Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
by G. K. Chesterton
The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all alright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.
Friday, December 24, 2010
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.
This child through David’s city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave His kingdom come.
Yet He shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God’s blood upon the spearhead,
God’s love refused again.
But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.
-- Richard Wilbur
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
From The Winter Solstice
by John Matthews
It is within the darkness and the silence
That the magic of Christmas starts;
Somewhere between the glimmer of lights
And the first breathless moment
When children come
Stumbling like new-born angels
Into morning light.
Within the darkness and the silence
We sit, watching wonder
Evolve into form; where we
Enter the ringing silence
In which the first bells of Christmas
Sound the music of the soul;
Where the morning joy begins
With a single carol
To a half-forgotten tune.
It is here, between the darkness
And the light,
That we wait, uncertain,
Seeking the moment
That challenges us to believe
In a freshly minted miracle
Born every Christmas Day.
Monday, December 20, 2010
There were many art galleries and jewelry shops with beautiful offerings I could not afford. There were quite a number of sculptures of horses, cowboys, and indians and a couple of real horses as well.
Friday, December 10, 2010
A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall
What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a Carol, for to sing
The Birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the Voice! Awake the String!
Heart, Ear, and Eye, and every thing
Awake! the while the active Finger
Runs division with the Singer.
From the Flourish they came to the Song.
Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this Day,
That sees December turn'd to May.
If we may ask the reason, say:
The why, and wherefore all things here
Seem like the Spring-time fo the year?
Why does the chilling Winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell, like to a mead new-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?
Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
'Tis He is born, whose quick'ning Birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To Heaven and the under-Earth.
We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who, with His Sun-shine, and His Showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The Darling of the World is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him.
The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the Heart,
Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This Holly and this Ivy Wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this Revelling.
Robert Herrick (1596-1674)
Friday, December 03, 2010
I've been hearing kids say quotes all week long. We are in the midst of the Renaissance period in British Lit and I had my 60 students memorize 6 fairly substantial quotes from some of the best poems of the period...including their choice of four Shakespeare sonnets. Alas, none of them chose my personal favorite, Sonnet #29. Most chose the famous Sonnet #116 or the infamous Sonnet #130. Many of the boys claimed they could not, absolutely could not memorize a sonnet. "It's too hard," they'd say. Their mean old teacher was merciless and heartless. As a result, the majority of them can now claim they know a Shakespeare Sonnet by heart. And I know three.
OK so they are right. It is hard. But oh so satisfying =)
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I went south for Thanksgiving for the first time in my life. Normally this day would find me with 2-3 dozen family members and friends somewhere in Massachusetts, but this summer--within the space of 2-3 weeks--our family somewhat combusted (not in a bad way) and moved to the far corners of the country: I moved to Phoenix for a new teaching job; a niece moved to Loma Linda, CA for medical school; my youngest sister and her husband moved to Charlotte, NC for a new teaching/principal job for him; and a nephew moved to Collegedale, TN for college.
This was a shock for a family that has been within 2 hours of each other for the past 18 years or more and has managed to spend every holiday and every birthday together during that time. While I've been lucky to see everyone at least once between September and this week, we won't be all together until Christmas now. Still, the seven (out of 11 core members) of us have enjoyed this Thanksgiving break together in Charlotte.
