Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear. (Isaiah 58:8)
If it’s the case that you usually wake up after dawn, you wake up in the morning to a blue (or maybe white or gray) sky. The sun streams into your room, or at the very least, you are not groping for your phone in the darkness. The day goes on, becomes brighter, then finally fades into purple before going black. Then the pattern repeats. Light becomes darkness every day, signifying closure, ending, a wind-down.
But if you wake up before dawn, you find a different pattern: you wake up to darkness and wait for the sky to pale and the sun to appear. You wait for the light to break forth.
Today was uncharacteristically foggy in Southern California. Where I live, there’s often a morning mist that breaks by mid-day. But today was different. The haze remained into dusk, drifting across parking lots and tree tops, clouding the landscape in white. The sunlight never broke and the hot orange-pink sunset never showed up.
In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost. It is a hard thing to speak of, how wild, harsh and impenetrable that wood was, so that thinking of it recreates the fear. It is scarcely less bitter than death: but, in order to tell of the good that I found there, I must tell of the other things I saw there.
I first read this quote as a freshman in college, in Dante’s classic Inferno. Chronologically, I was not in the “middle of the journey” of my own life. However, this one phrase deeply resonated with me at that particular point in my life:
For a long time now, I’ve asked myself this question:
What is hope, really?
As I’ve grappled with different challenges or circumstances that seem insurmountable—as does every human being on the planet, to varying degrees—hope has sometimes felt elusive. Like just a word, and not something we can hold onto with certainty.
When you think of “prayer” what is it exactly that you picture in your mind’s eye?
Do you think of falling on your knees? Hands clasped together? Is prayer out loud? Or is it silent? Is prayer done in a church? Or in the privacy of your home? Do you pray by yourself? Or with others? Is prayer all of the above? Or is it none of the above? Continue reading “The practice of prayer”→
It’s December, and here in LA, we are in full swing of the season- holiday music jingles across the airwaves, I’m offered tiny mugs of cider and cookies at every turn (church, the shopping mall, Whole Foods), red, green and tinsel everything, and I’m feeling cozy, oddly romantic (I’m single), emotional (abnormal for me), and like I need to shop. Every. single. day. I’m wearing sparkly earrings, looking forward to the next Christmas party (one about every 48 hours), and planning a batch of spicy-sweet popcorn brittle, and browsing recipes for paleo eggnog. I’m watching Christmas movies, buying gifts for family (and let’s be real, me), and dreading the post-holiday abyss that is January while sipping my Starbucks peppermint mocha. It feels wonderfully chaotic, and also terribly and yet appealingly commercial. I’m overwhelmed, joy-filled, and stuffed. Explanation? It’s my first Christmas season in America in half a decade. Continue reading “With plenty or little”→
It seems like the world is going crazy. Terrorism, political crises, gun violence, fear and paranoia pepper the news, and it can feel increasingly like we’re in a world ruled by chaos and not control. Right now, just one country over from France, where a truck driver plowed into a crowd of hundreds on Thursday night, killing 84 people. I’m spending four weeks in Germany, where one-fifth of the population is from Turkey, a nation where an attempted coup for power unraveled only this weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I ate lunch with a Yazidi family from Iraq, forced to leave their country because of Isis. Certain crises feel a little more immediate this side of the Atlantic, although tragedy is striking the U.S. too. Regardless, I am struck again and again by the seeming impossibility of maintaining one thing in the face of horror: hope.Continue reading “Hope in the face of horror”→