Monday, June 13, 2016

An assortment of recent thoughts

I've neglected my blog-writing time for the past few weeks, leaving me an eclectic assortment of thoughts I'd like to share tonight (writing night).

Alissa and I will be emailing out Save-Our-Date's soon! Yep: emailing. Part of our wedding mission statement talks about social responsibility, and for me, that includes: 1) not spending an excess of money on printing and postage, and 2) minimizing our use of paper, and the gasoline (and environmental impact) required to deliver it. Hence, the vast majority of Save-Our-Date's will be emailed, with paper going only to those very few who don't use email. (spoiler alert for those special few who read my blog: November 4, 2016).

"Hang on, Jeremy. Why are you calling them Save-Our-Date's instead of Save-The-Date's like normal people?" Ah, good question, dear Reader. That's because Save-The-Date's carry a rather unfortunate acronym, and since we don't want to be sending STDs to all our friends, we'll be sending everyone a SOD instead.

Incidentally, I've recently had my aging retaining wall removed from my front lawn, and went searching for sod last Friday before company arrived. Turns out Menards gets sod every Friday morning... except for last Friday, because reasons. After talking with four different employees, one of them discovered that, in fact, every other Menards was sold out, too, except one in Oakdale. Thus, sans enough time to find a Home Depot (rumored to be a powerful sod-dealer) I returned home Friday night, sodless.

Having nothing at all to do with sod, Ramadan began a week ago today. Last year at the start of Ramadan I was in Saudi Arabia, mere hours away from Mecca. Though I wasn't required to fast last year in Saudi (simply needed to avoid eating/drinking in public), I did choose to fast many/most days of Ramadan. True, I sort of cheated, because I didn't wake up before sunrise for breakfast, but after breakfast I would fast from food and drink until sundown. This year I decided to try it again on a day-by-day basis.

I discovered the days are longer in Minneapolis than at KAUST. While sunset there was usually around 7 o'clock, here it's been pushing 9 o'clock. So... my first day, I only made it about 12 hours ('til 7:30) before I needed to drink water to ward off my oncoming dehydration headache. After that, I decided for health reasons I would fast only from food, but not water/tea.

A few people have asked me, "Jeremy, you're Christian, why are you fasting for a Muslim holiday?" When I first heard Ramadan described to me by my eye doctor probably... 5 or 7 years ago, I learned it was not only a season of fasting from food and water, but also negative thoughts, anger, gossip, a cleansing of the mind as much as a physical exercise. Ever since, I've always thought that idea was beautiful. And so that's part of my answer. (anyone who's heard me go on a rant when I'm frustrated probably agrees I could use a good negativity-cleanse :)

The other part of my answer: just this year, I learned that the physical portion of Ramadan fasting is related to keeping in mind those who are experiencing hunger and don't have access to safe water or a stable food supply. What I choose to do with that, is pray throughout the day each time I feel hungry. I know I can end my own personal hunger very easily, and so my prayer is gratitude for that privilege, and also supplication for the many people living in poverty for whom "fasting" has never been a choice.

Today at work, a water main burst outside our building, and so from 10:50 a.m. onward we had no running water. Soon after it was discovered the air conditioning had also failed (I guess it's at least partially liquid-cooled). By 2 o'clock when I left for a doctor's appointment, my floor was mostly vacated - almost everyone had gone home to work from there. It made me grateful for the privilege we have of expecting running water, and air conditioning, and for that matter: constant electricity. These are things we take for granted. What an amazing privilege, that I think most people (often myself included) consider more of a "right" than "privilege."

Finally, I still feel feelings of sadness. The big news item this weekend was the shooting in Florida Sunday morning, and that's had plenty of press coverage. What I'm sad about is another shooting, also in Florida, that happened the day before (Friday night / Saturday morning), taking the life of musician and sister-in-Christ, Christina Grimmie. Truth be told I couldn't even tell you a title for one of her songs; all I can say is I happened upon her YouTube channel a few years ago, and was uplifted by her cheeriness and truly beautiful singing. She was 22. I'm sad that her news story has been buried by even more sadness. I'm sad that we, as human beings, have created tools meant only for the purpose of killing one another. I'm sad that this has become the new normal.

In the midst of this sadness, I've been re-listening to a song Alissa sent me many months ago, that sings of the miracles Jesus performed. For me, these are much-needed reminders of hope.

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