simplicity and farmer’s markets

(from Tuesday, 2-9-16) The canal path is white today and the bare tree branches dusted with snow; the flakes come down and greet my eyeballs with a handshake. The simplicity and the beauty of the snow make me think: what do I really want from life? Where will I find my joy? Because I recognize that I have such joy in this simplicity; this morning run on my canal that I’ve done hundreds of times, the gentle flakes falling from the sky, the houses on the canal path that I always imagine myself living in, fantasizing of a life of simplicity and peace as you look out over this waterway every morning with your coffee. What I long for is the complex simplicity of making your home, your life, a place for people to find their peace in or find a community that they belong. What I long for is someone with whom to share all of this. And I realize, as I propel these tired legs forward on a random, beautiful Tuesday, that right now I have all that I need. In this moment, it is complete. And some deep part of me trusts that the next moment will also, somehow, be complete.

*****

(from Saturday, 2-20-16) Farmer’s Market, Saturday morning. A February morning that makes you believe wholeheartedly in spring before winter strikes again, not ready to fully release us to sunshine and melted streets and birds singing. People file into this old windowless warehouse building, funniest farmer’s market atmosphere I ever saw, for their market goodies before starting the rest of their day. My roommate sells coffee along with free huge hugs and smiles to brighten your day. I go to see her. I love this collection of people who are willing to slow down, savor tastes, and pay a little extra for the real thing. I wish I could be more like them.
Too soon it is time to go, back out to the sunshine, off to my Saturday shift in the library before I am free to run and play in this abundant sunshine. The surprise summer-in-the-end-of-winter puts me in a giddy mood and I cook up plans for how to squeeze every last drop I can from this day. I act as if I won’t have this again forever, and in a way I won’t, if forever means a couple of weeks. I remind myself to let the abundant sunshine rain its abundance on me. There will be days like this again. And right now, live fully into the moment that today is giving me.

how we worship

This small congregation of 12, the ones K. tears up for when preaching about them in sermons, the ones who have to close their doors in too few days, too few to allow K. to be ordained in the church building he was raised up in. Where is the line between thriving and surviving? What happens to a church that once split because it was growing so much and now, can seat everyone comfortably around a long foldout table?
Sitting with them, I film a movie in my head, a beautiful tragedy of a once-bustling church. A scene of this very conversation, zooming in on the confirming question: we still want to keep meeting, right? – yes. Camera pans out to a wide shot of the whole table discussing how much money to sell the building for, face shots of people giving out numbers in earnest, putting numeric values on a place that has housed the growing up of children, the building of community, the maturation of their own souls. I watch the fierce commitment of people who have spent years and years together, without a question in their minds of whether or not they will continue to be church with each other, only wondering where.
I imagine a future scene in my head, the keys being handed over to the new owners, the wooden doors closing one last time, the last truck loaded with folding chairs and a chalice, driving out of the parking lot. A tear streaking slowly down the cheek of the churchgoer, maybe the movie watcher. A beautiful tragic drama, or as K. reminds me, There is joy; it’s an opportunity for a new beginning.

 

*****

Early morning pre-dawn, best time for running. We’re getting so much in before most people are even thinking about rolling out of bed. The moon is just showing off with an incredible set like this, playing hide-and-seek between the clouds, sinking large and low on the horizon. K. and I tread cautiously on frozen snow, paths lit by the shine of the moon and the occasional car beam, until we reach the stillness of the canal path. I breathe deeper there and relax – my home. There is something about the joy of the cold air, the bare tree branches, the night sky, and running beside my love that alchemies into a mixture of joyous exuberance. Words burst from my mouth, story after story after random detail, but I am safe and know I am loved, and K. finds it all charming. At this easy pace, I could run forever, and almost wish to. Just keep going til you run out of path, out of time, out of darkness. Run until dawn, until the secret of night ends. That is what I love about night runs, I tell K. — it is as though the canal and I hold a secret that nobody else knows about, that there is beauty so strange and glorious and wonderful and I revel to share in it. Oh you beautiful world, you. Light feet, light body, light heart.

Moonset CTS night sky

two weekends in the woods

(January 3, 2016) I like to imagine myself as a deer in the woods; long-legged and leaping from one place to next. This is how I envision my experience. In reality, in the woods, I follow my love (not to the fields, Wendell Berry – the woods are even better) and am so happy to trot along after him, not deer, more like puppy. I’d follow you wherever you go. Until I seek permission to race ahead like deer, because really I’m too independent for too much following, and run too fast. Unlike deer, I get tuckered out (more like puppy) within a mile. However, out of sheer stubbornness mixed with pure love for the woods, I go round for another 4 mile loop. Four miles in the woods is more like 7 on the roads. I am tired, but when I emerge from the woods with my head hanging and unable to walk in a straight line, he is there waiting for me patiently at the car. His welcoming smile makes everything good. I am deer – I am puppy – I am Christine, full of the woods and all their good things.

(Wendell Berry’s Manifesto: The Mad Farmer’s Liberation Front reads, “Go with your love to the fields. / Lie down in the shade. Rest your head / in her lap. Swear allegiance / to what is nighest your thoughts.)
deer running(Image from Google Images / Youtube)

(January 9, 2016) A little rain doesn’t stop the dedicated runners, especially when the setting is serene Eagle Creek Park. My goofy leaping about as we get ready to step on the trail betrays my feelings; not that I was ever one to hide my excitement, anyway. The sky is heavy gray, the tree branches are bare except for the stubborn yellow leaves hanging out on the undergrowth, and the path is clearly marked. As I run beside this man, the pace feeling relaxed and easy, I think back to other days with other people, when I believed their happiness was my responsibility and I was weighed down with guilt over things I couldn’t control. This man, even though he feels “off” on this morning with a weather front coming in, gives me nothing but his smiles when I look at him. There is something within me that is very reassured by this, some deep-seated fear or maybe memory being overlaid by this new experience of someone smiling back at you when you check in with them, someone who really wants you to be here with them. Or maybe part of it is that I’m finally able to believe – to know – that I am wanted here. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but I know that here in these woods, on this rainy January day in Indianapolis, something is being healed.

Kevin in the woods