Saturday, March 29, 2008

"We are victorious failures and broken winners."
~Derek Morphew

Friday, March 21, 2008

I had invited my neighbor kids over to do some Easter art projects. Four of the girls came over today, which actually was a really nice time to just have a small, mellow group to connect with a bit. I had blown out 18 eggs to put confetti in and then paint. It's sort of a cultural thing in Mexico, I believe, to have these eggs and then break them over each other's heads once they are found. Anyway, the girls really enjoyed painting these blown-out eggs. There is something about paint that they really love. I think they just get to do it so rarely.

At one point one of the little girls asked when Easter is. I said Sunday, and today is Good Friday. Do you know why they call it Good Friday? She said yes, but then said something about getting to stand up when you eat. Don't know what that was about.

I asked if any of them know what Easter is for. One of the girls said, "God." Well, there's a bit more...

They are all "very" Catholic, which is so tied to their cultural identity more than anything else. At least one of the families goes to church at least once a week, and they have no idea what Easter celebrates! So, I said that Good Friday is when Jesus died on the cross, and Easter is when he rose again from the dead. I was feeling pretty excited to even have had the chance to say that.

Then came the question that has been asked at least a dozen times before, but it seems so important to distinguish, "Are you Christian or Catholic?" Oh. :(

I tried to talk about how Christian just means you believe in Jesus, so Catholics are Christians too, and the other Christians are called Protestants. Well, they've never heard of Protestants, so one girl firmly declared the distinction is that they don't believe in Mary! It's not like we don't believe she existed! It's just SO significant to them that we don't give her the honor and due she is believed to be worthy of in that culture, and it is a significant issue to them. It makes me sad that they don't even know why they celebrate Easter, but they're offended by a Christianity that doesn't celebrate Mary's birthday!

Anyway, still a good day but a little sad to hit those barriers. Not sure if it makes much difference sometimes to have them over for times like this, but they like to come. So I'll keep having them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spiritual Formation

I am working today on catching up on one of the many assignments I have outstanding for graduate school. It has not been easy to keep up with the work, but I continue to be blown away by the experience of being part of this program. Each time we have a class, I think it cannot possibly get any better, but it just keeps building on the experience and knitting together knowledge, wisdome, experience, character, and more in such profound ways.
The class for which I am working on the paper currently was a four-day intensive on Spiritual Formation taught by Peter Fitch. He is from St. Stephens University, which is the university through which our accredidation comes. It was incredible. There is so much more that I could (and want to say about it), but for the moment, I am going to leave a quote (even that is hard to choose just one!) from one of our reading assignments ("On Loving God" by Bernanrd of Clairvaux):
“He who trusts in the Lord not because he is good to him but simply because he is good truly loves God for God’s sake and not for his own…There are some who praise God for his power, some who praise him for his goodness to them, and some who praise him simply because he is good. The first is a slave, fearful on his own account. The second is mercenary, and desires profit for himself. The third is a son who honors his father.”

Oh, to live simply as a daughter who honors her Father!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Community Meeting

So, tonight, John and I attended the Mar Vista Community Council Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting. With my new job, it's great to not only have the time to connect with more of what's happening in the community but to actually have the responsibility for my job to focus on those things.
Anyway, I've been building relationships with some great people who are active in the community, and there is a big community day of service coming up Saturday that is very exciting and involves over 50 projects to serve and improve the community.

I mention those things first to point out that I am truly glad to be able to be a part of such community happenings before I move on to listing some amusing aspects of tonight's meeting. That being said, here are some highlights of the meeting:
* Definitely being the youngest of the crowd there. There were maybe 5 others (out of a total of maybe 40) that were in our same age bracket, and only one of those stayed the whole time.
* Despite being the youngest, I was the one who didn't make it through the entire meeting sitting on the incredibly hard metal chairs we were all sitting on and had to stand for the latter portion of the meeting.
* This is truly the first time I have heard mention of a Joint Pole Commission. Granted, it is in the context of cell phone towers (aka poles, apparently), but it made me giggle.
* Also, L.A. city and school systems and all types of groups out here have a serious love of and overuse of acronyms. There were times when the acronyms and codes outnumbered the actual words being spoken. My personal favorite for the evening, though, is BONC (which, yes, they all pronounced as "bonk"). It stands for the Bureau Of Neighborhood Commissioners. But, when you call something BONC, does it really matter what it stands for if you want to be taken seriously?

Anyway, we're glad we went to the meeting. It was a bit long and dry, but you can find moments of humor in almost anything.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gym Class as a Kid

So, I was walking to work today, and I passed a pickup truck that had some sort of wheel dolly in the back of it. It reminded me of childhood gym classes. What is the connection you might ask? Well, I started to think back about this and other fond (and strange) childhood gym class memories at good ol' Morgan Township Elementary School.
Despite the fact that there is NO way in the world any of these things would pass modern safety standards, they all seemed fun at the time.
So, let's start with the dolly...We used to have these little 4-wheeled dolly/palette-like things. We had all kinds of races with these things: laying on our bellies and scooting ourselves with our hands (lots of swollen fingers from this one), laying on our bellies and having another person hold our legs and push us (again many swollen fingers), obstacle courses, scooter-style races, and many other fun things in which these fun little carts could slip out from under us or run over fingers.

Then there was "tumbling." To back up a minute, I forgot to mention that our elementary school principal was always our gym teacher. Well, during the latter half of elementary school, this was a very tall man who, coincidentally, was my mom's drivers' education instructor! "Tumbling" basically consisted of spreading out a mat and then running up and flipping over Mr. S's knee or his back, if he was on all fours. Not a lot of focus on form. Or safety (notice a theme). Yeah, so it is hard to believe that children flipping over a grown man's knee, but I promise it was totally harmless and a great deal of fun!

In fifth grade, we divided into boys and girls for basketball season. All boys played basketball, and all girls practiced cheerleading! Augh. Anyway, there were two of us girls who didn't want to cheerlead, so we would play basketball with the boys. Inevitably, Mr. S would forget and assign one of us to the "skins" team.

Dodgeball, parachutes, basketball, presidential fitness tests, basketball, kickball, lots of throwing things and running around...and oh yeah, did I mention that growing up in the Hoosier state meant lots of playing basketball? Ah, fond memories. I think gym class was a lot more fun when they weren't all concerned about safety standards and lawsuits! We all survived and have a lot of stories to look back on fondly. Good times.