I do have much to be thankful for, in spite of the distance that has come so suddenly upon us. And it has been good to contemplate it all over the days.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (I'm enjoying The New Century version right now.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (have read this many times. Also played "Jo" in a faculty production at Cedar Lake.)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (wrote a very long paper on this book for a doctoral class at UNH...60 pages...)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (took a seminar in Shakespeare with Ottilie Stafford. We had to read every play we hadn't already read/seen!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (loved this book. Lauren, Jerry, Connie and I read it back to back to back to back one summer in Loma Linda)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk (This was fascinating...you really lived the horrors of war in this book.)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I read this on a student's recommendation. He thought every English teacher should read it, even if I couldn't teach it.)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (I still have a book report I wrote on this in 11th grade. Don't ask me why)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (beautifully written...)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (taught this one year for Honors English)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (my new favorite Austen book)
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (this was fascinating)
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (loved this)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (I know this almost by heart)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (amazing movie)
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (I love teaching this as a parable on salvation)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (a beautiful book...haunting...I was lost in it for days after I finished reading it...read it on the plane to and from Russia)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (this book was edited in the old GBA library...literally words were blacked out!!!)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (I've been to the island prison off the coast of Marseilles)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (gotta love the movie)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (the unabridged version!)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (this was for the same doctoral class at UNH. I would not have read it otherwise)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (many times...the movie too)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (I've enjoyed it best in live theatre)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (I loved this. It has one of my all-time favorite quotes at the end where it talks about the remains of the day)
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (In French)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie is better...and a favorite to share with seniors)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (also in French)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (my favorite Shakespeare tragedy and the one I teach instead of Macbeth)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (in French, and three times in the live theatre and also as a movie. The musical is wonderful)
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The first time I saw this movie, I was with a small group of students on a retreat. It was the evening of a full day and we were looking forward to relaxing with a good movie. We were unprepared for the effect this movie would have on us. As the story unfolded, we become more an more attentive, more and more focused on the images, almost to the point of being oblivious to anyone else around us. When it ended, we sat there in stunned silence for a full eleven minutes (one of the boys timed it). No one wanted to speak. No one wanted to break the spell. In spite of the discomfort for some (boys), it changed us. As individuals and as a group. We will never be the same for having gone through that experience together.
I don't know if this new class will feel the same way tomorrow when we finish the movie. I hope it makes an impact. But the fact that it happened even once is enough.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there. ~Barbara Bush
“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.” -Jim RohnMy sister spent the past three days in town (her husband was here for a medical conference). I took Friday off and enjoyed a spectacular day with her and my nephew who was also here. We gardened, sat by the pool, went shopping, talked a lot and just hung out. Thursday afternoon and Saturday was more of the same. I haven't done anything like that in some time. It was good to relax with family. I love the garden she made for me on the back patio with bouganvillia and a hummingbird bush. The birds do, too! The front patio is more of an herb garden with French and Spanish lavender.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
"If you want to experience abundance at work, do what you were made to do. Do it for theOne who made you to do it (Colossians 3:22)."
Randy Roberts is one of my favorite speakers. I've never had the privilege to hear him live, in person. But I've watched him on the internet (live streaming) dozens of times. He is pastor where my niece now worships out in CA where she is in her first year of medical school. She is active in the musical life of the church and I've had the pleasure of seeing/hearing her minister to the congregation twice already in the past two months and will again this weekend (she's the cellist here).
It's a wonderful thing to be able to do what you love and know it is also what you are called to do. Every day when I wake up I say a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity I have to do what I do. I know I am fortunate. Not everyone is happy in what they do for a living. Truth to tell, I haven't always been happy, even though I knew I was doing what I was called to do. So the two don't always go hand in hand. But they are working well together right now. Can't complain about that!
Monday, November 08, 2010
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.~Walt Whitman, "The Clear Midnight," Leaves of Grass
I've had this poem saved on my computer for several weeks. Not sure what prompted me to set it aside, but tonight it spoke to me again. "Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done." It's been a long day. Mondays I'm at school for 12+ hours, arriving around 7 and leaving well after 7. I often don't even get out of my room once I go in.
Teaching 6 high school English classes is beyond time consuming. The prep alone is exhausting, never mind the actual teaching. And yet, I love it. Even the classes that challenge me. I greet each day with joy knowing that not only will I be pondering themes I love, but, with any luck, so will my students.
But for now, night, sleep, and the stars.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?
I have become increasingly negligent with this blog. I'm not sure why. I think about it quite a bit. I am constantly looking for things to blog about. I even have the time. I just haven't done it. It's not that I'm not interested in doing it any more. I am. It's just that sometimes I wonder at the weight of what I write. Like Frost's poem here: Next to nothing for weight...next to nothing for use. I want what I write to have some weight, some merit, some use...for myself if no one else. But that's a pretty heavy demand, especially if you're going to write every day. I ask my students to write five times a week in their journals. I give them writing promts 2-3 of those days, but they are supposed to come up with something worth writing down the other 2-3 days. An even heavier demand of reluctant writers I'm realizing.
But...a crop is a crop, according to Frost. And who's to say where the harvest shall stop? Who's to say what's meaningful? What seems lightweight to one, might make all the difference to another. And so...I'm determined to do what I ask my students to do: write at least 5 times a week here. Don't hold me to it. But I will try...
