The Simple List for December
This is your Simple List.
The Internet is overwhelming.
It's full of the best, and the also the worst, of the world. Because I love simple things and I love to share the best stuff with my friends, I've condensed the clutter that is the Internet and curated my favorites from around the web -- the things that are True and Good and Beautiful -- and I'm sharing them here with you. I hope you enjoy. I hope you savor the articles and links. I hope you find something you wouldn't have otherwise seen and then share the best stuff with your friends.
"One evening, when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out to the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, "How beautiful the world could be!" ~ Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
T R U T H ::
I feel like it's something I constantly talk about, but that's a little bit of the point: communication is important. And it's also hard. We are all hearing and seeing and perceiving the world through our very own and unique experiences, biases (we all have them), fears, and current moods; in this Age of Inundation we're also all forced to cut out distractions to listening, to put one thing before us--the person with whom we wish to communicate.
Really listening, really communicating, takes commitment.
We’re Breaking Up: Rebecca Solnit on How Modern Noncommunication Is Changing Our Experience of Time, Solitude, and Communion - “Previous technologies have expanded communication. But the last round may be contracting it.”
Also true is the fact that silence doesn't always mean noncommunication. This is a great article In Defense Of Students Who Never Say Anything. I parent children and I've taught students who are mostly silent, and what I've learned is that it's never good to assume these kids are disconnected from what's going on. "If he needs several years to formulate his thoughts on the matter, this is not too long."
G O O D N E S S ::
In October I took my youngest daughter and her friend to see Need to Breathe in Portland. We drove 4 hours, stood outside in line for 1 hour, and then huddled like sardines on a bouncy ballroom floor for the 3 hour concert. We mostly saw the backs of other people's heads (like the 6'7" guy who snaked his way ahead of us to get a better view) but thanks to go-go-gadget arms and cell phones, we were able to actually see the band.
And we had no problem hearing them.
I'm not too old to enjoy this sort of torture yet, but I will never attend another concert in this particularly cramped, bouncy, nauseating, and fire-code-testing venue. My husband took a couple of our kids to a hip-hop concert in the same ballroom last year and he failed to sufficiently warn me. #parentingsacrifice
It was a good concert, though, and I'm always amazed that artists perform like this for most of the year, touring on a bus and pouring themselves out for consecutive nights each week.
The greatest part of the evening was the story of the guy in the video below (captured with go-go-gadget arms and cell phone). The lead singer told how tough it was to get a foot in the door of the music industry, of years of struggle and small venues and anonymity for his band. He said they used to be the band handing out homemade recordings to anyone who would listen and trying to get a break with some Big Name Performer or Producer who might give a listen, and how he told himself, back then, that if they ever "made it", he would listen to the little guys handing out recordings.
Then they made it.
Then the requests started pouring in.
Please just take a listen to this CD / Here's my song - it's really good. / Hey, can I play one song for you? / Please, just listen to this one song.
The requests come daily and he quickly realized that 1. There's no way to listen to them all, and 2. Most of them aren't that good, anyways. So he stopped listening. He refuses every request that comes his way.
But for whatever reason, the day of the concert, he was walking back to the tour bus to get something when a guy with a guitar approached him, and he said yes. He listened to his song. And it was actually good.
So the band made every artist's dream come true and invited the guy with the guitar to come that evening and play on stage.
I know this isn't a particularly unique story. Lot's of big bands pull other musicians onstage and give them a chance. But it's a good story, and the song the guy chose is a good song for everyone who has big dreams mingled with doubting voices.
A little bit of faith in humanity is restored when a band and their audience welcomes one unknown guy and his guitar on the stage.
B E A U T Y ::
The Get-Well Card, Revisited. Jonathan Rogers paints a beautiful picture of what even our most feeble gestures can produce in the heart of someone else.
This next article is from March but I bookmarked it and re-read it recently. Of course it was timely for me--God is the Great Interrupter, after all, and He interrupts my thoughts with gentle reminders, often. If you question your need for fellowship, for congregational worship, for hearing the Word taught in community with other believers--read this. And if you also question whether your everyday work is a place where God can minister--read this. Be reminded with me Why Sunday Matters, Union With Christ in the Wilderness, and Baking The World Better
It's a month of celebration so I thought I'd include some posts of mine from Christmases past.
This Advent post was shared at Christie Purifoy's site a few years ago.
Two years ago I confessed to Failing at Advent and how important our failures really are.
And last year I shared A Name to Remind Us at gentleleading.com.
Tomorrow, December 4th, I'll be sharing another post at kindredmom.com about keeping a Quiet Christmas.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ::
Some recent posts from the blog:
How to live in the flat places of spiritual life
Harps in the willows: Psalm 137 and our need for encouragement
Faithfulness, the cure for inconsistency
Pay attention to the repeated message
Have a Merry Christmas, friends! Keep searching for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the world and share it with someone.
Thanks for joining me. If you ever have a question, suggestion, or something you'd like to share with me, please hit "reply" and send your thoughts my way.