A Year in Closing

With only a few weeks before I’m back in the US I’ve begun looking back over the past 10 months. Boarding that airplane in Seattle seems both near and far in memory. Near because the memories of saying goodbye are so fresh, yet far because of the many experiences that fill in the space between then and now. Obviously I can’t encapsulate the past year into a pithy sentence, or even an entire blog post. This is partly because the things I’ve learned and ways that I’ve been shaped have not been linear. I’m still working through a lot of it.

At the beginning of the SALT term in Akron, PA a prayer/poem by Bishop Ken Untener written in memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero was read to all the SALTers. This poem has done a lot to frame the way I’ve thought about my year. It’s a bit long, but here it is:

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Hunger

At times I wonder if I, if all of us, are anything more than our hunger. I sometimes worry that underneath our pleasantries, cultures, virtues, faith, and even love there is simply our ambition to fill ourselves. Some appetites may appear more nobel than others, but is there fundamentally a difference? Is there anything beyond our desire to be, and not only exist but also be affirmed in that existence by others?

This worry comes from watching the people in the public eye of my country, from seeing beyond the words of those around me, and from feeling the currents beneath the surface of my own heart. I had a friend once tell me she felt like I was double-minded. Her comment troubled me for a while because I could sense that she was right. But I’ve come to believe that we’re all double-minded. Continue reading

Four Korean Months in Review

Today marks four months since arriving in Korea! To celebrate, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned in Korea so far.

I Am a Part of My Country

As much as I’m sometimes frustrated by practices, policies, and general social patterns in the United States, it’s still my home country.  It also happens to be one of the most powerful countries in the world. As a citizen of this country with the ability to vote, protest, and be heard I’ve come to realize I have the privilege and responsibility to do so. There are many stories I’ve heard about the US acting in ways I absolutely do not support in countries throughout Asia. As a Christian seeking justice, mercy, and humility I realize these stories must motivate me to advocate to the leaders I can influence.  Continue reading

22 Years of Learning

A couple years ago on my birthday I decided to share the things I felt I had learned that year. Now it’s becoming a bit of a tradition to have a post sitting in my Drafts folder all year where I can jot down things I’m learning, and on my birthday share it with all of you. You can find last year’s post here if you’d like to check it out. Here is this year’s post! Continue reading

To Know Love and Pain

WordPress tells me it’s been about two months since I’ve posted anything. I was trying to blog once per week, but I realized I don’t consistently feel like I have enough well-organized and creative thoughts to write every single week. There are several partially composed posts sitting in my Drafts folder, which never reached completion because every time I sat down to write it would turn into word vomit. This happens periodically when I fall too deep into the rabbit hole of introspection. Hopefully these words contain some sense of coherence and usefulness.

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The Church and the Gospel of Naruto

Okay, so I’m going to need you to bear with me for a moment or two as I nerd out. I promise that I feel this is relevant to my main point.

I’m an avid fan of an anime series called Naruto which is about the journey of an ostracized, untalented, persistent, ninja boy named Naruto. I’ve been watching this series since 7th grade, so in a sense I’ve grown alongside this character. The things that have kept my attention for the past eight years are the shifting themes and scope of the series. Initially it appealed to my middle school mind with its cool fight scenes and the youthful humor of its characters. As I’ve matured I feel that this series has as well. Continue reading

Time

I’d like to develop eyes to see and appreciate the awe, tragedy, and power in the mundane. This is why I’ve decided to attempt to write every week about something I’m grateful for, the ways in which God is shaking my little snow globe of a life, or something of that variety. This week I am thankful for time. Time to rest. Time with those I care about. Time to think. Time to be. Continue reading

21 Years of Learning

Today is my 21st birthday and over these past 21 years I’ve learned many things. Some of these things I’ve had to learn in difficult ways, others I’ve gained by listening to those with more life experience than myself. I still have much to learn, but as I grow it’s my hope that I will be able to share wisdom and love as I seek wisdom and love. In the past 21 years I’ve learned that:

It is important to love your body. Loving your body is not only being content with your image and the way God has made you, but it is treating your body with care. Eating well, exercising consistently, sleeping normally, and not putting things into your body that do not belong there are all pieces to loving your body. We are blessed with one body and the way we treat it matters.

Money is not worth as much as people say it is. Money is useful, but not of the greatest value. Wealth is a burden I hope to carry as little as possible.

People matter more than doctrine. I learned this from a Jewish rabbi. He was a little unorthodox and challenged the beliefs of a lot of formal theologians, but the way he treated those who orthodoxy tended to crush and oppress was astonishing. Not only did he convince those he interacted with to adopt his way, but he also caused them to share his teaching throughout their communities. This rabbi has made me willing to stretch the bounds of orthodoxy to include those at the table who wouldn’t otherwise have a place. This rabbi’s name is Jesus.

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Brokenness Unleashed

As I have had more time to reflect and process the day of June 5th, my focus has shifted. During and after Thursday afternoon the only thing on my mind was “why”. This question took on the tone of the many emotions flowing through me; a sad “Why did this happen to my community?“, an angry “Why did he decide to come to our home?“, a confused “Why does this keep happening in our world?” However, as I’ve begun to process the tragedy, a new question has started growing in my heart. The retrospective question “why” has turned into the prospective question “now what“. Put another way, I’ve begun to ask myself how this is going to shape the type of community we are and the type of person I am. For this answer I looked beyond myself to my heroes who have also dealt with affliction.

chacou2_Fotor_Collage

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From This Place

Twenty-four hours ago life changed. The life of the beloved community I belong to was shaken. The impossible violence we speculate and philosophize about in my theology classes came into our home. It left my SPU family and me in a swirl of emotion that continues to ebb and flow. It’s impossible to believe that this happened here. Things like this aren’t suppose to be our reality, they only happen on the news on far away campuses. The intersection I used to cross to get to class was transformed into a barricade of police cars and ambulances. The building I would encounter the study-worn faces of peers was morphed into a place of war-torn bodies fighting for life. The campus once filled with youthful zeal and professorial wisdom was turned into a place of ageless communal lamentation. Something and someone dear was taken from this place.

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