Last night Jonathan and I went with some friends through a corn maze that reminded me of the Harry Potter movie, only it wasn't as scary because there weren't magical, evil spells being cast on me. I loved the experience. Yelling teenagers and the men that blew cigarette smoke on me couldn't ruin it, and I felt like a kid again, being able to get truly and utterly lost somewhere.

Jonathan (my husband) and I started out with some friends and then split off into couples. In retrospect, we were disappointed we split off. Once we lost track of each other we didn't find each other until the end, and of course, who knew when we would finish? Some people took fifteen minutes, some took an hour. It really didn't depend on your sense of direction, because as we all know, a maze doesn't have to go in one specific direction. We finally learned the second time around what it is that really matters when you're trying to find your way through a maze.

We had wondered around the maze for about twenty minutes, probably. We were fresh and the cold hadn't seeped into our bones yet, and Jonathan especially was propelled by his competitive desire to win (even though I reminded him many times that we weren't racing and that there wasn't a contest.) Still, we forged ahead and got caught up in the excitement, people busting out of the corn to scare people, families laughing, flashlights beaming. There's something about being in a corn maze under the October moon that's surreal and magical. It makes me understand where people got ideas for horror movies like "Children of the Corn."

After about thirty minutes of aimless wandering we found ourselves back at the entrance. But as we looked through our headlamps disoriented, we didn't really know what to do. Finally we settled on going in a different direction, and suddenly, t was like an automatic mode switched on in our heads. We turned and walked into aisles without deliberation. We made decisions without thinking. And before we knew it, we were at the exit! I almost missed it because it was a bridge, and I didn't even realize it was the way out. I just thought it was a scenic overlook and almost kept walking.

We took a breather and since none of our friends were at the entrance, Jonathan was excited and ready to go back in again. But as I stood there, I felt uneasy about it--mostly because I tried to retrace our steps in my head, trying to see if we would be able to find our way through quickly. I realized I hadn't memorized a thing. Apparently I just walked and turned through the maze like a zombie, without ever memorizing the way or making an effort to imprint the route in my head. It was because of that mistake that, when Jonathan finally convinced me to go back inside, caused us to get lost again and take about thirty more minutes getting out the second time. In fact, it was the second time that was probably the hardest. It was colder, I had to go to the bathroom, and we kept running into the same orange-vested security guys who just shook their heads and laughed at us. "We've been through it already!" we tried to tell them. Unfortunately, unlike our friends that found their way out in fifteen minutes their second time, we got ourselves more lost.

I wonder if it's like this for us when we don't live life intentionally. We wander around, make floaty decisions, choose whatever we feel like, and as a result, forget what we learned from our failures and our successes. It makes me think of the importance of imprinting life experiences in our minds as we go new places, meet new people, fail, succeed, and in general, just live. Because we know that we don't know where we're going in life, it's interesting that we don't make more of an effort to reflect on where we've been already and learn as we go.

So what if we had been smart like our friends and imprinted the route in our minds, and made road markers? we could have done it easily a second time. In the same way, if I take seriously all my priorities and decisions in life, if I intentionally go about my passions and directions, if I journal about my experiences or record them in some practical way, there's a greater chance that I will gain from what I've lived, and life wouldn't be a lost cause. What every single generation has searched for since the beginning of time would be mine: wisdom. After all, wisdom is really just a matter of intentional remembering, of living and learning from our mistakes and successes, and not just sitting on a couch taking whatever TV gives us. No, wisdom is about processing, thinking, and feeling. It's about setting aside time to sit in a silent space, maybe in nature, and provoking questions to spend your life answering. When we do that, the maze isn't so scary to get through. It's easy, and more importantly, rewarding.



Quite frankly, it's very obvious to me that music is an ethereal spiritual mystery that we'll never completely grasp.

i'm sucking Spanish wine at the moment I write these words. Take it as a disclaimer to this post, or just keep it in mind as you read, if you'd like. Either way, I suppose I'm purposely writing at this moment to avoid witholding important information from you. After re-reading my last post, i realize I didn't quite clarify my very strong feelings about musical styles in worship. I realize I said generational worship is very important, and yes, I do believe it wholeheartedly. At the same time, I think it's vital we consider the powerful emotional, scientific power of music.

I'm despising church these days. I hate going. Thursday night Bible study--awesome. Sunday morning Bible study with women ten-thirty years older than me--wonderful. But i can't handle the same old same old services. I have nothing against "traditional" music. I think it's exactly what alot of people need--alot of people connect with. But I don't relate. Alot of kids don't relate. And i was reminded of that tonight when parents expressed a deep sorrow to me that our older church members don't realize how quickly they are losing the youth. It pains me to realize that no one wants to make the effort to change that. Such a simple thing--such a simple problem. And I realize there's only a certain amount of effort we should put towards catering to individuals. It's a hard balance. But still, how much are we causing their need, and how much does their need just naturally exist?


We Are Family

I went to a beautiful wedding last night. Of course the decorations were elegant and the food was delicious. The bride and groom were handsome and extremely gracious hosts. But really, those details aren't what made it meaningful. Instead, it had everything to do with the cohesion of family in the room.

Two sets of grandparents were there, and each had been married for about 60 years. In fact, 60 years prior to last night, the bride's grandparents had met on their first date in the same exact room the reception was held. Most appropriately, the groom's father gave his toast as a recognition of the blending of two families--two families that shared the same, deep faith in Christ. Together, they created a strong foundation for the new couple's marriage. When the dancing began, the floor breathed with an air of familiarity, comfort, easy laughter, and lightness. As a friend of the couple, I felt privileged to be a part of it.

I can't help but compare that wedding to a conversation I had about the importance of a generationally diverse church. Most people who know me know my passion for what's termed "contemporary" music. As a side note, I hate the term. What's termed "traditional" music still exists in churches today which makes it just as contemporary as what we also call "praise" music. The only reason I use the accepted terms is because I haven't thought of anything better. Still working on that.

So about this "contemporary" music. It's true that I connect with it better than I do with organ liturgies. As a result of my church background i've worshipped often with both, and therefore have great respect for both, but I've wondered recently--am I limiting my community by having a preference of music? If I choose to attend services that cater to people my age (and yes, I realize that some senior citizens enjoy contemporary music, but they're the exception) then I'm limiting my connection to those older than me. The opportunity for relationships dwindles to a very small group of peers, and I find that a dimension of my life is gravely missing. It's the same dimension that I noticed when I graduated college and left my residence in my grandparent's basement. Suddenly, I didn't have upstairs access to their lifelong wisdom. No longer could I bond over soup and salad on their sun porch. My grandma's stained glass art and my grandpa's stained wood projects couldn't entice my imagination on a regular basis.

The design of a family is miraculous in many ways. It's a cocoon in which we can be nurtured in safety and love, prepared to go out into the big, wide world of scary people. We grow because we have parents who have lived in that world, who know what it's like, and therefore, (no matter how much we deny it) know better than us. If we're blessed with siblings, we learn how to get along, how to be generous and giving, how to sacrifice, and how to play with people closer to our age. The church is the same way. What would happen if we continued to have age-divided services? Youth and twentysomething services are spreading rapidly. Children attend "Children's Church" in the middle of the service in some churches. Senior citizens have their traditional services and some attend contemporary.

I have a grave premonition that in the near future, or maybe later than better, we'll realize our mistakes. Then again, maybe I'm wrong. It's happened before.