generally cruddy

when my blog began, many of the entries consisted of sections of an old manuscript of poems and meditations I put together in the early nineties called Ache for Eternity: A Journey in Verse. my writing from this time tends to be more naively sincere and less nuanced than my current writing, but still, nonetheless, often serves to encourage me with truth.
here is one of the few as yet unposted poems, which is quite appropriate as the past week or so I have been both body and soul sick, feeling sinful and ill and generally cruddy.
On high mountain breezes or lowland gusts,
Even lowly crows can soar.
And these denied, the eagles are bust
And but weary pedestrians in the sky.
And so it must be with God’s grace and love
And birdbrains like you and me.
Perhaps nothing is more graceful and beautiful than an eagle soaring on an updraft of crisp, clean alpine air with a backdrop of pristine snow covered peaks. It glides and dips and curves all with a smooth twist of its tail. A crow in such rarefied climes doesn’t present nearly as much grace, but glides and dives with all the jerkiness and enthusiasm of whitewater rafters. Wheee!!! But for all its clumsiness and awkwardness, it soars nonetheless. Put both birds in the middle of a windless desert and the odds are even, each can only rise with the ungainly flapping of wings
When Isaiah wrote “Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles,” the message is not that we will become eagles, but that hoping in the Lord will make us soar like eagles. Earlier in the passage he writes, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Several analogies spring to mind. I seldom feel like an eagle, my life seems more crow-like, with its many failures and shortcomings. Also, in the Church we are called to different service. Few are called to be the eagles, most are called simply to faithfully fulfill less glorious roles. In either case, in the arena of our personal lives with our struggles, or in the separate callings in the Church, the emphasis must always be on the sustaining wind of God’s grace. We can choose to fly wearily in our own strength or choose to soar in the wondrous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
p.s. i have seen the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe…yeah, the new one. lucyqueen.png


Here is a list of songs that at various times have made me long, ache. For what? I am not sure. Maybe beauty. Maybe love. Maybe eternity.
Pure” by The Lightning Seeds from Cloudcuckooland
“Sit Down” by James from James
The River Will Flow” Whiteheart from Freedom
“The Dance” by Servant from Swimming in a Human Ocean
Sar Kiye Ye Pahar” by Strings from Strings II
Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service from Give Up
If I Stand” by Rich Mullins from Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth
Calling Out Your Name” by Rich Mullins from The World as Best As I Remember it Volume I
Here in America” by Rich Mullins from A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band
“Turn” by Travis from The Man Who. Two video versions, British and American, here (song #4)
“Driftwood” by Travis from The Man Who. Video here (song #2)
“Don’t Panic” by Coldplay from Parachutes. Video here
“Speed of Sound” by Coldplay from X & Y. Video here
“Yellow” by Coldplay from Parachutes. Video here . Love it as much as the song, and first saw it in college across the cafeteria. I wandered over transfixed.
Dreams” The Cranberries from Everybody’s Doing It, So Why Can’t We
Gorgeous” by The Violet Burning from Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
“With or Without You” by U2 from The Joshua Tree. Video here
“Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 from The Joshua Tree. Video here
It is a pretty eclectic mix of Christian and regular pop, and I may have left some out. Is there a common thread? They all have lovely melodies (aside from the caterwauling at the end of “Dreams”). And I think in most of them either the vocals or the music soar at some point in the song. In some, such as “If I stand,” the lyrics are deeply meaningful.
Ultimate top five?
“If I Stand”
“Where the Streets Have No Name”
If you get the concept and are inclined to play along, list your melancholy/beautiful favorites in a comment or add your “Amen” to one/some of these.
Click here for the continuation of the Melancholy/Beautiful discussion…

Overcoming “Prejudice”

Almost four months ago, I wrote this highly prejudicial piece about the new remake of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Alas, I should have taken the theme of the book to heart and not been so pre-judging.
I did not plan to see this movie so readily, but last Friday night when my friend Rachel was offering a meal and movie as thanks for a favor, I was trying to decide between either this or Harry or Johnny. I have not finished reading The Goblet of Fire and Johnny’s reviews weren’t as glowing. And, being the review reader that I am, I had read several good reviews of this movie on Metacritic (a fantastic site by the way) and so it was off to see if Keira could pull off Elizabeth. And she can. As an aside, I do not require payment for favors asa matter of course. Rachel is very generous.
One is either a review reader or not, I’m afraid. My co-worker Debra avoids them and clucks at me on the occassions (and I try to have them occur less frequently) when I read too many reviews for a film and spoil my viewing of it. Most often, though, a judicial review will heighten my anticipation and pleasure, just as post-movie discussion will–yeah, I’m one of those people. This review from Dave Edelstein of Slate is what really sold me on going to see this movie, and I highly recommend it as he gets it exactly right.
Many of the comments I was going to make I realized as I re-read Edelstein’s article would have met the standard for plagiarism. I wonder how often that happens, that we write phrases that we think are our own, and so brilliant, but which really somehow just bubble up from our sub-conscious because we have read them before and stored them there. Really though, much our of lives are plagiaristic as a matter of course, from our DNA to our language acquistion on up. No man is an island.
pride dance.jpg
So briefly, in comparison to the miniseries, this adaptation, by necessity, goes much faster. It is both grittier and more beautiful than its predecessor. The setting is more gritty; the people more beautiful. There are some wonderful shots that meander or float through a room or a dance. Don’t sit too close, as did we. It is not good on the stomach. And there is some really, lovely cinematography. Though, as Rachel pointed out, one scene was more Wuthering Heights than Pride and Prejudice. I want to go to England now as well.
Finally, Keira Knightly does a fine job here. She does not have quite the depth of Jennifer Ehle’s protrayal, but she is fiesty and witty and minorly melancholy as she should be. And she is fine, too, I might add.
In an interesting side note, this BBC story details how the American version is longer than the British version. They say 8 minutes longer, but it was not that much. Why the additional minutes? Because most of us Americans are saps evidently. In this case, I think the Brits have got it right; often less is more.
For more pictures and info, here’s the official link.
Finally, finally my allegiance to the 1995 miniseries is not diminished, it still moves my emotions in ways this adaptation does not, delightful though it was.

