It is sometimes amazing to me that such a "happy" season turns into one full of stress and nastiness. I went out to get something from Walgreens as well as some lunch yesterday and things were crazy! Rules, particularly those with reference to driving, went out the door as many, many people tried to find some place to park or get across a street. I almost got hit three or four times as people got impatient and tried to pull out before noticing that I was coming. It was pretty bad... it took me an hour to make a trip that should have only taken twenty minutes or so.
Then there's the whole thing about entertaining and such... people running around trying to find the "right" gift for everybody, getting paper to wrap it in and such. Plus there is the whole cooking and cleaning thing that has to happen if people are coming over to your house. Just stress, stress, and more stress...
Is this what Christmas is really about? My inclination is to say no. It's about God breaking into our lives and doing what we cannot do on our own. It is about the birth of a child, a child who has the last word over everything (thank goodness!!). Yet we make it so complicated.
Regardless, Merry Christmas!! May the light that shines so brightly tonight and tomorrow remain bright.
It is unseasonably warm here in New Mexico... for the past couple of days, it has gotten up to 60! I didn't even wear a jacket most of the day today it was so nice. This is definitely a nice change from the cold of Ohio and even the first couple days I was back here. The highs the first two days back were only in the 30s and then suddenly the temperature shot up and it's been nice since then. It means there won't be a white Christmas this year, at least not here in New Mexico, but I think I'm ok with that.
The last couple of days have made me realize how much I like the southwest. The adobe buildings, the luminarias, the dirt, hearing Spanish spoken, blue skies, and wide openness are all characteristics of home for me. I still really like Ohio, but there is something about New Mexico that will always be home... more than just it's where my parents live and where I grew up. I think part of it is that I miss the culture. It seems so rich here and not so much in Ohio. Albuquerque is coming up on it's Tricentennial... other than possibly Santa Fe, what other cities in the United States can claim that history? I think I also miss the diversity. It is striking to me just how many white people live in Ohio versus here, but it's only striking now that I'm back here. It will certainly be interesting to see where I wind up for my first call, probably some place more like Ohio. =)
So I made it through interim... got word today that I passed my class. =) Not that I was worried.
I'm in New Mexico for the holidays. I flew in yesterday and spent the afternoon napping (I didn't get a whole lot of sleep the night before). Then I went to bed at 10 PM which is like midnight in Ohio, so pretty normal for me. I woke up initially at 8 this morning but rolled over and went back to sleep until 9 when I finally got out of bed. I was up for several hours before deciding I needed a nap at 1:30 or 2 this afternoon. I slept for another couple of hours and am still about to head to bed (it's almost 9:30 here). I know I've been sleeping a lot, but hey, I'm still a little sick and I'm trying to get over it. I'm feeling a lot better than I have for the past week and a half, but still got some congestion. Mucinex is pretty good stuff I have to tell you.
Anyway, I really do need to be in bed early tonight because tomorrow morning I preach at my home congregation and have to get up early so I can get to the church (with a cup of coffee in hand) by 7 or 7:15. I have a couple of things going for me in this regard. The first is that at Grace (my MIC site) early service starts at 8 AM which requires me to get up super early on Sunday mornings in order to leave by 7 and the early service at my home congregation doesn't start until 8:30. The second is that my body is still very much two hours ahead of here (as evidenced by the 8 AM wake up this morning...) and getting up at 5 will feel like getting up at 7 for me and that's normal.
The sermon is written and ready to be preached... I'll probably post tomorrow at some point with reflections about how it went... I might even include the text of my sermon. But for now, I probably need to get myself into bed... besides, I'm starting to get pretty tired. Time to take some Nyquil and go to bed.
So, it's been a couple days and here's the update.
The last day of Washington DC was good. I met with a staffer for Heather Wilson (she was on the House floor voting) and that went all right. I'm happy to know that she voted against the spending cuts. Her staff person said that there are too many poor people in New Mexico who would be affected by the cuts. It's nice to know that at least one representative is looking out for her constituents (even those that aren't likely to vote for her).
Anyway, after the meeting, we went to the new Native American Smithsonian museum. That was pretty cool. Almost like a little piece of home in the midst of the East Coast! The building and everything in it looked like it belonged in New Mexico (go figure). We didn't spend too long in there before hopping on the metro to get our luggage from the hotel and then back on the metro to get to the airport.
I thought I had been getting sick, although hoping that I wasn't, since about Tuesday. I had a very slight sore throat at times on Tuesday and was tired a good deal of the time. Tuesday night I had some congestion in my chest, but it wasn't too bad. Well, I woke up Wednesday with a sore throat and the chest congestion, both of which went away by the time I left the hotel that morning. However, by the time I got the airport Wednesday evening, I was completely beat and the sore throat was back, and it wasn't very pleasant.
