Two Saturdays ago, I was sitting in my kitchen listening to the Hamilton Mixed Tape and keeping an eye on a cake baking in the oven.
I had volunteered to bring dessert to church lunch the next day, borrowing two sheet pans from the church kitchen in order to bake my Grandmother’s chocolate cake for new friends. Because wandering into an unfamiliar church kitchen and volunteering to bake dessert is just one little tiny way of saying “I am here.”
Hello, Germany. It is January 2017 and with the arrival of a new year, I am trying to be present to the life in the town where I live, regardless of how long I am here.
And so, cake.
And also, inviting people over.
And actually doing my German homework. Sigh.
I have to be honest though and say that the current events in my native country cause me to feel more than a little relieved to be residing abroad at the moment.
Because news from home (which seems to grow worse every day) comes to me in soundbites and not in conversations in community, I find that I am processing it alone and crying out to God from the humble sanctuary of my yoga mat for the immigrants, for the poor, for those who need medical care, and for the refugees.
I have been wary lately of how we curate our lives (our news, our friends, our social networks) so that we only hear opinions that mirror and agree with our own. I always want to be a listener, a respectful receptacle for the stories that are markedly different from my own.
Here are a few of those stories:
John Lewis. Bless him. He told me the story of the movement and I will be forever grateful.
I love listening to anything from my home church in Arkansas, so the southern accents, stories and experiences from the recording of MLK Sunday at Fellowship North was as delicious to my ears (and heart!) as the pecans my family sent me for Christmas are in my morning yogurt.
We watched Selma on MLK day. It’s so good. So, so good. Having read about this event in history in great detail, I was satisfied with how many of the smaller side-stories were told. I appreciated that it was something our whole family could watch together and see how important John Lewis’ role was in Selma after explaining to my kids over the weekend how important it is to honor Civil Rights leaders. Now I am ready for Ava DuVernay to make a film about MLK’s whole life.
I made a list of things I wanted to listen to and watch on MLK weekend, but I didn’t finish them so I am still listening to speeches. (Here are five speeches that we don’t usually listen to.) I have a couple of new favorites that I am putting on my phone. I re-read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which should be read aloud in churches often, as it is still oh-so-relevant. I also appreciated seeing MLK’s journey through Arkansas.
After a preview on Radiolab, I’m listening to On The Media’s series on the myths we tell ourselves about poverty. The striking thing about every American poverty myth that is “de-bunked” in the series is that I have said or thought some version of each one. I am committed to curiosity about what makes me say (or think) things that are actually not true.
This week Beth Moore tweeted:
There’s no deception truer than self deception. We’re all privy to it. If we have never called out the liar in ourselves, we are not free.
A few other links I’ve randomly collected lately:
Lots of folks say to me that they wish they could leave the US at the moment. I don’t know if they mean it or they just want to make me feel guilty for getting to be away, but if you really want to leave for a while, you should know that there are a lot of options in Germany. I think the easiest one is to go back to school. Did you know that you can do a masters or a phd in Germany in English? And in many cases, for FREE. Some specific programs that look interesting to me…this masters program on ecumenical studies in Bonn (we actually met some folks who did this one and enjoyed it) or this masters in human rights or this one in migration and intercultural relations.
(Sometimes I think I might want to do a masters and then I quickly remember that I don’t even like doing my German homework for a class that meets four hours per week.)
Also, if you want to go to college for free in Germany you can come and learn German first before you apply. Most German language schools will actually help you get placed in a German university when you reach a high enough level in your German language. There is also the option of getting an English degree in English while living in Germany. This one blows my mind. We would never allow foreigners to come to America and study their language for free in our country.
(Sort of related. Did you know that if you’re over 60, you can go to college for free in Arkansas?)
I finished The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp last week and now I have to reread. I pretty much underlined every word.
I’m listening to this song every morning.
I think I’m going to make this for dinner this week sometime. Looks super yum to me. I started playing with gnocchi while we were in Venice over Christmas and can’t stop! Speaking of Venice, expect gorgeous Venice photos here next week! (We surprised our kids and took them to Venice for Christmas.)
I’m forever wondering about what’s next in our life, but this week I found this guest post I wrote before we moved to Scotland in 2013, and it reminded me that I felt the same way then. And everything turned out ok.
Plus la-la-la I am going to some fab places in 2017, including Italy in May with my sister on this dreamy yoga retreat. Can.Not.Wait. We’re also heading to France (it’s less than two hours west) and back to Switzerland (just a few hours south of us). And next month we’re headed off to Guatemala, which I think about every day that I am wearing ALL THE CLOTHES to keep warm here.
I’m kind of eyeing this suitcase that also doubles as a phone charger for spring travel, but it’s going to be hard to knock me off my habit of packing a small backpack.
We also have more visitors coming! YAY! I’ve got my list of favorite places nearby to take visitors all ready!
So, Happy not-so-new-anymore Year! Here’s to listening and traveling and baking cake.
PS. Here’s my favorite (and super relevant!) song at the moment from the Hamilton Mixtape.