Summer’s Bounty

Today the gnats were gyring

in the dying summer breeze.

I watched their bodies catch the sun’s rays

as they lifted towards the trees


An incalculable vastness.

Those drifting blazing winks of light

which had gathered all around me

murmured a truth I oft forget:

the glory of the infinite

who reaches down to dry our tears

shows Her face to us like this.


I feel like i am in some sorta slump… probably related to the fact that school starts tomorrow.  I spent all weekend doing small things–reading the paper, riding my bike, cooking.  In many respects an awesome weekend, now that I think of it; just that I feel that there is so little that is noteworthy that is on my mind lately that I have had trouble thinking about what to blog about.  There’s some obvious stuff-the news is full of interesting stuff related to politics–but given the popularity of all tags relating to the election, I think I might opt out of that sort of blogging for now.

And since I am pretty much putting “critical thinking” on the backburner until school heats up again, I suppose that leaves me with “what did you do today” sort of stuff, which isn’t appealing to me to put to the internets.  It sucks a bit to feel like I have little to say, but it is also the case that I feel pretty good about what I have done, save the lingering absence of A, which is palpable at times.  It stinks missing people you love…. takes the wind out of the sails a bit to know they are far enough away to be distant in a geographical and semi-permanent sense… not like I can go to philly whenever i want.

I certainly hope i can turn my brain back on soon and think something interesting; until then, I think I will stick to the simple stuff that is keeping me going in the erstwhile.

Observations from Ords

So ords are almost over and, as I have struggled to finish my exegesis exam, I have learned a few things and made a few observations about how they affect one’s personal life. Without further ado:

1) There is no better time to execute a complete facelift of one’s blog than while sitting in the basement of the Divinity School library thinking about a sermon outline for an ordination exam.

2) Of course now is a good time to move into a new apartment!

3) It is possible to spend TOO much time in the library… and yes, it does affect one’s tan.

4) Coffee tastes better when someone else makes it.

5) Never underestimate the procrastinating powers of a trip to the beach.

6) Ords inspire you not only to think exegetically and pastorally but to have long extensive catch-up phone calls with your family… that can’t be wrong, can it?

7) it is possible to lose all feeling in ones thumb for almost an entire week as a consequence of choosing to sit all four ords at once.

I am sure that more will follow… any other suggestions from people writing furiously out there?

Reflections and retrospections

It’s my day off, and not a moment too soon.  This summer has been amazing, but also incredibly frustrating, sometimes ridiculously unbearable, and I am still trying to sort out how to make sense out of my experiences.  I have found myself in a community that is doing things that I care deeply about and doing them with courage and faith and grace even when it is difficult, but I have also experienced a sense of being on the wrong side of things– not ideologically, but more like programmatically.  As someone on the Youth Initiative staff, I have often felt that I am in BSM but not of BSM, almost a second-class staff citizen and intern in the community.  Our staff doesn’t go to staff meetings, doesn’t do supervision with Bill, doesn’t interface much with anyone that isn’t Erika or the youth themselves.  And yes, I understand that we came here to do youth stuff, but it also feels pretty cruddy to feel more like volunteers than members of this community.  

Personally, I have dealt with that feeling by finding ways to be more a part of the staff community–going to supervision on my own, attending staff meetings whenever possible, volunteering to participate in things outside the youth sphere–but this whole thing truly is a two way street (to be as cliche as possible).  I can do that all I want, but I still feel sometimes that certain staff look at me differently, or choose not to engage me on things.  It’s hard, and I hate it sometimes, but I don’t know what else to do except keep trying.  I have less than two weeks left, but I want them to count.

SPeaking of two weeks left, I also have two weeks until Ords, and I haven’t exactly studied much…. whoops.  I am trying to sneak in some quality time with my book of order today, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I might be cramming a bit after the kids leave next week.

Pray for me!

Post-group vent.

so it has been a long week, not only physically but especially emotionally and spiritually.  And after it all, I find myself feeling many many emotions that are swirling around, everything from excitement to intense despair to a sense of confusion and loss.  We had a group here from Grand Rapids this week, and they were a big group but very good and interesting kids who I hope got a lot out of the experience.  They were the exciting part.  Watching them interact, sometimes to the extent that things got intense, with the material and the sites was inspiring, as well as sometimes frustrating or saddening.  One girl is particularly on my mind this week, and will continue to be, for she was candid in a way I haven’t seen a lot of folks be about things that had happened to her in her own life and family.  

