Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

The kids in their Easter finery

Look out, ladies. 

These are some of the beautiful tulips from church.  Suddenly it feels like spring in our kitchen!

My favorite Easter song, or here, anthem, is by William Billings.  I've posted it before at Easter time but here it is again.  It's worth repeating. 

"The Lord is ris'n indeed,


Now is Christ risen from the dead,

and become the first fruits of them that slept.


And did He rise?

Hear, O ye nations, hear it, O ye dead.

He rose, He burst the bars of death,

He burst the bars of death and triumph'd o'er the grave.

Then I rose,

then first humanity triumphant passed the crystal ports of light,

and seiz'd eternal youth.

Man, all immortal hail, hail,

Heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man,

Thine's all the glory, man's the boundless bliss."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shakespeare's Birthday

Today is the Bard's birthday!
How shall we celebrate?

See a production at The Globe?  I like your thinking...but no.  Airfare?  Theater tickets?  No shows in production yet?  Can't do it.

Dress as Elizabethans for the day?  Hmmm...maybe not.  Stomachers and ruffs and farthingales are not as much fun as they sound like.

Read plays?  Watch movie versions of the plays?  Listen to recordings of the plays?  Twine flowers in our hair and gaze into our true love's eyes?  Why, yes.  That sounds like just the thing. 

Well, at least I know that John and the kids will go for cake and ice cream.  And maybe, just maybe, I can sneak in a little from the prologue to Henry V.

"O, for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention..." 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Finally, last Thursday, the long-awaited Birthday arrived! 

In addition to birthday excitement and cupcakes, it was pajama day at preschool, so Sam got to wear his Spiderman pj's all day long! 

In the evening, we had Pat and Katie as well as Andre, Heather, and little Joseph over for cupcakes and present opening. 

Sadly, there was no cookie launcher among the presents. 

After such an extended lead-up, I'm not sure the actual day lived up to its hype.  Sam's teacher commented that he seemed a little tired.  No wonder when he didn't get to sleep until late the night before and woke up earlier than usual on the morning of. 

But, then, perhaps the anticipation is most of the fun.  On Friday, he started planning for his 6th birthday. 


"Five friends I had, and two of them snakes." 

So begins Frederick Buechner's novel, Godric.  Isn't that a great first sentence? 

The novel retells the life of the 11th century saint, Godric of Finchale.  It is at once earthy (and I use the word in all its euphemistic glory) and heavenly, both in what is told and how it is told.  Buechner's prose is so akin to poetry I had to stop a few times and re-read, certain that the lines I had read rhymed.  But no, this prose/poetry does not rely on rhyming.  Its lyrical quality comes from sentence construction, word choice, and well-placed figures of speech. 

A sound-bite is not sufficient to prove this point, but a few sentences are so good they are worth putting here:

"What's lost is nothing to what's found, and all the death that ever was, next to life, would scarcely fill a cup."

"As a man dies many times before he's dead, so does he wend from birth to birth until, by grace, he comes alive at last."

"What's prayer?  It's shooting shafts into the dark.  What mark they strike, if any, who's to say?  It's reaching for a hand you cannot touch.  The silence is so fathomless that prayers like plummets vanish in the sea.  You beg.  You whimper.  You load God down with empty praise.  You tell him sins he already knows full well.  You seek to change his changeless will.  Yet Godric prays the way he breathes, for else his heart would wither in his breast.  Prayer is the wind that fills his sail.  Else waves would dash him on the rocks, or he would drift with witless tides.  And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard." 

Godric's faith is rooted in 11th century Christianity but entirely modern, or rather it transcends time and place; it is timely in any century.  I'm not saying that I would agree with all of Godric's (or Buechner's) theology, but I recognize a like faith and a faith from which I can learn better how to love and serve the same God.  One may be spiritually sound without being entirely theologically sound but let's not throw the baby out with the baptismal font. 

So, I commend to you Godric, both for its literary as well as its spiritual merit.  I would not, as another reviewer claimed, mark my life before Godric and after Godric, but I would have to say that it holds a unique place in my understanding of literature and writing and what makes for "good" writing.  Godric, both the novel and the main character, is unforgettable. 

(I do extend the caveat that, as with all literature, one must read with discernment and wisdom.  Godric lived quite a secular life before taking up his holy life and never did clean up his language entirely.) 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Dancing in the Minefields"

A few weeks ago John discovered the work of a singer/songwriter named Andrew Peterson and became an immediate fan.  I was reluctant to try yet another whiny, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend Christian "artist."  But I should know to trust my husband more than that.

Tonight we went and heard Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive in concert and it was good.  Really good. 

I know that it's partly the fact that he is in life where we are - married for 16 years with several kids - and he writes about it in some of his songs.  But he writes about a lot of other stuff, too -- stuff like sin and pain and love and resurrection, about being human and longing for the divine. 

One of his songs is called "Dancing in the Minefields" and it's about marriage.  Here's a little bit of it:

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

"I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I've heard
Is a good place to begin

'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

'Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you   

His musical style - a melange of folk/country/bluegrass/rock - may not be to your liking but his poetry is undeniable. 

In "The Magic Hour," the chorus goes like this:

Here at the magic hour
Time and eternity
Mingle a moment in chorus
Here at the magic hour
Bright is the mystery
Plain is the beauty before us
Could this beauty be for us?
What is this voice that sings
Holy and hovering
Over this hill in the still of the evening?

Beautiful, eh?

In another song, Peterson talks about Jacob wrestling with the angel and in the morning being "wounded by a blessing."  He has lots of phrases and passages like that which could feed some pretty good discussion. 

He also has a song about the isle of Skye which has only one verse and a chorus - I wish it was 3 or 4 times as long; it is almost as beautiful as the Scottish island it describes.

We listened to Peterson's Counting Stars album on the way home and decided that while we like the CD a lot, we prefered the less polished sound of the live performance.  I guess that's why musicians still tour, right?

If you're curious (and not turned off by my gushing), you can check out his website:  He also runs and occasionally contributes to a great arts blog called The Rabbit Room. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More of Spring Break '11

 My little eaglets.  I love my full nest. 
 The view across the river.
 Junior Bird Man.
On the way home we drove along the river on the Wisconsin side and stopped off in Pepin to see the replica of the Little House in the Big Woods.  Johanna has read the book since we were there a few years ago so she was especially interested.  Not much to see but a few fun pictures and items in there. 

She's not really saluting, just keeping the sun out of her eyes. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Break '11

Over spring break, we headed south to Wabasha, MN. 
On the way there, we stopped at the Red Wing museum/shop.  Johanna and Sam had fun dressing up in outfits which go with Red Wing boots.

Micah enjoyed pretending to be a construction worker on a high rise.

This one (above) proves that I am the "...old woman who lived in a shoe..."
In Wabasha, we spent several hours at the National Eagle Center.  We had a family picture taken with our newest family member, Harriet, the eagle.  See how interested she is in John's shiny head?
Apparently, Harriet took exception to something.  John was a little freaked out but the kids thought it was cool. 
We stayed at an AmericInn, went swimming more times than I care to count, ate decadent meals out and had a great time together. 
We spent the rest of spring break at home but it was fun to get out of town for a few days.  And we could claim we went "south" for spring break!