Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January.... random thoughts

 Back at the Library.  I love it, also the Librarians...and home-time is a lot more productive WITHOUT access to the Internet, go figure out THAT little phenomenon if you will.

Had a fine morning at in-town parish, contributing to our collective ministry as a distribution depot for the city Food Bank.  My role (barring emergencies) is to encourage the volunteers (who are brilliant) and do a little outreach by firing up ecclesiastical charcoal and sage (wild picked, I believe) to offer "smudge" to our visitors, come to pick up their groceries.

That was particularly joyful this morning as we had a large number of clients for whom "smudge" was part of their culture'n'customs.  Nobody seems to mind that a European-settler-type-person is fanning the smoke with a feather.  And we have mutually affirming conversations, if only about our aches and pains (or our grandchildren).

Having a very interesting time with grandchildren this winter.  In the fall I embarked upon the "extended play" version of the Ignatian spiritual exercises -- some days it's toilsome, but I'm glad I did, finding it all very stimulating.

In the meantime I continue to visit The Granddaughters on two evenings of each week, putting the elder GD units to bed in their respective households.  One particular evening the eldest of all, "Thing #1," had had an especially trying end-of-day, and without any premeditation on my part we got into a conversation about "TIRED," how we both were, in fact, and how CRANKY that made us...and I heard myself saying, "Why don't we take all your cranky, and all Grandma's cranky, and mash them together in a ball" (suiting the action to the word)"and on the way home tonight I'll roll down my car window and throw them out to bounce away into the dark???" and Thing #1 entered into the spirit of the thing immediately, and said, "And a HUGE TRUCK will come along and SQUSH them away."  

So we did that....

And at our next session, I just asked, "Is there anything you'd like Grandma to throw away for you tonight?" "Yes, all my Whining, and my Not Good Listening, and my Fighting..."

And halfway home I thought, "great suffering cats...I think that was the Ignatian Examen...almost-four-year-old version..."

So it's become a ritual, and a happy one.  We've expanded it, to include recollection of the happy parts of the day, also rolled up and left under the pillow for recall in the morning...

And here is a reference...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On the baptism of the Lord, and so forth

Had a good time this morning discussing the lectionary readings as reassurances for those "afraid of the water"... and talking about cultural images of "Jesus standing in line" and taking everybody by surprise.

A beautiful drive both ways.  Weather has warmed up spectacularly overnight but temperature was still below freezing on the way 'out' this morning.  So everything on both sides of the highway was delightfully frosted over.  I am accustomed to the lovely "apple-blossom" aspect of mountain-ash trees, leafless, with the berry clusters covered in snow.  But this morning was the first time I recall seeing willows with their vivid early-spring stems likewise veiled in white -- the resultant colours were like saltwater taffy...implausibly beautiful.

Some raptors to be seen, along the way -- a nice change from the all-prevalent corvids...only two bison quite a long way from the road as I was coming through the nat'l park...and a couple of ponies kicking up snow at each other in a paddock.

It has grown warm enough as the afternoon comes on to make the road surface mucky -- I need to refill my windshield washer before I quit work for the day.  And it would be prudent to clear my walks while it's nice and mild also.

Some cooking-projects await my arrival at home...and I'm down to about the last 100 pieces of the 1500-piece monster jigsaw I've been assembling this week.  A good, quiet, scaled-down kind of an evening.  Happy sigh.  "Savouring the graces," as they say.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Winter fauna

Do 'fauna' include birds?  I suppose they must.  In any event there was a fine vocal magpie in the backyard grove this morning declaiming in Anglo-Saxon: "Hwaet!  Hwaet!  Hwaet!"  I didn't have time to stop and explain "Hwaet" was going on, unfortunately.

We have had pictures and reports of a number of unusual birds in the area this winter -- a yellow-shafted flicker, and more spectacularly, a gyrfalcon... There is a Christmastide bird-census, but I've never yet taken part.  (They don't use the long form, I understand.)

