Sunday, July 31, 2011

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go

Tomorrow I embark on this journey to Colombia. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of actually being there, because so far my mind has been consumed by pre-trip logistics. Little things tend to add up like travel insurance, cramming as much Spanish into my brain as possible, raising financial support, figuring out what to do with muh dawg while I travel, and getting things in place both in Longmont and Austin for when I'm gone.

Plus it's been a challenge to figure out how to actually get to where I need to go. Tomorrow I'll fly out of Denver with a 3 hour layover in Houston and then on to Miami. The plan is to spend the night in the airport to keep costs down and because my fellow accompanier doesn't fly in until after midnight. Seems silly to get a hotel room when she gets in so late and we fly out at 8am on Tuesday. So then we fly to San Jose, Costa Rica for a brief layover and then on to Medellin, Colombia. Our hope was to fly to Apartado on Tuesday as well, but we were unaware that we needed 4 hours between flights because of travel time to another airport. So, we'll find a hostel in Medellin and crash there for a night.

Once in Colombia, Kelsey and I will spend most of our time in Apartado (which you can find on a map) and we will likely be traveling around the region of Urabá (which you won't be able to find on a map) for part of the time. I'm excited and anxious to get there and meet the faithful people of the Presbyterian Church who are tirelessly working for peace.

This trip is unlike any other I've taken. I've never traveled outside North America. I've spent time in a country where I don't speak the language (two separate weeks in Mexico), but both times it was in a large group of people I knew. The longest I've been out of the country is two weeks, so this month may stretch me. I've also never traveled while in a relationship which will add an unfamiliar dynamic to the trip. I'm going to try to avoid being the mopey girl who misses her boyfriend, but I admit I'm going to miss him a lot.

For now I'm going to try and calm my nerves, look over what I've packed for the 47th time to make sure I'm not forgetting anything and enjoy the evening with my parents.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Letter for Peace

As I continue to prepare for my trip to Urabá, Colombia, I stumbled upon this letter calling for peace in that region. I've highlighted a few names (and places) of people who signed it. Just when I thought this corner of the world was forgotten, I'm reminded that there are people who are aware and care deeply for the welfare of the nation of Colombia.

Open Letter to the Colombian People, Press and Government:
Stop the Bloodshed in Uraba,
Due Process for Jose Antonio Lopez, Nelson Campo and others,
and an End to Faceless Justice and Political Repression
Open Letter to the Colombian Public

We, the undersigned, are North Americans and others who are deeply disturbed by the human rights situation in Colombia.

Massacres, disappearances and torture happen continually in the anguished region of Uraba. We can not understand how paramilitary groups operate so freely in this militarized region where the Colombian army is present in massive numbers, and which does not perform its constitutional function of defending the civilian population. And we can not understand why the regional paramilitary leader is not apprehended and brought to justice for his crimes against humanity.

We call upon all armed parties -- paramilitary units, guerrillas, army, police, urban militias and commandos -- to immediately cease all attacks upon both the civilian population and upon each other. Justice, peace and a fruitful life is never found through murder, torture, kidnapping and intimidation.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the U.S. government gave the Colombian government millions of dollars to help establish Faceless Justice, which was supposed to protect judges and others from narcoterrorism. Today, however, many of the detained are NOT narcoterrrorists -- but include community leaders, trade-unionists and ordinary people. We feel ashamed that the U.S. government, under the guise of the War on Drugs, helped the Colombia have juridical system that would never be accepted within the United States -- a system where it is virtually impossible to prove your innocence.

We call attention to the use of Faceless Justice in the case of the detained former Mayors of Apartadó Jose Antonio Lopez Bula and Nelson Campo Nuñez, accused of being the masterminds of La Chinita massacre of 1994 (case #20397-2635 of the Regional Judge of Medellin). According to sworn affadavits, their political enemies manufactured evidence which is being manipulated for political reasons. A major Catholic Church official has stated that he believes Jose Antonio Lopez innocent. We urge the Colombian authorities to provide LEGAL DUE PROCESS to those accused in this case.

We ask the Colombian mass media for objectivity in its reports and that it stop condemning, without presenting all the facts, Apartadó's former mayors Jose Antonio Lopez Bula and Nelson Campo Nuñez. We shall continue to denounce human rights violations until there is peace and justice and respect for all in Colombia.

Ed Asner (Los Angeles,CA), Tammy Baldwin - Representative, State Assembly (Madison, WI), Medea Benjamin (San Francisco, CA), Phillip Berrigan (Baltimore, MD), Blase Bonpane, Ph.D. (Los Angeles, CA), Roy Bourgeois (Lucher, LA), Noam Chomsky (Lexington, MA), John Dear (Richmond, VA),. Obispo Auxiliar Thomas Gumbleton (Detroit, MI), Douglas LaFollette - Wisconsin Secretary of State (Madison, WI), Robert Meeropol* (Springfield, MA), *Hijo menor de Julio y Ethel Rosenberg Michael Parenti (Berkeley, CA), Martin Sheen (Los Angeles, CA), William Thiesenhusen, Ph.D. (Univ of Wisconsin-Madison), Mike Verveer - Councilman, City Council (Madison, WI), Haskell Wexler (Los Angeles, CA), Colombia Support Network (Madison, WI) Dane County-Apartad— Sister Communities Project (Madison, WI), Chicago Colombia Human Rights Committee (Chicago, IL), Colombia Multimedia Project (New York, NY), Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), Community Action on Latin America (Madison, WI), Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace (Geneseo, NY), Office of the Americas (Los Angeles, CA), Veterans for Peace (Port Matilda, PA), U.S.-Guatemala Labor Education Project (Chicago, IL), Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua (Madison, WI), Wisconsin Interfaith Committee on Latin America (Madison, WI), Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice (Cleveland, OH), Christa Acker (Solon, OH), Julaine Allen (Spring Green, WI), Lynn Alten (Madison, WI), Gloria-Jeanne Anderson (Milwaukee, WI), Teeter Anderson (Milwaukee, WI), Frances Anderson (Windsor, OH), Renee Leilani Arakawa (Madison, WI), Clark Arrington (Boston, MA), Jackie Austin (Oregon, WI), Jo-Anne Baccielo (Wethersfield, CT), Susan Bailey (Geneseo, NY), Thomas Baker (Chicago, IL), Vivian Balester (Cleveland Heights, OH), Rev Ann Barner (Cleveland, OH), Len Barron (Boulder, CO), Sophie Bartell (Cleveland Heights, OH), Greg Bates (Monroe, ME), Mary Kay Baum (Dodgeville, WI), Laura Beldiman (Northampton, MA), Rev. Charles H. Berthoud (Lewisburg, PA), Ione M. Biggs (East Cleveland, OH), Ethel Biro (Madison, WI), Lajos Biro (Madison, WI), Regina Birchem (Irwin, PA), Bea Blank (Milwaukee, WI), Phillip Blank (Milwaukee, WI), Charlotte Bleistein (Greendale, WI), Bonnie Block (Madison, WI), Gabe Blood (Madison, WI), Joan Bloom (Boulder, CO), Elizabeth Boardman (Madison, WI), Dan Bolef (Irwin, PA), Tom Boswell (Madison, WI), Judith Botwin (Cleveland Heights, OH), Dean Bowles (Monona, WI), Dr. Jeffrey Boy (Champaign, IL), Robert Braby (West Lake, OH), Brad (Denver, CO), Chris Brady (Corvallis, OR), Peter Brandon (Madison, WI), Erik