Thursday, March 30, 2006

Finishing Touches for The Sap House

The shed stands alone against the backdrop of today's perfectly colored sky. Notice the wood shingles, the fresh coat of paint and the new windows. Swell.

Mom proudly displays Luke's dilligent work efforts.

Luke's major project of late really took form on this beautiful Spring day. It looks to me like a small version of a school house where I would enjoy teaching.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Splitting Posts

Isaac swings the ax.

Nate surveys the work.

Nate, now, gives the wedge a good slam.

A job well done.

Isaac and Nate worked on Clarence's farm today splitting wood for fences the old fashioned ways.

Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sunlit pasture field with cattle and horses feeding,
And haze and vista, and the far horizon fading away.

A Farm Picture, Walt Whitman

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Work On the Sap House Continues

Nate has been enjoying his Spring Break with Luke by reroofing the old sap house. They are going with a solid wood shingle which looks quite classy.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Retreat for Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad spent the last three days at Mohonk, a beautiful mountain resort in the Shwangunks. They reported a most excellent time, even amidst the cold and windy weather. They went on some excellent hikes that involved dramatic rock scrambling. Part-way through the hikes, Dad had to take advantage of the views and the gazebos. As Dad often says, "Sometimes you need to sit and think. Sometimes you just need to sit."

Thursday, March 16, 2006


This evening I attended a Lenten service concerning the lives of faithful men and women who were recognized by the Church as saints. During the course of the talk, St. Augustine and St. Paul were distinguished as two of the greatest saints in the Church.

These important titles brought to mind a man whom Jesus praised highly for his faithfulness - John the Baptist. Of this man Jesus said, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. Surprisingly, however, Jesus does not end with this statement. He continues to say, Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

When Amy Carmichael was recruiting missionaries to labor with her in the efforts of caring for the needs of orphans in India she wrote: Not a word of attraction can I write to [a prospective recruit]. It will be desperately hard work, iron would snap under the strain of it. I ask for steel, that quality which is at the back of all going on, patience which cannot be tired out, and love that loves in very deed unto death. Grace in teaspoons would have sufficed for a preaching tour. It is honourable to preach. Grace in rivers was required for [ditchdigging]. Amy often looked for the missionary willing to simply scrub the toilets.

He that is greatest among you will be the servant of all. It is so easy to think that the greatest work of The Kingdom is that of the missionary or theologian or evangelist or leader. But the God of the universe lends us his path. It is this God who wears the cloak of man and becomes the servant of all men. It is this God who wears the towel around his waist that beckons us to join Him in the washing of feet and in the scrubbing of toilets.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lewis: Humility in the Right

We must not think Pride is something that God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due His own dignity - as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He want you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense aobut your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most poeple call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Chesterton: Humility in the Wrong

Humility was largely meant as a restraint upon the arrogance and infinity of the appetite of man. What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. The old humility made a man doubtful about his effrots, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mid-March Days

We have always said that Bentley Farm is, in March, most gloomy. The rains and snow give way to mud. The only deep colors seem to be found in the faithful evergreens. The sky, too, holds clouds of gray with only an occasional peek of blue and clear sunshine to flirtatiously remind us of the colorful display that nature will reveal in her time.

Nevertheless, Bentley Farm in March is still a lovely place to live and we have enjoyed its unique beauty with many recent walks through the fields and woods. The diversion ditch field is quite windy at this time of year, but the wind that blows the wisps of hair into our eyes and mouths is full of moisture. If the wind bit us in January, in March it now licks us. And its lick is delightful when the cold and bitter remembrance of its painful bite is still so close in our memories.

And regardless of the weather and wind of which I pontificate, Luke still simply works. His new project has been to paint the old sap boiling house (soon to become a pool shed) a very satisfying barn-red (see the northern side of the shed).

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Ringing Bells of Ithaca

Oakwood's Spring Break provided me with the exciting opportunity to drive up to my graduate school country. I got to see friends, Debbie and her baby Melody, Katherine (my former roommate) and her fiance Justin and the campus missionaries, Dave and Elizabeth Mayner. I had the accomplishing experience of finishing my last paper with Dr. Jones.

