Song for the Sorrowful

Guys, I’m really excited. So because my school is awesome, this summer I was paid to spend 20 days reading and writing388634_312874848724131_1928943340_n poetry. Yes, I was paid to do this. How cool is that? Anyway, each day, I had a different poet. I would read their biography and a good number of their poetry, and then I wrote my own poetry as a response to what I had read. This is what I did at the beginning of the summer. Then I went on vacation/a mission trip, and since I came back, I have been editing the poems that I feel are worth it to actually make better. My intention from the beginning was to use these to fuel blog posts (so if I post poetry randomly in the next few months, know that this is where they came from). And now I am finally doing that!

This poem I wrote close to the end of the 20 days on the day I studied Sylvia Plath. I was actually pretty frustrated because I had had a difficult time writing very inspired pieces that day, but then the opening lines of this poem just came to me. So that’s pretty cool. It’s not my best poem, but I felt like it was ready for the blog. So yeah, I hope you all get something out of this.

Song for the Sorrowful

Speak to me of joyful things;
Let sadness take its leave.
Sing to me a lullaby,
And darling, please don’t grieve.

Your heart was made for more than this;
I know this much is true.
You only see your brokenness,
But I’ve seen deeper in you.

Your eyes are made of joy,
Your smile is made of love,
Your hands are raw, pure gentleness,
And your heart is a gift from above.

I know that it’s not easy
To break off the bonds of fear,
But in your endless trying,
Don’t forget that I am here.

You were not made to go it alone;
Let your brothers and sisters aid.
You’ve helped us all throughout your pain,
Now finally, be repaid.

Don’t let sorrows storm your soul;
You will get through this strife.
You have a place upon this earth.
There is purpose for your life.

3 Days, 3 Quotes Day 3: Love from E. B. White

Alas, it is the last day of the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge. Feel free to read yesterday’s post or the rules/post from the first day. Thank you so much to The Daily Geekette for nominating me for this really fun challenge! And here is the final quote:

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

~E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

It’s really cool, because I was thinking about writing about this quote recently and decided not to (probably ’cause I’ve been on vacation/a mission trip the last month or so). But now I am writing about it, and again, I feel like it’s too beautiful to really add more words to. But I will anyway, because I do have some thoughts about this.

This quote really grabbed me, because I’ve noticed we like to talk about love in terms of what we deserve. And in one respect, it’s healthy. Here I’m thinking about helping people get/stay out of abusive relationships. It’s important to know you do not deserve to be mentally, emotionally, or physically abused. No one is worth so little that it’s okay to hurt them.

But I don’t like the idea we have that we earn love by being good. Your good deeds don’t help you advance levels with love as the prize at the end. Being good is not the currency with which we buy love. Truth is, none of us are so good that we can truly earn love. But we have been given love. Love is given, not earned. And the only thing we can do is receive love when it’s given to us and love others to the best of our ability. 11174960_975167519161524_4670260034670953467_n

Charlotte didn’t love Wilbur because she wanted him to give her something more. She didn’t give because it was what was expected of her when she accepted his friendship. No, she said, “You have been my friend. I care about you. I love you. So let me do something for you.” We don’t love for what we will get in return. That would make it a business deal. No, love is so much bigger than that. There aren’t boundaries on love. It just gives and gives, not caring about propriety or expectations or what’s considered fair or the sacrifice. Love says you’re beautiful even if you don’t see it yourself. Love gives without expecting you to return the favor. Love says you are worth it.

I can’t think of anyone else that I know who has a blog (the right type of blog, that is), so I am unfortunately not nominating any more people.

Until next time,

Epylle Spydre

p.s. I don’t want to ignore the fact that this quote is also about the beauty of friendship and the gorgeous way that Charlotte uplifts Wilbur in this quote. But I think those are inherently communicated just with the quote and do not need any of my words. So we’ll just let that beauty sit there. Hopefully I haven’t ruined this quote by talking too much…

3 Days, 3 Challenges Quote 1: Mother Teresa Teaches About Love and Pain

Well, I missed the blog’s 3rd birthday ’cause I was in Turkey, so happy belated three years, everyone!

Anyways, this post is actually a response to my first blog challenge! So exciting! On to business and fewer exclamation marks now…

A Cool Glass of Lemonade has been nominated to participate in the  3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge by Carly of The Daily Geekette. Thank you Carly for the nomination!

The rules of the challenge are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote per day).
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day.

I’m going to start with my favorite quote, spoken by the inspirational Mother Teresa. It’s actually really hard to pick a favorite quote by her, because she has so many excellent quotes. Anyways, here goes:

“I have found the paradox: that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
~ Mother Teresa

I feel like I shouldn’t even write anymore because nothing I can say will be as beautiful, simple, or pure as what she said, but I guess I will try to write some. I learned of this from a friend who knew that I liked quotes. It’s actually funny because the first time I heard this, I didn’t like it that much. It didn’t seem that profound or interesting to me. But I always kept it in the back of my mind, and as I grew older, I learned to see and appreciate the wisdom in it.

heart 1As we grow up, our idea of love changes. At first, it’s just a pretty red heart, a valentine. Its shape is always symmetrical and smooth. It’s pointy on one end, but it’s not painful or ugly in any way. It’s just pretty and dependable and fun to doodle.

heart 2

Then we get older, and we learn that hearts don’t look like that at all. Hearts are for pumping blood and getting oxygen to different parts of our bodies. Hearts are so vital to life. And it’s interesting that that is what we use as the symbol and language of love. We say:
“I love you with all of my heart.”
“My heart has been broken.”

We talk about love using the language of this gross-looking organ that we need to live. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t always work correctly. It can cause pain. And so does love.

Love quite simply, isn’t always beautiful. Real love is the stuff of life, and real life is painful. The act of loving itself causes pain. If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t care enough to feel hurt. That’s why I’ve always adored books and movies that make my cry: because I knew that if I cried, then that means it meant something to me. Tears are like my test to see if it was really that good or not. If we love so much that it hurts, then it’s real love, and real love will always win over the hurt.

Anyway, I wrote more than I thought I would. Thanks for reading!

I nominate:

Cheers!

A Prayer for the Beloved

I feel like I’ve been surrounded by death recently. On the smaller side of things, last week, my family decided that our guinea pig would be better off not in pain, and we put her down. Then on Monday, we heard news of the third suicide at my college this year. And today, we cry with the family and friends of the 32 people at Virginia Tech who were killed in 2007. It’s also Holocaust Remembrance Day, so there’s that.

I never met Paul Soutter, the young man who committed suicide, but I’ve been to his high school, and I saw him in two shows this year. After the second show, I would recognize him in the dining halls by his bright, strawberry blonde hair. And that’s the closest I’ve been to someone who committed suicide, and I earnestly hope that is the closest I ever get. Since his death, there has been a campus wide discussion about stress, mental health, and suicide. And it’s good that we’re having this discussion. It’s just sad that it took 3 suicides in a year for us to get this desperate and really start talking about it. And I’ve been watching on, not sure what to say or do. I’m not an expert on anything but I will tell you what I do know.

Hello, darling. Hello, beautiful. To whoever is reading this, you are worth so much. Please don’t ever think that you can’t do anything in the world or that no one appreciates your presence. You are a work of art, a breathing poem. And that’s not that you merely have the potential be a work of art if you work harder or do more good deeds or whatever. You are beautiful and precious and incredible right now. Yes, it’s true, you can become so much. And I hope to see the even more gorgeous, accomplished person you become. But you don’t need that to affirm your worth. You don’t need to get certain grades or hold a certain number of leadership positions or be recognized to be worth the time of those around you. You have passions and pet peeves and talents and things you can’t stand to talk about, and that is so wonderful. You are wonderful. You are unique, and you are beautiful. You are not alone. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel pain. You are precious and loved and so, so worth it.

Even without knowing the people who have taken their own lives, I am struck by all the pain there is. The pain they must have felt. The pain their friends and family and acquaintances feel, especially for these people. Because I know that if I was in that position, my automatic emotional response would be that of intense regret at not having done something to change the outcome. But it’s not your fault. Please, please do not blame yourself. And I know that’s super hypocritical of me to say, but maybe if I’m ever in your position, you’ll be able to tell me that too. And in response to all the pain, I’m going to do something that I don’t think I’ve ever done on my blog before. I’m going to write my prayer.

