Last year, I wrote a music review for The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place by Explosions In the Sky. It’s my favorite album of all time by a mile ahead of any others that I put in the category of “favorites.” The emotion harbored within the textured guitar tones and crecendos make me feel everything within the spectrum of human emotion when I listen to it. The title of the album continues to peak my interest, because every time I read a headline about the upcoming election or ISIS ravaging the Middle East, and see where our culture has gone I think about how that title kind of falls on deaf ears. I think the answer lies deep in the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a harrowing narrative (supposedly) written by King Solomon as a plea to evaluate one’s life with a fine toothcomb. The author’s conclusion is that a life lived without observing God as the giver of all things is translated as “meaningless“, “vanity“, and, “chasing after the wind.” Throughout the book, there are glimmers of hope and contentment laced within twelve chapters of what is otherwise a bit of a depressing read. Passages like chapter 3 verses 13 and 14 beautifully contrast a chapter that talks about there being “a time for everything” – “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.” Verses like that make me believe that The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place is actually a fitting title when we step back from the chaos in our lives and take time to give thanks for even the smallest joys – keeping everything in perspective. Yesterday, I turned 23 years old and I look forward to the year ahead of me. 22 (insert T.Swift – thanks for the assist, Erik) brought its challenges and a few rough patches, but after reflecting on the last year over the last few days, here are some of the ways I remember why the earth is not a cold dead place…
God refining me through campus ministry.
Guy weekends filled with trap shooting, basketball, Frisbee, flat iron steaks, and Mario Party.
Family gatherings in Green Bay.
Having the blessing of seeing multiple friends get married and being part of a few more weddings this year.
Seeing local band in LaCrosse with a buddy of mine from Winona State.
Having project groups last spring with the most amusing, hardworking, and enjoyable members I could have asked for.
Being blessed with inspirational professors that pushed me to work harder and produce work I never thought I was capable of.
Sunny, summer days spent on ladders and rooftops cleaning windows with an amazing crew.
Being reunited with guys from a Bible study from three years ago over games of tee in our friend’s pool.
A weekend spent on the lake with my home churches college ministry.
Spending new years swing dancing in Minneapolis with good friends from back home.
Interning in a place and working alongside lively people who challenge me, and allow me to use this time as an opportunity where new experiences can shape, sharpen, and develop my abilities.
Seeing good friends in the recovery ministry gain custody of kids, hold down full time jobs, stay clean, sober, and grow in the Lord.
Cheering on the Navy with family and a belly full of homemade nachos.
Being a part of a step group with the most courageous and headstrong people I know.
Having spontaneous, deep conversations with good friends over Madden Football, coffee, and cheesy potatoes about college and life afterwards, relationships, goals in ministry, fears, and puns made in MTV shows.
Sharing meals and taking in wisdom from my friend/mentor and his family.
Festively suffering through CrossFit workouts with my pastor and a friend from the intern program throughout the week as we swap workout tips, programming, and throw down challenges.
Living in a house with supportive roommates whom I can be vulnerable, share the subtleties of life, laugh, crank music, and pray with.
A night spent on impromptu snowball fights, conversations about our beginnings in Winona, and geeking out about Coldplay.
Being part of the surprise birthday celebrations for two friends here in Winona.
Phone calls, text messages, emails, and Facebook inboxes from family and close friends who are far way from me.
Meeting three of my favorite bands backstage (and being star struck).
Picking up and learning the guitar.
Being optimistic about the future.
I’ve grown deeper in faith, absorbed scripture, and spent time in prayer. I look forward to more of those.
By God’s grace, I’ve now experienced sobriety for the first time in my life.
I graduated from college.
Visiting family in Arizona over Christmas.
Spending this birthday playing fish bowl, spoons, and eating an awesome meal with great friends.
Spending another summer in Winona.
I have more concerts to rage my face off to – Coldplay and August Burns Red to name a couple.
I’m looking forward and praying into what God has for me in the remainder of this internship.
Setting new goals.
Read more books and take in new music…. and eating more bacon.
Continuing to invest in the people I care about and make new friends.