Psalm

July 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

A few years ago I discovered John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme.” Fans of the Trane will know it, but if you’ve never heard it you ought to give it a listen. At least listen to the fourth movement, “Psalm,” because it’s what I’m writing about right now.

Go ahead…listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1xe7FDsQWY

“Psalm” is shockingly mournful, full of anguish. It caught me off guard the first time I heard it, in that way that only the best music does. It still catches me off guard. I guess I thought it would be more peaceful, and in a way there is a peace about it – but an uncomfortable peace. Do you know what I mean? I thought that something called “Psalm” would be less…difficult.

I had to memorize Psalm 23 when I was a kid. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters.” It was kind and poetic and I liked it. When I got older, though, it seemed platitudinous, like some nice sentiment. The Psalms in general seemed to be full of nice sentiments, either that or asking to be rescued from enemies. Since I didn’t have enemies and I was growing in cynicism toward comforting sentiments, I didn’t have much time for Psalms. To me (in my limited reading of them), they were fluffy.

After much more life (in years and experience, though comparatively little of both), I started reading Psalms again. It’s a much different picture. It’s a picture of desperation, even anguish. Of clinging to the Lord when there is nothing else left. David knows what I feel…he felt it too. “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63)

Green pastures and still waters seem unnecessary when you haven’t been to the desert. But when you’ve been there…

“For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116)

I understand both “Psalm” and Psalms a lot better now that I’m a little older. Psalms isn’t a one-color, two-dimensional book; it’s not a book of affirming poetry. It’s a book of raw, even painful honesty and the Lord’s goodness to rescue us. What does it mean to walk before the Lord in the land of the living when you haven’t been in the grave? I get now why Coltrane called his melancholy, discordant song “Psalm.”

Maybe this all sounds very depressing to you. Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, what’s wrong with Corinne? She sounds depressed.” Maybe your life is always sunshine and butterflies and you never get sad. My life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies, but the Lord is always good. His steadfast love endures forever. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing I desire on earth besides you. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73)

Hiatus, Hiati?

May 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

Apparently when you are:

Changing jobs

Preparing to leave to country for two months

Moving right after you get back from being out of the country for two months

it’s hard to find time to blog! That’s why the hiatus…and you should expect another one, pending upcoming international travel.

Excuses, excuses.

See you in two months, maybe!

Roman Holiday Remake

May 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

I watched Roman Holiday last night. I didn’t intend to, but my roommate was watching it and Audrey Hepburn is adorable and Gregory Peck is beautiful and the whole movie bubbles with charm and quiet gags…it’s a ringer.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I also hadn’t seen it since before I went to Rome, so it was fun to do the pretentious thing and say, “Oh yes, I know that bridge. It has a great view of Vatican City.”

It occurred to me as I went to sleep (where I would dream about Gregory Peck, no really, I did) how different the ending of the movie would have been if it were made today.

For one, it wouldn’t have had that quietly sad yet somehow triumphant ending.

Joe would have written the story. But he would have made it into a declaration of love. How his views on the Princess were changed. How she was a real person, lovely and autonomous, and had utterly charmed him.

He wouldn’t have turned it in but SOMEHOW his publisher would have gotten a hold of it and published it, horror of horrors!

Ann would have read it and been shocked and angry and hurt – especially since she truly loved Joe!

How can you resist that face? Source: Wikimedia Commons

But at the press interview, when she saw his face again, and realized that his story was actually a love letter, she would have forgiven him, and instead of exiting demurely, she would have run to Joe, and they would dash out to his scooter and ride away!

They’d make it work somehow! We’d never know how, but they would! Good feelings and closure abound!

How lovely is it, then, that this classic is not a piece of flippant Hollywood idiocy. Yes, it makes me sad that Ann remains in her stifling lifestyle – but she’s a little more grown up for her sacrifice, and has gained some backbone. Yes, it makes me sad when Joe walks away, probablynever to  see Ann again outside of a newspaper or press interview. But just because you spent a magical day with someone in Rome doesn’t mean you’re meant to be together.

So, even though I hate the ending, I love the ending, the whole story, and its perfect balance between absurdity and realism.

Just another post about introversion

April 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

So you’re an introvert. Me too. You like to observe what’s going on and you carefully process your opinions about the present topic. You are quietly brilliant.

Quietly.

You probably had really poor participation grades in school. I did.

Here’s how it goes. You’re in a conversation – and by in I mean there’s at least two other people there, and they’re doing most of the talking, but you’re catching every word and you’re really into the topic at hand. You feel really involved, even though you probably haven’t said much, if anything. You formulate something you want to say – it’s definitely relevant and insightful – and politely wait for the person who’s talking to finish their latest statement so that you can jump in. They finish – here’s your chance! – but somebody else immediately starts talking, barely even after the last word has died.

You missed your opportunity. But you’re patient. What you have to say is really going to contribute, so you just hang on to it until the next available moment. Except…now the subject has changed. It’s changed ever so slightly, but suddenly your pithy contribution will no longer be relevant.

It’s a good opinion, though, so you shelve it for the time when that topic comes around again. You continue to mull it over and it reminds you of something else, which connects to another topic, and something occurs to you about that topic, and there’s a lull in the conversation, and then you feel strangely compelled to do what you almost never do:

You spontaneously speak your mind. You didn’t think about it beforehand, but something clever just occurred to you and you felt like it was important to share, especially since you missed a chance to contribute earlier.

