dual personalities

A mighty heart was broken

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“GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD,” John writes, “that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to live already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things—a guillotine, a gallows—but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world. It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was “good.” Good Friday.

– Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus

Have a blessed Easter weekend. Go to church!

We will celebrate with our little family at church, brunch and with peeps.

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–Thomas Aquinas, translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall and the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861

(The Crucifixion stained glass window by J. Gordon Guthrie, Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City)

This little light of mine

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 9.03.18 AM.pngI am a morning person. I get up early and I exercise (while listening to R.C. Sproul or the like) and then I have coffee and watch the news for half an hour. Then I perform my morning ablutions and get ready for work. Sometimes I vacuum. By the time I get to work I have been up for two and a half hours!

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“Carl sat musing until the sun leaped above the prairie, and in the grass about him all the small creatures of day began to tune their tiny instruments. Birds and insects without number began to chirp, to twitter, to snap and whistle, to make all manner of fresh shrill noises. The pasture was flooded with light; every clump of ironweed and snow-on-the-mountain threw a long shadow, and the golden light seemed to be rippling through the curly grass like the tide racing in.”
― Willa Cather, O Pioneers! 

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I see a lot of sunrises out my kitchen window. Highly recommended.

The painting is by William Holbrook Beard, On the Prairie, 1860, The Museum of Nebraska Art; the photo is the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.

Building tabernacles, just like Peter

I thought this post by a fellow Episcopalian regarding the fire at Notre Dame was really on point. Read the whole thing.

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“We want to build our devotion and then we love what we have built: but faith is not a building. St. Peter was vetoed when he tried to build those tabernacles, but he helped build a place for Grace to the world that fully lives after he is long dead. What 2,000 years has built will still be there tomorrow after every devastation because we did not make it: God did.”

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)

“They are not long, the days of wine and roses”*

Today is the birthday of the late great Henry Mancini (1924-1994). He won four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and 20 Grammy Awards, plus a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

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I definitely feel the urge to put on some background music, pour some wine and give the cat a name…

*Ernest Dowson

“Go back to your oar, Forty-One.”*

On Sunday as I was leaving church, the rector asked how I was doing.

I said, “I’m busy and unfocused.”

He said, “Well, try to pull it together this week.”

Okay then. That is my plan.

But even the best-laid plans go oft awry. We went to see Ben Hur (1959) at the movie theater last  night. It was in one of those small theaters where all the seats are big recliners, and I thought, “Oh no, I will fall asleep for sure! And the OM will fall asleep in 5 minutes!” But when the lights went down and the Miklós Rózsa music came on, we were all riveted.

I had virtually forgotten what seeing a movie at the movie theater was like! Movies–especially a spectacle like Ben Hur made in the Golden Age–were meant to be seen on a big screen! You can see everything–from the smallest detail of the incredible costumes…

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Those leopard-skin boots!

…to the facial expressions in the more intimate scenes…

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Everything packs a greater punch.

Unfortunately, the digital feed (?) was messed up and the movie was unwatchable after the intermission. Such a bummer! We were given ticket vouchers for another movie, but it was very disappointing, because it really was so great. The OM, the boy and daughter #1 all agreed that they would go again to see another classic movie on the big screen. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you do too.

And now it is  back to the salt mines. Have a good week and try to focus!

*Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins)

 

“We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost.”

Like many people, I spend a lot of time on the internet doing what I consider the digital equivalent of dumpster diving. You know how it is — some factoid catches your eye and before you know it you’ve spent hours tracking down a story. Yesterday, my sleuthing uncovered the odd tale of Danish-Dutch singing duo, Nina and Frederik, who topped the European charts several times between in the late ’50s and early ’60s, with their very own brand of pseudo-folk- calypso music — a sound that brings to mind Lawrence Welk and ladies with blue-rinsed hair.

 

Not all of it is quite so schamltzy. Their version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” is rather charming, especially when they reverse roles.

 

To me what makes Nina and Frederik rather interesting is that (1) they were Baron and Baroness van Pallandt (singing aristocrats!), and (2) the way their story unfolds.

They started out conventionally enough. The singing career began as a lark; they would sing for friends or at charity events. But one thing led to another and pretty soon Nina and Frederik became a sensation. The Baron didn’t particularly enjoy the fame and attention, however, so the duo retired to pursue a quiet family life. They had three children, separated and achieved an amicable divorce in 1976.  Information on Frederik disappears in the ’70s, while Nina jet sets around.

She made the cover of Life Magazine in 1972 when her testimony proved that her paramour Clifford Irving had committed fraud by publishing an ‘autobiography’ of Howard Hughes without having spoken to the man. In fact, Irving made most of it up. He and his wife (Edith, not Nina) took the $700,000 they received from the publisher to pay Hughes for the story and put it in a Swiss bank account. Irving served 17 months of a 2.5 year prison term. Meanwhile Nina, being innocent of any wrong-doing, parlayed the attention into a brief movie career, appearing in Robert Altman’s 1973 version of The Long Goodbye, starring Eliot Gould as Philip Marlowe (the mind reels), and in the 1980 phenom American Gigolo, with Richard Gere.

