Friday, March 30, 2012

The goal of matured being

A flower that stops short at its flowering misses its purpose. We were created for more than our own spiritual development; reproduction, not mere development, is the goal of matured being—reproduction in other lives.
Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross

(Note: Lilias Trotter did not have biological children of her own — that is not her meaning here, though obviously that could well be encompassed in it.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A blossom in the desert

Today I am quite excited, after the arrival of a mail package containing a book. I have long been interested in the life and work of Lilias Trotter, after being introduced to her through the writings of Elisabeth Elliot as a teenager. And I have long wanted her book A Blossom in the Desert (you can read Noel Piper writing about this book here). So, recently I took splurged and ordered it (it was not such a big splurge), and today it arrived.

If you don’t know the story of Lilias Trotter, she was a very talented artist living in England in the 19th Century. Through her art she became acquainted with John Rushkin (artist, critic, social philosopher and prominent figure of Victorian England), who believed “she would be the greatest living painter and do things that would be immortal” (and her contemporary disciples of Rushkin included Millais, Dante Rossetti, Holman Hunt (these three were members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) and Ford Maddox Brown). Yet she gave up a life devoted to art, and instead worked firstly with the fledgling YWCA in London, then went as a missionary to Algeria in North Africa to reach the Arab people with "the light of the knowledge of God, in the face of Christ". In her book Parables of the Cross (I included a copy of this in my splurge as I don't own in) she writes "The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one - the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God-blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake".

During her 40 years in Algeria she continued to paint, and while not perhaps what they might have been had she devoted herself to the art, her works are beautiful, and through her sketching and paintings of the world around her she often expresses what God has been teaching her about himself. (As a lover of nature her way of observing and writing lights my fire.) Together with her journals they document the seasons of her life in Algeria. (She also published many little devotional books.)

It’s hard to get your hands on her work these days, but I would like to track down more of it. This book is more like an introduction to her writings and artworks. I’m a little disappointed with its design and layout, as it looks a bit cheesy, like one of those coffee-table/gift books with inspirational verses in it. I’d prefer a larger book with a sparser layout of her artworks and text (the pages are busy and there is far too much decorative sort of background happening!), but I do look forward to reading through it. I own and have read Lilias Trotter's biography called Until the day breaks, by Patricia M St John, but that was so long ago now I might need to revisit it.

You might see more of Lilias Trotter's reflections appearing here. (You can also read this fascinating article I have linked before called Lilias Trotter and the Language Nobody Knows.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I am now making

Someone needs to come and talk to me next time I decide that making rugs as gifts is a good idea. They really are a wee bit too time-consuming for this stage in my life. I do enjoy my crochet, but the time that it displaces at home is most likely to otherwise be reading time, and that is not a good thing when I embark on big projects to be done in short time periods of time. But, here is another rug for another niece. (I have another two nieces to go, then I am calling it quits on rugs!)

This niece likes purple, thus the colour choice. I am not so happy with that lighter pinkish purple, as it is not quite the right shade and I find it a bit clashy with the medium purple and the two paler colours a little drab, but I think the mix up and a little colour twang adds to the slightly retro look in the end. Otherwise it might be all too bright and predictable. Originally I had the two darker purples and the green and white, then I added in the two paler colours from an ebay mixed bag (supposed to be the same wool, but I have my doubts).

This niece is a groovy sort of soon-to-be teenager. I am making this as a granny stripe, as I thought that might look a little more "modern". I am enjoying this method of just moseying along making it up as I go (and the fact that I won't have all those squares to join up at the end). I didn't think that this niece's upcoming birthday is her 13th though, and she might not appreciate a crochet rug for her 13th, so I shall ponder that.

I snapped these pictures on the couch on the weekend, then uploaded them and decided they are duds, but here is a little glimpse of this latest project (the dark purple looks almost black, but is indeed purple).


Monday, March 26, 2012

The introvert phenomenon

For all I have an interest in temperament type and psychological concerns, I have never read a book on being an introvert. But I did read this article in the Guardian the other day, thanks to a random twitter link, which claims that it is the most important aspect of “personality”. I then discovered that the article is an excerpt from a book I have seen about and read reviewed by Austin Kleon here (and I think it’s so nice that he is interested in introverts, though an extrovert himself, because he is married to one). There's also a TED talk here.

