"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

19 January 2012

Borrowed Words (What is posted below was written by my mother-in-law, undated)

The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. ~Annie Dillard.

From my pew in the choir, I watched a father lay his infant son across his shoulder. The baby lifted his wobbling head and looked around; his hands slipped down into his father's jacket and were caught there, and the baby's head wobbled into his father's neck. Trapped by suit and shoulder, he lay still, peacefully hiccupping.

I should have, I know, been at my prayers, but the sermon of this father and child transfixed me. I thought: all the baby has is a shoulder, and it is all he needs, and all any of us needs. . .

I remembered then another infant with another parent I had seen in a toy store at Christmas time.

This baby was asleep in her blankets in a shopping cart, being pushed by her mother, who was at the same time pulling along a second cart piled high with toys for the infant, who, warmed by her soft blankets, lay oblivious to the encrustating snail house of plastic and metal her mother had begun building for her.

The clutter of the world finds its way to us,I thought, recalling also that on a day near Christmas I saw in a shopping mall a girl sitting on Santa's lap. As I walked past her I overheard only the words, "I want--"

In one of his Stories of God the poet Maria Rilke refers to a conversation with an invalid. Rilke tells him, "I know you are sad to be unable to leave your room. But isn't it also beautiful, that the world comes to you: whatever comes here becomes your world..."

We will experience in our youth the desire to control and to accumulate. But through the grace of God a time may come when we quietly let go of such desires, and allow the world to come gently to us, as to Rilke's invalid, in our quiet place; and it is then that we will become the recipients of this grace, that we will begin to learn the lessons contained in the minutiae of our lives, and, uncluttered, we will begin to see how we are at every moment walking on holy ground, surrounded by, swimming through, the love and presence of God.

At the end of his life my father was blind in one eye and weakened by kidney failure. He sat quietly in his favorite chair, with my mother always nearby.

There was nothing we could give him or do for him: he could eat very little; he could not read or concentrate to be read to.

But when we walked by him, he would reach out to us, and we would take his hand.

He had become at last like the infant he had once been on his father's shoulder: his world had narrowed back down to his own small body, and, for my father, our hugs and quiet words of love were, finally, all he needed.

18 January 2012

Totally awesome!

Seven Lies About Homeschoolers

17 January 2012

A mundane little sijo:

Cashmere sweater, cotton skirt. Way too dressed up for taking the boys
Just to piano lessons and home again on a rainy day.
Thumping, thumping, in the dryer, my soggy jeans-- Laundry day.

16 January 2012

A thank you note....

Dear Jackie;
Thank you, dearheart, for the scarf. Overly long, just the way I like a real scarf. And warm, like I could go to Siberia and wrap my head up in it and not get frost in my lungs. And still its cute. It looks just like something you'd pick, with lots of blue and smokey color. I always liked that we both preferred blue. It made shopping so easy. I love the earrings too, threadders seemed a bit daring for you, but I hear you had help. My old threadders broke, so these are a welcome replacement. And the beading looks like something you would choose. Perfect, of course.

I watched that box all week, thinking how strange it is to have a posthumous gift. Not the first time in my life, since my grandfather died in the wee hours of Christmas morning two decades ago, but a rare thing. Did you leave a gift for Janice, too? I bet you did; you thought of everything.

It felt like it ought to be something deeply significant, but the mundaneness of a scarf and earrings was something right and also profound. These are the products of a material world to which you were bound, I am still, and altogether fitting and proper. But how strange that this is no longer your world. What gifts would you give if you were to "shop" today?

How lovely, though, that Richard helped you shop when we were home at Thanksgiving. A few final outings, a last taste of the material and everyday. How lovely that you went out to the grocery store with me and that we talked about the silly things of buying pasta and the fleeting thoughts of being embarrassed by your post stroke and post cancer appaerance and knowing that it didn't matter what others thought, you were still beautiful. It will always be important to me that you had energy about you that day, that your voice danced on the words, that we understood one another when words failed, and that when I remarked on these things you said how much easier it was for you to speak fluently again when you knew the person you spoke to was listening and understanding you.

I wonder, sometimes, if you can read these things. You forgot to knock a picture off the wall, as you had months ago, before you were even diagnosed, promised to do. But the calendar fell about the time you passed, in the room where I was. If that was you, thanks for choosing something that couldn't shatter. I was never sure what I thought of your fascination with ghosties, but when you were so very sick I did quietly hope you'd pick something ugly or unbreakable.

I miss cooking for you. And chatting with you. And how you loved, absolutely delighted in and were totally curious about everything. Except heights, of course.

Thanks. For just being you. For being my mother-in-law for sixteen and a half years. And for being one of my dearest friends all along.