Guest once more of the blessed library...and grateful for it.  Time to fly away and free up this terminal for some other happy soul.

Happy "Baptism of the Lord," tomorrow, everybody.  Remember, your cue is, "Jesus stands in line."  All else follows from that.  You have been told.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sliding into the New Year, or Slouching toward Bethlehem, or possibly just Slip-sliding Away.

Back in the blessed Library again, poised between handing in the books/DVDs that are due, taking out replacements -- in the meantime, getting caught up on inter-web-doings.

Pondering the tensions around the theological idea of Special Providences.  

It's an uncomfortable idea from my theological POV -- I kind of second Sydney Smith's scorn for special-providence-watchers, "The Lord found me a job, the Lord found my keys, the Lord kept my cake from falling in the oven..."  Our man Sydney seems to have felt that the Lord might well step into history in order to adjust matters at the imperial level, I think--but it would be unseemly to imagine divine intervention in the mundane minutiae of our daily lives: a short route to self-delusion and egomanias, various.

So now I am wrestling with the Ignatian aim of "seeing God in all things" ... and I know the good saint did not mean "seeing God in all things that turn out to suit my convenience and my preconceptions" ... but there is still some discomfort swirling around that aim.  I mean, I can grasp that it would be a grace, to "see God in all things," but in so doing I'd just as soon not behave like (what I conceive of as) a complete idiot.

And if it's not utterly blasphemous to say so, I have to wonder whether the Almighty has not undertaken to tease me with phenomena (illustrating his perceptibility in all things) that severely challenge my notions of divine decorum.  More often, it seems, I am confronted by divine, well, CORN.

Case in point.  I am zipping along a nearby highway, through a pleasingly wintry landscape, and pondering very lightly on some questions regarding the Holy Spirit, when I am passed by an entirely solid, concrete, actual, tangible tractor-trailer unit (or an eighteen-wheeler, if that's your vocab), bearing in large unmistakable lettering this label...


Trying now to identify the form of prayer that can begin, "Oh, come ON...."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The New Year (for the time being)

I am a guest of the local public library at this point as my modem and my laptop are not on speaking terms at home.

So I have 11 minutes and 45 seconds left on this free terminal to "howdy" with my BlogPals.

Happy New Year, all.  I am easing into the 187th version of a Really Workable Daily Schedule for my semi-retired self ("semi-retired; and the rest, Just Plain Tired).  Trying to juggle my commitments to: the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, his own self; Italian grammar and conversation practice at the "Advanced" level; the steady improvement and rehabilitation of the decor at Tether's End; a reasonable set of blood pressure readings; a marked decrease in personal avoirdupois; 10,000 steps a day; 1/2 hour's actual exercise a day; and of course the nurture and entertainment of Things #1 through #4 (granddaughters under the age of 4, for those who've just tuned in).  Also a journal; also the reading of a great many journals of the other sort...and one way or another the poor old threadbare blog tends to get shunted down to the bottom of the list, somewhere around cleaning the cat-box and/or purging my precious hoard of Useful Jars to Put Things In.

Also happening at the moment: re-reading all of Jane Austen (just finished Mansfield Park); catching up via DVD's on a number of movies, recent and other (tonight, Hope Springs); knitting a large woolly blanket for Things #4 who was 3 months old on Christmas Eve; answering the Christmas mail; doing a little aimless sketching from time to time...and no doubt other delights which do not come to mind at the moment.

Oh yes -- a degree of responsibility for the care and management of two parishes approximately 60 miles apart -- Sunday services in one (plus the occasional meeting), and a vaguely pastoral presence in the other (while the Rector is on leave).  So there is about 150-180 miles of driving at a minimum, per week.  Most of it is out in the hinterland, lightly snow-covered, and, given the restrained palette currently operative, breathtakingly beautiful.

We are well.  The Things thrive and prosper and increase in wisdom and stature daily.  

And, for the moment, That Is All.