This World

Image Description: An image of a rainbow. The text reads, “Choose Kindness.”

Whenever a person or community does something specularly kind or creative — the kinds of moments that end up being shared widely on social media — a mentor of mine likes to say, “I want to live in a world where (insert story) happens. Wait, I do live in a world where (insert story) happens!”

I think about a time when a whole neighborhood learned ASL for a deaf child who lived nearby.

I think about a time when a dog started running a race alongside runners and everyone cheered on this dog as he ran the whole course.

I think about a time when a massive amount of people chipped in to care for a large family that had just lost a parent quite suddenly.

Plenty of garbage happens every day. But these forms of kindness, playfulness, and generosity exist too. We do live in that world.

Renee Roederer

Mundane Creativity

Public domain: A book is open, and a pen lies in the middle within the margins.

Henri Mattisse says,

Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working.

Whatever you’re creating in the world, keep at it. Even if it doesn’t feel wildly creative every day, a mundane, everyday creativity continues to build, form, and transform.

Renee Roederer

Goo

Image Description: A monarch butterfly, held in a person’s hand. Public domain image.

After a caterpillar spins itself inside a silky chrysalis, it turns into goo. It liquifies inside the cocoon. Between its intricate life as a caterpillar and its intricate life as a butterfly, it is truly a gooey mess. It’s hard to believe that something so beautiful emerges, but this is indeed the messy, mystical process.

So if any part of you feels like goo right now, you might be transforming.

Renee Roederer

Together, Apart

This piece of art really grabbed me. It’s called Flock by Pamela DeTuncq. The description says, “Six teenagers are dressed in identical wool, unprocessed outfits including hoodies and pants. Although there are small differences in clothing — hats, glasses, shoes — they appear as if in uniform. Each of them holds a cell phone in hand, either to their ears or eyes as they are busy communicating with someone else.”

It’s fitting for us as adults too.

Flock by Pamela DeTuncq.

Flock is at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, Michigan.

Majestic

In the morning, I watched lake gulls fly across the sky, and it felt so majestic — the beautiful sight, the sounds of their calls, the calm water, and the cool breeze.

“But to them, they’re just trying to find food. Every day stuff,” I thought.

I know we humans do a whole lot that that could be compared to crapping on cars, also a pastime of gulls.

But if we zoom out, a bet a lot of our every day activities are pretty majestic too.

Renee Roederer

The Sacrament of a Good Question

This morning, I’m sharing words from Farm Church, a congregation in Durham, North Carolina. As they shared this week on Facebook:

When has someone offered a question in conversation that was so lovely, so inviting, and so spacious that it was, to you in that moment, sacramental? Can you remember a time when someone’s curious, non-anxious questioning presence created for you “a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life”? (Frederick Buechner’s words to describe the witnessing of sacrament.)

Perhaps some of Mary Oliver’s questions come to you as sacrament, especially that last one…

“The Summer Day”

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Ope

Image Description: A calendar.

I recently had an away message turned on for my email.

When I went to set that up, I was shocked at how long it had been since I initiated one. (Gmail told me the previous date). As a Midwesterner, let me say… Ope. We should take breaks and unplug from time to time. And… without so much time between.

Renee Roederer

“You Make Me Wise”

Image Description: A unicorn with rainbow hair.

I have a unicorn job.

Actually, the other day, I told a friend that my job is “unicorn squared.” I am so fortunate to have a rare job on more than one front. I don’t intend to share that as bragging, but rather, to say that I’m grateful, and this shouldn’t be a rarity.

My position at the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan is unicorn squared because 1) every day feels impactful, and 2) this is the best workplace culture and environment I know. I am sincerely grateful for both of these.

But it’s also unicorn cubed: I benefit and grow from getting to know the people I encounter in this position. The other day, I was on the phone with one of our community members when I heard a thought emerge from within me: “You make me wise.”

I am learning from our community daily. Their wisdom adds to mine as I internalize what they have to share. They are my best teachers. I am really grateful for the privilege of knowing them.

Renee Roederer

Jacob Collier Concert (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about my experience in attending a Jacob Collier concert over the weekend, and I reflected on the connection between mastery and play. I wanted to name another aspect of the concert too. I was really moved by his own sense of gratitude about the concert.

I’ve already shared how wildly talented Jacob Collier is as a multi-instrumentalist who writes music in all kinds of genres. He also comes across as so humble and reflective. Right before the finale, he took an extended amount of time to introduce the bandmates that he brought on tour with him, not only mentioning what they add musically, but talking about each one and what he appreciates about them as humans. Lovely. Then he did the same thing about the person who runs the sound. Then he did the same thing about the person who does the lights.

Any manager would likely say, “It’s great that you’re giving nods to them, but shorten that up because you don’t want to lose the momentum before the finale.” But it was that important to him, and it was so classy and wonderful. He also thanked us for giving him this experience.

I loved the music on Saturday. I also felt like Jacob Collier modeled so much. Mastery, play, respect, aliveness, humility, creativity, and gratitude. It just really made me want those things too.

What a great concert.