Archive for November 2009

GREAT WAY TO START THE SEASON

November 30, 2009

I went with a friend yesterday to see the annual local dance theater’s production of the Nutcracker Ballet.   We both enjoyed it very much.   It’s a festive way to start the “Christmas” season,  but it’s actually a pretty good way to begin Advent too.     The pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier was very well done, but my absolute favorite has always been the Dance of the Snowflakes!     The pale blue and white stage setting with the dancers in puffs of white take my breath away.   Every time.  With the children in the audience, I’m always delighted when  the snowflakes begin falling down onto the stage.

The little children in the audience provided a charming running commentary on what was happening.   They must have known the story well because they were impatient to see the mice, and they asked why Fritz was “being so bad” and one little voice said “We need the Nutcracker to come now!”  And she was right!

I know the story well too,  and I know why this ballet makes such a good Advent activity:      Here  is our own little dancer, long ago.

She worked very hard, and seemed to understand that ballet is a serious activity with a higher purpose.  She trained and prepared for her own advent onto a beautiful  stage, even though that day was far in the future.  But the future finally came:  

There really was something worth preparing for!

The ballet is like a beautiful bright light in human culture.  Only a few know the tremendous amount of physical strength and stamina needed to dance in a ballet like this.   I know firsthand the sacrifices of bleeding toes, hungry stomachs, and time given over to training.  Yesterday, the dancers’ leaps and twirls and impossible bends and complex foot movements  gave the impression of fluid weightlessness.   It takes years of preparation to make the dancing seem so effortless.

And that’s how my mind connected ballet and Advent.   A long time of waiting and preparing pays off in the end.    Like the Parable of  the Ten Virgins,  five were Wise enough to continue the unrewarded daily preparing and faithful waiting –  until suddenly – they were the only ones ready when the Bridegroom appeared. 

If you’re a man or woman, boy or girl, I very much  recommend that you take part in ballet, if only from the audience.

 

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ADVENT IN THE “REAL WORLD”

November 30, 2009

“Light comes into the darkness” Advent:  The calendar move from the last day of the Liturgical Year to the first day of the new Liturgical Year.     

Happy “New” Year?  

Do we all have a clean slate now?

Not if you live on the same planet I do!

Spiritually – no sudden enlightenment.  (Same spiritual concerns for family, friends, self.)    Mentally – no epiphanies there either.  (No noticeable increase in knowledge, wisdom, or judgment. )    Physically – my friends and family still look the same.  (Same ongoing health consdierations.)

Politically/culturally – Uh….Even if the newspapers report documentation of the deception  that lies behind the plans of the globalists to tax us out of existence, all that has happened is that a very ugly, powerful “beast” has been punched in the nose — and it could be more dangerous than ever if we are not more vigilant and brighter than in the previous 40 years.   80 years.

“Advent in the Real World” – What does that mean?    The Bible tells us that this present world is one of darkness.  It tells us that the Light came into this world, and that the darkness “comprehended it not.”  (John 1)   We just can’t create a Utopia out of this present darkness, nor can we ultimately solve all our problems.

So it means that our Hope lies not in this present world, this “real” world, but rather in the Appointed One, the Anointed One, the Christ that is the Light of this world.

It’s not the teeny candle in the very first picture above, the one that we’re supposed to “light” instead of “cursing the darkness.”   

It’s this light, these candles, the Coming of the True Light.   That’s what Advent means – putting our Hope in the Coming of the True Light.

 

(Next posting, a great way to begin the season, illustrating how placing our hope in the next world makes this one a better place!)

A GOOD THANKSGIVING TO ALL

November 26, 2009

A “minimal” setting today:   No tablecloth, no candles,  no serving dishes,  just the basics.    Mother, father, son, and son’s good friend.    Some homemade wine.    I asked for help “putting the dishes on the table” and next time I turned around she (son’s good friend) had made a charming invitation like this.   Thank you – and thank you for our flowers!

I want to wish a Good Thanksgiving to all my family and friends and readers, and to all those who work to protect us and help us.   I sincerely wish that the Good God fills your hearts with the grace of true gratitude for all we have been given.   

There is a kind of peace that comes with gratitude.   Job 1:21 records this:  “And he (Job) said, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go thither;  the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;  as it has pleased the Lord, so is it done.   Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Whatever we have to be grateful for came first from the hand of the Lord, and it is given to us for a while.    We came into this world – minimally, with not even the “clothes on our back.”    What is it that we think we have a right to?

Happiness is fleeting, so fleeting.  

The next verse,  Job 1:22 says that Job did no sin in thinking like this, there was no sin in what he said.    His heart was open, for whatever God will send.

I think that is where Thanksgiving begins.

OVERPARENTING ?

