Tag Archive - Words

A Thing of Beauty…

 

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast
That, whether there be shine or gloom o’ercast,
They always must be with us, or we die.

 

~John Keats, excerpt from “Endymion”

Awakening…

I was a spring baby. My first draughts of air were redolent with the fragrance of new blossoms. Returning songbirds sang my lullabies. Like the tender shoots of my mother’s irises, and like my father’s wobbly kneed calves, I had spent the winter hidden. Gathering strength. Waiting…to be born.

I sometimes wonder if this is why I find the idea of rebirth so enchanting. Like God somehow hard-wired spring into my DNA so that I would always be looking for the hidden something… just waiting…

Certainly, He has worked this miracle of regeneration often enough in me. I rage with all the fury and heat of summer, throwing my fragrance, my bold colors, as far as I can. Then, in one last autumnal exuberance of flame, I give all I have.

And I am spent.

Dry. Withered. One who knows me will observe it visibly in my countenance…as wasted leaves fall…one…by…one…

Then the gentle Gardener comes to me. He trims away the unwieldy branches I have thrown too far for my own good. He tucks a winter mulch around my tired feet and invites me to rest. And I sleep. The weary sleep of one who has tried too hard. Who wanted to prove my worth…to the Gardener…to everyone….

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.  ~Aeschylus

With the first warm breezes, the Gardener clears away the mulch. He trims winter damage, feeds me, and invites me to grow. A new season. A new start. A new chance to begin again…

Today is a new start of another sort. My little blog is beginning again, so to speak. To all of you who have traveled with me over the past four years, thank you. To new friends, welcome. I hope you will visit often.

The writing will be much the same. Only the setting is different. I am enjoying the new format, but still have much to learn. This is a work that will continue to evolve. Pruning here, feeding there. Please, be patient with me. And feel free to offer suggestions. I welcome your input.

Amity,

s

P.S. For those of you who may care, the typepad site will remain active for a bit while I finish harvesting content. I have transferred the most popular posts here, though I was unfortunately unable to transfer the comments.

P.S.S. Props to my hubby for helping with the title line at top of the page.

The Four Holy Gospels

My whole body trembled with awe as I stood before it. The centuries old Book of Kells, arguably the most famous illuminated gospel in the world. An accompanying exhibit acquainted us with the painstaking process by which dedicated artists united precious pigments to vellum. It was the work of a lifetime. To create a setting worthy of the words. Of the Word.

Its magnificence gloriously conveys the sacredness…the otherness…of that which is contained within. And the beauty opens a place inside us for the words to rest.

Where are our twenty-first century illuminators?
Who is that artist capable of wedding the triumphs and tragedies of our age with the Story older than time?


CharisKairos

Makoto Fujimura is an avant garde artist living at Ground Zero in New York. He contends daily with Kairos-Chronos tension, employing ancient Nihonga painting techniques to speak with a thoroughly modern voice. His passionate, complex, exhilarating works captivate both mind and soul.

He has, very possibly, created the illuminated masterwork of our time.

MatthewConsider

As I slide the clothbound book out of its elegant slipcover, my heart pounds. A glass case had separated me from the Book of Kells. But I hold this work of extraordinary loveliness in my own hands. I turn the pages slowly, luxuriously, drinking deeply.

The large scale frontispieces are glorious! Charis-Kairos focuses on the Tears of Christtears for the atrocities of the past century and for our present darkness.” Each of the others is inspired by themes within the gospel. Read Mako’s own introductions here.

MarkWaterFlames-502x630

Eighty-nine illuminated capitals begin the chapters. And each page contains gorgeous embellishments that illuminate the passage. As I read through The Four Holy Gospels, it is these that wreck me.

Some are representational and rather obvious: a fish, a serpent, a cluster of grapes. But most are subtle and leave space for you to bring your own creativity…your own story…to the page…

A splash of Nard as a woman pours herself out…
Brooding clouds…tinged with blood…over Gethsemane.
Intimations of water beside a storm tossed boat…or a baptism.
A sapphire sky flecked with gold, but with edges of a troubling gray, over Bethlehem.
Parables of the Kingdom laid against great swaths of gold.
The Passion, devastatingly conveyed with drops and smears of blood.
And finally, a tree of life…redeeming, restoring…making all things new.

Johnin the beginning

If you have never encountered the story of Christ, you could find no better introduction than The Four Holy Gospels. Or if, like me, you cut your teeth on them, I assure you they are new here.

If you splurge on only one thing this year…if you treat yourself to one bit of beauty…let it be this book. There is no part of you that will not be nourished, cultivated, challenged, inspired.

List of Candidates 2011

Old_book_-_Timeless_Books

Since reading Steve Leveen’s tiny treasure of a book,  The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, I have kept a perpetual “list of candidates”.  Herein I record books I positively want to read before I die…preferrably sooner than later. 🙂  It helps insulate me, somewhat, from disappointing, purposeless impulse reads.

As I spend the week before New Year’s Day reflecting on the year past and anticipating the year ahead, I revisit my list.  I remove books recently read.  I add a few titles I have scribbled on a note or in the back of a book.  I rescue treasures hastily punched into my phone during a conversation with a fellow bibliophile.  I survey the offerings of a couple of authors with whom I have really connected this year.  Then I dream of delicious hours to come as I enter into conversation with brilliant and creative minds, and as gifted storytellers weave a tale around me, and in me.  I want to begin all of them.  Now.

I share here the titles on my list at present, and implore you to tell me what is missing.  Some of my favorite reads this past year came from you.

A Book of Hours: Meditations on the Traditional Hours of Prayer by Francis Colling Egan*
Encounter by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok
The Chosen by Chaim Potok*
Waiting for God by Simone Weil
Thirst by Mary Oliver*
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver*
Rules For the Dance by Mary Oliver*
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expury
Phantastes by George MacDonald*
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
Story by Robert McKee
The Naked Now by Richard Rohr
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks
A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography by Egon Wellesz
The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell
The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther*
Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard*
The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen*
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Earle Stegner
The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, and Spiritual Father, Vera Bouteneff Translator*
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas*
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe*
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger*
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott
Mother Gavrilia: The Ascetic of Love by Nun Gavrilia
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

*Completed

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