Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Day by Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti's Verses is like prayer book all it's own, with poems for most occasions. I should have started reading it through during Lent. Here is her poem for Easter Sunday.

Picture from here.

Easter Day

Words cannot utter
   Christ his returning:
Mankind, keep jubilee,
   Strip off your mourning,
Crown you with garlands,
   Set your lamps burning.

Speech is left speechless;
   Set you to singing,
Fling your hearts open wide,
   Set your bells ringing:
Christ the Chief Reaper
   Comes, His sheaf bringing.

Earth wakes her song-birds,
   Puts on her flowers,
Leads out her lambkins,
   Builds up her bowers:
This is man’s spousal day,
   Christ’s day and ours.

~Christina Rossetti

Shakespeare, 31st March

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still.
                                   Sonnet XIV

                             Let us go. Come;
Our separation so abides, and flies,
That thou, residing here, go'st yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee.
              Antony and Cleopatra, Act i., Sc. 3.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How we go about Pygmalion projects

Apparently I share a personality type (INFJ) with Jane Eyre and Konstantin Levin (from Anna Karenina by Tolstoy). It’s only obvious that I would be rather pleased with this, because I identify with those characters precisely because they are similar me.

I am reading The Pygmalion Project: Love and Coercion Among the Types, Vol III, The Idealist. It’s quite fun. It’s written by Stephen Montgomery, a literature teacher with a whole lot of qualifications in communications and temperament.

It might sound like naval gazing, but with the INFJ love of, and eternal quest after, personal development, I can’t help myself. I also find myself caught in one particular pattern of relating with someone that seems full of misunderstanding and fraught with tensions and disasters, and I am trying to understand why it is so difficult. So the aim is that it might help me relate to others more effectively.

It has been quite enlightening reading through some of the discussion of the way both Levin and Jane Eyre behave. (And do you know, while dismissed by critics as a Gothic element, that moment of telepathic communication when Jane hears Rochester in the wind, at the climax of Jane Eyre, is something that Charlotte Bronte (herself an INFJ, apparently) insists is a true thing, and that it really happened? How fascinating. Supposedly we excel in this capacity to transmit and receive information empathetically.)

Here is a little piece of the introduction that made me more aware of some of the ways I could be perceived (I’m actually almost on the line for J/P, making me also close to the description of them also perhaps):
Mentor Idealists (NFJs) are no more manipulative that Disciples (NFPs), and yet their greater sense of decisiveness with their loved ones might make them appear more coercive. While Disciples ... rely for the most part of tacit and oblique Pygmalion manoeuvres, Mentors are what Keirsey calls “role-directive” in their relationships, which means they are quite comfortable telling their mates how the ought to behave, and even suggesting what kind of person they should be. Mentors are so enthusiastic about personal development, and they are so swift and definite in their judgments of behaviour (both of one’s outward actions and unconscious attitudes) that they seem almost unable to resist stepping in and advising others what to do, or be, or want, or feel.

Mentors, I should point out, have no wish to dominate their mates, and seem virtually unaware of their powerful directiveness. Like the Disciples, Mentors prefer harmony and cooperation in their relationships, and they see themselves as doing nothing more than benevolently enlightening their loved ones with their personal insights. Indeed, Keirsey remarks that Mentors are “surprised and nonplussed when other balk or accuse them of being pushy, since they tend to see themselves as facilitative rather than directive, as catalysts rather than commandants” [from Portraits of Temperament, by David Keirsey]. For all their desire for smooth relationships, however, Mentors have a sometimes impatient sense of command about them, and for all their love of harmony, they have a judgmental cast of mind—and both of these traits distinguish them quite clearly from the Disciples.

Not that this directiveness is always overt. The seclusive Mentors, the Counselors (INFJs), are exceptionally shy, sensitive people, with a complicated internal world—and with very nearly an aversion to interpersonal confrontation. And yet, while they might appear timid (and perhaps flustered) in public, Counselors work quite intensely in their closest relationships, exerting their influence on an intimate, often unconscious level. With their uncanny feel for the emotional lives of others, Counselors try to shape their loved ones from the inside out, with personal projections and attributions, with meaningful silences, as well as any number of ethical directives or “should” statements.
Hmmm. There is food for thought there. Supposedly Rochester is an ENTJ. Those are the scary people, yet who doesn't like Rochester. There is some interesting discussion of the way the NFs and NTs relate.

