On the Edge--Where Change Occurs

It’s August, so I know I'm not the only one who's ready for the brutally hot and humid temperatures to leave. Well, I'm seeing some signs of hope... and I'm not just talking about the weather:

Speaking of fall, I've got a full speaking calendar the next few months, with events in South Bend, Indiana; Ft. Worth, Texas; Savannah, Georgia; and lots of places in between. Check out where I'll be--I'd love to see you!

I'm also excited to announce that God, Improv, and the Art of Living is available on Audible! Got a long commute? What better way to yes-and those miles in the car or public transit. Audiobooks help you pass the time while cleaning or weeding the garden? Improvisation is what it's all about.

What's emerging for you these days? I'd love to hear.



This message was sent to my email newsletter. Subscribe to get these videos and reflections right to your inbox. Updates sent 1-2 times a month.

Friday Link Love

We've had a lot of new visitors to The Blue Room lately, so by way of orientation: every Friday I post a variety of links to items that interested me over the last week, most of which require little commentary. We cover everything from art to faith to brain chemistry. Some weeks it's lighthearted stuff, some weeks not. And now, for all your Friday procrastination needs... Link Love:


Creative Dad Takes Crazy Photos of Daughters -- Jason Lee

Fun with Photoshop. Lots more at the above link.


Motherhood Mantras: It's Good Enough -- Theresa Cho

Theresa is a rockstar in Presbyterian world. (Yes, I realize the cognitive dissonance there. Work with me, people.) She's also a righteous babe.

In my ninth week of pregnancy, I had the most vivid dream. My family and I were vacationing in a cabin. While my son and I were hanging out in the backyard, a black panther appeared and began to circle around us. I screamed for my husband to save us, but he couldn’t come. That dream haunted me for months after I found out I miscarried.

After several months had past and I had experienced another miscarriage, I decided to see a therapist for a completely different reason than the miscarriages. But somehow that dream entered into our conversation. After telling her about the dream, she asked me to close my eyes and have a conversation with the panther. Are you kidding me? Talk to the panther? I decided to humor her. The conversation went something like this...

Read the rest. It took my breath away.

This article is part of a series by Mihee Kim-Kort, who is also a righteous babe. I've been pondering my own motherhood mantra and hope to participate in this great project at some point.


Fifteen Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy -- Purpose Fairy

Blame, complaining, the luxury of criticism... what do you think? What makes your list of impediments to happiness?


A Teacher, A Student and a 39-Year Lesson in Forgiveness -- Oregon Live

When he was 12 years old, the boy did something he only later realized probably hurt his seventh-grade teacher. It was minor -- he was, after all, a kid -- but in time, when he was older and wiser, he wanted to find this teacher and apologize.

But the teacher seemed to have vanished. Over the decades, the man occasionally turned to the Internet, typing the teacher's name into the search box. He never found anything. He never quit looking. A few months ago -- by now nearly 39 years after this happened -- he got a hit.

It's not too late. Interesting to read this article in conversation with the one on forgiving and forgetting earlier this week.


A Thin Toy is a Happy Toy! -- Jana Riess

You guys know I write about body image stuff. A lot. Check out this post about how kids' toys (e.g. Strawberry Shortcake) have gotten thinner over the years. What the heck?

Oh and Jana Riess? Also a righteous babe.


Just for fun: Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ: The Greatest Craigslist Car Ad Ever -- Jalopnik

The owner, Joe, who seems to either have some decent design skills or an easily conned friend with said skills, is offering a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am GT for the low price of $700, marked down from the expected price of $199,999. His hyperbolic rhetoric about the car has an intoxicating effect, and I'm actually feeling like I want– no, I need– this Clinton-era example of what Americans can build at their absolute unfettered best.

We tried calling Joe, but of course his line was busy. Duh. There's probably a line around his block of people hoping to look at the car, or maybe just lick the oil pan to cure cancer or have their baby breathe some holy exhaust. We'll update if he gets in touch with us before he's raptured to Heaven.

He did get in touch with them, and there's now an interview up at this site. Silly post, silly ad. A bit PG-13. Don't send me letters.


