Saturday, March 22, 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien on Deliverance

I don't get the full understanding of this quote, but it speaks of deliverance, so I will record it here, via Sarah Clarkson at Thoroughly Alive.
Eucatastrophe is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of catastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world poignant as grief.   ~ J.R.R. Tolkien (emphasis added)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Deliverance - One Word 2014

Deliverance - #OneWord365
Such a rush of earnest longing to make January 1 significant, to set the intention for another year--even if it is only the civic year.

So, I begin by posting Deliverance as my OneWord365 for 2014.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Living a Beautiful Life

Desk and Planner

I started writing this blog post nearly two years ago. Seeing a friend’s link on Facebook yesterday about the death of Anne Ortlund spurred me to publish the post finally.

My mother gave me a book—perhaps shortly after I graduated from college—called Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, written by Anne Ortlund in 1977. It has become one of those books that has shaped me markedly—at least my thoughts, if not always how I live. The book is significant, first of all, because my mother selected it for me. It thus bears her stamp of approval, plus shows how well she knows me—I need extra help being disciplined. It also carries the message of the importance of being/becoming a “beautiful woman,” again, even more significant because it is my mother who believes this is important for her daughter.

I received this book long before I moved to Pasadena from Washington state or visited Lake Avenue (Congregational) Church, where Anne's husband, Ray Ortlund, had been the senior pastor for many years. When I first read Anne’s anecdote about visiting an office supply store in La Cañada after giving a seminar to a “luscious-looking crowd of 150 women” only to find that it was sold out of the notebook products she had recommended, I had no idea that one day I’d live just down the freeway from that exclusive Southern California enclave.

It was Anne’s description of her notebook (or planner as it might be called today) that intrigued me most. My annual attempts at organizing myself via any number of variations on a diary, calendar, notebook, planner or journal, were often modeled on Anne’s description of how she put together her planner—a calendar first, followed by sections for goals and various other lists—and her preferred dimensions of the planner (7” x 9”).

Related chapters discuss goals, daily scheduling, and a woman’s desk.

My image of Anne is from the small portrait on the back cover of her book, perhaps when she was in her early 60s? So, I was shocked to read she was 89 years old when she died on November 4.

Having been reminded of this role-model-via-book, I am encouraged to revisit the many areas of my life—both private and public—that could be more disciplined and, thus, become more beautiful.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between discipline and beauty?

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


Friday, November 01, 2013

Houses, tea, conversation and beauty

Yesterday I went with some friends to a beautiful home nearby, which has been lovingly and tastefully restored and remodeled to recall an early-20th century aesthetic, the time period when the house was constructed. The exquisite attention to the smallest of details throughout the house is not for mere show, but reflects the personality of the owner, as well as incorporates her family’s heritage in antiques, linens, pictures, etc.

The excursion—which included tea, freshly-baked cookies and delightful conversation—was a refreshing reminder to pay attention to and cultivate beauty in whatever surroundings we find ourselves. 

It was not my place to take pictures and “blog” about the house. That would have detracted from the in-the-moment enjoyment of the company I was with.

Rather, I post here a picture of the PROLIFIC Blue Basil in my front yard that feeds many happy bees and that now obscures a small memento from my grandmother’s yard.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Orange! Pumpkins!

It's that time of year again! The pressure cooker is steaming away. The house smells earthy and productive.

Heirloom variety pumpkin
Heirloom variety pumpkin ready for the pot!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Understanding Backwards; Living Forwards



The problem with posting anything remotely religious is that one gives the impression of believing / embodying / BEING what it is that has been written – and that impression may not exactly be true.

Having said that, I am posting this as a record of what struck me on a Sunday in July as I was practicing getting the phrasing right in a hymn for a substitute organist “gig” at a local Presbyterian church:
Hast thou not seen How thy desires e’er have been Granted in what He ordaineth?
(By Joachim Neander, 17th century German Reformed Church)

Then, as part of the sermon from Acts 22 about the second recounting of Saul’s/Paul’s conversion experience, the pastor quoted from Søren Kierkegaard's journals: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

The full quote is:
It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards.
(See documentation of source.)

Later, I was sent this article (written by a 21 year old woman):
Even if we exhausted our own abilities to serve the Lord in our lifetime, we could never do for the world and the kingdom what our families—what our children and their children and their children—will go on to do.
In Luke 13:19, Jesus says this about the kingdom of God: “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”
As we prepare our students for being agents of massive, earth-shattering revival around the world, let us also remember that Jesus says the kingdom will grow slowly, even subtly, from something seemingly insignificant, like a tree from a seed...and like families.
Finally, I read a post by my cousin’s wife about another Soren that made me want to cry—and which is a perfect REAL HARD LIFE illustration of what the 19th century Søren wrote about:  Although, just when the understanding might come is not clear.

To Do: List ways in which I have seen my desires granted “in what He ordaineth” so that life can be lived forwards NOW.

How about you?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn 2013

"The constant remaking of domestic chaos into the order that keeps a house alive and peaceful takes a lot of doing."
May Sarton in At Seventy: A Journal, page 68

Today was perfect to revel in and take time to reflect on this autumnal equinox. It was an achingly beautiful day in which to do some more organizing in the house but also to escape outside at the slightest excuse.
Seasonal changes are energizing days that bring renewal to the house, and in turn, renewal to our spirits.
~ Corean Bakke in Practicing the Church Year: A Spirituality for the Home.
Plus, this fall there are reminders of the passage of time--a 30-year high school reunion and a 25-year college reunion. (I’m not attending either, but, thanks to Facebook and e-mail lists, the events can be at least virtually experienced.)

The coolness of the air is another harbinger of this turning (and a prod to finish knitting the Elizabeth Zimmermann Pi shawl).