dual personalities

Category: Spirituality

Catching up

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This article came as no surprise to me– Okay, “brown furniture” may be dead in our culture, which apparently has lost interest in its history. C’mon, I have been saying for years that real antiques go for a song at auction and that it is a sure bet you can find a nice dining room table and chairs for a $100 at an estate sale. But there are still plenty of people out there who care about their pasts and their family histories, who save “stuff” and refuse to purge everything, who don’t give a hoot about trends. Take heart and hold on. And take advantage of a buyer’s market, I say.

David Powlinson, with whom I had very recently become acquainted through his writing, died peacefully at his home in Pennsylvania on Friday, June 7, 2019, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was 69. Of course, there was no mention in the NYTimes–evangelicals (even Harvard-educated ones) are beneath notice–but I recommend you follow up with him and find out more. 

You would think that being home with a lot of spare time on my hands, I might have watched some good new movies and/or television shows. Alas, I cannot report that that is the case. Even with Amazon Prime etc, it is kind of a wasteland out there. I am sticking to the tried and true “comfort” variety of entertainment and that is working for me.

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I am trying to read more, but am reverting to some old favorites.

“Go and be as the butterfly!”
Dooley grinned. “You’ve said that as long as I can remember. I’m not pulling up what it means.”
It was what God had said to him, a small-town clergyman, another lifetime a go, and what he had tried and was still trying to do.
“I think it means to go unfettered by cares, by the infernal bondage of the mortal. Go with a light heart, trusting God and giving thanks. Go and gather unto yourselves so you can pour out to others.”
He took a deep breath. “Go without looking back.”
― Jan Karon, To Be Where You Are 

The boy is heading out to a bachelor party on the west coast today. I hope he has fun. I have enjoyed spending more time with him than usual over the past few weeks, as he frequently stops by to see me on his way to work and “coach” me a little.

Hopefully the wee babes will come over for a visit this weekend. They have been making the most of their summer…

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…and keeping cool. Hard to believe we are halfway through the year!

Enjoy your Friday and bon weekend!

Troubles and trials

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John Charles Ryle (May 10, 1816 – June 10, 1900) was an English evangelical Anglican bishop. Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism.  Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century(1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 volumes, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition.

(And a little inspiration from Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton, “Green Pastures”)

“And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England”*

Today is the feast day of Saint George, a Roman officer of Greek descent from Cappadocia, who was martyred in one of the pre-Constantinian persecutions. George is a very popular saint, honored all over the world, but especially in England where he is the patron saint. (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead. … cry God for Harry, England, and St George!”)

Here is Donatello’s famous statue in Florence…

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.37.07 PM.png…but something’s missing! Where’s the dragon?Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.24.04 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 12.00.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.16.19 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.27.30 PM.pngThe slaying of the dragon is definitely an integral and important part of this saint’s universal appeal.

Here is Dragon Hill, a small hillock immediately below the Uffington White Horse in the county of Oxfordshire in England. It is a natural chalk hill with an artificially flattened top. According to legend, Saint George slew the dragon here.

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A bare patch of chalk upon which no grass will grow is purported to be where the dragon’s blood spilled.

A traditional custom on St George’s day is to fly or adorn one’s home or business with the St George’s Cross flag. Pubs in particular can be seen festooned with garlands of St George’s crosses on April 23. It is also customary for the hymn “Jerusalem” to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George’s Day. All of the above sound like good ideas to me.

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Lord Jesus Christ, whose cross didst seal thy servant George: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and prayers, may triumph to the end over all evils, to the glory of thy Name; for with the Father and Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

*Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 3, scene one

(The artwork is, from top to bottom: Donatello, Albrecht Durer, an English WWI recruitment poster, a Russian icon, N.C. Wyeth)

“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)

 

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)

Quietness of heart

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“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”
― Andrew Murray

Sixty years of ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, more than 200 books and tracts on Christian spirituality and ministry, extensive social work, and the founding of educational institutions—all these were outward signs of the inward grace that Andrew Murray experienced by continually casting himself on Christ.

“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence,” was his prayer. “And not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for him to fill full of his Spirit and his love.”

The woodblock print is by Frances Hammell Gearhart.

My joy and crown

When I tread the verge of Jordan,

Bid my anxious fears subside;

Death of death, and hell’s destruction,

Land me safe on Canaan’s side

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to thee,

I will ever give to thee.

(William Williams, 1717-1791, hymn #690)

How was your weekend? I guess it was St. Patrick’s Day, but we did nothing to mark it except indulge in an Errol Flynn marathon on Saturday night and watch The Quiet Man (1952) on Sunday night. Good choices. Hear, hear.

