23 March 2016
Both can be descriptions of the same week. While one requires us to move constantly, without rest, with endless tasks to attend to, the other is sacred and requires us to slow down to reflect and allow ourselves to take on the meaning of each day.
Jesus is now in Jerusalem, having arrived on Palm Sunday with a grand welcomed entrance. But trials await; the end of the week is coming. Jesus has cleansed the temple of the money-hungry. Everything changes in a few days. That warm welcome that once was, is turned upside down.
Fear can make us do strange things, don't you think? It can make us go with crowd mentality even if our heartstrings tug us another way. When we know something is wrong and yet do it anyway, we fall into this trap of fear. It holds onto us when we strive to do what is right. As we strive to please others, we work to do our best, but fear can hold us back. We dream of times to rest.
Think this week. Quiet your heart and mind.
Think about the emotional state of our Lord during this week preceding the cross. Think of how He wore all our sins around His shoulders, knowing what was just up ahead. Embrace the mysteries of Jesus' life and death.
Think about the state of this love. We are not strangers.
His love dips down to us, that we can only try to mimic, and always fall short, but glory to God! We do not have to be perfect. Christ took the fall for us, so we can be perfected in New Creation.
May this week be reflective, amidst all the busy hours we are dwelling in.
21 March 2016
May you treasure
wisely this jeweled,
and cherish each
day as an extra grace.
- Andrew Greeley
If I spend my days collecting extra graces, storing them in my heart next to all the memories to cherish, my days will be filled with a more joy-filled outlook. Simply because of what my mind is focusing on, my outlook is shifted. The little things that have meaning and add joy have been what I am aiming at collecting. For a few years I have been working on this project of the heart. I am getting better at it, but always have room to improve.
Our days are always going to present challenges and struggles. That is a fact of life here on earth and it becomes dangerous if we hang onto each struggle for along time, as it begins to corrupt our joy. I have learned that we can lose things we cherish quicker than we can gain them. I want to hold in my heart the joy of the Lord and His promises, which is something I can always count on. I do not ever have to let go of that.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is also our reminder that each day is a gift, full of graces that we do not deserve. I want to dwell in moments, graces, joys, and have a heart full of the knowledge that it is all there because of God's love.
18 March 2016
Oxford, England - the lovely city of dreaming spires.
I cannot wait for my feet to step onto these streets again.
It's only been a year, but somehow my heart yearns to be here as if it has been multiple years.
How can your heart feel at home in two places?
In one week, I will be walking these street again, with a bit of glee in my heart (okay, more than a bit). My favourite place once again in my sight all day long, everyday, for many days. These glimpses from last year get me ready again to be there.
I will bundle up as if it were winter, having a few scarves at the ready, and a jacket whenever I head outside. Ready for good walks, I will be. Ready for good coffee shops, and a pot of tea with breakfast. I will eagerly stroll in the many bookshops that I love, and come out with some old books in my arms. I will eat at my favourite cafes, pubs, restaurants, and tearooms. I will walk around colleges and visit chapels and grand dining halls. I will sleep in a college like a student, eat breakfast in one of Oxford's biggest dining halls each morning, but not rushing off to lectures like a student. I will linger over tea and enjoy English breakfast before the day's adventures.
In addition to all the familiarity, I will hop on a train and venture out to another city I've never been to. Then, a drive out into the country to explore. Some lovely companions will be with me, my mum, and some friends for a few of the days. What a blessing it is to have some leisure time to explore and get to know England even more than I already do. I am so deeply thankful to be able to do so. My heart sings with joy.
16 March 2016
Thrice blessed Three in One.
I am blessed by Thee, and all the gifts of life come from the Father above. Outside of time, He sees all at once and once for all.
Nothing escapes His glance. For His glance spans the space and time that none of us can fully imagine. We dwell here, slowly, stuck in the confines of time - with the clock ticking which cannot stop.
But it is a gift.
