twentybydesign

the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Archive for July 2014

walking in the rain

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As has become my custom this summer, I set out to walk the mile and a half to my afternoon coffee meeting rather than fire up my SUV for the journey. I love the walk, it winds through a beautiful part of my neighborhood, big old trees and creeks and streams, well kept-houses, my very favorite local church, and a stretch of busy road that makes me glad I’m experiencing the road at four miles an hour rather than forty. It only takes half an hour, and provides good time to think, pray, listen, and breathe some fresh air. I’ve fallen in love with my neighborhood in this way – in taking the time to see and smell and feel this particular patch of earth. Sometimes I take this walk on sunny days, and on those days it’s advantageous to know the oases along the way, shade trees for resting and streams for cooling down toasty toes.

 


 

Today, it is raining. Not violently or tempestuously, but steadily and often substantially. Rain makes me want to put on some Sigur Ros, drink tea and read something dense. It would be easy to simplify the journey, save some time and effort, and take the four mile drive. But I’m looking forward to this walk, and I know that in saving time, I’ll also lose an opportunity to see another side of the neighborhood. So I pull on a hooded sweatshirt, shake out my umbrella, strap on my Chacos, and set out on the journey.

Along the way my pace slows considerably. On hot summer days I take the walk pretty quickly, so as to avoid sunburns and reach the next bit of shade as soon as possible. I don’t like being very hot for very long. Today, the rain allows me the time to notice how, from the right angle, the old trees form an arch across the road that obscures the buildings and makes the neighborhood look like a forest. The rain challenges me to turn off my music and listen to its own particular rhythms. And my ritual stop at the stream to cool my feet becomes an opportunity to wash off all the debris my soggy sandals have collected. It is good to be in this place. As cars rush past, windows rolled up, climates controlled, pace ruled by the rhythm of traffic, I can’t help but wonder if they know how much they’re missing. 

 


 

It’s essential, somehow, to learn to love the road when it’s raining. Not to see the rain as an inhibition or inconvenience, something we have to protect ourselves from and rush through as quickly as possible, but to see the rain-soaked world as a space that is just as valid for an honest journey as the blue-skied paradise we Coloradans get to experience 300+ days a year. We’ve worked as hard as possible to control our environments, to make sure our experience of the world is exactly the same regardless of climate or temperature. But if we spend the rainy season wishing for the sunshine, we’ll miss an opportunity to move through this time at the pace of our own two feet, to see the depth and beauty and humble sadness of a world where the rain is still fresh. I loved the rain today, precisely because it was, without hope or agenda – immersive, arresting, and revealing another shade of glory on the trail I thought I knew so well.

I’m sad to be leaving this place, because I’ve seen so much sunshine here. Rays of light and goodness and glory, moments that bestow hope and purpose and joy. But I’ve also seen seasons of rain, and loved them in equal measure. Somehow they show the road with honesty, washing away the illusion of invincibility and omnipotence. And they is part of what I’ve loved about the last five years, and so I’m sad to be leaving that too. 

 


 

Often, learning to see Him in the rain is the only way to know He’s here. His love for us is not confined to the sunshine, to the clarity, to the easy paths and bright moments. He is equally present in the rain, the inconvenience, the confusion, the obscurity, the washing away and the vital refreshing. He dances in the fresh and bewildering downpour, even as He delights in the new shoots of life this deluge calls forth. This rain is not simply valuable for what it produces, but for the exact beauty of what it is. 

O my heart, learn to love this place, even if it feels like a season of interminable, bittersweet rain, because He is Here. And because, in the midst of all of it, He Is. 

 

 

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Written by Taylor Webster

July 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Wedding Season, 2014 (a toast)

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As anyone in twenty-something stage of life knows, summer is Wedding Season. The sun in shining, the birds are singing, and happy couples across the country are tying the knot with vibrant, festive enthusiasm. And the friends and family of these couples are caught up in the tidal wave of bridal showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, ceremonies, and receptions. I’m a couple years removed from college, so my friends are really starting to kick things into gear. It’s been four for me this season, including a three-weddings-in-ten-day stretch that inaugurated and defined my July.

All of these festivities made me think of a post of mine from a couple years ago. You can read Wedding Season if you’d like – I still think there’s some wisdom there, even though it was written before I started going to 4+ weddings a summer. This time I’d like to reflect on what a rich experience this wedding season has been, and on the marathon of the last ten days in particular.