There was a lot, however, that leaves me feeling confused and sad and angry and frustrated all at once.  In some ways I could almost describe it as feeling violated.  To explain, this week I was the recipient of some pretty difficult criticisms, some done well and some done not so well.  My boss expressed a criticism of me that hurt to hear but helped me to think through some things that I hadn’t fully processed. That sucked when it was happening, but felt fruitful in the aftermath.  However, I am still reeling from what I can only describe as a full frontal assault (or at least it felt like it) from one of my co-workers today.  I love the people I work with, and I think the best of them, and I was very hurt and surprised to find myself in a situation that felt a whole lot like a “let me tell you everything I dislike about you” situation.  To be fair, I don’t know or think that this was the intention…. I find it hard to believe that anyone on our staff would intentionally go there.  But that is definitely what it felt like.  We have talked alot about compassion this week and understanding and I have tried (and failed sometimes) to live that out, and at times I have felt like  I was walking on eggshells in an attempt to be nice or kind to others, or to avoid seeming short or selfish to those I work with.  A feel as though a few of them have failed to give that intention back. 

So here’s what happened (at least as I heard it)– i was informed that I am insensitive and rude, examples of which being my request to the group to have an opportunity to say goodbye to Alex before he left for Maine on Thursday, my comment that “there are a lot of folks crying tonight” after the worship evening on Thursday, my telling someone that they had set something I was leading up incorrectly, my moving tables around for breakfast after someone had started setting up for breakfast already, etc.  Writing these down makes them sound all the more ridiculous than they felt while they were being thrown at me, but that isn’t the point of this.  I can understand that sometimes the things a person does can be taken negatively rather than neutrally (which is part of this).  In each case, my actions were interpreted as aggressive or malicious rather than simply neutral.  And part of this is a personality thing….. the person in question is very different from me and we have almost polar styles.  What is interesting to me, and most hurtful, is the lack of grace in all of this, what appears to be the assumption that I am somehow trying to make a person feel bad for something as simple as moving a table is beyond me.  What gets me the most about it all is that rather than talking to me about it, this person sat and festered with it and then used a group meeting to instigate what felt like a personal attack in the name of “group unity”.  Bullshit.  Its just my opinion, but if a person is feeling something like that inside, the way to deal with it, especially talking biblically, is to talk to the PERSON first.  Don’t hijack a staff meeting to stage an intervention.  I felt like I was being talked down to, as though my own feelings weren’t valid, and most of all, as though there was no attempt before hand to try to understand or gauge my own feelings.  And then I was told that this person had talked to EVERYONE else one on one about this before coming to the staff meeting… which made me feel ambushed.  I don’t know what to do about it, and this is really only a rant and not really answers, but I am seriously at a loss for how to move forward.  

I was never asked– why would you want to say bye to Alex?  Instead I was informed that it is cruel for me to try to be honest about that request because everyone else is either single or doing long distance right now.  I felt guilty having to explain that Alex and I are gearing up for almost a year apart, and that isn’t right or Christian to make a person feel that way.  

So thats where I am right now…. frustrated, confused, sad.  I cried a lot this week, and probably will some more before its all over (cuz it isn’t over).  I pride myself in working hard and being as selfless as I can, trying to do at least my share or more, but I feel as though none of that is appreciated.  Instead, I find that the more I do, the more crap I get.


Thats ministry, I guess…….

Experiences to remember

 Funny and sadly disjointed experiences from Broad Street so far:

1) (said by a regular attendee at Sunday dinners to two 13-year-old girls visiting with their youth group):

“So tell me, why is it that you two girls are in here eating with us instead of ‘walking the avenue’ on South Street? What I mean is, why are you in here instead of prostituting yourselves out there?”

2) the night at the dark horse, a bible study for some of the 20-30s members of BSM, an elderly couple walks up to our table and whispers “You know, we are Christians too…..” and then proceeds to congratulate us on how well-behaved we are (HA!) and tell us about how their church faithfully left the episcopal church, found a “safe haven” under the Bishop of Uganda, and has refused communion to the Bishop of PHilly not once but TWICE.

3) the night that the florida youth group sang songs about being “free to love Jesus” and “free to live” to a room full of homeless people who are, to a great extent, enslaved by the injust systems of our society that make it impossible for them to get jobs, benefits, housing, etc.

4) Getting asked if I wanted to “make puppies” with Kevin at breaking bread.

5) Bill’s victory dance when I told him Alex was my “money ticket” and the look on his face as he impersonated me saying “what are we doing today now that we have a job, honey?”




more to follow.

new bike!