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
This post has been sitting in my drafts since March 2009. I'd forgotten all about it and just now discovered it unfinished and, obviously, unposted. I finished it this morning and am sharing it in the hopes that some of you will do your own version, sharing books you love and recommend. Thanks in advance for the new reading material!
Four Childhood Books I've read (and re-read):
1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (plus all her other books)
2. My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O'Hara
3. All the Anne books by L. M. Montgomery and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne (plus When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six...the poetry books)
Four “So-Called Classic” books read and never forgotten:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and, a new favorite, Persuasion)
- A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (play about Thomas More)
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare (my favorite Shakespeare to teach)
- Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (an achingly beautiful book, first read in college, another favorite to teach)
Four personal modern “Classic Novels” favorites:
- The Chosen by Chaim Potok
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- Anything by Elie Wiesel; ditto for James Alexander Thom
- (These are random picks as I have many favorites)
Four authors I've read again and again:
- Chaim Potok
- William Shakespeare
- Louisa May Alcott
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Jane Austen
- Soooooooooo many more!!!
Four authors or books I'll never read again... ever:1. Bram Stoker's Dracula
2. Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species
Four books on my To-Be-Read list:1. Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold (a novel about Charles Dicken's wife)
2. Symphony by Jude Morgan (a novel about the inspiration for Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique)
Four Non-Fiction Books I’d take to a desert island (instead of 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction):
- The Bible
- Gifts from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
- Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
- Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
It is now some twenty minutes since the man left, but I have remained here on this bench to await the event that has just taken palce--namely, the switching on of the pier lights. As I say, the happiness with which the pleasure-seekers gathering on this pier greeted this small event would tend to vouch for the correctness of my companion's words; for a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. what i the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution cout for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.
Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,
That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear
The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.
One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;
Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,
And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.
You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life. Come, rest awhile.
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
I blatantly stole this poem from a blogger friend, Gracious Hospitality. I know she won't mind. It says exactly what I've been feeling for the past two months or so. I have needed to rest awhile for so long, I almost didn't know how to do it once I got the chance. I truly had forgotten what it was to smile. My life was too busy. Busy doing God's work, albeit. But too busy all the same. I had been ignoring the part where Jesus Himself says we need rest. Of course the only true place to find rest is in Him:
"Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
Why is it that it seems wrong to rest sometimes? When you're involved in the Lord's work, it seems as if there is never enough time to do all that needs to be done. There is always one more meeting, one more activity, one more phone call to make. One more, one more. And you feel guilty if you don't do that one more thing. Trouble is, it begins to add up...and take its toll.
I spent 17 years at my last job. 17 years that were exhausting and draining to the point where I felt empty, dead inside and out. Everyone wanted something from me and even though I gave them my all, literally, it was not enough. Couldn't possibly have been enough for all they wanted. Towards the end, I didn't want to answer my phone, open my e-mail, go to church, go anywhere except to my family's homes. I went to work because I had to, and I did my job because it was there, but I knew I was spent. And I knew I had to go.
I didn't know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do, but having spent my entire life serving the Lord, I knew He would give me something else to do. Somewhere fresh and new, something I could do while at the same time be renewed myself. It took a month and a half for something to come along. In the meanwhile, I rested.
I took a workshop, visited a number of literary "hotspots," wrote, spent time with my family, and walked. A lot. I lost 20 pounds, recovered my perspective, and felt happier than I have in years. And then came the new job. In Arizona. Just teaching. Amazing.
God knows. He knows what we need. He knows how and where we can best serve Him. He knows long before it ever happens. And yet He lets us figure it out for ourselves. That, too, is amazing. That He knows, and yet lets it be our choice.
As I write this, I am sitting on my back patio, listening to a church service, surrounded by bird song, interrupted by the frequent hummingbird buzzing in for a refreshing dip into the feeder just feet from the table where I write. Three months ago I could not have foreseen this. I could not have, not even in my wildest dreams, imagined myself in Arizona, back in a boarding school, enjoying every minute of my day. True, I am thousands of miles from most of my family, and that has been very hard, but I feel alive again. I am well-rested every day. And I'm smiling again. Yes, smiling.
Saturday, August 21, 2010