"You must be an empty form."

So says Bruce Herman, an art professor at Gordon and one of the keynote speakers at a conference I attended this past weekend. Geared toward students taking titled leadership positions across campus for the upcoming year, Bruce gave his attentive audience a number of other points of advice, but I stopped listening and started thinking after that one. It's not just being EMPTY, as in nothing, useless, space. It's being an empty FORM, having something of substance that is at once moldable, bendable, usable, formable and even breakable. When put in positions of service, as I will be this upcoming year as a Gordon in Lynn intern working with adults with disabilities (newly dubbed by my friend Ellen as "Linterns"), we can't assume we are the all-powerful and all-knowing descending upon the inner-city needy and poor. We are going in to the city and actually into our LIVES with the hope of being a usable and empty and unbiased form.

Is that easy? No. Not at all. Because we know so much about God already, right? We know which jobs he'd put us in. We know what assignments he'd give out. We know those tasks at which we'd succeed. And yet we are often surprised. Even when we feel called, we are surprised. And if we're doing a good work, should we even know? If we are still looking for those "success stories," no matter how few or how small or how humble, are we truly submitting ourselves as empty forms before our God? I think these are hard questions, but good ones as I approach my senior year (I just got my application for graduation--CRAZY!!) and the thought of career and calling. To be doing God's work is a tremendous and frightening task; to be his puppet even more so. But He who holds the strings sees the whole play, and if the grand climax is transcendence and truly knowing God, then maybe the best thing I can do is be an empty form.

*Note to self: take a class with Bruce*

on home and art

I wish I could offer photos of this past weekend, because it was fantastic. Unfortunately, the nature of needingthistobedocumented moments detracts greatly from their significance and removes the viewer a bit from the experience. And there was much to experience this weekend. Friday night just about all of campus crammed into the chapel to watch class representatives dance, sing and act their ways into our laughter, vying for the coveted "Golden Goose." It's a campus quirk, but we've even made MTV news with our acts. The junior class was declared victorious by neutral faculty judges, so there was plenty of reason to celebrate with my peers.

Speaking of celebrating, 21st birthdays, it was my roommate Anna's 21st on Saturday, so we spent midnight at a nearby restaurant with a group of friends (ten loud girls arriving at a restaurant ten minutes before the kitchen closes=priceless. Be nice to your waitresses.). the next day I took Anna into Gloucester, a nearby fishing town (actually the location of the movie "The Perfect Storm") for lunch. We found a Portuguese restaurant and settled in for Bifana and another thing I can't quite remember the name of. DELICIOUS. I think I'd do quite well in Portugal. An art major, I thought she'd love to go to the art studio my floor frequented so often in the Fall, and my friend Dave was more than excited to show us around and update even me on the goings on. He's waiting to hear back from a $28,000 grant, and if he gets it is planning to expand the facilities! There are murals all around, too, testifying to the community's shared sense of struggle and identity that is valued highly enough to be displayed on alleyways and store walls.

We spent the evening at Anna's aunt's house. As much as I love Gordon, I love feeling at home in new places. I've had this conversation with a few people recently. Having moved often and spending the majority of the year in a dorm room that isn't really home makes me wonder what it is that I value and find important. And if I could define the word home it would probably be this: wherever the body of Christ is gathered. To be challenged by those who love the Lord and serve and offer hospitality in His name. We are called to be exiles, but also to find encouragement in our fellow exile. Quite heavy thoughts for a birthday weekend, but let's just say that Anna and I have made our own little dorm room into a home--it is possible:-).

It's a nice day, when you wake up in Disneyland...

Place that song lyric for ten bonus points.

Apologies for the delay between posts; exams got the better of me (although I am now quite the expert on plant survival strategies in harsh environments--ask me something!). But now I am home, at rest and in the middle of Holy Week services. I just finished watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, one of the best movies I've seen in years, and am trying to piece it together with my reactions to this Lenten season. Maybe there are no obvious connections. Watch the movie anyway. It has some wonderful thoughts on how to live a good life, and also has a carefully thoughtful approach to dying, with Mr. Magorium having worn out "his last pair of shoes." And the soundtrack? STUNNING.
A friend told me once that it always rains on Good Friday. Well, not this year. This year Good Friday brought with it (at least in Connecticut) a peepshow of sorts with baby leaves poking their little heads out from their respective branches. By the time school lets out in May there should be thick curtains between me and the rest of the forest--I can't wait. It's a beautiful time of year in New England--a redeeming kind of weather. The other day in New Haven (a mere 20 minutes from my home) the temperature--at somewhere around 93--was highest in the nation. Still, what to make of the rainy Good Friday comment? I wonder if we want it to rain, like the Hollywood movie scenes you KNOW are meant to manipulate tears. Does it lessen the weight of such a dark day to have sunlight streaming into our churches while we sing "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded?" I don't think so, if our hearts are right, and I hope this season is meaningful in and of itself.
I just know that world, and our God, is not beautiful because we see it in its best light. What a horrid world that would be! As C.S. Lewis writes in That Hideous Strength:

"That's why Camilla and I got married, " said Denniston as they drove off. "We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It's a useful taste if one lives in England."
"How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?" said Jane. "I don't think I should ever learn to like rain and snow."
"It's the other way around," said Denniston. "Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it is you grown up. Noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children - and the dogs?
They know what snow's made for."
"I'm sure I hated wet days as a child," said Jane.
"That's because the grown-ups kept you in," said Camilla. "Any child loves rain if allowed to go out and paddle about in it."
May you love this day's weather--wherever you are, whatever it is. :-)