Sunday, April 25, 2010

2.5 days is not enough

My sister and I took our annual trip to Paducah, Kentucky, to the American Quilters' Society show. We left at 3:00 Thursday afternoon, drove 300 miles south to Mt. Vernon, Illinois, drove another 60 or 70 miles on Friday morning, saw the show, at the Olive Garden, stayed overnight in Metropolis, Illinois, took pictures with the giant statue of Superman, went to the quilt museum in Paducah, the yarn store, the fabric store, and drove 360 miles home.

The last hundred miles is when you get to anticipate returning to everything at home. Everything that hasn't budged since you left.

Is that why I was so angry all day? A couple of days in which to begin to think creatively, long car rides for knitting, reading, and daydreaming, a jelly roll of bright red-to-orange-to-yellow batiks, and now, no time to follow through with any of it.

Seriously bummed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why do I hate cleaning?

Been cleaning the house. Dusting, floors, putting away clutter. There are people who are neither relatives nor bosom friends coming for dinner tomorrow.

I so not enjoy this. Today's theory on why: cleaning is aspirational. It's work towards a home I aspire to have: pleasing, interesting, comfortable, warmly welcoming. But removing dirt is tedious. The hand-work of cleaning aggravates everything in my wrist that doesn't work well. And the wanting others to think well of my home makes me very anxious.

There! Have I named the problem precisely? Now, according to what I read last night about some-kind-or-another of Buddhist mindfulness, I'm supposed to hold it with gentleness. Which involves being gentle with myself, even as I finish up the work in the next hours.

What was step three? Accept it, or let it go? Probably in Buddhism those two things are the same. Let it go by accepting it.

I may have to sit for a while before I can mindfully clean the bathroom.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I saw Sameuel Beckett's "Endgame" at Steppenwolf Theatre tonight, after a day of toothache, two hours at the endodontist, and other challenges.

I liked it. It wasn't very entertaining, but it wasn't repulsive either. Repulsive, I think, was the takeaway when I read the play back in college or grad school.

This time, the poetry spoke. Which is what tends to happen when you perform plays out loud. The images get out there, resound in the empty spaces around the audience. You could get all caught up in the rejection of meaning in life and time and Western culture. (God help you if you read the program note on Mad Men and Endgame!) Or you could listen and notice and wonder. In the face of everything, there are still attempts at stories and sugarplums and prayer. There's a faint vision of unattained happiness. The will to power coexists confusedly with a will to save. Of course, it isn't enough: "You're on earth. There's no cure."

When you come out of the show, for a while ordinary conversation sounds like Beckett-speech. I came home, looked at my email, and had to go look up John 20:19-31, last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus and Thomas, for tomorrow's chapel reading.

So I read that story through Beckett speech, or at least saw the story set in the dirty upper room with the garbage cans that house Nagg and Nell and the windows high on the wall. Ham confined to a throne on wheels. Clov in and Clov out, the only activity in the play. The apostles whose preaching and teaching founded Christianity cowering in the dim corner light. Wasteland?

In John there is revelation. Jesus appears, "Peace be with you here," shows Thomas his damaged hands and side, and utters a blessing on the unknown ones "who have not seen and yet believe."

Does it make any more sense than "Endgame"?

"You remain," says Ham at the end.

Remain. Yet.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Root canal tomorrow afternoon, followed by an evening at the theater: "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett. The show will start right about when the Novocaine wears off.

There is nothing much to be said about my teeth. They're not high quality teeth. My grandmother had dentures by the time she was forty, and I think if I were her contemporary, I'd probably have them too. I still have most of my teeth, but the ones with live nerves in them are increasingly rare. The good news: the hot-cold sensitivity thing is getting better. Except for right now. This aching tooth reacts immediately to hot food, slowly but more globally to ice cream. And the ache caused by singing is proof that a well-placed voice causes facial bones to vibrate.

More good news: I am getting this root canal a mere five days after the tooth began to hurt. I usually spend a couple weeks convincing myself that it's not that bad, or that the ache will go away when my sinuses clear up (like that ever happens). I have my Bible study group to thank for this. In the "joys and concerns" portion of the session, I mentioned that my tooth hurt, so in the prayers part of the morning, Pastor Kelly (bless her thirty-something heart--I bet she's got fine teeth) prayed that I might have discernment about what to do about my tooth. That put God on the side of the endodontist. Who am I to resist the Spirit's wisdom?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Complementary colors

The liturgical color for Easter is white, but my color of the day is yellow. On my way to the garage this morning, headed for church, I turned to look back at the house and at the sky, the sun, the angular evergreen next to the basketball hoop, and the two forsythia bushes, singing of springtime and resurrection. In the evening, there was lemon meringue pie for dessert, lemon-yellow to sight and tastebuds.

My sister filled a vase with forsythia branches and daffodils for the center of her Easter dinner table, all cut from her yard. There were also purple Japanese irises from the store. Purple and yellow being complementary colors, they each made the other zing.

Purple is the color of Lent. Yellow may not be the official liturgical color of Easter, but it's there in church for Easter, in the white and gold and yellow banners, in the golden yellow threads that give the white vestments their elegance and Easter formality.

Here comes the metaphor.

Yellow is all the more intense when paired with purple. Lent brings focus to Easter. The repent and turn of the past six weeks, all the purple passion, prepare wintry spirits for the blazing splendor of the empty tomb, the sweetness of the risen Savior.

It's raining now. Will those yellow blossoms be on the ground in the morning?

Still the yellow and the purple are pressed into my brain. And I am still wearing the white linen shirt of Easter.

Christ is risen, alleluia.