Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bucket List

Hooray for having a list of things you'd like to do before you shuffle off this mortal coil!

For some time I've been thinking, What do I want out of life? I mean, what do I really want?

And so I've decided to put together a small list of attainable goals that, once I have accomplished them, I can look back on my life and be proud of my experiences. Here's what I have so far:

1. Learn Neil Young's "Old Man" on the guitar and perform it on my 24th birthday.
For some reason, this song always reminds me that I'm going to die. And it's such a beautiful song, it just seems apropos to play it at a point in my life where I have to submit to the realization that a quarter of my life is over.

2. Visit the Holy Land; particularly the Church of the Nativity, the Mount of Olives, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 
This one has some personal significance, as my great-grandfather (a Methodist minister) traveled to the Holy Land back in the 70s. But I am also excited by the actual historical implications of such a visit. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Now, having a little experience in history and anthropology and a deep abiding fascination with archaeology and the religious experience, I really would like to gain a visualization of where some of these events occurred that are so formational to the Judeo-Christian faith.

3. Float in a canoe from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico via the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Yes, it's possible. And it will take almost 50 days to reach the Gulf. I had to use math to figure that one out.

4. Hike a sizable portion of the Appalachian Trail. I don't care where or how far exactly. I just want to spend about a month or so hiking and camping. Preferably with friends.

5. Help organize and run a house church for one year. House churches are quite possibly the only churches that are able to function with little to no money. It has long been my dream to be a part of one, ever since I learned of their earnestness in "doing church" through my reading of Wolfgang Simpson's Houses that Change the World. Not long ago, a professor asked me what 100 questions I would ask of a church that is seeking relevance and (financial) sustainability. My main answer: I really don't care, since most of what a typical "church" is seeking is usually tied up in how to pay the church's bills in the long-run. But Christianity is a philosophy, a Way of Life, and costs nothing to practice. To me, helping to run a house church is perhaps the best way of engaging in real and honest Christian worship. 

6. Visit an ancient Irish monastery for a retreat. Many of the Celtic abbeys in Ireland are only accessible by boat! This makes my inner monk smile with joy. Iona, one of the oldest monasteries in Europe, is still open to visitors and pilgrims seeking reprieve.

7. Go one week without speaking. In today's world, it is nearly quite literally impossible to do something like this. All I want is to find my inner silence, and practice equanimity of mind. It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he carried stones in his mouth until he learned to be silent. 'Nuff said.

Well, there you have it. My bucket list, thus far. I will be adding to it periodically, but for now I have enough to work toward. Do you have a bucket list? Why or why not? What are some things you'd like to accomplish before you die, and why?

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