Five Minute (Saturday): Opportunity

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Gentle Reader,

One of these days I’ll get back to composing these pieces on time. This week, I blame the cold/allergies combo that’s wreaking havoc on my body.

Kate says: opportunity.

Go.

Music makes me happy. I enjoy singing (though I don’t claim to be good at this), dancing (don’t claim to be good at that, either), and watching people who can rock out on instruments do their thing. I’d like to learn to play the violin, banjo, or drums; maybe all three, just for the fun of it.

The music we like reveals a lot about us. Melody and harmony help us to express emotions and thoughts we otherwise couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. So because I am severely lacking in wordsmithing ability today (too much Nyquil flowing in my system, I guess), I take the opportunity to share with you some of the songs I return to again and again.

Worship

Amazing Grace

I know. It’s a cliche. This genuinely my favorite hymn. And it doesn’t get better than this version.

Rock of Ages

Another hymn. Fantastic version.

Love Like This

My own singing voice is low and raspy, so I can’t not love Lauren Daigle. Plus this song…it puts words to an emotion I often feel, but cannot describe.

You’re the Only One

Simple. Profound.

Rock

Layla

It’s Clapton shredding the guitar. I am never not here for that.

Please Mister Postman

Asking me to choose a favorite Beatles song is…it’s impossible. But I’ve been very into this early cover lately.

One after 909

A bluesy, honky-tonk song, written during the early Lennon-McCartney years but not recorded until the tempestuous Get Back sessions. They sound like they’re having a good time here.

Jet

McCartney, post-Beatles. Just a fun song.

What is This Category?

Recently I’ve gotten into some indie, folksy stuff. Spotify doesn’t know what to do with me. The algorithms ping around from Metallica playing with the San Francisco Symphony, to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus to psychedelic rock and then to this. I don’t know what to say, other than that I just like it.

Glory

River

Finally, the Introvert’s Anthem

Here

Stop.

Tell me, what kind of music do you like?

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Little Tortilla Girl

Gentle Reader,

This one is for my goddaughter, the spunky Riley Rae. When she was a baby and decidedly hangry, I held her in a headlock in order to get her to drink a bottle. We’ve been best buddies ever since.

********

A beautiful early spring evening in Bellevue…or Seattle…or wherever we exactly and technically were. (I have no sense of direction or place). The first day of Northwest Ministry Conference had passed by in a blur of workshops, conversations and a fast lunch trip to Chick-fil-A. (My first time eating the Lord’s chicken nuggets, complete with dipping sauce. Vegetarianism went out the minivan window. Hashtag worth it, never mind the liver complaining later). As the sun began to dip in the distance, calling the street lamps to flickering life, we sat, a tired but merry band, twenty-odd strong, around brightly patterned tables, noses filled with the scents of Mexican food. Or, at least, what passes for Mexican food in the Pacific Northwest (my Southern friends were about to object).

In a 1988 interview, author Ursula K. LeGuin discussed her daily schedule, noting that, after 8:00 p.m., “I tend to be very stupid and we won’t talk about this.” I had reached the stupid point around 6:00 p.m., very much ready for sleep but knowing that it was hours away. So, when my dearest Riley, who was sitting to my left, asked, “Auntie Marie, where is my food? How long does it take to make a quesadilla?,” I should not have been surprised (though I was) when the spirit of my father and uncles overtook my mind and the silliest of sentences came flying out of my mouth.

“Well,” I replied. “They have to go and hunt the tortilla, you know.”

Her eyes went wide. “That’s not true.” She giggled, gaps where teeth used to be on full display. “That’s just not true.”

And thus the Saga of Tortilla Hunting began.

“They really do have to hunt the tortillas. Where do you think they come from?”

Riley had no answer.

You see, tortillas grow wild in the plains of South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. They are bright pink in color, though a few green ones have been spotted. The green ones are the aged tortillas, the wise ones who have escaped capture. Trouble is, most tortillas are not intelligent, so they don’t listen to their elders, who try so hard to teach them how to live free.

“Don’t eat the guacamole,” they say. “Don’t trust the avocados.”

Put a little guacamole in the bottom of a tortilla trap and they come flying. They spin like flying saucers and make a strange, indescribable flapping noise. They only have one eye, so they don’t see well at all, often smacking into things in their quest to find the guacamole. Ah, but their sense of smell never fails them. They descend into the trap, mouths, at the center of their bodies, directly tied to their stomachs because tortilla anatomy does not include an esophagus or other digestive parts, wide open.

Clang!

A leprechaun, dressed in ninja clothes and riding a unicorn, slams the trap shut. Only ninja-leprechauns can hunt tortillas, you know. And of course they ride unicorns, because what else would they ride? How silly, imagining a leprechaun astride any other steed or using public transport. What do you think this is, a made-up-on-the-fly story? Honestly.

