Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

on being a nerd

I love the smell of books. I just opened a package from Amazon–all of my Greek books for my upcoming class–and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  They are beautiful, new books, filled with the promise of learning this great ancient language. I’m surprised that it has taken me this long to take Greek, but I cannot wait to get started.

I am fascinated by the human mind’s ability to learn.  On the first day of Hebrew class two years ago, I almost cried when I saw the alphabet…I didn’t think I could ever get those letters to stick in my head, let alone be able to string them together to create words and sentences. Now, two years later, Hebrew is ever-familiar to me and I am thrilled to gain that familiarity with Greek. 

So I am off to learn the alphabet!

i was running

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite movie in the entire world is Forrest Gump. Yes, it is a cinematic masterpiece–the drama, the romance, the comedy, the history–its all there. Love it. I, of course, love the famous “Run Forrest Run!” scene.

What I do not love, however, is running itself. Maybe I’m scarred from my childhood memories of always being the last kid to finish running the mile during PE, but I really do not like running. Some of my closest friends are avid runners and I badly want to love it. But I think running is so difficult, and I am so very bad at it.

This morning’s workout consisted of two miles of running.  For many people, two miles is a joke and can be accomplished quickly.  But this morning I saw the workout posted on the board and I thought about leaving. But I stuck it out, and it was indeed a terrible workout.  During the entire run, I felt sluggish and heavy and tired. I finished last in the class, which I guess doesn’t matter, because at least I finished.

But the coolest thing happened during the workout–unbeknownst to me, one of our coaches was filming all of the athletes running…after class, he sat each of us down, showed us the video of ourselves running, and talked us through technique and what we were doing wrong/right.  He pointed out some things that I never even realized before, and showed me how my technique was really slowing me down and wasting energy. I guess sometimes you just need someone to point things out to you.

So, armed with my new knowledge, I will hopefully overcome this mental block/hatred of running! Stay tuned to find out =)

I am

One of my favorite church-related childhood memories happened when I was seven or eight years old.  One of the priests at the Base Chapel, Fr. Dave, was notorious for long, usually dry homilies.  One day, though, out of the blue, in the middle of his homily, Fr. Dave was trying to explain how we should have a close relationship with God, that God should not be some far-away being that we talk to once in awhile–God should be our best friend.  Suddenly, he smacked the pulpit and shouted “ABBA! FATHER! DADDY!”  We were all so shocked by this sudden outburst of emotion. My family still laughs at this moment from time to time.

My feminist theologian friends would beat me up for saying this, but I’ve never really minded the image of God as “Father.”  I’ve been blessed with a great father, who has always been a great example of love and security.  And tonight, as I was driving my ever-familiar route down I-95, an underplayed song came on my ipod–the song is called “I am” by Nichole Nordeman, and if you’ve never heard it, look it up on youtube and try to find the lyrics.  Its a beautiful song, and in it, Nichole Nordeman reflects on the different roles God has played throughout her life. 

In the first verse of the song, she sings of her childhood and how God saw her trying to ride her bicycle, and saw when she fell down.  And that as a little girl, she called out to God, “Elbow-healer, Superhero…Come if you can.” and God replied “I am.”

This little part of the song really does it no justice, but it really got me thinking.  In Exodus 3:13-14, Moses asks God “When I go to the Israelites and I say to them, ‘the God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me ‘What is his name?’ what should I tell them?”  And God replies “I am who am.”  Or at least, that is how most translations render verse 14.  This has always bothered me, because it makes no sense to me.  What does it mean??  In the Hebrew, though, it really works–there is deliberate ambiguity.  The same verb form, in the imperfect tense, is repeated, with a relative preposition smack in the middle. The preposition could mean “who, what, where, that, etc.”  God could be saying to Moses “I will be who I will be” or “I will be what I will be” or “I am who I am”–there is really no great way to make this work in English.

I like to think that its written this way in scripture because we need God to be anything and everything–when we’re six years old, we need God to be the “elbow-healer” or “super-hero,” when we are sad or lonely we need God to be the comforter.  When we don’t believe, we need God to be the father in the prodigal son story, ready to welcome us home at a moment’s notice.   

What is your favorite image of God?

freedom!

Its official…I have completed the first year of this program. To say that I am elated is an understatement…I have been counting down the minutes to this point for months now. And finally, freedom.

As I walked home with some friends yesterday, after taking my last final, I felt weightless. Then I had this thought flash through my mind, “What am I supposed to do now?!”  Such a happy thought. Because, for the first time in weeks, I’m walking home to my apartment…not to the library, not to spend hours poring over flashcards…but to enjoy my life for a little bit.  What to do with all of this free time? At least, until Greek starts in two weeks. But who’s counting?

chip away

One of my coaches recently ran a 100 mile endurance race.  When I asked him how he managed to get through all of that, mentally, he explained “It was never a 100 mile race…it was a 6 mile race, a 5 mile race…sometimes, just a one mile race.  Break it up, chip away…and eventually, you’ll finish the race.”

I am obsessed with this image of chipping away.  I think it is so effective and can be applied to so many different areas of  life–be it a workout, a study session, a paper- everything seems more manageable when its broken down.  

Tomorrow morning I have what will surely be one of the hardest exams in my life thus far.  I’m incredibly nervous, and the amount of material to learn/review seems nearly impossible. But, I’ve been taking my coach’s advice…chip away, chip away. And if I just focus on my next move, it feels a little less daunting.

So, back to work.

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

domestic diva, M.D.

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