If you didn’t click through to the last post, I’ll give you a bit of a background. I’m 23 now, and I think I’ve been to about ten weddings since then, and there’s never been anything to interfere with my single-gal status at these shindigs. I’ve written a fair bit about singleness, some about the engagement bug, but very little about the weddings themselves.

If we’re talking liturgical philosophy, I’ll give you an earful about how the commercialization of weddings and the elevation of the romance narrative is part of a cultural downward spiral of dire significance. But I’d be remiss in ignoring the way in which weddings also play a vital role in combating the tide of cynicism in our world. I can’t pinpoint what it was about this stretch of weddings in particular that I enjoyed so much, so I’m going to try to give you a series of vignettes to capture the week, to share with you something of what it was:

 

It was being my mother’s date to the wedding of my oldest friend, sitting at the table with our first-grade teacher and sharing stories, dancing and laughing and catching up with a family I hadn’t seen all together in nearly ten years. 

It was the fusion of modern zest for life with reverence for tradition, as old hymns, familiar scriptures, and well-aged liturgies ushered in the beginning of decidedly new, twenty-first-century marriages.

 

It was the bachelorette party that was a celebration of friendship and sisterhood, a poignant good-bye to a way of life as we prepared to send the bride halfway across the country. 

It was reuniting a crew of crazies and blasting 95.7 The Party so that we could get our groove on because we knew that at the end of the two hour drive, this wedding wasn’t going to have dancing. 

It was the ceremony where I got to sit next to my best friend, the gal whose imagination during the ceremony turned towards “When you have your own church someday…” rather than “When we’re planning your wedding…” and feeling known, loved, and immensely grateful to be sharing life with someone so wonderful.

It was the way the bride and groom, finding themselves at the end of nine months of long-distance engagement, never let go of each other’s hands during the reception.

It was being seated with a table entirely composed of strangers, despite the fact that I knew a couple dozen people at the wedding, and being able to laugh and talk and enjoy the evening together as through we were old friends. 

 

It was rekindling a dormant friendship with a man who’s always been a big brother and mentor, picking up right where we left off, and discussing long-range life philosophies while slow-dancing to “Closing Time” at the end of the night.

It was the men – some friends, some strangers – who noticed me sitting alone and requested the honor of a dance, knowing that asking for a dance simply means you’d like someone to dance with, and that it’s perfectly acceptable behavior at a wedding.

It was playing Scattergories and Taboo with two of my favorite married couples in a mountain cabin after the wedding, falling asleep in a pile of blankets on their floor at 2 AM, and waking up for a leisurely breakfast in town at a table for five.

 

It was the realization of the beauty and bravery of these marriages, these decisions to say, at the age of twenty-three, “I’m done comparison shopping, you and I are going to do this together regardless of who else we meet, where our careers thrive or struggle, where we have to move, or where we have to stay.” It’s a brilliant, selfless antidote to the tonic of self-fulfillment, convenient, disposable relationships and pursuing one’s own dreams that has permeated the mind of your average twenty-three year old (myself included.)

Yes, it was about the eight folks that I witnessed knit their lives together. But it was also about the reunion of a wide web of friends and family at vibrant celebrations born out of long seasons of difficulty.

During the ceremony of this Tuesday’s wedding, the minister said something like “You two are embarking on life’s greatest adventure – marriage.” I couldn’t help but twitch a bit at that statement. Marriage is a grand adventure, make no mistake. I can’t wait to see all of the joy and glory that comes out of the depth and vulnerability of these marriages.

But what if life’s greatest adventure is just life itself? What if it doesn’t have to be hindered by a fear of odd numbers? What if it’s these crazy moments where single folks and married folks share stories and wedding parties become centers of hospitality and reunion? What if, even in our singleness, we allow our relationships to be vital and risky and intimate and hopeful?

And what if, as one of my newlywed friends reminded me, we allow this all to stand as a brilliant metaphor for the relationship between Christ and his Church – the passionate pursuit, the fastidious preparation, the joyous union and the celebration from which no one is turned away. Weddings are as crucial to understanding the present and future realities of the life of faith as they are to upholding traditional social structures.

 

There’s no better way to end than with a toast. So, here’s to wedding season. This crazy season that somehow reminds us to look outside of ourselves, to stop comparison shopping, to commit to the real, honest, hard, fulfilling work of building strong relationships with each other, to dance and laugh and eat cake, to invite folks from our pasts to celebrate with us the great joys of our present moments, and to keep throwing the kind of parties where everyone feels welcome. Here’s to the guests and wedding parties, spouses and singles, old and young, estranged and embraced. May you all live to see a thousand reasons to rejoice. 

Written by Taylor Webster

July 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm