Followers may have noticed that my blogs have tapered off to nothing this year except to comment on movies, a trend I mean to rectify today. This was my first winter north of the Carolinas and the worst Pittsburgh has seen in five or so decades. I think my town's accumulation for the whole season was 73", and there may yet be one more snowfall before spring truly reigns here. It was a hard winter, and I spent most of it not feeling so great emotionally or spiritually (physically I've been fine). Dour souls and dreary days give little incentive to share your thoughts and feelings via blog, a practice you hope to be interesting or stimulating but never depressing.
Movies constitute a release for me, many times as escapism and most blessedly as intellectual stimulation (and, rarely, both). This post will be followed immediately with my thoughts on the new Alice in Wonderland, a probably-too-erudite essay which I enjoyed writing as an exercise in attempting to order to the nebulous chaos of my thought world. While I wouldn't review dreck like All About Steve unless I was being paid to, ambitious films can provide much food for thought whether they succeed or not. I find it a soothing process to respond to and either laud or critique craftsmanship that combines visual, verbal and auditory art.
The sun came out some last week and the week before and I rejoiced; my demeanor shifted for the better quite rapidly. Spiritually, these months have given much cause for considering the grace and love of God and how to live with the tension of free salvation and costly discipleship. I often now repeat to myself from I John 4: "Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." I have spent much time these last two years rejoicing with the victory of God in Jesus's resurrection, but these months I have deeply needed the consolation of God's unmerited kindness.
I am in confirmation class now at my church, and something our associate rector Josh pointed out to us two weeks ago has stuck with me: the request for the Holy Spirit is a prayer we know God will always say yes to (see Luke 11:9-13). I have adopted this prayer in addition to the scripture from I John. Today at church was especially a blessing, as even though I only showed up in time for eucharist I had a strong sense of personal reverence and holy presence before, during and after receiving the bread and wine. Beginning to root myself in God's kindness has coincided with a season of accepting my weaknesses and beginning to relinquish my anxiousness about the strengths others possess yet I lack. A priest-professor of mind prayed over me regarding these things last week and I cried some, and I don't cry regularly even if I always feel things deeply. I find my tears come most often not at times of deep sadness, but when joy and goodness bring relief to long and discontented winters. The forecast is for sunshine this week, so I should probably keep a tissue ready.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O Yahweh, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
The nations will fear the name of Yahweh,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For Yahweh will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.