Monday, April 20, 2009

Whatever happened to SYATP?

Does anyone else remember "See You at the Pole?" the yearly event where teen Christians would gather before school around the flagpole and pray for the country, school, teachers and students? Anyway, I'm thinking about it because I need a moment of prayer!! I always approach the end of semester with feelings of doom. This time around, I have approximately 70 pages to write before the end of next week and I am feeling like the psalmist in the pit!! Please pray for me friends.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What I'm Reading Now

I guess it was inevitable that I'd go the way of so many other Tori Amos fans and start reading Neil Gaiman (TA's friend and collaborator). "Fragile Things" is a collection of award-winning short stories published several years ago. This is actually my fourth NG book I've bought and read. I also have "Coraline," "Good Omens," and "The Graveyard Book." I like buying compilations of short stories because I read a "fun" book after I get into bed and before I turn off the lights and go to sleep. I love a good story, but I have no self-control and will literally stay up all night to finish a great book. Gaiman writes generally dark, fantastical material. He has a wicked sense of humor that lands somewhere between dry and psychotic. So far, my favorite tale in this collection is "A Study in Emerald," a Sherock Holmes story that was written to mimic both the styles of Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft, according to the author. This is a great book for the bedside table.

Grad School Field Trip

Yesterday my "World Religions" class took a field trip to a worship service at the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to truly experience the diversity of Atlanta and our world.
The mosque had recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, and has deep roots in the civil rights movement and history of Nation of Islam (of which they were a part until the leadership changed direction after Malcolm X's assassination and changed their name).
American Southern Christianity has such a rich history of "the black church." Older women, regal in their colorful suits and matching hats; the energy of pastoral delivery and the congregational response. These "markers" are so associated with the black Christian church, that to witness them in the presence of the "black mosque" was disorienting.
The room in which the service took place was carpeted and empty, save for a lectern at the front and shelves along the wall for everyone's shoes. Prayer, both recorded and spoken by a local muezzin, began the service informally about 30 minutes before the imam's lecture. The room quickly filled up after the children from the mosque's locally-run Muslim private school arrived. The men and boys were in the front, the women and girls in the back.
The service consisted primarily of prayer, a 2-part lecture by the imam, then corporate prayer.
Besides the experience in general, the most powerful moment for me was the silent prayer that took place before the imam spoke. Despite not knowing what the muezzin was singing (or maybe because of it), the beauty of words washed over me. Everyone participating was worshipping in their own way - standing, sitting, or bowing. Noise from the crowd in the outer hall was filtering in, but people weren't bothered by it - they were totally caught up in the moment. It was one of the few times I was actually able to be present-focused myself and just mentally "breathe" and appreciate the experience. It reminded me of the importance of prayer, quiet, and contemplation in the life of faith. Unfortunately, these things are present too infrequently in my own life. Salaam (Peace).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bikini (over)Kill

So, due to the varying degrees of crapittude that marked 2008, I decided that 2009 would be the "year of Whitney." A couple of my priorities included increasing my fitness level (strength training) and "strutting it." My definition of strutting includes several concrete actions, undergirded by a mindset that engenders a positive body image (No more "I'm too fat to wear this"!). The "concrete actions" agenda includes: buying and wearing hot pink lipstick (done), buying and wearing short-shorts this summer (not yet) and buying and wearing (proudly!) my first bikini. So, with these goals in mind, I have been anxiously looking forward to swimsuit buying season so I could get a jump-start on my strut. I looked online - Victoria's Secret! DeLia's! even some sites that sold "suits" that maybe weren't designed with swimming in mind. At home, in my bra and panties, I felt confident in my hottitude and even thought about taking this little experiment in self-realization farther. Thong bikini? Why not! I'm young! Live a little!

Then, yesterday, I went shopping. I picked up multiple skimpy, triangle-style bikinis to try on at Target and recoiled in horror when I put them on. Look at my legs - they're so short and fat! And...oh no...cellulite already! You've got to be kidding me! And I guess my stomach's not as fit as I thought! How could I dare put on a one-piece, much less a triangle bikini?!!The whole experience was so disheartening. I've worked hard at confronting the ridiculous body image standards for women and changing my thought patterns to reject society's illusion that every woman should look like a porn star. To be so excited about swimsuit buying and wearing, then to find myself still stuck in the same ridiculous thought-pattern that every woman has, made me question my self-esteem altogether.

It's not all bad, though. I did end up buying a suit, though not the daring one I wanted. I bought the tankini pictured. I love the print - it's fun, young, and reminds me of those adorable Lisa Frank folders. I'm still on the search for the perfect bikini. I'm still on the search for love and acceptance of the body that fills it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring - One Day Only!

It appears as though the White Witch has taken Spring hostage this year. Snow! In April! In Georgia! Today we have tornado warnings and thunderstorms again. However, we were gifted with the most perfect Easter Sunday yesterday. Thank the Lord for small, perfect miracles. I took a stroll around Emory Village to bask in the sunshine and took some photographs while I was out. Some of my favorites came from an "Easter tree" in the yard of Glenn Memorial UMC. The dogwood was in bloom, and parishoners had hung brightly colored plastic eggs from the branches. Here are a couple of pictures.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

We are an Easter People!
image courtesy of Pitts Library Digital Image Archive.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eve

Tomorrow is Easter morning. Even though I've lived away from home for over three years, I still feel bereft when holidays roll around. I'm so grateful to have parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles who took every opportunity to celebrate lavishly.
Springtime belonged to my Dad's parents - my Grum-Grum and Pa-Paw. Pa-Paw was obsessive about dying easter eggs. Every April, my grandmother would bring home 10 or 12 dozen eggs - some from their own hens - and transform their small kitchen into the Easter Bunny's workshop. The air was thick with the smell of vinegar; the countertops laden with every type of egg decor the Piggly-Wiggly sold. Pa-paw could make the most beautiful eggs. His secret was to leave the egg in the dye for a REALLY LONG TIME. I never had the patience to wait that long, but would take possessive delight in his collection of beautiful, jewel-toned creations.
After they were ready, my mother and grandmother would hide all of the eggs in their vast yard. We could never find them all, and would realize exactly how many we didn't find months later during an ill-fated mowing trip or when the dogs would get sick.
May your Easter holiday bring sweet memories and bright hope for the future.