Thursday, January 29, 2015

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

Word by word, the language of women so often begins with a whisper. 

Within silence our voice dwells.
The blank pages of a Mormon mother's empty journals become the basis for Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds. Words that create, sustain, and enrich.

The degree of our aliveness, depends on the degree of our awareness.

There are two important days in a woman's life: the day she is born and the day she finds out why. 

It has never been more urgent for women to live the why we are here.
Finding one's voice is the process of finding one's passion.

The success of any teacher is to recognize what one doesn't know.

For a woman or man to speak from the truth of their heart is to break taboo.

We can no longer deny the destiny that is ours by becoming women who wait - waiting to love, waiting to speak, waiting to act. This is not patience, it is pathology.

What are the consequences when we go against our instincts?

And I realize, I'm never going to journal here. I may catalog, label, write our days, write our adventures, write of our lives, laugh here, and ponder here, but this space will never be a journal.

For far to long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. When we don't listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don't, others will abandon us.

Soul utterance: to speak through our vulnerability with strength.

I leave names off this space. Who am I, to utter the lives of others? They may read my words, if they wish, but it's not for another to search them out. They too, will choose what to share, and what to savor.

True eloquence has an edge, sharp and clean.

I am learning to live with my edges. I am learning to let go of what others think. There is so little time. No time. No time to waste caring what the world thinks, except for those who cannot care for themselves. There is no time to waste, thinking about thinking about what others are thinking about. Me.

My voice is born repeatedly in the fields of uncertainty.

We can choose to move like water rather than be molded like clay.

Beside a well, one won't thirst; beside a sister, one won't despair.

The sin we commit against each other as women is lack of support.

I have found what I need most to heal a broken bond is time together - the very thing I avoid is the thing most desired. 
If we have no shadow, it means we are invisible. 

There shall always be sacred spaces, sacred utterances, that are mine alone.

If I leave,
blank pages,
for the children,
I have REALLY lived.

If I leave Nushu,
for the sisterhood,
we shared wisdom.

If I leave,
old notebooks,
it's okay,
burn them.

I thought,
I'd give my journals,
to a women's museum.

I was young.

But then I grew.
I knew,
you'd know,
how crazy, I was.

So I hid,
in the rafters.
for a season.

Then, I,
burned them myself.
floating high.

Then, I
more journals.

~ Kim
 Another tome comes to mind: Booked, in which Karen Swallow Prior explores how books brought her to God, and to herself. Recommended.

Be aware of what can never be tamed. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Of Winter Bread, Books, and Wonderings

   The written word has the power to change a woman and make a woman. Within the word, parchment thick, there are worlds that beckon. Thoughts that cause us reckon. 
   Based upon St. Francis of Assisi, Richard Rohr's, Simplicity, The Freedom of Letting Go, is exactly what I needed to begin a new year. Rohr reminds: it's not about stuff, it's not about the Church, and it's not about me. It's always about the One.     

   I can't help but ponder where we are with church. There's a tension. I believe the Church is emerging, personally, spiritually, and corporately, and those who seek their identies in Christ - will be the church nourishing and nurturing. Churches still seeking to define themselves by their ministries, their relevancy, by their form and function - will fade.  In churches lacking the One, we can be assured to find lack. To know the Gospel, does not mean I hold the Gospel within or the grace of the Son. Ouch. Each new day is an new journey. Today, I knew Him. Tomorrow, I might only know of Him. It's a daily embrace, a daily dance. And I know, I'm not home. Yet. This place is not where I belong. There's more. So I hold the tension within, and remember my Jesus loves me, His is for me, and He is for us. 

   The great temptation of the Western Church has been to imprison the Gospel in our heads. Up there you can be right or wrong, your position can be correct or false, but in any case everything always remains firmly in your grip. Action never allows us the illusion of control, at least not for long. True action never permits the illusion that we will always understand everything. When we get involved with the pain of this world, we notice very soon that we have only a little fragment of the truth.~ Rohr
Lila by Marilynne Robinson, is a must read. For all we cannot reconcile, but desperately want to. Deeply moving. My words cannot do this story justice. 

Against All Grain Because feeding those we love is a creative force for bodies and souls.

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams 
I'm writing a post. Look for it this week. 

