Thursday, December 23, 2010

Using the Power of Timshel for Forgiveness

Joo and I hosted the annual reunion of the guys from youth group, which was fun as always. One of the guys made the comment that this was the first year it felt that each of us was truly travelling our own paths in life (John left Ohio for the first time to go to grad school in Texas, Andrew got married, Matt got his first real world job, and Dustin drifted back and forth between a job and grad school).

In addition to playing the new game we invented a couple summers ago (frisleyball), we had a treat when Drew and Laura Castle came over with their baby Roxie. After a couple of the guys held her, Joo gave Roxie to me to hold and said laughingly (but also ominously?) that it was a "test." Thankfully, Roxie fell asleep right away so that worked in my favor...

The boys and I spent our time catching up, eating delicious middle Eastern cuisine from Joo, watching Inception, discussing Inception, and challenging each other with spelling tests (not quite sure how that one started).

After the boys left, Joo and I headed straight over to the church where she had the kids make no-bake cookies in the shape of Korean characters (she's been teaching them their names in Korean).

We finally made some time to spend with Micah and Ariel after having wanted to get together with them for some time. They invited us over for a delicious pizza-making event followed by a riveting game of Blockus.

Micah broke a glass in what was perhaps the gentlest "smash" I've ever seen just by accidentally tapping his cup against the blender when he turned around. Being a bit OCD (I have a feeling that is one things many of the med school students share with us math students), he was extremely thorough in his cleanup.

The Korean church also had their annual Christmas performance, which was fun for Joo in two ways: for one, it was her first Christmas performance she had ever attended (this is the first year of her life when she has been going to church), and two, she got to help the kids get dressed and emotionally psyched up.

Perhaps the most unexpected incident over break occurred when we heard from Kyle and Suzie that they would have to move suddenly. There had been a little spat between their dog and their landlord's dog and - before they knew it - they had only three days to find a new place to live. It was a strange thing, both for them and for my own personal processing, since I know them to be an incredibly generous, loving, and tender Mennonite couple. Ironically, Suzie had just published a book on Peace with Herald Press. The whole affair seemed to fly in the face of the normal karmic balance of how life usually works.
But they were able to pack everything up, find a place on Craigslist and the Menno-crew gathered to work together on moving day (except for Thad and Kristen, whose car broke down on the way over to help out - I would say that it was a bad week for the Mennonites, except for a quick flashback from when I used to read excerpts of Martyr's Mirror- THAT was a bad time period for Mennonites). The most amazing thing for me in the whole move was observing how gracefully Kyle and Suzie handled the situation and even how positively they continued to speak about their landlord (something that I might have been able to do only after a month or two or forcing myself to forgive).

The move also allowed us to process concepts of possessions and simplicity (Kyle and Suzie had amassed a truckload of possessions, but Micah and Ari, as well as Joo and I, knew that we would have much more trouble with everything we owned). We discussed the 100 possession trend where modern people have been taking a Jesus/Buddha-like step and reducing their belongings down to almost nothing, giving most of their things away to charity. Here's one story in the New York Times although there are many more out there:
After the move, Micah and Ari had us all over to their place for chili and cheez-its; Joo brought some meatballs and Kyle and Suzie contributed some fresh bread and cookies from the Village Bakery... lots of yummyness :)

I also just finished my first fiction book in quite some time - East of Eden. After reading numerous academic articles and math text books, it was refreshing to relax into a story about Life and the story of humanity. Here's a brief quotation from the book that addresses one of the key themes of Timshel ("thou mayest" or, essentially, freewill):
"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world."

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