“He Puts the Lonely in Families…” Part II

I was thinking about my latest post as I was driving around today and feel that it needs some further development. I wondered if it left the impression that I believe that only families can be purveyors of true hospitality. I do not, even though I do value family life very highly….

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“He Puts the Lonely in Families…”

green gables.jpg
Last night I slept over at the house of the sibs who teach me about tension management. The little ones were nestled all snug and we sat on the floor and looked at a children’s atlas, complete with the little drawings of corn or sardines or hockey players which tell one what is produced or played where. We munched popcorn and talked about where we each would like to go if we had the opportunity just now. We conversed some more and they went to bed.
I stayed up and watched Anne of Avonlea…

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In Delight of Winter or Master Lloyd Sleeps on the Deck

Winter has returned to the St. Louis area, and this time with a bit more earnestness. Its first appearance about a month or so ago was merely a flirtation, a day and a half of promises of sweater and hat weather and then it was off again. In truth, even though I like the progression of seasons and the arrival of the cold, some of the days since the cold went away for a wee vacation have been glorious, with the temperature in the seventies, the sky a keen blue, and the trees ablaze. Last Wednesday, blustery winds blew most of the leaves down, and that day was a wonder too, with leaves dancing wild reels–playing frenetic, final games of chase before they lay down together in bunches, silent and still, to return to brownness and the earth.
One of the many things that I like about my roomie Lloyd is that we share many aesthetic sensibilities and excitements. On that day a month ago, Lloyd was so excited about the cold that he pulled out his sleeping bag and pad and other accoutrements and headed for the deck for a winter campout. This is how I found him the following morning, well rested and happy.
To know Lloyd better, come visit on Interdrive and have a chat over tea (my perference) or whisky (Lloyd’s preference). Until then, visit with Lloyd at his new blog, already thoughtful and engaging with content, soon to be wonderous and engaing with his photography. What is his blog about? The subtitle says it all.

Tension is to be Loved

I do not like tension. In fact, I carefully structure my interpersonal interactions to try to avoid it, to a fault. I know, though, that when tension is there it is no good to simply ignore it. Ignore it and it will just come back again at a more inopportune time, and then likely with a weight and ferocity that the original cause for tension did not even merit. I think the chic term for this is “passive aggression.”
I swear one of my brother and sister in law combos, yeah they’re a two pack, intentionally bark at one another over trivialities when I am over just so I will learn this valuble lesson, of how to be honest and “bark,” that is, and not get all worked up about it. I don’t like it, mind you, but it is a good lesson. They together laugh at my discomfort and tell me they are training me for marriage.
I digress, however. This post is not about that sort of tension. It is about a sort that I dislike perhaps just as much, though, the tension of waiting. Of waiting for big things and little things in life, of being content with the tautness of a situation, the unease of it, of waiting in that tension for the Lord to resolve it in his good way. So often I just do not wait, resolve the tension by letting go, making my own way, and I miss out on the beautiful thing God might have brought my way or miss the thing that he might have taught me.
Here is a song from Sixpence None the Richer whose lyrics express this need to love the tension and wait in it, to live in it. The music to this song is also brilliant, prominently featuring an acousitic guitar, which, in addition to the beautiful melody it helps produce adds to the theme. We hear the scraches and slides of the strings being pressed and plucked, and feel the tension resolving into beauty.
Tension (Is A Passing Note)
do I murder
when I forget you from afar
too drunk on the poison of endless roads
and the countless smokey bars
but tension is to be loved
when it is like a passing note
to a beautiful, beautiful chord
do I murder us
putting pavement through my veins
shooting in that special heroin
for the seeking and displaced
but tension is to be loved
when it is like a passing note
to a beautiful, beautiful chord
This entire CD, which has other lovely melodies sung by the divine voice of Leigh Nash and thoughtful lyrics from the pen of Matt Slocumb, can be had for the low price of $3.99 at this site. While you are there, throw a couple of Waterdeeps in your cart for $0.99. Groovy and moving.

Three Hymns for All Saints Day

The titles of each of these are links to MIDI versions of the tunes which I first used to sing them. Often time this turns out to be my favorite tune, perhaps just because of associations with the place, literal and spiritual, in which I was when I learned them.
I find modern tune updates for hymns to be a rather hit or miss affair. They generally miss if they try to pep a tune up which really requires more solemnity or reflection. It is a fine art, which I might add Worship in the City does rather well.
The first hymn is for my mother, Norma Lee, and sweet Auntie Venus who also went to be with Jesus this past Friday. Rest, dear ones, rest. I will see you “soon,” in the Light of the Eternal Day.
For All the Saints
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
***This image is a diptych from a triptych at Cornerstone. I have forgotten why I did not get the entire triptych, perhaps I primarily wanted the lovely image of the woman. I have framed it in red and it seems a fitting image for the day.

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