Sunday, September 16, 2018

Poetry Corner | Dogs and Weather

This is a poem that I associate with my mom and my childhood. It was in one of her favorite collections to read aloud from. 

I'd like a different dog
For every kind of weather —
A narrow greyhound for a fog,
A wolfhound strange and white,
With a tail like a silver feather
To run with in the night,
When snow is still, and winter stars are bright.
In the fall I'd like to see
In answer to my whistle,
A golden spaniel look at me.
But best of all for rain
A terrier, hairy as a thistle,
To trot with fine disdain
Beside me down the soaked, sweet-smelling lane.

~ Winifred Welles

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

my at-home place

“Ulm ist meine Heimat, aber M√ľnchen ist mein Zuhause.”

Something clicked in my head when an acquaintance from church said that. The sentence is difficult to translate, since it involves two words for home that mean slightly different things.

Loosely translated, it means, “Ulm is my hometown, but Munich is my at-home place.”

In August, I spent a week at a retreat for young people at my church in Munich. I realized during that time that in deciding to stay in Munich for a second year, I have chosen to acknowledge Munich as my Zuhause - my at-home place. The place where I’m home to friends and family and the people of God. It’s not Wheaton anymore. It’s Munich. That is a bizarre realization. 

I could have left relatively easily at the end of this past year. Sure, I chose to put down roots in Bavaria’s capital, but when all’s said and done, I was only there for ten months. It wouldn’t have hurt too much to leave. 

But after another year there - another year of putting down roots and building relationships and blooming where I’m planted - it’s going to be hard to leave my at-home place. As aware as I am of that, I have no doubt that it’s worth it to stay. Munich is where I am supposed to be during this season, and I rejoice to be there.

So I’ve added a new term and a new place to my ongoing preoccupation with the concept of home. 

My True Home is heaven, and any other stopping spot in this life is a pilgrim’s haven. 

My homeland is America. 

My home state: North Carolina.

My home town: wherever my parents live.

My at-home place? For now, it’s Munich. And that’s a really good thing. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Things I Learned This Month | August 2018

As usual, as the month winds down, I'm sharing some of the things I've learned this month. There are some heftier ones that deserve their own posts, but for now here are some fun discoveries.

1. Brits don't use the term "sassy." I spent last week at a church retreat, and I spent a lot of time playing pool with a nine-year-old Englishman named Judah. At first I was so abysmal that trash talking was pointless, but as I got better, he got more smart-alecky. At one point I commented that he was getting quite sassy. He looked at me and asked: "Wot's sass?" After some failed attempts to describe what I meant (apparently the Brits don't have smart-alecks), I hunted for his parents to get a translation. "Oh! You mean he's been lippy. Does he need discipline for giving you lip?"

2. I am Matthew Crawley. (Insert laughter emojis here.) Mom and I have been rewatching the first two seasons of Downton, so I took an online quiz to find out which character I am. I would have been surprised, but the hilarious thing is that I took a similar quiz on a different website around 5 years ago and got the same result. Make of that what you will.

3. Brian Jacques' Redwall books bear returning to. I loved these books as a kid, and I picked up Lord Brocktree, one of my favorites, on a whim for the first time in six or seven years. I was surprised by how compelling, well-written, and well-characterized it is. These books are going to remain favorites for a long time. 

4. The story behind MLKJ's name: "In 1934, and African American pastor from Georgia made the trip of a lifetime, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, through the gates of Gibraltar, and across the Mediterranean Sea to the Holy Land. After this pilgrimage, he traveled to Berlin, attending an international conference of Baptist pastors. While in Germany, this man - who was named Michael King - became so impressed with what he learned about the reformer Martin Luther that he decided to do something dramatic. He offered the ultimate tribute to the man's memory by changing his own name to Martin Luther King. His 5-year-old son was also named Michael - and to the son's dying day his closest relatives would still call him Mike - but not long after the boy's father changed his own name, he decided to change his son's name too, and Michael King Jr. became known to the world as Martin Luther King Jr." (from an article by Eric Metaxas 

5. Dorothy Sayers, mystery author, theologian, and apologist, masterminded one of Guinness' most renowned ad campaigns. Mystery writing was Sayers' side job: in the 1920s she was a copywriter at an ad agency. Guinness requested that their ad campaign not mention beer (vulgar and not family-friendly) and emphasize the health qualities of Guinness. The result: