Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Today it looked like this:
See the built in bookshelf at the end of the pennisula? Woohoo. Windows are in the process of being replaced. The cupboards are stained fruit wood, the window sashes and floorboards are mocha.
View of where the refrigerator will sit. The opening to the left is the door going down to the (soon to be finished) basement.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Without further ado...a kitchen tour, as photojournaled by Cub.... pipes...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
It's been over 8 months since my sister Sue passed away at the age 48. The shock is gone, but the sorrow catches me by surprise unexpectedly at times, even now. Sue's struggles with MS had changed her personality in many ways, and the way that she dealt with the world, through a veil of chronic illness, didn't always leave her the easiest person to understand or interact with. Her fil took me aside after the funeral and told me I should be relieved at her sudden and painless death. She was beginning to truly become an invalid and he knew that she wouldn't want to live that way. She left this world still walking, talking, laughing and in control of her body and senses. That is a blessing.
I found "Living the Year of Kaddish" almost by accident. I was, as a joke, compiling a list of "Living a Year" memoirs. Seems I'd inadvertently stumbled upon and read several and decided to see just how many had jumped on the intentional living bandwagon. "Living a Year of Kaddish" is thoughtful and poignant and different from the others of this genre in that the author is already living intentionally as an Orthodox Jew. Kaddish is simply an act of intentional worship within that tradition. Kaddish is the Jewish tradition of mourning a close relative; a parent, sibling or child. Goldman, the author, is saying Kaddish for his father. His relationship with his father, like most of ours with our parents, was complex. This has been my problem this past year as well as when my mom passed away. How do we mourn and grieve appropriately those whose death is painful but also, perhaps, because of chronic pain and illness, whether physical or emotional, a relief . Sorrow and guilt get muddled by the relief from obligation.
Kaddish, a prayer offered with regularity during a specific period of time,offers the solution. A Jew prays the prayer of mourning for a year on the Jewish calendar within the community of a minyon (10 men within the Orthodox tradition) each morning, noon and evening. Throughout and at the end of Kaddish, the community resounds with "Amen." Goldman speaks about those he met through praying Kaddish throughout the year. Those praying for their own families, for someone else's family, for the millions who died during the horror of the Holocaust and had no one to pray Kaddish for them. I envy this tradition. A form. Substance. A daily act and ritual that defines and justifies the grief and sorrow one has over a painful loss. A time and sequence. A community that mourns with those who are mourning. Sweet comfort.
Our culture says, far too often, "move on." And yet I know so very many who don't. Those who have lost a child, a parent, a spouse. That loss defines them. Keeps them from appropriately supporting others in their own grief, keeps them from loving healthily and wholeheartedly those among the Land of the Living. Keeps them looking backwards, always hoping for a glimpse, or a dream or a vision of those who have passed away. Perhaps, like Saul, desperately seeking comfort or command from those who have left us, demanding that we do the right thing all on our own, know our own minds, stand for justice rather than ease, demanding that we get over the childish insistence that we get our own way. Our culture lacks substance during the time of important passage; death. Passage for the deceased and passage for those of us left behind. We now navigate through life without them. How can it be that a father continues on beyond a daughter, a sister just 12 months and 1 week younger lives in a world that her big sister no longer contains? Yes, death is an important passage, just as much for those of us still alive. I'm the big sister now, not a middle. My family of origin that not long ago consisted of 5, is now a measly 3.
Goldman writes this, "At a time of great loss, the natural inclination is to question, rebel, reject and diminish God. But the tradition calls on the mourner not merely to praise God, but to lead others in this ancient praise poem, "Yitkadal veyitdakash sh'mei reabah, " it begins. "May His great name grow exalted and sanctified forever and ever." He goes on to say that Kaddish "thrusts the mourner out of his or her home and into the community at a time when it might be easier to withdraw and quietly grieve. Community has therapeutic properties." And finally, in the same section, "Kaddish binds the mourner to the past and the present."
After the year of Kaddish there continues a yearly remembrance of the lost ones lives in the annual yahrtzeit; a child says Kaddish in a minyan and then friends and relatives gather in remembrance. This serves two purposes, to continue the sadness and contemplation over the loss of a close relative and secondly, to sponsor a celebration of the life of the deceased. I love this idea. My two youngest children were born after my mom passed away. A celebration such as this would keep her memories intentionally alive for them. And, again, it binds those of us navigating through life without our loved ones to both the past and the present.
Goldman writes throughout this memoir of the angst he felt as the child of divorce. The angst he felt as the son of a distant father. The angst he feels as an orphan at 50. But the form of his faith traditions give him the ritual and connection to clarify and make sense of the gifts he received from his parents union, his fathers love, his family that has been, once again, through the finality of death, reconfigured.
Kaddish is an affirmation of life. A magnificat. The Lord God Almighty gives and takes away and he is worthy of praise at all times. I sorely wish my faith tradition had rituals such as these. Rituals to lean and rely on during times of pain and loss. Still, reading Goldman's book and hearing of his struggles as the son of imperfect parents, who is honoring them with all that he knows how, was good. Relational complexities are allowed and expected, even while honoring the life that is now gone. A beautiful memoir. And soothing balm to others walking a path of sorrow.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Miss. R left 2 seasons of "StartGate Atlantis" for us to watch this summer at the behest of Feche Boy. KB refuses to watch and we won't let the notsolittles so it's become FB's and my thang to do together. The acting is cheesy, character development still in the development stages, the plot generally predictable. It's good, cheap summer time entertainment. I am mesmerized by the Wraith. They are creepy on a primal level (which I'm sure is the point) and make a great metaphor for Satan. They are, after all, a life-sucking force that feed off of humans, draining away the very days of their victims. Isn't that the quest of the Enemy of our Souls? To drain us of purpose, days, life, and ultimately destroy us, physically and spiritually? I think if more of the church got ahold of that, not on a "living cause I'm terrified" level, but more on a "so this is the reality" level, there would be a greater sense of urgency about all that we do.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Results are God's.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
(And just cause I posted this doesn't mean I'm admitting that I'm agreeing with him).
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Right, except. In 19 God tells Moses to assemble the people- HE will meet with them in a cloud of smoke. Israel is to consecrate itself before meeting with the Lord. He comes, amidst thunder and lightening, a cloud of smoke, a loud trumpet. We spent a couple of minutes talking about when God has spoken and what it was like- when heaven opened, a dove alighted and Jesus was proclaimed God's son, at the burning bush, in the Revelation when he comes like many waters. God speaking is so...organic. It is so part of the natural world. God speaks at Mt. Sinai, but it is the thunder roaring and out of the roar, words are heard. God speaks the world into being but the speaking and the being are part of the same. Even the rocks and stones will cry out, perhaps because, like eternity that is written in the heart of man, God's speaking into existence each thing leaves His echo with it.
The mountain trembles, the earth shakes, there is lightening and thunder and God speaks. Whoa. And then the list:
*Have no other gods- well o.k. Though in Egypt there was a god for everything.
*Make no graven images- don't idolize me. Though in Egypt Pharaoh worship and idolization was encouraged and expected.
*Don't take my name in vain- in other words, respect my position of authority as Emperor, even when it's not convenient, because, though I, Yahweh, Lord of hosts, bear you up on eagles wings to bring you to myself (Exodus 19:3), I am still the Master of the Universe. It's not just political, it's personal and consuming.
*Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy-even though days off in the Ancient World don't exist. Sounds like it should be easier to do than it is. The work never ends, especially when one is self employed (the Israelites are free now. Free to make their own choices, work their own businesses, etc).
And it says the people witnessed the thunder and lightening flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking and they trembled and were afraid.
Really? I'm not sure I blame them. These are people who had been part of a culture that worshipped-well, not God, so I assume by default the enemy. They were used to smoke and mirrors religion, or worse (having read enough accounts of missionary stories, one gets the distinct idea that when the the One True Living God is not being worshipped, other darker realities show up to glean the praise and win and terrorize the hearts and minds of the people). They had just witnessed deliverance in a specific and unusual way. After all, God did not have to send the plagues, He could have simply forced Pharaohs hand at the beginning of the discussion. He did not have to part the Red Sea. He could have simply allowed the weary, enslaved huddled masses to fight and win. He did not have to let them wander for 3 days with out water. He could have simply provided water along the way. My point is that these people have just left a wearisome and oppressive life, to be confronted by a God that is glamorous, dynamic, alive, all-powerful, intimidating, earth shaking, organic, intense, glorious, frightening and has an agenda.
Their response, "Whoa, Nellie. Moses, you just talk to the Man. We'll be chilling here in the desert, cause this all powerful, righteous, smoking God could kill us." They recognize the power. They see the reality. They stand in fear.
I've felt a bit like the Israelites lately. God's power is at work. He is doing things beyond the ordinary-they are extraordinary and intense and amazing. And, like the Israelites I've been going through a bit of a paradigm shift. The ways in which the Israelites defined themselves were no longer true. No longer slaves, residents of Egypt, crying out for deliverance. They were now free Israelites. Which is awesome. But really, how often are people able to move on to new definitions, new realities? I've done enough therapy, read enough books to know that even when people's realities change in fundamental ways, how they see themselves remains the same. Isn't' that what is so cool about those stories of re-definition? Like Corrie Ten Boom instead of Elie Wiesel (with NO condemnation for Elie. It's just that Corrie was victorious in the light of damnation and degradation and Elie despaired). I feel like I've been at the base of the mountain being redefined, watching this God who is beyond definition, create a new thing. Paradigm shifted. Tweaked. Re-shaped. Feeling raw and tired and re-purposed and not sure of what's next.
And at those times, for the Israelites, for us, for me, it's easy to want to slink off, let someone else speak to the man, keep a low profile, just lay low, be religious instead of faithful. But right away, God says, "you won't make anything to be with me." Nothing. Not gold or silver, not pastor, or thing or other teaching, or religion. Which is ridiculous. What could even compare? Anything we bring cheapens Him, exposes itself as dime-store junk. Fake, plastic snap pearls, next to the real, genuine, luminesce beauty. He knows our temptation-to bring something else alongside of Him and says, "Don't." It's me and you, baby. Cause I love you. And I invite you to love me.
"In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you." (Exodus 20: 24c)
Just get over the fear, the intimidation, our own disobedience and He will bless us.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Habit of Thinking
The students in America’s earliest schools, academies, and colleges were educated according to the great traditions of the Christian and Classical heritage—beginning at the Latin School of Plymouth, established on this day in 1623. They were the beneficiaries of a rich legacy of art, music, and ideas that had not only trained the extraordinary minds of our Founding Fathers but had provoked the remarkable flowering of culture throughout Western Civilization. It was a pattern of academic discipleship that had hardly changed at all since the dawning days of the Reformation and Renaissance—a pattern though that has almost entirely vanished today.
Indeed, those first Americans were educated in a way that we can only dream of today despite all our nifty gadgets, gimmicks, and bright ideas. They were steeped in the ethos of Augustine, Dante, Plutarch, and Vasari. They were conversant in the ideas of Seneca, Ptolemy, Virgil, and Aristophanes. The notions of Athanasius, Chrysostom, Anselm, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Abelard, and Wyclif informed their thinking and shaped their worldview.
The now carelessly discarded traditional medieval Trivium—emphasizing the basic Classical scholastic categories of grammar, logic, and rhetoric—equipped them with the tools for a lifetime of learning: a working knowledge of the timetables of history, a background understanding of the great literary classics, a structural competency in Greek and Latin-based grammars, a familiarity with the sweep of art, music, and ideas, a grasp of research and writing skills, a worldview comprehension for math and science basics, a principle approach to current events, and an emphasis on a Christian life paradigm.
The methodologies of this kind of Christian and Classical learning adhered to the time-honored principles of creative learning: an emphasis on structural memorization, an exposure to the best of Christendom's cultural ethos, a wide array of focused reading, an opportunity for disciplined presentations, a catechizing for orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy, and a broad experience honing the basic academic skills of listening, journaling, thinking, processing, integrating, extemporizing, and applying.
The object of this kind of Christian and Classical education was not merely the accumulation of knowledge. Instead it was to equip a whole new generation of leaders with the necessary tools to exercise discernment, discretion, and discipline in their lives and over their callings. Despite their meager resources, rough-hewn facilities, and down-to-earth frontier ethic, they maintained continuity with all that had given birth to the wisdom of the West.
It was the modern abandonment of these Christian and Classical standards a generation later that provoked G.K. Chesterton to remark, “The great intellectual tradition that comes down to us from the past was never interrupted or lost through such trifles as the sack of Rome, the triumph of Attila, or all the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. It was lost after…the coming of the marvels of technology, the establishment of universal education, and all the enlightenment of the modern world. And thus was lost—or impatiently snapped—the long thin delicate thread that had descended from distant antiquity; the thread of that unusual human hobby: the habit of thinking.”