In lieu of trying to belong to any number of societies: Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes, the Inklings, and so on: I propose and establish one of my own. Don your intelligence cap at the door; dust off your logic and imagination; did you bring your inspiration and encouragement? We are shapers, my friends; lit lamps; light-bringers. Bring quotes*; poetry should be uplifting and thoughtful, or witty and clever, (or both). Humor is encouraged; laughter is invited back. Pull up a chair. Anyone for tea?

* C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, SHERLOCK HOLMES, G.K. CHESTERTON, N.D. WILSON, AND P.G. WODEHOUSE, ARE ENCOURAGED

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What month is it?

  

I've just come back in from shoveling snow. Yes, nearly two feet of it.
It was a good way to work up a sweat: something that I have been lamenting the difficulty of doing these days. It being mid-April, my body is pretty fed up with winter, and simply longing to get out and use those larger muscle-groups... not to mention get some sunshine and have a picnic. Earlier in the year I find it easier to stay busy with youtubes of yoga and dancing and whatnot. By now I'm ready for something real.
It is very strange indeed to have these full-on blizzard conditions with so much light. Oh, the sun's not out or anything: it's been full-on white-out for days. But the indirect light coming through (and reflecting off the snow) creates a surreal and disorienting quantity of white light that continues past nine in the evening. Believe me when I tell you, it's weird. And I almost wish that I weren't so burnt-out on winter and could enjoy the strange and rare qualities.

In the meantime, I do what I can. The physical exercise was indeed good for my mind. And I (being me) whipped up a cake to bake while I was outside. I pulled it from the oven about half-way through shoveling, and when I was done, tipped it out onto a pretty plate. So now I've got a vanilla-honey almond-flour cake at my elbow, and I'm trying not to eat the whole thing. Probably should heat up a cup of soup before I cave...
I've been enjoying Joy Clarkson's podcasts today. It's good to hear young intelligent women with busy schedules and rich inner-lives talk about subjects I love.
And I started out my day with a Joe Rigney sermon: The Hometown Kid, the Disciples, and the King, from a couple of weeks ago, since roads were closed and churches cancelled. (recommended!)
{It has done my heart good to see all the neighbors out helping each other in this snowpocalypse.}

You will notice I have revamped my blog a bit. One does, in hopes of stirring the creative juices. Unfortunately, lately I've had dozens of ideas to write about, but they're only at about 75%. It's infuriating... like having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to think of it. I get impressions, or am moved by things I'm reading or thinking about, but the thoughts won't form any sort of writable substance. I blame winter.
I try to take notes, so if I have some clarity of thought, or am wildly inspired to write, I can come back to them. If that ever happens, you can expect to see some evidence here on the blog...

In the meantime, I must be content with the bits and bobs that are easier to grab hold of: what fills my days, in the more tangible sense. Leaving the themes, philosophies, reasons, and motivators until that later date when I am able to brush the cobwebs from the leaflets of my thoughts.
  
In the restless lethargy of an April with no spring it behooves one to drink tea, save money, and feed the mind so much interesting information that it forgets worries less about what it has not.
So this week I listened to Churchill lectures after work most days, finishing yesterday. I studied a significant section of French each day. (Today I did a shorter lesson but also learned the days of the week in French.) I watched some old classic movies: Laura, Charade, Pimpernel Smith. And some newer shows: from The Flash, to Hinterland and Occupied. I finished a couple of books (Ellis Peters, Bonhoeffer) as you can see from my side-bar. I started Betty's Wartime Diary, and The Scent of Water (reread) and have read from others.
Soon I will get back to the documentaries I'm also in the middle of. One must be in the right mood though, to appreciate them.
And then of course there's work. And sleeping. The cooking of soups and egg-bakes and various other  sustaining victuals. Listening to classical music, and plenty of other kinds.
I think I'll make a curry tonight.
  

Let me know what's been sustaining you through the winter months!

Wanna have tea over Skype?

Cheers to warmth and light!
Shalom

Inspiring!



