Monday, February 28, 2011

So Close

I came so close to being a mime last weekend. I bought contacts (and learned how to poke my eyes), reviewed all my notes from the dress rehearsal last month, prayed, even got to run through Saturday's afternoon rehearsal, and then... Sunday's performance was cancelled due to icy weather. That was the only performance Emily will miss, she's here every other date. My one and only shot. Bummer.

I was really excited, too - running through that last rehearsal with costumes and props and everything, it was fun! Like, I could see myself doing this. Maybe I need to apply to Awaken again next year - as a cast member...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Qur'an

Today I was gifted my first Qur'an. From my optometrist.

Sincerely interested to learn about Islamic belief in the matter, I broached the topic of miracles (more specifically, miraculous healings) during my eye exam. Some how fasting had come up in conversation, so why not bring another theological matter into the mix?

A year later (this past August), pupils dilated and waiting patiently in the eye-chair, I asked if he could recommend a quality English translation of the Qur'an. Recently before that I recall hearing a sermon about how "if we want them to read our book, maybe we should start by reading their's". That's a poor, poor paraphrase for the depth of the sermon, because it wasn't about evangelizing Muslims. Had it been, I probably would have walked out. No no no. The sermon was about cross-cultural understanding. This is a major issue for Americans, and particularly Christians who think they have all the answers, and who think they have the only answers. Islam has it's extremists, and so does Christianity. I think ours might be worse, honestly.

Anyway, this sermon piqued my curiosity. I enjoy learning about God, and I'm starting to enjoy learning about other people, other cultures, hearing stories. So the one statement from the sermon really stood out, and I knew I desired to acquire a Qur'an. Since my social circle is sorely lacking of Muslims, my eye doctor was my best chance.

To my amazement, Dr Monzavi not only recommended a translation, he said he would send one to me. I gave him my card, and then waited patiently.

Well the package never came.

Then last week I went in to get fitted for contacts (which I'm getting used to now - got both in on the first try yesterday!). I mentioned I was still interested in a Qur'an, and mentioned I'm happy to buy one myself, but he insisted that he would send me one (and apologized that he'd not yet had the chance to do so). He still had my business card tucked away in his wallet, so I know he didn't forget about me.

This morning I got an email. He needed an address to ship to. Excitedly, I typed back that I was coming in to pick up my contacts prescription today, so I could save him the postage.

Lenses paid for, he heard me talking with the nurse and brought out his gift to me. A hard cover Holy Book that I will treasure. In it as well, a post-it note with some scholars I could email if I had deeper questions. We talked for a few minutes, briefly discussed the Qur'an's history, how it was written, cursory overview on how to read it, and then I left, clutching the Book tightly.

I look forward to reading it. I'm anxious to gain significantly deeper cross-cultural understandings that not many "Christians" ever take time to dive into. I desire to learn more about how my Islamic brothers and sisters encounter God. And perhaps most importantly, I'm excited to learn more about God. I know many Christians will disagree with this statement, but, Christians, Muslims, Jews, we all worship the same God. Yes, we have some different understandings of who God is, how God manifests in the world, etc. But if you look back we share a common ancestry, and One God. That's why this Book is Holy to me, as well.

I'm not out to "convert" anyone, and I'm not out to be converted myself. I remain a Christ-follower. I remain dedicated to living out God's love as best I know how. This is another step along that journey.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Christmas Letter 2010

Christmas and New Year's came and went, so I realize this "Christmas letter" is a little late. In my defense, I did tape it during the 12 days of Christmas, but it's taken this long to edit, find backgrounds and graphics, create the motion graphics, sync sound, work with the composer, color correct, render, export, encode, upload, and now finally post. I'm sort of proud of it. Enjoy.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mimes don't wear glasses

Or at least, AWAKEN mimes don't.

Our first performance weekend is two weeks away, and for one of those performances, I'll make my debut as a mime, subbing in for one of our actors who can't be there.

Here's the rub: AWAKEN mimes don't wear glasses. So I have two choices:
  1. Go blind (two other actors do this)

  2. Get contacts

I've never had contacts before, and my eyes water at the very thought. Nevertheless, the fear of tripping over a pew or a person while stumbling blindly in the dark is unappealing enough that I broke down went in to get contacts.

