Sunday, December 05, 2004
Brain dump the week before finals
Saturday night was the grand Christmas in Wilmore celebration. At five o'clock all of the town gathered round a large pine tree in downtown. I felt like I was in the scene in Groundhog Day. Awards went out the individuals with the best Christmas light displays in town. There was an elf costume contest for the kiddos. The mayor wore a suit with a ruffled tie and gave the honor of lighting the tree to the electric complany. I'm dead serious.

Afterwards, all the shops through downtown held something of an open house with free hot chocolate or cider with cookies. Several of them hosted live music. A classical guitarist played Christmas tunes at the art gallery. A ska band of college students played outside of the coffee house, while a group made up of a mandolin, violin and acoustic guitar inside.

But none of these was the most amazing thing of the evening. The most amazing thing I saw when we entered the local IGA to pick up some drinks for later in the evening. There to the left of the entrance, in the corner of the frozen foods, we saw this. That's a bluegrass band playing Christmas carols in the frozen foods section. That's a banjo player picking in full view of the ice cream sandwiches. And yes, those are chairs set up so that one and all may sit and soak in this surreal experience.

I have this feeling I live on another planet here in Wilmore.
Last week at VBCC I received a copy of Shorter Christian Prayer, an abbreviated version of the Liturgy of the Hours for ADD souls such as myself. The group at VBCC is attempting to observe the daily hours as a community.

This is rather new to me. The whole concept of "quiet time" isn't foreign at all. It's one of those things that coming from an evangelical background gets drilled into your brain since the days of youth group. It's something I often struggle with but get the most out of when I am established in a routine. I am a creature of habit. An addict of prescription. I thrive in structure. At least, that's what the personality profiles tell me.

Yet, I feel guilty about that. I should be more spontaneous. Routine is too predictable. Too boring. Structure isn't fun. It's the same thing we did yesterday. Why do I feel this way? Because it's not true.

What is helping me is these words from Vineyard Central:
The hyper-individualism and narcissism that have taken deep root in America have led to a current notion that the only good prayers are spontaneous, created on the spot and issuing from the unique persona of the one praying. Conversely, there's a pervasive sentiment that to recite the prayers of others is somehow less authentic, less real, and certainly less efficacious. It only takes a moment's reflection to see that both of these views are nonsense. The fact that Jesus memorized and prayed the Psalms, using them extensively in his teaching, should adequately squelch any doubts about the validity and helpfulness of praying 'second-hand' prayers.

The effect of establishing fixed times in the day for centering attention on God is that your life starts to bend around these significant moments. A rhyme and pattern develop to your day, and the recital of meaningful prayers and psalms slowly fills an interior spiritual reservoir which carries you through the craziness of modern life with your head screwed on straight. You become, as the ancient poet says, "a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither."

Alan pointed out these words here. "Your life starts to bend around these significant moments." I love that picture. I love the idea of rhythm. That helps me. I breathe the same as I did yesterday. My heart beats the same as it did an hour ago. May my prayers and meditations become my heartbeat and very breath.

So I'm getting lots of questions about what I'm doing this weekend. Well, as a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association, I'm representing at the annual baseball winter meetings in Anaheim, CA. In a nutshell, it's an opportunity to meet most of the other A-B guys while also witnessing the granddaddy of baseball business events and media circus of the year. In a nutshell, I have no clue what I'm getting myself into.

Alex Belth went last year:
Smack dab in the middle of the hotel lobby is a squared-off bar area that is raised up off the floor by a couple of feet, carpeted and outfitted with tables. The room is populated with up to several hundred men—agents, scouts, front office assistants, kids looking for jobs, and of course, the members of the media. Essentially, it is a big cocktail party. Groups of guys cluster together and chat. It’s the kind of scene where you see a guy pull another guy aside and say, “Step into my office.” The rest of the men stand around nervously, as if they were limo drivers at the airport waiting to pick someone up.

It is an inherently tense and uncomfortable atmosphere. The mood isn’t dour, it’s just forced. After all, this isn’t a social gathering, this is business. The teams are in the business of signing players and making trades; the agents are in the business of selling their clients, and the media’s business is to be up in everybody’s business. As a result, everyone is checking everybody else out. This is amusing. When I first walked in, I was getting the once over too. Some guys shot me suspicious, dark looks, as if to say, “Now who the hell is this?” Others looked at me more openly, with curiosity, as if to say, “Who the hell is that?”

So did Jay Jaffe:
What's a blog-writing outsider like me doing at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings? That was a question I couldn't adequately answer, not even after Alex Belth and I entered the lobby of the New Orleans Marriott and cut through a swarm of baseball executives, agents and writers in search of the Baseball Prospectus contingent who had encouraged us to come down. Traveling on my own dime, lacking media credentials and anonymous to all but a small handful of people in the room, I shook my head as I surveyed the spectacle. What had I gotten myself into?

The answer turned out to be four days of pure sensory overload, intensive immersion in a realm of the baseball world I had only previously imagined. I watched, talked, argued, networked, laughed, ate, drank, gambled and strolled through the human sewer of degradation that is Bourbon Street. But mostly I just listened to a wide variety of perspectives about the game and the weekend's happenings. I cemented friendships with people who had previously been only names at other nodes of this electronic wonderland. The whole experience left me so giddy I was unable to fall asleep at night no matter how exhausted my body was.

I anticipate a surreal yet exciting four days. Should be a wild time.

It's been one of those weeks where all I want to do is curl into the fetal position and weep uncontrollably. Unfortunately it's like this from now until finals. Outlines. Papers. Group projects. Finals. It's felt like one thing after another all semester and now it seems like a great tidal wave cresting for the final crash. If one I had a surfboard. In little more than a week it will all be over. That's the rumor, anyway.

Check it out. The cult has accepted me. And to think, all it took was paying the membership dues. Ha! (just kidding, Alan)

I absolutely love the season of advent. Redemption. Hope. Anticipation. These are good things. Last year I wrote about Incarnation Day. It rambles around a bit, I know. I'm feeling rather distracted this year by a busy-ness that buzzes like a horde of flies around my head. But despite the distractions, I believe Brother Kyle puts it best when he says Redemption is coming to get us. What an awe-inspiring image. Ready or not, the God-Man is coming to get us. This is an amazingly good thing.

And wow. I didn't realize I was at the center of the blogger universe. Makes me feel all nervous now as I walk across campus. Who has solved my super-duper-secret blogger identity?

posted by Peter at 11:30 PM
| | permalink |