I'm learning French, guys! And this is such a good word for me, because I find it incredibly intimidating and embarrassing to speak French out loud (and being nervous makes my accent atrocious), but how else am I going to get better? Now I gotta go find a native French speaker so they can tell me what I'm getting wrong....🙊

In leu of someone to speak to, I go around mumbling to myself at work, << un cafe avec du sucre >> and so on. If there are any French speakers around me, they probably think I’ve gone nuts as I quote from today’s lesson << la tortue mange des pâtes >>. What self-respecting turtle would actually eat pasta? It’s rather like those math problems when no one questions why Steve has 97 watermelons in his van.
On the way home I try to translate Dr Seuss from memory, but I don’t even know the book well enough in English. << Le chat dans le chapeau >> .... << je n’aime pas des œufs vertes et... >>
I petered out at this point. But a good exercise, however amateur. I will prevail!

Gotta start somewhere, right?

Here's a little jumping-off point of a post. More soon


He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise
-BLAKE


"I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by the fairy-tales, but has since been meekly ratified by the mere facts."

"They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as necessary as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not."
-CHESTERTON


"Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind
Run on top of the disheveled tide
And dance upon the mountains like a flame"
-YEATS


Not much of a blogger in 2018, am I?


And so goes life.
Trying to snatch the mood as it comes to me, and set down a few words. I haven't found the stillness required to write, lately; swinging instead from work to sleep and back again. But, unexpected as the smattering of rain across my window (and not wholly unconnected I should think), comes a breather in which the words inside my head agree to come quietly.
I'm feeling that overwhelming urge again, to see the world. Perhaps it's because my passport came through, and the world is now a step away. I want to drop everything, grab my go-bag, and get on a plane.
Travel. Walk the streets. Sit and watch. Close my eyes and listen.
Stroll along the Seine, scramble over Yorkshire hills, peruse Welsh bookshops, see if Ireland is really as green as it looks. Swim in the Mediterranean, visit the Cairo museum, sample the food in Singapore. Athens. Rome.
This world is big, and I feel the breath-taking need to see it for myself.
My hunger to know is awake again, and I must feed it books before it dies out or kills me.
But also... SEE THE WORLD!

(Anyone need a traveling barista? An au pair? A pen-pal from Minnesota?)

Meantime, trying to get back to reading. It's remarkable how slow I've become at that, what with work, and the internet, and the distractions of adulthood. I need to get back into training hardcore, because this will never do. Must learn all the things! Next week I'll bring my backpack and stay after work to study with all the coffee. Also, I hope to get back to writing here. But for now I'm going to post this, as silly as it is. Just for a jump-start.
Cheers!

Boromir

Have you ever been seized by an image in your own mind, and then flooded with its story so vividly that you feel the weight of sorrow and wells of potential for love and grace and joy imbedded there?

One day, not long after I'd watched the Fellowship of the Ring, I was remembering Boromir. Not a figure new to my tears. Every time his scene comes around I weep where I sit.

I have of course read the book innumerable times, heard Aragorn call him valiant, and seen the sorrow in Faramir's heart at his loss. Known best for his greatest mistake, he is yet redeemed, and therefore a glorious story, and a familiar one. "Whether he erred or no, of this I am sure: he died well, achieving some good thing. His face was more beautiful even than in life."

He falls farther than he ever thought, and yet does not fully despair, but seizes the next opportunity to lay down his life for his friends, taking hold of integrity once more. And at the last, repenting from his very gut to his king, the king who was never more his than at that moment.

And yet the scene that I thought of was one from the movie, thrown in there no doubt, to make our hearts break. It was of Boromir being tackled by hobbits as he tried to teach them to fight, and his laughter as he wrestled them off. (Thank you, Sean Bean)

And suddenly I saw this scene as if these were his children. As if he had made it home.
Not as if he had never come to grief. But if, having fallen thus, he yet had turned and laid down his life in direct opposition to his sin (which is repentance); and come to bare humility before Aragorn. ...But that death had not then claimed him.

If back from the brink of death he had been saved, a new man, to return to Gondor... he would have spent his days laying down his life for his people. How else can one saved from such a place live?
He would have been like Edmund ("you were only an ass, I was a traitor"/This our traitor's only hope, He can save the dead). Except, I think, with more joviality.

Imagine him embracing Faramir. Known, beloved, and now seen. Imagine him finding a wife. He would think the sun rose and set with her. He would try to impress her, but she would be one he never need pretend with. At the end of the day, she would know, and love. For, and in spite.