I got home that night around 9:15 and almost immediately went to bed (but not before taking medication). I slept until noon yesterday and then ran some errands which included picking up sick supplies and then came back and napped some more. I then went to an NHL game with some friends. It was a lot of fun to watch hockey, but it would have been better had I not been sick. Anyway, I took more drugs and went to bed almost as soon as I got home again last night. Today I had to get up around 9 so I could be in the computer lab from 10 until 2. I just sat there and watched a couple movies... otherwise, I did almost nothing. I then came back and took another nap before going to see the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with some friends. Now I'm back, I've taken some drugs, and I plan on sleeping a lot tomorrow. Mostly it's a nasty cold with a lot of chest congestion. It really hasn't moved into my nose, which is not what usually happens for me. Usually colds start with a sore throat and within a day or two it moves almost entirely into my nose. I rarely have chest congestion. But apparently this is going around.... I'm just hoping it gets better soon. I'm supposed to be assisting at worship on Sunday and I'm hoping it definitely clears up by next week because I'm preaching at my home congregation on the 18th.
It's been good not having class the last two days because it's allowed me to sleep a lot. But unfortunately next week is not looking that way (especially Monday and Tuesday). We'll see... hopefully I shake this soon. In the mean time it's drugs, Gatorade, and sleep for me!
It's the end of a very long third day here in Washington. It was a really good day in fact... we started a little bit later with a meeting with a staff person in Representative Tiberi's office (Ohio-R, our district in Bexley). We lobbied against the spending cuts for the budget that has been passed through the House and is now being sent to conference. We also lobbied against the proposed tax cuts that would benefit only the top 3% of the nation's population. It was interesting... either the staff member we met with didn't care at all about what we had to say or she just didn't know how to respond or was overwhelmed. In fact, it might have been both. Her body language throughout the course of the meeting indicated to me that she just didn't know what to do with us and I think was a bit intimidated. But none of her language indicated that she was interested in what we had to say, not just that she didn't know what to do or how to respond. So that was a very interesting experience, one that I might reflect more on once I get back home tomorrow night or perhaps even Thursday.
We then met with a lobbyist from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. That was kind of neat, he gave us some tips and talked about his experiences. Then we ate lunch which was followed by a visit to Representative Sharrod Brown's office. He's the rep for a district in Northeast Ohio, but is running for Senate. He is also an ELCA Lutheran and very active in his faith life. Of course he was extremely happy to meet with us (we're all supposedly voting in the state of Ohio) and we didn't spend a whole lot of time talking about the issues. Part of that is because he's with us on our stance against the tax cuts and spending cuts. But then, he also led the discussion and asked us more about seminary and the whole process. He was very personable and gave me a lot to think about. I think it was also good meeting somebody who is very active in his faith life (he leads a Bible Study on Capitol Hill) while still being able to be a very successful Congressman. Anyway, that was a pretty cool visit.
Then we got some time off, during which I walked with Joene and Derek all the way from the Capitol down to the Lincoln Memorial. It was crazy! It was cold, the wind was blowing a bit... my upper body was just fine, but my I thought that my thighs were going to fall off! I'd already seen everything we saw, with the exception of the World War II memorial which was being constructed the last time I was here. While most of it was taking shape and I could see what it would become, it was good to see it completed.
From there (3 hours out in the cold) we went to dinner at Cafe Berlin. Very good food! I highly recommend it if you're in DC. We wound up spending almost the entire evening there. We arrived at the restaurant at 6:30 and it was 10:30 when we got back to the hotel. But we had a good time.
Now it's definitely time for me to get some sleep. I'll probably fill in some of the details when I get back to Ohio... I'm thinking more along the lines of Thursday though because it may be that all I want to do when I get home is go to bed. But we'll see. =)
This might be brief, it may not... probably should be brief because I need the sleep.
I'm in Washington DC. For those of you who missed my last post, I'm taking a church and public policy class for interim this year and this trip is part of the experience. We arrived yesterday morning and went up the National Cathedral in the afternoon. We couldn't get into the main sanctuary because there was a concert (Handel's Messiah, really wish I could have gone) and we needed tickets. But we were still able to look around downstairs and in the bookstore. I've been there before, so it wasn't such a big deal that we didn't get to see the sanctuary for me. But we had gone there as opposed to the mall because some of us hadn't been there before. Anyway, that was pretty much all we had time for before we came back to our hotel and then went to dinner in Georgetown (right across the bridge from where we're staying). The rest of the night was spent watching The West Wing and then going to bed (I was exhausted).
