101 Ways To Add Adventure To Your Life {part one}

Adventure.

The very word does something to my soul. Stirs up a sentiment from the sediment of my heart.

I’m not the most fascinating person out there. I’m really quite mundane when you get to know me. But, I do like having random adventures. And because enough people have asked me to give them ideas on how to add adventure to their life, I’ve made a list.  All of them are tried and true, so you have no excuses. If I can do them, you can do them.

  1. Pray and ask God to give you more adventures. This leads to many unexpected, dangerous, and awesome things happening in your life.
  2. Don’t pretend to care about the people you meet, really care. Ask them out to lunch and interview them.
  3. Tour your city by bicycle. You’ll start noticing the little things. And little things often lead to big adventures.
  4. Pretend to be a tourist in your town. There are gems hiding in plain sight. You just need to be willing to see them.
  5. Take a hike!
  6. Jump off a cliff, dock, or boat. The water might be cold but you’ll feel better afterwards.
  7. Take a water-taxi and ride on the top of the boat.
  8. Visit a deserted island. The farther away it is from cell-phone reception, the better.
  9. Get a group of friends together to go berry picking. Make jam/gelato/jelly from the harvest.
  10. Climb up on the roof and watch the stars. It will do wonders for your perspective in life.
  11. When random people invite you to hang out, do it. Be smart about it but don’t shy away from it.
  12. Couch-surf with friends instead of always checking into hotel. You’ll get a more authentic experience.
  13. Sleep on the beach and fall  asleep to the sound of the surf. It will either convince you that you want to be a beach bum or it will cure of that forever.
  14. Make playlists on Grooveshark. It’s the new mixed tape. Play the lists often and make them the soundtrack of your day. Swap them with your friends to discover new favorites.
  15. Watch films with subtitles. If you want to have fun (and lose friends) read the subtitles out loud with a cheesy accent. If you want to grow smarter, shut up and read.
  16. Go to the nearest island. Any island counts. Just make sure that it is surrounded by water. Adventures always happen on islands.
  17. Sign up for an art class. Find the kookiest instructor out there and have fun!
  18. Try a new recipe. Follow it.
  19. Make crepes. Chocolate crepes. Berry crepes. Dinner crepes. You really can’t go wrong.
  20. Pull out your camera and start taking pictures. Amazing things happen when you pull out the camera.
  21. Go outside and start walking. Just walk and see where you end up. You’ll be surprised what happens.
  22. Make a friend from another country. Ask them to teach you about their culture. Don’t spend time contrasting the cultures, just enjoy learning something new.
  23. Go to cultural festivals. It doesn’t matter if you don’t belong to that culture. Just go and learn.
  24. Read often.
  25. Learn to turn off the TV and unplug from the digital life. Do and be instead of just being content consuming.
  26. Buy a new, outrageous hat. Wear it.
  27. Watch a documentary. Now watch another one about the same topic.
  28. Take horseback riding lessons.
  29. Learn to say yes to randomness and no to rigidity. Schedule adventures if you have to start somewhere.
  30. Move far, far away from the border of your comfort zone. Or better yet, declare war on your comfort zone.
  31. Cut your hair.
  32. Dye your hair.
  33. Start listening to a new genre of music and surround yourself with the greats.
  34. Go to an art museum. Absorb the art. Tilt your head if you must.
  35. Go to any museum. Traffic. Art. History. Science.
  36. Write thank you notes to people. Gratefulness opens doors.
  37. Write a real letter to someone and put it in the post. You’ll be surprised at the responses you get.
  38. Put a message in a bottle and cast it into the sea. If you find a bottle with a note inside, respond to it.
  39. Learn how to surf.
  40. Jet-ski. See how fast you can take it and how high of waves you can jump.
  41. See dolphins in the wild. Dolphins, not sharks.
  42. Float down a river with friends. Lazy summer afternoons were meant for this.
  43. Go rafting down a wild river in the West.
  44. See a World Heritage Site. Find out why the rest of the world thinks it is so important.
  45. Travel as much as you can. Even if it just means to the town down the road.
  46. Learn the history of your people.
  47. Start blogging.
  48. See a live performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays.
  49. Get to know the different coffee growing regions of the world. If you aren’t into coffee, pick something else.
  50. Paint an ugly picture. You have a better chance at feeling accomplished if you go for this instead of aiming for the next Mona Lisa!

