Friday, December 16, 2005

Time flies

No this is not about a type of fly, like fruit flies and the like. I am just saying that time actually goes by very fast like it was flying. Only it is actually better because time doesn't have to flap wings over and over to move as fast as it does.

I must have thought about a million things to write about this week, it has been a pretty intense week (in good and bad ways), but I just never found the time or should I say the right time to write about it. In case I never get around to writing about all these things, here is the summary:
Sunday: We had the priviledge to visit some very cool people at two nursing homes in the company of 4 even cooler people from church.
Monday: God called home yet another grandfather. After a battle similar to that of Mr. S, my stepdad's father died on Monday around noon time. No more escaping to the movies and having food he's not allowed to eat or listening to his stories of living at the "central" (sugar factory). We watched the Chronicles of Narnia.
Tuesday: Christy came to practice with the worship team. The only thing that would make this any better is if Lacey stayed.
Wednesday: We spent some good time with Mrs. S eating chicken soup and watching ice come down outside. It reminded me of drinking hot chocolate as a child at my grandma's house in the middle of a storm, only now I am older and can touch the floor with my feet while I sit down (barely since I am short).
Thursday: Bible study is always a good time. Chandra's cheesecake rocked. Not that it was rock hard, and I barely even noticed being poisoned. It was seriously really good.
Friday: I was very disappointed it did not ice this morning. I think I would have liked to work from home today.

I will try to expand on these events later, I have learned a lot this week. It seems like I have been learning a lot recently. To think that I would have to finish school to start learning, or maybe it is that now that I am not in school I have time to sit back and think about how much I have learned.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Upset about stuff

I will not post details about the source, because I learned a while back that I will probably regret it later. I still need to get it out of my chest, and hence the post.

I don't like a lot of stuff. I don't like that stuff that I don't like is messing with stuff I just love. I don't like that stuff that I disagree with interferes with stuff I am willing to go along with perhaps even want to go along with. I don't like the way stuff is going and I don't like were stuff is heading. The worst part is that I know I have no control over stuff... and I am trying to fight it which makes me even more upset. I particularly don't like that stuff is going the wrong way (from how it played our in my head)!! I don't like not having control over stuff and I don't like the anxiety of not being able to do anything to make stuff go my way. I particularly don't like that the anxiety and upsettedness of stuff makes me not be able to just relax and trust that stuff will work out. I don't like that I know where stuff is headed and that I know that stuff will end or be different, especially when I can forsee it and not prevent it even though I don't want stuff to stop or change. I want stuff to be fixed and I want stuff to be ok and I want stuff to be better and I want stuff to go back to the way stuff was. I hate changes, I hate unwelcome changes a good bit and I hate changes triggered by stuff I don't like even more. I want to scream, but screaming does't fix stuff.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oxymoron: Closing a church on Christmas day because it falls on Sunday

Give me a break!

If you know me at all, you probably know I am not a big fan of big churches to begin with, but this has nothing to do with my dislike of big churches and everything to do with the message something like this sends out to the world, be it coming from a big church or a small church: it does not matter!

I understand the attendance issues but I am also a big believer that if even one person wants to come to a church service, the church should be open for them to hear the Word, otherwise we have set ourselves up for failure in the Great Commission. How do we tell someone it is important that Jesus was born and God is first priority and then say, "well I think we don't really have to have church on Christmas... I know we have been talking about it the past few weeks and all and it is still very important but we know people will be busy opening presents and going to see family we don't want to bother them with church". How do we preach on the importance of Christmas and then cancel church.. doesn't cancelling church kind of imply that it is not important to think about God on Christmas... what's next? I can see it: "And now for our benediction: May God help you in all your Christmas shopping and one final announcement: don't forget Church will be closed next Sunday night because the mall is still open and we wouldn't want Church to get in your way". Which brings me to my next point: I have run out of words to explain my outrage, the irony and contradiction of closing Church on Christmas day, for further assistance, go to Church this Christmas; e-mail me if you need assistance finding one that is open near you.

My strong opinion on this is kind of ingrained in my upbringing. In Catholic "culture" Christmas is probably one of the days of highest attendance throughout the year (up there with Easter and Good Friday). People that don't go to Church the whole year go on these days whether it falls on Sunday or not. As a matter of fact, I am sure the Catholic churches near us back home have many plans for Christmas day this year more than others because having Christmas on Sunday is a blessing and implies a huge influx of people.

I haven't been Catholic for many years for many reasons I will not go into (we can discuss this over e-mail if you would like), but I do admire their position in this matter, granted they have benefits such as a leader who is entirely devoted (exclusive from any other demands) to their Church community and that helps, but they have been able to relay the message and teaching to the community of believers and that is admirable in our days. I am not commending anyyone to convert, I do have many disagreements with important parts of Catholic doctrine that in my opinion go against what the Bible teaches. I am, however, exhorting our leadership to think twice before making decisions about opening the Church based on attendance. Instead of considering whether the Church should be open or close, maybe the energy should be spent trying to figure out how to bring more people to Church despite the social drive that works against us. Maybe we should leave our comfort zones and figure out why it works for the Catholic church and not for us. I think this news should be a wake up call to all believers to consider not just whether or not to go to Church this Christmas, but also, what other things we do that might send out a confusing message to our leadership and to the world, and what can we do about them as we approach the beginning of a new year.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Departed, but not forgotten!

Mr. S. died on November 18th. Those words are not stated merely as a fact, but they are stated with great respect. Mr. S was a very fine man, and he had many admirable qualities. He is someone that I will continue to look up too. Not only was he a strong Christian, but he had many worldly qualities as well. For example, there were so many things around his house that he built himself. He was great at woodwork, and he wasn't afraid to work with his hands and get a little dirty.