And the obligatory posts from my favorite art site, Colossal:

A Wall of Shattered Glass Floods a Benedictine Monastery:

and Ridiculously Imaginative Playgrounds by Monstrum. I can't possibly choose my favorite, but how awesome would it be for a church playground to feature one of these:

Jonah... go to Sunday School...

"No way, God! I'd rather be in the belly of the whale!"


Have a good weekend, wherever you may find yourself.

Forgiving, Forgetting and Remembering

If you're trying to run for speed, Krista Tippett's On Being podcast is not for you. (See also: The Diane Rehm Show.) But if you're doing a nice slow run as a spiritual and physical discipline, On Being is just the right show.

Today's run featured Contemplating Mortality, with Dr. Ira Byock talking about "dying well." I am fascinated by this topic, and it's come to me several times recently in different forms, so perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something.

This topic is also hard for me to listen to, because the most profound death I've experienced in my life was a sudden death, not a slow, impending one.

A death that comes with a collapse to the floor, an ambulance screaming down the street, a tearful phone call late at night... I don't know. There's no doing that well or badly. I'm not even sure the person is the subject of the sentence; more like the object. Death happens to them.

So I get a little angry when I listen to shows like this. A prolonged death is no picnic, and I'm glad that Dad did not suffer. Still... there was no deathbed for my siblings and me to flock to, no heartwarming StoryCorps Legacy interview.

Then after getting angry, I decide that the only thing to do, if dying well isn't always an option, is to live well.

Part of living well and dying well is about forgiveness. There are so many cliches around forgiveness, the most famous being to "forgive and forget." You know I hate that, right? So pat. So simplistic. So inadequate.

I told you the phrase that came to me after Festival of Faith and Writing, yes? "Fighting back with nuance in a sloganeering world."

The simpler something is, the less I trust it.

Anyway, they talked on the show about what forgiveness is all about, and Krista quoted Paul Tillich:

Forgiving presupposes remembering, and it creates a forgetting, not in the natural way we forget yesterday's weather, but in the way of the great 'in spite of' that says: I forget although I remember. 

The whole show was great, despite my own residual anger and grief over Dad's death. But it's "the great 'in spite of'" that will stay with me.

Fighting back with nuance.

Input from Imaginers and Craft People

This Sunday I'm starting a three-week sermon series on forgiveness. October 31, week three, will be an intergenerational/family service, in which the kids will stay in the service rather than go to Sunday School. So I'm working with some folks on making that service a bit more interactive and multi-sensory than usual. (Yes, worship geared primarily toward adults should be that way too... baby steps.) Rather than preach on forgiveness that day, I intend to use this story about a group of students at McKinley High School in DC whose artwork was vandalized. Rather than react in bitterness and seek revenge, they took the defaced items and made a brand new work of art with it, a canvas mural entitled "Renewal."

During these three weeks I'd like people to consider a relationship in which forgiveness is needed and to pray for transformation, healing and courage. (Yes, courage---in my reading on the topic, I'm realizing that forgiveness is, in the words of one expert, not a "namby-pamby thing that doormats do. ...Forgiveness is a brawny muscular exercise" that people with "a great passion for life" undertake.)

On October 31, the last day of the series (and here's where I need help), I would like to give people random, torn scraps of fabric, that would represent that broken relationship. Then during a particular time in the service, people would bring those forward as a way of symbolizing a step forward into healing and forgiveness. Somehow these disparate, broken items could become something beautiful together, such as a drape for the communion table.

I am trying to figure out how to do this from a materials and process standpoint. It would be interesting to have a sheet of fabric that people could somehow attach their pieces to in the service, and then they could be sewn more permanently later (we have crafty quilters and banner makers in our church, which is a gift). The other alternative would be to have them put the items in a basket and have our crafty people put them together into a coherent image later.

The former is logistically challenging and not as aesthetically pleasing perhaps, but it could be much more powerful to see it come together in real time (I did this one time at a youth retreat with Legos---kids came forward and put their pieces onto the base and it was strangely powerful.) The latter has fewer logistics and might yield a more polished result.

I'll be talking to our creative types this weekend but wanted to see what wisdom was out there on the internet. What kind of fabric, what types of materials, how might this work?