God, I pray for everyone who feels like they are overwhelmed by life right now, who feel in bondage. Bondage to a mental health disorder or to the stress of school or to their regrets or family problems. You see these people. You know them intimately, far more than I can ever know them. And you love them.
I know you are a God who heals. You love to see your little children unrestrained by pain and loss, living in the freedom that you so generously give us. You don’t get rid of pain altogether, and we don’t always know why. Maybe because sometimes it’s healthy to acknowledge pain. Maybe sometimes we need to see you work through our pain.  But you do heal. I’ve seen it before, and I am confident I will see it many more times before I die. I have faith in that. God, heal someone, even if it’s a small healing, just letting someone know they’re not alone or affirming their worth; move today. Even to the people who feel like they’re okay or that they’ve got everything figured out. You see their hidden pains, the ones they repress and ignore. Encourage your children and show them that you are the Father who Loves, freely and perfectly. Thank you that you are so much bigger than us and that you put us in the right place at the right time, even if we do not understand. There is so much pain in the world, today and every day, but you are bigger than the pain. Amen. 

20140802_132201“Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are numbered. Do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Luke  12:6-7

p.s. If you’d like individual prayer or just want to talk about essentially anything, please, please, please let me know!

Justifying the Ugly Pain of Loss and Longing

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Do you know what I just noticed about my posts? I really don’t talk much about romantic relationships. Other than mentioning my frustrations with the idea of love at first sight in some of my Disney posts and a recent post inspired by the cardinals in my neighborhood, I couldn’t find any. And that’s not super strange because I try to write about things that I know, things that have meaning to me and I feel can have meaning to you. I talk A LOT about the kind of love we have for friends and family. But it’s weird that I would neglect this totally legitimate, really deep longing for the intimacy that comes with romantic relationships. So today I am going to do just that!

Actually, that was a bit misleading. In all seriousness, I’m going to talk about not being in a romantic relationship. Wooh, singleness! Now, in my opinion, there are the happily single and the unhappily single. And if you’re happily single, good for you! And then for the unhappily single, it’s more difficult. Because you’ve heard at least once that you don’t need another person to make you happy, that loving yourself is more important than others loving you (and that, as long as it’s not narcissism, it will actually help others to love you). And those are all true, and you can probably intellectually see the truth in those statements.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept emotionally and enact. It may be easy to admit that we are whole without another person, but it still feels like we shouldn’t be alone. And that is completely valid. That’s the hardest piece to give up because it’s the piece most engraved in our minds. Loneliness, while not always remedied with romance, is a very real and very dark emotion. And there are only ever a handful of people at most that we can share our deepest selves with. That’s love, being so comfortable with someone that you can be your realest self with them.

This quest for intimacy is also explored in a beautiful project that you may or may not have heard about. It’s called “Lovers Shirts,” championed by Carla Richmond Coffing and Hanne Steen. They take pictures of people (mostly women, but there are a few men), wearing the shirts of their ex-lovers and talk about it. And it’s a very profound thing to see their vulnerability and read what they had to say about love and loss.

This project was by no means about heartbreak, but it does bring up comments about it. And I really can’t talk about heartbreak because I have fortunately never had to experience it. But what I will say is that it’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to feel the pain of loss. Yeah, it’s nice to heal. Everything feels lighter and easier when we’re not in the throes of loss. It’s better for our emotional health. But It doesn’t make you weak or overly emotional or anything. It may not be pretty. But it means you truly loved, and what is the shame in that?

Epylle Spydre

My Conclusion: They Love Each Other, but They’re not Codependent

So, part of my spring break homework was to find an unusual behavior, make observations on it during this week, and then answer some questions/design a lab testing a hypothesis regarding said behavior. So I decided to study a mated pair of cardinals we have, because they often come to our bird feeder together. It’s a really cute, romantic thing to say that they always come together because they love each other.