Holy Saturday

Christina Rossetti wrote two poems call Easter Even (which is Holy Saturday). This is one of them. It’s rather curious, and makes you ponder what may have been happening in the heavenly realms during that quiet Saturday (though that we are not told ...).

Easter Even

The tempest over and gone, the calm begun,
   Lo, “it is finished” and the Strong Man sleeps:
All stars keep vigil watching for the sun,
   The moon her vigil keeps.

A garden full of silence and of dew
   Beside a virgin cave and entrance stone:
Surely a garden full of Angels too,
   Wondering, on watch, alone.

They who cry “Holy, Holy, Holy,” still
   Veiling their faces round God’s Throne above,
May well keep vigil on this heavenly hill
   And cry their cry of love,

Adoring God in His new mystery
   Of love more deep than hell, more strong than death;
Until the day break and the shadows flee,
   The Shaking and the Breath.

~Christina Rossetti

Shakespeare, 30th March

                 All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

As You Like It, Act ii., Sc. 7.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday by Christina Rossetti

I thought it only fitting that I post Christina Rossetti's poem titled Good Friday. It resonates with me in the feeling of being so familiar with and desensitised to all that Easter really means.

Good Friday

Am I a stone and not a sheep,
   That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
   To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
   Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
   Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
   Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
   I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
   But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
   And smite a rock.

~Christina Rossetti

Shakespeare, 29th March

                What, gone without a word?
Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
For truth hath better deed than words to grace it.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Parting strikes poor lovers dumb.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act ii., Sc. 2.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Moving to Feedly

By the way, I tried setting up Feedly on Sunday. It works well enough for me as a Google reader replacement, in light of its impending demise, but it doesn’t seem to cache things like Google reader does, does it? I can’t seem to find a way in to old posts that I have “read” for blogs I have subscribed to, whereas in Google reader I have the whole history of them. Does anyone know if this exists in Feedly?

Actually, I should amend that, as I know that if I turn off "unread only" within a particular blog, I get old posts on that blog. But when I go to index, if a blog I subscribe to hasn't posted recently, it is not there (and I can't seem to turn off "unread only" in the index), and I don't know where else to find it.

Sit with me and tell me once again ...

Last night I lead my connect group, as a one-off because our leader is away. I am in an all-girls group this year, as we don’t have enough male leaders, or even enough men to be in groups such that they get spread pretty thin, and creating a girls group seemed to be one way to do something about this. The passage was Ephesians 4:17-5:2. The main point that folks were to take away from the study was “Change your life by renewing your minds with the gospel so you live like Jesus, for the sake of the world”.

If you look at how Ephesians is structured we put off the old self, but in between that and putting on the new self comes this business of a renewed mind (vv 23-24). It would seem this is necessary to bring about the true righteousness and holiness of vs 24. In the sermon on Sunday night, which you can listen to here, we were reminded of the “story” we’re all part of, as we are told in Ephesians Ch 1 and the rest of the book. Our pastor gave this neat illustration, based on the acting prowess of Daniel Day Lewis, that we need to “read and know the script” (ie the bible) if we are to know how to play our roles well.

We were also challenged as to why we don’t speak this truth, that we were taught and know in Jesus (vs 21), to each other more often, with the point made that “speaking the truth in love” (4:15) doesn’t just mean rebuking people nicely, though that might at times necessary, but also simply speaking the truth into people’s lives.

So, at the end of bible study I got a little fluffy if you will and played one of my favourite Sara Groves songs, because it was running through my head during the sermon and seemed apt. I’ve posted it before, but here it is again, with lyrics. It's essentially about reminding each other of the beauty of the gospel. (And even as I post it sings like an ideal, that I don't do nearly as often as I could, but it is something to aim for.)


Shakespeare, 28th March

          In the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.

Midsummer Night's Dream, Act v., Sc. I.

Prosperity be thy page!

Coriolanus, Act i., Sc. 5.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shakespeare, 27th March

                 Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

Sonnet CXVI

Truth needs no colour,   .   .   .   beauty no pencil.

Sonnet CI

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rejection and daddy issues

I read this post over at Practical Theology for Women the other day. I have a radar for such posts.

I am still wondering what it actually means for me. The plain truth is that I grew up without much in the way of affirmation from men, and I have little of it in my life at present. But the thing about having a completely absent father is that you can imagine he was almost anything. I like to fancy that my Dad would have approved of me, and been there for me, and been on my side against the world. But I am not so na├»ve that I don’t know that were he alive I might be disappointed in other ways. So, hmmm. The point is simply that you run to Christ for your identity and affirmation, regardless. I like how Wendy spells this out.

I am actually reading Jenny Brown’s Growing Yourself Up: How to bring your best to all of life's relationships at the moment, based on Bowen’s theory of family systems, which is proving interesting. I am not far in so will save further comment for later.

Shakespeare, 26th March

               Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

Macbeth, Act i., Sc. 3.

Here 's that which is too weak to be a sinner, honest water, which ne'er left man i' the mire.

Timon of Athens, Act i., Sc. 2.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Paper is not dead

Heh heh! You may have all already seen this around the webs, but I am sharing. As someone who is a little bit old school and low-fi and analog and whatever, and is rather passionate about real books, I like this. It is my new line of defence.

Brittany's rug

I finished my niece's rug on the weekend. She's my oldest niece, and her rug came last, but that is simply how it worked out, without a whole lot of forethought (if I had known what I started in doing this ...).

I am not overly happy with this rug. I'm not sold out on the colours, though she has these colours in her room. The reality for me is also that I use wools that I get on sale or on ebay to make these (you will have seen this sage green and the darker green in rugs before, the pink is off ebay, the pale yellow I actually got in Vinnies ... most of it is Paton's Bluebell though, which is a good quality yarn) rather than just going into a yarn store and choosing any colours that take my fancy. That would be nice - though also much more costly, as I only use pure wools - and I'd like to do more colour work in future (I love how Emma Lamb works with colour! - see posts like this one). But for now I also have a considerable yarn stash to deal with.

I also feel like this rug is randomness gone wrong. I like randomness, but I think some underlying pattern and coherence might have turned out nicer, rather than just making it up as I went along and trying this then trying that. It loses something through the middle zone as I see it. Next time I will do more of a plan on paper.

Lastly, I think these rugs look better with more than one row of a colour, which I did in places here, as that is too fine and lost from a distance. Wider stripes of colour work better.

I do like this granny stripes idea, but for some reason I was happier with Lucy's rug.Lucy apparently drags hers around everywhere in winter and watches TV under it, so it's nice to know it's useful.

Then, because I am a little bit ridiculous, and because this rug will arrive in time for Easter, I made some little amigarumi chickens. The pattern is here. The pale yellow wool (I bought a whole packet of that, still sealed with a David Jones sticker on it, for $3 in Vinnies!) is perfect chicken colour.

They have been exploring my house.

Shakespeare, 25th March

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Merchant of Venice, Act iv., Sc. I.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

One about books

I have finished Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, by ND Wilson. Wow is about all I can say. It’s such an extraordinary book. Truly. The writing style is like nothing I have ever read before and is laugh-out-loud crazy in places.

What I most loved about this book is how it restored my wonder in how completely amazing this world is, and my confidence in what a marvel it was for God to create it how it is (Wilson might be a young-earth believer, but you don’t have to be to appreciate this aspect of the book – and that is not a hill I am even going to faint on). It also restored my wonder in the incarnation, the actual reality of it, and all that it meant for Christ to enter into this world. I find myself picking up some yarn to do crochet and thinking that I could be using wool from a sheep descended from a sheep that heard the angels singing on that night of wonders long ago in Bethlehem. You never know.

There are also some compelling arguments in the book on such things as the problem of evil. I particularly liked his discussion, and dismissal, of the argument that evil is a by-product of “freedom”. Wilson called this book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, inspired by Doestoevsky’s Notes from Underground (another good reason to read this book is for all the references to literature and philosophy). Yes, Doestoevsky. I was reading on in The Brothers Karamazov yesterday, and Ivan Karamazov needs to read Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, because I had to read through his ranting monologue in which he imagines a scene featuring The Grand Inquisitor railing at Jesus, if he came back for a visit in the 15th Century, about the hideous consequences of such “freedom”. One paragraph of this difficult speech from Ivan goes for ten whole pages. Wilson could have answered him, with something sizzling.

Already I want to read Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl again, because my first go was a little interrupted and spasmodic and there are layers in it. Read this book to open your eyes and bend your mind and refresh your soul.

Shakespeare, 24th March

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy;
I were but little happy, if I could say how much.

Much Ado about Nothing, Act ii., Sc. I.

Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.

Romeo and Juliet, Act iii., Sc. 3.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Poetry Day - Crossings

I thought I would share some stanzas from a poem by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. These are the first, third, sixth and seventh stanzas from a poem of eight. Much of his poetry takes it's subject from things "religious" as described on the back cover, but this one is simply about human relationship.

Picture from here.


While I sit mute, suspicious of my choice
(Reserve of fluency), how do I reach
You, then, across the acres of the room?
Yes, all the platitudes are clear enough:
Muteness is eloquence, silence is the stuff
Of sharing, while hands work a busy loom;
But on your flesh my hands will still be blind.
Your face is shut. Your body gives no voice,
But charts a distance. How do we avoid
A treaty with the compromising word?
Knowing that after, when we have destroyed
The ambiguity, the precious surd
Of uncommitted quiet, we shall find
Our honesty still waits to be aligned?


Tell me what I am asking, then, what plea
You hear without pronouncing. It is you
Who hold the mirror and who know the name
And will not say it; while the desperate cold
Unchristened infant, years or seconds old,
Tries its new lungs with incoherent blame,
Clench-fisted, begs the necessary clue
That holds the hand of an identity
Its lifelong distance. Absolution’s cheap
This way, as I laboriously forget
The guilt of joint conspirators, asleep
Against complaining noises, bodies set
Waiting for one to learn or one to teach:
Casual midwives for miscarrying speech.


And if I told you, should I be surprised
If you, turning your head, asked me, And why?
The choice is mine, the landscape my design,
The black my painting, and the ice my chill;
Looked bitterly at the evasive skill
That locks me up inside this private sign,
Turning a greedy fascinated eye
On an emotion still uncompromised
At its still distance. If I do not tell,
And play under the bedclothes with conceits,
What prudence keeps me in this glassy cell,
The polished atoms of half-willed defeats?
Well, atoms split, my love, are lovers’ death,
Out in the cold, no wind will lend us breath.

To break a lock by giving open tongue,
Stand up, come in and sing us out of doors,
I know stirs recollections in the flesh,
And blows the dust from pictures pushed away.
Collected shadows from another day—
Collected words, packed stinking, tight, unfresh,
Ready to send the shiver down old sores,
Echoes of other bodies, roundly flung
A few year’s distance. And the hoarded tears,
Unheard reproaches, wait to be unlocked.
Meanwhile I thoughtfully deploy my fears,
Afraid to find my facile pities mocked,
Afraid my probing taps the blood again,
That my flesh too clouds over with the stain.

 Rowan Williams, The Poems of Rowan Williams

Shakespeare, 23rd March

               We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good; so find we profit
By losing of our prayers.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act ii., Sc. I.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shakespeare, 22nd March

          Time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing.

Troilus and Cressida, Act iii., Sc. 3.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A new gadget

It’s not very often you get practically useful information here in the fog. So today I thought I’d post something that is good for your health, and is the result of extensive internet research that I have carried out, which might as well as not benefit somebody else.

Residents of the Northern Hemisphere might think I am crazy, but one thing I do not enjoy is standing or sitting around in the shining sun. I have the wrong skin and eye colour to find this a pleasant way to pass the time in Australia, and I ended up with pterygiums in my eyes in Townsville, that skin-cancer capital of the world, from too much sun (which I have now regressed by never leaving the house without Cancer-Council-approved sunglasses). That and my Mum has been telling me since I was a kid that one day I would have my ‘nose cut off’ when I got it burnt. I am also not a huge fan of sunscreen, not just because it’s greasy and makes you look ghostly, but also because it is made of powerful chemicals that I’d just prefer not to smear all over myself every day.

For the last few years I have been walking to and from work, and while the sun is lower in the sky at these times, I still feel like I get too much of it, and that a hat is not enough to keep the sun off my neck and the front of my chest. Not to mention the fact that hats make you hot when walking and do dreadful things to damp hair.

So this morning in the mail I had delivered a UV 50, wind-vented, folding, solar umbrella.

You should read those specifications again, because they are not easy to find. Indeed, I found one company in the whole world that sells them (though I have since found another). I discovered that you can get wind-vented, UV golf umbrellas in Australia, but not folding ones. And seriously, why have golf players had all the wind-vented umbrellas and I didn’t even know they existed? How many umbrellas of mine have been destroyed because they turned inside out in a gust of wind? (that is a rhetorical question).

I ordered this very special umbrella direct from Coolibar in the US, after reading this review, and the postage was only $10. I actually went crazy and ordered the beach umbrella also, for no extra postage, mainly as a result of standing around in the sun at markets last year, feeling myself burning and having to open the cellophane on products I was selling because condensation was forming inside them. So in future if I do markets I can take my own shade, and I figured the silver is classy and isn’t going to ruin any display or fade and look ugly.