15 January 2012

A quick fisk of the candidate slate for the new TEC bishop of Pittsburgh

And I do mean quick... this was just released tonight, and I've just done a cursory internet snoop on each of them.
The Rev. Canon Michael N. Ambler, Jr.: seems to have run for bishop before, though I'm not sure that means he makes it a habit. Western New York had him in the final four. He's a graduate of Episcopal Divinity School and an environmentalist. Can't say any of that rules him out in itself, but that MDiv from EDS sure makes him awfully suspect for any of my friends who are trying to maintain a conservative position in TEC-PGH!
The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell: Ironically, the dude from Mass. is the only one I couldn't raise anything suspect on. The parish website says specifically that marriage is for one man and one woman, a sacrament and a little snooping revealed him to be a theological dissenter on the appointment of a gay dean when he was in Seattle. Could I seriously find myself hoping that a priest from MA becomes the next bishop of Pittsburgh? If its all true, he must be able to play nice with both sides.
The Rev. R. Stanley Runnels: Is on record as early as 2000 saying that rites for gay marriage are a sort of social justice issue. 'Nuff said.
The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley: I almost choked on my own breath over this one! She leaves a liberal paper trail a mile long including a ton of homosexual agenda all over her parish website (she's the rector) and an ordained unitarian husband. Seriously Pittsburgh? Seriously?
I know who I'd suggest if I still had voice in the process. Someone still in TEC who loves Jesus and can work with all sides, solid as the day is long and generous too, who has worked with ultra liberals and ultra conservatives (and treated both impostors with kindness...) but nobody's asking me. (Unless, Bruce has an interest in starting a petition... if so I'll email you a name!)

Anyway, for the morbidly curious, or those like myself who just want to see a good bishop leading a diocese largely populated by friends and former colleagues. Love ya, Pittsburgh... obviously more prayers are required as the big day approaches. God be with you.

14 January 2012

Bamboo cottage by the lake...

One thing on which my mother-in-law and I agreed, an area in which we uniquely understood one another, was in the value of living in a yurt. Or a tumbleweed tiny house. Or in the case of my current obscession, a little bamboo cottage by a lake.

My husband, techno king, thinks this is silliness. Especially since my little bambooo cottage would have solar power and a single soapstone stove for its main source of heat. And a little alcove for a kayak. But silly or not, he says he doesn't mind as long as he has a decent internet connection.

She liked funny little houses. I'm fond of simple living that doesn't overwhelm the natural vista, be it trees or water or mountains. We shared a fondness for misty mountains. Gentle architecture with a human touch. Her father was an architect, mine an engineer.

I would build it with transom windows to let the heat out in the summer, or if the soapstone stove became too much in the mild southern lakeside winters. And I would have a little room for the rabbits to hop and eat their hay, indoors away from predators but where they could scatter their hay and nobody would mind.

And a little sunroom for my spinning wheel.
And a little asian style table where you sit on the floor.
And interesting art on the walls.
And a lot of windows for looking out.
And a single (organic) fruit tree in the yard, a little herb garden, and a farm market down the road that I can walk to.

Where I would wade in the lake and maybe learn to paint. Except that I am terrible at art. Except that I can sort of paint silk scarves. And spin yarn. Except I get bored at spinning and painting after a while.

Except that I don't like fish. I spent the last few years learning to like salmon, and now I really do. So maybe for the new year I will learn to like another kind of fish, and I can tell myself that learning to like fish is one more step toward living by the lake in a sustainable little house with a sweeping vista.

06 January 2012

On a personal note: The Lord gives, the Lord takes away....

But at the moment the Lord is giving and taking more than an ADHD five year old. What on earth?

For those of you who know me in real life, you know my mother-in-law passed away on Tuesday after a few months' of wrestling with cancer. I'm going to write more about her later, once I have it all processed out, sorted through. Short story is that she was wonderful and I'll miss her a lot. She was an amazing mother, a kind mother-in-law and a magical grandmother.

But even those of you who know me in real life probably don't know that my own grandfather, on my mom's side, is a bit of a mystery. He estranged himself from the family over sixty years ago and in searching for general family tree stuff we traced his mother to the same county where my paternal grandparents grew up.

A few years ago, I posted on a web forum for any family tree info on my estranged grandfather. Later I learned through another search that my grandfather had died in 1985. That's about all I knew and I kind of forgot about it, although I'm still curious where he came from.

Today I got a message, from that old post on that family tree forum, from his neice. I know there are a lot of scammers out there, but you have to actually know my family to be able to produce my mother's first name. Seriously, its almost tougher than Rumplestiltskin.

I guess that means I have cousins.

I found that my grandfather was the third of five children. Not a surprise, but not a known bit of information.

And I have to say, I'm a bit freaked out. What if they are scammers? Weirdos? or they just have too much baggage from the past to know any more what to do with me than I do with them?

And is this how, a little bit of how, my adopted son will feel when some day he searches (I do hope he will) for his birthmother? I have a whole chunk of the family that stands under a banner reading "Who are these people?" Are they more interesting as a mystery? (probably) What if they're jerks? (Probably not) At least they speak English. (My youngest's bio-family would speak Korean.)

And I guess this is good for me, to walk a mile. To get a glimpse.

But this week, of all weeks? Seriously, God... you've got to be kidding.