I know things have been a bit sparse around here since we moved down to Virginia... which is totally counter to my hope of using this blog as a way to stay in touch with people! Well, do you know how sometimes there are whole weeks when it feels like nothing is happening, and then all of a sudden, there's this torrent of insight? Well, that has just happened, and I'm still so in the middle of it that I am making sense of it all.
First of all, both Ben and I have recently realized that there is something different in the air down here in the posh-DC suburbs. The cars are a little nicer (okay, way nicer), the people a little more polished, and the pressure a little stronger to conform. The pessimist in me has long suspected that these VA suburbs are inherently corrupt, while the Christian in me that lives by hope has known that there is goodness everywhere. Well, for whatever reason, Ben and I have both been feeling really heavy with the burden of this place, which is teaming with hunger-- for power, money, and, I believe, under all of that, God. So, that "nothing" time of our first weeks here was actually just us giving in to those pressures.
Yesterday, Ben and I went out and saw Wall-E (the first movie out since ratoutouille before Z was born! woo hoo!). I was kind of horrified by the whole thing-- as in, I could really see not only our culture but my specific life in this movie. The story line is essentially that people have destroyed earth, and now live on this big space0crafty thing where they live lives that are focused entirely on technology. Over the course of the movie, Wall-E brings people back to earth, which is then restored as people re-learn the simple joys of life. Those of you who know my amish-leanings can understand why I was the first to say "Amen!" to the story line. But I was made a little more than edgy by how I had felt personally accused by the plot. I'm supposed to be a person living in grace and in accordance with the teachings of Jesus.
This morning, our little family finally went to the church that we have been meaning to go to since moving here-- Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington. Walking into the church was like balm for my soul... I literally spent the first few minutes teary-eyed from relief. Man, I guess I've been skipping church too much lately. Anyway, the morning was full of affirmations for me (and, I think, for Ben too) that this church is where we're being called to grow as followers of Christ. This week, out of the blue, the verse from the Bible, "create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me" has been stuck in my head. As we walk into the church, the choir is singing these very words! The gospel reading today was the parable of the seeds that fall on various forms of bad ground-- rock, thorny bramble, etc, each of which inhibits long-term growth. Here's a bit of that reading:
"The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Ta da! Could there be a clearer answer to my struggles? So, I am called to be the good soil that hears the word and understands it (easier said than done, I'm afraid, but such a beautiful image to work with). Amid all of this craziness, all of this money, consummerism, judgment, and anger, I am called to be the soil upon which the fruit of the Lord is produced. I'm that little shoe in Wall-E that holds the single remaining plant on earth!
This is causing some drastic re-evaluation of the different idols that I have had in my life since moving down here: no, we are not called to have the most beautiful perfect home in Falls Church, no, we are not called to be the most put together, no, we are not called to have glamorous lives of eating out, buying nice cars. Those are the thorns! We're just supposed to be good earth upon which God can plant her beautiful garden. That's what I'm going to be trying to channel today.