“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; It is not arrogant.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4

My week has been rough, but this day was subtly amazing.

We made ligonberry Swedish crepes for breakfast. It was a communion day at church and I was hugged like family. The pastor quoted the same passage that I had recently shared with Jeff. We cleaned off 20 or 30 snowy cars as the people left. We had good conversations and baked soda bread and made stirfry vegetables. Then we met his brother and brother’s wife to cross-country ski and had a beer after. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. We made pasta and ate banana pudding. We watched the Olympics and The Help. We talked about people and gossip and respect and how people treat each other.

And when I left, I had sweet goodbye and was thanked for my persistence in convincing Jeff to try something he didn’t think he wanted, to watch that movie. It sounds silly, but it spoke volumes. Gentle persistence. Comfort zones. That came up a lot today.

Taking the time to have fun and be patient to understand, that makes such a difference. Slowing down enough to enjoy the smallest things makes anything feel refreshing. The pastor quoted 1 Corinthians today, and I thought it was a good thing to remember.

And in other news, I’m back writing full swing for the Athenian – and illustrating, too.

Festive or Infective?

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With the holidays cranking out since November’s American Thanksgiving, I can’t help but feel perpetual bitterness fueled by the generalized attitude of the public.  Shop shop shop shop shop, eat eat eat eat eat.  Whatever happened to the holidays being a time of togetherness and thankfulness?  No, of course not.  Now it’s just a constant competition to get the best deals, cook (or take-out!) way too much food, have a prettier tablescape, decorate your house better than the guy next to you, cut down a bigger tree (that took as much as 15 years to grow!), and complete forget what this time is about.  I don’t celebrate any holiday, but aren’t these supposed to be religious times, too?  Who even goes to Christmas Mass anymore?  When did Christmas become all about Santa?  And what about the other holidays?  (I got so many “Merry Christmas” goodbyes as I left work this week that I began to think…what about Chanukah?  Kwanza?  Winter Solstice??)

And what I really can’t get over is this: Christmas trees!  Dude, that’s a PAGAN tradition!  PAGAN.  For all of you Christian/Bible-reading superlatives out there.  And that’s fine.  But just remember it’s not some holy, Christian-only enterprise.  (I’m sick of people asking why my family puts up a tree.  Why run your car if you don’t believe in Global Warming?  You’re still partaking.)

So let’s all just have an enjoyable winter and not feel pressured to waste money buying gifts that you and others don’t need, cook too much food that will go to waste, and stay inside instead of enjoying all of the outdoor opportunities that are peaked in the colder areas this time of year and just as available as always to the warmer ones.

Chasing the Lyrids

When I sent a text to my friend that the Lyrids were peaking above us at 4am this morning, I did not expect him to offer to watch them. But he did. At 2am, I heard a knock on my door. He had walked the better part of a mile in the cold to meet me at my place. We looked up city pollution maps and decided to take his hatchback and my zero-degree sleeping bag to Case Western’s Valleevue farms in Gates Mills/Hunting Valley, Ohio. I used to work for the farm and this wasn’t the first time I went star gazing there.

We drove 30 minutes and pulled into a dark lot on the edge of a dark, empty field near the Manor House at the farm. My friend had never been to the farm before, but I knew it down to the very trails from all my miles spent there running cross country for Case. We opened the hatchback, laid out my sleeping bag, and stretched out on our backs to get a full view of the sky.

Not much went on. We kept thinking we saw a meteor, but sometimes it was a plane and sometimes it was our imaginations. The peepers were singing in a nearby pond and we listened to branches snap in the dark trees all around us. We fearlessly talked aloud about human inferiority in the dark and how vulnerable sleeping makes us.

Suddenly, it hit 4am. “Is that one!?” my friend shouted, pointing right where my eyes had drawn me as well. I was impressed that he was still awake. We watched as a small orange orb trickled across the sky, painfully slow. Another followed within seconds. Then we waited and waited and counted planes and saw nothing more until we suddenly found ourselves waking up to a soft morning glow and realized it was 6am and the sunrise had begun. We packed up our stuff and headed back to campus.

We didn’t see anything incredible, but there was something completely magical about last night. There wasn’t anything I had to do or anything I had to say, I just had to be, to sit there and marvel at the sky, and my friend was not bored for a minute. I’ve been spending so much time with people who I think are interesting but who would never lay there, staring at a blank sky in the cold with me, fighting sleep. Not only did my friend do that, but he drove me, he made the suggestion to go. It takes a certain kind of friend – of person – to go to those measures.

So what did the Lyrids teach me? First of all, Cleveland is a terrible place to watch meteor showers. But secondly, real friendship and real connections can be had without the parties, the entertainment, and the splitting of a dinner bill. We didn’t need to be drinking or socializing or talking at all. We were in the simplicity of our element, gazing at the stars and absorbing ourselves in our world. It made me realize the kind of person I am and the kind of people I need to seek. Birds of a feather flock together, and children like we watch nature’s TV for free. That is who we are, no bells and whistles, and I love the simple honesty of our existence.