The View

This is just one view we see on the way to worship.

My view in between services.  What a cutie! 
(The couple in the background became engaged this week.)

The view before Sunday lunch with friends.


Sabbath Delight

A pocket of time opened up to us yesterday.
My husband, Curt, wanted to explore an unmarked trail
which many locals seemed unaware of.

These falls were a short hike from the trail head.

Seeing deer is common.  Having one pose ten feet from the car was unusual.

A car drive with my man.

Beautiful scenery.

Soundtrack: Joe Cocker’s Greatest Hits

At the end of the day was a meeting of
The Excellent Women’s Book Club.

We discussed Sue Bender’s
Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish.

It was easy to call the day a delight.

Full, Full, Full

…full of thanksgiving for answers to prayer: baby girl born, Myanmar orphanage saved, prisoner safe, new family with four adorable girls moved here
…full of magnificent teaching on the furniture of the tabernacle
…full of resounding singing, robust words, glorious music
…full of a sermon on the apostles and Judas–the leaks in his life
…full of communion, a nourishing meal
…full of Apostles’ Creed, Thanks Be to God, Doxology
…full of a scrumptious feast shared by the entire congregation
…full of multi-layered, multi-textured conversations throughout the day
…full of the ride home with 100 Cupboards

Now let my soul arise
And tread the tempter down;
My Captain leads me forth
To conquest and a crown:
A feeble saint shall win the day,
Tho death and hell obstruct the way.

Je suis content.

York Minster, Part Two

We walked in the rain-cleansed air on our way to the service Sunday morning.  The bells rang in the peculiar change-ringing fashion, called campanology, which we read about last year in Dorothy Sayer’s The Nine Tailors.
We joined the regular worshipers at the service in the nave. 

Funny-sad story.  I saw three men walk in together, obviously a son, father and grandfather.  I was touched by thought of generational unity and the fact of three men attending church together, and pointed them out to Curt. Look, how nice.  Sadly, when we came back from taking communion, the father and son were in the pew laughing and the son had ear buds and ipod going.  Sigh.

Again, the music was powerful.  I liked kneeling for prayer on the small pads that were provided to protect our knees from the stone floor.  Waiting in silence before worship was another good thing.  The sermon was folksy and anecdotal, not much to hang onto.  The service in the Book of Common Prayer was wonderful.  Reciting the Apostle’s Creed in one service and the Nicene Creed in the other was spine-tingling.

Full English Breakfast before the Minster.

Looking up at the central tower.

Morning service filled the front section of seats.

Just Wondering

Our Easter Sunday worship was really lovely.  The place was packed, the whole service was one of victorious thanksgiving.  The singing, the reading, the responses, the messages were all glorious.  It felt like a small slice of heaven.   Granted,  a few areas could have been improved in the details. It was glorious, but it wasn’t perfect.

Which got me wondering.  I came home to my sick husband and asked: do you think we’ll be perfect in heaven?  I know that we will be perfectly sinless, and I know that we will be perfect in the sense of complete and whole. 

If, however, we are perfect, is there a place for growth?  In my puny mind perfect = static.  Isn’t that a common fear about heaven, that it will be boring?  The wise man replied, “How are you now?  You will be like you are, but without sin.”  We won’t know everything – God is the one who is omniscient – so wouldn’t it make sense that our knowledge will grow?  What about our moral attributes: will our love grow, our patience grow?

Just wondering.

I’ve been having a stimulating conversation with my gracious online friend Deb about the movie Ostrov (The Island).  The 2007 movie chronicles the life of an eccentric Russian man, Father Anatoli, with a horrible secret in his past, who nonetheless has a solitary ministry to hurting, wounded people.  Curt and I watched it (for free!) on Netflix Instant Watch; I gave some feedback to Deb.  As an Orthodox Christian she sees some things differently than me.  In the back and forth of our exchange I asked can humility and joy co-exist?  I’ve been thinking about Philippians 2 and Hebrews 12 and the interaction of humility and joy.

Just wondering.

My husband, Curt, is still wiped out.  The medicine for pneumonia/sinus infection may be doing something but we have not seen improvement yet.  I am simultaneously praying in faith that he gets better and beginning to brace myself for a big disappointment.  I’m preparing for the trip and preparing to stay home.

This is the same issue (to a much smaller degree for us) that meets anyone who is diagnosed with a terminal disease.  There is praying in faith for healing, and acceptance in faith of impending death.  Does one preclude the other? 

Just wondering.

Arise! Rejoice! Death is Dead.

Rise, daffodil,
against the stones
that shall yield
to your yellow vow.

Rise, onion shoot,
from an odious shroud
to green exclamation;
your death is done!

~  from Poem for Easter by Barbara Eash Shisler

The daffs in the top picture are from our front garden.
The onions are from the vegetable garden.
The pictures were taken Good Friday morning.
The snow was gone by afternoon.

