Friday, January 11, 2008

Birthday Open Mic: The Answers

I got so many great questions on my birthday post! Here are the answers to about half of them, in no particular order...

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Let's see...I'll be 53. I don't know about our oldest, but Blondechick 15 will probably be married, and I might even be a grandmother! I'll still have two teenagers at home, and two in college, most likely.

I think we'll probably be in Kenosha, or in the Kenosha area, hopefully living "in community" to some degree, in a monastery- or L'Abri-like situation that's related to Light of Christ, which by then will hopefully be big enough to pay Father Rooster a salary. He'll be the rector there and maybe "abbott" of the community as well--or maybe there will be someone else handling the senior rector duties and he can focus on the community: leading daily prayer services, doing spiritual direction, and teaching classes for retreat-goers and students.

I see myself there too, also teaching classes, doing some informal spiritual direction with women, writing, and maybe teaching at a school or co-op for the children of the community. (I DON'T see myself in the kitchen of this community, beyond taking my turn like everyone else. Hopefully those aren't famous last words!)

That's the dream, anyway!

What is the most important lesson you've had to learn in life?

Grace. Not to be so hard on everyone, beginning with myself. Not to be so judgmental and critical. To let go of perfectionistic attitudes and habits. To embrace knowledge by relationship as well as head knowledge, or putting people before principles. In a word, grace.
(Though I've learned so much, I still have a long way to go on this one.)

What's your favorite musical?

It's so hard to pick a favorite, but I'd have to say Les Miserables. The story is the most powerful parable of grace I know, and the music is poignantly, hauntingly beautiful. I've been so affected by it that I just had to blog about it the last two times I saw it. Those amazing performances were by our Christian children's theater group, and were more moving than the first time I saw it, in Chicago, when I was disappointed by the view and the sound in our expensive nosebleed seats. Plus it just gets better every time!

What's the best play you've ever seen?

Honestly, I prefer musicals. Shakespeare excepted, all the plays I've seen have begun to blur together--and I haven't seen nearly enough live Shakespeare! But a few that stand out are: "The Trip to Bountiful," "A Man for All Seasons," and Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker."

I've never seen them performed live, but my favorite plays are "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "An Ideal Husband," both by Oscar Wilde, because of their brilliantly hilarious use of language.

And not that you asked, but...the best live performance of a musical I've ever seen was Ragtime, in downtown Chicago. We had seats on the second row--way down at one end, so they were affordable, but we had a great view of the whole stage. It has so many memorable characters in it, great songs, fantastic sets, and I loved that it was a half-black, half-white cast--the voices were all so amazing and so diverse.

If you could play any part in any musical, what would it be and why?

Tough question! Assuming that voice and age are no barrier, I'm thinking--today--that I'd choose Fontine in Les Miserables. Even though she made mistakes in her life, all she really wanted was to provide for and love her child. But in the end, as she lies dying, she has to trust Cosette to God and to the care of another. Right now, I'm living that: I'm watching my children grow up, knowing that soon I'm going to have to let them go, out of my care, entrusting them to God. I'm making mistakes, but all I really want to do is love them.

If I had to choose an age-appropriate role, I'd pick Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! Wouldn't it be fun to talk fast and boss everybody around like a Jewish mama, with an accent to match?

Have you been to England?

I wish I could say yes!

Have you travelled much worldwide?

Not much, except one summer during college, I worked at Amsterdam '86, a conference that the Billy Graham Association put on for evangelists all over the world. Before the conference, I traveled for 10 days around Europe with three girlfriends. We bought a German railpass and made a big loop around Germany, with short legs out into France (we were in Strasbourg for about an hour), Switzerland (as far as Interlaken), Austria (Salzburg) and back to Holland. It was a wonderful experience!

I've also been across the border to Juarez, Mexico and across the Bluewater Bridge to Sarnia, Canada--but only for part of a day. And I've been in all but a dozen or so of the fifty States.

Which is your favourite place to go? (vacation/retreat/escape)

I think I can find escape and retreat almost anywhere, when I need it. I have taken mini-vacations visiting cemeteries, going on walks, and sitting on my deck listening to the birds and watching the squirrels. Not to mention escaping into a good book--a luxury!

My favorite regular retreat spot is Panera Bread Co, a bakery cafe with free wireless where they don't mind if you sit for hours on end. I'm there on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, while my kids are at theater rehearsals, and it "fills my cup" in many ways.

More on the vacation order, we have a trailer that we love to take camping, especially with friends. It was sad that we didn't get to go last summer, between rehearsals and performances of Narnia, the musical our whole family was in, and working on our house every weekend, readying it and maintaining it for sale.

How do you "fill your cup" when life throws you doubts and darkness leaving you feeling empty and a long way off from God?

As I mentioned above, my weekly visits to Panera "fill my cup" in many ways. They fill my introvert's need for alone time, and since I started blogging, using the time to express myself creatively helps bring lightness to my heart. It really does make me happy!

The best thing about it, though, is the time alone with God. I have rarely been able to find focused time with Him at home, because I am so easily distracted by a to-do list, and there are so many things that need doing in every room of my home. Their urgent voices calling, "Do me!" make it so hard for me to hear the Lord's. But at Panera--or other coffee bars I have known and loved--there is nothing to do but sip coffee and nibble on a bagel and read the Bible and pray and journal. (Now that I have a laptop, there is the whole internet to ignore, but years of meeting the Lord over coffee and a bagel have become such a habit that in that environment, even the internet can wait.)

I am a long-time journaller, and when things look darkest, I pour out my fears and worries to the Lord in writing. As I write, He always speaks to me, showing me the errors in my thinking or the lies I'm believing or the problem I'm taking on that's not mine. As I pour out my fears, for example, I might know or hear something like "Be strong and courageous. For I have not given you a spirit of fear...." When I'm upset by a situation, it's cathartic to type it all out on my private blog, and then hand my burdened heart over to Him, let it all go and rest. And soon I'm able to start writing out my trust and my confidence in Him, my love and my praise for Him--and even for the difficult person, if there is one involved. He even inspires me with practical ideas when I'm stuck. (Certainly anyone who sits down and takes time to sort out a problem might think of possible solutions, but I'm convinced that, in the Lord's presence, "the wisdom that comes from above" informs my thinking.)

Stay tuned for Part Two!


Erin said...

Thanks for the fun answers! I reallllly want to see Les Miz the musical.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

What a great idea! I might swipe the idea when April rolls around. (Or would that be a case of stealing intellectual property?) ;)

Bronwen said...

Jeanne, it's nice to know it's not just me who can't find time to focus on God whilst at home... I've always felt guilty about that, thinking that home is where the heart is and therefore peace with our Lord should be found there too.... I lose myself in modern worship songs, by being relaxed as I sing to the top of my voice (a scary thought! ;) ) I feel more able to commune with Him...
Thanks for your answers.

Catherine said...

What a great idea! I love the questions....AND the answers!