Have any other ideas? Add them below! 

Love the list? Share it!

When Your Day Starts With Quitting

time to quit

 

I quit something yesterday.

It was one of those amoral things that happen in life, neither good nor bad for me. It just took up too much time, life’s most precious commodities.

At one point in my life, the thing I quit was the thing that I aspired for. The thing that I thought would make me happier and more successful. And in a way, it did.

But life has a way of subtly changing dreams. Of churning your heart like the pounding ocean, driving one dream down while bringing a new one up into view. We weren’t created to be robots with binary forms and functions that cannot be changed. We weren’t created for Stepford. This life is far messier, with changes happening more naturally, more organically with good changes happening and toxic changes coming like cancer.

I quit because it was time to say goodbye to a dream of yesterday. It’s not my dream any more. Not part of my daily life and probably not part of my future. So why hold on?

What do you need to quit? What’s holding you back?

We Can Write But We Can’t Always Live

Lighten up.

Lighten up.

Life has been for lingering lately.

This may not go down as one of my most productive periods but quite frankly, I’m okay with that. Because suddenly, I feel the freedom of space and for scheduled nothingness. This means fewer words spill on the page but it means more beauty springing up in my soul.

I used to worry about writing well. Now I just work on living and loving well.

My friend Michael puts it this way:

There are so many people who spend their life behind a camera, documenting everything they see.

They take pictures of sunsets.

They take pictures of their babies.

They take pictures of their food.

And pictures are wonderful things.

But sometimes we get so caught up in taking the pictures that we don’t soak in the unadulturated sunset. We don’t actually enjoy and cuddle with the babies. We don’t taste our food.

Perhaps writing can be like that too. I catch myself sitting in the middle of a storm listing off ways to describe it instead of reveling in it.

We can always write, but we can’t always go out and live.

He’s wise, that Michael.

It’s a beautiful world out there. There are exclamation marks happening in your life every single day. The world is teaming with life, emotions, experiences waiting to be felt.

And sometimes, you have to treasure these experiences in your heart instead of capturing them on a screen. Some things are so magical that words fail. Pixels pale. The white hot moment can only be felt.

In life, I am a consumer. I’ve been guilty of trying to capture experiences so I can conjure up those feelings again at a later date. The irony is that life is for creating those experiences. They are meant to be fleeting, to slip through your fingers like a kite tail dancing in the wind at the sea shore.

Everyone has a different definition of what it means to be a success at life. They are grand mission statements, reflecting more about their maker than any secret of the Universe.

I have a definition of what it means to be a failure. It’s not living vibrantly. It’s being too lost in your mind that you miss out on the wonder around you. I may not be writing, but I’m living a grand story.

So if I could encourage you to -

Close your screen.

Dance in the moonlight.

Laugh at your follies.

Float down a lazy river.

Kiss someone passionately.

Gaze at the stars and feel incredibly small in the universe.

Eat watermelon and let the juice dribble down your chin.

Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.

LIVE.

Because that’s what life is all about.

You can write but you can’t always live.

 

 

My Identity as Abba’s Child

My identity as Abba’s child is not an abstraction or a tap dance into religiosity. It is the core truth of my existence. Living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness profoundly affects my perception of reality, the way I respond to people and their life situations. How I treat my brothers and sisters from day to day, whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, or Hispanic; how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street; how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike; how I deal with ordinary people in their ordinary unbelief on an ordinary day will speak the truth of who I am more poignantly than the pro-life sticker on my car. – Brennan Manning.

This friends. This.

Be known for loving. For God is love. And we are called to imitate Christ.

I was going to add onto it but after trying half a dozen times, I can’t.

If you are a child of God…love in word and in deed.

This entry was posted in Faith.

Ooops, I Did it Again.

Caitlin Muir Broken Leg

Joy is a choice that shouldn’t be influenced by circumstances. There’s always something to smile about, even if you have to cry a little.

I broke my leg again.

Yes, bouldering. In the gym.

The tally is now up to three bones broken in pursuit of learning to boulder. I don’t know if that is an admirable amount of dedication or simply the very definition of insanity. Like everything else in life, it’s probably a mix.

There’s a certain amount of joy to be found in the pain. I’m back in familiar territory. Once again, I am reminded that all is grace.

