Friday, April 22, 2011


I have now been a resident of Washington, DC for two weeks.

During those two weeks, I have moved into my new home, managed to get everything unpacked (almost: I have one box of books left to shelve), explored my way around my neighborhood, learned to navigate the metro and bus systems, and started a new job where I feel like I’ve truly “hit the ground running.”

For the most part, my days off have been spent shopping by day (for everything from bedding and curtains to food and basic household items) and settling by night (unpacking, cooking, hanging curtains, etc.). While it has “only” been two weeks, I am completely exhausted by these things. I feel like I have done nothing but run around! and I have been in desperate need of a true day “off.”

Today is Good Friday, so my office, affiliated with the Methodist Church, is closed. It feels weird that Good Friday - a day in the midst of the crazy-busyness that is Holy Week - would be a day “off.” Alas, I realize today that is one of the blessings of being a “lay” person. I have spent time thinking about all that is today in “Good Friday” and will go to church tonight, but in the interim, today really is a day “off.”

I woke up around 8 and stayed in bed: simply because I could. I got up a while later feeling rested and refreshed. I spend the morning dodling around in my new home, having a late breakfast, checking email, reading a few friends’ blogs I’ve fallen behind of. Really doing one of my favorite things on a day off, easily defined as: “nothing.” Or, as I like to call it: “self care.”

As the day grew close to noon I decided to progress into some delicate, slow-paced productivity. I washed the dishes, swept the floor. When I began to do so, I plugged my iPod into the stereo with a new cord I finally managed to buy this week. As the music filled the apartment it felt good and right: I did play one of my favorite energizing playlists, of course!

But that’s when I realized I was missing something. It took me a minute to figure it out, and as I was thinking about it the phone rang. I turned the music off and answered my phone. After a short conversation, I reached to turn the music back on, but that’s when I realized it: The thing that was missing, was the silence.

I spend all week with noise. As an extrovert, I celebrate that I am able to either always be talking to people or have my music playing while I work. As I walk (or take the bus) home from, work, my life is filled with the sounds of others around me.

This morning I realized that my time alone in the apartment was special for one reason above all others: for the first time, I was granted true silence without interruption. A silence that provides not just time for reflection, but also an opportunity for clarity and refocusing.

Truly, this is what taking sabbath is all about. Even if it comes on an unexpected day like Good Friday.

I know I won’t keep the music off forever: I probably won’t even last the afternoon. But for now, I appreciate that the only sounds I can hear are the clicking of the keys on my keyboard and the dishwasher running in the kitchen.

Truly, on days like today, there could be no better sound than the sound of silence.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday

Tonight I had the privilege of being one of few to worship at Mount Vernon UMC here in Washington, DC.

This is a place I have instantly begun to feel at home in. After only having attended once before (on Sunday), I already recognized faces and even remembered a couple of names. I found the place incredibly familiar and didn’t really feel like a visitor. It is an incredible feeling to have that feeling in a church. Especially in a city that is in so many ways still foreign to me.

It could be said that it is common for a service of footwashing to occur tonight: Maundy Thursday. It is the night that we not only remember Jesus’ last supper and sharing of bread with his disciples, but it is also the night that Jesus humbled himself - and his disciples - and washed their feet. Jesus didn’t just invite that his disciples - and all of us - follow his lead and humble ourselves as servants: Jesus commanded it.

That always strikes me. That Jesus commanded something: and yet we only really talk about it and act on it once a year. It got me to thinking about other ways we figuratively “wash one anothers’ feet.”

I was thinking about this as I went up to have my feet washed by the Deacon of the church: my good friend Jason. I observed the care with which he poured the warm water on my feet, and how delicate and intentional his hands were as they “worked” to dry my feet. This process really is humbling and beautiful.

Then came the hard part: I sat down.

Let me be honest: especially as Holy Week has arrived, I have missed serving in a church. Crazy, I know: but while all of my clergy friends are running around fretting, my life has carried on “normal” and my only focus on the holiness of this week came tonight: at a service I thought about not attending because I was so tired.

So as I sat in my pew half thinking about servanthood and Jesus’ commandment, I was also half thinking about wanting to be more actively involved in leadership (and leading worship) in a church.

That’s when it happened: I literally had to restrain myself.

I saw my Deacon friend Jason kneeling, sitting before the bucket with water and clean towels, waiting to wash others’ feet: but no one was coming. We had finished: the last person was having their feet washed by the pastor on the other side of the room. But Jason just waited. As if he didn’t notice.

And the longer he sat there, the more I thought, “I should go over there. Someone should wash his feet.” The voice telling me to do so grew louder and louder as I contemplated what to do. Was this the voice of God telling me to go and bless him in this way? Or was this my other voice: the one who wants to be involved. The one who has a hard time letting go. and most of all: the one who has a hard time just being served.

I didn’t go.

I wish I could say it was because this last part occurred to me in time to be content and listen more closely to Jesus’ command to be humbled and both serve and be served.

But I can’t say that.

All I can say, is that I didn’t go because about the time I had convinced myself it would be okay and I wouldn’t be stepping on toes in this new (albeit homely) church if I did so, the music stopped and I realized the others had finished.

Before I knew it the candles were extinguished and the alter was being stripped.

Before I had time to finish processing, people were starting to leave in silence.

Silence that came too quick. I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t ready for it.

But all the same: it has arrived. let the night of prayer and fasting begin as we move onward toward Good Friday...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A non-updating Update

Sometimes, I get behind on blogging.

At times like these, I get overwhelmed with how much I have to catch up on, as I don't know where to start. This only makes me fall further behind, and it seems to dig an impossible hole of blogging doom.

Now is one of those times. I even have several half-written blogs I thought about fixing up or even posting as they are. Then I decided that was a bad idea.

So here's what I'm going to do: nothing.

Unfortunately, there is just going to be a great big gap in this blog of mine, and if I get to it later, I'd like to say I'll update more and catch up here on the transition of life back in the US. But if I'm honest, I'd also like to say: that probably won't happen.

In short, here's a summary: I miss South Africa and my family there heaps and heaps, and I think of them every day. I look forward to when I can visit (or live there) again - hopefully sooner rather than later.
Fact 2: Some days are harder than others.
Fact 3: I also really like living in Washington, DC.
Fact 4: I am grateful that weather in Cape Town is similar to weather in DC, only we're going into summer, and them into winter. (DC wins!)
Fact 5: I believe my new appointment at MFSA is going to be full of challenges.
Fact 6: I feel up to those challenges, and feel like my strengths and gifts are a good fit for the needs of MFSA at this time.
Fact 7: That fit is really scary, as it will force me to work beyond my comfort zones.
Fact 8: Working beyond where we are comfortable is where I have seen the Holy Spirit most at work. I am really excited about this!

That's enough facts for now. More later.