Lilith, by George MacDonald, rocked my boat this month, and the reality is, I can't write more on this book, or I'd have to type up the entire ending! I will say, spoiler alert, even Lilith is redeemed. Loved it. 
   The fact is, no man understands anything. When he knows he does not understand, that is his first tottering step - not toward understanding, but toward the capability of one day understanding. ~ Lilith

A Path Appears, by Kristof and WuDunn is chock full of engaging, helpful, and hopeful essays. It's overdue at the library and I'm keeping it...for awhile. It reaffirms in my spirit that the best hopes are found in preventing pain in the first place. Prevention. Preschool. Prevention. Community. Prevention. Making it personal. Prevention. Community kitchen. Prevention. Opportunities abound.

He who opens a school door closes a prison. 
~ Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lilith by George MacDonald

    His best characters are those which reveal how much real charity and spiritual wisdom can co-exist with the profession of a theology that seems to encourage neither. MacDonald illustrates not the doubtful maxim that to know all is to forgive all, but the unshakable truth that to forgive is to know. He who loves, sees. ~ CS Lewis
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
   Headed over to the dark side today, even if just for a bit. I don't usually choose science fiction or darkness in books, but this new year, I've determined to step up and stretch my fiction writing skills. Therefore, I'm stretching my reading roster. In Lilith, I got more than I bargained. I really don't have much to add, but to say that this book speaks to me. I'm not quite through it yet, and will likely post more quotes. But, oh the words and truths. Sister and I read the passage on Eve and Lilith the other day; it sparked quite the conversation. 

Lilith Quotes

When a heart is really alive, then it is able to think live things.

All live things were thoughts to begin with, and are fit therefore to be used by those that think. When one says to the great Thinker: - “Here is one of thy thoughts: I am thinking it now!” that is a prayer – a word to the big heart from one of it's own little hearts.

Indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool of you that you will know yourself for one, and so begin to be wise.

You can tell what sort a man is by his creature that comes oftenest to the front.

Your world is such a half-baked sort of place, it is at once so childish and so self satisfied.

You know nothing about whereness. The only way to come to know where you are is to begin to make yourself a home.

Two objects,” I said, “cannot exist in the same place at the same time.”

"Can they not? I did not know! - I remember now they do teach that with you. It is a great mistake - one of the greatest ever wiseacre made! No man of the universe, only a man of the world could have said so!" ~ The Raven
Cindy Lee Jones, The Raven
 Of Little Ones

She will never go bad and grow big! When they begin to grow big they care for nothing but bigness; and when they cannot grow any bigger, they try to grow fatter. The bad giants are very proud of being fat.” “So they are in my world.” I said, “only they do not say fat there, they say rich.”

He is forever eating those apples now!” she said. “That is what comes of Little Ones that won't be little!”

They call it growing up in my world!” I said to myself. “If only she would teach me to grow the other way, and become a Little One! - Shall I ever be able to laugh like them?

Pondering as I went, I recalled many traits of my little friends.

Once when I suggested that they should leave the country of the bad giants, and go with me to find another, they answered, “But that would be to not ourselves!” - so strong in them was the love of place that their country seemed essential to their very being! Without ambition or fear, discomfort or greed, they had no motive to desire any change; they knew of nothing amiss; and, except their babies, they had never had a chance of helping anyone but myself: - How were they to grow? But again, why should they grow? In seeking to improve their conditions, might I not do them harm, and only harm? To enlarge their minds after the notions of my world – might it not be to distort and weaken them? Their fear of growth as a possible start for giant-hood might be instinctive!

In this world never trust a person who has once deceived you. Above all, never do anything such a one may ask you to do.  

In Bulika (The Evil Netherlands)

Doubt,” I said to myself, “may be a poor encouragement to do anything, but it is a bad reason for doing nothing.”

I was too daring: a man must not, for knowledge, of his own will encounter temptation! On the other hand, I had reinstated an evil force about to perish, and was, to the extent of my opposing faculty, accountable for what mischief might ensue!