There are times when I slip into a funk. I miss my dear friends in Texas. My roommates. My Catholic sisters. My San Antonio Crew. My Tuesday night group who lavished me with love. The men who cooked for me. Carried me two-stepping. Sat in solidarity with me. There were so many moments when I cried, grateful for their kindness and the moments when they were Jesus in skin to me.

That was then and there are so many rich moments stored up in my heart.

It’s a new season. New territory. New graces yet to be discovered in the NW.

Someone opening a door for me – grace.

I’ve always appreciated the kindness of someone holding a door for me, but broken, I have to depend on it.

A fragile woman offering me a washcloth to wipe the tears from my face – grace.

I had come to serve but in the end, she was the one who served me.

A care package. A phone call. A text message.

Grace upon grace.

Water on my parched heart.

I count graces differently than most. I count the small ones, collecting them like pebbles, sticking them in my pocket, fingering their outlines during the day and smiling at what they mean.

When I start counting graces, I find that there is no room for anger. No room for judgement. For all is grace, and all is a gift, and God in His knowing has given me another gift. Even if it has come yet again in the form of a broken leg.

And that is grace.

What are the graces you are counting?

 

 

Progress, not Perfection

Caitlin Muir Bouldering

I’m not exactly what you’d call athletic.

Accident prone is a better term for the way my body works.

There was the time I got a concussion. The time I ran into an electrical box. The time I fell into a lake while trying to get out of a kayak. Oh, and the time when I broke my leg at the bouldering gym.

Let’s just say I have a nice, thick medical file.

One week ago, I started bouldering again. Every time I chalk up my hands, I have to talk myself out of walking out the door. Every time I start climbing, my mind goes to the minefield of the mind knows as The Land of What-If.

I’m scared.

When I have to pull myself up on the wall, I’m afraid that I’ll rip out my fingernails.

When I have to leg up over the wall, I’m afraid I’ll take a misstep and tumble.

When I have to…well, you get the idea.

My climbing buddy is fearless. What takes me minutes to scale takes her seconds. She’ll weave her way up the wall, making it up like Spiderman. When someone compliments her on her skill, she just shrugs.

“It’s not that hard.”

But it is.

But every time I go to the bouldering gym, I learn something new.

I learn that I can set physical goals. I’ve always been able to set external goals as my old/boring/30 list will attest to. When it comes to physical goals, I’ve always shied away or walked out because if I couldn’t compete well, I didn’t want to compete at all. What I’ve learned is that it takes time.

I learn that accidents happen. Just because something bad happens once doesn’t mean that it is bound to happen again. History and the future meet at the present but they don’t have to be intermingled in a continuous loop. Isn’t that what it means to live and learn?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to strive for progress, not perfection.

Grace is for the weak. And I’m weak.

I used to think that handing out grace was like handing out alms, something you did just because you knew it was the right thing to do. But grace without love is patronization of the most condescending kind.

Now I think that grace is allowing room for mistakes. Not because you are better than the other person but because you’ve been there and no what it’s like. Every time my heart beats, I’m growing weaker in strength and stronger in my need for grace.

The truth is that progress takes time.

When I go to the bouldering gym, I often head straight to the kiddies course. I’m scared and I want to practice my grips in a place that I know is safe. My leg is still regaining muscle and there are some things that I simply cannot do.

But guess what? I’m already doing far better than I was last week.

I’m still on the beginner’s courses. I consider it a good day if I can hit all the B’s and most of the 0′s on the difficulty scale. If I do a 1 or a above, I’m singing the hallelujah chorus right along with the angels.

It doesn’t bother me that I can’t always make it to the top. Instead, I’m counting how much more I can do now than I could do a week ago.

I’m giving myself the grace to learn. To progress.

I fall.

I look like an idiot.

And my legs are starting to get bruised as my hands start to grow callouses.

There are times when I just sit on the mats, chatting it up with the other climbers, while I watch someone (usually a bearded man who looks like he’s come straight from lumberjacking…what can I say, it’s Portland!), twist and contort, muscling their way up to the top of a difficult course.

Sometimes they fall.

Sometimes they look stupid.

And sometimes they sheepishly grin, do a few pushups, and get back on the wall once they’ve psyched themselves up again.

I haven’t seen any of them walk away yelling, cursing, or crying.

Instead, I see them give themselves the grace to progress. It’s a beautiful thing.

What are you giving yourself the grace to progress in?

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Ramblings

It’s 7:07 on a Friday night.

