19 December 2006

drink it up

i never knew how absolutely stunning giraffes were until i had the pleasure of seeing them in all their grandeur in their natural habitat--the wild african wilderness at the nakuru game park in kenya. my impression of them immediately changed from imagining them to simply be tall, spotted animals with really long necks to being amazingly graceful creatures. when they run it's as if you're watching something in slow motion, as though time has slowed down to allow you to take in every aspect of this beautiful animal. i also remember being shocked at how brilliant their colors were--they weren't just yellow and brown, but cast against the grassy plains of kenya, they were royal gold and burnished chestnut. the intricate patterns that adorn their bodies were beautiful tapestries.

i fell in love with those animals. and ever since i had the pleasure of seeing them in the wild, i've remembered that transformation in me, that by seeing them with new eyes, i was able to see their wonder in a whole new way. giraffes have made me smile ever since because i believe i know something about them that i never knew before. they are beautiful.

the reason i mention this is because i recently received a wonderful birthday gift in the mail from a dear friend i traveled in africa with. it is a wooden-carved giraffe whose body is the shape of a bowl and whose neck comes up and drinks out of the bowl as though it were a life-giving pool. it might sound strange when i try to describe it, so i'm including a picture of it so you can experience this little gem for yourself.

along with the bowl, she included several stones inscripted with words. these words have deep meaning for me because each one is something i hope to have realized in my life, something i hope to someday have exhibited as part of my character.

the words: hope. faith. dignity. courage. wisdom. strength. blessed.

i placed them in the bowl so the giraffe can drink them up, a reminder of sorts to me, to drink these things in as well. drink up hope so that each day is something to look forward to. drink up faith so that my heart has something to carry me. drink up dignity so that i can treat each as if they are the most precious person alive and so that i can know that the preciousness applies to myself as well. drink up courage so that i can overcome my fears that too often keep me paralyzed. drink up wisdom so that i will forever be teachable. drink up strength so that i am able to live this life with compassion and bravery. drink up blessedness so that i remember that this life i have is a generous gift sacred because of its awareness of being blessed.

i find myself aware of the fact that i often fall short of being the person i long to be. there is so much room for growth and i hope to always be manifesting it in my life in some way or another. i'm grateful for this gift so that i can remember to drink from this life-giving pool daily, that in reflecting on these words, i take them inside me and let them nourish me and sustain me. i long to be transformed.

12 December 2006

my noble fir

i went tree hunting with a friend sunday night after church and it was a treat to have company to aid me in the selection process. i generally know what kind of christmas trees i like--my family has always had noble firs--and they suit me well too. i like their fullness, their sturdiness, the air of regailty they present, as though they are trying to live up to the dignity of their name. so thankfully, after only about five minutes at the tree lot, i found a tree that was quite satisfactory. it was big enough to feel like it wasn't just a sapling, but seemed small enough to fit into my tiny basement apartment.

last night when i got home from work, i set to the task of putting up and decorating my tree. i brought it in from outside, moved some furniture around to make space for it and then to my dismay, discovered i had to kind of force it into its space. apparently my judge of size wasn't as accurate as i had hoped and it fit a bit more snugly than i wanted it to. after a moment of frustration, i decided to ignore this fact and let it be big and full and a little overwhelming and began decorating to my little heart's content.

my collection of christmas decorations is pretty meager as all of the ornaments i picked out as a child are still adorning my mom's tree in san diego. i have tried to organize ornament exchanges with friends and coworkers over the past few years in an attempt remedy this to a degree and have been somewhat successful. i think one of the best parts about ornaments is the stories that accompany them. as each one is unwrapped and placed on the tree, i love to remember when i got it and who gave it to me.

this year, the newest addition to my tree came by way of a special second birthday gift from toby's parents. they had already given me a beautiful amaryillis bulb that's sitting on my kitchen table trying its hardest to grow. but when toby's mom heard that i didn't have very many ornaments by which to beautify my tree, she sent me a box of lovely heart-shaped glass ornaments. i hung them with great care and gratitude at the thoughtful gift.

and now i present to you my tree. i hope you all are having fun reveling in the christmas spirit, staying cozy in your homes and spending time taking in the beauty that is all around you.

06 December 2006

things worth celebrating

last night a handful of my friends here in seattle gathered to help me celebrate my birthday. 31 years. for some reason that number doesn't just roll off my tongue as easily as i'd like.

we met at a place called the sitting room, a cozy, european-style bar that was converted from an old garage into a charming venue. it is dimly lit, with little candles casting a warm glow on each table and they offer a variety of wines and cocktails as well as a tasty assortment of appetizers. it was a gift for me to sit around the table and watch my friends from various phases in my life visit with each other and engage in simple conversation.

as i looked at each face, i was reminded of years of history and was grateful for all of the ways my life has been blessed by the pleasure and presence of these friendships. each person at the table represents books full of memories to me--some are old roommates, some are both old and new co-workers, some i've stood beside as they've pledged their lives to one another, others i've travelled the world with, and still others i've cried with, laughed with and been held by. i love them all.

sometimes it seems the older we get, the easier it is to let these types of connections slip away. sometimes the distance is created by geography, other times by major changes in life that create a shift in priorities. last night was a reminder to me that sharing your life with others is a precious gift and one that i don't want to forget to nurture and let fall by the wayside.

i am grateful to know such a crazy variety of people, all with their unique stories, their different ways of looking at the world, their beautiful attempts at living lives with purpose and passion.

thank you, friends, for letting me into your worlds.