live long and prosper

I like watching things begin. For example, that means that watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (my father's favorite TV show and one of the few series to make it across the Atlantic to South Africa's discriminating broadcast networks) is accompanied by the spoiled ability to watch the latest Star Trek movie and watch things, in a way, begin: Spock, Captain Kirk, Leonard "Bones" McCoy and dear Scotty all begin--are formed, shaped and molded--and I can see how. It's a privilege, and wonderfully exciting to return to the beginnings of things, to see where people come from, to watch progress and change and development, or at least be privy to some of its disclosure. My floor has been doing "life stories" in our floor fellowships over the course of the semester, and this past week we heard from Hannah, whose parents lived in a commune before her father became an Eastern Orthodox priest and they moved to Washington to head up a church. As she passed around pictures of her life and told side-splitting story after side-splitting story, those of us who were blessed enough to listen basked in the warmth of her history, taking in the bigness of her beginnings. I love being given glimpses into personal history, because there is so much depth and richness and meaning there, and while I'll never know every detail about a person, just taking the crumbs people offer is a great honor and show of trust, and I've been blessed with some amazingly trusting souls.
In somewhat of a similar vein, some of us woke up at 3 am on Monday morning (night?) to watch the Leonid meteor showers, and as we lay in a deserted field and tried to impress each other with how many constellations we could name I was once again in awe of beginnings, and the fact that stars exist--that some of the stars I was naming were dying, and that some of them were just being born. Every shooting star was a stroke of God's paintbrush across the eager sky, and I was awed by the bigness of the God who began this universe. He is not so small; after all, He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (Psalm 174:4, NIV)

on the good life

In the freshman seminar for which I am a teaching assistant, we've been discussing Peter Kreeft's book "Back to Virtue," a book in which Kreeft argues our postmodern society's need to return to lives of courage, purity, mercy, and other characteristics in accord with the Beatitudes. Our lives that seem so far removed from the old-fashioned values have instead, Kreeft suggests, been replaced with complacency and apathy, and the students in my class and I wrestled through that seemingly great divide. Some of our hypotheses stemmed from the idea that life has gotten complicated due to such things as social awareness (and thus political correctness) and technology (and thus increased independence and lack of identity). Moving away from the simple life has created all sorts of desires to return, to cultivate truth, beauty and goodness, to quote the old philosophers, and I discovered some of those on Friday night.
Wanting to do something a little out of the ordinary, I took some of the girls on my floor to a nearby McDonald's for dinner on Friday, where we enjoyed feasting off the dollar menu and eavesdropping on a family celebrating a surprise birthday nearby. Hearing the delighted squeals of children as they opened their toys (Nerf-like foam guns and Strawberry Shortcake dolls--fun!) and enjoying the company of good friends and the taste of those good and greasy french fries, something made sense; the good life, endeavored, is just that: enjoying the simplicity of good food and the great gift of good friends and wonderful conversation, laughing about nothing and soaking in the love that God has been gracious enough to offer children that want to love and serve Him. And that is just so good.

Grace and peace this week as the good life is sought and, as God grants, found--even in the small and unexpected ways.

of farms and friends

Saturday morning Ferrin Hall woke up earlyish, piled in cars and headed to Fellows Farm for a service project. Fellows Farm is a small, community-sustained project run by two Gordon grads who saw a need for local and sustainable crops in the community. Investors pay a certain amount for a share of the land, and in return receive a portion of the crops at the end of the growing season. We pulled into the driveway and were welcomed with smiles and joy, as our group of 15 could do much more in one day than Amy and Erika, the owners of the farm, could do in many. We were soon set to work clearing an overgrown bed, which consisted of pulling out basil plants (ah, what a glorious smell!) and other weeds and tilling it. We were then taught to plant garlic, which stays in the ground over the winter. I volunteered with a couple of other brave souls to shovel manure onto a compost pile, ensuring a good supply of nutrient-rich soil for spring farming needs. I love the smells of farms, and that there is an echo of ages past, of simpler lives, just down the road is a wonderful reminder that the good life is not all that far away. Blessings as this November begins!