I should be at the gym. Or hitting the town. Or out exploring and having some sort of adventure that will make everyone insanely jealous. Isn’t that what all the cool kids do?

Instead, I’m slaying on my stomach in my gym clothes, clean laundry in piles, dirty laundry…not quite so orderly. My hair is perfect but that’s only because someone was smart and invented a fake sock-bun device for those of us not quite talented or clever enough to use a sock.

My life is messy.

I tell people that life is like one giant exclamation mark right now and it’s true. But at this moment, it’s rainy outside and any motivation I had when I put on my gym clothes is rapidly being eaten away by the desire to make like a cat and curl up by my little fake fireplace and read a book.

But if I’m realistic, that won’t happen.

I have to clean the bathroom because in a few hours, I’m picking people up from the airport and it’s kind of gross to have a guests over and have a dirty bathroom. It’s not like you can blame the mess on anyone else.

So why am I writing this? Because I think sometimes, people need a reminder that bloggers are real. And messy. And wonderfully flawed and human.

In the age of social sharing, it’s easy to carefully construct an image of myself that isn’t reality. Social media can be personal PR and marketing all rolled up into one. I’ve had people come up and tell me things about myself that they believe to be fact that simply aren’t true. People ask me where I’m living or what I’m up to or who I’m dating or is it true that I want to be a career woman and by the way, what political affiliation do you have? Everyone has guesses and assumptions based on social media.

Sometimes I just smile. Other times, I cringe.

Tonight, as I lay in my very messy room, thinking about excuses why not to go to the gym, I decided to be real.

Life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about making mistakes, discovering grace, and finding beauty. It’s not about filters or followers. It’s about choosing forgiveness when you get punched in the gut. It’s not all about parties, it’s about crying with your best friend when her mariage is falling apart. Being there. Being Jesus in skin even when you don’t have the foggiest idea how.

It’s not about having all the answers because good gravy, it always scares me when someone tells me that they do. It’s about finding out that God is more than formulas and faint feelings, something much more muchy and real than all of those things, and feeling horrible when people use his name not only as a swear word but as an endorsement for all sorts of things that they really have no business to.

Life is about learning to walk again after you’ve fallen. About looking at your scars and not seeing a mistake but seeing a fingerprint of grace.

There’s so much more to life than the centimeter thin world we weave out of pixels. Problems come when we replace relationships with ideas and images. Flesh and blood teach more than pixels and paper.

Last week, I went downtown with my sister and her husband. We were doing the 20something thing of small plates and wandering down trendy streets. L took a picture of me and put it online.

It wasn’t flattering.

When I looked at it, I didn’t see someone who was enjoying being out with her loved ones. Instead, I saw the remnants of acne scars, thick eyebrows, and shoulders that were just a little too large.

She asked me if I wanted her to take it down.

I wanted to say yes but instead I said no.

It wasn’t flattering but it was real life.

Real life.

Not photoshopped. Not filtered. The kind of every day existence where beauty and friendship is found. The moments that you read about in books and see stylized in magazines. The kind of slices of time where you are once again reminded that beauty comes from within, not from a filter.

Life is to be cherished, friends. All of it.

Embrace The Adventure

This.

Today and every day.

Holstee Manifesto

There’s so much of life that is meant to be embraced with arms flung wide open. There are too many opportunities missed because we shirk away from difficulty instead of saying, “Game on!”

Live your dream. Do the work that it demands. Don’t be afraid of the messy parts because life is messy. Time will pass so you might as well do the things that take time. They are often the most rewarding endeavors.

Recently, I became a full time freelance writer. I was going to announce it on my blog but I waited, knowing that the story wasn’t over yet. I wanted to tell you when I registered my start-up. I wanted to tell you when I agreed to speak at a writer’s conference. I wanted to tell you when I accepted another position.

Friends, there have been so many things I’ve wanted to tell you.

Life has been full of exclamation points. The year isn’t half over and there have already been a few chapters of milestones with more to come.

I can’t wait to share the adventure with you. To tell you more about the start-up as it takes off (look for a Kickstarter soon!). To start spilling stories from all over. To introduce to you people who are living vibrant adventures.

It’s going to be awesome.

But today, a reminder.

Even though it’s Monday and it feels like a punch in the face sometimes…

Life is an incredible gift.

