30 September 2009

pictures and videos of the gemeenschap weekend are posted online

pictures and videos related to the gemeenschap weekend are now posted on the Oudezijds 100 website. For those of you not so familiar with dutch, you can click here for the pictures and here for the videos.
[i managed to get into a couple of the pictures, although i'm not sure about the videos - i haven't watched them yet].

29 September 2009

not quite like anything else (reflections after a Gemeenschapweekend)

i've lived here for three years now, long enough for things to become somewhat normal. but every once in awhile, it occurs to me that the community i live in is a bit strange. this becomes more noticeable when we all do something together, like this past weekend when we had the Startweekend (Gemeenschapweekend - community weekend).

it takes quite a number of lists and planning to organize food, lodging, transportation, and fun for 65 people. but somehow it all comes together, everyone is fed, everyone gets transported around (and in a special child seat when necessary), everyone has a place to sleep warmly and opportunity to shower, and everyone can play. sure, there's the usual complaining that there's nothing fun to do. and there's the odd (anti-social) glitch, like a woman using up all the hot water before breakfast with her half-hour shower (in the men's bathroom, of all places). but it comes together: and we laugh, we eat well, we learn to take an extra blanket to bed the second night, we enjoy the time away despite the busy-ness of many things to do and lots of people, we tease each other, and we discover more who the others in the community are. and no one is surprised that it is good - the organizers do their best, and others help out as they can. i'm pretty sure God's hand was there in the goodness somewhere. (although the dutch might not quite say it quite that way :))

and so we made stuff out of clay and had a competition and watched a parade of tractors and told stories and walked and went to church and did chores and prayed. and i got glimpses of the gracious self-giving of many who willingly helped out quietly in so many ways. and i was delighted by the musical talents of some. and even though i was a bit dubious about the 'emmaus walk', (the idea was that just as Jesus came as a stranger and participated in the conversation of the 2 disciples along the Emmaus road, perhaps God would be part of our conversations), i did get a sense that God had been part of our walk - and that He had surprised us by coming alongside to delight in our discussing. i tried to see us as others might see us - and couldn't help but see that our group of 60, made up of at least 5 different cultures with 20 children moving in between all of us, must have stuck out quite a bit - and i enjoyed the idea that people might wonder about us and this different sort of a family that we represent. and i heard a number of conversations of faith and a striving to understand God and each other and our relationships better. and i got to hang out with little kids and play with clay. and i was delighted by the curiosity and genuine interest i saw in learning more about this community. and i witnessed the type of relationships that grew over years of being around for each other - and the easy laughter and comraderie that spoke of years of caring and being cared for. and i fell a bit more 'in love' with this strange group that i consider family.

and as i caught glimpses of the others there, i was once again amazed that i get to share in other's lives in this way.

18 September 2009

external vs internal motivation

as i've mentioned more often, i like feeling productive. because of that, my internal motivation to do things is pretty high. the problem is that i get distracted - a lot (living in community helps provide lots of productive distractions, too). i'm almost always doing something - it's just not necessarily the best thing to do. (like blogging on a friday afternoon - but then i question what really is best: is my taking a break to blog and sort through my thoughts before working further on Ezekiel just an excuse not to work or is it a good way to re-group so that i can work better? i don't know.)

and much of the time, i'm not unhappy with how i get things done or not done. it usually works out okay - my house is cleaner when other things need doing - and my academic stuff gets more attention when i'm tired of people, and so on. but there is one area that i'm not so thrilled about - the dissertation/phd thing. it's starting to get to be time to be further on my dissertation. my desire to be moving closer to done is a relatively decent internal motivation. but with all the potential distractions i can find, some external motivation doesn't hurt.

so i figured i'd sign up to present my proposal next friday at the phd. seminar. there's nothing quite like a good solid deadline, a need for a paper presetnation, and a lot of questioning ph.d. students to provide external motivation to put something solid together. and hopefully this can tweak the work i've been doing on the first two chapters, which is pretty rough still.

and after the seminar, you can ask me how it's going with the dissertation. i might look annoyed with you (especially if i've been disappointed with how much i've done on it) but it will provide me further motivation. and if i look too annoyed, you can always remind me that i did ask for it.

11 September 2009

Miriam, the older sister

last sunday, as part of the "start sunday" at church, we listened to brief monologues based on biblical characters connected to "the Promised Land." one of those who spoke was Miriam, who complained a lot. i know the stories about Miriam from the Bible, but I don't think I'd ever quite seen what it might have been like to be the older sister of Moses.

