29 January 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Help for the Computer-Clueless

Bad news: my computer was being screwy.
Good news: I know a lot of people who can help diagnose it.
Bad news: diagnosis is "needs a new hard drive."
Good news: it's still under warranty.

26 January 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: A Face in the Crowd

"Somebody"

Somebody being a nobody,
Thinking to look like a somebody,
Said that he thought me a nobody:
Good little somebody-nobody,
Had you not known me a somebody,
Would you have called me a nobody?

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

25 January 2009

In Which There Are Small Children

I really enjoyed church today, and not because of the worship or the message. Nope, it was the kids. Not to say that the worship or message was bad, by the way, but since I was in the nursery all morning, that kind of knocks me out of the rest of it. :)

When I spend an hour with a bunch of toddlers, it really puts the rest of church service into perspective. These are the young lives that will be shaped by what their parents hear in the sermon; these are the little people who will hear every word we say, learn every hymn we sing, imitate every act of devotion (and soberingly, every sin) they see us do. The songs and theology that seem to belong exclusively to the "grown up world" have significant effects on the nitty-gritty details of life, not only for us, but for each child in that nursery. We don't act alone when we are part of the Body of Christ. When one member grows, the others rejoice and reap the rewards alongside him. But when one member falls, the others suffer too.

It's a good reminder for me as a college student, frequently lost in the clouds of my own academics. All the things I learn will someday affect my brothers and sisters in Christ. That web of influence extends through space, through time, through many ages and personalities.

They say that no man is an island. I think that's especially true for the Church.

22 January 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Work and the Ability to Do It

Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much . . . Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
-Ecclesiastes 5

I am grateful for every single one of my jobs, from teaching composition to being an RA. I'm ashamed that I would ever complain about working; it's a blessing from the Lord, a way to imitate His creativity and help to "subdue the earth" as it were. All of my jobs are convenient and mostly enjoyable. Besides that, they provide enough money for me to pay for my own clothes/food/what-have-you, and also to avoid massive college debt. How kind of God to provide work for me, then give me the time and inclination to accomplish it well.

21 January 2009

Look, a thesis paragraph

This is for my honours thesis, pompously entitled "Morals and Make-believe: A Comparative Evaluation of Purpose, Form, and Didactic Effect in the Fantasy Worlds of George MacDonald, Kenneth Grahame, and Lewis Carroll."

---

I believe that the “eccentric men” who authored these classic works [The Princess and the Goblin, The Wind in the Willows, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland] cherished purposes deeper than escapism. I have concluded that their fictional worlds are all intended to serve a distinct goal: MacDonald aimed to craft something relevant to our own experience, Grahame sought a healing alternative to painful reality, and Carroll wished to amuse children with unrealistic fragments and simultaneously to protect them from immorality. These facts become clear in view of their own explicitly expressed authorial intentions, the meticulous construction of their worlds, and the moral effect given by each book. Each wonderland offers vivid cultures and definite “spiritual” expectations, the hallmarks of intentional craftsmanship; moreover, as we enter the fantasts’ creations, we cannot help but conform our emotions and beliefs to those expressed there.

---

So there you have it. Wordy and circuitous, perhaps, but at least presentable. Hooray! Now to expand, edit, and polish the 48 pages of blather which follow it. I don't want my poor long-suffering thesis committee to die of verbal overload. I have till March . . .

19 January 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: The Coming Rest

"Uphill" by Christina Rosetti
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

"There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God."
-Hebrews 4:8-9

15 January 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Going Out With a Bang

So, I have amazing classes this semester. First of all, the professors are wonderful, and I've had them all before, which helps me to settle in comfortably. Second, the topics are all interesting. I had no last-minute core requirements to fill, like lame sociology or boring economics. (I know some of you will hate me for calling those classes lame and boring, but there's no accounting for taste.) Instead, I've got English History Since 1485, Utopian & Dystopian Fiction, Oral and Written Spanish, Western Heritage Since 1600, a couple seminars, choir, and my thesis. How good of God to send me to this school! I've learned so much and enjoyed ::almost:: every bit of it.

14 January 2009

Thy Terror, O Christ, O God...

This is from "The Wreck of the Deutschland" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It's a really complex poem, but I love it. These opening stanzas reflect on how God, the poet's master and creator and Lord, often comes to him in such glory than it's terrifying. Yet after this fear, the shock of seeing God's holiness above our creatureliness, that same magnificent Lord-- through Christ-- reaches down to the poet in peace. And we rest in his love and mercy.

Thou mastering me
God! Giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress . . .


Be adored among men,
God, three-number├Ęd form;
Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
Man’s malice, with wrecking and storm.
Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
Thou art lightning and love
, I found it, a winter and warm;
Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.

13 January 2009

There Be Snow

What to do when your college campus looks like a snowglobe:
Put on your boots. Walk around with an umbrella pretending that you're Tumnus the Faun. Have Elizabethan icicle duels. Stand in the middle of the quad, sticking out your tongue to catch snowflakes. Recite snow poems. Wear a black scarf and marvel at how the flakes' intricate designs show up against the dark fabric. Sing Christmas carols loudly even though it isn't Christmas. Jump into drifts. Track messages in the snow (especially in front of people's houses). Build a fort. Build a snow family. Grab some cookie sheets and go sledding. Try to count snowflakes, give up, and then realize that God knows each one individually. Run inside for hot chocolate.




"First Snow"
Snow makes whiteness where it falls.
The bushes look like popcorn-balls.
The places where I always play
Look like somewhere else today.
-Marie Louise Allen

11 January 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Peace Comes Dropping Slow

"The Lake Isle of Innisfree"
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

-William Butler Yeats

Innisfree is a small island in Lough Gill, County Sligo. Apparently, it had a special place in the Irishman Yeats' heart; he once remarked that this poem was "my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music." I love the images (glimmering midnight, glowing noon, lake water lapping in the heart), and personally, the poem makes me really excited for my family's upcoming vacation to Maine. The rocky seashore makes me feel just like this, peaceful and content in God's beautiful creation. June can't come soon enough for me. :)

10 January 2009

Moving Back In

Unpacking takes much longer than packing, mostly because I stacked a bunch of hatboxes and crates and rugs and hampers and hangers and tea mugs on top of my bed before break. That was so housekeeping could shampoo the rugs . . . which is very nice, but a pain to unravel now. In the process, however, I have found interesting things that I forgot I possessed, and have thrown away plenty of junk too (making good progress with Resolution #6).

This is what my room looked like at 3:00 Saturday afternoon:



And here's what it looked like before I went to bed:





Pretty good, huh? Finally, here is the list of Exciting Discoveries Made While Organizing:

-chocolate truffles
-another scarf from Turkey
-a Harper's Bazaar Magazine from last summer
-ribbons and stationery
-forgotten coffee mugs
-a blank black Moleskine
-Christmas music I've never listened to, and shall posthaste (I don't believe in limiting Christmas music to December)
-expensive hair products that I definitely didn't buy, so must have received as a present somewhere
-plenty of dust

09 January 2009

Thankful Thursdays: A Break


We so cool.


I love this one.


Buddhist monks. (Daddy brought home a bunch of sweatshirts for Luke and Simon to try on, but Rachel, Mark, and I had our fun with them first.) Anyway. . . you know that old Kit-Kat song? "Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar!" That's how I felt three weeks ago. Now I'm quite rested, refreshed and ready to hit the books again. I have exactly four months until my graduation on May 9, and thanks to my wonderful family and church, I've regained the energy and motivation I need to finish well. (I think.)

05 January 2009

Resolutions


1) Graduate . . . and start paying off my loans.
2) Learn how to drive stick, play a scale on the violin, and make a good g&t.
3) Consume many delicious antioxidants, mostly in the form of dark chocolate, pomegranates, and Merlot.
4) Watch The Prestige without putting a blanket over my head. (This is the resolution most likely to be broken.)
5) Teach twenty kids how to write a decent thesis statement.
6) Throw away more junk than I buy.
7) Read Tristram Shandy, Gilead, A Severe Mercy, and Rabbit, Run.
8) Use British spelling wherever possible. (I've realised that it makes life more colourful.)
9) Talk less.
10) Pray more.

"Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's."
-Jonathan Edwards 1723

Mellifluous Mondays: The Fairy in Armor

He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of the thistle down;
The corselet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee’s golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes
Was formed of the wings of butterflies;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug green,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandished bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he bestrode his fire-fly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent-grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle-seed,
And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens, and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.

-Joseph Rodman Drake

01 January 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Large Vehicles and People Who Drive Them

We're spending New Year's Day with our cousins in Philly. (It's kind of like the city mouse and the country mouse, but that's another story.) To get there, of course, we must take the Big White Pill-- our 12-passenger van-- and someone must drive it over hill and dale from Lancaster to Philadelphia. As a person who hates driving unfamiliar places and is afraid to get behind the wheel of anything larger than a four-door sedan, I admire anyone who can maneuver our van through holiday traffic jams in a major city. Props to Daddy.