About a week ago, a friend whose opinion I value greatly messaged me with a question: should I really be framing this Friday (sometimes Saturday) series as what's saving my life this week? It sounds "like if you didn't have these things you would kill yourself," she wrote. "Why does your life need to be saved?"
It made me realize - rather naively, I admit - that this phraseology is a heavy concept for many people that has nothing to do with the light and lovely things of this world.
Why does my life need saving? I'm not dying, not sick, not depressed. At this moment in life, I have a solid mental and physical base from which to start each day. After all, it's not like these five people/places/things + honorable mentions are keeping me alive.
I originally got the phrase and concept from Barbara Brown Taylor, specifically her book An Altar in the World (a book that, full disclosure, I haven't finished yet). She writes:
"Many years ago, a wise old priest invited me to come speak at his church in Alabama. 'What do you want me to talk about?' I asked him.
"'Come tell us what is saving your life now,' he answered. It was as if he had swept his arm across a dusty table and brushed all the formal china to the ground. I did not have to try to say correct things that were true for everyone. I did not have to use theological language that conformed to the historical teachings of the church. All I had to do was figure out what my life depended on. All I had to do was figure out how I stayed as close to that reality as I could, and then find some way to talk about it that helped my listeners figure out those same things for themselves." [Emphasis mine.]
As soon as I finished reading my friend's message last week, I went back to that passage to make sure it was as deep and meaningful as I had first thought. It was. I then went back to some of my Friday Five blog posts to see if they stacked up. Well... My life definitely does not depend on "Girl Scout cookies + The West Wing," one of my entries from last week. Some moments in a week are superficial, yes. But does it not still mean that they help the stresses of the week in some way? Maybe that's what I'm trying to say by "saving my life" - getting me through the week. Not that I wouldn't get through the week without it, but these little things can make it better.
BBT also writes: "...What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world." [Emphasis mine.]
I think that idea - becoming more fully human, real life in the real world as a way to God, trying to share moments of goodness in my life so that other people recognize theirs... Is what I want to convey with these posts. Even in the midst of the silly and superficial, most of what I find sticking out to me in a week stems from experiences with people. And those do make my life worth living. They give me joy and feed my soul.
I'm grateful to my friend for making me think about this more deeply, and consider how "saving my life" might come across to some. I don't think I'm done thinking about it, and if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
Finally, to get down to business a day late...
1. We had a lovely family dinner - parents, brother, grandmother - at my folks' house last Friday night. It was a great way to end a long week, sitting around the same table eating spaghetti.
2. Our church had a volunteer event last Saturday packing meals for Stop Hunger Now, and I loved the fellowship it brought to our Fellowship Hall. I packed meals with a woman I call my honorary mama (the mom of one of my childhood friends) and two guys currently in our youth program. It was fun to talk with them about the similarities and differences of our beloved youth group ten years ago and now. One similarity: our group still has a penchant for belting "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the top of our lungs. Then the song actually came on over the speakers, and soon everyone was singing. All through this, we were packing upwards of 40,000 meals for people around the world. If there's a Stop Hunger Now event near you, you should definitely sign up.
3. A writing class participant told me that the class feels like John Wesley's Class Meeting. I took this as a huge compliment. Wesley is the founder of the Methodist denomination of Christianity, and back in the early days, he started the Class Meeting, a small group where people shared intimately about their life and faith journey. This is what I want my writing workshops to feel like - a place where people can feel comfortable with the teacher and their peers so they can write what they want to write, share authentically, laugh and cry. It meant a lot to me.
4. I've gotten to exercise every day this week, which has been great. I can really tell a difference when I work in even a 10-minute power walk in the morning.
5. My brain has felt stuffed to the brim these days, and this tends to up my anxiety. But I've gotten a chance to talk to others this week, both to vent and to listen, and it makes me realize that a lot of us are in the same boat. So much is going on this time of year, and our minds are piled with daily tasks, work projects, things we want to do, people to see... I need to remind myself that it's a LOT. And the fact that we can keep most of it straight most of the time is kind of a miracle in itself. So breathe.
I'm also loving my new logo! Read my interview with the designer and my friend Grace Barkley if you missed it on Thursday.