we moved!

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(but not far, don't worry).

 

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We still have some boxes to unpack, but we are settling into our new space at 230 State Street, stop 1. It's about triple the size, including the basement and upstairs area for crafting. We are exhausted but very happy. We were just about bursting at the seams in our old space - it served us well for our first 10 years but some change was necessary for the next 10. We hope you'll stop by and see us soon.



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counting down the days

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The last day in our old space is September 15th.

Less than 1 month before the big move. Eek! I have always felt that my life is like that little game of plastic squares you have to move around and get in order, and all you have is one square free. It's even worse than usual. Every box that comes in, I unpack, put new goodies on display, then repack, then put on the hallway shelf where the items used to be. Today I tacked some of those miscellaneous boxes which I'm pretty sure have not been touched since we first moved in. Soon we will get the key and I will be able to shift things into our new basement. So exciting to get storage space! 

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There are a zillion ideas rolling around in my head. At least the paint colors have been decided upon so I can stop pestering everyone with that. I just have to go around the space and mark all the walls with the color changes. We've started talking about what to do with an expanded craft workshop space and pondering new directions of products. That said, we also remember our business plan when we first started - some of the good intentions we had which were replaced with good implementations based on customer feedback. I'm already envisioning a bit of a rearrange in January once we see how traffic flows for the holidays. Now that we have more storage, we don't have to store everything on the sales floor so there will probably be some gradual replacement of dressers and other fixtures. Generally, gradual, that is, unless situations arise as they did this summer, with Capitol Kids retiring and creating the opportunity to purchase what is perhaps the cutest fixture ever - I mean, it's a boat! We couldn't resist, even though I have no idea where it is going. It's very functional though so I don't think it was a hasty decision.

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Anyway, time is going quickly and I continue my blog lapses, however if you want to keep up to date, there's always Facebook and Instagram. For progress on the new space, you can check out #anthology230 (get it? We'll have moved from 218 State Street to 230 State Street).


heart rocks

A little preface: From time to time, I deliver the children's sermon at our church - no big deal, other people do as well but I think it is a nice thing to recognize that the Spirit doesn't speak only through one designated person. I'm not the greatest at public speaking so while I appreciate the chance to share my thoughts, there's always the racing heartbeat and the fumbling with the sound system to contend with. There's also those days leading up to Sunday, the trying to shoehorn my thoughts into the planned service or make my words match the liturgy. I do like matching, and I do like things well-planned out but the best sermons are usually those that leave some room for serendipity. Whether I stop trying so hard to match the theme of the week or when I don't cling so hard to whatever plan is rolling around in my brain, usually that's when something magic happens.

For this week, the theme of the service was planet earth and interconnectedness, but I went off on my tangent of rocks and geologic time. I've been thinking about it all week - first marbled some paper to make paper rocks, but then dumped out some bowls of rocks to find some to bring to the service. It was only on Friday night that I decided on not just any rocks but on heart-shaped rocks. So I go merrily along my way, only to find out after the fact that one of the matriarchs of the congregation, who died on July 22, collected... wait for it.... heart-shaped rocks. For real?! I love it.

Well, anyway, here's this morning's sermon:

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I couldn’t believe my luck when Pastor Sonja told me that the focus of our Creation Liturgy this week is Planet Earth. Because you know what I studied in college? EARTH Science. And I know that a lot of times we talk about Planet Earth and we think about the plants and flowers and trees, the wind, the air, the oceans, the birds and bugs and cats and dogs and all the living creatures. But honestly, when I think about the earth, I think about the rocks.

It’s a funny thing, I suppose, because rocks can bring a lot of difficulty into our lives. Like, have you ever been walking along and you get a little pebble stuck in your shoe? and you don’t really want to stop and take it out so you just try to shake your foot around to get it out but it is stuck there and you are trying to walk but it keeps poking your foot? 

Rocks are hard. cold. sharp. uncomfortable. unyielding.

People throw stones and it is not a nice thing.