I can't remember what my percentage was on the introvert/extravert scale when I did the test, and don't feel particularly burdened by being an introvert. That said I certainly do think the “extravert ideal” is alive and well, and I do recall feeling the introvert burden more at school (but isn't everything more difficult as a teenager?). I made the very big mistake of electing to do Drama in Years 9 and 10, then suffered for it. I still remember the day the teacher arranged an exercise where a sneeze was started by one person in the classroom very softly and as it went around the room it had to get louder and more dramatic with each person, and she deliberately did some convoluted configuration so that it ended with me. (And thanks to the clowns who came before me it was building up to something crazy.) That folks is NOT MY THING. And these days I am fine with that. If other people want to act out raucous sneezes to further their education, good for them. So, I was interested to read this part:
Or at school you might have been prodded to come "out of your shell" – that noxious expression that fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same.
Though I am not sure it's about carrying around a shelter, as though hiding or self-protection were the point. I think introverts can make themselves as truly vulnerable as anyone, in areas where it matters most (which I don't deem is performance sneezes). Truth is, I think I am quite sociable and conversational, and not traditionally shy (and I would agree with those who say that shyness can be selfishness, if it means you are leaving it to others to do the hard work in social situations). And I am not convinced that there is any difference in the quality of relationships held by extraverts and intraverts. So I liked this quote too:
A few things introverts are not: the word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly.
Anyway, I am not sure that this post has a point, but to say that I might read the book (I'll add it to the long list). As with all efforts to understand thyself I think the goal should be becoming aware of your weaknesses and strengths and improving what you can, not necessarily just revelling and indulging in all that you are. Whether or not this books aids that, I shall perhaps see.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My name up in pastry

I've just come in from a lovely and somewhat spontaneous dinner with a family up the road with four sweet little children, and I got my name on the top of the pie. Can you see it? Maybe I should make this a find-a-word.


So I did what you do when you have good things to eat and saved it for last.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Suspended

I don’t seem to be coming up with anything to post lately excepting poetry. But the other day when I came upon the CPX selection of poetry, I was captured by the poem Suspended, by Denise Levertov (though there are also some favourites in there from George Herbert, John Donne, Gerard Manley-Hopkins, TS Eliot). I am rather partial to remembering the verse from Deuteronomy 33:37 myself, which says:
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
so I was especially taken with that reference.

I also appreciated Simon Smart’s introduction to the poem, so perhaps I shall copy it here. (I do appreciate those with the security to acknowledge what's difficult in this road we walk, yet remain unwaveringly steadfast all the same.)
I once heard someone describe Christian ‘Joy’ as “a defiant nevertheless“. Profound hope in the face of life’s all too real and present tragedies, disappointments and sorrows. This poem by Denise Levertov seems to connect with something along those lines and I find it very moving. Many believers describe the Christian journey as experiencing the ‘absence’ of God as much as his presence. And yet, the same people often attest to a deep sense that, even in their darkest moments, God has not let them go.

Picture from here.

Suspended
- Denise Levertov

I had grasped God's garment in the void
But my hand slipped
On the rich silk of it.
The 'everlasting arms' my sister loved to remember
Must have upheld my leaden weight
From falling, even so,
For though I claw at empty air and feel
Nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummeted.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CPX celebrates poetry

The Centre for Public Christianity celebrates World Poetry Day with some selections. Enjoy!

World Poetry Day

So, today it is apparently World Poetry Day. Who knew? It is "to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world". This is a cause we are pleased to support here at Something This Foggy Day. Choosing a poem was the difficult task. I could deliberate on this all day. But I fell to remembering some favourites, and it has been nearly three years since this one featured, so I have decided to post it again. This is a poem, by CS Lewis, that entered straight into my inner sanctum of poems.

Picture from here.

As the Ruin Falls

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love—a scholar's parrot may talk Greek—
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

C.S. Lewis

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A lovely second-hand find

Since I have been posting some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets and poems lately, let me share with you a beautiful thing. Yesterday I went to Berkelouw Bookshop for a chai tea and to finish the never-ending novel. Yes, drum roll, I actually finished Romola by George Eliot. I was determined to get there. But as I was leaving the bookshop I just did a quick customary scan of the poetry shelf, and I spied this little gold sleeve lying across the top of the shelves, and thought, oh what is in that mysterious box? So, I turned it around, and the story is told in pictures below. Inside the front cover was scrawled the loveliest thing. I already have a nice copy of this book, but I couldn't leave this one behind. And now I shall wait for the right moment to decide what to do with it.





Saturday, March 17, 2012

Poetry Day - That Day

Here's another poem for a Saturday by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I think what I most like about this one is the metre and rhythm. It sings along as good old-fashioned poetry does.

