her some protection. At first I just gave her the numbers for two shelters that take women. One of which she had already checked and they were full. I asked some of the people who work there for more ideas, and we tried calling a few other places, but had no success. This has happened a few times before and always makes me sad. There has to be something that can be done for women who aren't abused and don't have kids, or don't have their kids with them. If nothing is there, I must be a part of the solution.

Saturday, September 20

pictures, produce, pizza

I'm overdue for some pictures up here. I have only taken a few with my new (used, bought from a friend) camera anyway, and haven't really experimented with the settings like I need to in order to learn how to use it. But, I can't post the few I have taken because I can't upload them to my computer since I had a little computer trouble and had to have all the stuff on my hard drive reinstalled. For some reason, the installation CD isn't working. Hopefully I'll find a way to fix that soon.

Today I went to Boggy Creek Farm. I didn't get there until after noon, so most of the produce was gone, but I did buy the last of their tiny tomatoes, some goat cheese and milk, and local honey! I'm gonna have to go back when I have more of a choice of veggies.

While on the East side of town, I made a point to visit East Side Pies, a pizza place I just heard about. I got a big "Girther" (gorgonzola, onion, avocado, and bacon) and brought it home even though Mimi had already said she was making mac and cheese with turkey leftovers for lunch. I asked her if she still had room for pizza and she told me no, but then she took a look at it and said "well, maybe a little." Then, an hour ago, she came in and asked if we could have pizza for dinner. I told her she sure could, but I wasn't going to have any. She asked me to heat hers up for her, then. I guess she considers pizza reheating outside her area of expertise.

Friday, September 12

the best of the season

I'm at the conclusion of my first week back at substitute teaching, in Austin this semester instead of Dripping Springs. Today was an early release day in preparation for hurricane Ike, which we are not likely to feel much effect from in the way of weather here in Austin, but we are expected to receive quite a few evacuees here, so the schools let out early to help with the expected traffic.

The rest of the afternoon became a little solo celebration to cap off the week with a walk in the near 100 degree heat and then a nice spontaneous nap on the floor after sit-ups. I made some kimbap (California rolls) for dinner and then settled down into a comfy spot on the bed to finish up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It's a book about living almost totally off of local, homegrown foods. The end of the book documents winter, eating primarily what they have put away at the end of summer. Inside, with the air on, I almost had the feeling that it was winter here too, but then Mimi came back to her bedroom and turns on the TV. I'm generally not in the mood to tolerate much TV noise, especially at the level that she broadcasts it, so I moved myself and my book to the front porch, where the weather was still very warm, even mid September, anticipating sunset. So I was brought back to the reality of Texas summer, the summer that won't give way to the season other people in the world know as fall.

I've cultivated a longing for fall more in the past few years of living in a place with four seasons. Reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral has reminded me of how it's nice to live more in accordance with the seasons. I had very little appreciation for seasonal fruits and vegetables until I lived in a place on the other side of the world where I learned to shop according to what's most bountiful and colorful at the market.

Tonight on the front porch, the cicadas were buzzing loudly, reminding me of one or two of the middle school boys I've been teaching this week who have some sort of primal need to make noise just for the sake of seeing who will respond to it. The sky began to noticably glow almost suddenly and I felt encased in the end of summer bliss, deciding that is the best of what Texas has to offer at this point in the season and enjoying it is good.

Wednesday, September 3

plans at 3 A.M.

A few weeks ago, Mimi (my grandmother) saw something in the weekend section of the paper about Katz's being open all night long. She found me in my room and said "The paper says you can get a Reuben and cheesecake at 3 A.M. when you get the craving! We should do that sometime!"

So, now I'm wondering if that's something we should schedule or if I should expect a nudge one night to wake up and drive up 6th Street for a snack. :)

Tuesday, September 2

Jesus for President

The book Jesus for President turned out to be less about politics and more of a radical restructuring to the way I think. Here's one quote that might illustrate that:

"The distinctly human question is not about how we should vote but about how we should live. The decision we make in each future election is no more important than how we vote every day. We vote every day for companies, for people, and we put money toward "campaigns." We need to think of the faces behind the scenes. Who are the masters and the Caesars that we pledge allegiance to by the way we live and through the things we put our trust in? We vote every day with our feet, our hands, our lips, and our wallets. We are to vote for the poor. We are to vote for the peacemakers. We are to vote for the marginalized, the oppressed, the most vulnerable of our society. These are the ones Jesus voted for, those whom every empire had left behind, those whom no millionaire politician will represent."
- Jesus for President, Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw

You can read a little more about the book and see some appendices at their website:

Through this book and others, and through experiences in my life the past few months, God is doing something in me that I'm not sure what to do with yet. I know it won't let me go, so it's not that I'm afraid of losing the passion for change and identification with the poor so much as I'm just wondering where it will lead and how I need to respond.