But have you ever been walking along looking at rocks and found a rock like this? It really looks a lot like a heart to me. And it feels like a message of love that’s coming to me across time. Imagine all that had to take place or not take place in order to come to standing on a path with a heart-shaped rock at my feet.

Because when I pick up a rock, there’s so much that I think about. 

about little particles that coalesce into big solid rocks, 

and big solid rocks that tumble and rumble and turn into little particles, 

about hard edges that turn into round pebbles

about the way that little drops of water can wear away even the hardest stone

about the immensity of time that passes as lava cools underground, is lifted to the surface, and then breaks it down into just the right size of a stone to fit in the palm of your hand.

So much time. More than anything, rocks give me perspective on time. Rocks make me feel both really small and really special. When you go about your regular day, sometimes it can seem like time is going quickly and sometimes it seems like time is going slowly. But that is NOTHING compared to the amount of time that a rock sees. That is NOTHING compared to God’s time. In God’s time, we talk about the first day, the second day. But all that happens in one of God’s days? It clearly can’t be just 24 hours long.

This moment that we are in is just the tiniest smidgen of a moment in all of time, it’s really nothing to a rock or to God, and yet somehow this moment is ours. Here we are, out of all the possible paths and twists and turns, out of all the time that has passed since a rock first started out as molten lava or particles condensing in the ocean, out of all the time that has passed since the first day.

We are. You are. I am. What will we choose to do with our moment? 

So why don’t you join me in a prayer:

Dear God, as we walk along our path

help us watch for the rocks that are hard, sharp, smooth, sparkly

help our hard edges be worn down by water and time

help us to see the hearts that lie open at our feet

help us open our eyes to see the world in a grain of sand

help us remember the smallness of this moment in all of time

help us remember the preciousness of this moment in all of possibility

 

Amen.


Anthology on the 200 block

So, before you start to worry, Anthology IS staying on the 200 block of State Street. But earlier this year, we started thinking about celebrating our 10 year anniversary and we also started looking ahead to the next 10 years. It started innocently enough with my plans to repaint the store and deal with all those nail holes that have appeared over the course of 10 years. It moved to maybe removing some cabinets, and then to maybe seeing if our landlord would clean out the basement and find us a little more square footage. And then in the process of thinking about bargaining chips for those asks, it turned into touring several different downtown properties and a feeling a little like Goldilocks. We ended up staying on the 200 block of State Street but will be moving down the block into the former Fanny Garver Gallery space.

With the basement, it is about triple the square footage, but segmented in such a way that I still think there will be some coziness. Some of the other spaces that we toured were cavernous! We'll be moving in September and planning a grand opening for October 5th (Fall Gallery Night). Though mostly we're just thinking right now about packing boxes and picking out paint chips. We did get in today to install some windows for the summer. Sachi's in charge of the two little windows on Johnson Street and I think they will be fun art installations for her.  Her first window is based on West Side Story: "something's coming, something good." She hand painted the balconies and fire escapes so you'll have to make sure to stop by and check them out.

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Meanwhile I went with lots of green for growth. I had lots of fun cutting out shapes of leaves and even using up some scraps of green painted paper that have been sitting around for a while. I ended up using a credit card and painted the backdrop of the sign. So fun - I have to do that more often!

 

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Lily made us a little cut-out Totoro and hopped in the window.

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Which brought me back to 10 years ago when we used to set baby Lily in the window. 

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Can hardly imagine what the next 10 years will hold!

 

 


Jesus' trick coin

I know I talked about this a month ago during the time for children and I promise I won’t only repeat myself, but I want to delve deeper into the idea that Jesus has a trick coin. I think we are all familiar with the idea of flipping a coin to answer a question. The question has to be kind of simple though, right? The answer is only going to be “heads” or “tails.” I think this appeals to many of us because it presents a simplified view of the world, that things can be broken down into only “yes” or “no”. No maybe or grey or sometimes or perhaps or if only.

Just one side. Or the other. 

