Thursday, June 28, 2007

Enjoying Hot and Humid Weather

Without air conditioning, the heat and humidity of the last several days has been a little overbearing at times to us northerners who are conditioned to survive cold winters. However, I think that we have managed to find ways to productively survive, and maybe enjoy, the heat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Conservative Friends Gathering

Our family enjoyed a time of fellowship with other Quakers at the Conservative Friends Gathering in Lancaster County, PA. Growing up in the Hudson Valley, memories of the sounds of silence were completed with distant engine locomotion noises. In between messages, singing and Scripture reading this weekend, the sounds of silence were complete with the clap of horse shoes up and down the paved roads as the Amish completed their work of the day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Labor Under the Sun

What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north: round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its full of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Friday, June 15, 2007

When "My" Is No Longer Possessive

Some words take on new definitions when you live in community. Living in close communion with people gives an entirely new perspective to words like brotherly kindness, service, and patience. But it's not only these big words that encounter new meanings when theory demands practice; it's the small words too. Particularly, I have been aware of how the words my and mine mean something completely different in a home with nine other people than they did in my apartment in graduate school.

When I lived alone, my purple brush and yellow scissors stayed exactly where I left them while I was at work and my purple brush and yellow scissors were waiting for me when I returned and needed them again. My computer stayed off; my printer paper did not migrate to another printer; my rug did not get tracked on; my clothes and shoes did not get worn by my sisters; my camera did not get swung around by other people; my books did not get read by other people when I wanted to read them; my CDs did not end up outside and my food was not eaten by other people. Basically, mine meant that whatever object I owned was owned by me for my pleasure.

But now, at home, I have found that when I walk around for five minutes in the morning and ask for someone to please give me a clue as to the whereabouts of my purple hairbrush, what I am really asking is not for my purple hairbrush but for the hairbrush that my sisters have jointly claimed as ours. In fact, I think that most things that I used to think of us being owned in the singular are now owned in the plural. My nailclippers, my car, my books, my envelopes - all the pieces of matter that I had somehow figured were mine because I spent money to buy them - have now become ours.

And it is infinitely better that way. What used to bring pleasure simply to me, now brings pleasure to nine other people. Ours is a vastly preferable meaning to the possesive than mine. Ours conveys a purpose in living this life that reaches somehow beyond the self and into an eternal communion of happiness for all.

Pope John Paul II said that the purpose of this life is to give ourselves away in love. When my possessions, as an extension of myself, are no longer mine but ours, there is opportunity to encounter a deeper meaning to the life's journey, as we give ourselves and our possessions away in love.

And lest I make myself out to be unfairly altruistic, another joy of the plural possessive is that I have access to the people and the possessions that were before outside of me and not owned by me. I can now find enjoyment in Becca's comfy bean chair and Luke's circular saw because they have opened their lives to mine as part of an understanding of community.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

From the Heights

The men have continued their all-impressive work on the home, this time venturing with ropes and harnesses to walk the sloping roof. The amount of mathematical thinking that is involved to enclose a home is fascinating to me, especially as the roof of this new part of the home had to so exactly mesh with the roof of the old part of the home.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Noonday Silence

When all ten of us gather around a table for lunch, it tends to be a pretty intensely talkative event. Breakfast and dinner can follow suit too, but something about the midday commotion with the work of the day begun but left unfinished, tends to make for particularly energized conversation. We have more to learn as a family by way of making these times edifying. It's too easy to slip into banter that is meaningless at best or derogatory at worst. We forget that our conversation is of consequence. Why? During lunch the other day Nate reminded us, "Do you know the Bible says that we will have to give account for every idle word that we say on the day of judgment?" Silence ensued. Guarding the words of our mouth is our current challenge and prayer.

Patience in The Face of Desire

If there is one distinction between those who have found themselves miserable in this life and those who have found themselves fulfilled and delighted, it may be that the latter have learned the lessons of patient waiting.

When desire is strong; patience is weak. And when we have learned the lesson that impatience wreaks havoc, it is easy to then try to kill desire. Perhaps it is easier to erase a longing than it is to wait for that longing to be fulfilled in the fullness of time.

I love the following passages because they remind me, in the face of desire, that the journey of patience is worth it. I am reminded that desires are given for a reason and that in waiting, not only do we encounter happiness (we count them happy which endure), but we learn to refine and focus our desire to what we really, really wanted all along (the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee).

When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15)

Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:2-3)

Be patient, therefore brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it, until he recieve the early and later rain. Behold we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord: that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. (James 5:7,11)

Yea in the way of the judgments we have waited for thee. The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. (Isaiah 26:8)

Lord, all my desire is before thee; And my groaning is not hid from thee. (Psalm 38:9)

Friday, June 08, 2007

"Your Papa Is a Very Good Man"

I spent today with a good friend of mine who is a wonderful mother to two young children. During the course of our long visit, she told me that she very often speaks to her children about their father. She says, "Your Papa is a very good man. I love him very much. He works so hard to provide for the family."

I wonder if there are any words that would equal the importance of these words from a mother to a child.

Thank You

This is a post of thanks. It is a post of thanks to those older women who are a shining and living example of what it means to be a feminine and beautiful wife and mother. I encounter so many women who are discouraged in their marriages, who have lost the joy of their first love, who are ready to leave their marriages behind because the journey has been too hard. This post is a thank-you to those women who have shown me a different way, who have deeply delighted in their men and in their children and have painted an attractive picture of what it means to be a life-long bride who is more in love at age sixty than at age twenty-five.

Thank you. In living the life as a wife and mother to the fullest you have provided what is perhaps one of the most clear glimmers of the relationship between Christ and the Church. When marriages fail, what witness does the world have of Christ's love? If a Christian man and women cannot love and honor one another, how is the world to see the spiritual reality that this physical sacrament represents? Thank you for maintaining the witness of faithfulness, fruitfulness, adoration and delight.

Within the testimony of your lives is hope for another generation of young women who look to marriage. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stages of Change