But the problem is, what you just volunteered out loud, while clearly (to you) the result of a logical thought pattern, appears to be completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

What’s the explanation? your companions wonder. She’s always got her head in the clouds; she’s absent-minded; she’s socially awkward.

Well. You don’t mind. It was a stimulating conversation and it really got you thinking. You’re still thinking about it.

So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to continue to sit comfortably on the edge of conversations waiting for your (polite) golden moment? Are you going to steel yourself up before you leave your house in the morning, telling yourself “I will speak up, I will speak up today”? Or are you going to remain quiet and just write a blog about it instead?

Playing Cards in the presence of the Living God

April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

One evening last week I was at a worship service at a local coffee shop. The coffee shop owners were the hosts and organizers, and about 30 minutes before closing most of the tables and chairs were arranged – with a lot of commotion and bustle – so that the people who were pouring into the shop could worship together. Most of the shop customers caught on that something was going down, and either stayed to participate or headed out voluntarily.

A few people were in the back of the shop playing a card game. I don’t know what game – they had cards I didn’t recognize and using terms I haven’t heard in the context of cards (like “rook”). They asked what was going on during set-up and returned to their card game. Someone got up to pray before worship and they kept playing cards. “I put down a ___ and challenge your rook” or something like that. Then we started to worship. And they kept playing cards, loudly, talking over the 50+ singing voices and guitar and a cajon. I don’t think most people noticed they were there, but I did, because I was in the back, too.

God was worshiped and glorified and present there. And they were sitting in the back, playing cards. I guess the game they were playing must have been pretty engrossing, to keep playing in that loudness.

And I was offended. Not because they were loud or distracting (although they were) – I was offended because the living God, whose hem is so great it fills a temple, who dwells in pillars of fire and smoke, who created the Andromeda Galaxy and the Horsehead Nebula and the universe that holds them, who shed his own blood on the cross to reconcile humans to himself, was there,

and they just played cards.

The coffee shop became a temple of the living God because it was filled with his temples – his children in whom he dwells,

and they just played cards.

Like the God of the universe didn’t even matter.

I was angry. In my anger I realized that it wasn’t just those few people playing cards who were ignoring the living God like he didn’t even matter, disdaining his desire to adopt them as his children. I have always desired that people would know Jesus because he is life and joy, but that night I realized that I want people to know Jesus because Jesus deserves it. He deserves their worship, our worship. For all he has done and does and will do, for who he is, he deserves worship.

But people just keep playing cards.

Spring and Anticipation

March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I haven’t posted lately because I have what I (un)affectionately call mono brain. It causes me to quite seriously say things like “the hand is in your decision” and write The Pacific Ocean when I mean The Atlantic Ocean and forget if I’ve told somebody something, or just ramble in an attempt to get meaning across, frustratingly aware of the fact that the ability to concisely explain something has somehow slipped out of my grasp.

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve heard that the mono virus stays in your body forever. I hope the same isn’t true for mono brain.

Mono and its accompanying brain fog and fatigue are particularly unwelcome right now, as the promise of spring is popping up on flowering trees and we’re having those few days of mellow temperatures before we go, in typical Alabama fashion, from “winter” to full-on boiling-hades SUMMER.

But then, when would mono actually be welcome?

This post was not supposed to be about being sick. It’s supposed to be about the anticipation that always comes with the arrival of spring – like how it feels things are about to happen, about to change.

It was also supposed to be about how I get to dust off my passport this year and make not one but two international trips. I will actually get to “wander” again, as my blog name implies!

And I was going to tie spring and upcoming international travel neatly together with some kind of prose about future and promise and anticipation etc etc and it was going to be all very philosophical and a little bit dreamy.

All things considered, though, I’m just happy to have written a few grammatically correct (I think) paragraphs.

Life Without Peace

March 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I just saw a headline: Syria War Enters its Fourth Year with No End in Sight.

Year four. It’s been three years. Syria has been in a civil war for three years.

Do you even think about Syria anymore?

I don’t think about it very often.

I had a hard time believing the conflict had been going on so long so I clicked through to the article, which began by discussing how the uprising began during the Arab Spring in 2011. Then I remembered that it had started then. The Arab Spring began soon after my first trip to the Arab world and I was at the time writing a paper about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so I was very interested in what was going on and amazed at how we were witnessing history. Things that will be written in history textbooks (I hope).

I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a constant state of war.

Just in the past couple days, I went to the grocery store, the post office, went for a walk on a popular nearby trail, took my friend to pick up her car, went for a check-up, had dinner with friends on the other side of town…all without fear for my life or the lives of my friends and family, without fear for my safety, without worry over my next meal – I didn’t just eat at every meal, I had snacks in between – and without worry that fighting would erupt in my neighborhood or that someone would hurt me for my beliefs. I lived in blissful peace, worrying about things like forgetting to buy an item at the grocery store, or why I still have a headache, or how long it will take for something to travel to Texas in the mail.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the shocking difference that must exist between life here and life in Syria.

It’s hard to notice peace until there is an absence of it.

  • Jesus' blood never fails me. I'm an always musician, a sometimes writer, a voracious reader, a restless homebody with a thirst for mountains.

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