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Archive for April, 2010

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Oh this wonderful time of year. I love Bike to Work Week. And not because of helping the environment, or being healthier, or any of those reasons. No. Because of the free coffee.

Various places around town are giving away free coffee one day this week to encourage people to bike to work. It’s like getting paid to do something you would be doing anyway. Granted, I didn’t get back on my bike until last week, in part because I knew BTW was coming up. In my defense, this is the forecast for the week:
Sunday: High 51
Monday: High 62
Tuesday: High 63
Wednesday: High 46
Thursday: High 39
Friday: High 45
Saturday: High 49
Lows in the 20s and 30s, chance of snow and rain Tuesday-Saturday.
Anyhow, I am enjoying my free bagel and coffee from Bagels on Broadway. And figuring, if spring never comes, summer eventually will.
P.S. Yes, that is Spokane’s BTW logo, but its better looking that Missoula’s.

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>So I wanted to write about how we spent our Earth Day, because we did our first no-energy night! “No Energy” or “Energy Fast” nights are activities that are oft part of the JVC experience, where all lights are turned off, computers and Ipods are put away, the oven isn’t used, and depending on the bravery of the community, the heat is turned waaaay down. Ashland, a community in MT did a energy fast weekend back in the winter, and I know a house in Seattle last year did no-energy days once a week. Last year, our house did them a few times, but we ended up debating so much about what the “point” was, we stopped.

For me the point is not save on energy costs or to live in solidarity with anyone. (I don’t know many people besides JVs who just turn off their lights for the hell of it). The point is to slow down. It does also help me realize how many times a day I use energy. I enjoy the quiet of having the TV off, the softness of the candles. It’s relaxing and energizing at the same time.
Last night, I got home and Jen and I made peanut butter and banana sandwiches, left over quinoa, and cucumbers. The Pov had several overripe bananas and they were perfect. Then, since Karen and Bree were out, we went on a long walk to the university. It was a pretty overcast day, but luckily it didn’t rain.
Then we came home, knit for a bit while it was still light out, and after the sun set, we pulled out every candle we had (which ended up being plenty of votive candles we had taken from a retreat!) and sat down to play dominoes. Which lasted about .5 seconds when we realized we had an incomplete set. So we played Apples to Apples instead. It’s a game where one person lays down a card with an adjective on it, and everyone else picks one of their 7 cards which have nouns on them to go with it. My favorite combination of the night:
Adjective: Fantastic
Noun: Electricity
Good point. I was very happy to turn on the light this morning as I got ready!

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>Grateful

>Happy Earth Day! I’ll write more tomorrow about how we, as JVs, are spending our earth day, but today I wanted to steal an idea from myyearwithoutspending.blogspot.com and write about for what I am grateful.

I am grateful that it smelled like spring this morning. Everything was s lightly wet, slightly green, and slightly overcast. The smell actually reminded me of camping in national parks in the summer.
I am grateful that in the past 23 years, not once have I ever missed a meal from a lack of access to money or food. Considering the number of people in the world suffering from hunger, this is nothing short of miraculous.
I am grateful for my family, which I was reminded of this weekend.
I am grateful that I got the chance to witness a conversation about race this afternoon at the shelter between a Samoan man, a native man, and a white man, just while eating lunch.
I am grateful that the trees are finally budding and flowers are beginning to appear.
I am grateful that I have found someone I with whom I will share a life.

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>Death

>One of our clients was murdered in an alley on Monday night. Here is the Missoulian story on it: http://www.missoulian.com/news/local/article_3b658d00-47ea-11df-8428-001cc4c03286.html.

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>Wind

>His hands shook as freely and unpredictably as the flame of the candle he held so precariously. He spoke slowly, waiting patiently for the words to reappear as they disappeared in the flickering light. The children were amazed by the dancing light in the bowl which sat on the table beside him. My heart leaped up into my throat every time they decided to see whose fingers were brave enough to get close. As the tiny ones leaned on the table, the alcohol sloshed to one side of the bowl and the flames would leap up higher, and eyes would open wider.

This would a far cry from the Easter Vigils of my youth. A nicely lit wood-burning fire would be lit outside in a well-contained pit. But this year, I was in a room another world away. This year, in a small gym, crowded around a table precariously balancing the previously mentioned lit bowl of fire, in the community of Hays, a town of 400 in the Fort Belknap reservation.
The procession thankfully began, and those gathered processed one-half of the way around the gym. Although it was only 6pm, the room was pitch black. Blankets hung on the walls, blocking the light. I found this mildly ironic that we were trying to make night come early, especially after the long cold Montanan winters. But I imagined several of the parishioners had long drives home.
The priest, an 82 year old Jesuit, sang on, continuing to struggle in the unreliable candlelight. He must be used to persevering, living on land like this, I mused, and the fidgeting of the crowd definitely didn’t phase him. He finished his prayer, and the lights came on.
“Okay, time for the baptisms!” he yelled.
“JOSEPH!” A nun, quite obviously from New York, yelled. “You forgot the Liturgy of the Word!”
Thus began the liturgy of the world. Children ran wild, mothers pursued. Members of the congregation read, in that quick, flat reservation accent accentuated by nerves and punctuated by cries of children. A college student on an alternative spring break trip sang a responsorial psalm. She was one of about a dozen students from Michigan, who looked utterly bored (or exhausted) throughout the mass. Also in attendance, and the reason I was there, were the all of the Jesuit Volunteers in Montana.
And then (as the priest predicted it eventually would be) was time for the baptisms. About a half dozen children were preparing to make their sacraments this night. It was easy to pick them out in the crowd. The girls’ hair was perfectly coiffed, even though the curls would soon melt in the baptism pool. The boys stood tall, although they could not resist nudging their younger brothers mischievously.
The room was filled with the smell of sweetgrass and sage, as the herbs for the smudging were burnt. Once again, I was reminded of my Easter Vigils where the smell of incense hung heavy in the air. An elder, holding the bowl of smoking herbs, circled the bowl around the children – to the north, south, east, and west. The ceremony of smoke and fire, and the ceremony of water.
This was not a solemn, reverent occasion, although I fear I am making it sound that way. Mothers, Fathers, Godmothers, Godfathers crowded around the hot tub (ahem, baptism pool). Cameras flashed, and girls ran to change into their communion dresses. At one point, I stood up.
“Are we supposed to be standing?” Bree asked.
“I don’t think there are any ‘supposed to’s’ in this mass.” I replied.
I snuck out in the midst of the baptism to run over to the JV house, a mere 50 feet from the church, to use their bathroom. The legendary winds of the plains whipped my long skirt and drew it out into the wind. The sun was setting over the…
I have no words for it. They have all been used.
The wide, open plains.
The vast expanse.
The house of sky.
It felt as if I was standing on the entire world.

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