Friday, July 30, 2010

Evening at Ben and Brianna's cabin

Seth and Abel knee-deep in waves from passing-by boats, teeth chattering in the evening air and the river's coolness
Vicki and Benny, so happy

Elsi trying to contain the little nephew for a few seconds

Maria and Hailey hanging out

Down at the river again, where the light was perfect. We had so much fun skipping rocks and looking for turtles or snakes, playing around Ben's boat, watching folks motor by, wading in the edgewater.

Christ in all

Make-believe and everyday living look forward to completion in the transmuting realism of the revealed Word. He makes all myths true and life itself mythical in his person, human and divine. . .

Christ creates and sustains nature: all things are from him and in him, stars, wind, and sky. . .

The hand. . . that draws men and stars into being is stretched out everywhere in gracious nature to aim the graceless heart providentially back to its temporal and eternal beginning. Jesus is the "Orion of light" - harbinger of spring's "scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers" - that mildly and steadily pursues men and directs them to their mark. He rises, a transfigured hero, over a world no longer bound by winter and night. . .

-from James Cotter's Inscape: The Christology and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gratias ago

My cup runneth over. And so here I attempt to acknowledge a few (teaspoon-sized) items of that waterfall of grace (abundant and beautiful, cleansing that keeps on coming, overpowering yet refreshing, by turns deafening and calming, both living and life-giving).

-friendship in faces old and young, proven in service, late night conversations, prayers, impulsive hugs, tall glasses of water, a head leaning against your shoulder
-the sweet repeating death of sleep, punctuated by strange dreams
-sunrise, the dark blue of Hoodoo Mountain silhouetted by a pale yellow promise of day
-french toast and the smell of coffee in the making
-socks on a cool morning
-water from the tap, so hot it burns your skin, so cold your teeth ache
-a laptop back from the shop - virus begone, yay healthy computers!
-my parents' anniversary cards on the coffee table; a life forged by faith shared, hope for the future, and love fiercer than death
-what happens when berries and cream are combined
-air, and that I can breathe in almost full breaths again after straining something Sunday
-falling asleep on the couch listening to my dad read the Bible
-John Donne
-people who overlook offenses, repeatedly
-people who sharpen me with hearty counsel
-people who are 6 years old, perched on the couch with dusty bare feet and piles of books and missing-tooth smiles waiting for me

Domine, gratias ago tibi.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

As the Twig is Bent, So Grows the Tree

What must a gardener do to grow a mature, strong plant that will be capable of bearing much good fruit?

-the sun must give it warmth and light from above
-the soil must not be hard or harsh, but prepared beforehand with much work and care, and contain enough rich minerals to sustain life
-it must be watered faithfully and plentifully, but gently, not in torrents like a waterfall but with a quiet touch like rain
-greedy bugs and worms, and crippling diseases, must be spotted from the beginning and ruthlessly removed
-as the plant grows, weeds will grow as well. These must be carefully and continually picked out, so that their greed doesn't steal all the attention of light and water from the plant and stunt its growth or kill it entirely. Some weeds look suspiciously like good plants, or like harmless neighbors that might dwell in harmony with them. Large plants and trees may fight well enough for the water and sun their roots and branches need, but delicate seedlings may not.
-as the tares are taken out, the small plant should be mounded about with extra soil to cover its roots and strengthen its stem. This is tedious work, but taking the time to draw the dark earth well around the base of each plant will provide it with the space it needs to expand its root-growth which it will need in order to grow proportionately in stature and strength.
-if the plant is surrounded by so many other things (either weeds or other garden plants or piles of gardening tools) for so long that it is supported by them, leaning its stem and leaves on them, its own strength will be feeble; it will be weak and floppy, and a pale color that shows that it has been sheltered too much from the heat of the sun. Encouraging the plant to stand on its own from the beginning will bring the strongest, healthiest results.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

William Cowper, 1774

Saturday, July 3, 2010

poems for my dad

something old and something new - going to Stockland with him, and ode to his work ethic.
Livestock Auction

In the cool of the morning, low-hanging lights
brighten the arena spread with fresh sawdust.

Hours later our ears are ringing
with the eternal tide of the auctioneer’s voice,
and flies are slow in the heavy heat.
Throats and eyes feel the sting of air
acid and sweet, rising strong
from darkened sawdust, scuffed and moist
with the manure of hundreds of cows,
horses and sheep, pigs and goats,
and – this morning – an African zebu.

Most of the buyers sit near the ring
in broken auditorium seats,
buying fat calves and long-sided pigs
and horses with skittery eyes
with a nod of the head or flick of fingers;
downing hot dogs, lukewarm fries
from greasy little paper bags,
and cheap coffee in flimsy foam cups.

Men big or thin, pot-belling, hunched,
in suspenders or overalls, or skinny jeans
showing wallets and cans of chew
wearing holes in their back pockets.
Men in baseball caps, flat Austarlian hats,
curved cowboy hats with brims and crowns
bent into peculiar shapes.
Men in dim plaid shirts,
collars slick and grey with sweat,
or old stretched tee shirts
advertising beer or beef (It’s What’s For Dinner).

And the man with one leg shorter than the other
always leans on the gate to the arena,
pointing out bids to the auctioneer
among the red lights of cigarette tips.

Six Days

He could not stop working
until the last lights were gone from the sky,
the last posts were set and tamped tightly,
the last row of hay perfectly square
and the tarp pulled down firm over it,
the day’s work completely and rightly done.

He wouldn’t quit trying
to make money or just improve things –
carving a smooth road with a bulldozer,
getting the plow truck ready for snow,
making the yard look its best,
teaching us the words to an old gospel hymn,
spicing and stuffing sausage on the kitchen table,
crafting a cradle from long straight wood;

teaching us the value of sweat –
to build even a fort with square corners,
to sand drywall like professionals,
how to rightly spice a beef stew,
to feed the garden with mulch and manure tea,
how to burn a brand on a cow’s flank,
to arc weld a straight silver line,
how to split wood with multiple wedges
and the way to stack a woodpile corner,
how to warm your feet by stamping hard
while you stand in one place cleaning poultry
five long hours after dinner.

He’d keep pushing us forward
into the almost-too-deep of the lake
where he demonstrated treading water,
butterfly, sidestroke, back float,
dead man’s float, scissors kick,
and tossed us, safe in our life-jackets
out where we’d never venture on our own,
and conducted impromptu diving lessons,
calling us off our rough and sandy towels
at the edge of life, where he sits now,
with his joints scraping with every motion he makes

and watches our reluctance
to quit before our works are fully done –
until we can dive smoothly into water
like a blade sharpened by a hard wheel
in constant brisk motion.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

philology... mmmmm

What is the connection between 'smart' the adjective and 'smart' the verb?

Where does the phrase 'fit me to a t' come from or what could it have originally meant?

Regarding centrifugal and centripetal forces: one trying to get away (fugere) and the other to come close (petere).

If we feel blue if we're sad, green if we're envious or puke-sick, are there any other colors we can 'feel'?

Are 'creek' and 'crick' the same word pronounced by different people? Or is a crick a smaller stream, possibly from a spring, possibly more meandering and muddy than a creek?