And children. He would have kept the laughter, though wiser and less carefree. He would be one to use his laughter as a weapon against the dark. The only way he would have been able to conquer with that kind of past: he knew his place and kept the laughter.

And I weep.


Oh wounded heart
So tempted and so strong
A valiant fighter
Good, at war with wrong

This knight has fallen
Past all thought and hope
Yet undespairing
Seizes sacrifice like rope

At last unto the king
He poured his weight of sorrow
As he poured out his life
And gained tomorrow

"From darkest failure
Through remorse, regret
To full opposing of misdeeds
You've come to honor yet"

So speaking, Strider knelt there
Never more his king than now
Placed his sword in shaking hand
And kissed his sweating brow

Brought humbly thus
Unto death's very brink
What if this shadowed cup
Had not been his to drink?

But called to live again
He cast aside the grave
To give his life for others
And be saved

Once-traitor, now the just and fair
Like Edmund, that beloved king
Yet more disposed to mirth, I think
And more inclined to sing

How else to live
When falling made him softer
Than knowing now his place
To keep the laughter

I see his brother
And a long-delayed embrace
Long known and loved, but now...
To share an honest face

I see him telling tales of old
And playing with the young, his own
Depth of wisdom, unafraid
And full of mercy, known

His wife, a rock of courage
An ocean couldn't part
Full knowing, loves his soul
And holds his heart

These arrows pierce me now
As arrows pierced your chest
What do we prize?
What should we leave at rest

But taking honor in both hands
We'll seize integrity
And giving up ourselves at last
We'll gain the White City

Well hello, 2018

Hello everyone.

I feel rather a day late and a dollar short for this new year: the blank slate I admire so much. In past years I've tallied up books read that year, written tolerably interesting blogposts about time past and time to come, started new notebooks, taken time for contemplation, cleanliness, devotions.

Did I get to any of that yesterday? No.
I worked a double shift at work and I was tired. 
I'm trying desperately not to get the (knock-down drag-out) Flu that is going around. And also, to combat the oppressively low temperatures, I'm making mounds of food as fuel, and so that I can have actual protein and vegetables in my system. I did yoga, but it didn't seem to unblock any energy: I crawled directly into bed, glad that my actual yoga challenge did not begin until today. Today I have (slightly) more time to breathe, take in my surroundings, take in what's important. 

I am choosing to remember that Jesus is the one who offers each of us a clean slate. No guilt, no shame, no condemnation. Freedom from fear. And that the offer extends to the track marks left behind by life and sin and brokenness. I'm thankful that not only was that mine yesterday, but it is mine again today. Grace for the new year. Grace for the asking. Mine for the asking. 
I am glad because not only are his mercies new every morning, but he doesn't get tired of us starting over. He is not wearied by our faithlessness.

Which is good, because I'm tired. (Between this line and the last I fell asleep on my arms and thus decided to take a nap before continuing).

So I want to celebrate persistence. And look for laughter.
I want to practice mindfulness: a phrase easily glossed over, especially if you've heard it a lot. But important.
I want to prioritize quiet. And space to write. 
{This often gets categorized into 'time' when it is generally mental space that I lack.}
I want to have courage and be kind. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, after all.
I want to choose joy, and fill myself with good things. Jesus is making me new!
I want to find what feels good, starting with this yoga challenge I'm doing.
I want to see good.

And Breathe.
               God is here.

God is for us, you see. Who can be against us?

Because I like looking back on it myself, here are a few other things on my list for 2018: the practical side:
Get a passport. Like, really. ASAP.
Actually open that Etsy shop.
Finish my Rosetta Stone French.
Finish all those C.S. Lewis lectures I found!
Read books that make my eyes light up.
... I would love to read Sherlock Holmes again, and watch Princess Bride, and...


This is me, feeling more up to starting my year, but still looking eight years old. Jeez.
You know what? I don't think I'm going to get to scrubbing my floor or my yoga mat today. And that's okay. I worked two shifts (simultaneously this time), took time for quiet, got a few books from the library, fell asleep. I'll do yoga on my mat just like it is, and just like I have been, until the right moment comes along. Do you see that gorgeous cross-section children's-guide to Egypt? Library discard! Mine now. The others are loans.

Hope to get back to writing again this weekend. Hope to be back here.
Until then, I wish you hope and joy in this new year. Stay warm. Find space. Move. You are loved.