Breilid (Madison, WI), Sandra Brown (Milwaukee, WI), Peggy Brozeiceoil (Burlington, VT), Eric Buchanan (Madison, WI), Betty Burkes (Wellfleet, MA), Lee Burkholder (Madison, WI), Mary Burns (Madison, WI), Jeremiah Cahill (Madison, WI), Thomas Campbell (Madison, WI), Miriam Campos (Boulder, CO), Betty Cernan (Cleveland, OH), K. Laurence Chang (Lyndhurst, OH), Dorothy Ciarlo (Boulder, CO), Stephen Coats (Chicago, IL), Kenneth Coffeen (Lake Mills, WI), Mark Cohen (Madison, WI), Mark Cohen (Denver, CO), Aspeth M. Colwell (Dodgeville, WI), Edgar Concha (Zephyr Cove, NV), Lisa Concha-Foley (Zephyr Cove, NV), Bryan Conde (Shaker Heights, OH), Bob Cormier (Middleton, WI), Mirna Corrigan (Cleveland Heights, OH), Judy Corrigan (Cleveland Heights, OH), Ted Crowell (Providence, RI), Lisa Curich (Madison, WI), Rose Daitsman (Milwaukee, WI), Jane Dalrymple (Mount Morris, NY), Jack Dash (Mount Morris, NY), Rose Marie Dereks (Madison, WI), Verdell DeYarman (Milwaukee, WI), Mary Dial (Poynette, WI), Joel Diegelman (Madison, WI), Todd Dinkelman (Madison, WI), Bernadine Dohrn (Chicago, IL), Tricia Doughty (Madison, WI), Evan Douthit (Chicago, IL), Nathan Dudley (New York, NY), Stuart Dymzarov (Madison, WI), Jean Eden (Madison, WI), Lois Edgerton (Cleveland, OH), Kathryn Elwers (Madison, WI), Fr. Jogues Epple (Cleveland, OH), Allison Epstein (Madison, WI), Linda and Eugene Farley (Verona, WI), Katherine Feely, SND (Lakewood, OH), Jeff Feinblatt (Madison, WI), Dorothy Fiedelman (Denver, CO), Ann Fleischli (Madison, WI), Kate Fleming (Madison, WI), Rona Foldy (Cleveland Heights, OH), John Fournelle, Ph.D. (Univ of Wisconsin-Madison), Elizabeth Gaines (Madison, WI), Judy Gallo (Cleveland, OH), Marcelo Garcia (Madison, WI), Michael Gay (Wisconsin Dells, WI), Carl Geiser (Corvallis, OR), Betty Gifford (Brecksville, OH), Alex Glendinning (Lakewood, OH), Sarah Goldstein (Madison, WI), Janet Gollin (Boulder, CO), Juan Bernardo Gomez (Stone Mountain, GA), Michael Goodman (Madison, WI), Linda Gore (Longmont, CO), Jean Gore (Boulder, CO), Dorothy Gosting (Madison, WI), Nancy Graham (Madison, WI), Gary Grass (Milwaukee, WI), Audley Green (Boston, MA), Meredith Green (Madison, WI), Cort Greene (Madison, WI), Dolores Grenzz (Madison, WI), Margaret Grevatt (Cleveland Heights, OH), Richard C. Groeppe, Ph.D. (Atlanta, GA), Babette Grunow (Milwaukee, WI), Erik Gustafson (Madison, WI), Vera Hall (Cleveland, OH), Allison Halpern (Madison, Wi), Jane Hammatt Kavaloski (Dodgeville, WI), Thomas Hanlon-Wilde (Allston, MA), Jennifer Hanlon-Wilde (Allston, MA), Jerry Anne Harrold (Boulder, CO), Anna Hawkins (Madison, WI), Michael Heller (Iowa City, IA), Patrick Herriges (Glenwood City, WI), John Hickman (Madison, WI), Helen Hift (Monona, WI), Steven C. Hill (Plainsboro, NJ), Dorothy Hill (Omaha, NE), John Hill (Omaha, NE), Phyllis Hodgson (Avoca, WI), Rev. Bill Hogan (Chicago, IL), Dick Hogan (Portage, WI), Suzanne Hogle (South Euclid, OH), Michael Holcomb (Madison, WI), Sr. Catherine Holtkamp (Melbourne, KY), Tom Hoopes (Madison, WI), Elizabeth Hoopes Castiglion (Madison, WI), Maria Hope (Iowa City, IA), Allen J. Hubbard (Madison, WI), T. Phillip Hufford (Longmont, CO), John Hugh (Lakewood, OH), Kelly Hume (Lexington, KY), Morris Hybloom (Mayfield Heights, OH), Yoshiko Ikcita (Lakewood, OH), Al Isaza (New York, NY), J.E. Johnson (Rockfort, IL), Helen Johnson (Greendale, WI), Paul Judziwiecz (Madison, WI), Clarence Kailin (Madison, WI), Gayle Kanary (Cleveland, OH), Vince Kavaloski (Dodgeville, WI), Jonathan Kelley (Denver, CO), Kathleen Kerlin (Minneapolis, MN), Robert Kimbrough (Madison, WI), Judith Klehr (Madison, WI), Moses Klein (Madison, WI), Kathleen Knipfer (Madison, WI), Mark Koenig (Cleveland, OH), Thomas Kozlovsky (Madison, WI), Virginia Krowilden (West Hartford, CT), Dana Kuehn (Madison, WI), Rosi Kuerti (Cleveland Heights, OH), Dr. Martin Kulldorff (Universidad de Uppsala, Suecia), Paul Kusuda (Madison, WI), Rosa Lapiz (Madison, WI), Mary Lauby (Madison, WI), Jack Laun (Elkhart LaKe, WI), Elizabeth Lavelle (Lakewood, OH), Louise Lawler (Cleveland, OH), Ron Leder (Madison, WI), Michael R. Lehman (Urbana, IL), Donna Leist (Bethany, OH), Dorothy Lemmey (Painesville, OH), Joan Lewis (Chicago, IL), Kathleen Lipscomb (San Francisco, CA), Beverly LoGrasso (Lyndhurst, OH), Lorene Ludy (Madison, WI), Paul Mack (Mineral Point, WI), Katherine K. Marshall (Shaker Heights, OH), Ken Martinson (LaCrosse, WI), Jonathan Mason (Madison, WI), Ellen Mass (Cambridge, MA), Joseph Mathers (Fitchburg, WI), Margaret Matlin, Ph.D. (Linwood, NY), Arnold Matlin, Ph.D. (Linwood, NY), Jodine Mayberry (Rutledge, PA), Mary Mayer (Windsor, CT), William McBride (Portage, WI), Cliff McCarthy (Athens, OH), Sr.Maureen McDonnell (Madison, WI), Robert McFarland (Boulder, CO), Kathleen McGowan (Mount Morris, NY), Sandra McPherson (Cleveland Heights, OH), Donald McPherson (Cleveland Heights, OH), Emma A. Melton (Shaker Heights, OH), Susan Michetti (Kenosha, WI), Betsey Mikelethun (Cleveland, OH), Bruce Miller (Madison, WI), Paula Miller (Cleveland, OH), James Mincey (Madison, WI), Pamela Minden (Madison, WI), Ellen Moore (Madison, WI), Paul Mugth (Urbana, IL), Valerie Mullen (Vershire, VT), Judith Munaker (Madison, WI), Irene Naeseth (Middleton, WI), Ray Nashold (Madison, WI), Lyle R. Neptun (Hemet, CA), Laurie Ellen Neustadt (Dodgeville, WI), Ben Nickels (Madison, WI), Ida Norr (Cleveland Heights, OH), Rodney North (Cambridge, MA), Peggy Noton (Berkeley, CA), Charlotte O'Brien (Viroqua, WI), Donna O'Donovan (E Falmouth, MA), Genevieve O'Hara (St. Louis, MO), Laura Olah (Merrimac, WI), Margaret Orner (Media, PA), Ted and Mary Page (Madison, WI), Catherine Palzkill (Dodgeville, WI), Michael Parenti (Berkeley, CA), Shirley Pasholk (Cleveland, OH), Joan Patchen (Wellfleet, MA), Judy Patenaude (Mount Horeb, WI), June Paul (Madison, WI), Ruth Pauly (Madison, WI), Prof. William Pelz (Elgin