Thursday, December 27, 2007

People You Should Know

These are some of the people at L'Abri with whom I will be working next term. They are all really wonderful and I'm excited about developing the relationships that began last term as well as starting new ones.

My good friend Valerie, whom you know from a previous post as the master of cream of spinach soup. She and Erin and I will be roommates. Val is super smart and super fun. She challenges me and keeps me in line; she encourages me and comforts me. I enjoy her friendship very much.

This is Jon, or "Jon-boy" as we [Kay] sometimes call[s] him. We have lots of fun together, especially reading, knitting, and watching Firefly with Jasie. (They knit; I read.) Jon and Val and I are partners in crime, ensuring that there's always a healthy amount of mischief about. :) I appreciate Jon in many ways, one of which being his work ethic and his unique ability to serve.

Rhett was on the same bus (and probably train come to think of it) I was on to L'Abri on day one. I remember seeing him and one other person my age and thinking, 'I bet they're both going to L'Abri too -- and sure enough. Rhett and Val and I often play chess and Scrabble together. He is fun to hang out with and talk to; he's pretty darn smart; everyone enjoys his sense of humor and his perspective on things.

Erin will be doing some editing with me as we work to prepare Greg's books for the publisher. She's super fun and very sweet and encouraging. I'm looking forward to rooming with her.

Tim, aka: Timmy Freedom (note the bandanna), is also strutting his stuff at the Really Ridiculously Good-Looking Walk-Off. Tim was a helper last term (with Val): the king of grounds crews and baked goods. (Several women proposed marriage in response to his chocolate desserts.) Tim is accepting of everyone -- really, everyone -- a quality for which I admire him.

This is John. I hope he doesn't mind my stealing this picture from his facebook. :) John was a student during a term prior to my term last fall and is returning this upcoming term as a helper. The workers are excited about him coming back, and word on the street is John is a wiz at media related work and will be doing some of that for L'Abri. I look forward to meeting him in person.

Last but not least and from left to right: Thomas, Jasie, and Kay. These brave souls work and live in Bellevue with the students. They're full-time staff at L'Abri, which means they work like crazy for little pay. Each of them cooks dinner at least once a week. Thomas and Jasie facilitate formal lunch discussions, give lectures, and have weekly tutorials with students. Jasie, as you know is my tutor and friend; I could go on and on about her. I could go on and on about each of them. Kay takes care of us all like Mom away from home. And Thomas is really passionate about, well lots of things -- he's very smart and has studied (and continues to study) much philosophy and theology and is able to relate those ideas well to students during lunches and lectures.
Now you'll know who I'm talking about in stories to come. I'll be there in 6 days, hooray!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Real Adults Send Christmas Cards

Maybe someday I'll get around to that. But until then, merry Christmas from me to anyone who is reading my blog on this chilly, but not too cold Texas night!

I have to confess. Christmas is not my favorite holiday. And it isn't even the materialism, commercialism, blah, blah, blah that bothers me. Odd, right? I know. I have a difficult time -- I'm holding my breath even typing this; like, 'Can I really say what I'm about to say, knowing how absurd it sounds?' -- understanding the point. Yikes. There it is for the whole world to read!

Admitting this causes me to think, 'What is the point?' And thinking about it, I realize I'm simply searching for some ground in between the hullabaloo and the reactionary "Jesus is the reason for the season". I do understand why Christmas is a big deal and why it is worth getting excited, even super-excited about, but I lose sight of it. Or probably more on point, I just haven't really allowed myself to ask the question, and therefore haven't thought through it for myself. I think I've been a little ashamed for feeling dissatisfied with the quick and easy "Jesus answers", so I pushed that dissatisfaction aside and tried not to think about it too much. I could do that in part because I don't like big celebrations... they're not my style. I think that, in part, for this is also the reason Easter has always been my favorite holiday, but that's another blog for another day. I know what you're thinking, 'How can someone who understands Easter not understand Christmas?' When it comes to Christmas, I'm a little desensitized to both sides: both the redundant commercialism and the pat, redundant church talk. That is mostly my fault for not thinking through all this stuff for myself.

So here we go: Why is Christmas meaningful to me personally? It has always been important because of family. I enjoy slowing down to just hang out with people I love. But that's not enough because I know that's not what Christmas is primarily about. I was just with all my family, chilling and playing games and eating, during Thanksgiving, and nothing feels missing when I enjoy Thanksgiving because of spending time with those for whom I'm thankful. But something is missing when Christmas is only about human relationships. Not to say that God has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or that Christmas has nothing to do with family... I think you understand.

What helps me understand Christmas most is the spirit of advent, which is, of course, a big part of what I love about Easter. When I think of the months, years (?) of labor, discipline and scholarship of the Wise Men and the years of discipline of prayer and study of Simeon and Anna, that's exciting. When I think of the Old Testament customs and prophecies being fulfilled, that's exciting. It's motivating and challenging to think of the ministry of Christ on earth and what it means to live as a disciple of his teachings of the Kingdom.

So I think the conclusion I'm coming to as I'm writing this is that Christmas is less about Christ being born to atone for our sin (otherwise, let's just skip it and go straight to Easter), and more about the simultaneous culmination and beginning of God's massive redemptive character and action and all that entails with Christ ushering in the Kingdom ("a time is coming and has now come...") and calling his followers to do the same, to continue praying "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" by being ministers of his reconciliation.

There are other, unrelated reasons why Christmas is slightly difficult, but I think sorting through the theological issues will help a lot with the interpersonal struggles connected to the holidays. So heartily I say agian, merry Christmas. Thank you for allowing me to journey through thoughts about Christmas; I look forward to continuing to journey with you through the new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Check It Out

I've created a new blog about the books I'm studying while at L'Abri. I'm trying to write mini reviews or at least a few thoughts about each book. I've got a link to it just to the right. So click on Books I'm Reading and check it out. :D

I hope to be able to keep this up while at L'Abri this upcoming term. New Year's resolutions... we'll see.