But then I noticed that they don’t always come together, that it’s not even an unusual occurrence to see only Mr. Cardinal or Mrs. Cardinal out there. And that kinda dampened the sweet, romantic image I had for them.  But then I made this not-so-scientific conclusion: they love each other, but they’re not codependent. And I realized that that is even sweeter than if they always came together. Image

Romantic relationships can be really cute. Most people get really happy whenever they see their friends in relationships with good people. In our fandoms, we “ship” characters together because we want to see them happy. We do have the tendency to glorify romantic relationships too much, making someone else’s or even our own sense of joy dependent on being romantically involved with someone else. Think of all the upset single people you see on Valentine’s Day. But that’s not quite what I want to talk about…

Basically, we like seeing people committed to other people, and we like seeing the same in ourselves. At least, most of the time we do. There are plenty of exceptions to that rule…Again, that’s not what I was intending to talk about. Where was I? Oh, commitment! It’s a wonderful thing, both in romantic relationships and in everyday relationships (which are just as precious). However, especially in romantic relationships, you need to both be committed to it because as much as other people may be committed to you two being together, those other people really can’t keep you together. 

But sometimes, people can take the idea of commitment and go too far. That’s called obsession. When couples only have eyes for each other and are seemingly lost without their significant other, that’s…not exactly healthy. You should be able to function in society without your significant other, you should not be joined to them at the hip, and you should not base the entirety of your happiness on your relationship with them. You should at least have some independence. Love and commitment are great, but do not define yourself by your relationship with another person.

You are beautiful and unique. You have so many complexities and eccentricities that make you so completely you, and that is a wonderful thing. And if you have devoted yourself to another person, then I hope you are happy.

But do not sacrifice your individuality for another person, whether they be friend, family, or significant other. I don’t mean to say that you should forget all others and care only for yourself. I’m not saying you should be completely selfish and narcissistic and never sacrifice anything for anyone ever. I’m just saying that the real you is too precious to be lost in a sea of obsessions or dreams, as sweet and beautiful as they may be. As Edna Pontellier says in The Awakening, “I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.” Dont’ give up yourself.

Epylle Spydre

What We Should be Doing Instead of Yelling at Each Other

So there’s thing that’s been in the news recently (at least it has been in Virginia) called same-sex marriage. And for the longest time I’ve been decidedly torn on the issue. I’ve known that I love the people themselves, but I wasn’t sure about the topic of marriage. I can’t help but see both sides of the debate, but I guess that’s better than screaming at the people on the other side for not agreeing with me. And I think that (the screaming, that is) is part of the problem. Actually, it’s a big part of the problem. People are so stuck in their ways, unwilling to listen to the other side and make a compromise. Well, compromise is my middle name, so here goes.

So on the one side you have the “progressives” who say, among other things, that committed monogamous relationships between two people, regardless of their sex, is better than many of the abominations in marriage we see today that are still legal.

On the other side of the issue are the “traditionalists” who state (on the grounds of religion mostly) that marriage should be between one man and one woman and that’s it. As a committed Christian myself, I can’t deny seeing the truth of that statement. Marriage was made to be between one man and one woman for life. Anything less than that is simply not what God, as our loving Lord and Savior, intended for us. 

But look around you. Where is there anything or anyone that is functioning exactly the way God intended for us? The point that gets lost in translation in this argument, this war of words, is that no one is a sinner on the mere grounds that they are gay. No, we are sinners because we are human. It’s a part of our nature. We have all sinned, you, me, and everyone, and none of us are perfect. People just make a big deal about homosexuality, but they could very well be making a fuss about lying or stealing. I think it’s a shame that we spend so much energy arguing about this issue instead of preaching the Gospel. 

Maybe instead of condemning people to hell through our hatred of their “outrageous sin,” we can love them anyway and invite them to join us in heaven. What does condemnation do? Absolutely nothing. Zilch. It just creates an even larger barrier between us and people who desperately need God’s hand of love. This is not to be confused with conviction. Conviction leads to repentance and is based on love, but condemnation just creates hate. Think of conviction like me telling a friend that she can’t just eat junk food all the time. I tell her this because I know there’s something better for her, and I tell her in a way that makes that simple fact clear to her. 

Marriage, at least in the US, is not a religious matter. It’s a legal matter. And I can totally see how people can feel like second-class citizens just because they’re denied this right. Arguing about the morality of same-sex marriage is not going to change who’s gay and who’s not. It’s not going to change how many people enter into all sorts of broken marriages that are destined to fail. The only thing it’s going to change is the perception the world has of Christians. And that perception is not going to be pretty. 

I shall close with this last thought, written by Russell Moore in a Christianity Today article titled “What Did the Supreme Court Really Change Today?”. I could never hope to say this in a better way, so I leave you with his words: “It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'”

ImageEpylle Spydre