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Day 1 of the Solo Weekend with the nephews

Mike is finally graduating. After 15 years all of his studies are finally done. So he and Rocio flew to LA today for him to walk on Sunday. Being the dutiful sister, I am with the nephews for four days.

Yes four. I have never had sole control of children that long. I am more of a short stint kind of girl. Need a babysitter for an hour or two, I’m your girl. I’ve even had them during work hours but I was counting the minutes til their mom got home. I love them. I would do anything for them, but four days is a lot. I’m actually a bit nervous. Can I keep them alive that long, we’ll see.

Here is a rundown of our day, for posterity: we took Mike and Rocio to the airport at 5 a.m. The boys and I were sleepy for the rest of the day. Which probably saved us.

We had a lazy morning watching tv. Then we went to the pet store so they could see the puppies, kitties, birds, fish, gerbills, rats, etc. We had to leave after about 20 minutes because I was starting to sneeze, itch, and cough, due to all of the aforementioned animals.

Our afternoon activity was to see UP in 3-D. Jordy, Sandy and I loved it, Mikey did not. I didn’t see a whole lot of 3-D about it but the story was touching and cute. It’s about an old man who wants to fulfill his wife’s dream to get to South America after her death. He has a Wilderness Guide in the form of a 10-year-old boy whose father has remarried and fallen out of his life. For me, the morale of the story was in order to have new adventures you need to get rid of old baggage. Very poignant for me indeed. The animation was amazing.

Tonight we vegged some more, resting for Mikey’s birthday tomorrow, he turns 11.

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Grease

On Friday, Sandy and I went to the Palace Theatre in downtown Canton to see Grease on the big screen.

It was a pajama party and singing was highly encouraged. Pajamas and singing, count me in. We donned our robes and slippers, braved the rain and tuned up our voices. At the historic movie house we bought pom-poms for a quarter and waiting anxiously for the strains of Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

Most everyone in the audience knew the words to the songs and dialogue. We spoke them together in one accord, cheering for Rydell, booing the mean Danny Zuko, and glad the Hand Jive was alive once again.

Only four when the movie was originally released, this was my first time to see it on the big screen. It was awesome. A fun night singing, shouting and losing yourself in the moment.

I have seen Grease at least 100 times and it never gets old. Although as an adult I’m amazed at how risque this movie is. As a kid, I really had no idea what I was watching. I didn’t get half of the jokes. As it should be I suppose.

I am such a sucker for sing-a-longs. I think I have an inner broadway star anxious to get out.

Into Great Silence [2005]

For 162 minutes the outside world is invited to get a rare glimpse into the life of the reclusive Chartreuse Monks. We are immersed into their order, discipline, and silence. There is no soundtrack in this movie except for the noise of the monks as they go about their daily lives. Instead we are left with our own inner dialogue as we are slowly lulled into the rhythm of their routines.

I didn’t quite know how to watch this movie. There is no real plot. There is no sound. We are simply ushered into their lives through the beauty of the mountains, their grounds and their home, built in the 11th century. Everything they do has been done in the exact same way for centuries. There is a methodical routine to their lives – they pray at designated hours even in the middle of the night, they mainly eat alone, and they spend hours reading.

At first I was intrigued by the simplicity of their life but I couldn’t get my brain to shut off. I had a million questions. What is the point of what they do? How does it serve mankind? Isn’t it selfish to keep all they have learned about God to themselves? Why would someone in 2007 join a monastery? Are they running from something? Does their mind wander when they pray? Do they get lonely? Can they change their minds and leave? How do they get medical care if they aren’t allowed to interact with seculars? Do they mind losing their identity? Do they get irritated with each other, even though they only see each other for weekly meals and walks in the woods? Why do the beautiful grounds and surrounding seem like a prison?

I tried ponder their ways and let myself be open to the experience. I just got antsier and my mind was still whirling.

With an hour left to go my brain started to slow down and I began to see their life in a different way. Everything they do is centered on God. The goal of everything is to help them better understand who he is. The simplicity of their lives, even their sameness is all to reflect who he is. I realized that their lifestyle of silence is worship.

Then I found myself asking different questions. How do you get to that place of surrendering to God’s presence? What is God trying to tell me now that I can’t hear because my life is too noisy? Do I want God that intimately connected to my life? Do I live my life like I do? What things do I need to abandon because they are just noise?

With about twenty minutes left in the film I finally just surrendered to it. I found myself at an odd place of calm and peace. I had no more questions, I just watched. My mind was at ease.

It reminded me of a silent retreat I went on in grad school. I only had to be silent for 8 hours. It took me about 6 hours to stop trying to control it, one hour to relax and stop talking. How said that it took me seven hours to shut up and listen to God. But that is how long my mind kept wandering, I keep being distracted by my surroundings, and I kept thinking of things to say. I only spent about 20 minutes resting in God’s presence. I was bathed in his love and the holy spirit ministered to me. It was amazing. it felt like hours but it wasn’t. I was so rested when I was done, and I only gave him 20 minutes. Imagine if I could do more.

I need to make a point of practicing the spiritual discipline of silence before God to experience more of his presence in my hurried existance. How much more would I enjoy of life when I approach things from a rested, non-fragmented place that is saturated with God’s presence. Imagine serving from a place of overflow instead of deficit, when I giving from the abundance that God gives to me instead of relying on the fumes.

I just feel its important for us to stay connected to what God is doing among us now. He is speaking to us and inviting us to be part of what he is doing in the world. We can’t stay secluded forever. God has a called us through the great commandment and the great commission to reach out into all the world with his love to tell them the good news of what he has done. But we have to make sure we’re taking the time to hear his voice.