I walked to work this morning with this new toy, angling it against wherever the sun happened to be coming at me from, and it was like having my own personal, mobile tree. I am strangely, and maybe pathetically, excited about all the uses I am going to have in the future for this piece of equipment. All I have to do is make sure I don’t lose it, which, second to them turning inside out in the wind, is the way of umbrellas.

Shakespeare, 21st March

The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power.

Julius Caesar, Act ii., Sc. I.

                  Then wisely weigh
Our sorrow with our comfort.

Tempest, Act ii., Sc. I.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The uses of sorrow

Picture from here.

The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

Mary Oliver

(John Piper posted this on Facebook this morning, which means many have perhaps already seen it. I do like Mary Oliver's poetry, which I have posted here before, and received her book A Thousand Mornings for Christmas.)

Shakespeare, 20th March

Truth hath a quiet breast.

King Richard II., Act i., Sc. 3.

If we do now make our atonement well,
Our peace will, like a broken limb united,
Grow stronger for the breaking.

Second Part of King Henry IV., Act iv., Sc. I.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shakespeare, 19th March

The weary sun hath made a golden set,
And, by the bright track of his fiery car,
Gives signal of a goodly day to-morrow.
                      King Richard III, Act V., Sc. 3.

See how the morning opes her golden gates,
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun!
How well resembles it the prime of youth!
          Third Part of King Henry VI., Act ii., Sc. I.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Poetry day - Love's fire

This might not suit the moment of a Monday lunch time, but I thought I'd post another poem. When discussing the poem by Christina Rossetti posted below with my new-found friend she repeated the line "Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be". On that theme, here is a portion of Little Gidding by TS Eliot:

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre —
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

Little Gidding, TS Eliot

Shakespeare, 18th March

        Violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume:     .     .     .
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

Romeo and Juliet, Act ii., Sc. 6.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shakespeare, 17th March

An Irishman, a very valiant gentleman.
                 King Henry V., Act iii., Sc. 2.

Self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.
                  King Henry V., Act ii., Sc. 4.

Opinion's but a fool, that makes us scan
The outward habit by the inward man.
          Pericles Prince of Tyre, Act ii., Sc. 2.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shakespeare, 16th March

             Shut doors after you:
"Fast bind, fast find";
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.

Merchant of Venice, Act ii., Sc. 5.

Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water.

King Henry VIII., Act iv., Sc. 2.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Poetry Day - None Other Lamb

I had such a wonderful evening yesterday, I just have to write about it. I got in the car and went to meet up with an older woman from my church. She doesn’t go to my particular service, and so I had never met her before, I just decided that I’d like to meet with someone. So I followed the email directions she sent me and off I went. The plan is that we will read the bible together, but we didn’t actually get to that last night. It was our ‘get-to-know-you evening’, as she called it.

She has attended a Presbyterian seminary in the US, so she likes to talk about theology (not that I have attended seminary, but I have an interest in theology and enjoy talking about it), and she teaches English country dance, as in 17th and 18th century Pride and Prejudice style dance (though including some modern dance also), so we talked about Jane Austen while she played some of her dance music, and she likes to read, so we discussed books and had quite a conversation about the wonder that was George Eliot, and she then brought out a hymn book and showed me that one of her favourite hymns was written by Christina Rossetti, when we were talking about poetry, then we talked about our shared experience of attending a church for a time that sang the Psalter, which she also got out, and the conversation went a bit like “oh, I love 54B”, and “what about 98A”, interspersed with fragments of singing. And we didn’t even get around to me viewing her crochet, because over three hours later I thought I should be going.

I could hardly believe I had come across someone with such a collision of interests. I know we’re all one in the gospel and we don’t have to all be interested in the same thing to be sisters in Christ, and we can learn from and fellowship with people who are different, and finding someone with common interests wasn’t even part of the plan, it was simply a nice bonus, but I do feel like I have been suffering here in Sydney for lack of people to talk to about things I enjoy, so I was quite delighted! I am really looking forward to what is to come.

We are thinking of working through the book of Proverbs, and using Lydia Brownback’s book A Woman’s Wisdom, which should be good (I've posted about some of her other books here in the past).

But for today, here is the poem by Christina Rossetti poem that has become a hymn:

 Picture from Wikimedia Commons.

None Other Lamb

None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee!

My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee.

Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.