November 24, 2009

This blog has been “in my head” since November 11 when I first recalled my grandmother who was born on that day.    But it’s coming “out of my head” now because I was in a store today and – being a compulsive reader of everything in front of my face – I noticed some magazine cover that asked in bold letters:  “Are We Overparenting Our Children?”     I don’t ever buy that magazine and I already know the answer, but the question  gave me some interesting comparisons with my own childhood.

When I traveled to the far north as a child to visit my Swedish grandmother,  this is where she lived.   Her house was on the narrow peninsula on the upper right of that photo that jutted out into the river.    It would be just off the photo to the right.   The hills to the left was the location of my other grandmother’s,  Hilda’s,   farm house, as well as a huge open-pit iron ore mine.

It was an absolutely wonderful place for a city kid to explore and play! 

Her house was an old, old house  right on the river shore.  Her back yard sloped down gently to the water, where there was an old rowboat tied up, an old shed, and miscellaneous rusty metal things that a child could pick up and wonder about without knowing the names of them.  The rusty metal objects were all sizes, some very heavy, some probably associated with the little boat or with fishing….But all great for a kid’s imagination!

I knew the river had a “drop-off” about ten or fifteen feet out from the shore…It was daring to walk on the sharp pieces of hematite rock which made up the river bottom,  walking out away from shore, finding the really huge pieces of hematite that you could stand up on and stick out of the water a little further.   But then you’d find the drop-off.  You found it when your feet began sliding downwards, pulling you deeper into water over your head and out in the river current.   You could swim, sort of, but people never really did swim way out into the river.  There were fish and bloodsuckers swimming around in the river near your legs too.

I wish I had photos to share, photos that would give substance to the images in my head.   Just one such, I remember being put into a large antique baby buggy by some “big kids”  in the back yard…and then they let go while the baby buggy and I rolled down towards the river….I think it fell over in the grass, but,  funny, I  don’t really remember getting out of there.

One of my “jobs” was to make sure the gate in the front fence was locked closed in the evening.  Grandma said it was to keep out the cows from drifting in.   But I never saw any cows on the dirt road in front of her house.  It was one of those lapses of logic that kids don’t really ask about.  

The dirt road in front of her house went slightly downhill and then after a sharp curve, it went all around the peninsula.  It was a great place for sledding in the winter. This is  the kind of sled I used.   Great for steering precisely where you want to go – and best if lying down flat on your stomach, sledding head first, of course, into anything you steered into!   I remember being vaguely aware of trying to sled on the side of the road so an unexpected car wouldn’t get you, but the sledding was best right down the center of that road….

The old house itself had lots of places for exploring indoors.  I had free run of the strange closet mazes upstairs and the wonderful credenza with my Grandma’s Swedish catechsim books and Bibles from when she was a girl.   I could never read the handwriting on the letters she had saved.   The whole upstairs was full of the presence of  family members who had occupied those rooms before.   My own mother slept upstairs there, but that was too exotic for me to think much about.   I learned to read upstairs from all the delightful old children’s books.  I took them out of their box, sat  inside the box, and then picked up whatever was my favorite that day.   I was four years old.

This looks just like the coal bin in my Grandma’s basement.   If I was lucky I could shovel around piles of coal, and if I was really lucky, I was allowed to put a few shovels of coal into the coal furnace.   There is a distinctive sound made by scraping the black metal shovel across the cement floor of the coal bin as you gather up lumps of coal for the furnace.   

I could play down in that basement as long as I ever wanted to, much to the amusement of my Grandma.

Here is  a small diagram of my favorite thing in the basement.   You sat on the seat and worked it like a bicycle pedal, and then that big circular thing went around and around.     It was a very heavy stone and it took a lot of little-girl leg power to get it turning and keep it turning.   And then this is what you did with it:   you got an axe and you held it just right against the wheel as it was turning and with a wonderful loud screeching, grinding noise, it was supposed to make the axe very, very sharp.    Rusty old knives, rusty old pieces of metal, sticks, big stones – it worked on everything!

So, in addition to that big wood stove that I remember, Grandma’s basement, upstairs, and back yard were my favorite places to explore.

I was curiously unsupervised.   Overparented?    I was fortunately, happily, wonderfully under-parented!  

I wonder…would I have let my own kids play with the old equipment near the boat at the shoreline?    Would I have let them test themselves near the drop-off, near the river current?   Would I have wondered where they disappeared for “hours,” quietly, somewhere upstairs in the closets and attic rooms?   Would I have let them play with axes and axe grinders – all by themselves, as their imaginations took them away to other places, other times – and they felt so amazingly “adult”?   

All I know is I am grateful for the “benign neglect” which accompanied my childhood.    As I said in my O’Hare Airbase posting, I never gave them cause to doubt me….as long as I obeyed every “rule” and never talked back, I had all the freedom in the world!