Picture from here.

THAT DAY
- by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I

I stand by the river where both of us stood,
And there is but one shadow to darken the flood;
And the path leading to it, where both used to pass,
Has the step but of one, to take dew from the grass,--
One forlorn since that day.

II

The flowers of the margin are many to see;
None stoops at my bidding to pluck them for me.
The bird in the alder sings loudly and long:
For my low sound of weeping disturbs not his song,
As thy vow did that day.

III

I stand by the river, I think of the vow;
Oh, calm as the place is, vow-breaker, be thou!
I leave the flower growing, the bird, unreproved:
Would I trouble thee, rather than them, my beloved,--
And my lover that day?

IV

Go! be sure of my love, by that treason forgiven;
Of my prayers, by the blessings they win thee from heaven;
Of my grief (guess the length of the sword by the sheath's)
By the silence of life, more pathetic than death's!
Go,--be clear of that day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reading about humility

I started reading Humility by CJ Mahaney last night. One of the things I admire about my church minister is his humility (there’s some sort of contradiction in that I know). For all his intelligence, gifts, and apparent “success” in ministry, he remains humble and seems to have no desire to have his own name known – he just quietly goes about the Lord’s work in his patch.

A couple of weeks ago he and his wife had all the bible study leaders around for dinner, to talk about our groups and how they were going and we then had some discussion on the topic of pride, based on a list we’d all been sent of the ways pride can manifest itself. This was quite convicting and working through the list I thought, wow, pride really is a subtle and multi-faceted beast. Then we were all given a copy of this book to read before our next meeting. I’ve only just begun and I am already convicted on the same point and on my own oblivion towards my sin and rooting it out. Here’s a short quote:
The sad fact is that none of us are immune to the logic-defying, blinding effects of pride. Though it shows up in different forms and to differing degrees, it infects us all. The real issue here is not if pride exists in your heart; it’s where pride exists and how pride is being expressed in your life. Scripture shows us that pride is strongly and dangerously rooted in all our lives, far more than most of us care to admit or even think about.
The rest of this book could be painful.

On submission

One of the best things I gleaned from John Woodhouse’s talk at the Priscilla and Aquilla Conference on 1 Tim 2:8-15 (towards the end of the first audio) was this definition of submission:
Christian believers are called to recognise, acknowledge and welcome the responsibilities God has given to others for our welfare.
I actually used in on a handout for our bible study group on Romans 13:1-7, on submitting to the authorities, because it's useful in all contexts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Violet

I have nothing to say, so, how about some pictures of my littlest niece. She's the cutesiest, smilingest, rolly-polly-est ever. I say my sister does "extreme kids". The first one was extremely good, the second one was extremely, um, bad (he's a little difficult, but we just won't talk about that - as my sister says 'he's lucky he's so cute') and then comes the baby that lies around smiling at everyone all day.




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Poetry for Sunday

I meant to post this earlier, but here is a portion of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese for the weekend. I particularly like these sonnets.


XXXIX

Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul's true face,
The dim and weary witness of life's race,---
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul's distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,---because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God's infliction, nor death's neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,---
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!

XL

Oh, yes! they love through all this world of ours!
I will not gainsay love, called love forsooth.
I have heard love talked in my early youth,
And since, not so long back but that the flowers
Then gathered, smell still. Mussulmans and Giaours
Throw kerchiefs at a smile, and have no ruth
For any weeping. Polypheme's white tooth
Slips on the nut if, after frequent showers,
The shell is over-smooth,---and not so much
Will turn the thing called love, aside to hate
Or else to oblivion. But thou art not such
A lover, my Belovèd! thou canst wait
Through sorrow and sickness, to bring souls to touch,
And think it soon when others cry 'Too late.'

XLI

I thank all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine. Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart's
Or temple's occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice's sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art's
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To hearken what I said between my tears, . . .
Instruct me how to thank thee! Oh, to shoot
My soul's full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, and salute
Love that endures, from Life that disappears!

Sonnets from the Portuguese
- Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

Friday, March 09, 2012

More on 1 Tim 2:8-15

I have been listening to these two talks on 1 Tim 2:8-15 given by John Woodhouse at the Priscilla and Aquila conference early in February (I had vaguely contemplated attending this conference, when I received a brochure in the mail, then forgot about it till it was over), just for something more on this passage, which didn’t especially differ in ideas or conclusions from the earlier talk I linked, but said some things differently.

