Monday, September 29, 2008

I picked up the scissors today. Such a bad, bad idea.

I have been working for so long to grow out my hair from that rather unfortunate period in which I dealt with my overwhelming frustration by hacking away at my hair under the guise of pursing the right hairdo for me. The end result was most unattractive. Two years later, I still long for a mere fraction of what I cut off.

Much of my frivolous life has been pursuing the question of: Bangs or no bangs.

With an impossibly high forehead, bangs is preferable in my opinion. However, it is my decided opinion that bangs also happen to make me look even younger than I do. Scroll down a bit. Does the person in the burnt orange Sugarland t-shirt look even remotely near 41? Seriously, now, I checked my birth certificate. According to that piece of paper, the earth has revolved around the sun more than 41 times since the day of my arrival. While most women might be jumping for joy at the thought of looking a couple of decades younger than they actually are, but I find this particular state makes being taken seriously rather difficult. So, having bangs is not something I believe to be a good course of action.

But, then again, it really is a high forehead. [Could it have grown even higher over the years?]

Bangs or no bangs.

I cut them. I grow them out. I cut them. I grow them out.

Today, I cut them. I did manage to tuck away the scissors before any more changes were made to my hair. I wonder, though, if I cut far more than I intended with just one snip.

However, I will say that all worries about that one action were set aside when God showed me that He did indeed care for my heart.

First, B emailed me that we might be able to squeeze a game of Scrabble in tonight. We did. I won. I shouldn't have though...

I had called her several times today to try and discuss this whole contract mess in which I find myself. How in the world can asking for a contract be a bad thing? When I could not reach her, I called several other folks...all to no avail. I finally reached my Cousin D, but for all his wonderfulness, I sometimes feel as if he sees me as this young thing or as a female rather than as a business person. He cajoles me to not take it personally, when it is not personal that concerns me. My concerns are professional.

I had tried calling, trying to conduct an informal survey about working with contractors or consultants. I wanted validation that what I asked for was reasonable, nothing near matching the response I got from someone I admire very much.

That response, coupled with my frustrations from last week and the fatigue that even three days of resting could not dispel, was enough to send me in a whirlwind to change something...anything. Then my old professor called me.

He is an amazingly intelligent and godly man. Every once in a while, we have these marathon phone calls talking about all things life and all things spiritual. It has been more than a year since we last talked (I think). Several times these last few months I had wanted to call him, to glean wisdom and gain encouragement from him, but I did not want to share only burdens, I wanted something good to share. It didn't matter.

I entertained him with stories of Pastor D's humor and encouraged him with tales of how very many ways Pastor D, his family, and his church have cared for me. We talked about work and craziness and perspective. We talked about writing and great American novels and authors and books and the possibility of Robert Jordan's work actually being finished posthumously. We talked about scripture and Lutheran and Calvin and the history of the church.

Professor C, in his most wonderful way, taught me the whys and wherefores of the Christian calendar, opening my eyes to something I had not understood. Below is my clumsy retelling:

Christ was crucified somewhere between 30 and 33 A.D. The first bible was not printed for mass production until the mid fifteenth century (the Gutenberg press). During that 1,400-year period--and for centuries later--much of the church was comprised of illiterate followers of Christ. Even many of the priests teaching those followers were not able to read very well though they might have had access to a hand copied version of the bible. Good oral instruction was paramount.

Acting out the story of faith (carrying the cross, having communion, observing holidays, etc.) was an effective means of teaching an illiterate people about their heritage of faith. First biblical characters and then characters from the history of the church were used to reflect, to illuminate, to uplift. The church calendar, thus, became an effective mechanism by which followers of Christ could learn scripture. Simply put, by following it they had an occasion to revisit those stories, to learn of the cross, to gain wisdom, and to worship the One who created us.

Just the way the Fourth of July offers an opportunity to rethink, revisit, and retell the stories of the birth of freedom in this country, stories played out in the lives of Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, so does the Church Calendar afford reflection on the freedom we have in Christ.

Professor C also observed that while Protestantism worship does have value in being rooted in the bible, in the scripture-centered sermon, rather than revolving around rote traditions that oft become hollow in the lives and minds of worshipers, in moving away from the Church Calendar, we have lost a bit of the drama and the art and the mystery and the aesthetic experience of God revealing Himself in all His beauty and power.

Ultimately, we're involved in a miracle. We have the Holy Spirit within us! For all our pursuit of biblical and theological scholarship, the Holy Spirit cannot be caged or catechized or classified or cataloged. Revel in the Mystery of our Creator. Wonder in the Work of His Son. Honor the History of His Hand.

Thanks, Professor C, for helping me to understand why dismissing the Church Calendar out-of-hand as something for other folks was a foolish decision. Instead, I should have tried to learn something of that which I did not understand.

I have marveled greatly at how Pastor D worships through liturgy in a way I have never witnessed, even though trying the follow the service usually leaves me confused and distracted. Now, I understand those previously pesky church holidays that I viewed as an interference with our evening bible study are actually an opportunity for me to learn, to reflect, to worship.


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