A TWO-TIERED WORLD

November 23, 2009

See him there?I was listening to a radio station one night, probably one of those blowtorch stations out of Chicago that propagate their signals far and wide in the middle of the night.    The hosts were having some friendly, happy talk, when one of them remarked, “Wow!  That was a two-tiered answer you just gave me!”  

The other one cracked:  “Yeah, my wife always lives in a two-tiered world.   She always hears me say more than I really mean.”   

Now can you see him? But I don’t think it’s a man-woman thing.    I think both sexes are capable of  viewing two tiers, two levels of meaning in any situation.   For me, that would mean the present material world exists at the same time (and place) as the eternal, spiritual world, even though, strictly speaking, the eternal world has neither time nor space.   But everything we do, think, say, observe, and choose has meaning for this life and also for the one to come. 

Here he is, dead center: God (and the spiritual world)  is always around us, just like this deer is commonly  to be found in our backyard.   It’s just a matter of getting things into focus. 

See Him now?

Don’t make this too hard:   Deuteronomy 30 :11-15  

This commandment, that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee: 12 Nor is it in heaven, that thou shouldst say: Which of us can go up to heaven to bring it unto us, and we may hear and fulfill it in work? 13 Nor is it beyond the sea: that thou mayst excuse thyself, and say: Which of us can cross the sea, and bring it unto us: that we may hear, and do that which is commanded? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayst do it. 15 Consider that I have set before thee this day life and good, and on the other hand death and evil:

 

 

 

STICKING WITH YOUR TEAM

November 23, 2009

 

  

That’s my team.  

              The Chicago You-Know-Whats.

 

I was thinking about how some people like their teams only when they win and how other people like their teams no matter what.   Team loyalty through “thick or thin.”    

We have so many little  sayings to help make us feel better in a less-than-winning season.    Like:   “It doesn’t matter who wins the game, it’s how you play that counts.”     (Well.   But  it’s how you play that makes you win or lose – because winning counts!)

Why do we like our teams so much?   How about a literary reference, like Alfred Lord Tennyson?   “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die.”       (Ugh.   Like in a dying season….)

It feels good to stay all the way with your  team,  like  “The captain always goes down with his ship!”   (ooooh….no….) 

Maybe a military  cry for courage and persistence?  “Remember the Alamo!!”  (Ahhh, jeepers…)

How about “turnabout’s fair play“?     Last year Bears over Eagles 24-20;  this year Eagles over Bears 24-20.     (No, I don’t like that either.)    

Time to turn attention to the teams on my “secondary list.”     Like the ones going to Bowl games….

GUARDIAN ANGEL ON THE JOB

November 21, 2009

It’s been a day of pleasant errands, but the lesson to keep in mind is:  Sometimes you can be so busy with your To Do list that you forget your Must Do list!First stop:   the thrice-yearly Used Book Sale at our local library.  Very successful!   Saw friends there and….and the books.  I can explain every one that came home with me….anyway, it doesn’t matter how many….I’m the one who collects book cases….

Next stop, The Wooden Skate Antique and Jewelry Shop.  It really looks like that cute little village in the upper left corner.   They’re having a sale and I was hoping to find an old rosary.  They were made so much more durable back when.   No luck…but “success” I suppose –  I didn’t buy anything else.

Next a trip to our friendly butcher who has now reserved an “organic, free-range, non-injected, locally grown” turkey for us.    Thanksgiving Dinner successfully planned.

Next, a stop at the annual Christmas Craft Show.   So much fun!   I got a few little gifts here  (photos NOT shown!) and I got a couple little fun things for me.These are pretty little zippered bags to put my cell phone in and my camera and my digital recorder so they won’t bash into each other when they’re all in my purse.    The Black Shiny Things are lumps of coal!   I’ll use them when I teach the parents’ group during Advent…..I mean, just for the sake of “history” – what we used to do to our naughty children on St. Nicholas Day.  But there’s a cute little poem that they came with.  It starts:  “Shame, shame, you’ve not been good!  No fancy gifts for you!”  

The big blue bag is for notecards in my purse.  I write good little quotes on notecards as well as conjugations of Greek verbs, etc., etc.  You know, stuff you want to keep looking at so you don’t forget them….

Speaking of forgetting…another ear-splitting reminder from the one who “is committed to ruling and governing me”  today.  (aka the Guardian Angel)This is where the craft sale was.  I forgot it was High Noon, and as I was walking   on that sidewalk  on my way to the Little Red Car, the Angelus Bells suddenly start ringing.    Ringing Out!   About 30 feet over my head.    With a smile, at first:  “In nomine Patri, et filii…”      But the bells kept getting louder and louder…by the time I got to “Ecce ancilla Domini”  I couldn’t think any further….Aaaargh!     Ecce me already!     I’m doing it!   I’m saying the prayer…Stop those bells!

