Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Get Real

I subscribe to a daily email from CharityFocus, which offers great inspiration and ideas for serving. I try to execute each one in some small way, and it makes a difference in my day. Here is the inspiration for today. You can also link directly to it on CharityFocus.

I admit the framing is a bit New-Agey for my taste, but the idea here is very powerful. Can you think of relationships at home or at work, with friends or colleagues, where you just think "If only he or she could be real" or "If only I could be real" things would be so much better? Have you ever thought about how much an honest, open, compassionate, and loving conversation can fix? Aren't you frustrated when you can see a beautiful outcome that just doesn't happen because we and/or others are enslaved to affectations, false assumptions, anger, and fear? Yeah, me too. Well, we can't change much about the world or others, but we can change ourselves. This bit of inspiration offers hope that even changing ourselves might have a greater impact.

The Energy of Being Real

"Mana" is a term originally used in a Polynesian and Melanesian cultures to describe an extraordinary power or force residing in a person or an object, a sort of spiritual electricity that charges anyone who touches it. Carl Jung later defined the term as "the unconscious influence of on being on another." What Jung speaks to is the fact that the energy of being real has more power than outright persuasion, debate, or force of will. He suggests that being who we are always release an extraordinary power that, without intent or design, affects the people who come in contact with such realness.

The beautiful and simple truth of this can be seen in looking at the sun. The sun, without intent or will or plan or sense of principle, just shines, thoroughly and constantly. By being itself, the sun warms with its light, never withholding or warming only certain things of the Earth. Rather, the sun emanates in all directions all the time, and things grow. In the same way, when we are authentic, expressing our warmth and light in all directions, we cause things around us to grow. When our souls like little suns express the light of who we are, we emanate what Jesus called love and what Buddha called compassion, and the roots of community lengthen.

In this way, without any intent to shape others, we simply have to be authentic, and a sense of mana, of spiritual light and warmth will emanate from our very souls, causing others to grow -- not towards us, but towards the light that moves through us. In this way, by being who we are, we not only experience life in all its vitality, but quite innocently and without design, we help others be more thoroughly themselves. In being real, in staying devoted to this energy of realness, we help each other grow toward the one vital light.

--Mark Nepo

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quotable Tuesday

"The art of writing is perhaps the most important skill the scholar ought to acquire, and it ought to be the subject of faithful attention and practice. But the student does not acquire it; he learns instead the honoured forms of drab discourse, the arid niceties of documentation, and the simple-headed regiments of a proper bibliography. All that he might learn of a really profound and meaningful kind about the nature of the discourse whose exercise will be a large part of his life is relegated to accident."

- Robert Plant Armstrong, "The Qualities of a Book, the Wants of a Dissertation," in The Thesis and the Book (ed. Eleanor Harman and Ian Montagnes; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976) 18.

Well, if that's not a kick in the butt, I don't know what is.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leftover Land (or, How I'm Going to Finish my Dissertation)

After a busy week full of SBL and cooking, I am back to the grind. This is my last week exclusively devoted to dissertation. I'm hoping the leftovers will get me through it. We cooked a rockin' Thanksgiving this year, and my fridge is filled with the remainder of:

  • Soup of Matsutake Mushrooms and Squash in First Dashi
  • Venison Terrine
  • Dr, Thankisch Riesling Auslese 2001
Main Course
  • Apple-Scented Roast Turkey with Cider-Calvados Gravy
  • Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Apples
  • Green Beans with Mushroom Madeira Sauce
  • Tarragon Creamed Corn
  • Fresh Cranberry Relish
  • Chateau Beauchene Cotes-du-Rhone
  • Darting Rieslaner Spatlese 2001
  • Cheese Selection with Dried Fruit and Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  • selection of old French brandies
This should get me through the week... If the copy-editing gets really bad, I may have to turn to the "leftover" brandy. Maybe when this week is over, Imaginary Grace will actually be more of a biblical studies blog than a wannabe food blog.

May you have much to be grateful for this year, and may what's on your table be only the start.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Vatican Rag

Thanks to Dr. Claude Mariottini for making us laugh with The Reformation Polka. To even out the demoninational humor, here is one of my personal favorites.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Breast Cancer Stamp

One of my favorite easy ways to make a big impact with not much effort is to buy Breast Cancer Awareness stamps. They cost a little more, but I hardly notice the difference. And each time I send out a letter, I'm helping the many women I know and love, and millions I'll never meet.

The impact of breast cancer is quite staggering. A couple of years ago, I walked in one of the many national events sponsored by the Susan G. Komen foundation. They give you an opportunity to celebrate the survivors you know, support those who are currently battling the disease, and even memorialize who have died by wearing tags with their names pinned to your shirt. When I put all mine together, I had at least 7 or 8. I was floored. My mother-in-law. A volunteer I worked with. The wife of a colleague. An old friend who fought it brilliantly but died and left behind her husband and 5-year-old son.

Buy these stamps. It's so easy, and you won't miss the cents. They raise millions of dollars nationally. But even more importantly, write your Senator and tell him or her to have the stamp reauthorized. If the Senate doesn't approve the bill by the end of the year, they will no longer be available, and those millions of dollars we raise just by sticking postage to our letters lost. The Komen Foundation has made it very easy to show your support. Just go here and fill in the form.

The women you love will thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2007


John Hobbins tagged me for the 10-20-30 meme, for which one must write a post reflecting on what one was doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago. Here goes:

1977: I saw my first movie in the movie theater, the original Star Wars. Darth Vader scared me nearly to death. I suspect my interest in spiritual matters began here, assuming these things aren't innate. This may also have been the first year my grandparents took me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. I proudly announced to my mother that I was going to order lobster and apparently brought home the shell to prove that I actually did. Thus the beginning of my foodie days.

1987: I decided I wanted to be a professional violinist and started practicing all the time. This career path didn't pan out. But my interest in music brought me years later to sing in a choir. Here I participated in the world premiere of a setting of biblical texts for two choirs, which we performed with the National Choir of Israel. The piece was in Hebrew. This was the first time I encountered the language, and I guess the rest is history. Prov 3:13–19 is still one of my favorite texts.

1997: Like John, I was a student at the University of Wisconsin, reading Hebrew constantly. I'm not sure I did anything else that year. Or, if I did, I can't remember.

I tag Charles Halton, Christopher Heard, and Simon Holloway.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Max Rudolf and Me

As a classical music lover, I was delighted to find out recently that I live in the same neighborhood that the great conductor Max Rudolf once did. In fact, an acquaintance of mine lives in his house just a few blocks away.

I also found out that Herr Rudolf was frequently seen taking brisk walks in the neighborhood, up a very steep hill to this gorgeous park.

As it turns out, I too am an avid walker, and regularly take this same route. While I don't wave my arms in the air madly conducting symphonies as I walk, as he is reported to have done, I do listen to Beethoven quartets on my iPod. Hardly the same, I know... But, while we certainly do not share a gift, we do share a path. While fun, useless trivia, the strange thing that Max Rudolf and I happen to have in common is a lovely reminder of how small and interconnected our world is.