a non-contemplative Easter

9 Apr


I used to believe that I was a contemplative. I’m not.

Contemplatives have the gift of time. Two years ago I was an artist, a sensitive soul who needed frequent moments, even hours of reading, studying, thinking and imagining. Two years ago I was also a new immigrant and it was illegal for me to work. My husband had a new job to which he needed to devote many hours. I was in a new city with few friends. We had no children and no money. We were rich in love and I was rich in time. The perfect ingredients for a contemplative life.

Now I that I am a more established immigrant with friends and interests and work; and a mother to the best little one-year-old, I am thirsty for moments of contemplation, thirsty for hands-free moments to write, for quiet and unguarded moments to think. Where before those moments lay before me like a wide lake, I now must lap them up in puddles when the rains come.

All of this to say, never have I felt so unprepared, so ‘meh’ on an Easter Sunday.

During my contemplative years, I often searched my heart weeks before Lent. What would I give up? What were my motives? I contemplated up and down as I prepared my heart to prepare my heart for Easter.

(A part of me is jealous of that lady with all the time and headspace she needed, a part of me is thankful for the gift of this reality check.)

This year, I was vaguely aware Lent was coming and spent twenty minutes on Facebook scrolling through what other people were giving up/reading/thinking about Lent. I couldn’t get there myself. We spent the months of February and March sick about once a week with all kinds of things passed onto us by our daughter’s nursery school germs. (We’re still waiting for chicken pox, aka. waterpokken, to happen to us, but we’ve got both Fifth and Sixth Diseases down.)

I was too sick and distracted to think about fasting from food or Facebook. Or devoting an hour every day to contemplation. It was all about the survival. And we certainly didn’t feel like the fittest our eighth time in bed, looking at each other through bloodshot eyes and taking turns ranking our health in order to see whose turn it was to take care of the baby.

‘I’m a six today. I have a fever and my throat hurts, but I don’t have the body ache I did yesterday.’

‘You take her then. I’m a four. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.’

This kind of marital honesty is the true test of personal integrity. In sickness and in health.

There is a feeling of relief in confessing that I cannot force a quick understanding of the Resurrection or a moment of intimacy with the Risen Lord. Even after all of these years of belief. This year I experienced Easter not in terms of a deep contemplative knowing of the resurrection and the life, but in the small pink ballet shoes that are now the length of my hand. To glory in an interrupted five-minute talk with a friend after the service, to unwrap a package of Peeps my mom sent me in the mail.

I did not contemplate well this year, I confess to God. I could not absorb your risenness in the way I wanted to.

I did enjoy infant eyes, new blue wonder at me over her mother’s shoulder during singing. My baby girl sighs with satisfaction at the end of her nap. Much better we both breathed out. Ham sandwiches and potato salad, a promise of Skype conversations with family. I ached, missing my context, my history, my ever-loving Florida family. I enjoyed how he looked in a crisp white shirt. His handsome profile. Our arms around each other as we sing the words from our wedding, ‘no guilt in life, no fear of death, this is the power of Christ in me.’ Her elbow dimpled arms around his neck.

My world is smaller.

And He is saying, Give up your strivings. Live the life my death has made possible. Enjoy your ham and peeps. 

Happy Easter.


The Artist formerly known as Contemplative


What It’s Like To Be A Third Culture Kid

16 Jun

I wonder…are these Estella’s future thoughts?

Thought Catalog

You were raised in a different country than your parents. You have several nationalities by blood and another by birth. You have more than one passport and you identify with multiple cultures. You speak in numerous languages and you know phrases in many more. You’re a third culture kid, a global nomad, and a citizen of the world.

You were born into the culture of travel and you flew before you could walk. You know your way around airports like the back of your hand and you’ve seen more places than most adults have in their lifetime. You’ve been exposed to both poverty and extreme wealth and you’ve learned to appreciate what you have.

Your friends also have ownership in multiple cultures and are from countries unheard of by many. Your mind is open to different religious and political views and you’re culturally adept. You know how to adapt because…

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Coldplay’s “Us Against the World”

27 Sep

A very, very good Fall in Amsterdam song. This is my theme song when I run through Vondelpark. Circles of chaos (in the form of bicyling commuters). It will be on my mind at some point today.

Not to mention that classic slow-build up.


21 Sep


September 5, 2012

Recently I finished the book Tulipomania by Mike Dash. Like any nerd or writer, or potential citizen, I bought books that would help me understand my new country and culture.

There used to be a Tulip Museum here in Amsterdam, and when I was visiting last December, and skeptical about a whole museum being devoted to a single flower, I was told that in Amsterdam’s Golden Age, often tulips bulbs were used in commerce instead of money. Fascinating. I pictured theives climbing out of greenhouse windows with bags of tulips, someone buying a gold-framed oil painting with a single tulip bulb in the palm of his hand. Those are all true things, actually.

There are a few minorities here in Amsterdam, people who live here, who have lived here their whole lives but don’t feel truly Dutch.  Morroccans and  Turks are the two largest people groups caught between two cultures in Amsterdam. So it’s interesting that the genesis of the tulip bulb began in Turkey. Its origins are all the way into the Ottomon Empire, an empire known for both its brutality and beautiful gardens.  The Turkish gardeners (hoveniers) for the sultan served two roles: as executioners and as gardeners. The one exemption for the death penalty was if you could run faster than the gardener/executioner. If you beat him in a race, you kept your life.

Also fun and interesting:

At the height of tulipmania, a single bulb sold for 125 times its weight in gold.

An unsuspecting sailor came back to Holland after years away at sea, and unaware of the fever that had taken over parts of his country, was thrown into prison after eating a tulip bulb he thought was an onion.

In the Ottomon Empire, there was a law that as soon as a sultan died, his eldest son  became sultan, but the rest of his brothers and sisters were executed by strangulation with  a silk ribbon. That meant, in a court with wives and concubines, even babies still at the breast.

There have been many unexpected manias…one involving a Coca Cola being sold for  $4,000 during World War II, and the other the land boom in the early part of the twentieth century in South Florida, with land bought for $2,500 and sold months later   for $35,000.

Bam. When I read the part about South Florida’s land mania in the tulipmania book, a mania that was experienced in part five years ago again in South Florida, I thought, I come full circle. I live in the mania-lands.


Hello world!

18 Sep

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!