Is the hardest month–

The autumn fades slowly into winter,
The trees which were aflame begin
To offer up their light to the growing darkness,
And the weight of a year
Begins settling onto my shoulders

And in the year’s eleventh hour
We pause to remember
We pause to give thanks
We brace ourselves for the days to come

But in the ever-swifter sunset
The stars glow a little brighter in the vastness of space
And time

And You come nearer to us
And we wait
And we wait
For the heavens to open up

mix tape monday.

Yes, seriously, it’s back. This week: Because it’s the first week of Advent, songs about waiting.

1. John Mayer, “Waiting On The World To Change”
2. Everyday Sunday, “Wait”
3. Andrew Osenga, “White Dove”
4. Shaded Red, “Wait”
5. Andrew Peterson, “Deliver Us”
6. Bruce Springsteen, “Waiting On A Sunny Day”
7. J. Robert Spencer, “I’ve Been”
8. U2, “Miracle Drug”
9. Patty Griffin, “Waiting For My Child”
10. Bebo Norman, “Perhaps She’ll Wait”
11. Raul Esparza, “Someone Is Waiting”

advent: week 1

I wonder
when Abraham heard an unknown God
Calling him to leave his father’s house
for a place he’d never been
did he have to step back for a moment
and question his sanity
because he was hearing voices
in the depths of himself, alone?
or did the Almighty show up as a visible stranger
like He would later, as He came
with both promise and destruction in His hands?

millennia later
Abraham’s children
two grains of sand in
the land that was given
they would see angels
who had to tell them what angels
always have to tell us poor mortals:
“do not be afraid.”

did they have to
step back and make sure
they’d heard correctly?

the messenger came
with the promise of God’s voice
speaking of God’s own word
of both absolution and judgment
through whom all nations would be blessed

they would step out into unmapped territory
trusting in the good
and terrifying
and sovereign plan
to save them all

dona nobis pacem, pacem…

1. I have downloaded so much music (most of it free) the past couple of days. I am seriously considering saving up for an external hard drive to keep it all on. (iTunes says I have 21.12 GB, which translates to 12 and a half days’ worth. However, that’s less than some of my friends have, which is mind-boggling. And at work I get to deal in terabytes of audio files, so that’s fun.)

2. Seriously, outside of Starbucks, a guy just walked by wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and the most epic mullet I have ever seen. (It’s in the 40s outside. Hipsters. *shakes head*)

3. It’s the holiday season again. I busted out the Christmas music yesterday, and we’re about to do a round of Christmas CDs at work, and I am trying in the middle of all the busyness to be mindful of Advent, and waiting for Jesus to come. The month before Christmas always has me feeling the brokenness of the world, especially as I get older, and so I need Him to come, and ransom all of us captives.

4. In other news, I found a store out in Alexandria that sells historical paraphernalia and immediately thought of my friend Steph. There are Civil War artifacts in the window, Steph. You need to get your butt out here.

5. Okay. That’s all I’ve got for now. About to go write some Christmas cards!

the living room recommends…

Not going shopping on Black Friday
I am probably a lot less stressed than some of you right now. 😉

Chinatown Coffee
If you’re ever in the DC area, go to the corner of 5th and I NW and get you a latte there.

Going for a walk after your Thanksgiving meal
Put on your jacket, wear some comfy shoes, and go out on a walk. Helps your digestion and makes you feel like you’re no longer going to explode. If you bring some folks along, it’s also good talking time.

Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk
I just got done with this, and I don’t know if it’s just because it was exactly what I needed this week or what, but I found that there’s a lot of wisdom and insight to be found here. Norris writes about her life as a Benedictine oblate, someone who wants to learn from and about Benedictine monastics without actually becoming one. She covers everything from life in western North Dakota to chastity to why monks and nuns wear habits.

Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs
I also just bought this last night. My gosh, it is amazing. Of course, most of you probably have it already. But it’s great. And it’s about The Woodlands, which I think is hilarious.

thursday 13

This week: Things for which you are thankful, of course.

1. The fact that even though I can’t go home, I have friends and a place to celebrate Thanksgiving this afternoon/evening. Hurrah.

2. I finally kind of got my crappy $25 guitar tuned and now my fingers hurt. Trust me, that is a good feeling.

3. Seriously, I love my internship. It’s fantastic.

4. My other jobs, too.

5. Phone calls with friends from home. E-mails and texts and tweets from them.

6. The grace to have difficult conversations without them blowing up. That was not something I possessed for a long time.

7. Good books.

8. That I’m spending autumn in a place that actually gets it, and that the trees are aflame.

9. American citizenship, and all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. DC has made me realize that, I think.

10. The people who drive buses and subway trains. Thanks.

11. Seriously: Hot beverages. If there were some sort of coffee and tea embargo, I think everyone at the office would just quit.

12. My mom and dad. They’re pretty great.

13. This: “My name is graven on His hands/My name is written on His heart/I know that while in heaven He stands/No tongue can bid me thence depart.”

well, amen.

The darkness is still with us, O Lord. You are still hidden and the world which you have made does not want to know you or receive you…You are still the hidden child in a world grown old…You are still obscured by the veils of this world’s history, you are still destined not to be acknowledged in the scandal of your death on the cross…But I, O hidden Lord of all things, boldly affirm my faith in you. In confessing you, I take my stand with you….If I make this avowal of faith, it must pierce the depths of my heart like a sword, I must bend my knee before you, saying, I must alter my life. I have still to become a Christian.

–Karl Rahner, Prayers For Meditation, qtd. in Norris, The Cloister Walk, p. 114

“we have to go back, kate! we have to go back!!!”

1. I really have no idea what the title has to do with anything, except I was just reading something about LOST. Yes, still. Actually, the finale was six months ago today, so I guess that works.

2. Imagery I’ve been pondering lately: Birds (especially tiny birds, like sparrows–they’re all over the place here, or are those wrens? Ah, yes, they’re wrens; thanks, Google Image); waiting rooms; evergreens; autumn leaves; the idea of dwelling, not just living somewhere; holding another person’s face and looking them right in the eyes, or being held by them (not any specific person, just a general person). There’s a poem in there somewhere, but I need to sit down and actually write it.

3. I think homesickness really hit me hard this week for the first time since I’ve been here.

4. Sorry about the lack of Mix Tape Monday (not that any of you were particularly worried about it, probably :p), but it will show up next week, I promise.

5. It’s the last week of Pentecost. We’re making the transition into Advent on Sunday, looking for Jesus to come back. It’s this interesting loop around from the end of the story right back to the beginning, the conclusion of what we’re looking forward to and the start of the redemption that kicked the whole thing off.

6. Okay, that’s all I’ve got, really. Later, kids.

on home.

Here’s something:

I’ve been wandering a while from place to place. And I’ve had some good experiences and made some good friends in the process.

But I’m getting to the place where I am longing for a place to put down roots, to establish myself in a community of flesh-and-blood people, and not just e-mails and texts and phone calls. I’ve come to the realization that there are some things I need to do in order to heal and grow, and those things need to happen long-term.

It may be my lot to keep wandering for a while longer. I have long felt slightly unsettled here in the world. But my heart would like some foundations, some shelter, a place to call home, and not even Texas feels like that for me anymore. (Do I have people that I dearly love there? Absolutely. But there are a lot of ghosts for me there as well.)

I do know this, though: That wherever I go, and wherever I may be, Jesus has come and made His home with me, and He is all the shelter this nomad truly needs. He will provide. And He will sustain me.