I really hate starting with that–and I hate having started with that so often in the history of this blog.
I just…haven't felt like I've had much to write about. Part of that was taking on a new job at the beginning of last month, which put me at just about full-time between all of my jobs. What a transition! It hasn't been bad, really. It's been tough, sure, and an adjustment, but I really love it. It's a good job. But between the new job and my other jobs, there have been lots of little good moments (and lots of irritating, frustrating ones, too!) but nothing big enough that I wanted to write a whole post about it.
But good grief it's been a long time since I wrote anything here.
And I think those little moments are worth celebrating and cherishing–and isn't that what I wanted to do here, in this space? find the good and beautiful and God in the routines and small moments of life? So let's take a moment–let's celebrate all the tiny things that being us joy. For me, that's been:
Walking to work. It's a tiny way to make space for myself, and I love it.
My new friend.
Going to the park. I live right by one, and I've finally rediscovered that is a great place to go to read or get some work done.
Beautiful sunsets. Enough said, right?
Work. Definitely not every day–but there's something beautiful about seeing a task be completed, and being the one working towards that. There's something wonderful about having a clearly defined goal.
Crocheting. I've been crocheting more lately and loving it! I find it such a soothing way to spend an hour or two.
Writing. Surprising no one but myself, developing a regular writing habit has been giving me so, so much joy. (Perhaps this is a post for another time, but why do we so vehemently avoid the parts of life that give us the most joy?)
Rain. We've had so much rain here I've the past month, and I love it. It's my favorite weather, full of such beauty and potential.
What about you? What small things have you been loving?
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle–I’ve been working my way through this book for a few months now. L’Engle writes meditatively and beautifully about life and art and faith. It’s a bit all over the place, as her non fiction works tend to be, so it’s hard to describe–but I do know that this book gave me hope. She has a great deal of faith that the best way to live is to do our best, to live well in the small things we’re given, and to search out beauty and quiet and love. I need those reminders.
Women’s Work by Elizabeth Wayland Barber–A fascinating nonfiction look at women’s work in the ancient Mediterranean world, specifically weaving, which made up a huge chunk of that work. Barber looked at various bits of evidence to draw a picture of how weaving worked and developed over time. It was a great reminder that so much that we take for granted now used to take mind-blowing amounts of work.
The Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie–One of the Sydney Chambers mystery books. I love these books, because they’re as much about Sydney’s life as a pastor, husband, father, and friend as they are about the mysteries he solves (each book contains six short stories/mysteries). We get to see each step of working through the mystery but also Sydney’s struggles to not be overwhelmed by everything else going on in his life. They’re relaxing, even soothing, because Sydney is really wonderful to read about and I love how much they’re about everyday life.
Goldenhand by Garth Nix–OH. MY. GOODNESS. What a wonderful addition to the Sabriel series!! We finally get to return to the stories of Lirael, Nicholas, and Sameth. It was beyond satisfying to see their stories tied up a bit more (and tangled a bit more), and the characters are all real-feeling and funny, and I got so invested! (I yelled at the characters a lot, but to be fair they’re pretty sensible characters and mostly don’t need it. I just get invested!) It was so easy to slip back into this world, but also great to see entirely new parts of it and meet new characters. Seriously, read the whole series (but in order!).
A Woman of Consequence by Anna Dean–I couldn’t resist when I saw that this was a Jane Austen-style mystery–and it was as good as it sounds. Dean did a wonderful job of capturing that Austen style of speech and description, and in true Austen fashion the characters and relationships took up as much, if not more, page time and thought as did the mystery. Dido Kent, the main character, was fun and spunky but also felt period appropriate in her beliefs and actions (other than maybe solving mysteries in the first place?). So much fun!
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson–This was another fascinating book. Robinson imagines a world a few hundred years in the future when humanity has spread through most of the solar system and is in various stages of terraforming and colonizing planets, moons, and asteroids. He imagines all this in ways I’ve never seen done before, though: people get around the solar system by hitching rides on terraformed asteroids, for instance, that are full of various combinations of earth biomes, animals, and plants. Humans have undergone various genetic and physical changes as they’ve adapted to space and adapted themselves to increase life spans. Earth has accumulated problems and poverty as the rest of humanity has escaped to the rest of the solar system. He has a very good grasp of science that makes the future he imagines seem plausible, and a beautiful, wonderful writing style. It was a brick of a book, though, with a slow, sloooow plot that took frequent detours. It worked, really, for the book as a whole, but I did lose interest in the middle and pause in my reading for a few weeks. I was glad I picked it back up and finished it, even if the ending was a bit of a let-down after all of the build-up of the mystery (the solution was unexpectedly normal). But still, it was beautiful and fascinating and different from any other sci fi I’ve read.
Not too much (yes!). I’ve been working my way through Arrow, and rewatching bits of Grey’s Anatomy and Leverage. But nothing’s been blowing me away this month.
To podcasts, of course! I’m trying not to add any new podcasts, since my playlist is a bit overwhelming right now. But I’ve been especially enjoying BBC’s Newshour, which covers worldwide news. I’ve been going through some interesting-sounding old On Being episodes too, and they have had some amazing guests. Parker Palmer has been on there so many times!
The weather here has been really wonderful, with nice temperatures and a mix of rain and sun. I’ve enjoyed getting to live with the windows open and walking everywhere possible.
Basically, I will never tire of finding flowers in unexpected places.
My best friend in town finished her thesis this month, and so we went out to celebrate together (a few times, really). But there are just so many interesting restaurants to check out! I got a German chocolate donut covered in chocolate chips, whipped cream, chocolate mouse, and drizzled chocolate, for instance. Hers had vanilla Oreos and raspberries.
And, of course, I’ve been spending lots of time in my local library, researching sermons and writing and just having a quiet place to work and be.
Lately I’ve been craving quiet. I don’t necessarily mean lack of noise; I mean more a lack of technological noise, a space to think. Sometimes that has looked like a lack of noise, turning off podcasts and music and videos for a bit to just be. Sometimes it’s looked like reading a book instead of watching something. Sometimes it’s looked like going for a walk.
It surprised me. I haven’t been avoiding things by drowning them out with TV marathons. I haven’t been shoving them into games I didn’t really want to play. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, but those are about learning and listening, not avoiding. I guess I forgot that they’re still noise. There’s still beauty and space in quiet, even when I’m filling my quiet with good things.
So I read a book. I went for a walk, and instead of putting a podcast on just observed. I thought about my upcoming sermon, and bumble bees, and summer plans, and poetry. It wasn’t frantic; everything slowed down in a way that normally only writing can accomplish.
I’m not going to make promises I won’t keep and say that I’m going to always look for more quiet now. But it’s been really nice, and I hope I can keep seeking out the quiet in my life. I hope I can be a little less frantic and hit pause sometimes.
Mountains stretched to the horizon, mountain after mountain: most of them blue-green with evergreens, a few tall enough to be topped with rocks and snow. The closest had a peak covered by a meadow bright with flowers: gold, scarlet, and violet swaths, with highlights of creamy white and tiger orange dotted with jagged boulders.
That rainbow mountain was why I was here.
I’ve always loved nature and seen God in it. Well, almost always. There were a few years there where that wasn’t quite true, and today I’m over at Off the Page telling my story of seeing God in nature, especially in those few years.
(You may especially enjoy it if you love hearing about flowers, bees, mountains, beautiful nature things…)