Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Moon Rising

Change is on the horizon. I'm back at home in Plano, Texas trying to adjust to life back State-side. Just before logging on to write this, I glanced out the window and noticed the mailman pulling up to our mailbox. I rushed outside to receive the mail from him personally because I am that starved for human interaction. It's odd. Usually after travelling for so long I welcome a little alone time, but this was the first plane ride in a long time where the person next to me didn't want to talk my ear off -- the teenage girls from northern Ireland were more than happy to sleep and watch movies and listen to music, and only asked me twice on a 10-hour flight to be let out for the WC. At any rate, it's just me and Dad at the house right now, which I love! I miss Mom (she'll be in Mexico City for the next week or so), but having Dad all to myself for a while is nice. We had brunch together this morning at this great, hole-in-the-wall cafe near our house. As we were driving there, though we could have walked (so what if it's a humid 88 degrees at 11AM), I became a bit depressed by all the bland buildings and flat, cement-laden landscape.

I've decided to try and go the the park in our neighborhood on a regular if not daily basis to read and think and pray, to be alone and quiet in a relatively nice-looking environment. The less driving I do, the better, not only for gas prices and environmental well-being, but for daily recreation and exercise since I no longer have to walk up and down the mountain side to get anywhere. I checked the garage to see if we have any bicycles in the house, but we don't; so it's my rollerblades from college until I can try and find a family member or church friend who might lend me a bike they're not using.

I applied online for a job at the Allen public library today. I wonder how long it would take to ride a bike there (just the next town over), a good chunk of time I reckon. I've always thought working in a library would be something I'd enjoy, and I might be able to study for the GRE while I'm on the clock, because hunting for PHD programs is next on the list after jobs. Even if not, I'll already be at the library, so it'll be easy to stay there and study. I will probably also apply at the city rec center down the street for the water aerobics instructor. Notice how I'm going for these 'two-for-one' opportunities; working out for a living is a tough job, but someone's got to do it. I will also place adds in local papers and such for students in need of an English tutor. (PS. Can I just say that I hate resumes? I'm not sure what it is about them, just that they're so impersonal I suppose.)

Well, as I said, there's lots of change on the horizon as I take this time to re-orient and re-order my life a bit. And though it's good change, it's unnerving; it's unpredictable and uncertain; it's taking a risk and it's stepping towards my future in a more narrow way than ever before. So as a symbol of change and the uncertainty of night (by which I mean my path is less brightly illuminated), here are a few pics of the moon from my last few nights in the Swiss Alps.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day of Prayer

Each Monday at each L'Abri branch across the globe is set apart for prayer. Normally at Swiss L'Abri we take a few hours after breakfast: the workers rotate hosting the prayer morning, beginning our time together by reading a chapter or two from a book which sometimes concerns prayer, but not always. This reading is to encourage reflection and often shows up in my prayers later that afternoon. After the reading, we present our requests to one another and then pray for one another, for our families at home, for the needs of L'Abri, for the church, and for the world. Lunch discussions on Mondays often revolve around prayer: What is prayer; what does it consist of? Does it work? How do we pray? Why do we pray? Shouldn't we pray for more 'spiritual' matters than physical concerns? How does one's view of God's providence affect how we pray?

This past Monday we had a special day of prayer and fasting because our financial situation has been desperate all summer. We went through the morning almost as usual, then we cancelled all morning work crews, fasted lunch, and reconvened at quarter to four to close in prayer together. The morning went really well for me; it was eye-opening; it felt productive, though that word doesn't posses the right feeling because my prayer and study was more listening than doing, if that makes any sense. It was cool to intersperse prayer with study because what I was reading would sneak its way into my prayers, particularly into my confession. From what I could tell, the morning went this way for much of the community also.

L'Abri has, from the beginning, chosen this manner of dependence for her financial needs, and functions on a month-to-month basis. With the money that comes in, we pay our bills first, and then the workers' salaries, which means some months the staff take pay-cuts, some months they don't get paid at all. From what I gather, this summer has been one of those seasons of pay-cuts and wageless months. Our donations come almost entirely in US dollars, and as you all are no doubt well aware, the dollar isn't fairing too well and continues to decline. What that means for us is that when a donor gives the same dollar amount each month, let's say $50, the buying power of that $50 is weaker; the bill we once could pay in full with a favorable exchange rate, we can no longer pay in full, eventhough the gift is quite possibly a more strenuous sacrifice for the donor than it once was. Everything in Switzerland is expensive, and with 40-plus people constantly living in one community, energy bills are outrageous though we strive to be conscientious conservers. I say all this to say, when you think about me, think about L'Abri; when you pray for me, pray for L'Abri, on Mondays and any day.