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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 41 - the end and beginning

Yesterday I finished by 40 days of silence.  When I took my ear plugs out and began my day, there were several things that were apparent.  First , I heard the creaking of the floor under my feet, the brush of my clothes as I slipped them on, the hum of the water out of the faucet, wind outside blowing through the trees, my feet scrunching through the leaves, the cars swooshing by my front door, the handle of my car door as I opened it up, the creak of the cart walking into walMart.  I could hear people's little side conversations from 30 feet away.   My car roared!  I thought something was wrong with it.  There were a hundred little things I noticed that I'd left forgotten over the last 40 days.  It was nice.  Nice being able to soak it all in.  These were just the little things.  What would absolute silence have been like?

I taught, talked, listened and functioned as I normally do, although a little hampered.
Tomorrow, things are about to change radically.

Tomorrow no speaking.

James 1:19


 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

I want to explore being slow to speak in a whole new way.  I would like to drastically cut down on my chit chat.  If any of you have ever read Chapman's Love languages books you know about the five different ways we process/receive love.  I am a words person.  If someone tells me they love me, that's good enough for me.  Quality time, acts of service, affection, and gifts are all secondary.  Since I am a words person, I have a tendency to put more value in words as I interact with others.  This probably feeds my constant disclaimers, explanations, and equivocations.  To have these taken away, would severely dampen the way I express myself and interact with others.  There is nothing wrong with this per se, except all this is usually centered around me, not God.  This is about my focus.

Therefore this is what I am going to do.  For the next forty days, I am not going to speak to/with anyone unless it is a prayer (to God), or a word (about God).  No more small talk.   We will see how it goes.  Already some of the ladies and kids at church are scheming how to break me.  I've told them exclamations don't count so if they want to be successful they have to be sly, not sadistic.  lol.  I guess today I will get some cards made up, explaining my situation, or maybe I will just pretend to be dumb.  Maybe the slowed down process of writing things out for people will cure me of foot in mouth disease.  We will see.  It should be a fun adventure.

Oh, and I'm still trying to figure out where I stand on baby talk.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 34

I really look forward to hearing the crickets again.  Its finally started to cool down at night, and although I can hear their faint echo I want to again experience their nightly concert.  

I know the sound of silence is probably cliche, but there is a beauty in stripping away all the subtleties.  Imagine your world devoid of all green and blue.   This is drab indeed.  
But doesn't that make the reds and yellows that much more precious.  Doesn't it sometimes allow us to treasure them more fully?  I think of several movies, done in black and white, with an occasional splash of red for effect.  The appreciation for something as simple as color, or a kittens purr, the smell of leaves, or a Krispy Kream.  

The little things are huge.  The simple profound. 

Although I hear less, I listen more.

One of my favorite people in Clemson is Jane Tankersley.  We had lunch yesterday at what is becoming one of my favorite restaurants.....the Little Bistro, in Liberty SC.  Their special is always unique.  Yesterday it was a barbeque wrap with a little sweet cole slaw inside.  Anyways....it was delicious.  We held hands and prayed.  Jane is being Jane, encouraging, supportive, as sweet as the day is long.  She also can't hear very well so we both leaned in close like we were sharing secrets.  We laughed about old friends and told stories of our families.  When I had to leave she gave me a motherly kiss on the cheek.  And then it struck me.....at that moment....how beautiful life can be.  Correction.  It struck me how beautiful "little moments" could be.  The little lunch planned casually was perfect....in every way.

I resolve to cherish those moments, to take those mental photographs that can be collected, shared, and perused.  I have a feeling......in years to come......... I will  revel in the silliness and loveliness of this year of fasting.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 28 - Random thoughts

I am still experimenting with different plugs.  I stumbled upon the best and maybe most expensive on my way up to Spartanburg yesterday.  It is a simple gelatinous wax.  You ball it up, shove it in your ear.  Comfortable and extremely effective.

I love going to Spartanburg.  The central church has some incredibly sweet and encouraging folks.  I did get a lot of incredulous looks when I was meeting and greeting before my talk.  I got some "your kidding'" some "No you're not!" and some older lady "Oh Danny!"  All with complete kindness.  They were great afterwards too.  Lots of good feedback.  It got me to thinking how much fun it is being an oddball.  There is definitely some power in the experience of "adventuring for the Lord"....or simply providing tangible object lessons for people to connect with.  It seems to resonate with people.  It gives substance to the concepts.  Its easy to understand concepts when you can see them being applied in a simple physical ways. I just want to help people seek God.  This is a silly way I am going about it but it works for me.  What works for you?  We need to come to grips with the fact that on this earth our search is never over.  We continually seek Him.  And revel in it. Or should.

