Today was a lovely day, based solely on the weather. Otherwise, it was hit-or-miss. A bit more of the latter.
I got another ticket on my car, and feel like a fool.
I took six Spanish proficiencies/exam-lettes and hope that I did not fail them, so that there are only three left for me to take tomorrow.
I got to my friends' art exhibit five minutes after they locked the gallery. They took down the display tonight.
I had to bail on a dear friend, and then turn down new plans with several others, for the sake of studying for those God-forsaken proficiencies.
I am now listening to my roommate smack his freaking lips at every bite he takes of his God-forsaken trail mix.
But today was the first really perfect day for riding my bike in I-don't-know-how-long.
Oh, I love riding my bike. I used to take her out every day I started to feel low last semester, pedaling as furiously as I could until my legs gave out and any bad memories had long since ceased following me.
I slowed while taking a steep rise in the road today, the strong wind beating back on my face along with gravity. Even in first gear, I had to work hard to get up and felt grateful for the difficulty, for the struggle that for once did not come as a result of my own poor decisions and mistakes. And as soon as I crested the hill, I could coast. I relaxed, held my feet out, and listened to the wind whistle in my sideburns.
So, I heard "Eleanor Rigby" on the radio tonight, and it made me VERY glad (although I was already VERY glad), so I began to sing it again after leaving my car.
No one was around, so I felt free to sing it sort of loud. You see, I hate singing in front of people. I used to not mind so much, but I was asked last-minute to lead singing my senior year of high school one day when I was sort of sick and didn't know what songs were already picked and it was embarrassing and I never lead singing again.
But I love to sing.
So I sang. Even in my fake pseudo-Brit voice. And I continued when I walked into my room, the door still locked and the lights off. I flipped the switch, continued to sing, and heard, "Hey Lucas."
And I said, "FREAK." about twenty times, because I was so FREAK-ing embarrassed. I wasn't insulting Vincent.
He laughed, and I thought about how I could change subjects so he would immediately lose all echoic memory and would forget how I sounded (ridiculous) but he was in bed so I just turned the light back off and am now moping online.
I don't know how to explain the feeling in my gut right now.
Restless, for one. I am ready to graduate and start living. But there is so much to do before then, and so much to leave behind. Am I anxious to leave? To run from memories and mistakes and reminders of wasted time/potential? To not have to watch enviously while all of my friends get married and live?
I have nearly spent four years here in Arkansas! What have I been doing with my life? How have I progressed? I feel stunted.
Nervous, too. I don't really know what I'll be doing. I am afraid to apply for the internship in Spain, for fear that either I will get it or that I won't. I can't decide which is more terrifying.
Mediocre, still. I just tried to write how I feel on my guitar, and apparently how I feel is sloppy and amelodic. I just tried to put photographs on my "flickr" thing that mean something, but they are all bland and uninspired.
All of this adds up to something to the effect of: "I don't want to leave my room."
What a world! What a world! I am surrounded by beauty!
Today we got up early to take a tiny hike through near-rainforest up to a waterfall. There, people swam and jumped and splashed and Kaitlin worried about leptospirosis. We left and ate hamburgers (apparently they are some of the best in the country) just before arriving at Hanauma Bay for snorkling and sharing space with exotic fish.
We left in a hurry to take care of young children for a "Parents' Night Out" at the church building, and so spent the rest of the night sticky, covered in bugs, and near-deaf from the screaming.
We were surrounded by beauty.
I was privy to thoughts and loves that I had not considered before. At the burger joint I listened to Mrs. Ross talk of how she was thinking earlier at the waterfall that it was about time for her daughter Michaela to consider baptism. I began to marvel and wonder at the lovely anxiety that the Rosses must be feeling: the love for their daughter and their desire that she follow the Lord, the fear that something might happen soon (I once heard of parents double- and triple-checking their son's seatbelt in the car on the way to getting baptized, to make sure he would get there!), and the anticipation of seeing their little one saved from her sin and saved from all fear.
Later, while watching a 2-year-old try her best at coloring with a crayon, I began to marvel and wonder at the excited expectation of praise in her eyes as she looked up at me after completing her scribbles. I daydreamed frantically of who she would be as an adult, and if she would serve the Lord. There is nothing but potential behind her clear eyes. What a shame that I won't get to see it realized.
After listening to the story of Daniel and the Lions' Den (a story that I've sadly let become largely irrelevant after learning of the checkered past of the document from which the account comes), Addison asked the class of hyperactive children what they learned. After some false starts, a 3-year-old said, "God sabe-d Daniel." Oh, such faith. Oh, such love. Will my 3-year-olds know that God loves them and offers to save them?
When Addison suggested that we pray, as Daniel prayed, one girl began and said, "Thank you for the food you gave, thank you for the life you gave, thank you for dying on the cross." I wanted to cry for the showing of greater faith than I've ever known, of truer reliance than I've ever allowed, and the prayer more beautiful than I've ever spoken.