The leprechauns have to open the traps in order to stuff the tortillas into plastic bags, suitable for selling in local supermarkets. Some tortillas, stunned but determined to live, make their way out of the traps, flinging themselves against living room windows, but their stomachs are so full of food that they can’t hang on, and they fall into the waiting arms of the leprechauns below. (Oh, I forgot to mention: The unicorns that the leprechauns ride, they are smaller in size, able to hide in bushes. They are known in folklore as “Stealthicorns”). This is what happened to Billy Scrimshaw Tortilla.

Billy was a young tortilla, just venturing out on his own. Saddled with student loan debt that he could never hope to pay off, Billy nevertheless planned to be the first Certified Public Accountant for the tortilla community. Again, tortillas are not intelligent; they don’t use money, and their average lifespan is less than twenty years, so why Billy went to college in the first place is a mystery. And how did he get into school? Aunt Becky bought him a spot at the University of Southern California.

Billy had heard the stories. An elder who lived at the bottom of a gnarled tree had warned him. But Billy couldn’t help himself. The smell was too strong. His hunger, too great. He rose from the fields one clear night (for tortillas are nocturnal), driven by the powerful urge to eat. And eat. And eat some more.

He heard the sound of unicorn hooves. A soft laugh. (Leprechauns are rather bold in their hunting). His eye flicked this way and that. A brief thought flitted through his minuscule brain. He knew he should stop. But the guacamole was homemade. And it didn’t have any cilantro in it because cilantro is disgusting and tastes like soap. In a daze, he descended into the warm red circle, mouth watering.

“That’s not true!” Riley cried, arms flapping. “Tortillas don’t fly!”

“They do! There’s a documentary about it, but you may not have access to it due to parental controls because it’s a little disturbing.”

Fits of laughter, not at all proper manners for a restaurant setting. I began to speak in my Mary Poppins accent, adding a level of gravitas that made it all the funnier. But perhaps the best part was the contribution of the other adults present, who added little bits and pieces to the tall tale, or at the very least kept Riley wondering if, just maybe, there might be some kernel of truth in what I was saying.

Hours later, we were still going.

“You ate him, Riley! You ate Billy!”

We dissolved into too-exhausted-to-care giggles on the hotel bed. Tears dripped from my eyes. This was so very stupid, but the sort of fun that we both needed in that moment.

A brief pause while she styled my hair. Bangs askew, curls a mess. Didn’t matter to me.

“Auntie Marie,” she said, “let’s take a selfie.” Of course I obliged.

She approved the photo. “You need to send this to that guy in the red shirt from dinner, because you are the biggest liar I know but he is the second biggest.”

“That guy” added some crucial elements to the story. He also dared her to stick her tongue on a piping hot fajita pan.

Of course I sent the photo.

The night wound down. We lay on the bed, snuggled under the blanket, nothing at all to watch on television. Riley’s older sister, the delightful Emery Mae, sent some texts to her friends. Baby Aurora Jade fought sleep in their mother’s arms. I could see Tauni, my sister from another mister, in each of their faces. And in that moment, in that hotel room, hanging out with four of the ladies I love best in the whole world, I thanked God for relationships that stretch back years and will grow into the future. For friends who are truly family.

A knock on the door. Time for the them to head out. I hugged Riley and whispered in her ear, “Be sure to watch for the tortillas. They migrate this way in the spring.”

She pushed me and bounced off the bed, laughing once again.

********

Riley, or, to use your “Monty Python” name, Johann Sebastian Gambolpotty of Ulm, this is a night I will never forget. I am so, so glad that you are in my life. Watching you grow and learn is a joy. Being your auntie is a privilege. I look forward to many more days of ridiculousness.

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31 Days with the Savior: Party

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Gentle Reader,

“Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ‘Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.’ And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, ‘Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!’

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. … The disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?’

And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?'” – John 2:6-11, Matthew 9:14-15a (NKJV)

Usually we focus on the miracle of the water being turned into wine. There’s nothing wrong with that; this was the first miracle that Jesus performed during his earthly ministry and it’s significant. But look at the context.

Jesus is at a wedding reception.

Jesus is at a party.

This wouldn’t be the last party he attended, either. He’d go wherever He was invited, attending everything from great feasts to intimate suppers with close friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus. You don’t get invited to parties if you’re not fun to be around. And a lot of people had issues with that. Issues with Jesus enjoying Himself. I think we do, too. Somehow we’ve got this idea that the Savior is supposed to be this grand, intense, dour figure. Surely He never smiles. Surely He never tells a joke. Surely He doesn’t appreciate good food, good drink and good music.

If that’s your line of thinking, I invite you to spend some time considering the Scriptures above. Also, google a picture of the duck-billed platypus.

If the duck-billed platypus doesn’t convince you that the Lord has a sense of humor, that He’s fun to be around, you’re taking life way too seriously.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.