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Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Sara: people rock like a big rocking thing that rocks a lot

I am getting so much help with the wedding! I have a floral designer, who used to be the head of our altar guild, who is doing all of my flowers, and isn't going to let me pay for it. A semi-pro photographer in my congregation has also volunteered his services. I'm overwhelmed by how delighted everyone is to pitch in. Actually, I've been really shy and dorky about asking, so Susan made a couple of calls on my behalf and got the ball rolling. Without her, I'd just be sitting here frantically trying to figure out how to do it all myself.

Next Tuesday is Wedding Summit day - my church group is getting together to figure out how we're going to pull this all off, and who will do what. I have never felt so loved in my life.

There is, of course, a lesson here. I'm very bad at receiving. Other people have had the, 'well, duh, of course everyone wants to help!' reaction, but I'm sitting here worried that I'm putting people out and being demanding. Which is profoundly ungracious. I've just never really been in a situation like this before, at least not on this scale. Seriously, this wedding is going to be huge, and it's going to be wonderful, and all because I'm being cared for by a really amazing community. I am in awe.
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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Sara: 'Tis a gift to be simple

I'm really enjoying being poor with Dennis this month. I put almost all of my paycheck toward the down payment on the Shiny! Green! Beetle, so we've pretty much been getting by on his unemployment checks. And it's been fun. He's been food shopping aggressively, and comes home with bags and bags of food for very little money, by buying stuff that's on special and reading the sale flyers. We've been out to the movies a few times, but mostly we're staying home, eating in, and trying to take life a bit more slowly. He's been seeing live music a few times a week, but since he's an In-Demand Music Writer(!), he's getting guestlisted for all the shows lately. It's a cozy life

This is so different from my experience of poverty when I was a kid; I remember my parents being stressed out about money pretty much all the time, and it caused a lot of tension and friction. I think we've been handling things pretty well since Dennis' job went away. A week or so ago, we were going through the bottoms of my extra purses to find change so that Dennis could get coffee that morning, and of course there was enough for plenty of coffee and we were delighted. Maybe that sounds desperate and maybe it is; but the thing is, it didn't feel that way. It felt like an adventure, which is how most things feel with Dennis. This is all a grand game that we're playing together.

It's really wonderful to let go of a tiny bit of the anxiety around money, to see that we can make it on whatever sack of coins is tossed our way, and be joyful about it. There is a freedom in having limited options. There are things we can't do, things we can't buy, and we're no worse for not doing or having them. In fact, usually, we're better off for having fewer distractions. We have not lacked for anything necessary.

It's not that we think that these are just the lean years and someday the money truck will pull up and we'll laugh at how poor we were. This is what our lives could very well look like. God keeps nudging (smacking) me in the direction of ministry, and you don't exactly get stock options with the job. Dennis is an amazing writer, but it's not a steady-income kind of profession. We could be living in this apartment, looking for change at the bottom of my purse, for a long time. I'm ok with that. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm losing my "ambition" and with it I'm not placing so much value on ambition, if it's defined as getting a better job and making more money and having better stuff. I used to have a lot of dreams for the future...places I wanted to go, places I wanted to live, cars I wanted to drive, things I wanted to do. Most of them have just fallen away (well, except for that one in the driveway - I'm not a monk) in the past year or so. I am...content. Not complacent, but content. I like my life.

It feels so un-American to say that. How can I be happy? I'm not even thin. It scares me when people say that they're happy; part of me wants to point out reasons why they're wrong for thinking that. Is there anything more pathetic than the phrase, "oh, sure, she thinks she's happy, but she's not?" I know I've said this myself, though. Sometimes it has been motivated by envy; it's comforting to think that the person who has everything I want is in fact miserable. It takes the edge off not having whatever it is. That's just basic schoolyard thinking, and I like to imagine I'm mostly over it.

What's harder is when it's an expression of mistrust in the very idea of peace and happiness. I've spent most of my life believing that people just aren't wired for being happy, that the world just doesn't work that way. I remember regarding Christians with utter disdain. Oh, sure, they think they have joy in their lives and have found peace, but they're just deluded. How could that be true? That's not how life is.

Never say something like that to Jesus. He'll just start messing with you to prove you wrong.

This entry has been hard to formulate; there are a lot of things floating around in my head. I'm not saying that I want to become Amish, or forsake the world and its pleasures (take away my DSL and see what happens, buddy), or that any of this means that I'm on some kind of moral high road. I'm just really aware that a new blessing is taking shape in my life and I don't want to miss it.
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