But I really do like hearing those bells from my own home, a half a mile away.    I guess I’m the kind that needs a (loud) reminder of what they’re for, once in a while.  

I guess I’m really thankful for them.

And now…on to the Game!   It’s still Saturday!

FRIDAY – HE COMPASSIONATES

November 20, 2009

I’ve often said it is our privilege to remember the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross  and to join ourselves with Him there.   My Lutheran grandmother would say “to be washed in His Blood” — that is, the Blood of His Passion. 

So….what bad things might happen to you?   Will you get sick?   get hurt?    lose your money?  lose your house and friends?   be separated from your family?   Maybe you’ve been damaged physically or mentally or emotionally somehow.      Maybe you just don’t know what the future will bring – and that’s a problem because you are responsible for those you love, and you’re not sure how to protect them….

Bruised rejected, despised, forsaken. 

The One True God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –  knows all about these things and came here to be like us in all these things, to share in our suffering and take them onto Himself.   That’s what the word “compassionate” means:  to share in someone’s suffering.

The “com”  means “with”;  the “passion” means “suffering.”     When Jesus looked at the individuals who came to Him, and when He looked on great multitudes, we often read that He looked on them with compassion.  He took pity on them.   He longed to have them feel His love and come to Him for what they needed.

In this morning’s class, we studied the magnificent chapter of Mark 7.    All throughout the Gospels He has been trying to demonstrate His Power and Authority over all things –  and the people, even His own disciples – just really weren’t hearing Him.

At the end of this chapter, He comes across a man who is deaf and dumb from birth.   It’s the human condition, affecting this man.  He takes the poor man aside, because this is a one-on-one kind of situation.   He  begins His work on the man…..but then  in Mark 7:34,  “…looking up to heaven, He groaned….”

Then looking back down on the man, He helped him.   What is this “groan”?    It is His great compassion.   It is the early part of His Passion.  

He is already suffering with us.   

 Those who follow Jesus, this is what Fridays are for….our great privilege in joining together with Jesus in His suffering.

SUZY – THE WHOLE STORY

November 18, 2009

The “whole” story is that her first vet a couple months ago really, really did injure her – badly.    He tore cartilage, he ripped ligaments off of muscle, and the scar tissue forming is preventing her left eye from moving.  She is blind, now, in that eye, and her throat and tongue don’t work quite right.

She is now learning how to eat without choking and how to get around with out depth perception.  I don’t know what discomfort she is feeling but my job is to console her, make her feel safe, encourage her to try to eat – and find things that will make her want to eat and drink.    

Soon she will be strong enough to take care of herself.   Right now she is preparing for winter up here in the north.    She tells me every time her timed heating pad turns off.    But if I don’t come quickly enough, I noticed today that she can remedy the problem on her own.

Suzy stuck out an ear for me:

I have great hopes for her future.   Do you know what St. Jude, St. Philomena, and St. Rita all have in common?     So  holy were they here on earth, that they are now known to intercede successfully for those who can hardly overcome feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  

Suzy is part of the “natural world”  – that natural world that awaits its own redemption, according to St.Paul in Romans.     No living thing in the natural world is too small for Our Dear Lord.    Not even a sparrow that is falling.

CHIMES OF ANGELS

November 16, 2009

I’m so lucky to have this drawing.    It was drawn by hand by a friend of my son’s more than ten years ago.   It has an honored place by my music things.   The “timing” was wrong for her and my son to get together, and someone else has the pleasure of being her mother-in-law,  but we are friends, now, just two women-friends.  

Neither of us believe angels look like this, but the picture has some beautiful elements in it.   

I thought of it today after my Monday afternoon class.  It was a small class today, and perhaps that helped us “open up” a bit.   We were discussing Gabriel and the specific things he said to the Blessed Virgin when she was learning about the Son she was to give birth to.   (Luke 1:31-33)   

The class then began to discuss how we “know” things from the heavenly realm, whether it be an angel or the Lord Himself.    I listened in astonishment as these conservative, unassuming people began telling about the times they definitely knew that a “communication” or an “answer” had been given to them.

Oh, there was nothing sensational in their stories, just quiet confirmations of their faith in a variety of ways.    I thought, if  ordinary people like us can have gentle communications from Heaven, then how wonderful it would be to fully comprehend  that we are surrounded by such loving care and attention! 

Each little story I heard today about these angels felt like a sweet little chime that sounded, just below our ability to hear, but musical and lovely just the same;  heavenly music notes.

Now,  I have far fewer CDs than anyone else I know, but I do have two kinds of instrumental music CDs.  One is bagpipes, of course, but I also have a  CD of just chimes.     Soft, sweet, and hardly audible in places;  just a hint of tiny musical notes, not very much stronger than the hint we have of the heavenly realm watching over us.