 

When Adventure Doesn’t Follow My Lead

Cannon Beach Wanderings

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry. – Jack Kerouac

The siren song of adventure led me to the sea on Sunday.

It’s been too long since my last adventure. The last big one was months ago. A quick weekend trip to Canada and an afternoon of exploring. The months before were full of criss-crossing between homes and states. The usual jumble of timezones, hellos, goodbyes, and I’m not even sure what that have made up my Decembers for the past few years. But this one was on steroids, culminating in a birthday, a wedding, and a road-trip up Hwy 101.

But since then, it’s been hard work finding a rhythm all my own.

In January, I stood on the beach thinking how much promise the world held. A week later, a wave crashed over me, threatening to drown me in grief.

God felt far away.

I was angry. Hurt. Confused.

I had taken a leap of faith and felt like another bone had snapped, causing me to tumble with no one to catch me.  And just like before, I would cling to my pride, smile, and tell you that none of it bothered me.

Deaths. Moves. The loss of community? No big deal. I’d be fine thank you very much.

I threw myself into doing, not letting myself feel the ache that went all the way to my bones. My soul felt as gray as the winter sky. Numb like fingers too long exposed to ice. Adventure was the last thing on my mind. Creative juices were dammed up with barely a trickle leaking out.

It was horrible.

I had forgotten that this is how adventures go.

In my early twenties, I longed to backpack across Europe. To ride the railroads of America. To see every single island in the Polynesians. If there was an emotion, I wanted to feel it. Pain, ecstasy, and anger were all signs that I was alive. I wanted to see the sunset on every continent. To hear stories around a thousand campfires and cafe tables. To try to capture every emotion and scene in books.

Yet, life took unexpected detours; adventures happened that I could never have dreamed up. I can look back and smile at the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, and the many wonderful people I’ve met along the way.

But through my numbness these past months, I’ve discovered something deeply disturbing.

I want adventure on my own terms. Not in the natural order of things. I want adventure with a certain amount of safety. A certain amount of money in my savings account. A certain number of little black dresses hanging in my closet. A certain amount of handsome friends in the wings. Adventures have been contained to weekend visits or carefully planned outings.

That’s not adventure. That’s a carefully scripted play devoid of Divinity.

As I sat on the beach, I thought a lot about adventure. People have accused me of having a lofty view of adventure, as if it is an idol that I serve. I don’t think so. My view of adventure is not too high but too small.

I want to live adventures in my own image but those are only shadows of what Christ calls me to. All too often, I’m content to live a vacuous life but God isn’t. He’s calling me outside the lines to the unknown places where the wild things are. Not only to watch the waves come in from the shore but to jump in and let the seaweed tangle in my hair. To love people even when it hurts. To put others first and to live a life of sacrifice. To not care what others think but to live according to the rhythms God beats out.

Adventure made in my own image is shallow living. Adventure made in the image of God is the truest form of living there is.

I’m casting off the bowlines again. Clinging to God when the rest of the world just doesn’t make sense. Sailing to some uncharted waters. Changing a lot of things up…but in a very good way. Join me?

What Love Does

boy chasing love

Chasing love instead of receiving it.

I found this little post in my “pending” file, waiting to see the light of the blog. It was written last year but it still rings true. Since I haven’t been writing as much, I decided to let it loose. Let me know what you think.  - Caitlin

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve been discovering the pain of grace and what love does.

It’s wrecking me.

I’m not talking about romantic love. This isn’t an announcement that I’ve fallen in love. I haven’t. I’m talking about something different.

I’m talking about the kind of love that shows up in the ledger of our daily lives. The people, the friends, and the family, and even the strangers sent by God, who offer a glimpse at what it means to truly love and be loved. Not the thin plot lines of Hollywood blockbusters but the fabric of good stories that make us want to sneak in the novel and live as one of the characters.

The kind of love that Bob Goff writes about in his wonderful book, Love Does

See, love does the most peculiar things.

1. Love realizes that life isn’t a popularity contest but a chance to invest in other people.

That means not everyone makes the inner circle but everyone feels welcomed. I used to think that life was about who you know and the connections that you make. Now I think that life is more about loving Jesus and leaking His love.

No one likes the people who try to claw their way to the top of the social ladder. It’s ugly to see people use and abuse acquaintances all in the name of their almighty career.

What’s refreshing is someone who is genuinely interested in you. A person looks at your life and recognizes that even if you have no worth in their career plans, you have worth as a person.