Because we can experience the joy of tiny moments that seem to stand still as we watch a kind gesture, a flower bloomed, a child taking your hand, a sunset, a walk in nature. These moments actually capture us so intensely, they can transcend time for a moment, at least in our experience. These moments can be enjoyed in time, and pressed into the folds of beauty and memory, all because of time. They have a placement in our memory, our history, and our story.
Oh, Lord, we are so truly blessed. Sometimes we do not see time as a blessing, but You created it, so it is good. All that You create is good.
14 March 2016
I am no gardener. I know very little about plants, flowers, herbs, and growing things in general. I just pretend I know a little something about a few things. And I just keep trying. As I try, I actually do learn a bit about certain types of plants - like how much water they might need, or how much sun.
There is just something about getting a little plant, tending to it (sometimes forgetting to, but then remembering most of the time), and seeing it grow and flourish. There is something about getting a new plant and seeing its sunny disposition for a season.
A spring garden event took place downtown on Saturday morning, and I could not resist buying something from local farms that grow some lovely things. After a quick walk around the whole event, I knew exactly what I wanted to get - two small pots of herbs (rosemary and thyme) and a new plant for my outside landing - marigold.
I spotted the marigold from a stall away, and knew I wanted it to be by my door, cheering up the entrance to my home. It is the perfect shade of orange - sunny, sweet, and earthy. A coppery glow radiates from their round blooms. They like full sun, to match their shape and colour, and that is a perfect fit for my very exposed and sunny landing on the second floor.
11 March 2016
I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.
- Charlotte Brontë
It is so windy today. It comes in sudden gusts when all seems quiet. The gust says - hello, pay attention to me. Unless you are one who doesn't notice your surroundings, you notice when the wind rustles your hair and swishes underneath your collar.
You stand there a moment and let the invisible air swirl around and blow toward some unknown destination. As something you can feel but not see, you can only see the presence of it by the things it moves. You know its presence is there - it is brushing by your skin, but you cannot put your finger on it.
It is so thin it glides right through your fingers, and you cannot grasp it, but you are left with belief without the evidence. You know something to be true.
If someone said "golly it is so windy out there" but you did not feel the same gusty presence of the air whipping around your hair, you would likely think that person was a bit loony. But if you had to hold onto your hat when he said that, you would heartily agree, even though neither of you could see the wind. You each believed it was there by the effects it created, and by feeling the presence of it, you knew it to be true.
It makes me think of C.S. Lewis when he wrote - "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun as risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
Our thoughts and musings should lead our thoughts upward. As Charlotte Brontë stated, our days are better spent not looking too intently at the past or the future, but on our Creator Himself.
09 March 2016
...keep working steadily, because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things for as long as we live, and because I enjoy making things.
This quote sums up the book in a few words, and it is one that I believe in, as well. Elizabeth has a friendly writing style that makes it feel like she is sitting across the table as you talk through life. She is approachable and says things like they are. There is no sugary coating in here, but just some insights into the creative life style. I am glad I read this book. It is full of good reminders.
I think every person who likes to write has read this book. It reaches out to all those creative minds who might have some lingering fear holding them back from actually finishing a project or even starting one that they dream about.
The main theme of this book is - do something! Just go create! Why are you sitting around complaining about it? Just do it. How are you going to improve if you are not working every single day toward being creative? If you expect some sudden inspiration to come to you to create something so great, then you are going to be waiting for a very long time.
Oh, and don't quit your job to pursue a creative life. Be creative on your own time (unless you are already some famous person or have an abundance of money). But most of all, create every day. You are going to fail, and not everything is going to be excellent material, but you still have a job and can still pursue your creativity because your ability to pay the bills isn't dependent on it.
Lastly, do you have the courage to create that which is deep within you? For me, I never thought my writings were good enough to share with anyone, until late in my college life when I realized that people might actually be interested in reading what I had written when a dear friend showed real interest in my writings. That changed the way I thought about what I already loved to do - write.
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
07 March 2016
God made humanity for good, but we humans go out and scheme our way into trouble.
