Saturday, May 31, 2014

No One is an Island, Entire of Itself

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him. And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another . . .

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne, English poet and cleric (1572-1631)

Today I break with tradition and present an image from a rather distant past. It stands for the memories of scenes and feelings that swelled up in me today as Matthew 5: 1-12, "The Beatitudes", was read during a celebration of life service. The Mount of the Beatitudes is a beautiful, peaceful, and spirit-filled place that I have been blessed to visit on several occasions with loved ones. I am inspired by the scripture and by the setting, and my memories reminded me of the contemplative comfort shared.

Because Betty loved poetry, Tennyson, Brooke, and Donne appeared throughout her service. I was moved by Donne's image of each life as a story -- with myriad chapters of toils, joys and sorrows -- being linked and continuing on in the life-stories of others and of all humankind combined as one volume. No one is an island, entire of itself.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pattern and Light

All shadows whisper of the sun.
Emanuel Carnevali, Italian-American poet (1897-1942)

The plain wall in my living room became highly decorative with shadows in the morning's light.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Pleasure of Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.
Richard Sennett, American sociologist in The Craftsman (2008)

This evening I received a beautiful gift. Gazing upon the care and craftsmanship of its creation brings such pleasure.

Such care has been taken in selecting the wood and in coupling the various parts. With the stain perfectly matching my dining room table, made by a friend years ago, it is an appreciated addition to my little abode. I can only surmise that the Mennonite carpenters responsible for this fine sideboard share the view of Martin Luther:
The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.

Monday, May 26, 2014

♬ Puttin' On the Ritz ♬

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits
Puttin' on the ritz
Irving Berlin (1929)

My work opens up all kinds of interesting experiences. Today found me at the Ritz-Carlton with esteemed VIPs. For the past few weeks I have had a plan in mind to linger in the lounge after the meeting, sipping a prosecco and enjoying my once-in-a-lifetime experience of 'puttin' on the ritz'. Alas, by the end of the meeting I was so exhausted that I just wanted to go home. Oh well. Admittedly, I enjoy my little abode -- without having to put on the ritz.

I did, however, appreciate my time working with the fine RC staff. They do hospitality right!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blossoming Summer

If an apple blossom or a ripe apple could tell its own story, it would be, still more than its own, the story of the sunshine that smiled upon it, of the winds that whispered to it, of the birds that sang around it, of the storms that visited it, and of the motherly tree that held it and fed it until its petals were unfolded and its form developed.
Lucy Larcom, American poet (1824-1893)

What an awesome sight Mom and Dad's crabapple tree presented this morning. A robin sang in the background and a soft breeze gently held petals as they floated to the ground.

The tree was like a giant snowball of scent and beauty, yet surely the blossoms with their backdrop of blue skies and warm temperatures confirmed the near appearance of summer days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Adventures with Pooh

As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.
A.A. Milne, English author and playwright (1882-1956) in Winnie-the-Pooh

Mom and I had tea with the newest member of the family, who did a honey dance on her new quilt that Mom made for the little one (with me honoured as "design consultant"). Both she and it are beauties. No doubt her lively spirit will take her on many a grand adventure.

Here's the full quilt out in garden on Sunday afternoon. To me, the colours are as delectable as a honey pot (strangely, I seem to 'taste' beautiful things) and the dragon-fly quilting motif is joyful. Well done, Mom!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

♬ Let Us Build a House ♬

Let us build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured,
taught and claimed
as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace;
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Marty Haugen, American composer of hymns, in "Let Us Build a House" (1994)

The babies have appeared in the nest that momma and poppa robins worked so hard to build among the protective branches of a tree beside my parents home. New life, whether in the nest, the garden or in our family is heart-warming, as is one of my favourite hymns by Marty Haugen that filled the church this morning. For me, the lyrics extend beyond the church to my home and my soul.

Let us build a house where love can dwell,
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and walls of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Rockin' Life

Middle age is when you're sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you.
Ogden Nash, American poet (1902-1971)

An old rocking chair bearing signs of being loved over the years caught my eye in an "antique" store a while back. I enjoyed several morning coffees sitting in it, pondering the new day rising in the living room window, until the day that I spilled my coffee across the wall and the carpet and in the ensuing moments of mayhem managed to dislocate the chair's arm from its spindles. As a consequence, the chair went off to the restorer's workshop for a complete makeover: re-gluing, refinishing, and reupholstering. She returned home this week a stunning beauty. And so here I sit, enjoying a rockin' Saturday night with a spot of tea and a big smile.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Empty Joy

The more space and emptiness you can create in yourself, then you can let the rest of the world come in and fill you up.
Jeff Bridges, American actor

Team Saunders huddled this morning over take-out coffees to devise a plan for creating empty space. For three years this storage unit has held boxes full of the stuff of life. With trips to the church, the recycle centre and the dump, I was overjoyed to close the door on an empty space.

Three cheers for Team Saunders! And one BIG "Thank-you"!