Monthly Archives: September 2012

Subtext….or why I love Shakespeare!

               I remember falling in love with Shakespeare… his writing that is, not the man.  I was sitting in Miss Whitman’s Freshmen English class, and we were studying Romeo and Juliet.  One day, as we were nearing the end of the First Act, and before we started acting it out for the day, (yes, Miss Whitman was that awesome – we ACTED OUT Skakespeare in class) she handed out a sheet of paper that had Romeo and Juliet’s confusing conversation about palmers on it.  And then she asked us to interpret it, or to dig past the words and actually find out what Romeo and Juliet were saying to each other during this conversation:

ROMEO
[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

ROMEO
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

ROMEO
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.

JULIET
Then have my lips the sin that they have took?

ROMEO
Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

My friend Ashlie and I sat and struggled through all the notes that Miss Whitman had given us.  We practically squealed when we figured out that while Romeo wanted to kiss Juliet, Juliet wasn’t going to just tell him “sure, go for it, lay a nice juicy one on me”.  She was too much of a lady for that.  However, she DID basically tell him that if he wanted to kiss her, she wouldn’t stop him.   So he gets bold and kisses her…and then kisses her again.  Rocket science I know, but I bet you didn’t get ALL of that when you read through it in Freshmen English.  If so – well done!  You should give your English teacher an apple…or a Starbucks card.

Anyway, I fell in love with Shakespeare that day, NOT because of his amazing love story (Gag) but because the man was a master of subtext.  I know I’m weird, but I LOVE having to figure out what his characters are actually saying.  It’s kinda like searching for treasure, or deciphering  a code.  I love it!

For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet (or need a definition for your English class )subtext is when someone says one thing, but is really talking about or means something else.  For instance, if your mom asks you to go pick your younger brother up from soccer practice, and you say “great”, you probably didn’t actually mean “great”, you meant, “Awwww, man, really!  I hate having to do that!”   …Or maybe not – you very well might be the best sister in the world and LOVE picking up your younger siblings.

So, the other day I was talking about poetry to a friend, and explaining that I believe most good poetry (like Shakespeare’s) has subtext, when I realized that I believe good people have subtext too.  But you probably already knew that, right?  The people you are really challenged by, the ones that somehow draw you to them, are genuine and caring on the outside, but you can tell there’s something MORE to them; there’s something  that draws you in.  They wear their heart on their sleeve, but there are layers below that very sleeve that you get to discover.  A quality person, like a good poem, has lots of beauty (of all shapes and sizes and stories) on the outside, but they have a heart with depth – with subtext.  They have character that runs deep, that cares deeply, that thinks deeply, that has deep, deep layers of love, an unshakeable love because of how deep it runs in them.  That person has subtext.  That’s the sort of person we humans are drawn to, and the sort we need to strive to be.

Probably because we humans are drawn to God, and God writes subtext daily; He has done so every day from the beginning of time.  He practically IS subtext.  Since He created everything, His reflection is hidden all over – you just have to look for it.

So, ask God to give you eyes for His subtext, because if you’re looking for Him, than your own subtext will deepen.  Go ahead, ask Him to make you a person of many layers, a person who cares deeply about the people around you.  And ask Him to give you the wisdom to be able to read the subtext in the people around you, because that’s a pretty big talent as well.  Not a lot of people are willing to look beyond the top layer of saints and sinners and palmers and general confusion.  And the friends and people that do – they’re the ones that shape the world; they’re the ones that have Jesus shining through all their layers out to the world around them.

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Whatever!

   “Whatever, Mom”, and, after delivering the    PERFECT eye-roll (seriously, I was a MASTER eye-roller), I stalked off.

I have used that word countless times – and usually in a negative way.  You don’t understand what I’ve tried to tell you, ten different ways?  Whatever.   You don’t understand my passion for reading (despite it being THE MOST AWESOME pastime)?  Whatever.  You don’t seem to understand that my time is super valuable?  Whatever.  You don’t like my fashion choices today (who says I have to give up putting ribbons in my hair despite the fact that I’m in my late twenties)?  Whatever.  You don’t understand why I don’t wear make-up (not true as of six months ago)?  Whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, there are positive ways to use the word.  There were a couple instances when I used “whatever” in conversations with friends – and NOT ended up in a fight.  I’ve told a few close friends that “WHATEVER they do could, it would not be so bad that it would end our friendship”.   WHATEVER they did, we would still be friends.

But one day, as God does, He turned “whatever” upside-down, topsy-turvy, inside-out for me.  I was in a bad mood.  Well, it was one of those down-right, all-out bad attitudes about something I knew I was supposed to do.  I didn’t want to do it.  I knew I wasn’t going to be paid enough.  I knew there was a good chance I’d get emotionally hurt.  I knew I’d probably be overwhelmed at some point.  And I knew I wouldn’t have as much free time as I currently enjoy.  I didn’t want to do it.

BUT I knew I was supposed to.  Have you ever had that feeling?  That God is personally asking you to do something?  If not, you might try listening to Him closer.  He asks stuff of us – sometimes crazy stuff.   And so I knew my crummy attitude was going to have to change, because even if I WAS obedient, doing it with a crummy attitude wasn’t going to help anyone – or please Him.  I also knew I’m not very good at doing that on my own, so I asked God for help.  Actually, after stewing over it for an entire night, I asked Him the next morning in the shower – because that’s where I was (I’m not one of those people who have amazing God moments in the shower generally – usually it’s during worship, when I’m writing or teaching, always during a sunset/sunrise, or outside taking pictures of pretty flowers).

ANYWAY, I was in the shower and knew this coming school year would be absolutely horrible if I didn’t change my attitude.  And then, out of the blue (or plaster ceiling above my head) God, with what felt like a heavenly  hammer (not made out of heavenly clouds either – definitely heavenly iron), pounded into my head the word “Whatever”.   Right.  God, hit me over the head with the metaphorical beam of “whatever”.  And my first response was “???????  Um, God, was that YOU?  What’s with ‘Whatever’?”   So I kept listening, and He pretty much shouted these two verses at me:

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

And

Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is honorable, etc etc etc Think about these things.

Now, since I’m not the perfect Christian (obviously, I didn’t even know the entirety of one of the verses), I had to go look up the references (and the rest of that one verse).

But His point was made.  Whatever I do – I’m not supposed to do it for the money, for the recognition, for someone else, or for, for, for anything or anyone EXCEPT for Him, because He asked me to, because, for whatever crazy reason, He picked ME to do this job .  And I love Him, so of course I want to make Him happy; I want to feel His smile on me, and so I’ll do the job for Him TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY (which I probably wouldn’t have if I were doing it for someone or something else).

This is where the other verse comes into play.  It’s super easy to get distracted from that perspective.  SO, I have to keep my mind focused on good things – GOD things, things that make Him smile.  This is what I’ve found: It helps me remember why I’m doing what I’m doing, and (and this is the best part) it helps me remember / continue to discover HOW VERY IMPORTANT  are to Him.  And I’m discovering that when I’ve got that solidly ingrained in my brain – that He loves me, cares for me, wants my good, that He desires to give me the desires of my heart more deeply THAN I DESIRE THEM – I’ll do everything with a “whatever” attitude.   An attitude that says, “whatever I do, I do it for You God, because I love you”.

And there are so many times I catch Him smiling at me.  You should try it!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.   Phil 4:8

3 (Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,   Col 3:23

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