I’ve created my own coin, we’ll call it the surprise coin. One side of the coin has an open eye, the other side has a closed eye. Only two possible answers.

Eyes closed: Surprise! You weren’t paying attention to what was around you, were you? You might as well have been asleep. Whatever comes along is unexpected, and there’s no way that you could have planned for it. It is probably so far out of the realm of possibility that you can’t even conceive of it.

Eyes open: you see what’s coming. You are not surprised, are you? Based on previous experience, you can make assumptions about what is going to happen next. You packed the sweater and the sandals. Your eyes take in all of your surroundings and learn from them. You are Ready.

And I have to admit, this is how I usually think of myself. Growing up, our mom planned out the meals for the whole week, so I know I come by it honestly. I spend a lot of time looking ahead, thinking about possible outcomes, watching and listening for cues that tell me what to say or do. I feel pleased with myself because I accomplish what I planned to do. It is common for Tuesday dinner conversations to center around what to eat on Thursday and Friday. 

I am Ready.

In fact, I am so ready, that I wouldn’t mind if this was my trick coin. There’s an open eye on both sides. Every time, no matter how it lands, the answer is eyes open. You see things clearly, you KNOW things. You are ready.

But this was the trick coin that Jesus was constantly pushing against. It is true of his time, it is certainly true of ours. We walk around knowing and we forget how much we don’t know. We walk around planning and thinking for the future, and we forget to be in the moment. We walk around with our eyes open, but our eyes are only open to that which we know and have experienced already. Sometimes with our eyes open this way, they can be shut to so much else. Sometimes when we are focused on what our eyes see, we forgot what our other senses are telling us.

Time and again, Jesus comes across people who are operating with this trick coin. Every time they flip it, they KNOW what the answer is going to be. Who knows the most, is it the grown-ups or the kids? Who has the best ideas? is it the men or the women?

Who can be most helpful? Someone we know who is a neighbor to us? or someone we don’t know who came from far away and we’re not really sure we ever liked them? Who is best? the people who have money and power? or the people who have nothing?

In a lot of cases, the answers were always the same: the men, the leaders, the people with power, the people we know, the people who look the way we look, the grown-ups.


Sound familiar? Painfully so, to my ear, but that just gives credence to the timelessness of Jesus’ message.

Because Jesus challenges us with a new trick coin. Jesus’ trick coin has eyes closed on both sides. I would argue that this new trick coin is at the core of the reason for Jesus here on this earth.

Jesus says: your eyes are closed to the possibility of everyone around you. Every single time I ask the question, you give me an answer that shows me that your eyes are closed to surprise. 

Flip this coin, Jesus invites, and no matter how many times you do, my answer is the same. 

Flip this coin, Jesus challenges, and you will think about answers in ways you never thought of before. 

Flip this coin, Jesus entreats, and I will show you all the ways that your eyes are closed to surprise.

Flip this coin, Jesus dares you , and you will not be satisfied with the answers that were simply visible.

Every single time. Every single question. Your eyes are closed. You cannot see everything.

What if you see the poor? the people you don’t know? the powerless? the women? the children? What if you saw the grace that is in sorrow and in pain?

Why do you close your eyes against these sights?

The disciples argue amongst themselves. Who is the best? It must be the one who knows the most or talks the most, right? Jesus calls over a little child.

Jesus flips the coin and the answer is Surprise.

A large crowd of people gathers, and you know some of them were wondering what they were going to eat for lunch, how impossible it would be for so many people to walk away fed. But there were loaves and fishes, there was abundance and generosity. There was the easing of hunger.

Jesus flips the coin and the answer is Surprise.

A man was traveling to Jericho when he was set upon by robbers. Who would help him? Would we extend our hands to help those we do not know, to those who might generally despise us?

Jesus flips the coin and the answer is Surprise.

And then of course there is Easter morning. The women go to Jesus' tomb. They already know what to expect. But our eyes may as well be closed because what we see we cannot believe. 

Jesus flips the coin and the answer is Surprise.