It’s Saturday, pretty much my only full day off from this internship each week, and A and I decided to explore West Philly in depth.  We might have done this with R and M if they were in town, but they are both up in Boston visiting friends for the week, so we went on our own. A had read about a local farmers market that he wanted to check out and I had been researching bike shops, so we made our way out into the city despite warnings that an unusually hot day was in the works.  

Turns out the farmer’s market was a bit spotty (although it was my first experience with Amish farmers… i love the suspenders already!).  We decided to walk down to UPenn and out on Baltimore Ave towards 50th, which is where Firehouse Bicycles, a local used bike store, is located.  The walk was long, about 2 miles from where we started, but it was interesting.  We actually ended up finding another cool farmers market with more amish folks selling organic and local produce from lancaster county and others, but we didn’t have a way to get it back fast.  

The best part was that when we got to the bike shop we realized that it was right next to Dock Street Brewery.  When I told my pastor Ben Daniels I would be out here for the summer, he told me to look out for Dock Street Beer, as he remembered it fondly from his Princeton Seminary Days.  Turns out it is brewed right in A’s backyard.  So we had a beer (I had the Summer Session Ale, A had the Stout), and relaxed in the open dining area that was well-furnished with fans (it was about 95 by this point).  I ended up finding a pretty sweet Schwinn upstairs at the Bike shop…. it isn’t my old 564 Schwinn Touring bike, but this one is refurbished and well cared for and will certainly bring me some pleasure on the roads out here.  She has a black frame with red and yellow accents, and I have determined that my bike must therefore be a German Nationalist.  I imagine s/he will end up with a name like Hans or Deitrich or Ursula, but for now I am getting to know my bike and enjoying every minute.  And as long as it doesn’t get stolen, I shall remain happy with it.

For the rest of the evening, A has things planned which he refuses to divulge to me.  I certainly hope, however, that these events take place indoors, as I have already developed a formidable sunburn on my arms and shoulders and have probably sweat out a few pounds in the heat.  

Summer in Philly

Whew!  So a week’s worth of work has been I-N-T-E-N-S-E… Just for my own sake, to document all that has happened thus far:

I unofficially started here last Saturday, when I dropped by to check out the church and ended up meeting Nick and Peter, two of the other Youth Initiative interns at BSM for the summer.  Brenna wasn’t in yet but was getting there on Sunday.  We ended up scooping ice cream at the last night of 315 Cafe, an overnight safe house that is funded by the city in BSM and was extended until that night.  The next morning we went to Bryn Mawr PC, in many ways the opposite of the 315 Cafe, a large, suburban, rich, white church that was giving BSM an urban ministry financial award for the Youth Initiative.  Lets just say the suburbs out here are WAY different from the city. (news flash: I prefer Philly.)

Work officially started at worship at BSM on Sunday, which was cool, and different.  I think I mentioned it on an earlier post.  The rest of this week has been a combination of familiarizing ourselves with many of the various ministries at the church during the week (film series run by other interns, meals for various groups in the city, from the homeless to the church community to anyone who would like to come, bible studies, etc), familiarizing ourselves with nonprofits and services offered in the area.  We visited a meal on Monday where a guy writes checks out to individuals so they can get ID cards or birth certificates, Bethesda Project, a thrift store that raises money for the Aids Fund called PAT, etc.  We have also done a lot of getting to know you stuff with the other folks on the team.  There is a lot of variety in terms of backgrounds and interests, so there is variety of things that people are inspired by.  Nick is planning a found-art sculpture for the youth to create and add to over the summer (he also currently happens to be drawing pictures on the wall of our office… specifically of Peter, who was quick to tell us he grew up on a farm in bux county, riding what nick calls a ‘cow of the apocalypse’).


Anyways, its going to be cool but there are defintely challenges.  I don’t have a lot of cash, period, so I have been trying to figure out that balance between going out and learning the city with these folks and not getting broke in the process.  I have met some really interesting people and more importantly gotten to know their stories, which has taught me more about their lives than I would ever dream of.  I have seen a lot of places that I know I have been blind to in the past and have been reaffirmed in my suspicion that service is more than just handing bread or money to a person in need. 

 I just need to figure out how to continually seek God in all this.  I will admit, I have trouble feeling it sometimes, and I don’t know exactly what that means or what I ought to do about it, but I feel confident that the work I could do here is important and hopefully might help with the uncertainty.

Anyways, more later but now we have to go to city hall.



Thanks be to GOD!

I don’t know the details yet, but I do know this: I got offered a job on Broad Street Ministry’s Youth Initiative Staff for the summer!!!! This is gonna be awesome… I have been praying about it and hoping for it, and I am so super stoked to get the opportunity to do this.

Thanks be to God, and Philly here I come!