Miriam, as the big sister, helped Moses become who he was. she played a part in the princess finding him and having him being semi-raised by his own mom. she was probably well aware of Moses' rash behaviour in killing an Egyptian and was most likely exasperated that he'd lost the opportunity to work within the royalty to make changes that would be beneficial to the Israelites (being older and a woman, she probably could have found a much less violent and rash solution to the problem:)). and seeing as foreigners hadn't exactly been gracious to the Israelites, she probably wasn't too thrilled with his wife, either. and then there's Moses' speaking problem and his crazy idea of being called by God and the grumbling of the Israelites and... if you think about it that way, it's a bit easier to see how Miriam might have often been exasperated by Moses - and that she, as the big sister who watched over him when he was little, might have complained somewhat at his incompetency and might have even wanted to step in and fix things when her brother was fumbling about.

it is interesting to picture the big sister and wonder. it makes me see Miriam as more of a real person, and in doing that the Bible seems more real - and more relevant to my life. and as i see Miriam more as the big sister, it makes me wonder about how good i am at allowing others to make their own mistakes and use their own gifts. and it helps remember that, now matter how much i might want to, i can't play the big sister and try and step in and rescue others. and more so, as much as i might think of myself, i'm hardly the best at many things. and as i picture the big sister and am reminded not to think too much of myself, i'm also reminded not to think too little of myself (or others). Moses was certainly centre stage - but Miriam, as the big sister, did play a pretty significant part in the Israelites leaving Egypt. as Micah 4:6 puts it: the LORD sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before the people. and there's something comforting in being able to see again how God uses imperfect people as part of his plan/work.

with thanks to the Oude Kerk and the organizers of the 'startzondag' programme for having me think about these things.

08 September 2009

adventures with Kristin (again)

since Kristin came to visit (again!), i once again had someone with whom to share in some random adventures (as well as having an excuse to do so). even though it was a bit rainy during her visit, we had a lot of fun exploring different places and laughing together a lot. the following are some of our adventures, with some pictures:

- the uitmarkt: the opening of the Amsterdam cultural season, which offers a ton of free music and events all close to my house. some things, like the large orchestra performance, we enjoyed tremendously. others, like the strange electronics + accordion show, were less enjoyable. and as delightful as it was to see Mary Poppins fly through the sky, the rehearsal did get a bit long after awhile - one can only hear the supercalafragilistic song so many times....

- taking the 'fast flying ferry' to Velsen-Zuid and then biking to the sea. since it poured while we were at the sea, the best part there was our break for coffee and apple pie. on the way back, we biked back through the (Zuid) Kennemerduinen, which is a lovely bike ride. Kristin and i also worked on our skills at taking pictures while biking - not so many turned out well but we did laugh a lot while trying.

- biking along the Amstel towards Ouderkerk. due to the weather, this was not quite as good as hoped (although i finally did get to explore one of the little walking areas along the route). on the bright side, we did get home in time to eat the best fries in the neighbourhood. and Kristin fell in love with dutch (indonesian?) saté sauce.

- Leiden, Den Haag and Scheveningen. first, we stopped in Leiden to visit a windmill museum. next stop was Den Haag, where we biked around quite a bit, saw a couple of the more famous buildings, and visited the military base. it was a crazy windy day, and on the way to Scheveningen, we managed to get blown off our bikes. what made it funnier was that Kristin managed to fall off only seconds after i did. i had slowed down and felt the wind pushing me towards the road. but as my bike was too tall for me, i couldn't really stop without falling. yet, as i swerved closer and closer to the road, i figured i might as well just abandon ship. although my shoe ended up a metre away, i did land on my feet. when i had recovered, i saw Kristin also standing over a fallen bike - apparently the wind had caught her, too. i can only imagine what a funny sight we must have been! i know it made us laugh for a long time. after that, we stopped biking for a bit - and decided to let the wind push us around on the pier at Scheveningen instead.

overall, it was a delightful visit - full of many good conversations, a few random adventures, and lots of laughter!

more pictures can be seen at my profile on Facebook.
with thanks to Kristin who took most of the pictures above.

04 September 2009

just another dish-washing conversation

sometimes i have the oddest conversations during dishes. i end up laughing a lot - although i laugh a lot anyways, so perhaps it has more to do with me than dishes, but anyways...

tonight i got asked if i was planning on staying in the community. "well," i said, "at the end of october i'll become a zuster (sister) so...."
and her response was shocked: "what? become a zuster without a broeder (brother)?"
and i told her that it was possible, and i don't even have to become a nun (which is good because i'd be a very unpleasant nun).
she sort of believed me, i think....

i guess i could have also mentioned that i wouldn't be adverse to finding a guy - and my soon becoming a zuster hardly means that i'm doomed to be single the rest of my life. it does make dating slightly more complicated - if it were to develop into anything significant, he'd have to be okay with joining this crazy family i live with and everything it entails. but that's not completely impossible - it's just complicated. and i'm sort of used to complicated and odd, so i'm not currently too worried about there being no broeder to go with my zuster.