one of my favorites

16 December 2008

"Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration"
by Ernest Dowson

Calm, sad, secure; behind high convent walls,
These watch the sacred lamp, these watch and pray:
And it is one with them when evening falls,
And one with them the cold return of day.

These heed not time; their nights and days they make
Into a long, returning rosary,
Whereon their lives are threaded for Christ's sake;
Meekness and vigilance and chastity.

A vowed patrol, in silent companies,
Life-long they keep before the living Christ.
In the dim church, their prayers and penances
Are fragrant incense to the Sacrificed.

Outside, the world is wild and passionate;
Man's weary laughter and his sick despair
Entreat at their impenetrable gate:
They heed no voices in their dream of prayer.

They saw the glory of the world displayed;
They saw the bitter of it, and the sweet;
They knew the roses of the world should fade,
And be trod under by the hurrying feet.

Therefore they rather put away desire,
And crossed their hands and came to sanctuary
And veiled their heads and put on coarse attire:
Because their comeliness was vanity.

And there they rest; they have serene insight
Of the illuminating dawn to be:
Mary's sweet Star dispels for them the night,
The proper darkness of humanity.

Calm, sad, secure; with faces worn and mild:
Surely their choice of vigil is the best?
Yea! for our roses fade, the world is wild;
But there, beside the altar, there, is rest.

night time

15 December 2008

sometimes nights don't get any better than this: a stack of books next to your pillow, a tangle of quilts and duvets atop you, and a warm furry friend beside you.

it's getting so that I wake up in the morning eager for bedtime.

Word File

12 December 2008

Hebetude: lethargic, mentally dull.

example: Her midafternoon hebetude suddenly shattered as she splashed into the icy stream and at once she felt the tickle of the minnows against her ankle, the spongy springy moss beneath her toes, the glow of the spotty sun on her shoulder.

The Glory Man and Koinonia Farm

09 December 2008

Saturday night my mom, Kathryn, and I went to Regent University Theatre to watch the premiere of The Glory Man, a play written by Dennis J. Hassell about the founding of the Christian farming commune, Koinonia, by visionary Clarence Jordan and his wife, Florence. Like the early church in Acts, the community they set up on this "demonstration plot" allowed them to practice faith, stewardship, and brotherhood in concrete and often radical ways. Hassell focuses upon this last facet of their farm as he examines their impact on race relations in the area, for to the Jordans, brotherhood meant brotherhood in which humanity, not color, was the defining quality. As conflict escalates from the simmering bigotry of the surrounding farms and churches to crop burnings and shootings and even rape, Koinonia faces a relentless test of its faith and tenacity.

Koinonia still operates today, practicing fellowship, peace, and stewardship after over fifty years since its founding as a "demonstration plot for God's Kingdom." I was delighted to see that its members adhere to the principles of permaculture and sustainability in their production of pecans and cakes, and they have a wonderful selection of fair trade coffees to round out their catalog. Consider supporting this ministry (which has multiplied into other ministries you might be familiar with, like Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1968 as Koinonia Partnership Housing) with your Christmas giving this year. Here is Koinonia's website:

Word File

Adumbrate: to display a faint copy or outline; to obscure in part or to overshadow; to foreshadow.

example: The union of man and wife in matrimony adumbrates the union between God and Christ; each person is distinct in his or her role, his or her strengths, his or her purpose, yet both together make one and only one. The finite union helps one to consider the infinite union.

inside a seamstress's mind

04 December 2008

I've gotten the bug to sew dresses again, so as usual I go right up to my closet (half is devoted to fabric and patterns) and pull out pretty fabrics and drape them across reasonably clear spaces like my floor and bed (which I didn't make this morning)...

...the dusty aqua linen is lovely but I don't think I have enough for the type of dress I want to make...shall I finally use that black and white woven windowpane I've been saving for a special dress?

...I snatch up a few of my patterns and toy with the idea of making that dress I designed a few months ago--then I remember that I have two very minor alterations to make, so I search out my sketch pad--which happens to be on my floor right in front of me, partially obscured by the vintage '70s and '80s patterns which, despite their decades, seem to have possibility... hand brushes against a shirt I haven't put away yet, and I pick it up to study the seams and slightly gathered detailing; I've been meaning to construct a dress like it, for its shape contains the perfect amount of drape and ease without looking frumpy (a line I'm usually in danger of crossing)... measuring tape is rolled up as it should be and where it should be, and I take the opportunity to record the hem circumference of my shirt. I'll continue its a-line shape a few inches further in my pattern...

...I remember some pictures of dresses I'd seen on flickr awhile back and retreat downstairs to use the computer...then I get sidetracked looking at all the beautiful handmade creations of fellow sewers and spend an hour in fruitless inspiration...

but here's a pattern I'll buy whenever Hancock's or JoAnn's is having a drastic sale on Simplicity patterns: it's a Built by Wendy number 3835, and I've seen some inspirational versions of the dress sewn up by some talented sewers...

(clockwise from top left: ellybeth, WheresBeckybean, CharlotteCarotte, and treschic_veronique)

another book to browse

I picked up one more book when I returned to the Regent book sale: a journal written by Eugenie de Guerin. I've not heard of this woman, but the passages I scanned looked interesting with their tender earnestness and spiritual bent, the writings of a young woman to her wandering brother, I believe, as she searches out deeper realities.
...heart communications are sweet, and I am so easily led into them. Besides, they do me good, and relieve my soul of its sadness. When waters begin to flow, they set out with foam on their surface, and grow clear on their way. For me, my way lies with God--or in a friend--but especially in God; there I hollow myself out a channel, and find calm therein...