If you want friends, be curious. Ask the other person about their life. See how you can help them. Invest.

2. Love sits with you in the dark, letting you know that you aren’t alone.

As a writer, I used to think that love was best expressed in flowery words. Now I think that sometimes, you just need someone to sit on the couch beside you, shut up, and physically be there.

It’s easy to celebrate the high points. To throw a party, uncork the champagne, and tip your head back as laughter bubbles out. That’s fun.

But the test of love is the dark days. The days you need companions to nudge you toward the light. The people who show up in those times are your real friends.

The rest are just posers. I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve been revealed as a poser and not a friend.

3. Love finds a way to make you dance through the pain, creating capers during the mundane days.

I used to think that life should be like one giant Indiana Jones adventure (as a child, I would grab a hairbrush and pretend to be a reporter, telling thrilling news from far-off places) and that each thrill must be greater than the previous one. Now I think that some of the best adventures are found in celebrating life, even at home.

Last weekend, my newest roommate decided she needed a “Caitlin Day.” So she cleared her calendar and stayed home to make sure I didn’t kill myself in my attempts to walk on my very broken leg (I’m slowly learning it’s a bad idea). She also decided to play chauffeur for the day, breaking me out of the house and whisking me away to rendezvous after rendezvous with friends.

Yeah, I’m spoiled.

But that’s what love does. It makes even the most boring of days sparkle with new life.

 4. Love accepts you for who you truly are, not the mask you wear for the world to see.

I used to think that you had to be worthy of love, to earn it in one way or another. But now I think that the beauty of love is that it keeps on going, even when the receiver is unlovable.

There are many types of masks we wear. If you’re like me, makeup is a great one because it’s so easy and fun. I’ve blogged about makeup and vulnerability in the past. I want to be beautiful but I’ve learned that true beauty isn’t found in bottles – it’s found in having confidence in who you are in Christ.

Let people see the real you. The one that eats ice cream out of the container, consistently forgets to make their bed, and scowls as they kick their laundry basket down the hallway with their booted up leg. Oh wait, that’s just me.

Love cultures beauty, but to invite love, you must first be vulnerable. Love won’t reject you.

5. Love laughs. A lot.

I used to think that love was full of laughter; the kind that starts as a giggle, turns into a loud exclamation of joy, and then turns silent when you laugh so hard the sound doesn’t get a chance to escape. I still think love is like that.

To be honest, I think about the book of Proverbs when I think about laughter. Weird, I know. I think about the oft maligned Proverbs 31 woman. She was “clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” I think about the verse that talks about a cheerful heart being good medicine.

If that’s true, I plan on overdosing.

Love can laugh because love is secure. Love knows the end of the story and it’s a good one. Joy blossoms even on the darkest days when it is watered with gratefulness and fed with hope.

As I’m learning what love does, it’s transforming me. Peeling off the layers of comfortable apathy and challenging me to leak love to the people around me.

What do you think love does?

 
photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

Les Mis, The Gospel, and Me

Les MisI wept during Les Miserables. 

I didn’t even bother trying to hide it. Big fat tears rolled down my face as my eyes soaked in the beauty, the light, and the gospel that was being played out on the screen in front of me.

The story of Les Miserables is one full of many things: hate, betrayal, lust, longing, power, and incredible loss. Almost every emotion is portrayed at one point or another. Every character goes through the kind of experiences that should land them  in counseling.

Truly horrible things happen in the most wretched of places. Just like real life.

Yet the story is beautiful.

Sarah Markley wrote about her reaction to the movie thus:

When Val Jean confesses to Marius that he has been a thief, that he has been a fraud his entire life and has lived under a different name and that he must go away to ensure his daughter’s respect, Marius simply softly says {sings},

“You’re Jean Val Jean.”

He simply speaks his name.

The look on Val Jean’s face is one of utter relief, of ache and of gratefulness. It has been over 20 years since someone has truly known him. And now someone was speaking his true name without reproach or hatred but with love.  The expression is insignificant but communicates perhaps the biggest need we have as humans.

We all have an ache to be known for who we really are, I think.

Isn’t that the truth?

We’ve all made mistakes but those aren’t the things we want to be known for. It’s the beauty in our hearts, the longing for good, that reaches out and wants to be known. To be named.

We all want to be forgiven. Loved.