I am always amazed at the random events in my life.  Last Friday I get a call from one of my Ghanian friends. We are friends ....not bffs..... so when he called, I was excited.  He begins, "What do you think about slaughtering a goat at your house?"  .........................???????????????.......... How would you have responded?  I kind of mumbled and stumbled, "um, well, ummmm, errrrr, what do you mean?"  He then tells me that one of their friends is leaving to take a job and they were throwing a big party for him.  They have a tradition, I guess, where they roast goat for the celebration.  So I am a little clued in but still slightly dazed.  "Are you wanting me to slaughter it?", I ask.   "NO, No. NO.", he said laughing. "We just need a place to do it because we live in the apartments and they wouldn't let us do it at the farm we bought the goats from because they have dogs."  (not sure what that has to do with anything, but ok) So I start thinking.....I know hunters dress out deer, but they don't actually kill the deer in their backyards.  I started envisioning a young neighbor child being traumatized as they look out their window.  So I said, "Sure but could you wait until it was dark?"  It was 8:00.
"Of course! We'll be there in 30 minutes."
"Where are the goats now?"
"In the trunk of our car"
"Oh.  OK. See you in a bit!"

When darkness comes and the three Ghanians arrive we chit chat it up and I position them in a place I feel is fairly shielded from outside eyes.  I get them some knives, flashlights, and a blow torch (to burn the hair off).  Then they pull their car to the back to use the headlights to see by.  I didn't stay to see the deed done, but checked on them periodically.  It took about 3 hours for both goats.  About 11pm I come out and they are straightening up.  My roommate has now joined them.  There flashlights and bloody knives wandering around my backyard and although I can't associate it with anything in particular I am quite certain its not a normal sight.

I think, "I love my life"

I truly believe my hearing is improving.  I am now operating under "the new normal".  When I take my plugs out and muffs off I can hear everything!  I'm pretty sure I could hear my neighbors down the block whispering to each other.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 21 - Sweaty

Have you ever had sweaty ears?  I have.  Its an interesting sensation having only one part of your body sweating at any given time.  With the heat, even the slightest increase in temperature causes my ears to go into heavy perspiration mode.  It has become somewhat of a problem because my headphones started stinking.  I started the process of rinsing them off each day and spraying them with disinfectant.   Occasionally, when I am alone and quiet, I will take them off for a few moments, relying on my ear plugs as backups.

That got me thinking about the whole passage in the 1 Corinthians 12 about the body and its parts.  It goes on to describe how each part is indispensable to the body.  We have a saying, reflecting a common reality in the church, that seems to cause a lot dissonance with this ideal.   "Ten percent of the people doing ninety percent of the work."  I hope this doesn't hit too close to home.  It can be frustrating and infuriating when you give your heart and soul for something, and those with you, who supposedly have the same goal in mind, don't seem to give a flip.  Can you imagine being on a basketball team with five men on the floor?  Four of the players give their all, while one is.......ho humming it.  One weak link is all it takes.  And here we have a saying in the church reflecting 90% weak links?

Although I don't deny that this saying is sometimes true, I do think there are some are some mitigating circumstances.

1. We "hands" often don't recognize how valuable the eyes and ears are to what we do.  People have a bad habit of Martha-ing themselves into anxiety about Marys who just want to sit at the feet of Jesus.   We have also taken the concept of "not letting one hand know what the other is doing" and drawn some dangerous conclusions.  The most harmful of these being, if I can't see what they are doing, they must be doing nothing.  This is rarely true.

2. We have missed the value of giving.  Often some of our best financial supporters are our least "active".  At least from Martha's point of view.  The problem with getting frustrated with these folks is twofold.  First, do we stop to consider, what we do is possible because of what they give?  Because it often is.  Second, do we consider their "inactivity" may be do to their "activity" in making money to help God's kingdom?  Do we really expect them to be as active as us and make money to support what we are doing?  Only 5% of millionares in this country are in that station because of inheritance.  The other 95% work.  If you can do both, great.  If one of our member's primary gifts is "financial" let not disparage them for it, but honor them.

3. Many of us (myself included), have been wearing too many spiritual muffs.  With negative thoughts and unsound reasoning we have unnecessarily been spinning our wheels.  As one part of the body of Christ we have made things difficult on ourselves.  We have gotten all sweaty for nothing.  We have worried fretted.  God wants us to know the joy of a faith in him.  He wants our burden to be lightened.  He wants us to enjoy his rest.  Until we are willing to allow God to free us from these anxieties we will be deprived of his fullness.
25 decibals may not seem like much.  But when you haven't had it.....and then do.  Its glorious.  Maybe you are hanging onto anxieties.  Let them go, and maybe then, the peace that passes understanding can truly be yours.  Lets not make things more difficult on ourselves than they have to be.  Life is hard enough as it is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 16 - Hearing but not understanding

This experiment has produced something none of the others have......envy.  More than once has a mother in the midst of her rambunctious children said, "I need a pair of those."  There is a girl at church I have inspired to make her first winchester gun muff purchase (my brand of noise canceling earphones)......but not for firearms class.  Instead its to read in the car when her father is playing the radio or her family is arguing....err...talking.  lol.  Is someone yelling to get my attention that I am not anxious to talk to?.....Easy....just pretend I don't hear them.  Its quite the useful little tool, which of course is not my purpose in this enterprise.  It is amazing how nice true silence is.....very comforting and relaxing.  This may be the cause of my deep sleeps lately.