Anyone want to read my random musings on Boromir?

{snippets and brief notes penned among the flurry of November days as we usher in winter, with its festive sparkle and season of hope}

{It is really properly snowing out today. Big, fluffy, swift-floating flakes settle on everything. Even the grass doesn’t melt them away anymore. Each car and house has a fuzzy little snow-layer, the air is thick and full. It’s the kind of snowfall that is an adornment for the world. November’s jewelry suspended in the air.11-3}


{This morning I drove straight toward the beaver moon in the full dark of early morning. A few weeks back I opened the back door upon a brilliant Orion, courageously shining out of the night sky over my city.11-4}
~


This is a season of bright hope and warm expectancy, and as such I feel that it should be neither postponed nor hurried. In fact, I find that easing into the season's celebratory preparation a bit early gives rather more time for reflection and appreciation than less. The fact that there is so much hype and commercialization of the Christmas season, I believe to be a reason in favor of an early start. Giving yourself ample time for a slow and methodical savoring of the season. Not plunging in to every aspect at once, even after Thanksgiving; but pulling out bit by bit, the traditions and beautifications and festivities, in order to surround yourself with reminders of the glorious hope that is ours.

As some of you know, I begin with the first snowfall to welcome winter and joyous tidings all around. Out comes Charlie Brown, and with those first notes of O Tannenbaum, I am enveloped in memory, inspiration, and the festive spirit. But I don't go crazy. I begin to wear fair-isle, and perhaps a red scarf. I bake gingerbread, and start to make gift lists. On deer-hunting opener weekend, I rummage through the storage room and emerge (finally) with the Christmas decorations for just my bedroom. And over the next week I slowly clean and arrange. 

My early morning commute changes tune, as I finish the Fellowship of the Ring just in time, and began November with 'Shepherd's Abiding'. This Jan Karon novel, filled with the joys and preparations of the season, begins in October; so one doesn't feel as if we've jumped the gun. But is filled with the joyous spirit, the busy and the methodical, the glad anticipation and child-like wonder. Of course with my volume of driving, I'm through it in a few weeks, leaving time for my favorite Christmas CDs, a bit of listening to the radio; time for prayer, thinking, brainstorming, and the like. I've ordered the Dark is Rising through Overdrive so that long about January, when it's available again I can listen to it!

It is a time to prepare the mind for Advent so that you don't feel so distracted when the first of December rolls around. Posts like these, are particularly good at reminding me of what matters and what fills me with joy. Luke and Psalms and Isaiah, as well as poetry and other literature, awaken the soul and help me to feel, remember, sing.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, snowflake-making commences, and decorating the work-place begins. Plans for Friendsgiving get under way to the sound of mellow Christmas jazz. Lists are begun and then checked seventy-twice. And my mind threatens to explode over the fulness of heart, plate, and schedule. Which means of course, that I must schedule, list, and plan in some rest time. That includes sit-downs with notebooks, evenings to do nothing, closeted devotions and contemplation, yoga, baths, possibly some dancing, and some leisurely cooking of Good Food.

~

“In this story, the sun moves. In this story, every night meets a dawn and burns away in the bright morning. In this story, Winter can never hold back the Spring… He [God] is the best of all possible audiences, the only Audience to see every scene, the Author who became a Character and heaped every shadow on Himself. The Greeks were right. Live in fear of a grinding end and a dank hereafter. Unless you know a bigger God, or better yet, are related to Him by blood.” 
― N.D. WilsonNotes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World
~


~

Cheers to this season of lights and Son come down!
Blessings upon your preparations, however it is going,
and may you find peace amidst the flurry.

kitchen therapy and giant bookstacks (along with the rest of life)



These days are filled with many things: catching the last of the sun before sunny October turns to slate November (both of which I adore); reading all over the place (I'm currently reading ten books that I can think of at the moment); journalling off and on, writing where I can; working with food as always--for health and wellness, for relaxation and therapy, for creativity and pleasure; studying French; singing; oh and of course Work--the work with the title, aka being a barista--wherein I care about coffee and people a lot and get paid to wake up really early.

This yoga video I did yesterday, is just exactly right for tired and working me, who didn't feel like doing yoga until I had (finally) pushed play, and my hands were anjali mudra (at the heart).