I spent the weekend with Isaac in Ithaca. There were many highlights of the time we spent together. We walked a canal that leads into Lake Cayuga and watched the crew team make the graceful journey on water, we spent a nice amount of time with other Cornell students and even did some improv acting (Isaac was a hippie in a modern rendition of The Good Samaritan and I was a foreign tourist with a camera witnessing a dramatic bank robbery), we walked over the beautiful campus on a hill and had fun seeing who had the most breath left at the top, we went to Friendly's and ate dinner surrounded by parents with their kids (Isaac said that he doesn't see enough kids), we enjoyed Sunday morning worship together at Isaac's local church and listened to some beautiful choral arrangements composed by Handel, we talked about the future and even experienced a Cornell physics lecture together. But perhaps our favorite event of the weekend was our run up the 161 steps of the Cornell tower to witness the concert of the bells. The chimesmaster has quite a job for the fifteen minute concert - he or she must use arms and legs to push down the levers to make the appropriate bells ring. Not only were we rewarded with a concert of the bells, but the top of the bell tower lent itself to some picturesque shots of Cornell and the city beyond.

Bell Tower views of Cornell and beyond.

The mechanism and levers that allow the chimesmaster to play the chorus of the bells.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

To Be Counted Among the Living

As a young adult, I am no longer a child. However, childhood is so close and its memories are so fresh. In the increased busyness of adult life, my thoughts have often turned back to formative memories from childhood. Recently, the demands of being a new school teacher required so much attention that I became aware of my need to pause and remember what a joy it is to be counted among the living. The following memory came to mind.

When I was around the age of seven, I remember waking up in the middle of my sleep to face some forceful questions. Surrounded by the blackness of the night, my boundless imagination transported me away from the constraints of all that I knew to be real and true.

My imaginings were not of fairy book fantasies but of “What if” questions that seemed even more real than all my childish knowledge. “What if I didn’t exist?” “What if the whole world didn’t exist?” “What if all was utter darkness and bleakness?” These questions always seemed like good ones to me, for I did not take for granted the fact that life was marvelous, mysterious, and perhaps even improbable.

Although these questions are distinct in my memory, clearer still is the remembrance of a certain feeling that always followed the questions. It was a feeling of childish helplessness, of infinite smallness and of incredulous belief that I, Sarah Angell, existed at all. I felt as though I were not me, as though I could somehow comprehend life outside of me. The feeling would never last more than ten seconds because the reality of the world around me always quickly sucked me back. Yet even those ten seconds left me with an awesome sense of the total gift of life and of existence. The improbability of me, my life and the world was so consuming that my only response was inexplicable marvel.

Those were moments of worship that remain quite precious in my memory. They were the first teetering steps of a child walking toward the understanding of the greatness of God. In the shadows of the unknown, was the clear figure of a God who created, sustained and ordered an entire universe that was real.

Perhaps this is the awe that Job comprehended when he questions of God, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention?" (7:17) And perhaps, too, it is the sentiment of the psalmist when he asks, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? " (Psalm 8)

The Hudson

Caleb, Hannah, Rebecca, myself and Luke enjoy a brisk walk on the Hudson at Mills Mansion.

Luke and Rebecca (above) and Hannah (below).

Today was a beautiful day in the Hudson Valley. While a cool wind was still present, the actual temperature was over 40 degrees Farenheit. The breaking ice on the Hudson River held the promise of Spring's close arrival.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Snow Day

Today a blanket of perfect white replaced the somewhat brownish-gray winter covering that has been our landscape through the recent winter weeks.

In addition, I was glad to be able to spend a day at home with the family and had fun cooking for the family with the very large skillet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Progress Within and Without

Luke and Hans have been continuing to work on the farmhouse. Hans and Luke just constructed a mudroom off the side of the farmhouse. It has been a project that has spanned several weeks. I have confidence that it will be the most beautiful mudroom in town.

Meanwhile, outside, Bentley and Dutch (Hans' dog) work on coexisting in peace. While their initial interactions had included quite a bit of angst for Bentley, their current relationship is improving. Bentley still insists on sitting in the driver's seat.