College, Elgin, IL), Diane Thum Pinchot (Cleveland, OH), Amy Pitt (Rochester, NY), Sidney Podell (Madison, WI), M. Helene Pollock (Philadelphia, PA), Daniel Postel (Chicago, IL), Maria and Jim Powell (Milwaukee, WI), Edward Powell (Madison, WI), Sheldon Rampton (Madison, WI), Josephine Rentz (Madison, WI), Jeffrey Reynolds (Milwaukee, WI), Robin Rice (Madison, WI), Celeste Robins (Madison, WI), Laura Roby (Milwaukee, WI), George Roby (Milwaukee, WI), Allyne Romo (Chicago, IL), Phyllis Rose (Madison, WI), Joan Rosen (Madison, WI), Manuel Sanchez (Sheboygan, WI), Praxedis Sanchez (Madison, WI), Mary Sanderson (DeForest, WI), Jeremy Scahill (Baltimore, MD), Joanne Schalch (Middleton, WI), Elinor Schambach (Cleveland, OH), JoAnne Schmitz (Madison, WI), Ruth Schwartz (Mayfield Heights, OH), Pat Scott (Middleton, WI), Peter Shaw (Port Matilda, PA), Genevieve Simha (Cleveland Heights, OH), Pearl K. Simon (East Cleveland, OH), Ida Slutsker (Cleveland Heights, OH), Barbara Smith (Madison, WI), Mary Smith (Boulder, CO), Diane Soles (Madison, WI), Melanie Stafford (Westminster, CO), Liselotte Stern (West Hartford, CT), Jow Stern (Fort Collins, CO), Prof. Daniel Stern (Northeastern University, Chicago, IL), Jean Stewart (Cleveland Heights, OH), Saskia Strauss (Madison, WI), Janis Strout (Cranbury, NJ), Steve Stuckert (Belleville, WI), Carol Sundberg (Madison, WI), Mary Sutphin (Cleveland, OH), Mary Swenson-Resource Center of the Americas (Minneapolis, MN), Laura Tate (Madison, WI), Tammy Teschner (Madison, WI), Kathleen Todar (Madison, WI), Mary Ann Toth (Cleveland, OH), Alison Turner (Madison, WI), Kristen Ude (Madison, WI), Paul Uelbeher (Madison, WI), Sr. Carlotta Ullmer (Green Bay, WI), Ellen Unruh (Madison, WI), Jeffrey Valtes (Cambridge, WI), Judith Vankleef (Cleveland Heights, OH), Tony Vento (Cleveland, OH), Carolyn Vrtunski (Shaker Heights, OH), Tracy Wahl (Madison, WI), Kathy Warpinski (Dodgeville, WI), Steve Watrous (Milwaukee, WI), Mark Weatherley (Poulder, ID), Carol Weidel (Madison, WI), Liz Wessel (Madison, WI), Angela West Blank (Chicago, IL), Richard Wherley (Cleveland Heights, OH), Chris Whipple (Newington, CT), Ananda Wiegand (Minneapolis, MN), Rich Wildau (Boulder, CO), Chris Wilkinson-Levie (Milwaukee, WI), Roosevelt Williams (Westville, IN), Rita Wlodarczyk (Monona, WI), Wencil Wlodarczyk (Monona, WI), Sandra Wolosenko (Northampton, MA), Cecilia Zarate-Laun (Madison, WI), Joshua Zell (Madison, WI), Fran Zell (Madison, WI), Mary Zepernick (South Yarmouth, MA), Lisa Zimmerman (Washington, DC)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Last Sunday I stood before my congregation in Austin and spoke to them about my upcoming trip to Colombia. I shared with them what the program is about and why it exists. I told them about how I felt compelled to join this peacemaking work and finally have the opportunity to do it. I told them it wouldn't be possible without their love and support and prayers.