Word File

Jejune: barren, dull, empty, immature.

example: I sighed and drummed my fingers against the rough cloth of my chair, letting the man's jejune presentation waft by with all its droning ambiguity and tinsel-thin facts.

book sale

02 December 2008

I awoke with excitement fluttering inside me--today is the Regent Library book sale! The sale lasts for three days, from 9 am to 5 pm each delightful day. I slipped over there in the afternoon and perused table after table of texts on nutrition, evangelism, Scandinavia (quite a thorough collection!), marketing, education, and so forth. What did I walk away with? Three lovely finds: a biographical commentary on Christina Rossetti, a short collection of Chekhov stories, and an explanation of the Anglican church. As my parking space was rather iffy I had to hurry my browsing, but I plan to return tomorrow.

Wwoofing Adventures #4

01 December 2008

London Tour, cont.

Our fresh new day brought fresh new energy and attitudes to the three of us, and we set out early the next morning to finish our London walking tour and browse the many galleries and museums around the city. Leicester and Trafalgar Squares were among the first stops, the National Gallery our next. I obligingly studied my favorite periods of paintings as I wandered from room to room, but soon sleepiness overcame me and I had to sit down. Perhaps I just wasn’t cultured enough to appreciate the work of such great artists as Caravaggio and Van Gogh and Seurat and Giovanni with alertness, but really I tend to find the layout of museums and galleries a bit tedious—if I’m to study anything in great depth, I don’t do so standing up. I kept dreaming of a museum in which the paintings were displayed on individual tables with benches beside them, allowing the viewer to sit and peer down at the art, that visual direction so much more conducive to actual study. But I enjoyed listening to the folks drifting in and out as they discussed their impending lunches and, occasionally, a painting.

St. James Park was our next stop, for I remembered it as a haven of green and quiet and ducks in the middle of the bustling city. We broke bread on the lawn while some rowdy boys displayed their Frisbee skills further on. It was wise of them to keep moving, for the day was brisk and after my quick nap under my jacket I was thoroughly chilled and ready to spend several pounds on a hot drink. We walked up to Buckingham Palace, stared at it dutifully for a moment, and then continued on our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The V&A

The three of us wandered through the museum’s provocative exhibit about book-designing, fascinated by the layouts and themes and handwritten pages of each piece. One artist even blew his carefully executed book up with dynamite. Then the fashion exhibit kept me entertained for at least two hours with displays of designer ensembles from the modern era, namely eighteenth-century through present. Oh, the construction of the garments and the carefully-wrought details! It was as though I were walking through the back covers of Threads in fact. I soaked in as much as I could and vowed to incorporate similar techniques into future sewing projects.

“Did you see that welt pocket, Meagan? Meagan?” Come to think of it, I vaguely remembered her telling me she was going to some other exhibit. After traipsing through several rooms and floors, I managed to locate LeeAnn wandering the metalsmithing hallway, and the two of us recommenced our search for Meagan.

Our Discovery

We were passing through the second or third floor when something arrested us—and suddenly LeeAnn and I were staring dumbfounded at Trajan’s Column, assembled right there a few feet from us, the scenes of war spiraling up the absolutely massive cylinder. We had read about that very piece in our CivArts texts and here it was, commanding attention as if it were an ancient Roman himself. The detail of the myriad faces was incredible and seemed to suggest that the abstract concept of war-and-conquer was propelled by individual persons. I briefly scanned the rest of the room which was scattered with Romanesque doorways, Elizabethan sculptures, a whole church front, altars, effigies, and crosses, but inevitably my gaze would again alight upon the Column.
“eh?” I thought, “what was that?” In its rhapsodic flight, my gaze had swept over a nearby placard. I ventured closer to read: …despite the large proportions of the gallery, the height of 83 feet is not large enough to accommodate the column in one piece, as it may be seen in Rome … The cast is displayed in two … opening of the Architectural Courts in 1873 … The sections of plaster reliefs are each individually numbered to make up a giant jigsaw…
Suddenly recommitted to finding Meagan, we made our sheepish exit, and I hoped that the couple over yonder had not overheard my naïve amazement at finding the priceless Roman art in Great Britain. Once reunited, the three of us had just enough time to scout out a sushi place before returning to the V&A for their Regency festivities which we were delighted to discover for the evening.

Reliving Regency

First that evening we watched the recreation of one of the duels between Sheridan and Matthews. LeeAnn, a fencer herself, pressed close to analyze the fencers’ techniques as we watched the two re-enactors brandishing their swords and bandying insults at one another. Next was the dance.

The Regency dancing was to be held in the room displaying the tapestries of the Acts of the Apostles. The tapestries were on loan from Her Majesty’s collection—and my mind immediately shot back through history and imagined Raphael’s hand painting those very scenes, those very eyes, those very shadows in the draping cloth. As we looked on each cartoon, LeeAnn read the pertinent biblical passages so that our ears were washed in truth as our eyes were treated to its visual representation. I had made sure to read each placard carefully lest these, too, should prove to be imposters, but each attested firmly to the 16th-century origin of the paintings.

A man and a woman in regency dress demonstrated two dances in a rather ungraceful series of hops and twirls and dips, but after watching the onlookers half-heartedly copying them, we soon took our leave. And, I must say, I was proud of our full day and late night—synchronizing our internal clocks with that of Great Britain’s was going well.