Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bread and Button-Holes...

Oh how I love practical thinking and simple living! I have been completely ensconced in Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins: Or Aunt Hill this week (click the link, you can read the whole book on-line for free!).

Reading of Rose's lessons in bread making, I was inspired to improve my domestic skills. All fall I had been planning to learn the art of bread making. A few tips here and there were given, I even made pretzels with some friends to start the process... Yet "real" bread had never been attempted. Deciding not to leave Colorado without at least one attempt, I tried my hand at the process yesterday.

Now let me tell you, my last attempt at yeast rolls resulted in little rock-solid things. They were kindly eaten, but they were a disastrous failure. Yesterday I threw out my first attempt with the yeast, feeling the water wasn't warm enough. After which, the Lord smiled upon my little domestic endeavours. The loaf of oat/whole wheat bread rose to a little round dome. The first rising of the yeast rolls happily doubled. I even remembered the tip I read about kneading the dough and pinching it off into rounds. Twelve puffy balls of dough rose gracefully in the pan. A dozen brown, warm, amazing-smelling rolls came out of the oven after 15 minutes.

I felt like a bread-making queen. Oh yes, I'm an expert now... Or not. But I certainly felt that way!

Next, I suppose I should learn how to sew button-holes (or in general; my hand-stitching is so slow and inconsistent) like Rose did in the book (see page 178 to read of her adventures). Hm, my lack of skill in button-holes is bringing me back down to reality after the bread success.

Today holds new adventures, I'm sure... I'd best get to them!

~ Johanna

Sunday, April 18, 2010

With the Rising of the Sun

From the rising of the sun to its going down
The LORD’s name is to be praised."

~ Psalm 113:3

My alarm chirped at 4:30am on Thursday. Yes, I told it to impede my slumber, to return me from the land of Nod to the land of reality. I donned jeans and a sweatshirt, and headed off to the airport with my neighbour. Above us, constellations shone brightly before their nightly dance was whisked away by the daystar. When we pulled up to the airport, the Eastern sky was turning a tell-tale grey.

The drive home went quickly, followed by a (nearly forgotten) jaunt to the post office box. I had left an English muffin in the toaster and an egg in the pan (the burner was off!) in order to beat the postman at 6:15. Chilly morning air beckoned me up a historic street to see the Spring flowers. Then I walked to an overlook to watch the sun crest the low-lying foothills.

Liquid gold spilled across the horizon, like ink toppled on a table. I turned to look West and my next breath caught in my throat. Pike's Peak was backed by the last of the night sky, its hoary head now gleaming as burnished copper. Ordinary red dirt on the foothills was transformed into fiery paths, coupled with glowing pines. My gaze swung back to the source of life-giving light. There he was, the sleepyhead sun blinking his great eye.

Freezing fingers compelled me to trot home, finish preparing my half-made breakfast, and move on with my day. But stiff hands could not quell swirling thoughts. "The sun shines on everything, giving it life." "No, no, Beauty." "Perhaps both." "God does that." Stop. Repeat? "God does that." Thoughts moving at light-speed began running down this track. To save you from wading through my scattered thoughts, I will corral them for you.

What if our lives are like mountains, red dirt, lilting flowers, shaggy pines, splashing streams, - all brought to life when the sun shines upon them? Sure, the analogy isn't perfect - some of those things had "life" or Beauty before the sun shined upon them. Our lives do not. We are a lump of clay, scattered rock, stagnant pools. When God shines His glory upon us, the reflection is Beautiful. Life and order are imparted. As sure as a life is illuminated, our gaze is drawn to the Source of light, the Origin of glory.
If we reflect the glory of God, those who see us will look for Him. How kind of the LORD to remind us of such lessons every day with the rising of the sun!

~ Johanna

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Clear Call for Me

"Sunset and Evening Star,

And one clear call for me..."

...To write. To cherish things past. To long for dusty pages of well bound tomes. To appreciate paper, ink, and the dripping wax of the candle on my desk.

Who am I? I am a keeper of things past. A guardian who will not allow ancient words to be forgotten. Tennyson and Wordsworth, Locke and Burke: their words and ideas have long shaped us. Saint Paul, the Creeds and Confessions: longer still have they chiseled our hearts and minds. Luther and Erasmus, too, gave the common man tools to analyze texts, and set the Scriptures in his own tongue.

Tongue. Language, words, expression, speech, thoughts... These are a beacon to arouse and alarm, to humble and bless, to bewilder and charm. Words express ideas, they must be carefully chosen, wrought into concise thought. Ideas must be worthy of being spoken, penned, or taught.

Eloquence and rhetoric have been pushed aside for the caustic inarticulation of postmodernism. Words have been uprooted, their meanings changed or stolen.

"Twilight and evening bell
And after that the dark!"

A twilight on words and Beauty? Does "Beauty" even make sense if meaning is given by the hearer? My head lifts in hope: yes. Words have objective meaning. Poetry and prose intend what the author seeks to convey.

Long after darkness falls, grey meets the East. Light streaks along the horizon, licking the clouds like a tongue of flame with vibrant oranges, reds, and dazzling golds. Yes! The sun rises after the dark.

I am a keeper of words, a teacher of language. They will LIVE. Another will rise up to take my place, to excel me when I have crossed the bar.

~ Johanna