I’m also not known to care for “modern music” very much, but I do really like the Glass Harmonica.     It too plays lovely ethereal music that sends one’s senses heavenward.  Here is a picture of one in a nice wooden case.   It’s unfortuante that the orchestras took a turn towards heavy strings and brass, but I suppose this instrument is more suited to a private home and to private thoughts.

It is said that the rascal Benjamin Franklin was quite good at it.

TRIBULATION – 24th SUNDAY P.P.

November 16, 2009

Truth actors“The Truth breeds hatred.”    (Terence, ancient Roman playwright)

Today, on this 24th Sunday after Pentecost, we heard about ten verses of the first chapter of I Thessalonians read to us.   When I studied it later, I noticed a little gem of a verse, I Thes. 1:6.

In verse 6,  St. Paul tells  the Thessalonians:  “You became followers of us and of the Lord, receiving the Word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost….”

In other words,  the Thessalonians received the Truth – amidst “tribulation”  of some sort.     And then, the verse goes on to commend them for their example in receiving the Truth in spite of difficult and dangerous circumstances.   Truth ch 154

After you “receive the Truth” there’ll  be those who try to tear down your faith.  They’ll try to destroy the Church, either its reputation or its buildings.

As I thought about those who have received the Truth that is Jesus, that is,  His followers all over the world,   I could not think of  a country in which believers are not in “great tribulation”  right now.

Truth Rahjeed GanniHere is one such  follower of  the Truth of the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul had written.    I can’t find my favorite picture of him because I put it on a bookmark, and I can’t remember which book it’s in right now, but I like to come across it from time to time.

His name is Father Rahgeed Ganni, of Iraq.   Well-loved, hard working, courageous;  instead of fleeing his country, he stayed…to testify to the Truth and to minister to those “followers of the Lord” that God put into his care.   He was a peace-loving man, and you can see by his photo that the last part of  I Thes. 1:6 was true too:  “…with joy of the Holy Ghost.”

He was shot in his car in 2008, along with three  of his deacons who tried to protect him wherever he went.     He was shot by militant Muslims who hated him,  as Terence, the Roman playwright, so long ago observed happens sometimes.  And then, to express a little more hatred, they booby-trapped his car, to try to harm those who came to help.

In this country we may not face this kind of hatred in our hometowns, but it doesn’t look like our culture is on our side anymore.   Thanks to the Epistle of this particular Sunday, we have the strong example of courage and joy speaking out to us across the centuries, across the globe.

I Thes. 1:6 – “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, receiving the Word in much tribulation,  with joy of the Holy Ghost;  so that you were made a pattern to all that believe in  Macedonia and in Achaia.”

GAME DAY – BITS OF WISDOM

November 14, 2009

Both the teams played well this week.   Close games, great effort;  one won, one lost.

Bear helmet Helmet

For me, it has been just about a perfect football day.   Our family fits the stereotype:  one father, one mother, one daughter, one son, one little pet.   All  home, watching the game.   Once the children leave home, you realize how close to “perfect” a day like this is.

Our conversation was comfortable, random, just short statements back and forth.   

Here’s a bit of wisdom that came out of the  husband.  He used to give his typing students short sayings to copy to  exercise their fingers, and he remembered one of them for us football fans:  “Win as though you are used to winning;   lose as though you welcome the change.”

And  the son, a good  thinker and observer of life, replied with a succinct statement of his own:   “Learn from everything.”

Can’t take those guys for granted!

FRIDAY (the 13th) MEDITATION

November 13, 2009
 
TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA DAY

 

Church and cruc

Friday….Cross….Church

 

I heard some people on the radio last night say:  “Hey!  It’s Friday the 13th today!”       

And I thought to myself, “…the 13th…Oh!…which month?”

Time is going by so fast, I can’t keep up with the things in my life, my household, my work, in the news, or anywhere else!    Things are falling into chaos and ruin because I can’t get to them.Church Pray and Teach LeghornItalyI believe the Church is in dire straits.     With time passing by so swiftly, things have fallen into chaos and ruin faster than we’ve had time to observe.

But it’s Friday.   (I heard them say so on the radio!)

Church ruins 2 men pray

So I  thought  of  Jesus’  death  on  the  cross,  and  how  in  the  words  of  the  thrice-daily  Angelus,  we  pray  that  we  might  be  led  “through  His  passion  and  cros s to  the  glories  of  His  resurrection.”    We  know  there  is no  other  pathway  to  the  glories  of  heaven  except  through  the  same  pathway  our  Master  walked.

This is true for the individual members of the Body of Christ, but it is (will be) also true for the actual Body of Christ, the  Church.  It seems His Church will have to undergo a time of its own passion, persecution, and seeming defeat.

