Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Few words to Remember

K. is in London today.  She is visting Westminster  Abbey (Poet's corner), Big Ben, the Parliment, and White Hall All Hallow's Church.
I found a few lines for you to reflect on as you remember these places, my love.

So nigh is graduer to our dust,
So near to God is man,
When duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth, replies,  I can.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "Voluntaries"

 As you walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before may your heart hear the must, and may you ever reply, I can.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I have blogged a lot of poetry this year.  I can read poetry endlessly - I really enjoy it- good poetry is not only beautiful and thoughtful but inspires the mind to think in categories of a higher frame than normal discourse.  I like that.  I admire that.  My daughter likes to write and is very analytical in her approach to learning.  This has served her well, and because of  wonderful mentors, she is honing her writing skill and I am, rarely not, in awe of her writings and poetry.  The gift of covenantal succession is lovely indeed.  She shared a few poems with me last night from her legacy journal.  I asked if I could blog them and she assented.

The first is one she wrote a couple of years ago to Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince".  The short version of that story goes something like - there was a statue called the Happy Prince that was covered in gold leaf while inside made of lead. One day a raven who was flying north stopped to perch on his shoulder. The Prince had seen all the poverty and sadness around him so he asked the raven for help. He asked him to take his golden sword and give it to the poor. After doing this, the raven returned. The Prince asked the raven to help him again by plucking out his ruby eyes to give to the poor. The raven worried, saying soon winter would come and he would freeze but he helped anyway. When the raven returned the Prince asked him to peel off his golden skin for the poor, and, with a heavy heart knowing both he and the Prince would perish, the raven peeled off the Prince's skin and gave it to the poor. The raven, freezing, stayed by the remains of the statue until he fell to the street below, dead. The townsmen saw how ugly the prince looked and decided to melt his lead for a statue of the govenor. However, his heart would not melt. The townsmen then threw it away, along with the carcass they found at the foot of the statue. The story ends relaying that these two objects were the treasures of God.

Behold I am the Happy Prince
Outside adorned yet inside dense
With baser ore. You see my gold
Illume each dreary street. I will
You, harken to my feet; fulfill
Your gold lust foolish Man. Thine eyes
Espy only my leaf. Lies
You crave so claim them! Underneath
My leaden heart reveals to you
The noblest thing is what is true.
-KCN 2010

A mini poetry lesson from my daughter -  the meter is iambic tetrameter -( ie..the beat of the heart.) The rhyme scheme AABCCDDEFF.  Encapsulated in the center the heart B-E. 
I thank her sweet teachers for training her in the classical way.  The medium is the message we so often forget.
Education should lead us to the beauty of Christ.  I may have been jyped with my public school scraps but God is in the business of redemption - lest I forget, it is always about Him and His story.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Musical Stepping Stairs

Last evening, we were invited to the piano recital of close friends' children, whom we adore. They did wonderfully; and we were so proud of them. Their son played "Come, Thou Long expected Jesus" beautifully and their daughter played a bouncy little tune that she ending with a dramatic note scaling - foot pedals in full regalia.  She's only six - darling. Another little friend of theirs, whose family we are acquainted with, was also in the recital and made a phenomenal ending of recital with "The Entertainer"; we were all entertained.
The evening before we were blessed with the gift of tickets to the Nashville Symphony, its highlight - a Russian pianist. She was brilliant. It was wonderful. We were amazed and quite possibly found a new "love".
Both evenings included pomp, fellowship and food of different sorts.  Of course, there were awards at the recital.  I was so impressed with the teacher, it wasn't the mamsy pamsy kind of thing, where she gave awards for breathing; she had actually graded the children and shared grades of the medalists and quantified their accomplishments.  She knows how to get the children striving for excellence and how to award them appropriately; that virtue is in short supply these days.  At the symphony, we were taught exactly how to give an encore; that little feeling as you see people rising and then as we continued clapping with them - we found out the performers and conductor comes back for a bow.  Lovely, really, although as my arms were tiring, I felt great empathy for the performers who must really get a workout as they play violently for extended periods.
As I watched the children bow, perform in earnest, bow, receive applause, and exit  and as I reflected on the beauty and replayed our amazement of the symphonic showing - CS Lewis' words again played in the back of my mind.  I have blogged it a couple times, here it is once more:
Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children's games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups -playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits, so that the pretense of being grown-ups helps them grow up in earnest.

The stepping stones of life are just that, stepping stairs, climbing from piece to piece, memorizing, honing skills, enjoying the process, receive accolades for accomplishments.  Pomp is not - just pomp.  It has it's place in making milestones count; in making the memories into stones that we can give God praise for His  gracious workings in and through lives. 