Preaching today I found myself acutely aware of people's facial reactions.  I usually try to get a chuckle here or there, but since I can't hear them.....I try to gauge by the breadth of their smile and if it looks as if they are laughing, giggling, or otherwise guffawing uncontrollably.  

I had a very surreal experience today.  I retold the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Tried to put it in modern terms.  As I was thinking it over on the way in to the building I passed right by this lady holding up a "will work for food sign".  When I looked over at the vegetables in my passenger seat and realized the irony of my topic I turned the car around to go talk to her.  Besides, I can't really do a good job making all our members feel guilty about not picking up hitchhikers if I don't even stop for a "will work for food sign".  When I got to the lady I realized her very unique impairment.  She was deaf.  Yes, and I have my goofy headphones on.  I gave her some vegetables and told her I would be on the lookout for some jobs.  Of course I wanted to give her my number but .....talking on the phone?  She was quite nifty reading lips though.  In hindsight I should have gotten her address but I'm sure I will see her again.  Maybe next time I will be better prepared.

It got me thinking about the oft quoted passage in Isaiah, "Seeing but never perceiving, hearing but never understanding."  If I were to start learning to read lips today......I would initially be engaged in a lot of seeing but never perceiving.  The point wasn't the people couldn't see or hear but they wouldn't.  I can't read lips.  Why? Because I won't learn.  Could I? Yes.  What would it take to motivate me to learn?  Probably a loss.....specifically of the hearing variety.   If we truly desire to hear and perceive the truths of God I think intrinsically we must do without.  In the abstract this is easy.  But practically.........we like our buffet bars and useless gadgets don't we?  I'm just saying the heart of Jesus' message involves sacrifice, not indulgence.  I know we are living in a material world and I am a material girl but come on people, doesn't our immersion in affluence almost demand a little mortification of the flesh?  There's got to be SOME value in disciplining our desires.  And lets not kid ourselves about how hard times are.  I don't know a person around....from the trailer to the penthouse that doesn't have a WII or smartphone.  I know there are truly poor among us but there are also many living on subsidized housing getting food stamps with 60" plasma TVs.  I've seen em.  Compared to the third world, most of the poorest of this world have it pretty posh.  Flashback....to the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot holds up some chart showing how our poverty rate is the same as Uganda or some such country....laughable.

Some of you probably saw this picture of Michelle Obama getting her picture taken at the soup kitchen.

Let me tell you the hardware some folks have at the soup kitchen is much nicer than that one.  I'm getting distracted.  There are some folks in dire need and I am happy to help as I can...we all should be....my point is......sacrifice ain't what it used to be.  If giving up your phone is a burden......then your burden is light.  That goes for us all.

But I digress......suffice is to say......sometimes less is more.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his................sufferings.  Yes believe it or not guys, we can't have a desire to "know" Christ in some sort of vacuum independent from suffering.  Maybe you can be the next Jabez......but consider this......He prayed that prayer what 3,000 years ago?  And as far as I know that's the last time God answered it affirmatively.....just kidding.  

Its a blessing to willingly be without because we learn to appreciate.  After all 2 is twice as much as 1.  But 1 is infinitely more than 0 (Math people don't have a cow.)  You guys take it easy.  Love what you've been given and thank God for it everyday.  :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 12 - boom babba.

I went to boys state my junior year of high school.   It was a very humbling experience.  All these confident and gifted young men made me feel a little inadequate.  But anyways, that's not why I brought up boys state.  We would sometimes be gathered to assembly and while we waited....staff would set up on stage.  One of the guys was huge.  He looked like an NFL linebacker.  As he would grab a chair and take it across the stage some of the fellas started chanting, "Boom babba boom babba boom".....in perfect sync with his steps.  It was quite funny and linebacker guy just gave us a little smirk.

Well with my new experiment that is a somewhat glorious side effect.  You know how the ground shook before King Kong showed up at the gates?  You remember the vibrations in the water before the Trex ate that goat in Jurassic Park.  Well I get that full effect now wherever I go.  I am now the "boom babba" man.  Everywhere I go.....this is what I hear.....echoing in my ears.  I make the ground shake!  At least that's what the vibrations.....sound like.......to me.  Alas for every ying there is a yang.  I've now had a hard time envisioning my super sneaky ninja abilities since I make so much noise .....I guess a small sacrifice to be the boom babba man.













Its interesting how sound deprivation has caused me to hear differently.  I now hear my heartbeat....all the time, my breathing, and my drinking.  Everytime I have a sprite, the carbonation fizzle is amplified in my head.  Its really quite curious and I must say.... enjoyable so far.  The only pain is folding my dumbo ears into my headphones.  I have never been vain or self conscious about my ears but when I have to fold them up, to get them in, you better believe I am now aware of their size.  Packaged thus.....they ache.

Don't you guys think there is a whole myriad of things we could see and hear spiritually if only we were able to cut out some of the visual and audible noise of life?  Be still and know...my friend.

Well no great insights....Just read a great book for my class at Lipscomb this fall.  Inspiration and Incarnation.  Well written and great thoughts.  Good read.  I got mocked by the old lady working at Firehouse today.  She made a lots of very expressive mouth and hand motions to "make sure" I could hear her.  Peace!