Cold Tangerines

In the spirit of our current culture, where everything from a pimple on your hiney to global warming needs to be blamed on somebody, let me say right up front: This is all Shauna Niequist’s fault. No, actually it’s Tammie’s fault, ultimately.

‘lemmie ‘splain.

For the past few years, our worship team has had the total pleasure (he said, with his sarcasm blaster set on “char”) of attending a mothers retreat at Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp. Now, understand – there is nothing wrong with that… until you take into account that the instrumentalists in our worship team are all male. Every one of us (except for Courtney, she of the singing violin).

Tammie is Greg’s wife. Greg is our drummer. Tammie is one of those who is “in charge” of the Breathe Retreat. And she’s part of the worship team. Put it all together, and what do ya got?

I’ve been to more women’s retreats than someone imbibed with a decent amount of testosterone should be subjected to (not to mention a breakfast and fashion show of “frilly things” for plus-size ladies, but that’s another story… a long, horrible story… ). And God, who is always up for such things, makes sure that He drops a few bricks on my head during these events. Just to tell me to pay attention. And I’d be happy to – in a manly setting, with manly men being manly together.

Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t know what to do in a manly setting with manly men if I tried… When you look up the phrase “girly man” in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture there.

So, this past March, God once again used this event to whack me upside the head, in the form of a book called “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist.

I managed to miss the vast majority of it this year, so I dodged (I’m sure) a few opening volleys. But God made sure that the big one, the massive slam, the big spike, the mamba-slamba-jamba was saved for the very end, in the chapter called “Needle and Thread.” Wherein she encourages those of us who create (and actually, that’s ALL of us!) to “keep going.” To continue to do what we do, to create, to make art in whatever medium we are called to. To not let our voices be silent, because they are needed. Art – in words, in paint, in digital bytes, in music, in the symmetry of a well-designed database (VICKI!), or any of the countless ways we create – is necessary. Our stories are necessary. Our voices need to be heard, and we need to hear other voices.

That was the final session of the retreat, and as I said, God saved the big guns for the end. As Shauna was sharing this, Vicki was squirming in her seat, looking at me and nodding the Psychic Friends Smile (“See? I knew you needed this. See? You need to write. See? I told you!”). I don’t think it’s fair that God keeps using women’s retreats to kick my butt – why couldn’t He take me to a Whitecaps game, and put a little note up on the scoreboard, like “Yo, lard hiney – GET TO WORK AND WRITE!!” I’d listen to that – really.

“Cold Tangerines” is a good read and definitely worth your time. Shauna writes about celebration in all moments of life, even in the tiniest places, and we need that word everyday. So ladies – grab a copy (no you can’t borrow mine – Shauna signed it for me… OK, Vicki asked her to sign it for me. I wasn’t going to be caught dead in line to have her sign my book…), and after you’ve read it (and cried over it, again, and again, and again, ad infinitum, world without end, amen), leave it in the bathroom. It’s bright orange, has a friendly picture of tangerines on the cover, and he won’t know it’s a “chick book” until he’s so far into it that he can’t stop. Plus, the stories are independent, each one in a short chapter – perfect for… um… those times when one needs a little reading material.

I began admitting that I just might have to do some writing about the time I heard Shauna tell us to “not stop – keep going,” and then found (to my shock) that writing might be one of those things that I “do.” And actually miss if I don’t take time for it. And now you know the reason you continue to be subjected to the random, wandering, often tedious ramblings – it’s Tammie’s fault. And Shauna’s fault. Certainly not mine.

One comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do keep in mind that it was one of those retreats that gave birth (pun fully intended) to Father Greg and the Down-Home Boys!

    …did we ever decide if down home was one word, two words, hyphenated? that was many moons ago…

    Slim Jim

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