Lately I feel about as "gushy" as the rainy-snowy slush covering the streets outside. I did a lot of walking around in it today - it's the sort of slush that splats out from under your boots and leaves you with sopping pant legs, a higher liquid-to-powder ratio than the more solid Saskatoon type. It's actually the type that we get for a couple days in April in Saskatoon, when everything melts. So it's weird to have slush for Advent instead of Lent.
Anyway, the point was that I feel gushy. Sappy. Sentimental. I don't know why, but I feel like I'm feeling things more strongly. Any emotion I experience is forceful and cries out to be expressed. Like a second adolescence. Or an early menopause of mood swings.
Maybe it's because it's harvest time. My prof, Dr. Stackhouse, encouraged my class by reminding us that when we're in busy times like the end of term, it's kind of like when all the farmers go out and bring in the crop - you work overtime and live a very "unbalanced" life. He prayed not for balance, but for our health. Maybe the stress of this time is making me unbalanced - in a different way than he intended to communicate. I had a mini-breakdown with Danice, as I realized how little time and how much work I have left this term. I was also realizing that I DO let my health suffer at the end of term - I survive on very little sleep. Danice said that in my old age, I am not going to look back with joy on all my good marks at Regent, because I will already be dead, since I'm not taking care of myself now. Wise words. So I set some goals for sleep, and I'm going to try to fight my workaholism and perfectionism as much as I can. Please pray for me! Last night I went to hear Joyce speak at the Canadian Youth Workers' Conference, and she was talking about Sabbath, reminding us that God didn't let the Israelites forget about Sabbath during their harvest and planting times. So here I am, practicing Sabbath in harvest time, and trying to get a good sleep. But I still feel gushy.
The whole emotional thing may have started over Reading Week. I had a great time being at home, doing "wedding-ish" things with Christine, sitting in on one of Rachel's uni. classes, and watching a lot of "Planet Earth". And seeing my brother's play, "Les Miserables," twice - it was incredible. I can't believe how many good vocalists that high school has right now - when I went there, we had to scrounge for one or two good male singers to hold it together. But Daniel was really something else as Jean Valjean. I don't even think I'm being overly biased as his sister... the applause was so long after his solo "Bring Him Home" that the orchestra had to start playing to keep the show moving. The "emotional" stuff definitely hit me as I watched him - I teared up quite a few times, and I still do sometimes when I listen to the soundtrack. I think it was mostly pride in seeing Daniel up there, so mature and talented, tackling the role and the songs with confidence. He just seemed to exude the moral strength that Valjean has in that story, and it didn't really seem like he was acting - I mean, he really does have that kind of integrity and strength, and it was powerful to see it portrayed on stage in a way I rarely realize when he's just my little brother on the phone. I guess all of that, rolled up with a dramatic storyline and beautiful songs, is enough to make any big sister cry. Ok, I'll stop embarrassing him now. (Photo taken by Rachel or Wing Go)
I had the chance to see a very different kind of drama today, and get emotional all over again - the Eastside Story Guild put on a presentation at Grandview Calvary church this morning. This is a multicultural group of kids and youth whose mission is to "tell stories" - to interpret stories from the Bible in a way that incorporates their own stories. Their story this time was the exile to Babylon, interwoven in a very interesting way with the story of Native Americans in Canada and the residential schools. Many of the storytellers were Native. I started crying when these little kids dressed up as Babylonians attacked the Native Americans and pulled their children away from the Native elders, who really seemed heartbroken. With adult actors, the whole concept might have seemed forced, but the kids took the edge off just enough to really make it sink in deeply. The drama ended with a drumming/dancing circle as we all received communion, which was in the form of cranberry juice and bannock, in true Native American style. I think the whole thing hit home because we've been talking about the residential schools lately at Jacob's Well. A lot of people in the Downtown Eastside, including some of our friends at Jacob's Well, are receiving their settlement money this month - some will receive thousands of dollars all at once. We've been talking about how money doesn't bring healing, and how it can be morally hazardous for anyone to receive that large a sum of money at once, let alone people living among the temptations and complexities of the Downtown Eastside. I'm praying that this effort to compensate these people for their pain is not going to cause further pain.
One of my favorite "gushy" moments - yesterday I went down to my rock, as usual. Two minutes after I got there, I saw a few tiny flecks of white fall on the rock. It was the first snow, and I was just in time to witness it! Yep, I teared up then too. I don't know if it's self-centered to treat snow in Vancouver as a gift just for me, but that's always how I interpret it. I remember when I was in Belgium for Christmas, and it snowed there for the first time in several years, and I just stood outside and soaked in God's love for me. So I'm pretty sure he did it just for me yesterday too, just to make things feel more like home, and more Advent-y. The leaves were kind of funny-looking, sticking out of the snow...
So there you go. I'm a mess. And I'm trying to figure out how to move from sappy sentimentalism to a more meaningful place - I think emotions can lead me into a kind of understanding at a deeper level than just head knowledge, but I have to really live with them and mull them over and sometimes do something creative with them - write a poem, or at least a journal entry. Which I rarely give myself time to do!
I want to make it clear that I did NOT cry or otherwise show emotion when the Riders won the Grey Cup. I gave a high five.
Considering it is harvest time, this will likely be my last post before I head home on the 13th, in time for Chris' wedding. Expect wedding pictures! I wish you all a wonderfully expectant advent season, full of deep emotions that bring meaning and understanding.