Henna Lessons

I am currently typing one-handed, because I have just returned from getting a henna tattoo.  Erskine’s BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) sponsored an afternoon of henna as a fundraiser (only $5 for a hand- or foot-design) last Friday, but since Choraleers were singing in Charleston I was not able to support them.  Luckily, the event was such a success that they sold gift certificates for a henna design later, so I got mine done this morning.

My henna design drying.

Henna has been used in recent years in missions, in countries that use this traditional form of body art.  Designs are created to teach Bible stories, with each element of the henna symbolizing an element of the story.  I love this concept, because it is such a creative way to spread the gospel through a familiar element of the host culture of the missionaries.  I should also mention, for those who don’t know about henna tattoos, that they are created from a paste made of crushed henna leaves; the paste is applied in a design that, when left to dry, dyes your skin for a few of weeks – not permanently.  I won’t type too much more since this one-handed typing is very inhibiting on the keyboard (I got my left hand done and it is still drying), but you can see a picture of my henna at left, which tells the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

Update: After a couple of hours, my henna dried and started flaking off, which was a sign to scrape/wash the rest off.  I am very pleased with the final product!  I have been showing off my design all day and explaining the story in its pictures. . .  such a beautiful art.

The final product!

Outback: Because Sometimes You Have to Get Out of Due West

One of my dreams is to vaca in Australia…but for now I’ll settle for a trip to Outback Steakhouse to get as close to “The Great Down Under” as I can.

My friends and I were tired of Moffatt. It happens…and it’s Friday night so here we are in Greenwood.

It’s been a great day though. Got some great ideas rolling around for The Mirror and I’m excited to see the paper go to the next level and really become a place where the students can freely voice their opinions an investigate issues they’re concerned about.

It’s great to be able to sit down and meet with various administration and just work through problems and find solutions together. So here’s a big shoutout to EC Communications office!

But…I’m about to devour this blooming’ onion…so be back later.

Read, Write, Think

Recently, I was uncomfortably challenged when I read this quotation by Malcolm Cowley about writing: “Writers often speak of ‘saving their energy,’ as if each man were given a nickel’s worth of it, which he is at liberty to spend. To me, the mind of the poet resembles Fortunatus’s purse: The more spent, the more it supplies.” Cowley’s words challenged me for the very reason that I tend to hold a to a tacit, logically inexplicable view of my powers of expression (such as they may be) as a finite resource. I used to have a similar idea—albeit an unexamined one—about reading in that, when I began to especially love a book, I always began to read it exponentially more slowly. I suppose I felt that, the better and more worthwhile a book was, the longer I ought to savor it.

A few of the books on my shelf.

Certainly there’s an element of truth to such an idea. As Francis Bacon once said, “Some books are to be tasted, other to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” My problem, however, is in discerning which books are in those elite few who deserve “to be ready wholly.” It’s also helpful for me to remember that, even if I misjudge a book at first and don’t read it thoroughly enough, I can always re-read it more fully; the important thing is to begin.

Although I know it would behoove me to write more, I also realize that in order to write well, one must read voraciously. Such a recognition pricks my conscience a bit since I have not, of late, been as disciplined as I ought to have been about making time for vigorous, intensive reading outside of class assignments. And as one professor is oft-reminding me, college is not about pedagogy (a basic transfer of spoon-fed knowledge); but is rather andragogy, with professors in the role of inspiring guides. Thus, if our view of college is simply that of fulfilling the minimum requirements necessary to get an “A” in a class (though, granted, doing so is hardly an easy feat at Erskine), our vision for education becomes limited and stultifying. Admittedly, deep, intentional intellectual exploration requires generous amounts of time, and that is something hard to come by in college. Anything of value, though, is worth striving for.

With friends as the Sigma Tau Delta English Convention I attended in New Orleans last month. Conversations there often centered on literature and ideas...so fun!

I’m always amused by Benjamin Franklin’s quip that “[r]eading feeds the brain. It is evident that most minds are starving to death.” Franklin was, of course, speaking in a cultural and historical context in which American society was perhaps at the peak of its literacy—or at any rate, the peak of actual, meaningful literacy rather than the mere functional literacy so sadly common today. The fact that he thought that many minds were so starved in the nineteenth century begs the question of what he would say were he to visit our current image-centered culture. If you’re interested in thinking through the differences between a culture dominated by the printed word as opposed to one pervaded by the visual (often to the exclusion of much meaningful engagement with  written language), I would highly recommend Neil Postman’s seminal work Amusing Ourselves to Death. Lest I sound too polemical, I should perhaps mention that I enjoy a good movie as much as the next person. I think it is vital, though, that we use and appreciate technology as a tool rather than allowing it to dominate or control us due to a failure to examine its implications.

Of course, if one is taking a challenging load of classes and aims to make good grades, the dilemma over how to approach technology and entertainment is largely simplified. The reason for this simplification is that if one regularly spends large amounts of time on Facebook, watching TV, or playing video games, good grades will all too quickly become nothing but a figment of the imagination. Most college students I know say they just don’t have time to watch more than the occasional TV show on the weekend. And really, I don’t think we’re missing too much. So pick up a book (or a book on CD, for that matter), set to work, and think! You might fight it more refreshing than you’d expect.