I asked how they were rich if none of them earned money. She replied that their ancestors had saved for them, and they never spent. When they wanted money they sold a few of their gems. “But there must be some poor!” I said. 
I suppose there must be, but we never think of such people. When one goes poor, we forget him. That is how we keep rich. We mean to be rich always.”
But when you have dug up all your precious stones and sold them, you will have to spend your money, and one day you will have none left!” 
De Beers Venetia Mine, South Africa Photographer Unknown
Every now and then as she spoke, she would stop and look behind her.
I asked why her people had such a hatred of strangers.
She answered that the presence of a stranger defiled the city. 

How is that?” I said.
Because we are more ancient and noble than any other nation. - Therefore,” she added, “we always turn strangers out before night.”

Mr. Vane comes out of Bulika and is home in the library. He was saved from the Princess; pulled through the Silent Fountain by the Raven

When a man will not act where he is, he must go far to find work.

But for the weeping in it, your world would never have become worth saving!

Is not a little knowledge, a dangerous thing? 
That is one of the pet falsehoods of your world! Is a man's greatest knowledge more than a little – or is it therefore dangerous? The fancy that knowledge is in itself a great thing would make any degree of knowledge more dangerous than any amount of ignorance. To know all things would not be greatness.
The Persian Cat

But if I found a man that could believe
In what he saw not, felt not, and yet knew,
From him I should take substance, and receive
Firmness and form related to touch and view,
then should I clothe me in the likeness true
Of that idea where his soul did cleave!

At these words such a howling, such a prolonged yell of agony burst from the cat , that we both stopped our ears.... “Now we have her, I think!” and returning to the cat, stood over her and said, in a still, solemn voice:-

Lilith, when you came here on the way to your evil will, you little thought into whose hands you were delivering yourself! - Mr. Vane, when God created me – not out of glory – He brought me an angelic splendor to be my wife: there she lies! For her first thought was power; she counted it slavery to be one with me, and bear children for Him who gave her being. One child, indeed, she bore, then, puffed with the fancy that she had created her, would have me fall down and worship her! Finding, however, that I would but love and honour her, never obey and worship her, she poured out her blood to escape me, fled to the army of the aliens, and soon had so ensnared the heart of the great Shadow, that he became her slave, wrought her will, and made her Queen of Hell.

The one child of her body, she fears and hates, and would kill, asserting a right, which is a lie, over what God sent through her into His new world. Of creating, she knows no more than the crystal that takes its allotted shape, or the worm that makes two worms when it is cloven asunder. Vilest of God's creatures, she lives by the blood and lives and souls of men. She consumes and slays, but is powerless to destroy as to create.

The animal lay motionless, it's beryl eyes fixed, flaming on the man: his eyes on hers held them fixed that they could not move from his.

Then God gave me another wife – not an angel but a woman – who is to this as light is to darkness.”

The cat gave a horrible screech, and began to grower bigger. She went on growing and growing. At last the spotted leopardess uttered a roar that made the house tremble. I sprang to my feet. I do not think Mr. Raven started even with his eyelids.

It is but her jealousy that speaks,” he said, “jealousy self-kindled, foiled and fruitless, for here I am, her master now, whom she would not have for her husband! While my beautiful Eve yet lives, hoping immortally! Her hated daughter lives also, but beyond her evil ken, one day to be what she counts her destruction – for even Lilith shall be saved by her childbearing. Meanwhile she exults that my human wife plunged herself and me in despair, and has borne me a countless race of miserables; but my Eve repented, and is now beautiful as never was a woman or angel, while her groaning, travailing world is the nursery of our Father's children. I too have repented, and am blessed. - Thou, Lilith, has not yet repented, but thou must. - Tell me, is the great Shadow beautiful? - Answer me, if thou knowest.”

Then at last I understood that Mr. Raven was indeed Adam the old and the new man, and that his wife, ministering in the house of the dead, was Eve, the mother of us all, the lady of the New Jerusalem.

I am beautiful - and immortal !” Lilith said. - and she looked the goddess she would be. 
 As a bush that burns, and is consumed,” answered he who had been her husband.

Lilith,” said Adam, and his tone had changed to a tender beseeching, “hear me, and repent, and He who made thee will cleanse thee!”

She gave the cry of one from whom hope is vanishing. The cry passed into a howl. She lay writhing on the floor, a leopardess covered with spots.

