December 28, 2010
Since I wrote the last post about the song running through my head, I decided to have a bit of fun with it and make a recording. Here is an “audio aid” for you, of a basic a capella version with a harmony I added as an afterthought. You should be able to give it a listen just by clicking the link . . . oh love that will not let me go
December 26, 2010
Oh, love that will not let me go . . .
What strange lyrics, it seemed, for me to be dwelling on this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But I have been.
Since some time yesterday, when the words popped into my head, they have remained there, refusing to cease their refrain. So I have ended up speaking them to myself quietly, in snippets. Or singing them, in their entirety, while walking with my baby niece. Or being moved to tears by the power of the words.
So it was that I wept my way through the service last night, and through the breaking of the bread. It started with the words running through my head; it was spurred on by the solemnity of the liturgy and the readings of the Word. And it was brought to a head by the powerful emotions bubbling forth from my bruised and aching heart.
I do not like to speak of such things as “broken hearts”—at least not in the common way they are dwelt on in the affluent Western world. But there is a way in which I often feel burdened by a heart that cannot linger long in any sort of happiness. It makes its way, with regularity in my cycle of life, to a state of contemplative grieving. Now to clarify, I do not mind this tendency. For the most part, the sorrow I feel is one that seems right—fitting for one living in a world where things are not as they should be. Not as they will be, somc day, when the One who rights all things returns to right our world.
But for now, I wait in peaceful expectation. And on this Christmas Day, it occurs to me that such expectation is, in a manner of speaking, the most right way I could imagine, in which to celebrate this day. So I soak up the presence of my sweet family as we linger together. I gaze at the beautiful faces of my young nieces. I laugh with the baby as she giggles and claps. And I remember a child who was expected, and who came, so many years ago.
December 21, 2010
Today’s traveling adventures included the summit of a staircase that brought us from 6,600 feet to 8,600 feet of elevation, within the space of 1 mile. When asked how I felt in the middle of it, I replied, “I’m tired.” That feeling did not go away for the remainder of the climb . . . though the 2-mile hike back down felt remarkably luxurious after the upwards trek :-)
Another [decidedly less challenging] outing involved a peek at the so-called “kissing camels.” My response, upon seeing this rock formation, was a comment about the obvious issue that one of the “camels” was missing a hump. So of course, this was no camel. But a cow, masquerading as a “kissing camel.” This reflection carried on with an elaborate improvised tale about the camel who is unaware of the unfortunate reality that his true love is a cow. Here is a glimpse of said “camels” . . .
December 18, 2010
This afternoon brought a bit of a welcome respite from the recent frigid temperatures. It was still cold, but decent enough for me to suggest a walk to the park with the neighbors. I had to laugh when my rambunctious young park-mate confidently plopped on the swing set and began to swing . . . in her own fashion. “You know,” I commented to her mother, “it does actually look surprisingly comfortable.” The little one seemed to think so too :-)
December 15, 2010
I wrote this a bit ago already, while camping out in the airport of Johannesburg. Since it has been making the rounds already in online circles, as a Christmas series along with fellow contributors to an anthology published a year ago or so, I thought I would go ahead and post it on my own blog too . . . imagine that :-)
Mary, did you know . . . that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect Lamb? And the sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM
I am in the middle of a revival of my used-to-be-annual project of a Christmas card sketch. For several years, with a few years missed, I have done a sketch of some image of Mary the Mother of Jesus, something that came to my mind without complete awareness of why that particular picture was needing to be put to paper. It was originally a simple pencil sketch that, once completed, I would have printed out into a set of cards that would go out to all my friends and family. Along with the sketch, however, I have always had a verse that came to mind to signify the meaning of the drawing in my mind. And so I have had images such as “Be it unto me according to your word,” as well as a more enigmatic one that went with “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me . . .” But each one was important for that year of my life. And so I would spend the necessary costs in order to produce and mail in relatively large scales, for my general penny-pinching tendencies.
This year I did not expect to produce a card. The fact of my life lately as a boarding school librarian/teacher in Zambia, Africa, has made such projects feel rather far-removed from the realm of possibility.
And yet, I have had an image in my head for several months now. I started to put it to paper, and I abandoned it for a bit, figuring it was a bit frivolous with all the practical work I had to do. But then I picked it up again, and it is now nearing the stage of completion, hopefully to be completed with printing and mailing once I arrive in the U.S. for a holiday visit with family.
What I realized is that, frivolous though it may seem, it is actually quite important. For women [especially Western women of faith], the holidays carry with them great amounts of expectation and stresses. So much so that we often get swallowed up with the hectic pace and forget to soak in the meaning. What is important for each of us, I believe, is to “pick and choose.” We must resist the pressure to do what doesn’t not bring meaning for us. And we must cling to those traditions and activities that promote an aura of true, Christ-centered celebration for ourselves and for our loved ones.
So this year, Lord willing, I will be sending out my cards—and enjoying every bit of it; and in case you wondered, Mary did you know . . .? will be the theme J
December 4, 2010
“The show must go on . . .” And go on it did. Power outages, sound equipment failures, and claps of thunder notwithstanding, our show went on. They sang their songs [with the obligatory word mix-ups and tempo goofs]. They spoke their lines [a few out of turn and a couple, or three, forgotten]. They danced their jigs [one or two missteps and several wrong turns]. And I, from behind the audience, facing the young performers, tapped out the beat, mouthed the words, and mirrored their motions. Even in the midst of the show, I could feel the stress of logistical preparations fading as pride took its place. My cheeks began to ache, and I realized I was grinning to the point of face muscle strain.
Then they made their final bow, filed off stage, and we were done. Months of preparations, weeks of build-up, then a flurry of “I’m so proud of you!”s and quick goodbye hugs, and they were off. How quiet it was there in the dorm last night, staff only remaining; in fact, we shifted rooms in order to occupy one corner of the u-shaped building. Even so, it felt lonesome and dark—ok, so it was dark; we had no power :-)
Today most of us adults have also departed, on to our own holiday visits and travels—hopefully with a bit of rest tucked in there as well. Lord knows we need it before term beginnings come again!
Here is a shot of my favourite [not that play choreographers ever choose favourites, mind you] dance troupe: the three roadsweepers in their sweeping finale!