- Ecclesiastes 7.29
I wake up with the sun, which hasn't happened in many weeks (I am usually waking when it's still quite dark) and I allow myself to just lay under the covers while the chilly air around me refreshes me. I normally get up pretty quickly and make my bed right away. This time I lingered, just because. The tiny bird on the tree outside made little chirps. An owl hoots in another tree, further away.
I decided to let myself have a quiet, slow morning with no timetable. Isn't it remarkable that we have to allow ourselves time to be quiet, still, and have no agenda? Are we really that important and busy that we cannot grant ourselves the time automatically? I mean, God did create the day of rest, which happens one day every week. Why don't we partake?
Well, today I decided I was going to partake in a day of rest. No rushing. No deadlines. A restful spirit and slower morning where I can reflect and be still.
I enjoy paying attention to moments. I think God places such gifts under our noses and we have a hard time seeing the beauty of decoration, architecture, expression, flowers, or sky. I love to notice the way the weather feels against my skin, the sun's rays casting a glow through curtains, the patterns of a leaf, the sounds of an owl nearby, or the scent of dinner cooking.
Am I calm and serene in these moments? Contemplative? Yes, indeed. Thoughts and imagination can stir and wander. Take care not to let that road turn negative, or you are in danger of losing focus and attention on what is good.
Let this day hold onto truth and goodness. We can always choose to dwell in the light of goodness that God places in our lives.
A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a voice.
- Maya Angelou
02 March 2016
Learning more about my favourite place is always something I long for. A book that has been on my wish list is Dr. Radcliffe's Library, which I first saw last year when I was in Oxford. At the new Weston Library, there is a lovely gift shop, with a section of books published by the Bodleian Library.
While I was browsing the shop on a sunny day, this book, of course, caught my eye, and I decided to put it on my wish list because I had about 12 other books already purchased in Oxford (that I had to carry back to the states), of a used and old nature that could not be purchased later. At last, I got this book for my birthday, and dove into it this weekend (and finished it).
Dr. Radcliffe was a student at Oxford, and became a physician in town. He grew to be well known and a trusted doctor, and then moved to London to grow even more in his practice. He was the physician for much of the royal family, but had a sort out outspoken, vibrant character that seemed to put some people off.
When Dr. Radcliffe died, he left specific instructions in his will for building a new library in Oxford, leaving £40,000 for the building and other sums for hiring a librarian and £100 per year for purchasing books. The project didn't start for another twenty years, but when they finally did get the building constructed in 1749 in the space between St. Mary's University Church and the Bodleian Library, it was a neo-classical style that added some new depth to the mostly medieval architecture in Oxford at the time. This grand, rotund building was at the centre of the town and therefore quite a prominent fixture.
It took many more years for the reading room to become part of the Bodleian Library, and thereby giving access to students, but once it did, and the collection of books grew, it became an important place of study and reading for students.
Since I am not a student (and do not have a reader card), the only way to gain access to the Radcliffe Camera is by way of a tour, which I did a couple years ago, and I am so glad I did. I would love to hang out there all day reading. It is beautiful, grand, encircled by books, and right at the centre of Oxford. It was really fun to read the history of the building, and the donor, and now when I go back to Oxford next month, I can stand by to give lectures on the history, in case any passersby want to know.
01 March 2016
Lord, You are goodness.
You are love.
With You, all things have possibility and potential, and creativity has an endless ladder with new rungs always reaching higher. There is no reaching a plateau with the imagination.
The clouds are not the limit.
The sky is not the limit.
The stars are not even the limit.
You gave us a sky full of stars so we could wonder, imagine, and dream outside of our own two feet that surrounds each of us. To dwell in the box we sit in comfortably is to miss the potential of a million other ideas, places, wisdom, and sights. We are not meant to only seek through ourselves. Our natural inclinations are to reach out. But why do we resist that at times?
Because You are goodness and love, oh Lord, You also gave us minds to wonder, seek out ideas, communicate with others, and have a love of movement. We can collaborate and bring newly created things out of that which has been used. Our sub-creations hold pieces of the original Creator, and all glory goes to You, Lord.