Now, only two weeks after his death (it seems like ages), am I finally ready to post about it. I've opted not to read other people's posts about the matter (including my own wife's posts, which I will read after posting this). I preferred instead to digest everything, examine my feelings, and then write. I'll read everybody else's thoughts later. Sure, you may not be able to "feel" the raw emotions I felt in the beginning, since I've let some time pass --- but I don't prefer to broadcast my emotions, anyway.

The main thing I ask myself is, "Who will I remember?" There are lots of different answers to this, because there are many different situations in which I have seen Mr. S. If I think about him as a leader of our church, then I remember him in this fashion: giving announcements during the service in a very southern accent, mentioning building repairs that were needed during church meetings, bringing up issues that no one usually thinks of, and dressing very well for the service. If I think about his declining health, I think about the prayers that were said for him, the delight he took in the singing of songs, the way he would pick up his walker and walk normally (just holding the walker), the pills that he took, but most of all, how he remained dignified even when dressed in his pajamas and how he tried to appear that he was "doing just fine" (even insisting that he go out to eat). If I think about his humor, I think about how he stuck out his tongue at Mrs. S to show her that he hadn't swallowed his pills yet, how he jokingly accused Mrs. S of putting crumbs over his placemat, and the wry smile that he would give after making a joke. If I think about his love, I think about the kisses he would ask his wife for as she served him his dinner, about the many people he has invited into his home, about the many weddings he and his wife would attend, and about the stools he worked hard to make as gifts.

I could go on and on about the different ways I think about Mr. S - his practical, down to earth style, his modesty, his little quirks, his service to the Lord, etc.; and there are probably a hundred little anecdotes that I could bring up (#4 haircut, moving his chair to just the right spot, watching baseball with wireless earphones, dominoes, etc.). When it comes down to it though, there just isn't another man that I have as much respect for as Mr. S, and not another woman that I have as much respect for as Mrs. S.

I know Mr. S is "doing just fine" right now, and that he is enjoying being with the Lord. I know that Mrs. S is going to miss him more than I can imagine, and is going to have to rely on the Lord for her comfort. My prayers go out to all of those who knew him, that God comfort them, bless them, keep them, grow them, and glorify himself. I'd just like to end with a shout out to those in heaven: Mr. S arrived on November 18th.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Music that captures the attitude, not just the instance

Jamil and I have very different tastes in music. Part of this is cultural (he is Indian and I Hispanic), but the other part is due to what each looks for in music.

When Jamil listens to a song he judges it by its rythm maybe its melody, but I listen to the lyrics and the mood of the music. I am not looking just for a song that captures an event in life or a simple feeling but a song that with a mix of lyrics and sounds captures that exact emotion you can't describe. I have discovered (trying to explain it to Jamil) that this is not easy to explain, but I will attempt to do so on Jamil's stupid DVORAK keyboard (i.e. bear with the typos).

Try to think back on a memory that was emotionally intense. I don't mean just sad or happy, but one of those feelings that is very rare, very intense: you can feel it deeply. I have found that unless this event is recent it is hard to get that feeling just by remembering. Yet, good or bad, most of these emotions leave a desire to be felt again. For example, your exact feelings on your first kiss with your husband or wife or the exact feelings that make you not want to go skiing again (say intense pain of a broken bone).

I and my middle sister grew up among adults and, not knowing that you could say anything about it, listening to "old people music". Well, a lot of these older (mostly spanish-speaking but seldom Italian or French) singers worked really hard at this. We are not talking about people with popular voices and pretty faces only, we are talking about people that besides a nice voice, had a poetic instinct and wrote a lot of their music to this end. People like Alberto Cortez, Facundo Cabral, Joan Manuel Serrat really coptured the feeling. A song about aspirations in life and how they change as you grow older, but that at the same time capture the feeling of that youngster crying inside that wants to be a fireman throughout even in his old age and after he has given in to the pressures of society to pursue some other prestigious career (Yo Quiero Ser Bombero--I want to be a fireman).... or a song that coptures the emotions, ambiance and feelings of a man whose beloved wife of not too many years is now gone where the singer and writer (my favorite: Ricardo Montaner) captures the details... the picture... the instance with that one piercing feeling (Dejame Llorar--Let me cry).

The point is that these songs trigger those emotions and allow you to relive them as close to the real thing as possible and not many artists can. I am a sucker for this kind of music and have even tried to capture an emotion in music myself with limitted and low frequency success, I am sure many die trying.

Well, part of the problem (you might have realized if you clicked on any of the liks above) in trying to explain this is that there aren't many such attempts in "American" or "English-language" music. And then I heard them: Ponies in the Surf it took 5 notes of their song Ventricle and I knew I had found it... the way to make it all clear to Jamil. I shared it with Jamil the very next morning. In the beginning it was frustrating, he didn't get it. He was listening for the rythm, the melody (which given an old guitar and two voices was not very appealing to him). Now, he actually likes it and can at least relate to this feeling I have been describing.

This all sounds really random, but it came about from a very logical chain of thoughts. At the time that I started writing this post, we had just gotten back from Bible study where we sing church hymns as part of the night's activities and it hit me: a lot of these hymns do capture feerings: awe at the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross (When I survey the wondrous cross), a feeling of meeting Jesus inspired by his encounter with Mary Magdalene (In the garden), confidence in our God, in whe He is and in what He does and has done, and humbleness before Him knowing how much we owe Him (Rock of ages). So all of a sudden I have a whole "new" source of triggers... of the better kind... of the kind that, instead of sending you remembering good and bad memories, send you remembering why you are where you are, what God has done and where you should be headed... capturing the attitude rather than a fleeting emotion. It is funny how a few years back I didn't even like hymns... I missed out...