Today was pretty cool. We spent the day in the offices of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Affairs (LOGA). It's where Drew Genszler now works and he set up a whole day for us to talk with various people. Tomorrow promises to be a neat day. We're going to meet with some representatives from Ohio (or staff people depending) so that will be neat. Then Wednesday we're going to the Library of Congress and meeting with somebody there and then in the afternoon I have a solo appointment to go visit Heather Wilson (or staff member). All of you New Mexico people know that she's my, and your, representative. It's interesting because I was on her youth task force when I was in high school, so I've met her lots of times. But I feel more nervous (even though it's not too bad) about meeting with her now than I ever did in high school. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I'm an adult now, requesting an audience (well, Drew actually requested it for me, with my permission). I feel like I need to know what I'm talking about and a lot of the stuff we will be talking about I haven't studied a lot. I do have some talking points now, which are helping me to figure it out... but I'm not as up to speed as I was in high school. I really need to pay more attention! Anyway, I'm sure it will be fine, especially since we're going to do the same thing tomorrow as a group. I will certainly keep you updated!
That's the story from DC for right now... oh yeah, it's snowing outside and absolutely gorgeous!
I realize it's been over a week since I last posted. Things, amazingly enough, have been quite busy for me... well, at least until Wednesday.
It's Interim term now and I've only got one class. I'm taking Church and Public Policy which has been a pretty good class so far. It's kind of cool to go back to stuff that I used to think was possibly what I am called to do (politics and law) and then tie that in with theology. I'm finding that while I enjoy some of the politics and the law stuff, I get bored when we talk strictly about that. I get far more interested when we start to get into the theological matters. That's probably a key indicator for me that I'm in the right place. Regardless, I'm pretty jazzed and I'm having a blast in this class. We leave in the morning to fly to Washington DC for a couple of days. We're actually going to get to do some lobbying too which will be neat. Plus, I get to see my friend Drew (Genszler) and spend a couple days with him. He now works for the Lutheran Office of Governmental Affairs where we will be spending the entire day on Monday. He's also going to go with us on our visits on Tuesday. It will be neat.
This past week has been both extremely busy and pretty laid back. The first half of the week was crazy. I work in the computer lab on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, so that gets added to my schedule on those days (class in the morning, work in the afternoon). But additionally, the two people who were coordinating worship with me for Wednesday morning couldn't really help. Mike's uncle passed away and he had to leave to attend the funeral. Thankfully he got me some stuff before he left, so it wasn't too bad. But I still had to put together some of the stuff that he would have been doing. Then, I had not heard from Joan in over a week so Tuesday morning I e-mailed her. She was supposed to be recruiting people to serve in worship. However, she got stuck in New York, her car broke down. She didn't have any internet access and had totally forgotten all about service. So on Tuesday afternoon I was running around like a mad woman trying to find people for worship. That and I had Rod Hutton continually asking me things about the service (he was presiding). Oh yeah, and I had to create and print the bulletin too... Needless to say, I was thankful when it was over and it went off without a hitch. I understand that there were extenuating circumstances and it couldn't be avoided... but man, I do not want to be responsible for an entire Wednesday Eucharist service by myself again!
Then, once Wednesday was over, things calmed down. I've been taking some time to read some and to sleep some more. I've also watched some movies and TV. I saw Rent Friday night with some friends, it was awesome!!
In other news, I got my exegetical back for Genesis - A!! The other cool thing is that Dr. Hutton wants an electronic version to use as an example of how an exegetical should be written. Not bad for the first one I ever wrote (I wrote this one just before I wrote my New Testament II exegetical - which I got an A on too). I think part of me is in disbelief... two exegeticals, the first ones I've ever written, and I get a 96.5 on one and the other is a solid A (no number grade) and my professor wants to use it as an example. What?? But maybe this is just more pointing me in the direction of getting a PhD in Biblical Studies... which I've been seriously considering lately. So much so, in fact, that I've thought about how to get the theological French and German I need before I get there. It's funny because that was actually part of Hutton's comments at the end of the paper, "I would like to encourage you to exercise these gifts..." Hmmmm... we'll see.
More later, probably from DC. I have wireless in the hotel we're staying in....
It's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm sitting in a rather crowded Starbucks... I've been on vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado since Monday and have been having a blast. It's definitely been good to get away from school and be in the mountains (the real mountains). However, I am ready to get back I think. I'm excited about my interim class and have been doing some reading for the class since I've been gone. I just can't get away from theology completely, I just love it too much and have found myself reading and thinking about an upcoming sermon in my down time here. While I haven't completely gotten away, I think what has been good has been the pace at which life has been going for the past five days. I have been able to sleep as long as I want and have had plenty of lounging time. I've strolled around town, usually bundled up because it's kind of cold here (last night it was 10 degrees F) and looking at the wonderful creation all around plus the pretty Christmas lights. When I've gotten out of town, it's been nice and dark at night which has allowed me to see the stars that I've been missing for a while now. I miss the west and I miss the mountains... but I like Ohio. It will certainly be interesting to see where I wind up for internship. For now, I'm enjoying being on vacation, even if there is some stuff to do. It all begins again tomorrow when I fly back... well, I suppose it really begins again on Sunday and Monday. =)