When someone I hardly know, or know just well enough to spill their soul to me, tells me their sins, I smile and tell them that all will be well. If Christ has forgiven them, who am I to judge?

I walk away from the conversations feeling light-hearted for I know that it’s the truth. The truth that sets free.

It’s easy to offer this truth to strangers but hard with the skins and souls that I see every day. That benevolence comes to a halt when I’m faced with the sins of the people in my life. For those sins hurt me, even if it’s just my pride that collects the shrapnel. I bleed and the ugly comes out.

I want to be Bishop Myriel, the one who changes a chorus of lives by his love and kindness for a stranger who has just stolen his treasures. But instead, I’m Javert, refusing to acknowledge repentance and redemption in the lives of those I know best.

I cling to rules because they make sense, like a mathematical formula learned long ago and recited in the night when you can’t sleep. If you are that sort of person. I choose these rules because they are safe. Yet these rules damn me and those around me.

Sitting in church today, that pastor reminded us that our faith isn’t about sin management or a set of rules that magically open the gates of Heaven or the good life – that’s the opiate of the church, church-ology if you will, but not the gospel. Christianity is a deep seeded belief and agreement with God that redemption only comes through Jesus. Not Jesus + _____.

Just Jesus. 

His words were a renewal of the gospel. The renewal of truth.

Markley wraps up her post:

What is amazing is that someone has known us and still loved us. And perhaps has loved us as a result of knowing even the horrible cracks in our surfaces. He knows us because he has created us.

Let us seek to be a people who know one another and who allow others to know us as well.

Amen. A thousand amens.

 

My Word for 2013

Hot tub.

Pool.

Hot tub.

Rinse and repeat.

It’s New Year’s Day. I’m in San Diego and life really can’t be much better. While my adventure buddy is at morning Mass, I’m having some quality Jesus time by the pool just because I can. I’m ridiculously blessed and I’ve never been more aware of it.

I’ve been mulling over words for a few days, feeling them out on my tongue. All of them are wonderful but none of them are right. I’ve been praying over them, knowing that in one way or another, they’ll set the tone. Last year’s words sure did.

I’m in intermediary space – between the pool and the hot tub, halfway on my move across the country. This no man’s land of being a ghost wherever I go. It’s familiar territory but I long for vibrance.

Renew

The word comes as I slip into a familiar swimming stroke. After a lap, I flip to my back and watch the the palm trees sway in the breeze. Overhead, a woman open her balcony door, taking a drag out of her cigarette. She looks at me and I fight the urge to shout a new years greeting. She looks hungover.

We make eye contact and she goes back inside.

It’s just me and the word.

Renewal.

To be honest, it scares me a little. I’m good at discovering things. Collecting novel experiences like passport stamps on my heart. Change has been my constant companion. It’s what I know best. I’ve gone on many trips but it’s rare for me to return.

I slip back into the hot tub and two verses from long ago pop into my mind.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

These will be the verses I will chew on the most this year. The phrase “transformed by the renewing of your mind” is something that will linger in my head for days.

Back in the pool with all my nerves tingling from the cold, I think of the past few years. The lessons learned in Texas. The forever friends and their dear faces. The experiences and places that are now tattooed on my heart.

And I remember the older things. The things from the deep past that seem like a hazy dream.

The girl who dreamed of studying the classics at Oxford, crushed when she missed the a full-ride scholarship by a few test points. The girl who started a list of things she wanted to do before she was old, boring, or 30 years old (whichever came first). The girl who wrote simply because she had to get the stories out of her head. The girl who had terrible luck when it came to picking hikes. The girl who made me the woman I am now.

For me, renewal looks like seeing childhood haunts with adult eyes.

Reacquainting myself with the old rhythms of life and friends who I love dearly. Revisiting the hard truths of my faith instead of coasting on the fusion of faith+psychology+self-interest that is so easy for me to slip into. Looking at the things that have shaped me and respecting them for what they are.

As always, I find myself making a list. A list of things I “should” do, the things I want to do, and the things that are so ridiculous I probably shouldn’t even attempt. Somehow, the latter always make their way to the top of the list.

And then I pause in the pool.

It’s time to make time for the old. Not reverting to the old. Just striking up a friendship with the past.

What’s your one word for 2013?

 

photo credit: Julien Haler via photopin cc
photo credit: Julien Haler via photopin cc