Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things I Did Last Month But Was Too Lazy To Post About Until Now

Alright, so last month I actually did do a little more than just walk through a spider web. Here are some other things that happened. I…

Went to Red Hill Lutheran Church’s Good Friday service. I go every year with my best friend and love it. It’s such a different worship experience from what I am used to. You sing from hymn books, kneel to pray, and sit in pews. The priest wears a robe and the windows are made of beautiful stained glass. Every Good Friday, they recite the events in the Gospel of John leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. After each reading, lights are dimmed until the death of Jesus, and the service ends in somber darkness. The only source of light in the dark little church is a candle symbolizing Jesus that a pastor walks out of the church. It is brought back in on Easter morning. The resurrection is so much more glorious when you remember that Jesus suffered and died and was in a tomb for three days. It was a great service.

Saw a naked man. Yep. You read that right. I saw a strange play called “Completeness,” making its world debut at the wonderful South Coast Repertory last month. I love SCR and see tons of plays there, but this might have been my least favorite. The play is a 21st-Century romantic comedy about two nerdy grad students, a molecular biologist and a computer scientist. Unfortunately, esoteric science talk was substituted for actual wit, I didn’t sympathize with either of the main characters, and there were "technical glitches" that were actually not glitches but part of the play, which I guess was supposed to be avant-garde, but just came off as gimmicky. Anyway, there was a scene where the two main characters sleep together, and they stripped down. Now, being an art history major, I’ve seen a lot of nudity in art and know that it has its place, but this was just unnecessary. Yikes.

Met Tina Fey! NO BIG DEAL! She is currently on a book tour promoting “Bossypants,” and did an interview at the Nokia Theater in L.A. with Steve Martin and then a book signing afterwards. And yes, she is just as sweet, funny, and charming as you think she is. Meeting her was a bit of a letdown because it was so quick and no photos were allowed, but still. I met Tina Fey. Yep.

Went to the fanciest buffet ever. On Easter, Boyfriend’s parents took us to brunch at the St. Regis in Monarch Beach. This buffet was so magnificent that I felt I should have trained or made a game plan beforehand. We were seated and given exceptional coffee and the best orange juice I’ve ever tasted. The buffet included an incredible dessert selection (my biggest regret was not starting there), a carving table, Indian food, Chinese food, an omelette station, pancake station, all kinds of salads and breads, fancy cheeses and fresh fruits, crepes, beautiful pastries, and tons of other food. I was floored. And my favorite part was the desserts, obvi. They had macaroons. Like, the same kind of macaroons I pay $2 each for at the Spectrum. I definitely shoved a few in my purse for later. (Don’t worry, I was discreet….keeping it classy.) It was incredible, incredible…

Slipped and fell on my butt in a restaurant. Remember when Tai from Clueless falls down the stairs coming into that dance party, and then says, “Now all night I’m going to be known as ‘that girl who fell on her butt.’”? Well…I literally lived that moment. At least four people asked me if I was okay, which I was, save for the humiliation that it caused my soul. This fall was epic. It was one of those scenes that was very cinematic, like slipping-on-a-banana-peel kind of falling. I'm pretty sure the music stopped and every head turned around. I’m just glad I’m not sixty and recovering from hip-replacement surgery right now.

So, yeah...that was last month. Good times, no?

Me. Now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time to Reflect...

I love TV on DVD. Like, love it. There are no commercials. I get to watch the episodes in order. A Saturday morning marathon of my favorite show always challenges my desire to want to return to civilization or human interaction. I can easily watch a show for hours in my room, alone, with a pink snuggie, perfectly content.

After a morning binge of Grey’s Anatomy one weekend, I had lunch with a friend who mentioned that she had a headache. I immediately diagnosed her in my mind as having a hemorrhage or tumor. I mean, what better person to diagnose her?! I had just come from the operating tables of Seattle Grace Hospital, where I’m doing my residency…

Oh, wait…

It was funny to think that I had attempted to reflect my TV medical knowledge just because I had immersed myself in this world of doctors (not even real doctors!) for hours.

Switching gears, look at what David, a man after God’s own heart, wrote in Psalm 27:4—

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

I loved this because it made me ask myself why David wanted to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. That’s what David actively sought. He spent time in God’s presence. He drew upon the truth of the scriptures. He spent time with God. Have you noticed that you reflect the things you pour your time into? Have you ever found your language or habits to be different after hanging out with a certain group of friends? Have you felt your mood change after listening to a certain type of music? Have you ever thought you were a doctor after watching Grey’s Anatomy for four hours?