And then Pastor Lee asked me the questions. "Will you serve Christ...Will you act with humility and faith...Will you continue to obey God's call..."

And then the congregation stretched out their hands as the commissioning prayer was said.

And I was filled with love.

As this trip approaches, my nerves are starting to kick in and my doubts are rising to the surface. But to calm those anxieties, I think back to this moment when the Church held me in its arms and promised to be with me in this journey. I am grateful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

FTA protest in DC

Members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship rallied in front of the White House today to speak out against the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Check out the article here.

What a powerful witness from these folks. Prayers for the four who got arrested.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


One of my favorite things about making the 16 hour drive from Longmont to Austin is listening to the Christian talk radio stations in the Texas panhandle. I like to keep in touch with what kind of theology the world outside my tradition is being exposed to, which usually makes me cringe, but I think it is a healthy practice to know what's going on out there.

This past drive through the panhandle turned out to be the most enlightening radio experience yet! The first station I turned to was talking about doctrines that are worth breaking fellowship over. They were discussing baptism in particular and were examining the various opinions over sprinkling versus immersion, infant versus adult. They agreed that differences of opinion in this regard were not worth breaking fellowship over. They did say that Christians should break fellowship with other "Christians" who claim Jesus isn't the Messiah, or that other religions are a means of knowing God. This one made me chuckle because my friends are all over the board on this one, yet I don't feel compelled to stop being friends with them and I hope they feel the same about me and my kooky liberal notions.

When that discussion was over, I turned to a different station (there are many Christian stations to choose from in the panhandle) to find out what other hot topics are out there.

I turned to a station that was talking about 1 Timothy and were exploring the theme of mentors. They were looking at the relationship between Paul and Timothy and how they impacted each other. Then they asked listeners to phone in and describe mentors they've had in their lives. This part stopped me in my tracks a little bit. I thought this was a wonderful activity to encourage. Taking time to recognize the mentors in our lives who have shaped us into who we are today.

Then the weirdest thing happened. I looked over at a billboard that was next to the highway. On it was an advertisement for an insurance agent who happened to have the same name as one of my mentors from childhood. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, but then realized I was still in the Texas panhandle, which is pretty much the same thing.

My eyes started to tear up as I thought about how this women influenced me and helped me get to where I am today. She saw something in me that I was oblivious to, and did her best to help me realize my gifts. I can't imagine where I'd be without her encouragement, but I do know that she's a big reason I came to seminary.

This all made me think about Mr. Rogers, a humble Presbyterian minister who was determined to make children feel special and loved. Here is his acceptance speech for the Lifetime Acheivement Award at the 1997 Emmy's.

What I find most admirable about his speech is that he didn't take credit for this achievement, instead he acknowledged all the people who helped him along the way.

Have you thought about the special people in your life who helped you along in your way?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prayers for Fran

The July Accompaniers who arrived in Colombia just a few days ago are having to cut their service short because one of them has become very ill and will need to go home. Please join me in praying for Fran as she makes her way back to the States. Uraba isn't exactly an easy place to get in and out of, so she's looking at a long journey home. I hope she makes it out safely and has a speedy recovery at home. I'll update when I hear more about her situation.

Update (7/6/11 9pm): Fran has been flown from Apartado to Medellin and will stay there tonight, flying to the States tomorrow. Continued prayers for her safety and health.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Undefined Blog

It just occurred to me that I wrote 10 blog posts in the month of June, which is way more than my typical posting per month this year. I think being unemployed has something to do with it, but I also think I'm rediscovering my love of blogging. I once talked to a woman who said that blogging is her spiritual discipline. She writes for herself and doesn't care who reads it. I admire that and I wish I were that bold.

When I titled this blog "Defining Selah" the idea was that it wouldn't have any sort of theme. It would be undefined the way the Hebrew word "Selah" is undefined. It's been fun having the freedom to post about anything from thoughts on bin Laden's assassination to romantic relationships. I'm glad there are people out there who are willing to read what I post, even when it contains slightly ridiculous content.

As I embark on the second half of 2011, I'm excited to see what life brings and what I'll have to blog about. The first six months have set the standard pretty high and it is going to be tough to beat. I checked three things off my bucket list (I know, how cliche, but it was an assignment when I was an AmeriCorps memeber) so far this year and am in the process of checking one more off. I have a feeling life will continue at this pace, especially with a trip to Colombia in August, Seattle in October and jumping back into Seminary in September. Life is looking pretty good right now!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Coexistence Pt. 2

This story starts back in high school when I read the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I'm not proud of this fact, but I was a budding evangelical so it made sense to read it. I was convinced that "courting" was the way to go and that if God wanted me to have a boyfriend, God would make that happen. So I waited. And waited. And then I got confused. I wondered if God wanted me to be single forever, to take a vow of celibacy and to devote my life to the church. So I got it in my head that I should take that vow of celibacy but if Gilbert Darcy (my dream man) happened to come along, I would take it as a sign that God wanted me to be in a relationship.

