Lenten Spiritual Formation

Anita at Feeling the Light is emailing out contemplative prompts throughout this year’s season of Lent.  If you are interested in delving into your own spiritual formation, feel free to take these prompts and answer them for yourselves!

“Hands are amazing. There are few animals in the world who use their hands similar to how humans do. Meditate on these pictures or find other pictures of hands that speak to you in some way. Take pictures of your own hands, or of a loved one’s hands. Notice the contours, lines, shades and shapes. What is the texture of these hands? What do these hands say?”

The prompt feels like it’s leaning towards something empowering or beautiful, but yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  As a former Baptist, I’m fairly ignorant about the rhythms of the church calendar, but I’m pretty sure Ash Wednesday is about death.  And as I look at my hands, I think of death.  Whether it’s the peeling nail polish or the extra lines or the faded scars, my hands are growing older.

So is the rest of me.  I have gray hairs now, and it’s a battle to convince myself that I am proud of them rather than ashamed.  I started working out a couple months ago because I was alarmed at how easy it was for my skin to start sagging, and I guess I’m trying to postpone the inevitable.  My feet hurt after a day of walking.  I get headaches when I don’t drink enough water.  Jubilant play or dancing only lasts a couple minutes before I’m wheezing for air.

I am frail.  My body is beautiful, yes.  My body is useful and productive and sometimes efficient.  But it’s falling apart, slowly but surely.  “From dust you came, and to dust you will return.”  Life is meant to be eternal, but it’s not.  I believe in the Christian story because my soul feels its truth – I am made for something more than what I have.  This world, and this body, is not what it should be.  Beauty is shaded with corruption.  My hands, which are strong and growing weaker, are capable of both helping someone and harming them.  Everything has a dark side.   Continue reading

Things I Will Miss About Texas: The Concerts

By far my favorite thing about living in Dallas (within range of Austin) has been the live music.  I’ve had the opportunity to see bands that would never have passed through Central Illinois.  Below are my five favorite concerts!

IMG_43591)  Sufjan Stevens.

EASY CHOICE.  Sufjan Steven’s Sing-A-Long Christmas Tour was the best concert experience of my life.  Alternating between original music and classic Christmas songs, this concert felt like a massive family gathering of weirdos celebrating a holiday together.  Spinning the Christmas wheel to decide which hymn or carol we would belt out together, Sufjan felt like a friend.  That is, until he brought things back around to “Casmir Pulaski Day” and reminded everyone that he is, in fact, a genius.

The concert ended with the incredibly long “Christmas Unicorn.”  Sufjan donned streamers and a bike helmet outfitted with a wing and a unicorn horn.  Everyone swayed and sang, “I’m the Christmas unicorn / Find the Christmas unicorn / You’re the Christmas unicorn too / It’s all right, I love you.”  It was absolutely ridiculous and lovely.  I wish I could welcome the Christmas season with a Sufjan concert every year.  Continue reading