familiar, distinct, and strong.

today i was walking to class through downtown holland when i smelled the scent of smoked salmon. and all of a sudden, i am 9 years old again chasing my brother through the docks on the dam. the indian fishing boats are coming in. the sun is just short of noon. the stores are opening. and we are running up the hill to town. 

in the grocery store, we buy fresh cherries and jones soda. then we stop at the shanty for fresh cheese and bread. i always get a sourdough roll, i like the bitterness of the thick bread against the sweetness of the deep red cherries. my brother likes the sharpness of the Wisconsin cheese.

then, to Carlson's for the fish. 1/2 pound of smoked salmon. i don't like the taste, but the smell is familiar, distinct, and strong. and finally, down to sit on the docks, watching the fish eat our bread crumbs and nibble at the pits of the cherries that we spit into the clear, crisp, northern water. 

and then, taking the boat, my brother and i escape to the beach. we're not really old enough to drive, but we push quietly off the back of the sailboat and head out of the rocky pier that protects all the boats, out of the safe harbor. and we spend the afternoon collecting treasures. petoskey stones, coral, sea glass, and sand. i'm best at spotting the stones, even when they're dry on the shore. but dad will yell at us later for getting sand in the boat and weighing the sailboat down with our treasures. apparently you don't really need 200 petoskey stones.  "you should really  leave some for other people to find." 

ending the day on a picnic table that rocks back and forth on a track. the warm summer air filtering through the streets of the quiet little town. eating ice cream. and the stars begin to shine through the deep indigo sky and the sun sinks into the lake, illuminating the islands in front of it before it drops beneath the surface. 

and sixteen sweet summers full of life, adventure, and unadulterated innocence come rushing back.


today was unbelievably cold. 
it was the kind of day where the wind is so bitter, so fierce, that it fights through your jacket and sends shivers erupting down your spine. 

the snow was wrapping aggressively around street lamps, trees and buildings. today was the kind of day when the coldness sank a little deeper than hands, flesh, or bones. the kind of day when the coldness seems to comes straight at your heart. 

today, was cold.

and as i walking, my pace ever quickening, i felt as thought i would freeze right through before i ever reached the other side of my door. i thought for a fleeting second that my veins would begin to freeze from the tiny capillaries in the tips of my fingers,
up my arms,
across my shoulders,
through my lungs,
then the ice would begin to crackle up into my chest,
and theh-bump, theh-bump, theh-bump________
_____.         and i would freeze over and cease to be.

but the beauty of this cold afternoon is... i didn't freeze.
i had enough warmth to walk across 9th street and then 8th street. enough warmth to run across the snow dusted lawn, up the cracked cement path, and slip through the entrance, to the other side, the warm side, of my door. 

the beauty is that we have enough warmth to make it to the door. enough to persist through the bitter cold. enough to run quickly home. 

we have enough to make it to the other side of the door. 

end again. begin again.

"...and i thought, be still my heart this could be a brand new start."
-The Postal Service

"it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
-e.e. cummings

simple fanaticism

i think the most fanatical way to live a christian life is not loud or prominent or crazy. but a day-by-day, semi-boring, not too exciting sort of way. 

i don't need to live in an exclusive christian community.
i don't need to go to every bible study. every worship service. every church camp. every chapel. 
and when i drop something on my foot, i say shit. it hurts.

real, fanatical christianity is 
breathing because i can.
feeling the warmth of the sun in the depth of winter.
savoring a grapefruit.
loving my God.
loving my friends.
loving my neighbor.
loving my enemy.

true christianity is being fanatical enough to decide that every day counts. that serving dinner to friends is ministry. that a coffee house can be as holy as a church sanctuary. that your body is a temple and should be treated as such. fanatical enough to know that some days are hard. some days are boring. some days we just get by. some days we just have grace enough for today.