The evil thou meditatest,” Adam resumed, “thou shalt never compass, Lilith, for Good and not Evil is the Universe. The battle between them may last countless ages, but it must end: how will it fare with thee when Time hath vanished in the dawn of the eternal morn? Repent, I beseech thee, repent, and be again an angel of God!”

She rose, she stood upright, a woman once more, and said,

I will not repent. I will drink the blood of thy child.”

My eyes were fastened on the princess; but when Adam spoke, I turned to him: he stood towering above her; the form of his visage was altered, and his voice was terrible.

Down!” he cried; “or by the power given me I will melt thy very bones!”

She flung herself on the floor, dwindled and dwindled, and was again a gray cat. Adam caught her up by the skin of her neck, bore her to the closet, and threw her in. He described a strange figure on the threshold, and closing the door, locked it.

Then he returned to my side the old librarian, looking sad and worn, and furtively wiping tears from his eyes.

Jewish Lilith Theology

* I love MacDonald's use of punctuation. There's hope for those who use commas generously!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oregon Zoo in Winter

   Recently, we lucked out at the Oregon Zoo's $4 day. The zoo wasn't swamped with people, the sun shone bright, and the animals were outside and active.
 Thankful for fun at the zoo and meaningful relationships too!
A study in winter's nature. 
 Found this resource again. Super excited.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley

  In the inbox: "Sometimes the starfish story is the best we've got."  
The Star Thrower 
   I was the inhumanly stripped skeleton without voice, without hope, wandering alone upon the shores of the world. I was devoid of pity, because pity implies hope.

   He was starting to kneel again. In a pool of sand and silt a starfish had thrust its arms up stiffly and was holding it's body away from the stifling mud.
It's still alive,” I ventured.
Yes,” he said, and with a quick yet gentle movement he picked up the star and spun it over my head and far out into the sea. It sank in a burst of spume, and the waters roared once more.
It may live,” he said, “if the offshore pull is strong enough.” He spoke gently, and across his bronzed worn face the light still came and went in subtly altering colors.
There are not many come this far,” I said, groping in a sudden embarrassment for words. “Do you collect?”
Only like this,” he said softly, gesturing amidst the wreckage of the shores. “And only for the living.” He stooped again, oblivious of my curiosity, and skipped another star neatly across the water.
The stars,” he said, “throw well. One can help them.”
He looked full at me with a faint question kindling in his eyes, which seemed to take on the far depths of the sea.

   There is a difference in our human outlook, depending on whether we have been born on level plains, where one step reasonably leads to another, or whether, by contrast, we have spent our lives amidst glacial crevasses and precipitous descents. In the case of the mountaineer, once step does not always lead rationally to another save the desperate leap over a chasm, or by an even more hesitant tiptoeing across precarious snow bridges.

   Instability lies at the heart of the world.

   Or might there be  a great order?
   The power to change is both creative and destructive – a sinister gift, which unrestricted, leads onward toward the formless and inchoate void of the possible.

  Only a few guessed that the retreat of darkness presaged the emergence of an entirely new and less tangible terror. Things, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, were to grow incalculable by being calculated.

   Nevertheless, through war and famine and death, a sparse mercy had persisted. Like a mutation whose time had not yet come. I had seen the star thrower cross that rift , and in so doing, he had reasserted the human right to define his own frontier.

   It was as though at some point the supernatural had touched hesitantly, for an instant, upon the natural.
   It was as though I, as man, was being asked to confront, in all its overbearing weight, the universe itself. There was, at last, an utter stillness, a waiting as though for cosmic judgement. The eye, the torn eye, considered me.

   "But I do love the world," I whispered to a waiting presence in the empty room. “I love its small ones, the things beaten in the strangling surf, the bird, singing, which flies and falls and is not seen again." I choked and said, with the torn eye still upon me, "I love the lost ones, the failures of the world." It was like the renunciation of my scientific heritage.

   In the widening ring of human choice, chaos and order renew their symbolic struggle in the role of the titans. They contend for the destiny of the world. 

  The act was, in short, an assertion of value arisen from the domain of absolute zero.

     Somewhere far up the coast wandered the star thrower beneath his rainbow. 
   I found the star thrower. In the sweet rain-swept morning, that great many-hued rainbow still lurked and wavered tentatively beyond him. Silently, I sought and picked up a still-living star, spinning it far out into the waves. I spoke once briefly. “I understand,” I said. “Call me another thrower.”