And this one I did today is, I feel, the essence of yoga. Where the difficulty comes (the stretch, the effectiveness and challenge) is all in the breath, the stillness, and how you hold yourself.


Today, as I cooked up some Tom Kha, I watched youtubes of Nigella, which I find equally relaxing and inspiring.
Here's a delightful one.

Here's such a good article I read this week (thanks for passing these along Mama!)

Oh and look at this beautiful opportunity!






Bible   (always. but more exciting every day)
Lord of the Rings (Lothlorien currently)
Orthodoxy   (Chesterton, a reread)
The Woman Who Smashed Codes   (nonfiction)
Life Together   (Bonhoeffer)
A Gentleman in Moscow   (Delightful)
French Women Don't Get Fat    (inspiring)
Fablehaven   (a loan, 'try this!')
Summer Lightning   (because, P.G. Wodehouse)
Magnus Chase: Ship of the Dead   (on my phone-kindle, Rick Riordan ftw)

Literary Divings


These days I stay at work after I clock out to stay in the working zone and use the energy that I've developed over my busy hours. And I like the atmosphere. The regulars are all known to me, and even those I am less familiar with I feel a human connection to because of their patronage. Strangers and acquaintances are likely to stop and inquire what I'm studying, all spread out across tables, and friends are likely to stop for conversation. Rarely is the distraction too hard on concentration, so I enjoy stopping to talk. It is stimulating, often encouraging. 
The other day a man, pausing near my table, noticed my copy of Orthodoxy by G.K.Chesterton, and asked if I was a fan. When I said I was, he asked if I ever attended the Chesterton Society meetings, or if I knew they existed. I said it sounded familiar, but I had never gone. He told me about it; and when he found out that my studying was voluntary and not assigned for school, he said, then I should definitely check out the Chesterton Society. I found that delightful and encouraging somehow.
Above is pictured my current stack of reads. I've just finished Death by Living, and am working my way through the others. Orthodoxy, as well as DbL, are rereads. The Woman Who Smashed Codes is a new non-fiction book, and delightful so far. As I read, and listen to lectures on C.S. Lewis and writing, (and read about the reformers, look up music and topics that I've thought of between times)... I take notes, and copy down quotes, doodle, list, and journal. Here are some excerpts from that notebook.
_

"No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake, and what men call originality will come unsought." CSL

"You cannot produce rational intuition by argument, because argument depends upon rational intuition." CSL

"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain." CSL

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Jesus

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." -Jesus

"And the curious disappearance of satire from our literature is an instance of the fierce things fading for want of any principle to be fierce about." GKC

"These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water." GKC

"Meaning is the antecedent condition to both truth and falsehood." lecture by Michael Ward

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

"It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced... that very multiplicity of proof which ought to make reply overwhelming makes reply impossible." GKC

"In life and art both, as it seems to me, we are always trying to catch in our net of successive moments something that is not successive." CSL

"A willingness to act when the way forward is unclear and the result is definitely uncertain." lecture by David M Whalen
_


Here's a link to a brilliant article on a female theologian from the sixteenth century. Such an inspiration! 

Productive Rest



Sometimes, a rare opportunity arises in which I don't have to get up to a pre-dawn alarm. And when that coincides with a Saturday, it opens up a panoply of restful opportunity. Some Saturdays are best started with a shower, cozy clothes, and a pot of tea (hash browns optional). And sometimes, to add even more novelty and rest, I'll watch some tv in the morning. What? ssshhh. Now off to listen to good things while I clean my room....

Meanwhile:

Someone's book piles look remarkably like mine...

Happened upon this article and found it very encouraging .

Very much enjoying my daily emails of brief bios of the reformers: here's the intro post if you want to check it out.

Now I'm back, a couple of pots of tea later, and my room fully organized. Also, several Hillsdale lectures on C.S. Lewis listened to: a wealth of stimulating food for thought, full of both nourishment and things to mull over; and I finished the writing course from N.D. Wilson.
During the week, I've been reading through Orthodoxy and Death by Living after work, both of which I've read before and love. I'm also studying French now! as some of you know I have long wanted to do. I am greatly enjoying the 'homework' I've set myself these days. My brain wants stretching. I'm writing more as well, and just went and practiced some algebra for no apparent reason. It's refreshing. More later.

Peace