Peripatetic Popsicles

Confession: I was going to entitle this "Peripatetic Poopsicles," but a stuttering, over-eager pinky saved you all from my juvenility. Although I think in most cases it is appropriate to say what you mean and mean what you say, I shall relax my rules for myself. They may be good enough for you, but not for me! ;)

Anyway, if you're wondering what "peripatetic" means, it's mostly just a fancy word for pacing, but it originates with Aristotle, referring (according to my Mac dictionary) to his practice of walking back and forth while teaching. Education is a funny thing: it's expensive, hit or miss for actual value, and one of America's peculiar goddesses. We've taken a thing that was meant to be living, growing, and organic, capable of adjusting to fit special circumstances, different weather, and new terrain, and hardened and cut it into a particular likeness of unyielding stone. Statues aren't much good to anyone except the pigeons, and I don't think that's the kind of life we have in mind for the sphere of education.

Yesterday, I spent some time talking with my high school's headmaster, Mr. Cote. I can't remember if we talked about this during dts or if it was just blatantly obvious from the various stories of movements like 24/7 prayer, which was kicked off simultaneously in England and the U.S. with Pete Greig and Mike Bickle respectively, and yet there was no collaboration, just a separate, similar move of God on the hearts of two men who He was preparing to lead the latest thing on His heart. It's cool how He works it out that nobody has to be alone, not even in their ideas. Back to Mr. Cote, though, he talked about re-envisioning what kingdom education looks like. And maybe it's less about competing with public schools (which, let's face it, are based on a failing model anyway), and maybe it's more about discipleship. About community and asking questions and realizing that it's not about me, it's about other people. Education shouldn't inspire us to go for more education: it should empower us to go out and turn all that we know into something beautiful for the world. And that doesn't need to be limited to going into a pastoral office, which is what we seem to think we must aim for if we're going to make a difference. You can work for a church and do virtually nothing to glorify God and spread His love and justice. You can work for a big business at a desk job in a position with high demands on time, mind, and focus, and glorify God in a way that shakes the area around you. It's all a matter of perspective, which I'm increasingly coming to see makes all the difference in the world.

I'm excited for what the future has in store. We have a hope like none other, so we of all people should not look to it with fear and anxiety. And the coolest part is that when He wants to do something, He hearkens back to another time and walks with us in the cool of the day, sharing His plans and joys and desires with us and then giving us a fatherly nudge to go.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us..."
Ephesians 3:20


All Things New

It's hard to explain what seeing Josh Garrels live in concert means to me. How do I capture for someone else how significant his cd, "Jacaranda," was to my summer of 2010? The best I can do is to call it my summer soundtrack for that year, but then all you know is that I listened to it a lot and its sounds colored the texture of the night air, and even then, it doesn't quite get it.

I never thought I would have this opportunity (let's start there). I first heard his music through my friend Debbie, who put one of his songs, "Sweet River Roll," on a mix she made for me before I left for IMPACT. I listened to and liked it quite a bit, but had never heard of him before nor heard any of his music (not necessarily a redundancy, for anyone who cares). As it so happens, he rarely does shows on the East Coast, despite being a Carolina native, but several years ago, he played at Senorita Burrita, a little burrito joint on Prince Street. I missed that show by a year or two in terms of knowing who he was, but by the time I did, I sorely regretted my ignorance. The likelihood that he would ever be in my neck of the woods was slim, and I knew it.

Re-enter Debbie, a week ago. She tells me that he's going to be in town again. Understandably, I am over the moon in joy. Finally and surprisingly, I would get to see him in concert! But when I looked up the details, it appeared that he would be playing late on Saturday evening, when I was already scheduled to work. Disappointed, I let her know that I wouldn't be able to go, and that seemed like the end of it. But, surprise again, he was actually playing TWO shows this weekend, one with the P.A.P.A. Festival (partners with Shane Claiborne), the other with a Lancaster organization called The Rowhouse. The second show would be taking place on Sunday at 7PM. And most conveniently, I could go.