   It was like sowing - the sowing of life on a infinitely gigantic scale. I looked back across my shoulder. Small and dark against the receding rainbow, the star thrower stooped and flung once more. I never looked again. The task we had assumed was to immense for gazing. I flung and flung again while all about us roared the insatiable waters of death.

  The task was not to be assumed lightly, for it was men as well as starfish that we sought to save. 
   We had lost our way, I thought, but we had kept, some of us, the memory of a perfect circle of compassion from life to death and back again to life – the completion of the rainbow of existence. 
   I cast again with an increasingly remembered sowing motion and went my lone way up the beaches. Somewhere, I felt, in a great atavistic surge of feeling, somewhere the Thrower knew. Perhaps he smiled and cast once more into the boundless pit of darkness. 
   I picked up the star whose tube feet ventured timidly among my fingers, while, like a true star, it cried soundlessly for life. 

    There are two narratives at war within The Star Thrower, within Eiseley, one of insatiable death and one of enduring life. Eiseley walks, torn between the two. Torn between adherence to the darkness of a humanistic/scientific chaos consuming all, and conversely, a universal ocean of love. 
    The starfish wait, as do we. Is there a Thrower who is for us?
    Eiseley walks away from darkness: the eye, the self determining, and self-destructive way, and embraces a universe of life, a thrower, and the Thrower. Eiseley released his dark narrative pushing past the darkness. He opens himself up to the Thrower; a Thrower who fights daily against the surging tide of darkness for life. 
    Am I desolate seeker on the shores of this planet or a thrower? Is my stock in chaos or order? Do I rely upon the eye, or upon the Thrower? 

   Eiseley articulates beauty and blackness. He reminds: science and life are not always, but often, opposing forces. The heart must choose: the wisdom of men, who often collect death, or the wisdom of the thrower. A poet, writer, scientist, and anthropologist, articulate for our time, Eiseley brings us to the brink of his decisioning on the shores of life or death. We must decide.

   We may journey with Eiseley, if we wish. We too, may find a thrower and recognize the unseen Thrower amidst us. We too, may become a thrower. Eiseley will not tell us. What to do? 

Is becoming a thrower and seeking a Thrower, the more intelligent, humane, and life filled journey? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oregon State Lego Tournament

We survived the Oregon State Lego Tournament this past weekend. Would you be surprised to know that many of the teams were from Hillsboro, Beaverton, Bethany, and Portland? Let's note, there were a few Intel influenced teams. Shall we? 

Sixteen weeks of technology with an Architectural/World Class Learning focus is now over, at least for the competitive component. However, more adventures with architecture await, as does leisure robotics. Is there such a thing?
Our team made a good showing, while learning a lot and growing together. It's been way more work than most of us bargained upon. I hope we've become a team that not only asks for God's blessing, but steps up to the work that God's blessings surely ask of us. Every time.

Certainly, I was struck by the fact that to reach the State Lego tournament (or do robotics at all) there's privilege: parents who care, parents and coaches who invest time and money, parents and coaches who can afford to be present for 2-3 hour (or longer) robotics practices weekly, and parents who are not intimidated by computers and world class learning unleashed. Sadly, access to robotics is not made available to all. Some parents are just trying to get their kids through school and survive. Let us participate in robotics humbly, expecting to give back through the skills we've gained. These blessings of time and opportunity are not to be assumed upon. What are we to do with our new skills? Next year offers a new opportunity to live out our blessings by making our world a better place.  FLL Trash Trek here we come.

We are pondering ideas. How about Wear your Trash Day? Might that motivate us to consume less? Or, how about visiting a local city  in Oregon and learning how they've become so very green? Sorry, Eugene. Further, what about involving ourselves in trash at the state level? As we ponder FLL Trash Trek, we can't help but wonder why dumping trash in the ocean is regulated, but collecting, storing, and disposing of local trash in our communities isn't regulated nearly enough? And there's not nearly enough incentives to recycle. If I produce less trash, there's very little reward. We are pondering, and yes, sometimes pontificating at the dinner table how we produce and process trash.