Today was a beautiful day. It was a day that you want to spend in the arms of a love. A day that makes you take extra pictures and jot extra notes, so that you can take more of it with you. A day that adds significance to every normal thought and memory.
It started with a family trip to church, where Alex, Curt, and I got to hang out with six middle-schoolers and try to talk about the Bible. It was no easy task, and I was a little disappointed with the lack of focus. But we shared and had little trouble feeling comfortable with each other. I hope Wednesday will be better, having today's trust to build off of. How hard it is to do much in just a week!
Then we sang the same songs as every other week and listened to a sermon that started out so "meta" and self-effacing in the focus on the Greek that it became almost vaudevillian. But it ended with a poignant reminder that for all our talk of Jesus' empathy with our plight, we don't empathize very much with what he went through to save us.
Then we made sandwiches and handed them out to homeless people at a park. One man, James, was so grateful that he prayed thanks to Jesus in the middle of sentences, and began to offer us some of his clothing that a lady had given him the other day. The rest of the people we met were less friendly, rebuffing our attempts at friendship with repeated "thank you"s and "God bless you"s until we left.
But I witnessed magic tonight.
We drove to Waikiki to walk around and eat. We entered a shopping district while waiting for our dinner reservation, but I hate buying tourist-y items and was quickly bored. My dear friend Kaitlin suggested we cross the street to watch the sunset. We went through the deck of a steak house where there was a great mass of people standing around, as if waiting for entrance to something. We elbowed our way down the steps and to the sand, where before us lay a beach full (honestly, FULL) of people, all standing and staring at the falling sun. We got there to see about half of the sun remaining, and when the last sliver dipped below the horizon the people began to applaud.
They applauded God's handiwork! They celebrated God's glory! They didn't know it, but they lifted their voice in purer praise to our protector than any I've heard in a church service.
Oh, that I would clap for the lizard I saw this morning, terrified of my footsteps! That I would cheer for the mynah birds that woke me up! That I would sing and dance and hold the hand of one that I love, and tell her of God's greatness! Oh, that I would merely know God's greatness myself!
If you were here with me, you would be falling in love, too.
We flew from Little Rock to Dallas and spent $70 at McDonald's as a group. While we ate, I switched Kaitlin's Coke with my Dr. Pepper, and waited for her to take a shocked sip. We shared Hot Mustard sauce and laughed.
Still at DFW, I went to the restroom to put in contacts, as I was tired of my glasses. After rifling through my backpack, I realized I didn't have the contacts case with me, and began to put my stuff together to leave. Then a man rushed in (and it was an awkward rush, because it's a bathroom and you know what a man in a hurry means there) and was not satisfied with any of the three stalls present. So he continued on to try the next stalls, unaware that there were no more stalls but in fact there was a mirror. So he hit pretty hard, made an "Uhhhhhooohhh" sound, and then exited rather than wait after having shamed himself.
Then we flew to Hawaii. Hahaha. It sounds so easy! We watched two very emotional movies, "Enchanted" and "Apollo 13," which were emotional for different reasons. The latter's reason being that it was an aerial disaster film, and we were above a large amount of ocean.
We landed. We are here, and it is more beautiful than imagined. We went to a house where three of the church's families cooked for us and welcomed us. Most of the Harding people found their way to the chips-and-salsa table, and I tried to resist to spend time with the adult males lounging in the living room. Our attempts at conversation were ill-fated, and I began to feel bad simply for being around and making things awkward (like when I play sports). So I ate chips.
Then one of the girls in the youth group here offered me a macadamia nut, which I promptly accepted and threw into my mouth. The texture was different, but I chewed anyway and it was a peeled clove of garlic. There was no trash can to vomit into, so I swallowed it and now I smell disgusting. So, long story short, Michaela and I are friends. Hahaha.
Tomorrow will be a good day. And there will be sunshine. Oh, thank God! I am glad to be here, and glad to be alive.
Here's something you probably don't know about me: on the night before a trip, a big change, or something similar. . .I can't sleep. I am not nervous or antsy; perhaps restless. But I just can't go to sleep.
Example: right now. I leave for Little Rock to catch my first flight (of two) in six hours. And I am currently burning CDs onto my teensy mp3 player. And packing insanely slowly. And daydreaming. Can one daydream at night?
I am about to go somewhere that I was sure I would never get the chance to visit. Oh, and I will see such things! To witness such beauty! Such creativity in Creation! Oh, I can hardly wait.
And so I am awake. My body is weak from this past seven days. I have done much and rested little and felt awful. If my head were to reach my pillow, it would suddenly be seven and we would be on our way. If I just slept, this would all be so much easier!
But instead I think. And wonder which music would become even more significant to me if I heard it in the middle of this new experience. And wonder why I am not in bed.
Oh, I hope there are good stories to return with for you.