Tag Archives: church

Church in the bedroom

I went to church this morning in my bedroom. Well, in some ways I didn’t, because I believe church is largely (perhaps, primarily?) about relationships with other people, and also about service. But other aspects of what you hope for in church – that you’ll move towards awe, that you’ll learn something, that your perspective might shift with a kaleidoscopic twist and your view of what’s really important in life will sharpen – that was right here in my bedroom this morning.

I haven’t been in a physical church much this last two months (or this year, actually – our only English speaking church option in Laos is a rotating house church). My absence this last two months has been partly due to wanting to prevent Dominic from coming into contact with whooping cough in advance of his first shots, and partly due to the fact that some days the prospect of dressing both him and myself in presentable clothes and leaving the house still feels like way more hassle than it’s worth.

This morning Dominic and I stayed home alone again. Some mornings he goes down for a nap relatively easily, some mornings not so much. This morning, not so much. I’m trying to teach him to get to sleep solo by putting him down when he’s sleepy and letting him just drift off, but this morning there was no drifting. There was mostly being wide awake, and hiccups, and fussing, and general neediness.

So I picked him up. I sat down in the soft chair in the bedroom. I laid his cheek against my chest and just held him. At first I was too busy thinking about all the things I’d planned to do as soon as he went down (laundry! and tidying up! and insurance paperwork! and baking that crumble we’ve been meaning to get to for days! and writing!!). But, then. Then, I looked down at that round cheek pressed against a round breast, and saw how little fingers were curled tightly around my thumb and how two tiny blue eyes were gazing up at my face as I stared off into the distance. I smiled at him, and the corners of his little mouth twitched in response. It was a sleepy half-smile he gave me. The sort of smile you muster when you’re right where you want to be and all is happy and warm and soft in your universe. And, then, I paid attention long enough to remember, again, that this is the point right now. Not the only point, mind you, but one far too important to routinely come second to laundry and fruit crumbles.

After Dominic finally drifted off into a sort of semi-sleep I turned my attention to google reader on the laptop sitting beside me. Google reader has been receiving about as much attention as laundry lately – I’m constantly feeling behind on all the blogs I like keeping up with. So this Sunday morning, as Dominic dozed in my arms, I dipped into other people’s words, other people’s worlds, and came away moved, challenged, and comforted.

Here are a couple of the people and the posts I “went to church” with this morning and particularly enjoyed:

  1. Emerging Mummy: In which these are the tired thirties
  2. Rachel Held Evans: Do we have the gospel wrong?
  3. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary: Things are good, for now
  4. NPR: WWII Survivor Stirs Literary World With ‘Outrage’
  5. Novel Rocket: Should reading fiction be hard?
  6. Joy in this Journey: Jesus in the fog – life unmasked
  7. Crumbs from the Communion Table: Physician, heal thyself

Have you found yourself in church anywhere unusual lately? What did you learn, or what were you reminded of? And, come back tomorrow for the continuation of the discussion we began on Friday about the most important quality in a marriage.

First impressions of countries and people

So I was walking off the plane last month in Brisbane airport still feeling decidedly unstable after my in-transit bout with food poisoning and there they were. Two photographic murals ten feet high and thirty long, one on each side of the concourse, full of spiders. There were hundreds of spiders dotted across these pictures. Maybe thousands.

That seemed to be the point.

“Australia has more than two thousand types of spiders,” the mural proclaimed. “The most deadly of these is the funnel web. If you see one, run!

Right below this statement there was a picture of a funnel web so greatly enlarged that that the spider looked as if it could have brought down a pony without even biting it.

This visual gauntlet of spiders was all rather horrifying. It was also (for reasons I have not yet managed to figure out despite having been puzzling over this for a month now) an ad for a phone company.

What could have possessed anyone (much less the entire team of people that were undoubtedly involved) to: (a) create this ad; and (b) place not one but two of them in an international arrivals terminal? I guess if people are walking through the arrivals terminal they’re already in Australia and are unlikely to turn around and leave the country on the spot. But, really, is this the first on-the-ground impression we want to make as a nation? Really?

First impressions are important. Multiple research studies show that we judge things like attractiveness and trustworthiness very quickly, within 1/10th of a second after meeting someone or even seeing a photograph. We make very persistent judgments about whether or not we like someone and want to have a relationship with them within the first half a minute. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily accurate first impressions, but they are self-fulfilling ones. Most of us form first impressions and stick to them, looking for further cues that confirm our assumptions (for all you psych geeks this is called the Halo Effect).

Part of me doesn’t like this. I don’t want to think that I sum people up so quickly, but I have to admit that I do tend to trust my instincts when I meet people, and I would say I’m right more often than not when I’m judging whether I like them or we would get on. I am sometimes wrong, however. I can think of several instances during the last five years when I’ve been spectacularly wrong. All of them have been times when I’ve mentally written someone off as silly, shallow, and not a person I could ever be close to. Often I met these people at church.

Church is funny like that. I can’t think of any other part of my life that consistently throws me up against so many people I don’t naturally get along with. I also can’t think of any other area of life that facilitates me spending time with people that I have mentally written off as obnoxious and annoying. Sometimes when I spend time with these people in ways that allow me to get to know bits and pieces of their stories and to see some of their different facets I find much more there than I had ever expected – kindness, beauty of spirit, valuable insights on life, and fun. Sometimes, of course, I don’t find myself revising my first impressions much at all, but those I’ve met at church have taught me far more about not judging others too quickly than those I’ve met in bars.

I no longer have much idea what all this has to do with Brisbane airport and spiders except to say that I still think those murals are in extraordinarily bad advertising taste. Even if the entire country is literally crawling with spiders (and I did have three encounters during my first ten days back – one fell out of a bath towel and onto my foot right before I touched said towel to my naked, clean, self!) there is no reason to visually assault people with an arachnid parade the minute they get off the plane in Australia. After all, first impressions are hard to overcome.

PS, I was going to illustrate this post with a picture of a funnel web, but then I googled funnel web images and decided I couldn’t do that to you. So here’s a picture of one of Australia’s better-loved animals instead.

(photo credit: http://uncommonpics.com)