We reflect the things we pour our time into.

2 Corinthians 3:18 reads: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the LORDS’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the spirit.

Our lives, words, and hearts all reflect something. It depends on what we spend our time on, and who we spend our time with. Are you seeking to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord? Do you know him well enough to recognize how beautiful he is?

God is love. He is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…grace, mercy, justice, security, forgiveness, LIFE…those are the most beautiful things I can think of! What a beautiful God we love, and who loves us! That’s who I want to magnify…that’s whose likeness I want to be transformed into.

My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Michelangelo's Pieta

Art has played a huge role in the way that I think about things, particularly my faith. To me, one of the most interesting things about Jesus were the seemingly mutually exclusive assertions that he was fully God and fully human. Now, how do you portray that in a painting or sculpture? Put yourself in an artist’s shoes…how would you depict someone as both fully man and fully God?

The life of Jesus has completely dominated the subject matter of Christian art from Roman times to the present day. One of the most important works of art in the world is Michelangelo’s Pieta (which I get to visit next month!). While you can find art depicting Jesus in countless ways, Michelangelo’s Pieta focuses on the humanity of Christ, as his lifeless body lays in the hands of his mother, after being taken off the cross.

The sculpture was commissioned in 1498. At that time, Michelangelo was still young and unknown; the Pieta immediately made him famous—in his early twenties (way to kill my self-esteem, Mic)! The sculpture is now in St. Peter’s in Rome.

Look at Mary’s face. It seems much younger than her son’s. Her face is youthful and peaceful, framed by the delicate folds of her robe. She looks timeless, leaning slightly over the lifeless body of Christ. Until the 15th Century, the subject of the pieta was almost exclusively found in northern Europe; the frightening figure of Jesus and Mary, often disfigured in her grief, seemed to distress people attending worship into an awareness of Christ’s sacrifice.

Michelangelo changed this subject completely. He does not emphasize Mary’s grief, but reveals to us a mother accepting fate with a look of spiritual and physical beauty. Michelangelo once wrote, “If life pleases us, death, being made by the hands of the same creator, should not displease us.” That sentiment is reflected in his sculpture. The only slight sign of Mary’s sorrow is her outstretched left hand. Instead of correlating the concept of the Redemption with grief, Mary generates a mood of classical serenity.

The body of Christ is life-sized, but Mary is much larger. If she were to stand, she would be around seven feet tall, although her head is the same size as Christ’s! Part of what makes this composition so astounding is that the unusual proportions go unnoticed by the viewer. The body of the dead Christ displays a keen knowledge of anatomy—the proportions, veins, muscles; the 16th-Century artist Vasari wrote that “No corpse could more completely resemble the dead than does this.” Michelangelo certainly succeeded in depicting in marble a body that reminds believers that Jesus suffered physically and died, that he had the same physical limitations as other humans. It seems that the only thing that one could interpret as divine about this depiction of Christ are his veins—one could interpret the protruding veins as still pumping with life, and therefore giving the viewer a glimpse of hope that Christ will rise again in three days. Though dead, he is still alive, hinting at the fact that this is not an ordinary man. Still, the humanity of Christ is emphasized here—there are no halos, angels, golden heavenly light, or thrones. All the viewer sees is a lifeless body, the body of a frail human, who made his dwelling among the rest of humanity; we also “see” his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…” Michelangelo had an extensive knowledge of anatomy and created the nude figure of Christ in that bodily form, as the very epitome of man—a figure in which there was no need, as he put it, "to make the human disappear behind the divine."

Michelangelo’s Pieta is, in my opinion, the most beautiful sculpture in the world. The serenity on Mary’s face, as she cradles the body of her lifeless son in her arms, is hauntingly beautiful. A work of deep piety, this sculpture reminds me that pain was a condition of redemption, but beauty is one of its consequences. The lucidity of Christ’s body in the lap of Mary reminds me that Christ “poured out his life” and “bore the sin of many.” (Isaiah 53:12) I am reminded of the extent of God’s love, but also the severity of my own sins. I am also reminded that Jesus came to earth, “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:7) The redemption that Christ offers us is a reality and is available to us, for “it was not merely a finite human, but an infinite God who died.” This masterpiece is so beautiful and unforgettable that for most people, the term “pieta” evokes only the Pieta of St. Peter’s, because of the way that it speaks uniquely to every believer’s heart.

A Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Look After It

"I put it to William, particularly, that if you find someone you love in life, you must hang on to that love and look after it...You must protect it." --Diana