Shakespeare, 15th March

Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee straight
Adonis painted by a running brook,
And Cytherea all in sedges hid,
Which seem to move and wanton with her breath.

Taming of the Shrew, Induction, Sc. 2.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shakespeare, 14th March

The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.

Measure for Measure, Act iii., Sc. I.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When a guitar is more helpful than a blue highlighter

I haven’t a lot to share just now. Last night I unravelled four rows of the border on the rug I am trying to finish for my niece, because I discovered the whole thing was fluting quite badly. It’s difficult crocheting into the sides of double crochet (or trebles for some), and obviously I had put too many stitches in. I am not overly happy with this rug, and I would have been less happy with it surrounded by a ripply border, so that was a loss of hours of my life and I will try again doing it the way I did it on Lucy’s rug. But I will ramble more about that when I actually have photos.

I am reading Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by ND Wilson and loving it, though sometimes it’s too late at night and my head is tilt-a-whirling. I have sadly neglected my guitar this year. I stopped having lessons because I was aiming to save more money, in a New Year's resolution and all, and realised that basically to improve I just need to put the time in to playing it and practising. It’s the juggle of too many hobbies, and I have been working on the above rug for much of this year. But I hope to go back to guitar in more disciplined fashion soon. I was nudged also by this quote from Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl (though recognise it takes hard work to be proficient enough to so express a sunset):
We feel the need to communicate with each other about this thing we’re on, this spinning thing we can’t get off. We combine language and imagination and do our best. But our words fall short. They’re just noises in the air and flat ink on the page. And so we paint. We poke clay. We develop theories of architecture. We write poems and novels and produce grainy independent films. All to communicate ... how the world makes us feel? To make others feel the same? To proselytize? To remind others of what we all know, of what we all see, of what we all have felt, and then make them go through it again?

We imitate God’s words, but our noises are insufficient. So we doodle in the margins, children working to capture the Sistine Chapel with finger paints on a paper plate. What else can we do?

My father uses a blue highlighter to remind him of the good bits he reads, but it has trouble sticking to sunsets or thunderstorms or the cries of the meadowlark in Spring. His guitar is more helpful.

Shakespeare, 13th March

                       You were used
To say extremity was the trier of spirits;
That common chances common men could bear;
That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show'd mastership in floating.

Coriolanus, Act iv., Sc. I.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shakespeare, 12th March

This from a dying man receive as certain:
Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels,
Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends,
And give your hearts to, when they once perceive
The least rub in your fortunes, fall away
Like water from ye, never found again,
But where they mean to sink ye.

King Henry VIII., Act ii., Sc, I.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shakespeare, 11th March

What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just;
And he but naked, though locked up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.

Second Part of King Henry VI., Act iii., Sc. 2.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Be still my soul

Page CXVI is giving away their entire catalogue of music free for the month of March. Incredible. They do modernised versions of the great old hymns. You can download it all via here.

As some will know, I recently finished reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, in which a major theme is learning to truly trust that God is working for our good, in all of life's circumstances. It might not be on our timing, or the good think we want, and we may not understand it, but it is good none-the-less.

But, back to the music. I worked from home on Friday so I was downloading away, and I clicked on the Hymns III album and Be Still My Soul started playing. Before the first verse was out I found myself suddenly and strangely needing a tissue. I can't find the Hymns III version online (but you can listen to a sample here, if you scroll down to Hymns III), and this version below off their Re-Hymns album is more, well, I don't know, "funked" up, maybe (and I prefer the other). But listen again to the lyrics, which I have written as they sing them below.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He will remain.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your mind, your will let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow's forgot, love’s joys restored.

And praise Him ...

Shakespeare, 10th March

                          Shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
                         Julius Caesar, Act iv., Sc. 3.

A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
                               King Lear, Act ii., Sc. 2.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Shakespeare, 9th March

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer'd.
                             Cymbeline, Act iv., Sc. 3.

By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust
Ensuing dangers; as, by proof, we see
The waters swell before a boisterous storm.
But leave it all to God.
                     King Richard III., Act ii., Sc. 3.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Shakespeare, 8th March

Ceremony was but devised at first
To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,
Recanting goodness, sorry ere 'tis shown;
But where there is true friendship, there needs none.

Timon of Athens, Act i., Sc. 2.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Reconciliation - a poem

Picture from The Hazel Tree.


