Month: July 2011

the list

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To anyone else, it is just a list of names and figures. Meaningless and arbitrary. Uninteresting.

To me, it is my lifeline.

Twice a month it comes in an email. I print it out and sort through, entering numbers into little boxes in spreadsheets and punching the buttons of calculators.

My income isn’t one round figure that perpetually appears in the columns of a pay stub. It’s not a number that computers spit out after sorting through electronic time cards. It is the sum of dozens of gifts. It is an amount I personally sift my fingers through. It is a number that ebbs and flows each month, adding a breathless aspect to discovering what it will be this time. Somehow, that changes everything.

You don’t take it for granted. You don’t view it as something you earned and expect. Every time I look at that list, I am a little surprised there are still names on it. A little relieved. And completely baffled that anyone would agree to give me money. Every month.

There are some whose names I can’t read without them growing blurry through tears. Those who I know really can’t afford it but give anyway. Those who don’t believe in what I believe, but believe in me. Those who are so faithful each month.

All have given up something to be on this list. Maybe a dinner out. Maybe a tank of gas. Maybe a portion of their retirement. But something. And they’re doing it so I can do what I’m doing, which blows my small human mind.

I am grateful for every name and every number, regardless of which end of the scale it sits.

I spoke with someone recently about the phenomenon of giving up your paying job and asking individuals to pay your income instead. I struggled before saying, “It doesn’t make any sense.” Then I changed the subject because sometimes I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t completely understand it. I don’t know how to sort through the complexity of emotions I feel when reading that list in a few short sentences.

I do know this: God reads that list over my shoulder. In fact, He wrote it. It’s not really for me, that they give. That makes it easier to accept.

And I know to Him, that list is not meaningless or arbitrary or uninteresting. He treasures it as much as I do.

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injury

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It’s an inconsolable toddler, who smiles when you wave toys in front of his face, but dissolves into tears again seconds later.

It’s the jackhammer breaking apart the road outside your window each morning.

It’s the guest who stayed a few days long.

This is my knee right now.

I tried ignoring it, hoping lack of validation would discourage it back to quiet. I tried coddling it, hoping the attention would appease it. I tried spitting the difference, testing the waters.

It’s been 20 days, and the nagging pain resurfaces at every wrong move, like a ruler in the hand of a boarding school teacher.

It’s not the pain that bothers me so much. It’s what it means. It means I am deprived of one of the things in life that keeps my head clear.

No long runs over golden hillsides. No spin, the thrum of the music driving my thoughts out of my brain. No dance classes, where I can be someone else for an hour.

Friends tell me to go to the doctor. My stubbornness has prevailed so far, but desperation might make me give in.

I get hours of hope, when my gate evens out. But the nagging returns with any semblance of activity.

Please, God, heal my knee.

letter to my roommate

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Dear roomie,

I hope you are having a fun time out on that island in the ocean that you are on near Florida. I can’t wait to hear all your stories about what life is like there where the natives speak in clicks.

Things have been real great here! We have a new neighbor, Spike, who is very friendly and likes to come over a lot to play “hide and seek” with these people he calls “coppers.” It’s a fun game. Spike has a cousin named Amber, who, poor girl, needed a place to stay because her old  house exploded. I knew you wouldn’t mind, so I let her sleep in your bed. Don’t worry, she has kept it sparkling clean. And her only pets are these things she called “bed bugs,” which don’t have fur, so you shouldn’t be allergic. Cute little buggers!

Anyway, otherwise, things have been quiet at the office. Well, that’s because Allison and Sam went star gazing in the Himalaya and Steve decided to do a year-long world tour with Peggy. Alycia has been home with Tom, who kept getting his claws stuck in the curtains. NBD. I have been holding down the fort. I started this new initiative called Free Mission Trip Fridays where I give out free trips every Friday. It’s been a real hit!

Well, I will see you when I pick you up from the airport on Sunday.

Love,
Your roomie

P.S. Don’t worry. I know you come in on Saturday.