Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Luggage, Ash Wednesday, and Spring Training

So, I'm currently on hold with a United representative trying to get my luggage. Yesterday it was supposed to be delivered between 10-2. I knew I probably wouldn't be home yet from class, so I went online to the link they provided in an email and checked the box for leaving it at the door. When I got home, there was nothing on the porch. I got a hold of the woman at the luggage delivery service who was not happy I wasn't around. I told her I checked the box to leave the luggage on the porch to which she replied, "Oh yeah, we don't check that online stuff; you need to leave a note on the door." My bad. I was foolish enough not to read between the lines and know that the online system I was sent to via email was a technical facade set up to make me feel like I was doing something. Hopefully the representative comes back soon because my phone charger is in my bag, and my phone is on the last dregs of its battery. Maybe I'll just give up luggage for Lent. I'm also committing to at least two hours of facebook a day to make up for everyone giving up social media. You're welcome, Mark Zuckerberg.

I have to say, unexpected three day layovers in Chicago, even without my aforementioned baggage, was a gift. The only downside is trying to get back into the swing of things here in Boston. I almost forgot I was in school the last few days, but the list of books to read upon return quickly reminded me of my status as a full-time student. So:

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day you think your co-worker has a smudge on his/her forehead until you realize what day it is. My favorite Ash Wednesday quote comes from T.S. Eliot's poem "Ash Wednesday" (creative, I know):

"Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still."

If Ash Wednesday is about facing our mortality, reminding ourselves that we will die, I think this line sums up our necessary outlook. Teach us to care about the things we too often overlook: our interior life, spiritual disciplines, the poor and marginalized, our long-term vocation, the grand and redemptive story of God to which we are called to inhabit. Teach us not to care about those things we, as Eliot says, "too much discuss/too much explain," to ourselves: money, body image, social status, clothes, what we will eat or drink (I think Jesus said something about the last two: look at the lilies! look at the birds of the air!). Teach us to sit still. I think this one may be the hardest. In a culture that places high value on movement and action of any kind, I think we are called to sit still, to breathe deeply, to listen for the silence that speaks. In this silence, I believe we learn what we should care about and not care about, what has taken too much of our lives and what hasn't taken enough. I will now descend from my soapbox.

Okay, one more liturgical soapbox. Don't turn Lent into forty days of Good Friday. Lent was originally a preparatory season for those catechumens to be baptized during the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday. It became a time for all of us to remember our baptisms and be called back to Christ and Christ's Church through prayer, fasting, penitence, spiritual disciplines, etc. It is not forty days of suffering on Golgatha, just like communion shouldn't be a monthly (in too many evangelical churches) funeral for Jesus. Also, no hallelujahs during Lent. As "Every Day I'm Pastorin'" reminded us with this gif, which is one pastor's reaction to "realizing mid-service that I let an alleluia slip in on one of the hymns."

Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training over the past couple days. Nothing gives me hope that winter will indeed end (whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow or not like) pitchers and catchers reporting and spring training beginning. Just when winter seems to take the heart of me, replacing all joy with shades of melancholic grey and dismal, leafless, washed-out landscapes, it is then that pitchers and catchers renew my hope that the world will turn, leaves will blossom, 6 p.m. will have light. Okay, maybe this is somewhat hyperbolic (especially since I'll be complaining about the heat in mid-April), but baseball is a tell-tale sign of spring!

Okay, now I'm just stalling. Time to hit the books.

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