The 1980s seem to have been quiet for both Nina and Frederik. Although she leaves the stage at this point, Frederik reappears for his death scene in the early ’90s, when he and his second wife are murdered on their yacht in the Philippines, apparently in a drug deal gone wrong. Frederik was 60 years old. As his obituary in the Independent notes, “It was a measure of their continuing closeness that Nina flew out to the Philippines to bring his body home to Europe.” It’s a sad ending to a story that tells us something about the glittering, feckless lives of celebrities but ultimately very little about the two talented people at its center. It seems that the mark we leave on history — if, indeed, we leave one at all — is always distorted and incomplete. I wonder what Nina and Frederik were really like?

In case you are interested, YouTube has quite an array of Nina and Frederik videos/music available. They must still have some fans out there.

* Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

Hallowed be thy name

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We are almost to Holy Week! I have been terribly remiss and unfocused in my Lenten endeavors (or lack thereof.)

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Palm Sunday is this Sunday! I am not the narrator this year in our reading of the Passion Narrative. 😭 No, I am back in the bit player ranks–a “priest”. 😭 C’est la vie.

But on the bright side, Sunday night we have tickets to see Ben Hur (1959) on the Big Screen, which should be awesome.

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Let’s toast that and a return to focusing on what’s important.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

(Robert Robinson 1757)

Something all glorious and gracious

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“…But it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new- mown hay. Sleeping? Aye, toil we how we may, we all sleep at last on the field. Sleep? Aye, and rust amid greenness; as last year’s scythes flung down, and left in the half-cut swaths – Starbuck!”

–Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter cxxxii – THE SYMPHONY

Just a reminder that the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birthday is coming up on August 1, 2019, so it is time to read/re-read Moby-Dick!

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…God only has that right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that. And yet, I’ve sometimes thought my brain was very calm – frozen calm, this old skull cracks so, like a glass in which the contents turned to ice, and shiver it. And still this hair is growing now; this moment growing, and heat must breed it; but no, it’s like that sort of common grass that will grow anywhere, between the earthy clefts of Greenland ice or in Vesuvius lava. How the wild winds blow it; they whip it about me as the torn shreds of split sails lash the tossed ship they cling to. A vile wind that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors and cells, and wards of hospitals, and ventilated them, and now comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces. Out upon it! – it’s tainted. Were I the wind, I’d blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I’d crawl somewhere to a cave, and slink there. And yet, ’tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind! who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and you but run through it. Ha! a coward wind that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow. Even Ahab is a braver thing – a nobler thing that that. Would now the wind but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents. There’s a most special, a most cunning, oh, a most malicious difference! And yet, I say again, and swear it now, that there’s something all glorious and gracious in the wind. These warm Trade Winds, at least, that in the clear heavens blow straight on, in strong and steadfast, vigorous mildness; and veer not from their mark, however the baser currents of the sea may turn and tack, and mightiest Mississippies of the land swift and swerve about, uncertain where to go at last. And by the eternal Poles! these same Trades that so directly blow my good ship on; these Trades, or something like them – something so unchangeable, and full as strong, blow my keeled soul along! To it! Aloft there! What d’ye see?”

–Chapter cxxxv – THE CHASE – THIRD DAY

“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

(The artwork is by Rockwell Kent.)

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”*

Well, today is Siblings Day. Yes, that is a thing. Ever since 1997. “The holiday is intended to be a celebration of the relationship of brothers and sisters.”

Funnily enough, it is not easy to find pictures of my three siblings together.

Here we are circa 1967 when madras was all the rage…

sibs1967.jpeg…and here we are at sib #3’s graduation from Smith College in 1981. It must have been a late night…

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Well, okay, I’ll toast my wonderful sibs! That’s a no-brainer. But I don’t need a special day to do that, right? While I’m at it, I’ll throw these sibs in as well…

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And here’s to spring which has arrived in flyover country.

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Huzzah!

*Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Order your soul. Reduce your wants.”*

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Daughter #2 buzzed into town for her birthday on Friday and we did all the things, starting with margaritas followed by a Bob Dylan sing-a-long.

We exchanged small gifts…

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Daughter #1 with her dopplegänger…all she needs is little bangs!

…ate lunch out, sat on the patio and gabbed, drank Prosecco in the Florida room, barbecued, and celebrated her birthday with the wee babes…

IMG_0717.JPGIMG_0722.JPG…all the simple pleasures. Our one indulgence was getting mani-pedis. We deserved it after watching daughter #1 and the boy run in the Go! St. Louis half-marathon!

IMG_3747.JPGIMG_3750.JPGIMG_3743.JPGIMG_3755.JPGIMG_3761.JPGIMG_3771.JPGAccording to the Post Dispatch, marathon runners faced a hillier-than-expected course and warm temperatures. (Thousands participated, although you can’t really tell from my photos.)  Well, we were very proud of our participants. We went to Schneidhorst’s for a big breakfast afterwards, but the boy took a shower and went to work at his store!

I slept like a rock on Sunday night.

*Augustine of Hippo