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On Saturday the OM and I also indulged in our first trip of the season to Ted Drewes. Considering my recent accident, I felt I deserved it.

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Look at that blue sky!

I was the reader of both lessons in church on Sunday–both good ones: Genesis 15:1-12; 17-18 and Philippians 3:17–4:1. I especially love reading from the letters of St. Paul, because I get to say things out loud that I could never say in real life.

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

After church I convinced the OM to go down to the Link Auction House with me for a preview of the next auction. A nice day for a drive and all that. We stopped at an estate sale at one of the huge houses on Kingsbury Place on the way home. Then it was time to go home and get ready for a visit from the wee babes.

When they first arrived little Lottiebelle was sound asleep and could not be awakened for quite awhile (no nap that day.)IMG_6588.JPEG

The wee laddie amused himself with intellectual pursuits.

IMG_6585.JPEGIMG_6583.jpegSleeping beauty roused herself eventually…

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…and we had a gay old time.

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And now another busy, stressful week unfolds. Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land.

This is the day

Good morning! There’s nothing like some Mandisa to start your day off right! And it is important to start your day off right.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

(Psalm 118:24)

My mother, who was not one to scold or correct, did tell me once, when I was grousing about something as an adolescent, that this is the day which the Lord has made, and you ought not to complain about it, but, indeed, rejoice about it. And for Pete’s sake, don’t waste it! That advice struck a cord in me and I never forgot it.

IT IS A MOMENT of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there will never be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.

“This is the day which the Lord has made,” says the 118th Psalm. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. The point is to see it for what it is because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing.

All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from them. Today is the only day there is.

– Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations 

I may have said all this before, but it bears repeating. Write it on your heart.

And here’s a little Stephen Stills on the subject:

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice…

Such as do stand

Sunday was the first Sunday in Lent so we read The Great Litany–Rite I, which I love. It is sure to knock some sense into us, right? One can only hope.

The readings were excellent…

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8b–13)

…later in the chapter Paul makes it clear that “…faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Context is everything.

The Gospel was Jesus being tempted by Satan. The rector’s sermon was the usual hodge-podge of quotes and stories, but he did make his point that we are not helpless against temptation. I don’t think he mentioned the word sin, but c’est l’église aujourd’hui.

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Besides going to church, I went to several estate sales, but didn’t find much. Just this little sterling picture frame…

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I went to Target as well, and it was jammed. I got out of there pretty darn fast. Then I straightened my house and puttered around. The usual.

The OM and I watched a couple of movies including McQ (1974) with John Wayne, a fish out of water playing a police detective on a personal mission in Seattle. I enjoyed it a lot even though the Duke folding himself into a Firebird is more like James Garner in The Rockford Files than Steve McQueen in Bullitt. He looked pretty uncomfortable.

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We also watched Get Carter (1971) with Michael Caine as a London gangster, who is trying to figure out who killed his brother in his hometown in the north of England. It is very gritty and violent and there is quite a bit of unsavory sex. If your idea of the English is purely based on watching Downton Abbey and reading Jane Austen books, this movie will cure you of that delusion forever.

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Guy Ritchie must have been influenced by this film, because it reminded me of all his movies. Anyway, I have to say I liked it, especially Michael Caine as the sociopath with a glimmer of character. He never looked handsomer.

Watching these two movies back to back reminded me of the fact that Michael Caine visited John Wayne many times in the hospital when he was dying in 1979. Caine would walk him up and down the hall and talk to him. They liked each other.

The wee babes came over for dinner with the boy on Sunday night. The wee laddie has glasses now to help fix his eye which still wanders a bit.

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Now all the kids in preschool will want them.

We had a lot of fun  watching the squirrels cavort in the front yard. Better than television!

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And now a new and busy week dawns. I’ll take it one day at a time.

Sometimes I just guess

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Ah, the weekend approacheth. Thank goodness. Hopefully nobody will ask me any questions. I get enough of that during the week.

I have a few plans, but it will be another quiet weekend, probably with a good amount of time spent on my blue sofa (see yesterday’s post.)

I have a bunch of books to read.

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Depending on the weather, I may venture out to a couple of estate sales.

Plus, there is an event at the Field House on Saturday afternoon…

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…and those wee babes will be coming over.

 

Also, don’t forget that the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church remembers Eric Liddell, Protestant missionary to China and Olympic gold medalist, with a feast day today.

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Have a great weekend!