What do I love about his music? He is undeniably good. His music is like rich, thick, sweet molasses, something that has a bite to it, that wakes up something inside of you and you know life shouldn't be the same. There's a lot of rawness, genuine fervor, connection, and a Christian mystic's understanding and words for who God is. He has his pulse on the threads of the world and of culture, but I think he doesn't realize his prophecy for what it is. Bringer of hope, speaker of truth, singer of songs that will never grow old and only grow sweeter.

I feel like this whole evening was a present from my Father. Even the song list... He played Don't Wait for Me, Break Bread, Train Song, Zion & Babylon, The Resistance, Further Along, and even (though he said he rarely plays it live) Little Blue. The others, Ulysses, Flood Waters, Freedom (a new favorite), Slip Away, and the live-only song Joyful Boy, were all stunningly awesome. I don't think I have ever smiled out of simple bliss for so long in my entire life. It was perfect. Thank you, Abba, for giving me a sort of reverse Father's Day gift. It was everything I could have wished for, but never would have dreamed of having.



Life is not always as we expect it to be. I should know that by know, it's true. After all, my own life got turned on its head in the space of two weeks during last September. But at least that time I had a pretty good sense that whatever happened, it was what was supposed to happen. Sometimes circumstances are not quite so clear cut, and the road is not such easy going. Like right now...

I have always been someone who has a plan, who shies away from uncertainty and attempts to craft realistic plans for the future. Always, there is a next step, even if it's just a small step or the accepted one that most people take. So I at last went through all of the steps to apply to Biola, completed all of my enrollment items save one or two that still needed to be tied up, and thought that I was ready to go. But what I didn't notice from day to day was the sick edge of stress that was wearing at the edges of my nerves. It was money. I hate money. Or, well, I suppose I don't mind money itself. It is a means to an end: the hopefully superior form of the bartering system, whereby I give you the means for you to get something you want and you give me something you have that I want, or vice versa. I just hate that it's impossible to get by without it.

[I feel like this is an appropriate time to make a confession... I sometimes wistfully daydream about living in one of those post-apocalyptic storylines. When technology and information systems are destroyed, when roadways are rendered virtually impassable, life has to get simpler. True, there are downsides. Healthcare is in its rudest form, the transmission of knowledge is limited... But with great knowledge comes great responsibility, and our knowledge base has far outstripped our ability to be ethically responsible for its use. And college would basically not exist in this other universe, so I could learn the way that I want to, since that is probably more along the lines of the ancient methodologies anyway, and nobody would complain if I wanted to teach without having a degree in something useless for which I paid half of my life's labor. Yeah, I'm not bitter, but I'm disappointed.]

So at last, as I was lying in bed, I finally told myself that it was okay to turn down the apparent school of my dreams. In some ways, I feel like I'm in a relationship that took a downhill turn. Y'know, "How many bases did you go with him?" And the more bases you cover, the harder it is to break-up even when you know that you should because it's not going anywhere healthy... Well, this is the farthest point I've reached with any college, so it's hard to break my plans and daydreams of the future from this setting. What's a play without a backdrop? There is no grounding for what takes place. And for the first time in my life, I found myself staring at a big, blank, scary Nothing. I panicked.

So the last few days have been a little tough. They have gotten better, slowly but surely. I spent most of Sunday in a drained, depressed stupor, freed from one stress only to get stuck in another. But Monday was good, and today was better, and tomorrow will probably provide some clarity about what my options are. Probably the reason I am doing as well as I am (because, from prior experience, I ordinarily wouldn't be) is simply that in the midst of it all, God has been so sweet to me. My pastor has been talking about the prophetic, and during the post-message demonstration time, I knew that someone would have a word for me. Even though I was on a bit of a time crunch, I waited until the end, and sure enough, Frank simply said that he felt like God was saying He was my protection and safety. Is there balm in Gilead? I don't know, but we've got some here in Lancaster. There have been other moments, captured in the midst of the rush of the day, each one inspiring me with the courage to walk a little further forward. And I guess, really, this is what I asked for: to grow closer to Him, whatever the cost. So I shall take the advice of the beloved hero in Meet the Robinsons and "keep moving forward."