That's what happens when you read too many books, watch too many movies and hang out with too many Crazy Conservative Christians.

I had gotten so used to be single, it became my norm which was comfortable and safe. By keeping men away, I could protect myself from getting hurt. I'd go on first dates, but I'd refuse to go on second dates when I knew there was no chance that he and I would get married someday. Needless to say that was a pretty strict system which resulted in very few second dates. I had intentionally closed myself off from others, pushing them away before they had the chance to get close. I'm going to skip through my relationship history since I've written about that before. So I'll jump ahead to present day and get down to the business of coexistence.

I got to seminary and started to understand how our Trinitarian God functions in relationship and we are designed to mimic that. That sounded great in theory, but I wasn't even sure I was capable of being in a romantic relationship after all these years of solitude. I started to wonder if there were a different way to approach life, one in which I would allow someone else to get to know me and see my vulnerable side. That notion sounded frightening and wonderful all at the same time.

And then I met this great guy. We did the friend thing for a few months because I became unavailable and then he was unavailable. Then one day we went out for a movie and drinks which wasn't supposed to be a date, but let's be honest, it was a date. Right after that non-date, I went to Trinidad and Tobago for 2 weeks and I couldn't stop thinking about this guy. I got some advice from friends and worked up the nerve to tell him I had feelings for him and wanted to be more than friends. I was going to ask a guy out for the first time in my life. I didn't actually get to ask him though, because he beat me to it.

It's now been about 6 months and we're still together. I wouldn't dream of claiming that I'm an expert on relationships after 6 months, but I do feel like I've gained some insight into what it means to be in a committed partnership. Here's where Barth comes back into the story.

Barth claims that an intimate relationship between two people should look like the perichoretic dance of the trinity. I realize that's one of those fancy pants theology words that most of the world doesn't know about, but it's become one of my favorite words. "Perichoresis" refers to the constant "dance" of the trinity which is something beyond our human understanding. We are finite beings using limited language, after all. To use a really terrible metaphor, think of three people throwing a frisbee to each other, but the three people are catching and throwing that one frisbee all at the same time. Sound confusing? Welcome to Trinitarian theology. The Trinity is in constant movement with the three persons, yet the three persons of the Trinity remain distinct. They live in constant mutual indwelling and reciprocal love. No one member of the Trinity is valued above the others which means there is no subordination of a member. This is the ideal for our intimate relationships as well.

One of my biggest fears about being in a relationship is losing my identity. I have a problem with the tradition of lighting a unity candle at weddings when the original two candles are blown out. All that talk about two becoming one sounds romantic, but I still want to be my own person. The three persons of the Trinity are still three distinct beings and yet they are inseparable. They don't just mesh into one holy blob. I don't want to become a blob in my relationship either. I have dreams and goals and thoughts that I want to be my own. I know that a relationship requires sacrifice on some level, but I don't want to sacrifice all of me. I want to keep my own goals and dreams while at the same time embracing my partners' goals and dreams and making new goals and dreams that we can share.

One of the biggest surprises about being in this relationship I'm in, is that I don't feel like I'm losing myself. It helps that we have different views on things like politics and theology and we also have different gifts and talents. We both seem to be able to hang on to these things that make us unique and yet there is this connection that draws us together. I can't describe this connection because I don't have the right words, but I will say that it is the closest I've come to feeling the "perichoritic" dance. Needless to say, this is all very confusing. Almost as confusing as the times when this guy tells me I look beautiful when my hair is poofy and I'm not wearing any makeup. That doesn't make sense to my head and this perichoritic dance doesn't make sense to my heart, yet both of these things make me smile.