Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Best thing by Camus in 79 pages

Albert Camus wrote a book called The Stranger. I looked him up online and the fellow has a definite Humphrey Bogart thing going on, which is of course spiffy. But I'm not sure about him otherwise. I do not understand him. I don't understand the style, the short sentences, the spare words, the character who does everything without life, without hope, without reason, without belief. How sad and meaningless is this nihilistic jerk and his pitiful life!

I await Mr. Grieser's thoughts on the novel and, in the meantime, relish this, the best quote in the whole book so far:

"I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored."

Monday, April 25, 2011

muddy and tattered

This picture made me think of this nugget from C. S. Lewis:

“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time.
We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of his presence.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lone Tulip

[picture by Ann Garrett, words by me]

The tulips we planted in the fall
budded last week,
a hundred strong darts pricking air
along the wood fence.

Today they bloomed,
the yard splashed with their life,
a red so bright in the midday sun
my eyes began to water.

[Single Red Tulip, from]

poem for Holy Week

Easter Communion
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu's; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o'er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

Some of the random goodness of this day:

-Sermon on Left-Handed blessings (you know, those kinds that look suspiciously UNlike blessings when you receive them? Yeah, those ones.)

-Maria bought us treats at Baskin Robbins. Before lunch. Awesome.

-Grilled cheese sands with sausage in the middle (Becki was right: that was a fabulous idea)

-The sun is shining.

-The Lion King soundtrack

-Re-reading an old, LONG letter from Rachelle, and replying to it. *accomplished feeling*

-Seeing Kelsey, and Bethany and Silas, and Justine and Hans. Why are weekends so short??

-Psalm sing with the church family. Can't wait!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Will of God

What is the will of God for you? What does He mean for me to do with my life? What is our goal, our purpose in life?

Of course, the catechism answer is "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." But do we even know what that means? Do we know what it looks like? Do we actually know what to do, every day, in order to fulfill our high calling, or do we just say these words and let them, like so many theological terms we know we subscribe to somehow, just float around like so many flies buzzing loopily around the house - impossible to catch or even get a good snapshot of because they are never grounded?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

So simple. And so vast.

Gratitude is what God wants from us. Not sacrifice. Not long prayers. Not putting large offerings in the tithe box, giving our lives to 'full-time Christian work,' or even keeping his commandments. He wants our thanks. Is it any coincidence that in Romans 1, when God gives men over to their lusts, that it is precisely because they did not acknowledge God as God, or give Him thanks?

Giving thanks means that we are humble and that we recognize our beneficiary. We realize we are not enough in and of ourselves, but that someone is giving of themselves to bless us. We realize our smallness, and God's greatness. This is what He wants from us. He wants us to see that the good in our lives is not of ourselves, and to note that it is Him from whom we have all things. And this is how we glorify God and enjoy Him.

This is the will of God for us. And it's why I write lists of things that I am particularly (on a given day) glad to have received from His hand. The world, and all the broken and beautiful and living and dying things in it, are gift.

Do what God asks of you, the thing He wants you to do the most: praise Him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Herp Glory

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:24-5

Yesterday we went herping (hm, yes, I guess Jordan was right, that does sound pretty weird. Yet it is a real verb). Herpetology is the study of Reptiles and Amphibians, and I'm taking this elective from Dr. Gordon Wilson, our resident scientist. Kenny headed up the expedition, and with Kellen, Lindsey, Stephen, Noai, Dr. Wilson and his nephew Rory, I went a-herping in the hills around Moscow for the entire afternoon. Here are a few finds.

Western Skink (Eumeces skiltonianus)
This is the second skink we found (#1 had lost his tail, and wasn't as pretty). Fiery little fellows, quick as snakes and quite frightened of us, but would settle down as soon as they'd scurried up onto the black shirt of Kenny or Kellen. Then they'd wait, completely still, as if successfully hiding from us there in the dark. Their golden-brown-black striping, fine cycloid scales and stunning blue tails make them quite handsome.

Rough-Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa)
Reading Wodehouse for years before meeting newts, I've been tempted to think they were his brainchild - like Finknottles or Black Shorts. But they're completely real. This fairly calm fellow lived under an old stump. His underside was brilliant orange, his costal grooves obvious, his nubbly back almost purplish brown, hands pudgy and childish, and his throat would move up and down quite a bit as he breathed.

Long-Toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum)
Catch #2 (the first was badly enough injured that Dr. Wilson thought it better to not let him loose to suffer in the wild). This one was dark, his green dorsal stripe not as easy to see. His tail was flattened, almost like a newt. It was easy to identify him as a Long-Toed rather than a Coeur d'Alene, simply because of his long 4th toes on his rear feet. I love how salamanders walk, and the way their little elbows stick up above their splayed front feet.

Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris)
Mr Frog (the only specimen we found) was small. The field guide tells me they are avg of 1 3/4 to 4 inches long, and I would guess he was at the very smallest end of that range. His belly was pale yellow, his ear drums small, his back covered with small spots and insignificant warts. Frogs are always a bit difficult to convince to stay on your open hand, but we did get him to hang around long enough for a few pictures before we let him go again.

(Northern?) Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea)
Can you tell why he has this name? Look at his head, short legs, general configuration, scale pattern, ect. This one didn't try to bite (unlike one last year), but he really wanted to go back home rather than be a celebrity in the midst of our admiring circle and cameras. You might be able to see the fold of skin along his side, between belly and back scales, which expanded and folded thin again with every breath he took.

Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans)
The only snake we found, this fellow was pretty tiny. He was content to wind slowly around our fingers as we talked and took photographs. The wandering is a lot plainer looking than the common garter, lacking its nice red-orange spots, but is still pretty captivating. He has keeled scales (running your finger down his back, you feel more texture than a smooth-scaled skink). His tongue flicks in and out, darting dark and sinister looking.

The way of a serpent upon a rock was one of three things too wonderful for the wisest man of all, King Solomon. And we have this glory, to seek out in the world those things which God has hidden for us.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Prov 25:2