23 June 2009

It's happening.

Along with my sweet friend Crystal, I am writing a book - a "recipography," if you will. Stories and recipes that reflect my sunny-side UP/side-down life. Not sure when it will be completed - and praying we get published. But it's happening.

20 June 2009

Thinking out Loud - Salt and Light

I love salt – its curative, flavor-enhancing, change-agent qualities. As a small child, I would salt ice and eat it as a treat. I enjoy salted caramels, salt bagels, even licorice that’s lightly salted. And at home, I use several different salts, depending upon the desired outcome. There is coarse ground kosher salt, used to encrust prime rib in one of my favorite recipes. There’s red sea salt, which has an almost sweet aftertaste and is perfect for seasoning vegetables. There’s fleur de sal, in so many shades and textures, ready to delicately enhance flavors of soups and stews. And there’s rock salt, always at the ready to help with homemade ice cream.

No matter what the flavor, where the origin, one thing remains true: it is salt.

I love light – the dark blue to light blue to white of sunrises, and pinks and reds of sunsets. I love the brilliance of the sun and the reflection of that same sun on the face of the moon. There's the warm incandescent glow that welcomes friends to sit and chat, the seductive nature of candelight served with wine and music, and the breathtaking explosion of fireworks illuminating the night sky. I love the crackling amber of a burning fire and the white, almost translucent light that filters through the window as the day nears its end. I laugh at the thought of even loving the gentle glow of my laptop screen as I type in the dark.

No matter the color, no matter the type, one thing remains true: it is light.

“You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” Jesus said those words, speaking to those who follow Him. Salt and light. Two beautiful word-pictures. Simple and profound. And just what this world needs.

But we complicate things. We argue amongst ourselves about which flavor of salt is best or which origin of light is most powerful. We use words like Baptist and Methodist and Fundamental and Charismatic and Reformed and Emergent and Contemporary and Liturgical. We analyze. We paralyze.

And all the while, the world watches. And waits. For salt and light.

06 June 2009

We did all we could do - the journey.


I had studied every page of the website, watched the videos, looked at the pictures. Posada Aguape, a lovely lodge and resort in the Ibera Marshlands of Corrientes, Argentina. One of the world’s largest natural marshlands, it is home to more than 4000 species of animals, birds, plants, and insects. Alligators, capybaras, monkeys, and more lived there – all in highly protected freedom. Posada Aguape was there waiting, with comfy beds and gourmet meals and roaring fireplaces to take the chill off the cold, damp fall days. And I was going there, to experience it all. (if you’d like to see the destination, you may visit it here at http://www.iberaesteros.com.ar/ingles/index.htm).


I guess I should take a minute to fill in a few gaps. When plans were made to visit my friends Alisha and David in Argentina (Corrientes Capital, to be exact), I was asked if I would be open to help facilitate a prayer retreat for a group of missionaries who were all serving in the area. I gladly accepted, all the while wondering what a suburban gal like me would have of value to share with people who had left the comforts of home to live life with strangers. Lots of conversations and prayer put things into place – our time together would be focused on “the journey,” that road of faith we each walk (or in my case, stumble down). With the use of tactile objects like steel wool, nails, and sandpaper, we would talk about circumstances that define and refine us. Time spent in the marshland itself would remind us of the awe-inspiring purpose each of us has. The glow of candles would reveal the need to press in fully to God to see the path He has created for us and the brilliance and warmth of good community. Communion would reflect on our need for righteousness and serve as a reminder of the amazing Wedding Feast we will someday attend.

So, with the Subaru Outback loaded to the brim with suitcases, we set out on the 3-1/2 hour excursion to Posada Aguape. The rain was falling steadily as we made our way along winding roads, past Mercedes and the Sanctuary of Gaucho Gil and St. Death (two “popular” saints who are worshipped by the Argentines), past the makeshift shrines to saints and to the dead. The sun had set when we arrived at the entrance to the road simply marked as “40.” It was the only road to Posada Aguape. With the rain continuing to fall, we started the last 120km trek to our destination. There was no pavement. There were no streetlights. There were no road markers or curbs or sidewalks or billboards.

There was just darkness. And mud.

Our headlights struggled to pierce the darkness and the downpour, and the road we could see never changed – deep trenches filled with dark murky water, red clay and gravel, and the very rare glow of oncoming trucks or cars. Even at a slow driving speed, the road was treacherous. A large commercial truck passed too closely, its wake sending us sliding toward the ditch. David fought valiantly to keep the car on the road, but the clay was like ice. We simply slid sideways into the rut, our tires resting against its edge. Two other trucks of missionaries followed behind us, each sliding and swerving to avoid the same fate. The conditions proved too difficult for towing. And stopping for any length of time meant the tires would sink more deeply into the mud.

So we did all we could do. We kept driving.

The road leveled – for just a moment. Just long enough for David to maneuver the car quickly. And once again, we were on the rocky, slippery path to Posada Aguape. Yes. Posada Aguape. The destination still awaiting us. We made a short video to pass the time. We told stories to pass the time. And we turned on the radio to pass the time. But within minutes there was no music, no sound. Looking at our cell phones, we found we had no signal. We continued to drive in the darkness, carefully looking for any sign of life as we grew closer and closer to the marshland. The rain was now coming down in sheets, hitting the ground at an awkward angle. The windshield wipers fought the water and mud washing up over the car. For just a moment, the thought of turning around and returning to the comfort of home entered our minds. But that thought was abandoned – because of our destination.

So we did all we could do. We kept driving.

The rain subsided and the clouds broke, providing a glimpse of the life around us. Eyes peered through the tall grass on the side of the road, and capybaras ventured out into the night. We crossed bridge after bridge as the marsh began to form around us. We knew we were moving in the right direction. But there were no signs to point the way, no maps to guide us. Just the muddy road, with the eerie glow of our headlights illuminating a still small path. We came to what seemed to be a dead-end. But to the left, we saw a bridge, obscured by tall reeds. Carefully we drove to the bridge – a long causeway that seemed to hover in the darkness, creaking as we passed over the wet wood planks. We had passed into the Ibera Marshland. And into a small village. Our cell signal returned, and Alisha called the innkeeper to get our final instructions. “Seven blocks. Turn right. One block. Turn right.” Again, there were no street signs. There were few lights. There was no beautiful sign announcing our destination. There was simply the voice, telling us to count.

So we did all we could do. We kept driving.

We slowly drove down the narrow road, turning right at “seven.” Several paths intersected with the road, making the next decision difficult. We misjudged and turned – then carefully backed up and ventured again. And at the end of the road, there it was. Posada Aguape. Beautiful stucco and dark wood, stone paths and smiling faces greeting us as we completed our trek. There were hugs and double-cheek kisses, followed by hot tea and coffee and a late-night feast by the fire. There were cozy rooms with warm wool blankets and nightbirds singing and tin roofs playing the melodies of the raindrops falling.


And I smiled. Because I realized that, for all the planning and preparation for the prayer retreat, the Lord had devised a more perfect picture of the journey – in the drive to Posada Aguape.

Our road was straight and narrow, and it was our only option to reach our destination.
Our path was gently illuminated in front of us.
The journey wasn’t easy – the road was rough and dangerous.
The journey was filled with unexpected delights – the laughter found in a video, or the joy found in seeing a Capybara family.
We were given the right instructions at just the right moment.
Even when we stumbled – because of another’s actions or our own – the journey didn’t end. We persevered.
The destination gave us hope, even in the darkest moments.
The destination was definitely worth the journey.

video