The transition from the old year to the new can feel depressing, boring, overwrought, completely insignificant or downright stupid.
Why not do something truly constructive and fun – remember the things that gave you the most joy in 2014! Your Top 10!!
It’s surprising how summoning joys of the last 12 months can lift your spirits this moment, help keep you from dissing the previous year as something just good to be over with (the gifts of time and experience are too rich to summarily discard), and propel you with the energy and hope needed to realize your dreams for your life and our world in this next leg of the journey.
So here are my Top 10. It’s been really fun and healing to have to whittle them down! In no particular order, here they are:
ONE: The Bible Cabaret! I can’t believe I’ve gotten to do my show in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Waverly and San Luis Obispo this year, and share lots of the laughter that is right there in scripture with folks of all ages and places on the “faith” spectrum.
TWO: Bike Riding in Iowa! Although I have yet to go on the world-famous “RAGBRAI” bike trip across Iowa, my brother loaned me a bike this summer, giving me the opportunity to enjoy hours of intense joy roaming the countryside, whittling down my rear end to almost nothing. Doubly joyful!
THREE: Gaudete Sunday! I have enjoyed guest preaching A LOT this year. Gives me the opportunity to lead worship in this way, but without the stress of doing so every week (and wondering if the congregation is sick of hearing my voice already). A favorite 2014 experience was preaching in Clarion and Dows the third Sunday of Advent, a Sunday dedicated to “rejoicing always” (or “gaudete”). To help folks remember to always be joyful, I gave them a sticker with a ham. After all, ham is pink, fun to say, and even more fun to be. It's my favorite name in the Bible, too.
FOUR: Pant Suit Photo Shoot at Field of Dreams Movie Site! There is nothing that perks up the heart like polyester! I was having a bad time of it in mid-August, and when my cousin and I decided to take a field trip to Dyersville, I brought along my new (used of course) pant suit…why not? When we got to the F.O.D. movie site (world famous, but not too populated on that mid-week afternoon of our visit), I slipped on my new threads, my cuz got out his fabulous camera, and we had a blast (pacifistically speaking, of course). Oh, if only we all wore pant suits (and matching accessories) more often….
FIVE: Goofy photos with my parents! Care-taking elderly ailing parents can get really hard and depressing. Whatever else is going on in your life that’s getting you down can get easily be projected upon them. I am always SO grateful when a goofy idea for a photo or running joke comes into my (or my parents’) imagination. Makes everything right as rain. Here’s my dad at Halloween, so excited to chomp into a gummy brain! Who cares if we were ready but had no trick-or-treaters....
SIX: Fun at Bremwood! I’ve been volunteering as a “Spiritual Life Assistant" at the Lutheran-sponsored residential facility for at-risk youth. It can be hard, the kids can be hard, but joy finds its way - and when it does it is soo sweet! Sweeter than a gummy brain even!!
SEVEN: Fun at Bartel's! The folks at the nursing home (er, "retirement community") where my mom resides have a great sense of humor. Right now, there is a video running in the lobby to the music of Pherrell Williams Happy. It’s impeccably edited – residents, nurses, custodians, therapists, food service workers, bookkeepers – EVERYONE gets in the act and gets goofy happy. To see all ages and moods walk by that video and smile - even when they’re doing their best to remain glum - is just the best.
EIGHT: Drag Racing! I never thought I’d find car racing the least bit enjoyable, and for any number of reasons (including the boredom I experienced when, at Indiana U, I attended the “Little 500” bike race – a miniature version of the Indy 500 which was just a bunch of bikes going round and round the track…snoozefest!). However, this year I was introduced to something that I found incredibly thrilling…maybe partly because the cars go really really fast and for but a short distance and along a straight line. Also because this kind of racing includes “funny cars.” Can’t wait for more!
NINE: Chicago Pride Parade! This ranks as my number one favorite experience of the year – getting to march (prance, really) amongst 1 million people as I shout, “Rejoice and be gay always!” I’ve never been so happy to evangelize, and for all the right reasons….
TEN: This blog! This project has sustained me in more ways than I can say over the past year. I’m still having a blast (still pacificstically speaking, of course) taking biblical texts and showing how, through the comic lens, they’re surprisingly funny. And I especially enjoy sharing all this with you. Thanks for your support and comments. Please don’t hesitate to send me your “how is this scripture possibly funny” requests! Such challenges I am sure will engender extra joy for all….
Happy Fabulous New Year, everyone!!! May 2015 bring us ever greater awareness of all the ways the universe is inviting us to gaudete, and why it makes all the difference in the world.