Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Kitchen

I wrote and shared this poem at a Forum for Theological Exploration retreat that Sarah, Jenna, and I attended in at the end of April. The retreat was in Auburn, WA--outside of Seattle! It was a gorgeous place to be! Many of the attendees were also members of intentional communities made up of volunteers! It was a refreshing, unique space to be in! I shared this poem during the "coffeehouse" that they had on our last night! It's been quite a while since that happened and I wanted to share it with all of you! Also, a gratuitous picture of our family right before Easter!
Tim, Sarah, Chelsea, Ben, Jenna, & Katie
The Kitchen
In my house
When I want to be with
I come
To the kitchen
And I sit
At the kitchen table.
Organically people may
Stretching on the floor after a run,
Shuffling pots and pans for dinner,
Reading a book in the glorious sun.
It is the heartbeat of our home,
Thumping to daily rhythms.

In the midst of cooking,
The kitchen becomes—
A stage
Our impromptu dance parties
Filling the spaces between
Linguine and cheddar cheese

With a warm cup of tea
And a listening ear—
I’ve stepped into
A therapy session
The linoleum floor bouncing back
The sacred words of our hearts.

With a hefty bag of thrifted finds—
The fluorescent lights reflect
The dazzling uniqueness of
A fashion show that only cost
Ten dollars.

In the heart of our home—
The kitchen

Our dancing stage
Can easily deteriorate to
An arena.
With a warrior on either side
For a death match.

The vibrations of the floor
Angry words and weighty sighs—
Slammed doors and broken conversations.

The fluorescents illuminate
The cracking pieces—
Shining lights into the deepest,
Most selfish parts of

And yet,
Those four walls
With open cabinets and an
Alphabetized spice rack—
Hold us—all.

As we come
To the kitchen table—
Angry with housemates.
Disappointed with work.
Fists clenched.
Jaw tightened.
Our hands open,
Reaching across the table
To hold another.
Fingers unfurl—
White knuckles regain their color.
Jaws relax,
Exhaling prayers
Inhaling the love inside
Homecooked food.
Eating brown rice or white,
Coconut curries and
We slowly find our way
To each other
To self.

The kitchen holds us—
Maybe better than we hold
Each other
The heartbeat of our home
The kitchen
Is that place that
Grace lives.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Texts From Your Average Work Week

Well, it certainly has been a while, but here I am again.  Since my last post I've traveled at least 6,000 miles - some by car, some by train, some by plane, and even a few on foot (carbon footprint, anyone?).  Rather than try to catch you up on all of the places I've been, I'll try to give you an idea of what the past week has been like.  To do that, I'm going to look through some of my texts from the past week and share them with you.

"Did your flight leave ok? There was a fire on a back runway when I drove back to work." - boss person

Actually, no, my flight didn't leave okay.  This was a week ago on Tuesday.  The entire plane boarded, taxied out on the tarmac, then proceeded to sit for more than two hours while we waited to see if we'd make it into the air.  When we started heading back to the gate to deplane, a few of the passengers found out the flight had been cancelled before the flight attendants.  Pleasant.

"The situation made the national news!" - director of camp (Mardela!) where I was heading

My flight wasn't the only one cancelled that day.  There were about 1,000 flights cancelled at O'Hare and another 125 at Midway (shared control tower).  You can imagine how much fun it was stepping back into the airport (with zero instructions for what to do next).  It looked like a cross between a refugee camp and an angry ants' nest.  I buddied up with a couple other people from the flight and we compared notes as we tried to find phone numbers for rebooking and where the next outgoing flight to Baltimore (or DCA) might be.

"No, I'll plan to stay here if the flight doesn't go. Still waiting..." - me

American Airlines automatically re-booked me for a flight the following morning at 9:20AM (thanks?).  Being that I was flying back Thursday morning, this would've cut my time at the camp pretty short so I tried my luck with stand-by - no luck on the 4:50PM flight.  Next up: 9:15PM.  They rolled over the stand-by list so I was #4 in line.  If I didn't make it on there, it would be late enough that I wasn't interested in getting picked up, driven home, sleeping a few hours, then waking up and having someone drive me back to the airport in rush hour traffic for the morning flight.  After all,

"I'm a BVSer, remember? ;-)" - me

This year of serving isn't going to be the cushiest experience of my life and I'm entirely fine with that.  It's good to be reminded of the luxuries we have in our lives such as constantly available food (albeit, over-priced at the airport), cell phones for instant communication gratification, and 21,794 back-up plans available.  It wasn't that long ago that this situation would've involved a call from a payphone saying, "Hey, the flight's been cancelled.  I'm on stand-by for the next flight but might not fly out until the morning.  I'll call you when I get to Baltimore."  Done.

"Just passed the Naval Academy exit. :-)" - me

One of my co-workers from back at the outdoor school in California where I used to work had texted me a couple of weeks ago to say she was heading past Nokesville (my hometown) and waved for me.  She used to work at a farm near Annapolis and had a few very good friends at the Naval Academy so she'd spent some time there.  It's always nice to have a reason to let someone know that you're thinking of them.

"It's snowing here. Ugh." - me

That one went to Mom.  Yes, it snowed on Friday.  We're not talking three or four flurries.  These were the big ol' fatty flakes that you can see from the other side of the warehouse.  Luckily, the temperatures stayed above freezing so nothing stuck, but it snowed for a good solid three or four hours before it tapered off.  Weather can be weird.

"Happy Birthday, Doc-a-saurus!" - me

This was to a couple of friends that I worked with back at the outdoor school who had gathered for a birthday celebration.  Doc got his name from having the initials PHD.  The dinosaur reference is because he's a Jurassic Park fan.  It's good to hear about friends' crazy weekends.

"We are going to do our best to make it in time to see y'all before you leave." - husband of one of my super cool Cincinnati housemates

This week we head out to Young Adult Conference in a big white van, collecting BVSers (including our cycling housemate) and a recent seminary grad along the way.  At about the time we leave, one of my housemates from Cincinnati will be arriving for a friend's wedding and staying in our house that night.  It'll be a tight squeeze, but we're hoping they get here before we need to leave so we can at least do a hug-n-run.

"Hey, a Ben Bear!!!!! Okay!!!" - my newest best friend I haven't met yet

She attends the Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, VA.  I'll be traveling in that neck of the woods after Young Adult Conference for about a week and she's been itching to meet me.  Admittedly, she makes me feel like a bit of a rock star.  I'm trying not to let it go to my head.

"Ha, you need more time to accomplish everything? And who doesn't dream of a longer work day. That just sounds fantastic, lol." - my friend who got to hear about my schedule

Yup, some of us have been going back to the offices after the evening slows down and on weekends so we can get a bit more work done.  We all love what we do here, but so often if seems that there are simply not enough hours in the day.  We've come to find that we're not the only ones who have this dilemma; it's not uncommon to find there are other staff here at midnight on a Monday.  Keeping that in mind, this blog is done - back to work!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kendra Johnson becomes Kendra Harbeck

The BVS house took a road trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa to support our previous housemate, Kendra Johnson in her wedding to Josh Harbeck! We look so fancy!
From left to right: Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, Jenna Stacy, Ben Bear, and Sarah Neher
Enjoy! - Jenna Stacy