I'm also pondering how we might participate with our best attitudes in place. There's always room for growth. Lego Robotics is not for the faint of heart. I'm quite sure it draws Type A's. Team work must be focused upon each and every session, for good reason. Thank heavens, we have a team that cares about the Lego Core Values, discussing and seeking to live them each week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

They Didn't Tell Me

 They didn't tell me,
your fears,
would mimic mine.

They didn't tell me,
there'd be a hard year,
so very young. 
And they didn't tell me,
yours fears,
would force me,
to face my own.
rather than groan.

They didn't tell me,
your imagination,
a bright light,
would illumine a world,
not yet fully in sight.

They didn't tell me,
your smile,
 a beautiful shining fawn,
would sparkle every dawn.
 And they didn't tell me,
your intellect, 
would surpass mine, 
so very quick!
Was that a neat trick? 

They didn't tell me,
your mind,
like the dusk,
needs to settle and soothe.

And they didn't tell me,
your world would be so vast,
in such a small space.

They didn't tell me,
sheltered by forest home,
bound by walls of green and loam,
that we would journey,
into darkness,

And come into the light.
Yes, child, 
it will be alright.

Monday, January 12, 2015

They Didn't Tell Me...Deux

They Didn't Tell Me

They didn't tell me,
how loud, you'd be.
How some days,
my head would ache,
with your extrovert ways.

They didn't tell me,
that in a season anew,
we would school, one,
not two.

They didn't tell me,
I'd be “on” all day.
And here you come, home.
Joy all array.

Dig deep, Mama.
There's love to give,
and love to keep.

They didn't tell me,
how much noise you'd make.
How we'd hold,
our bellies and shake.

They didn't tell me,
your laughter,
would rattle like a saber,
wild and strong,
an ever present song.

They didn't tell me,
how many hugs,
you'd require.
More than four a day,
in your own childish way.

They didn't tell me,
you'd always be giving,
happy and free,
smiling and living.

They didn't tell me,
You'd be our ever present cheer,
unless a storm draws near.

They didn't tell me,
how loud, you'd be.
But now I know:

Throw open the door,
for on the back forty,
cheer travels far. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Post Epiphany

    A bunny hopped down the drive today. A bunny! We don't have bunnies, and this wasn't a farm bunny on the loose. He had huge floppy feet. A bona fide hare, he skittered, all lean body and wary wild eyes. Where was he going? He didn't say. He didn't stay. He seemed hungry and a bit hunted. I like to think he settled into the unused dog house for a snooze, that round the corner he found rest.

   Tonight, we dim the interior lights, but not as dark as I wish, for math is still moving minds. And I realize, I'm not ready to move on. Not ready for a new year, new season, or new efforts, am I. I'm still trying to recover from the past year, and here we are in a new one.

   I must admit, I'm very glad to be finished with the Twelve Days of Christmas series. By day twelve, I really disliked, even detested, the Shutterstock images I'd chosen to use. The ending just was. It lacked sparkle, but that's okay. The Word always eclipses words. Epiphany worked its way to the end without fireworks, but dance we did. The ceili called us and we answered. We ended Epiphany learning new dances, laughing, and holding hands with strangers, all jigs and smiles.

   Tomorrow is write night. I've nothing prepared to share with the women whose opinions and expertise I esteem. We are missing one. She passed away on Christmas Eve and will be sorely missed. I'm not ready to present words or miss her presence. But go, I shall.

   We'll gather. A band of writers and illustrators who write and draw because the pen is part of us. With brush, stylus, or pencil stroke, we find a voice, share and receive wisdom, and laugh. In spite of sorrows and joys, we show up. We work something fierce, or at least give it all we got. 

   One moment at a time, that is my epiphany. I'm showing up this year. I'm present. I'm praying! I'm writing. One promise each day.

  "They will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days."

  She dims the lights, as he yells, “Hurry, hurry, it's 7:58.” He asks if he can take the candle. “I have one minute, one minute to get in bed.” They are racing towards the dark, holding the light.