Now, honestly? I don’t like surprises. Or, I don’t think I like them. Who wants to walk around with their eyes closed? I like to think that I am prepared, that my eyes are open. I like to think that I’ve taken everything into careful consideration and thought of all the possibilities and all the responses to those possibilities.

I am as likely as anyone to look back 2 years, 10 years, or more, to ask myself how that history shows me what works best, what brought success.

I am just as likely to see a person through the lens of people who came before them, who maybe looked or acted similarly, to base my interaction on history rather than on present. It’s not laziness, really, but there is carelessness in the simplicity and ease of following established patterns.

And yet, my work as small business owner has shown me that there is grace in surprise and that even unpleasant surprise can have deep and heartfelt reverberations.

Honestly, one of the biggest challenges of being an introvert with my job is being on the sales floor 6 days a week, not knowing the people who come to me, what pain or sorrow they carry with them. Time and time again, I find out that where I thought my eyes were open, they were actually closed. 


One example can be found in our table filled with political buttons, a feature since the Governor first took office. The importance, to my mind, is the way it prods us to invite an opening of eyes and hearts, just as Jesus reminds us of the ways our eyes are closed and all things are unknown. The button table is our connection to connect with each other.

I am well aware of at least some of the people who are displeased by our politics. They don’t usually yell at me or storm out, but there’s a certain undertone of distaste that I can often pick up on, a glare shot my way, an under-the-breath comment about the lack of All Lives Matter buttons. So, it is tempting to divide the world into people with buttons and people without. To declare that my eyes are open to people’s motivations and lives, that I see them, and know them, based simply on the presence or purchase of buttons. Hmm. that sounds dangerously close to the Star-Bellied Sneetches, doesn’t it? That story from Dr. Seuss which ended up with those poor Sneetches being completely fleeced by the con artist who persuaded them there was value in separating themselves by stars-on and stars-off.

It is true that when someone walks through the door wearing some of our buttons I do relax my guard a bit. Rarely are we in 100% agreement with each other though - like the people who buy buttons but drip coffee on paper goods. Or the people who agree with me about civil rights but unfold all the t-shirts. And then there are people who might not agree with me about the Governor but we find common ground in our love of this state, or maybe it is just that we both like stickers of cats dressed up as food. Sometimes the surprises and the connections are the smallest of things, but isn’t Jesus prodding us to explore that which our eyes were previously closed to?

What if where we think we see anger, we open our eyes to sorrow and pain? What if where we think we see bad manners, we open our eyes to the multitude of demands on our attention and  the ways we can’t always keep up? What if realizing the ways our eyes are closed helps us to open them?

Jesus flips the coin and the answer is Surprise.

Our store recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and I have spent a lot of time looking back to 2008. I had a customer come up to me once and tell me: I can’t believe I am wishing for Tommy Thompson days. Whoever saw that coming?

I can honestly say that I couldn’t have predicted that I would be at this exact place in my life. My path has had some unexpected twists. The world has taken some unexpected twists. It’s inevitable, right? Don’t we all have Tommy Thompson days that have some element we find ourselves wishing for? Think back to who and where you were 10 years ago. Is everything exactly the same? Have there been any surprises? Of course there have been. Some of the surprises have been bad, heartbreaking, yet even those have brought unexpected moments of grace to life. Joy AND sorrow have opened your eyes in ways you couldn’t expect.

Even if you could, would you give away surprise and unexpected connections in exchange for certainty? Would it have been somehow better if you had known all the events in advance, prepared for every one? Is there nothing that would have been lost in the absence of surprise, if your eyes had been open to everything? It turns out, I am not so averse to surprise as I thought.

Jesus invites us to the awareness that we cannot know all the answers, conquer all the surprises. He scolds us with our preoccupation with power and wealth and shows us that these measurements are meaningless in the realm of God, that it is the least among us who have the most. He reminds us that our eyes are closed in so many ways but invites us to open them to the magic and mystery of the world. 

Jesus flips the coin, and the answer is surprise. Amen.