Rainy Days

It’s a rainy day at Erskine which means I’d rather be sleeping than awake right now. I was up pretty late last night (it’s just that time of year…you know, that time when all the work you should’ve been doing piles up and now you’re completely overwhelmed, stressed, and sleep deprived).

But regardless, I will be going to class in the next hour and a half. It’s Bible and it’s an 8 am. But I’m thankful. Why? Because I will never have to take an 8am class again!! Can I get an amen?!

My day will continue on. I have time to nap before my HR class later with Dr. Abraham. He’s fairly new in the business department but he has definitely made an impact on my life. Last year, even through all he was facing with his wife and her passing, he kept teaching class. He’s such a great Christian example and a true man of integrity. That’s rare in business these days.

After that I go off to Music & Politics taught by Dr. Woodiwiss and Dr. Kuykendall. Two of the most interesting and professors I’ve been taught by this year at Erskine. Music has always been such a huge part of my life so it’s cool to be able to see how it’s connected to politics. We get into some pretty heated discussions but it’s nice to open the mind and be open to different peoples interpretations of things.

Usually, I would go to Choraleers after that class but this week we have a bit of a break before graduation. It’s crazy to think that next year around this time my fiends and I will no longer be those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman we once were. We will be seniors, young adults with certain skills under our belts with hopes and dreams to go out in the world and make some sort of an impact.

Acting class follows lunch and an afternoon nap (even though by now you’ve gathered that I take not one but two naps on Monday’s and Wednesday’s). It’s taught by Michael Genevie, current director of Abbeville’s Opera House. He’s a fun guy and I’ve always wanted to get back to my acting roots. I started acting on stage before I started singing so it’s neat to be able to come back and revisit an art that I didn’t even realize I missed so much until now.

Since its Wednesday, I will be attending FCA later in the evening. I’m still leading worship which has once again been a great experience for me. God has truly been working on me all year and I thoroughly enjoy being able to let God use my voice to minister to people. Tonight we are going to have the pastor of my church and his wife and another church couple come and answer our questions about anything and everything from a biblical perspective. I’m definitely looking forward to it and will most likely make another post about how it went later tonight.

Well, that’s my typical Wednesday. Monday’s are similar. I hope you’ve enjoyed all of that. If not, don’t worry I’m not offended. It’s just a peak into a typical day at Erskine for me.

It’s still raining…maybe I’ll get an email about class being cancelled…

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“The Mirror”: A Reflection

Last year I wrote that I never thought I would be writing for a school publication, but this year I took a step farther and found myself as the editor for the Arts & Culture section of our school newspaper, The Mirror.  Although it can be a challenge to find students who are willing and, more importantly, have time to write articles for my section, I have really enjoyed the challenge.

Being involved in the performing arts at Erskine, it was easy for me to keep up with what was going on, though I had to work harder to keep up with the visual arts.  However, as I found out, it can be a challenge to find an interesting angle for each article – sometimes it is all right just to write about what happened, but as all the staff found out this year, students are much more interested in reading and writing articles that give it a unique perspective.  For example, this Monday afternoon was the reception for the senior art show.  Instead of just writing about the event, though, my friend Rebecca wrote only a little bit of a “traditional” article, because she interviewed the two senior art majors (with a combination of serious and lighthearted questions, which also makes for a good story).  This sort of article is much more popular, because students would rather hear the opinions and stories of other students than just a recap of what happened.

I have to admit that all this is partially to advertise the newspaper, because I think more people should read it – we’ve been improving the newspaper so much this year, and I think it appeals to a much wider audience.  Whatever your interest is, you’ll find lots of student-written, -edited, and –published articles at: http://www.erskinemirror.com/, or check out our Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/erskinemirror (Seriously, check it out, especially the Arts & Culture section!)  But I also want to point out that it just goes to show that you never know what you’ll get into in college, especially at a small one like Erskine.  I’m not sure that I will be active later in any sort of journalism, but it certainly does not hurt to have this experience.  And, if nothing else, I enjoyed doing something different, from writing articles and editorials to being an editor myself.

Making Time

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged all semester. On one hand I feel like I have so much to catch you all up on. On the other hand I feel like I should start from now and move on. Either way, I hope you enjoy my little rant for the time being.

Tonight was a long night. But then again it is April. Quite possibly the busiest month for any student at Erskine. Quizzes, papers, tests, projects, presentations, etc. The list could go an and that’s just academic stuff. You can’t forget about the recitals, the convos to frantically attend cause you didn’t realize you have more convos to get before the ear ends, the meetings, etc.

But perhaps the one thing I always tend to forget during this month is the importance of making time for my friends. I try to justify all the work I do and all the things I’m involved in by saying its all preparation for my future, and while that’s true, I can’t help by think of all the little moments I may be missing out on with my friends.