Papa must have promised them a story.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Epiphany, Magi, and King's Cake

The Three Kings by Paul Hey
epiphany:  a Christian festival held on January 6th in honor of the coming of the three kings (magi) to the infant Jesus Christ; a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way. (Merriam Webster)
The Three Kings by Richard Hook
There are two kinds of King's Cake. We opted for the French Galette des Rois as it's heavy to almond flour. Vive la France! 
 I'm really struggling with the pink plastic baby in the cake.  It's not working for me. I'm going to have to put in a little bean next year. It tastes great, but we ran out of eggs for the beautiful  crackle crust. Sis even checked the coop this morning, but the chickens are on holiday!
The Three Wise Men by James Edwin McConnell
Recommending Bethlehem Star
Let us gaze and ponder.
May you have a happy and holy Epiphany.


Monday, January 5, 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Eleven Pipers Piping

There is a Place Beyond Ambition by Mary Oliver

When the flute players
couldn’t think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest–
so quiet, not even thoughtful–
are still there,

still listening.
 It's winter.

Winter tempts,
the soul.
Discontent seeps,
in cracks,
on pockets of cold.

Give into darkness.

New birth stirs,
on dark night.
In the world's heaving soul,
 the womb leaps.

Darkness encasing the Light.
Light encasing the darkness.
   The questions are ever present, they circle around, and come back again. How to create solitude and rest in a world that is always on? We seek stillness. How to get there? The path leads to powering down after the dinner hour and dishes are away. Lit flames glow, imparting rest and stillness. We play games, pray, read, and prepare the mind. Renew.
    In turning off the lights, we see the Light, and each other, enveloped by darkness. The curve to the end of the day, tender, as the sun rounds the horizon.
 the day draws nigh. 

Stir, oh soul.
Mesmerized by the Star.

The Angel,
points to Light,
in the dark.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ten Lords-a-Leaping

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
   I'm continuing my series on The Twelve Days of Christmas. As I shared previously, Brian McLaren pushed me to ponder how I might put the Twelve Days of Christmas into action. On this tenth day of Christmas, I'm pondering the "lord" of our little hilltop manor and his love. I expect some will struggle with my usage of "lord of the manor" for my mate, but our marriage is not a patriarchy. I can jokingly and seriously call him "lord of the manor" because we both bow to the Lord. He leads with a heart of love.
   Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Mathew 20:25-28
   Shakespeare said, "It is a wise father who knows his own child." How true. There's a season for helping a child, and a season for getting out of the way, and teaching the child to do the work himself. Brother's been busy typing six pages of code into his computer this past week, so he can play Hunt the Wumpus. The day has arrived: one plays with what one has programmed.
   He doesn't leap over piles, but he does light fires within. Whether on the hill, or in our hearts, minds, souls, and yes, imaginations.
From his own father, he said, he first learned that 
Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe.
~ C.S. Lewis
 He knows when to hold your hand,
and when to get out of the way and let you skate free.
There are three stages of a man’s life: 
He believes in Santa Claus, 
he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, 
he is Santa Claus. 
~  Author Unknown
His Books
(They'd make great Valentines or Father's Day gifts.)
The Boys in the Boat I scooped it up from him, finishing it first. We enjoyed it tremendously. 
The Council of Dads shares Feiler's journey with cancer. A powerful book about community, family, and sickness.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind created something out of nothing, in the very best way.
A Long Walk to Water holds onto life in the midst of death. A story of overcoming in order to give life, hope, and water to others. 
Why does expanding our capacities matter so much?  Perhaps we are rowing toward something other than the horizon, an unknown shoreline.  Each stroke pulls us farther along an inner journey.  The real voyage, whatever the boat, is into the soul. 
~ Craig Lambert, Mind Over Water

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Nine Ladies Dancing

   On the ninth day of Christmas, let's dance.  
L'Etoile ou Danseuse sur Scene by Degas
She dances on feather light feet.
There is a lightness to her spirit, that belies the depth of her soul.
She dances to please herself; The praise of men is fleeting.
   Four Ballerinas by Degas
   I am a dancer. I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living.... In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.  ~ Martha Graham
 Dancer with Tambourine by Degas
Find your rhythm. Take the time. Work it out. Work it.
Do not dance another's dance – dance your own dance.
Ballet Studio by Peter Miller
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters.
Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.
~ W.H. Auden 

Text and art from Beautiful to Me, Redefining Beauty
by Kimberly Conolly

* Art through Art Resource and Bridgeman Images