Trip #1 was unsuccessful. I was already at MOA to get my hair cut, so afterward I confidently strolled into a glasses store, spectacle Rx in hand, and asked the kind man to explain this whole "contacts" thing to me.

"Well," he said, and I'm paraphrasing greatly, "you can't do that here. This is a glasses prescription, you need to get fitted for contacts, and we'd have to charge you for a full exam to do that."

Who knew?

This morning, I called my normal optometrist, (because really, it's such a fun word, why would you not want to call someone called an "optometrist"?) explained my situation, and snuck in for an afternoon appointment.

I sat cautiously, nervously awaiting the inevitable poking of my eyes. My optometrist came in, we exchanged pleasantries, and he put these... things! in my eyes. Blink blink tear cry sniffle. There's something in my eye! Oh wait, but I can see... and my glasses are in my pocket? Wait a second... This is so weird!

For whatever reason, my right eye didn't like the first lens he put in, so he threw it away and tried a different brand. Odd, because my left eye has the stronger Rx, so I would have thought that one would like it less (thicker lens?). Anyway. Second attempt now of prying my eyes open while they watered and squinted, and he got the lens in. Blink blink FML blink blink. Maybe going blind is a better idea. No, no. I made it this far, I'm paying them to do this. I'm paying to be tortured? There's something wrong about that...

Next step: I have to do it on my own! Eek! They brought me to the special chair in the special room with the special mirror, and made me feel special. Here, take this little flexible plastic thing and shove it in your eye! Poke prod blink water cry, lather rinse repeat.

Over an hour after I arrived, I had succeeded in removing, placing, removing, and re-placing my little trial lenses. I drove home. I drove without glasses. For the first time ever. I've had glasses since 7th grade. I've never driven without glasses.

Two hours later I took out the contacts (per my instructions, I'm supposed to build up a tolerance - 2 hours today, 4 tomorrow, 6 the next day, and so on).

The nurse kept insisting contacts would grow on me. I remain skeptical. But at least I'll be able to see for AWAKEN. As long as I don't poke an eye out before then.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Fraggle Rock holds special memories from my youth, and so several weeks ago I started through the entire series on DVD; tonight I watched, and re-watched, an episode called "Mokey and the Minstrels".

Cantus: Being a minstrel is enough hard work for your whole life.
Mokey: My whole life? Oh, well I didn’t know about that part.
C: You didn’t need to know until now. Why Mokey Fraggle, you could be a minstrel, if–
M: If. If I left home. And Fraggle Rock, and all my friends, and everything I love. No. I can’t do it.
C: Oh but you can. And maybe someday you will.
M: Someday? How?
C: Good question. Answer it.
M: No. I already have answered it. I’m going home. Back to my friends.
C: Yes yes, but what will you do there? What must you always do?
M: Uh… Listen?
C: I said you weren’t a failure!

At first I was attracted to Cantus's line, "Good question. Answer it.", because I long to use it as an answer to any number of daily tech questions at work; immediately, though, I knew there was something deeper here, and I'm still sorting through it - let's "unpack" this together (hey, if I ever do get ordained, I gotta learn how to "unpack" things - gah, I hate that word).

Last week I had a minor/major meltdown: what am I doing with my life? Moving to LA? No way! I won't succeed, financially stupid idea. Maybe I'm supposed to apply/enroll in seminary this year instead? God, please. Help.

Questions faded to white noise, ever-present, but irrelevant; in their place, peace, comfort with the uncertainty, dare I say even an embrace of the unknown, because I Trust Him. And because, like I've told to so many other people, I'm the only one who expects me to have it all figured out, and not knowing the future does not equate to failure.

Here's where I'm at: I know I'm Called to ministry. Period. I don't know if that means "officially" (as in, MDiv), or a lay-person within a church setting, or simply as a friend - and I'm okay with that. Because I have faith. And I have trust. Some days more than others :)

Cantus Fraggle spoke to me tonight: no matter where I go, what will I do there? What must I always do? Maybe some day I will go to seminary. Maybe some day I won't. My Call remains: Listen. To God, to friends, to all. Ministry, in whatever form, will follow.