The moral of the story is to make time for people. At the end of the day and after all the homework and meetings, your friends shouldn’t be neglected. People all crave love and attention. Sure it may be selfish, but there are times when someone genuinely needs someone to just be there and listen, someone to give advice, someone to just keep them company. Remember that next time you find yourself busy and swamped with work. Work is a priority but know how to discern when work must be out off for a brief moment with your futuregroundsman or bridesmaid, your future mate, or your future partner in crime at the nursing home you’ll both be in one day. After all, it’s Erskine. What would it be without friends?! They keep us sane!

Adventures on the Bus

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The Botanical Gardens in D.C.–beautiful, yes?

I rather want to talk about the trip Choraleers took to Charleston yesterday, but in order to give that adventure some context, I think I’d better recount one of the incidents that occurred during tour. You see, as I mentioned in my previous post, the choir went to Washington, D.C. for a Spring Break tour through North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, singing—or at least, attempting to sing…more on that later—in different schools and churches at each stop.

Touring in D.C.

This year, something we did that we’d never done before (at least not during my time in Choraleers) was to sing at different high schools along our tour route. One goal in making these stops was to recruit musically-inclined new choir members, but it also turned out to be a lot of fun to sing in the schools because each of the high school choirs we visited sang for us as well. (Much as we love to sing, it’s always neat to sit back and listen for a change.)

We began tour by performing at the Church of the Holy Comforter in SC on Thursday night and then headed to our next concert in Virginia Friday morning. We hit a bit of a snag Friday afternoon, however, when the bus began to have…issues. Although we had left that morning with several hours to spare, the time remaining before our concert that night began to dwindle rapidly when the bus began to experience mechanical difficulties.

Virginia landscape

Our arrival time of 3 p.m. or so was quickly converted into a hope that we would at least make it to the church in time for dinner. Another unfortunate side effect of the bus’s problems was that the air conditioning soon ceased to work—not particularly pleasant in 75 degree weather when over forty people are on a bus together. I’m normally cold on buses and bring socks and a coat to bundle up in, but by the time we made it to Virginia even I felt as though we were in a sauna. (Not exactly the place one wants to spend her time right before changing into a long formal choir gown.) At one point we even ended up stopped and sitting in the middle of the highway for a bit as cars zoomed past. In the end, though, we made it to our destination unscathed (aside from a bit of perspiration), and we all walked out into the crisp, cool Virginia-countryside air with oos and ahs of pleasure.

Library of Congress

On Saturday, we had a wonderful time exploring D.C. and saw everything from the Botanical Gardens and the Library of Congress to the National Art Gallery and the Holocaust Museum. Then, on Sunday morning, we sang in church services at several different locations and spent the night at the Holiday Inn, little anticipating the rather untoward “adventure” that was to be thrust upon us by circumstance the following day. On Monday morning, thinking the bus was fully repaired and ready to go, we boarded and began to make good time, completing about two-thirds of our journey to Gastonia, NC in only a few hours. After lunch, though, we encountered…a hill. And the bus couldn’t handle it. It coughed and sputtered in a pitiful effort to conquer the sloping incline, but unlike “the little engine that could,” to no avail. Thus, we stopped by the side of the road and begged some water for the overheated vehicle from some kind denizens of a nearby Virginia farmhouse.

Hanging out in Denny’s during our unintended detour

We continued on our way, limping along at an average of two minutes between stops. Incidentally, I was actually so exhausted that I stretched across two seats and the isle (where some kind friends, noticing that I looked tired, set me up and handed me a pillow before telling me to sleep) and napped through the series of jerky starts and stops. Unfortunately, after about thirty minutes of this, the bus simply gave out entirely. Left with no other recourse, we stopped at a rest area where we essentially took over the Denny’s restaurant adjacent to a gas station. After about two hours there, our time before the concert was running short, and our director, Dr. Nabholz, decided that we would postpone dinner and sing in our casual clothing instead of changing into concert attire. By the time our replacement bus arrived over an hour later, though, it began to be clear that we simply weren’t going to make it to Gastonia in time for the 7:30
concert.At about 8:40 p.m., we finally made it to the church and were served a scrumptious dinner by the patient 1st ARP church members waiting for us. Afterwards—singing on a full stomach? Don’t do this at home, kids—we gave an abbreviated concert for the host families before heading home with them for some much-needed rest. (On a side note, does it puzzle anyone else how exhausting sitting on a bus all day can be? I’ve always wondered how sitting still can possibly be so draining.)

Lisa taking a spare moment during on of our gas station stops to get some homework done–yeah, girl!

In light of this experience, though, when Dr. Nabholz announced a couple of weeks ago that we would be riding a bus to and from Charleston on April 13th, there were quite a lot of playful groans and joking expressions of premonition. I am happy to announce, however, that the trip yesterday didn’t involve a single bus mishap. Hurrah!The next day, another delightfully glitch-free bus came to take us home, and we finished out the tour without further bus difficulties. And that was our adventure. It certainly made for some Choraleers bonding time, if not for a particularly comfortable ride. As G.K. Chesterton once noted, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” Nevertheless, I must confess that I am more or less liable to take this maxim truly to heart depending on how sleepy and hungry I am. In which case, I suppose, an inconvenient adventure becomes an opportunity for character building. We had some great conversations on the bus, at any rate.