Life (as told from the adventures in Glen Ellyn and by N.D. Wilson)

I spent the day yesterday, by myself (since everyone is gone for Fall Break), exploring the neighboring town of Glen Ellyn. I learned several important things. . .

1. If I ever tell you I can’t run, that’s a lie. Sort of. I don’t enjoy it and I don’t look good doing it. But when I can see the METRA pull up to the station and I’m a block away from the platform, baby, I can run.

2. I almost always miscalculate how long it will take me to get to the METRA platform. That means lots of running for me.

3. The whole inbound/outbound platform thing does not make sense to me. I seriously considered jumping onto the tracks and hopping the electric fence to get to the other platform before the METRA pulled out. I decided I valued my life more than making the train.

4. When you miss the train, Siri will tell you it is one mile to walk from Glen Ellyn to Wheaton. It is. It is probably a whole other mile to the Wheaton College campus. She is notoriously unreliable at giving directions.

5. When the weather says 45 degrees, assume it is going to be windy and cold. And for the love of sanity, bring a hat and gloves. Especially if you plan to journal.

6. When working out at the Student Rec Center (SRC, because Wheaton loves its acronyms), go in the morning. Because you know who is there at 8 AM? Old people, professors, and other simple, not particularly athletic students. They are not particularly intimidating people. Except when the wrestling team comes in for an early Saturday morning workout session.

7. The weather app is now going to start saying “snow” with relative frequency. I’m not sure what to do with that.

8. Going back to #4, when Siri tells you there is a wildflower preserve where you can sit and read and journal, assume she means a condominium. Because that is probably where her directions will lead you. But if you keep walking, you will stumble upon something. By the mercy of the Lord.

9. Small towns draw an interested crowds on a Monday morning/afternoon. It is especially humorous when Siri’s directions take you across a high-school campus. Kids, I am not one of you anymore. 

10. Exploring new places by yourself is an adventure. It is even better if you do it with one of N.D. Wilson’s books in mind (Death by Living or Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl)

“There is a school of American thought that suggests we are supposed to live furiously and foolishly when young, slave away pointlessly when adults, and then coast into low-impact activity as soon as financially possible. Isn’t that just a kiss on the lips (from a dog). The truth is that a life well lived is always lived on a rising scale of difficulty.”

“I stare at the slowly spinning child staring at the earth, and I know that if I reach for my phone, for the appropriate app, and worm forward to catch the appropriate angle, that I will not really capture this thing called now.”

“We have exactly one second to carve a memory of that second, to sort and file and prioritize in some attempt at preservation. But then the next second has arrived, the next breeze to distract us, the next plane slicing through the sky, the next funny skip from the next funny toddler, the next squirrel fracas, and the next falling leaf.”

“Ride the roaring wave of providence with eager expectation. To search for the stories all around me. To see Christ in every pair of eyes. To write a past I won’t regret. To reach the dregs of the life I’ve been given and then to lick the bottom of my mug. To live hard and die grateful. And to enjoy it.”

N.D. Wilson, Death by Living


He says it better than I could. Days like yesterday remind me of this: figuring out the train system, wandering around a new town, finding a windy park when my fingers nearly froze writing in my journal, sitting in a local cafe with Wilson’s book, and savoring the glory of the Lord that was in every moment, every face, every beat of my dying heart. Life is worth living in light of eternity because I’m not simply living for myself, or tomorrow.

I woke up this morning, light coming in through the blinds. 8:20 AM. My roommate is gone until tonight. I turn over and check my phone; it is supposed to snow today. I’m supposed to go into Chicago with a friend. But right then, I was in my warm bed. In my dorm room. In Wheaton, Illinois. And when I blink, the moment is gone. I ran my fingers over my pillow that probably needs washed; I can never come back to this moment. I think back to all the moments with the Lord yesterday, moments of laughter and hardship since coming to college, moments of my childhood with my family. I am simultaneously filled with sentiment and hope. I am grateful for the beautiful and hard moments passed. I am hopeful for the moments of today, and tommorow, and until I die. Because as N.D. Wilson says, “But God has been there every second. He has crafted every step and gesture and breath of every mortal you have ever passed, of every driver on every road that has ever flicked by you at night, of every kicking child in every mall. And He will be there when we end.” And that is what makes every moment worth living.

Embrace your story today. It’s not the grand, spectacular moments that make up your life. It is every squirrel that makes you laugh (and just for future reference, the ones on the Wheaton campus are hilarious). It is every time you freeze because you forget to bring gloves because you aren’t from the Midwest. It is every time a child looks at you with their big, wondering eyes. It is every time your blood gets hot in anger or your eyes get wet in sadness. It is every time sweat drips from your forehead onto the bicycle machine (because, ahem, it’s the only one you can do without looking out of shape). It is every time your heart beats, slowly when you are resting, faster when someone catches your eye.

You are alive. Siri is unreliable. Illinois is getting really cold. And the Lord’s goodness and faithful endures from generation to generation. And that is reason to be grateful and living physically today.

Enjoy your Tuesday, October 22, 2013. You only get on of them. Live to the hilt of it (like Jim Elliot said).

4 Responses to Life (as told from the adventures in Glen Ellyn and by N.D. Wilson)

    • Behind your quiet presence is a life (with pen and paper in hand) bubbling with wise reflections. I found myself praying this week with
      gratitude for the rhythm of my day….laundry: start load, switch, fold, put away; bathroom cleaned, dinner started, dog walked etc. The mundane moments are a treasure and I was so content to participate in them. My mom is in a wheelchair or her bed all day every day, unable to walk or stand unassisted. As I fluttered around my house Monday cleaning, my thoughts reflected back to how she would love just one more time to vacuum or clean a bathroom. Everyday is a gift. Janine

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