Something glittered in the sandy bank.
Gull circled noisily, but no one else was there
More than a breeze was off the bay,
But the clouds were motionless,
Unaware of the bite below.
Scattered reeds bent back toward the cottages,
The early sunlight was bitter still.
Sand behind me, forgotten miles,
The sand in front filled all my thoughts.
Something glittered in her windswept heart,
And I stooped and picked it up.

Douglas Wilson

Shakespeare, 7th March

O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

Measure for Measure, Act ii., Sc. 2.

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.

Measure for Measure, Act iii., Sc. I.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A poem - Our Lady of Westminster

So I have been worming around the internet and discovered that Douglas Wilson writes poetry, and once published a book called Untune the Sky: Occasional, Stammering Verse, taking the title from a line of Dryden. Nice. (I understand there is some kind of hoohah out there about Wilson's “Federal Vision” theology, which I haven’t delved into – though I watched this video – but that's not got much to do with a good poem.) So, here is such a poem, from here:

Picture from here.

Our Lady of Westminster

Marian obedience, the jewelry of God, has adorned
     the gracious necks of many women,
          hearts rejoicing in God their Savior.
                 Fiat mihi.

Margaret Wilson, tied to a stake,
     struggled and drowned,
     filled with water,
           yet full of grace.
Marie Durant—behold this handmaiden of the Lord—
      spent 38 years in a forsaken tower by the sea,
      rather than say . . . she could not bring
          herself to say, j’abjure.

They did not die in purple robes,
     or lie on a bier surrounded by glorious music,
          polyphonic praise,
     while crimson cardinals glided softly by,
     followed in respectful silence by beautiful mistresses,
          quite pious in their way.

These women were not taken bodily into heaven,
     although that promise does lie coiled, taut,
     still, to Abraham and his seed, forever.

Anne Askew confounded her judges,
     and the proud were scattered
          in the imagination of their hearts.
"I am not come hither to deny my Lord and Master,"
     she said, and went to flames.

And the one who promised us the seed of the woman
      pulls down the mighty from their papal thrones
           and the rich He sends empty away.

Douglas Wilson

Shakespeare, 6th March

In the great hand of God I stand.

Macbeth, Act ii., Sc. 3.

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world "This was a man."

Julius Caesar, Act v., Sc. 5.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Relationships - Mercy in the Mess

Further to that post below, I appreciated this article by Paul Tripp, on Relationships: Mercy in the Mess, because sometimes they are a mess.

Love one another

I haven't forgotten that I said I would blog the homework of sorts from last week's lecture on Love One Another at the Centre for Christian Living, up at Moore Theological College. It just took me a while to 'get it together' for reasons that might be evident below. So, this is basically a reference post. The lecture started with a look at the classic passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13, which is below. We were then encouraged to go home and look up a list of occurrences of "one another" that occurs in the bible. So, here it is. I've taken all these verses from the ESV online, and included the links to make it easy to find the context. That is all.

My niece and nephew in a wedding, just because they are cute.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

allelon = one another (reciprocally, mutually)

Andrew Cameron told us that this word points with intensity to what is going on in our relationships. Here we see the cumulative effect of training our attunement to each other, and the anatomy of love.

His further points in this section, in brief, were that 1) there is no mythical perfection - that is not assumed here and these verses are about relating to flawed, broken people 2) these verses alert us to our reactions 3) they can initially seem contradictory - we need to learn to make a judgment call between bear, forgive, admonish (this is in Colossians 3:16 but is a different Greek word) and 4) we have an external reference point in the way that Christ loved us and forgave us.

John 13:34-35: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Romans 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

Romans 12:5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:14 myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 11:33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—

1 Corinthians 12:25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11-12 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

Shakespeare, 5th March

Trifles light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmations s'rong
As proofs of holy writ.

Othello, Act iii., Sc. 3.

The lady is very well worthy.

Much Ado about Nothing, Act i., Sc. i.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Talking Rocks - Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl

So, I did look for this previously, but I have today stumbled upon the chapter I quote below, Talking Rocks, from Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, on youtube, so here it is. 4 minutes. You can watch another chapter called Breathing Characters here. You can also view the special feature with ND Wilson of why he wrote this book and made this movie here.

Shakespeare, 4th March

              God shall be my hope,
My stay, my guide and lantern to my feet.

Second Part of King Henry VI., Act ii., Ac. 3.

Say as you think, and speak it from your souls.

Second Part of King Henry VI., Act iii., Ac. I.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Open your eyes - Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl

I've been taking photos on my phone of magnolias again.

