What’s New in the Pew: March Edition

Happy Saturday, friends of the interwebs.

In my neck of the woods, today carries the Spring equivalent of what I call “Charlie Brown Skies” in Autumn; every late-Octoberish around here, we get those milky watercolor skies with clouds that melt into what C.S. Lewis terms “silvers and doves” and other words that can’t quite capture the beauty of what is boringly called “grey” – you know these skies, because they’re featured in the Charlie Brown Halloween and Thanksgiving specials, and if you’re lucky, in any given midday sky in the northeast. In Spring, we trade milky watercolors for blustery puffed up billows that allow just enough sun through to keep you smiling, but with sufficient nip in the wind to keep you on your toes. I can’t think of any movie or artistic equivalent to properly christen them, but maybe by next spring I’ll think of something.

I wrote these words a few years ago on a particularly perfect spring morning, and they’re as close as I can come to a love letter to the works of God’s fingertips:

“If you go outside right now, or
crack a window near my latitude and longitude, there’s a very nice provision of
Rarified Spring Air.

This air only comes ’round once a year, and smells like calyx and
damp earth and
the faintest bit of ozone and
that time after I took my first holy communion, standing out front of St. Andrew’s with my dad and mom and brother.

And the buds on the weeping cherry out front are about to burst,
and the daffodils are already turning their heads to sing the sun across the sky,
and the crocus open and close every morning and evening because

My peas are sown out back, my cilantro and parsley somehow overwintered and survived in their raised beds, the petrichor and birdsong is a gift every dawn, and after such a long winter, these so many small delights feel like a feast. My joy has been compounded by two things of note; I told you I would let y’all know about that MDiv application, and would you believe it? I’ve been accepted. I am thoroughly ecstatic, and humbled, but mostly ecstatic. I will be joining the Master of Divinity graduate program at Cairn University this fall, and I’m just so grateful. 

Additionally, I applied for their Graduate Assistant position, and joyfully accepted the offer – I’m pretty sure I floated out of that interview, and haven’t quite landed yet. I know Proverbs tells us this, but truly, ‘A man’s steps are determined by the Lord, so how can anyone understand his own way?’ Never did I ever expect to find a love for academia – I almost dropped out of high school – but man, when God says He will do immeasurably more than we can ask, hope, think, or imagine, He is not fibbing. My great love is the Church, and will always be the Church, but I cannot wait to see how He ends up marrying these things in my life. 

Providentially, I was invited to speak on that very thing on the encouragHER podcast this month. We talk about how “calling” has so much more to do with our abiding in our Caller rather than carving an identity out of our vocation, and how what we call false starts or even failures are often very much God’s “Plan A.” I share some of my experience with following God’s call in my own life, and how it has looked much less like a straight ascending line and more like something of a bumblebee’s path; we talk on suffering, and faithfulness, and wilderness seasons and all that fun stuff, but you can find the podcast here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

There’s no easy way to transition into this, but while I’m enjoying the petrichor and entering into a season of great joy, what is happening in Ukraine is never far from my thoughts or my heart. I have been following what’s happening closely, and I’m thankful for the work of @mosheh, @sharonsaysso, and @stephglinski who offer unbiased, well-informed journalism that guides my prayers, gives practical opportunities to help, and reminds me that even if what I can contribute seems small, it is certainly not in vain (James 5:16). I especially appreciate the perspective that SharonSaysSo brought this week; she reminded us that “the weight of the world is not on your shoulders. No one is waiting for you to do it all, fix it all, be it all. You’re meant to do everything you can, where you are, with the resources available to you. That is your role” – no more, and no less. What we can do, we absolutely must, and with our all. What we can’t, we must intercede for. I have confident hope for Ukraine somehow, which can surprisingly live right alongside eyes-wide-open grief for what they are enduring every day. I don’t know how, but it does. With that, I hope this day finds you well, dear reader. I hope you have more sun than clouds, and a heart that is full of the Lord’s consolations and kindnesses, in whatever forms they take.  

What I read this month:
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris – this book, authored by a married Protestant and oblate, ministered to me deeply. She writes about her residencies at two abbeys, her relationship with the liturgy, and so much wisdom from the monastic community. Her insight and experience with anger, acedia, joy, and the ordinary life are a gift. As always, it is comforting beyond words to find the human condition on full display in every heart, even the hearts of monastics – to know that the trials and suffering so common to man that I am lulled into believing are uniquely and shamefully mine are actually part of what it means to be the Beloved. I can’t wait to read this again in a few years when I need reminding.

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis – I’m going to do a read-along with this book someday, I just know it. The second in Lewis’ sci-fi trilogy, Perelandra takes place on Venus, where the decision to be ‘like God’ has not yet been made. I won’t ruin it for you, but it is simultaneously horrifying in its thriller depiction of evil and breathtaking in its depiction of beauty and goodness. It has, in my opinion, the best portrayal of temptation I’ve ever read, which doesn’t sound like a fun read, but reader, I promise, it is literary perfection. As an aside, Putin gives off major Weston vibes and I’m would bet the nickel I’m about to earn below that their ends will be the same.

What I’m watching these days:
One thing, and one thing only – Downton Abbey reruns. Every day, I make an attempt (attempt!) to sit down for one hour, drink a cup of tea, and work on my cross-stitch or fold whatever laundry needs folding. Because my hands and mind are engaged, it has to be something familiar and comforting, and if you can find more comforting company than Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson, I will give you a nickel. 

What I’m eating this month:
This Corned Beef and Cabbage. I make corned beef and cabbage every March, which is a real travesty because everyone I know hates it. How can you hate spicy pickled beef and taters, hobbit? There’s just no accounting for taste. I do it in the instant pot because I can’t braise anything for four hours and not kill it, and it comes together in a snap. If you like garlic, serve it with this, because I only very recently came around to mayonnaise and now I won’t stop putting it on everything. My pro tip is to call it aioli and not mayo, that way if you’ve been afraid of mayo your whole adult life, no warning bells will be triggered. 

Skillet Lemon-Dill Chicken Thighs. This is one of my favorite weeknight “spring’s in the air” kinda meals – it comes together really quick, is super moist because it’s thigh meat, and dill is my happiest springtime herb. You can make it gluten free (we’re not but some of our loved ones are) and it tastes just as good, I promise.

What are you reading, or eating these days? How can I be praying for you this month? What have you learned recently that blew your mind or made you laugh? Tell me everything. 

With love,

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