Church ruins Enough Pray

So, I wonder.   On this Friday, and on all the other days, will there be enough who have time to pray the Church through?

 

GRANDMA’S WOOD STOVE

November 13, 2009

Hilma Haglund;  b.  Nov. 11, 1892 11 Hilma weddingThis is a photo of our Grandma, Hilma, when she was a young lady;  sent to me by my cousin.  Thank you so very much!    My computer labeled it as “Hilma Wedding” — and such is my lack of time that I haven’t even checked with my cousin as to whose wedding?  Grandma’s?   

It would be typical, for a young Swedish woman, daughter of immigrants, to be dressed like that for her own wedding.   However, whatever the occasion,  I think she shows a  lovely, dignified, feminine presence, strong and capable, with the well-earned self-confidence of someone who is willing and able to carry out the duties of her station in life.   I certainly know her as someone I could depend upon as a young girl.  

When I wrote about her birthday last time, I wrote pages  about  her, and then realized I shouldn’t present all that information at once.  So maybe I’ll do an “octave” of my Grandma’s birthday, just little bits and pieces occasionally during this next week. 

11 woodstove It was the disctinctive smells of her house, which, oddly enough, is the way I  remember details about her.   Her kitchen, of course, was filled with the smells I most associate with her: her breads, her raisin cookies,  sweet cinnamon  biscuits, her particular meals — and the Lutefisk at Christmas, of course!

Her wood stove in the kitchen had  smells all its own for a little girl’s nose, closer to the kitchen floor.     It was a large, heavy, black, iron stove, with many compartments, some of them with a rusty-dusty smell, and odd-shaped door handles and hinges.

It actually has many advantages over today’s modern electric ranges.  Sometimes I was allowed to “keep the fires burning”  – at different  rates – by adding varying amounts of sticks or small blocks of wood in different places.  Wonderful smell of burning hardwood!  

On this wood stove you could simmer a stew, let the bread rise, boil a pan of coffee,  roast the meat, fry some eggs, and gently melt the candle wax off a piece of cloth – all at the same time – just by paying attention to the heat in the different regions!

My Grandma’s little brother, John Emil,  was born quite prematurely.  Their mother put him in a little shoebox and kept him in one of the compartments in that big iron stove.    He lived to be in his 90s.

A young lady, in her twenties, like Grandma pictured above, could quite adequately step into her own mother’s shoes, and pass on the best of family tradtions to the next generation.

NOVEMBER 11

November 11, 2009

Hilma Haglund.  Born November 11, 1892.    Born in America, but spoke  Swedish as she grew up.   Here she is on the day of my wedding with my two baby sisters:11 Wedding0001 She had a dignified gentility that even I as a child recognized was something that was fast fading away.    She was formed by the northern European culture of the 19th century.

Today we  also  remember St. Martin of Tours.    Martin was a good soldier in the Roman army of the 4th century, fighting in Gaul.    Eventually he felt that his Christian faith and his soldiering were incompatible and one day announced that he would not fight in the next day’s battle.

His commander accused him of cowardice.   Martin offered to prove his courage by taking his place in battle – but unarmed.   His  angry commander agreed.    However, completely unexpectedly, on the next day the generals arranged a truce between the fighting armies, and although Martin was put in prison for a while, he was not put to this test.

And, then,  by a strange coincidence of history, and centuries later … at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 another truce was arranged between enemy combatants.   A truce or “armistice” gives the officials time to work out a peace.   This armistice brought an end to the fighting phase of World War I, and was celebrated as Armistice Day.

On November 11, 1921, a soldier who had been killed during World War I but had remained unidentified as so many other soldiers in all  wars, was laid to rest under a monument dedicated to “The Unknown Soldier.”      

I have a son.   I don’t take that monument lightly anymore.

Now we call this day Veterans Day, and we honor all those who trained to fight our wars and those who fought in our wars.   In Canada there is Remembrance Day.    That’s a nice name too.

It is an Honor to “Thank a Veteran.”

11 Gr Holding KrisHere is my Grandma, again, holding me, a few years before that wedding photo.  Two normal  family members, enjoying the safety and freedom that all our veterans won for us.     Thank you.

We are not umindful of the cost.

11 blood

 
               Thank You.

 

 

YEATS IN THE SPRUCE TUNNEL

November 10, 2009

(Tuesdays in Western Christendom, dedicated to the Holy Angels)Spruce Tunnel summer entry“Come away, O human child….”

I looked at those photos of Sunday’s sunset (in the last posting) and noticed that they were pretty dark.   They were.  Twilights this far north last a long time, so they slowly get darker and darker until it is actually night.

