i woke up older today.

it has always been my firm belief that if the actual time of your birth is in the late afternoon or evening, then you did not wake up on the day of your birth older. and being born at 5:55pm on april 19 means that only this morning did i wake up older.

so, what will be the outcome of getting older? i don't dislike the whole getting older thing in principle. i think that what i dislike is the boxes that get drawn around you in regards to your age, by others and by our own expectations. by 25 we should have these things figured out. by 30 a whole other set. by 40...well, let's not go there.

in order to help me figure it out, i have to turn to a woman whose words and life have inspired and challenged me over the years. in The Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L'Engle wrote these words about maturity,
"...I will also grow into maturity, where the experience which can be acquired only through chronology will teach me how to be more aware, open, unafraid to be vulnerable, involved, committed, to accept disagreement without feeling threatened (repeat and underline this one), to understand that I cannot take myself seriously until I stop taking myself seriously--to be, in fact, a true adult."
and being a dichotomy myself, i love that a little later, in the same book she also wrote:
"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be... This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide... Far too many people misunderstand what 'putting away childish things' means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I'm with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don't ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child's awareness and joy, and 'be' fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup."
a challenge, to be sure. but i don't want to grow up any other way.

a new year begins...


paying attention

at small group this past week we talked about gratitude, and i asked everyone to do 'homework'of finding one thing each day to express gratitude to God, and tell him why we are grateful for that thing. it seems like an easy enough proposition, but i've learned that the hard part about being grateful is that you have to pay attention to your life...and paying attention is sometimes the hardest thing you can do.

paying attention means actually hearing a man tell someone how he lost his job and his home, and how he is dreading going home to tell his wife. it means seeing and not ignoring the desperation in someone else's eyes. it means facing those things you fear will one day find you, and not running away, ignoring the situation, or finding some kind of diversion so you don't have to feel the pain. paying attention costs you something.

and so does gratitude.

i know that i need to be grateful for the hard situations in life, as it is these hard things that produce the greatest growth in me. but when you're in the middle of a situation that you'd rather just go away, being grateful for it seems pretty much the same as those crazy people who go around asking others to punch them in the stomach, to prove that they can handle the pain. i don't want to prove anything to anyone, i just want everything to go back to how i want it to be.

but life seldom (if ever) runs on my schedule.

so, i am learning to be grateful for that which i consider sucky, because my own agenda for my life wouldn't produce much, if any, growth. and i will remember that my personal happiness is not the goal. and i will trust in my God, no matter what may come.


a new friend...

while in paris, i picked up a book called, If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern, and let me just say that it was magical and surprising in a way that i have never been surprised by a work of fiction.

i finished the book in two days, and at the paris airport, purchased Cecelia's first novel, P.S, I Love You (recently released as a movie starring Hilary Swank), and have since finished that one, and now own the rest of her works...which i am trying not to read all at once!

the sad thing about being such a fast reader is that books go to the 'read' side too soon. fortunately for me, Cecelia's books will be among those that i will re-read until they will surely fall apart.


paris in the spring 2008

le jardin des tuileries

even in the rain, the tuileries are beautiful.

you cannot see them, but kids were sailing boats in this pool.

notice the tres chic umbrella :-)

not exactly sure why...but then again, why not?

ah, the Angelina Tea room.
the center of the universe for all chocolate lovers!

peeking in Angelina's window before i went in.
why don't they make macaroons like this in canada?!

Africain chocolat...it doesn't get any better than this!

entrance to metro by the Concorde

see, i actually was here!
here i'm standing in the courtyard of the Louvre

le Arc de Triomphe...from the bottom.

...from the inside...

...and after climbing the 284 steps to the top.
beautiful view of the Champs Elysee, just after the rain.
if you look hard enough, you can see the obelisk and Louvre at the very end!

the one view of Paris that needs no introduction.

inside the Musee de l'Orangerie.
one of the eight panels of Monet's waterlilies.

a garden near Shakespeare & Co.

the Varennes Metro sign with Napolean's tomb in the background.

the Rodin Museum.
just looking at the picture i feel the magic and wonder.
(Rodin's The Three Shades)

Rodin's art

Rodin's The Kiss

the man was an artistic genius...

Notre Dame, my Parisian touchstone.

area behind Notre Dame

quite simply, a Parisian street.
and yes, i would like to live here.

the Luxembourg Gardens

the Medicis Fountain, my favorite.

and just down the street from my hotel, the Sorbonne.

i stood on this bridge listening to a trumpet player who was
down by the river. it was a perfect moment.



how does the time go by so fast?!

it seems as though it was only yesterday that i was struggling to fit everything into two suitcases, and now here i am with those very suitcases emptied onto my bedroom floor, their contents now piles of laundry to be done. how different it all looks from this end.

the reality is that life goes on. after ukraine...after paris...it's time to go back to the life that was. but not quite the same. the day before i left we found out that mom has cancer. what strange words to type...my mom has cancer. it almost feels as though i am channeling someone else's thoughts, as surely this is not my reality.

although it is.

but even in what seems like the darkest of times, there are moments of brilliance. a friend who just wants to sit with you. the gift of international phone calls. prayers from two different continents. the heritage of laughter. new friends. old friends.

the only thing we can count on in life is that there is nothing we can truly count on...except God. life, at it's best, is consistenly inconsistent. sometimes all we can do is have faith and believe when the last thing we want to do is have faith and believe.

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