The Chapel Unchanged

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Location: Illinois, United States

I'm a junior English/Philosophy major who's looking forward to my senior year and looking back on the path that led me here

Friday, June 30, 2006

song lyrics, blessing and worry

I've been thinking about what to buy myself out of this paycheck; if I can find that Sarah McLachlan Storytellers album, that would be supreme. But I'm also thinking about getting another copy of Blood on the Tracks, one of the best Dylan albums ever. All our copies at home are scratchy, and while I need to do a Dylan inventory to see what I have, I'm pretty sure that most of my albums are from the early days of Dylan's career, before he went electric. I forgot until yesterday that I wanted to use "Forever Young" as the centering point for my Lincoln Laureate speech (if I receive that award - I'm also thinking the "Mad Farmer" poem by Wendell Berry, which would give me supreme satisfaction. It would also make the Law and Politics society burst blood vessels.) I'll post the lyrics below:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

I've always thought of Forever Young as the ultimate song of blessing; I listen to it on my birthday, and while I definitely feel like I'm growing younger with each passing year, I also know that this is a song that challenges my understanding of blessing as surprise. Anyone will tell you that I am a stickler for surprises - ask Caitlin about her soon-to-be-coming birthday present. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted things to surprise me: gifts, compliments, relationships. Birthdays and Christmases were always a big deal; I love anticipation, I love expectancy and waiting. I guess that that's why I'm an Advent person. But while this song is about the gift of a new child, or a new phase in a child's/friend's life, it is also about continuity; being "forever young" is not just living in strung-together epiphanies, in the spotlight of everyone else's lives, but about the constancy of virtue, the "always" of being courageous, knowing the truth, and living in the light of God's love. It's about the "always" of singing joyfully and doing for others, and it's about the "always" of letting others do for you, letting others sing your song.

I wonder how many people have intended this song for others without realizing that it's intended for them as well. I wonder if that's where the surprise is, like in the liturgy at Fourth Presbyterian: "In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are not alone. Thanks be to God." That the surprise of community, solidarity, love, is something that does creep up on you, but in a softer light, not in explosive moments of recognition. That has to be how recollection works.
But I spend so much time anticipating the ends of things, the outcomes (me and Cebes and Simmias really do have a lot in common), that I get disappointed easily. I know that I am a faithful person, with a deep capacity for committment and love. I also know that I'm slowly growing away from that kind of expectancy, that kind of living. But it's difficult.

And I couldn't consolidate my stupid Student Loans today because the website won't let me check my balances! and my cell phone has no reception on Trinity's campus! Frustrating.....


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Avocados and Celebrations

So I have three avocados in my kitchen, with no idea for their use. I could make guacamole, I could make a superior soup, but my roommate (whom I'm cooking for tomorrow) does not like avocados, and I need to use them quick.


The OPC Synod is finishing up at Trinity - I heard from Erin that Dr. Van Wyk called it a "celebration of manhood." Which is funny, because I've spent the past two days cleaning the men's bathrooms in the Chapel during Synod. I'm trying to think of some witty thing to add to that, but it is slightly ironic. After lunch, Erin and I stopped cleaning to listen to a singing of "Be Thou My Vision," and I have to admit that I sang along because 1.) it's a beautiful, real-life hymn and 2.) the whole chorus was full of men's voices. Maybe it's because I'm a member at Hope Church, where women's roles, like men's roles, are interchangable with shared circles of authority; maybe it's because I'm good friends with women who are trying, honestly and unavoidably, to change the expectations that ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal Christians place on women; maybe it's because I was overly conscious of myself in the men's bathrooms, overhearing the effects of prostrate problems in the urinals. I'm not sure. But Erin and I sang together, with the Synod group, and regardless of my confused intent, it was good.

Now I'm on my way to find a good avocado recipe.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Seriously, I haven't written on this blog for a month. Sad. I guess that's what happens when your internet accessibility depends on phone calls to your best friend and your lunch breaks at work. Not really enough time for blog accountability.

At any rate - I'm in the process of looking for a good chicken recipe for tomorrow. The SJC crew is stopping by for dinner so that we can talk about our summer, our thoughts about next year, and so that I can lay out some plans of my own for the 2006 - 2007 schoolyear. I'm also still filing my FASFA. And consolidating my student loans. And trying to be discerning about the many directions my life could take, all of them good.

Every day, Erin and I pray midmorning and midafternoon prayer with each other - I guess that midafternoon prayer is especially in my mind because I lead afternoon prayer every day, but I'm especially struck at how these psalms center on the rebuilding of Jerusalem, on the future renewal of Israel's home city, and I'm especially struck (again) by how these psalms of bitter memory (oppression, colonization, the Jews as refugees in their own land) are also infused with blessing:

Psalm 126:

Deliver us, o Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

I wonder what that would be like to pray in Africa.

Peace to you,