Elijah small in caveThis afternoon I am re-re-re-preparing the lesson on Elijah that my class will be looking at tonight.   It’s from III Kings chapter 19, when Elijah is just at the end of his rope, things are truly dark, and he lies down…to die.    I’ve taught this chapter several times before, but I am adjusting it now to fit current times – and my growing comprehension.    It really is a chapter of hope and consolation, where God deigns to come to Elijah (to us), and comfort us with the knowledge that He is in control and we are not alone.

9 Ferg Pk Nice Rapids crpd “To the waters and the wild….”

Occasionally, things pile up for us like they did for Elijah,and things just seem to get darker and darker.    I’ve noticed it among many more of my friends during these past few months.   I’ve felt it myself.   Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.    Or it might be times are changing, not for the better, and there seems to be nothing more we can do.    Or it might just be weariness.

Wilderness forest 300“With a faery, hand in hand….”

Occasionally, dark places beckon, dark, dangerous places that will be the end of us, but the call is so seductive.     Give up now….there is an easier way.  Just let go…as others have.

elijah sylphCome away,O human child

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping

Than you can understand.

But those are the words of William Butler Yeats, a man who was probably not Christian in his thinking, but who brilliantly observed a decaying Christian culture.   As the weakening Christian witness became less and less able to speak to serious modern problems,  Yeats mourns the human situation and makes us feel the desperate need for Elijah’s God to come down and console us. 

So …  choose.    As always, choose.   Place your hand in a faery’s hand and follow the sylphs into the dark and silent forest.

Elijah looking up

St. Elias (Elijah)

 

Or  go out  with  the  Holy  Angels,  with Elijah, into  the  wilderness,   find  the  cave  of  your interior  life,   experience  what  God  gives you….earthquakes,  fire,  whirlwinds….

And then pick up your sword….

Viking Blue Sword(Just a metaphor,my friend.)

23rd SUNDAY P.P. – SUNSET TO GLORY

November 8, 2009

I don’t regret one second of the time I spent in prayer today after church was all over – but I nearly missed these sunset pictures. The sun was sinking as fast as a heavy stone in water.23 parking lot grassI knew it was going to be a pretty drive home when I walked across the parking lot to my car and saw this.    I couldn’t actually get the camera to record the bright red ball that the sun was tonight.

For this photo, I had to climb three feet up the post of a street light to a little platform….and hang on with one arm and lean way, way out with the camera….23 parking lot

Then in the car….23 on rampI got a better shot of the “big red ball.”  It was so fascinating.   I was, like, mesmerized all the way home with the sight of the sun.

 

Here is the one that really got my mind working: 23 dark sunset 1

I was about twenty miles into my drive home.   That thin band of glorious bright light held my attention.    The ending of this day, with such a glorious sunset,  took me to the Readings of today, which tell of the end of our lives, followed by a resurrection into glory.

In the Epistle Reading St. Paul  tells the Philippians to be very careful how they walk in this life.    Christians are to live and “walk”  here on Earth as those whose citizenship is already in Heaven, and who will some day have a “re-formed” body, fit to walk the “streets of glory” in Heaven.

St. Paul says:  “But our conversation is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, OurLord Jesus Christ,  Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory…..”      (Phil. 3:20, 21a) 

The creed says,  “I believe in the resurrection of the body….”    ( “carnis resurrectionis….”  )     As St. Peter of Alcantara teaches,   We honor our resurrection bodies when we walk in holiness here, not giving in to the passions and desires of this  present, lowly body, but keeping in mind the great dignity and glory of our bodies in the Next World.  

The day came to an end with a hint of a glorious future.23 sinking fast

FRIDAY SKIES

November 6, 2009

The “SKIES” are bringing my husband home again this evening.   A long weekend trip has turned out to be a trip of more than a week, but we’re all happy that he had good care in the Minnesota hospital and good care with the Minnesota cousins.      I pick him up at our airport…along with one Minnesota cousin…tonight, at 8:30.

Of course, weather is on anyone’s mind who has anything to do with an airport.   So I looked up when I fed the birds this morning:    Skies 1

In case you are one of those who would like to tell me these are “simple contrails from jet airplanes”  and then proceed to give me the physics of contrail-making,  I’ll remind you that my childhood home was right next to O’Hare Air Base – we all grew up familiar with  the various contrails made by the military jets that roared across our sky, and later the passenger jets.

I wrote about those interesting days in O’Hare Air Base – A Prairie View.

 Skies 2The “skies” will bring my husband home today, but they also are bringing great Evil.   I know all kinds of contrails, even those that linger for a while high up in the air, but these are not contrails.

Skies 4These are not water vapor and burnt fuel residue.  By examination and analysis done by scientists they contain barium, boron, aluminum, occasionally desiccated red blood cells….and more.