I received the DVD of Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, by N.D. Wilson in the mail late last week, and I have watched it over and over this weekend. It has inspired me through the unfortunately boring end to a crochet project, of weaving in all the yarn ends on a rug for my niece (though after watching this DVD I am not supposed to be “bored” with anything).

You really need to watch this. In the first chapter Wilson takes a swipe at Philosophers, which might raise the shackles of some, and I wondered at this beginning, but his gripe is that Philosophy departments are full of people wondering what it was that Plato said, instead of actually wondering what the world is. In the special features, he explains that he believes a lot of Christians are influenced by Plato’s view of the material world, and that he wrote the book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl because he had this pent up rage at how the world is viewed by a lot of Christians and how numb we all are to it’s “wonders” (even though he knows that sounds like a postcard). He noticed that the more educated people were, the more numb they were. So he attempts to break the apathetic shell off intelligent Christians, who’ve read Philosophy but who he saw as ignoring the nature of reality, the nature of God, in exchange for a heightened respect for secular thought, for Philosophers, whom he doesn’t believe merit the credence (because he has studied them).

So, that is by way of introduction, but you must watch on. I particularly love chapter four, called Talking Rocks. In it he talks about art and reality and says something to this effect (this is my loose transcription of some of the chapter, which loses a lot without his presentation of it):
God’s attention to detail, his attention to things that honestly don’t matter to us at all, should be really encouraging. You serve a God and you live in a world shaped by a God who cares down to the ants. If he didn’t care down to the ants I’d be more worried for myself ... We don’t have to see everything, we don’t have to have all the answers or have everything explained to us ... We can see his personality, we can see his caution, his care ... We can get to know him, and know that he’s the one there, he’s the one telling the story. You can find that you're in a Shakespearean play and you can trust Shakespeare. We just lose track of stuff, as soon as it leaves our little frame ... God is still tracking it, it's still going somewhere ...
He goes on to explain the magnificent probability and sheer unlikelihood of us being here as individuals, and asks are we going to be ungrateful?
Are you going to sit there and mope because you have homework, because you haven't got the car you want, because your life hasn’t gone the way you would have liked it to have gone because that person betrayed you, because you betrayed that person? Because you have red hair, because you have blonde hair, because you’re tall, because you’re short? What are you going to complain about?

When it does actually come time for the snowflake to melt ... for another mortal to die and exit the stage, we did have our time here ... We were the chosen, we were the shaped, we were the ones who got to participate in this song, in this art. And at that very end we should know that living really does make dying worth it.
Other chapters might be more profound, but I found this one so truly "inspiring". I also love the hiatuses (does that have a plural?) on the DVD. There is a winter, a spring and a summer hiatus, in which Wilson reads a story he wrote, accompanied by stunning visuals, to enhance what he's saying. He's a fabulous writer and these are beautiful, for example: "She [my grandmother] smiles and laughs when my children steal her walker, when Spring borrows a prop from Winter." Then there are other chapters about the nature of evil, about death and hope (when he walks through a graveyard and talks about the hope of the resurrection it makes me shiver), about the r-rated world we live in where nature itself is full of violence but also beauty (and how as people we tend to be all about "gritty" or all about "cutesy", but the world God made is neither), about the story we are all in ...

I like it a lot.

Shakespeare, 3rd March

Watch to-night, pray to-morrow.

First Part of King Henry IV., Act ii., Sc. 4.

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act iv., Sc. 3.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


God uses adversity to loosen our grip on those things that are not true fruit. A severe illness or the death of someone dear to us, the loss of material substance or the tarnishing of our reputation, the turning aside of friends or the dashing of our cherished dreams on the rocks of failure, cause us to think about what is really important in life. Position or possessions or even reputation no longer seem so important. We begin to relinquish our desires and expectations — even good ones — to the sovereign will of God. We come more and more to depend on God and to desire only that which will count for eternity. God is pruning us so that we will be more fruitful.
~Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges

Blog research for internet research

I have a little side project, and part of it, for starters, involves researching some good examples of church websites that engage non-believers with the gospel.

This is not a particularly prominent feature of most church websites I have so far looked at, and it is not something I have particularly gone looking for when I have looked at a church websites myself in the past, so I am keen to know if any readers know of any church websites, or other separate websites, that do this well. Any suggestions, ideas, pointers would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Shakespeare, 2nd March

Now 'tis the Spring, and weeds are shallow rooted;
Suffer them now, and they'll o'ergrow the garden,
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.

Second Part of King Henry VI., Act iii., Sc. I.