One more little tangent on this subject, we are reading The Baptized Body by Dr. Leithart and the idea God establishes relationship with, and works in ,children just as we as parents, establish relationship with children is well expressed. (Great read!) We call them by name and shape the identity of who they are and how they see themselves. 
As children are taught, and walk in practice, they grow into who they are - they do that in faith, they do that in life, and they do that in music.  It is indeed, a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Treasure

This is a poem my niece wrote as part of a college assignment.  She shares my love for poetry; I like that,  and she is a wonderful, loving, attentive mother.

Mother's Treasure
A first step, a laugh, a tear, a kiss
Moments much too precious to miss.
More true, more deep, purer than gold
Forever you are mine to hold.
The rarest wealth is you my child,
This I’ve known since you first smiled.
There’s no denying the love I bear,
Protecting you is my foremost care.
To watch you flourish, treasure bestows
An astounding love that endlessly flows,
Surrmounting affection that grows and grows
It fills me up from toes to nose.
-RNL May 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

On the Coming of the Kingdom

Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon him.
-C.H. Spurgeon

“Fight the Lord’s battles.
             1 Samuel 18:17
As ladies we fight primarily for the kingdom that lies inside the walls of our sacred homes.  We battle reappearing stacks, attitudes and worldviews, may we ever reach out loving not only our own well, but those who are lost in the halls of the forgotten and lonely. 
This is one of the greatest lessons my mom ever taught us...shoveling tender for our neighbor's coal stove, washing a sick friend's dishes that had stacked up, mowing lawns, delivering freshly frosted cookies and staying for the visit that held the weight of those cookies in gold... and so many other "trivial" things. 
She would say, "This is the kingdom, this is what we do."
So- as I sighed at the stacked dishes in my sink tonight, I wondered, prayed, and trusted God once again, that the lessons my mom passed to me and my siblings, that I've passed them on faithfully to my almost grown, young lady. 
If this next 17 years goes as quickly as the first, I guess I don't have long to wait to see her marry, mother her children, love others and fighting for the Lord in her calling of His Coming Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Day of Dirt

It's May

It's May! It's May! And the fields are gay
With the growing wheat and clover,
The laughing brook has a cheery look
For the winter's reign is over!

It's spring! It's spring!  And the bluebirds sing,
In the azure heavens soaring,
The joyous notes form their tiny throats
In a wave of song out-pouring!

It's true! It's true! There's a life anew
And a fresh green world it's bringing,
Away with gloom when the orchards bloom
And the oriole is singing!

'Tis well! 'Tis well! That the song birds tell
Of a rapture overflowing,
The humblest clod sings the praise of God
When the breath of May is blowing!

-Stillman J. Elwell

Yesterday, I found out S. was my sweet secret pal was this year.  She has been wonderful!  Yesterday she not only sent me home with a basket of kitchen gadgets; but a planter of herbs. Yeah!   I cornered her country sharp curbed lane a little too quickly, and, ahem, the herb garden toppled.  Upon arriving home, I was forced to get my hands into the plant - and of course, I didn't seem pratical to wait for a change of clothes. 
When I read this poem today - I laughed... in this, my busiest month, what a great twenty minute staycation- dirt under the nails, party clothes and smile. Thanks to S. and the toppled humble clods.

Monday, May 2, 2011

God of Providence sets a Stage

Western philosophy is nothing but a long footnote to Plato.
-Alfred North Whitehead

Plato understood that man and the city was ill, what they thought would bring Aeneid's philosopher king had failed. "'You mean he will in the city whose foundation we have now gone through, the one who has its place in speeches, since I don't suppose it exists anywhere one earth.' 'But in heaven,I said, 'perhaps a pattern is laid up for the man who wants to see and found a city within himself on the basis of what he sees.'"

Plato as an oracle of God? That's a new thought for me. God not only dealt with the road systems for the diaspora, but molded the intellectual acumen of the day, to be looking for a heavenly philosopher king.

God's providence is astounding. Of course, HE orchestrated all the events that prepared for the interjection of the true philosopher king, the Christ, in the perfect space of time. 

Learning the history behind the City of God is a beautiful way to see God's providence.  I am excited to listen in on my husband's lectures for his class.  It is also, funny that City of God was on my read list, and now I might actually understand a bit of it.  How fun is that.  And how lovely - does this old hymn describe what we, the holy catholic church, have as our hope.

City of God, how broad and far
Outspread thy walls sublime!
The true thy chartered freemen are
Of every age and clime.
One holy Church, one army strong,
One steadfast high intent,
One working band, one harvest song,
One King omnipotent!
How Purely hath thy speech come down
From man’s primeval youth;
How grandly hath thine empire grown
Of freedom, love and truth!
How gleam thy watchfires through the night
With never-fainting ray!
How rise thy towers, serene and bright,
To meet the dawning day!
In vain the surge’s angry shock,
In vain the drifting sands:
Unharmed upon the eternal rock
The eternal city stands.
-Samuel Johnson, 1860

And since it's Monday, I have one thing I was particularly thankful for, I could see my breath as I sat on the front porch this evening.  How great is that.