Skies 5 clsup

They are meant to slowly spread out in fuzzy loops, expanding until the skies become a milky white with the chemicals, until gravity, humidity, and most commonly rain takes them down low enough so we breathe them in  or absorb them through our skin.  

You can use these for many purposes.  Check out Doctor Edward Teller’s paper on the use of fine particulate matter for reflecting sunlight away.   Except we’re not doing it the way he proposed.  Maybe they think he’s only good for being the “Father of the Atom Bomb.”

I wonder, now, why I feel so angry.  I’ve been watching these and learning what they really are since the mid ’90s.  It’s not like a new discovery.

It might be because of our Bible Study this morning.  

Skies 3 moonThe skies were beautiful.   The moon was beautiful, there towards the bottom of the picture.   The world is beautiful and God is Good.   He walked among us, telling us: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”

We were looking at the beginning of Mark, chapter 6.   Jesus came back to His own hometown area, and His own people did not recognize Him for Who He is.    And He marveled at that.     The next section concerns the politics of Herod’s court.    And the ladies had lots and lots to say about our own current politics.   There are a lot of Evils coming against us right now.

It got to be quite a harrowing discussion, until we finally got to Mark 6:31.  “And (Jesus) said to them, Come apart into a desert place and rest a while.  For there were many coming and going, and they had not so much time as to eat.”9 Ferg Pk Light and shadowI kidded the ladies that Jesus wants us to go to New Mexico…But here’s a park, near my home.    It’s “come apart”  and go into a “desert” type of place.  And the solitude of the place will filter into the solitude of our interior lives, soothing us, giving us rest from the turmoil around us.

And then Jesus says:   “…eat.”    Take care of ourselves.  Rest and take care of ourselves.    Do what the Disciples did a couple verses earlier:  They rushed to Jesus and told Him everything that had happened….disciples cTell Him.    He already knows about the Evil in the skies.  It’s Friday.    He died because of Evil.   He died to defeat the Evil, everywhere it’s found.

 

DEAR “MINNESOTA HUSBAND”

November 4, 2009

Get Well JPG

Get well soon!    Come home soon!    But, don’t worry , the household seems to be presenting no problems:    no serious plumbing problems this time, no serious mail, no spiders….but you are  missed

Spartan suzy searchesHere is our skinny Suzy.   She wanders the house now, looking for you, I think.      She sleeps on your sweatshirt, inside out, fuzzy side up.

leaf pile green patch

And I’ve uncovered some of our Real Estate.  That’s the patch of green you can see.  After an hour of perpetual motion with the rake, I’m making noticeable progress.

But I’m NOT using the Blue Thing:blue thingIt’s too heavy for me to drag around, and besides, the spiders seem to have it firmly anchored to the wall and ceiling…wouldn’t want to disturb them.

I like this exercise.   I have an idea.    I’ve worked this out in my head:   I’ll enjoy exercising with the rake so my heart will stay as strong as possible.   And you don’t do the raking so your heart will stay as strong as possible.   Same goals, see?

Same thing when we’re buried with snow.

I did kind of ask though:   ALL AT ONCE?no leaf

I did wonder about this “getting buried” thing.   The trees have two long periods of time to drop their leaves.   It’s called October and November.   What they did this year is  Saturday and Sunday.

Well, things are under control around here.   Except:   the apples I got for your apple pie …  I think I’m going to be making applesauce.    And you know this weekend coming up? Helmet

There’s another football game.   And this time you’re NOT playing!      (If you can live with such a bossy wife.)

 

 

 

 

 

THE MINNESOTA HUSBAND – UPDATE

November 4, 2009

Minn map

Well, Minnesota still has my husband, but he is out of the hospital now.   He was discharged apparently  sometime yesterday afternoon.    I got calls from friends who said the hospital switchboard told them he is not a patient there….

Tracked him down though.

The cousins have him.    And he sounds very, very happy to be there, at their home.    I suspect the effects of the “slight concussion” still linger, as well as the whiplash effect from whapping his head on the hard pavement.

A bigger concern is the bad news/good news/bad news aspect of his heart care.  ekgFirst, they wanted to tinker with the balance of medications which was developed precisely in Cleveland and which (miraculously) allowed his heart to function better than expected.     Then, the good news is that the cardiologist in Minnesota knows the cardiologist in Cleveland, holds him in high esteem, and planned to consult with him first.    So changes in medications were made, big changes.     But it’s a little unsettling that it turned out that the two doctors never made actual contact with each other.

However, husband is confident, and, as I said, his heart function is truly miraculous.   Never mind electro-physiology;  his heart beats by the power of prayer.   “In Him we  live and move and have our being….” (Acts 17:28)

cartoon nurse forAnd may God richly reward all you “caregivers’  both in the hospital and in the home!

(please don’t spoil him too much!)