My favorite Easter poem is by Thomas Blackburn.
Bach used it in Cantata No. 129
You can hear a snippet here (scroll to 14).

Awake, thou wintry earth
Fling off, fling off thy sadness.
Fair vernal flowers laugh forth,
Laugh forth your ancient gladness.

A new and love tale,
Across the land is spread,
It floats o’er hill and dale,
To say that death is dead.

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

Feasting 101

feasting on worship

feasting on conversation

feasting on family

feasting on generations

feasting on words

feasting on the success of older son – giving us a tour

feasting on the sight of soon-to-be-graduated son and his lovely wife

feasting on focaccia

feasting on fish – steelhead provided by our son

feasting on fresh vegetables – roasted in the oven
(butternut squash, red onion, red potatoes, asparagus, garlic)
all pictures, save one, by brother Dan

An Awesome Ancient Hymn

To begin, you will not find the word awesome on any post I’ve written before this.  I only use the word to describe that which inspires awe.

The Lord is so kind.  The one hymn I’ve wanted for my funeral since I was 19 years old, Vaughan Williams’ For All the Saints, is now regularly sung by my loved ones and fellow worshipers.  If I were to die tonight, I have all the confidence that my wishes to have this song sung at my funeral would be fulfilled.  I could not say that ten years ago.

After we had sung Only-Begotten, Word of God Eternal during communion today, I notified my husband that he only has to remember two hymns: For All the Saints and Only-Begotten.  This Latin hymn from the ninth century is one of the most potent expressions of worship.  The music (click on MIDI for a creepy electronic sound [I’m searching for a better version], print out the music free on Adobe) has a majesty and gravitas that is unparalleled. I am never able to sing through every verse.  Lumps, great lumps, arise.  The Trinitarian benediction is glorious. 

Only-begotten, Word of God eternal,
Lord of creation, merciful and mighty:
Hear now Thy servants, when their joyful voices
Rise to Thy presence.

This is Thy temple; here Thy presence holy;
Here may Thy servants, at the mystic banquet,
Humbly adoring, take Thy body broken,
Drink of Thy chalice.

Here in our sickness, healing grace aboundeth,
Light in our blindness, in our toil refreshment:
Sin is forgiven, hope o’er fear prevaileth,
Joy over sorrow.

Hallowed this dwelling where the Lord abideth,
This is none other than the gate of heaven;
Strangers and pilgrims, seeking homes eternal,
Pass through its portals.

Lord, we beseech Thee, as we throng Thy temple,
By Thy past blessings, by Thy present bounty,
Favor Thy children, and with tender mercy
Hear our petitions.

God in three Persons, Father everlasting,
Son co-eternal, ever-blessed Spirit,
Thine be the glory, praise, and adoration,
Now and forever. 


Thy Bountiful Care

our front yard with the street at top

Our drive to church is through rugged country.  The road cinches around the side of a mountain like a too small belt on a too big man. The deep canyon falls off to the right.  Curt cranes his head, looking for elk, eagles, what have you; I am the self-appointed scanner of the road who tries through telepathy and jerking hand signals to keep the car between the dotted yellow line on the left and the solid white line on the right.  I need to carry a little notebook to mark down all the sights that grace our eyes. Perhaps, cough cough, if we started earlier , we could take some pictures.  From my memory of last week:

Elk up to their thighs in deep snow, foraging for food, 5 – 10
Bald eagles, perhaps 8
Hawks, too many to count, mostly red-tail
Wild turkeys, in small clutches and a large group of ~70
Wild geese by the hundreds in lower fields, pecking at the grain
Deer, too many to count
Cows, too many to count
Horses, dozens
Great blue heron, 2
Mallards swimming in the river
LBJs – my husband’s ornithology teacher’s designation for common birds: little brown jobs

the lower left corner is the road

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air; it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain;
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.


The Very Best Day

Sunday, the Lord’s Day, has become the very best day of my week.  At the beginning of the week I look back at the previous one and remember; towards the end of the week I look forward in anticipation.  It is the tent post which anchors the flapping canvas of my life. 

The sermon this week was on Micah 6:8 and the three things the Lord requires: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.  Our pastor quoted Jeremy Taylor who said, “God threatens terrible things if we won’t be happy.”  Are you familiar with Jeremy Taylor?  I recognize his name only from quotes I’ve seen.

After services our people migrated to a restaurant which has closed until the tourists come back in May.  We got to eat all their incredible leftovers: filet mignon, salmon, stuffed portobello mushrooms.  We brought fresh salads, breads and desserts.  We had our niece, Lea, with us for the day; Lea and I took turns snapping pictures of the beautiful surroundings.  The restaurant sits by the rim of a deep canyon.