One more injury update

I went back to the physio yesterday, my core is apparently “stable”, and she has given me clearance to run. Hoorah! Only three sessions a week, at intervals, but that shall do for now, then I might become a rebel. I reminded her that years ago a physio told me I had a slight rotation in the pelvis, that I have basically been living with it, running on it, and didn’t expect it to be completely fixed. But she gave me this look and said “it doesn’t have to be that way”. So, maybe I will come out of this better than ever. I have been doing weird exercises for core muscles (apparently these can switch off with pain, and you have to make sure they’re all switched on again) – muscles which are neither your six-pack abs or your pelvic floor (those are good) but muscles buried under there, which don’t actually move anything. It’s interesting. So, this weekend I am going to see if I can still remember how to run.

(And that is all I could come up with on this Friday.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My great-grandmother's crochet

Yesterday I received a parcel in the mail, and in it was some crochet work done by my great-grandmother. It's so fine and intricate and neat and beautiful. It was quite something just to hold it and to think of this woman, whom I never met but who is the reason I know how to crochet myself, making it with her hands.

Here are some photos. I want to frame the larger square one in the middle (the smaller square at the bottom has a stain on it towards the right, which I am going to try to remove).








Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Earth's crammed with heaven

I missed the fact that yesterday was the birth date of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, writer of some of the most beautiful poems ever written. So, here is one of the more famous portions from her poetic novel Aurora Leigh. If you get a little lost in the middle portion, just skip on down more towards the end, to the oft-quoted lines, beginning "Earth's crammed with heaven ...". This portion is a marvelous piece of writing on creation (calling to mind Romans 1:20) and art and on being a two-fold person in a two-fold world.

Picture from here.

From ‘Aurora Leigh’
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

TRUTH, so far, in my book;—the truth which draws
Through all things upwards,—that a twofold world
Must go to a perfect cosmos. Natural things
And spiritual,—who separates those two
In art, in morals, or the social drift
Tears up the bond of nature and brings death,
Paints futile pictures, writes unreal verse,
Leads vulgar days, deals ignorantly with men,
Is wrong, in short, at all points. We divide
This apple of life, and cut it through the pips,—
The perfect round which fitted Venus’ hand
Has perished as utterly as if we ate
Both halves. Without the spiritual, observe,
The natural’s impossible,—no form,
No motion: without sensuous, spiritual
Is inappreciable,—no beauty or power:
And in this twofold sphere the twofold man
(For still the artist is intensely a man)
Holds firmly by the natural, to reach
The spiritual beyond it,—fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,—better call the real,
And certain to be called so presently
When things shall have their names. Look long enough
On any peasant’s face here, coarse and lined,
You’ll catch Antinous somewhere in that clay,
As perfect featured as he yearns at Rome
From marble pale with beauty; then persist,
And, if your apprehension’s competent,
You’ll find some fairer angel at his back,
As much exceeding him as he the boor,
And pushing him with empyreal disdain
For ever out of sight. Aye, Carrington
Is glad of such a creed: an artist must,
Who paints a tree, a leaf, a common stone
With just his hand, and finds it suddenly
A-piece with and conterminous to his soul.
Why else do these things move him, leaf, or stone?
The bird’s not moved, that pecks at a spring-shoot;
Nor yet the horse, before a quarry, a-graze:
But man, the twofold creature, apprehends
The twofold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him,
A mere itself,—cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And built up to eterne significance
Through the open arms of God. ‘There’s nothing great
Nor small’, has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin’s bell:
And truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Babyteeth at the Belvoir

So I went and saw Babyteeth at the Belvoir Theatre last night, once again the lucky beneficiary of my friend’s Mum’s patronage of the Arts. Oh my. It was raw and gritty and all of those things, and the imagination had no work to do. And I mean none. Seated in the second front row, I saw more than I expected to see. No previous plays I have watched have come close for graphic portrayal. And there is a sense in which I find that something of a shame in live theatre, because one of the things I usually appreciate about theatre is the way it attempts to allude to things occurring, without necessarily having to show you (otherwise it becomes more like a movie, only shot in a very small space). I also did sit there thinking ‘I mustn’t get out much’ as much of what was portrayed was a way of living that is foreign to me, but then, perhaps the vast majority of people get more of their “experience” of others’ way of life from films, books etc, than from their own actual engagement with it, and that is one of the purposes of Art in the first place. So, now I know, more than I used to know. And that is most of the reason I appreciate going to see plays also.

Essentially it is a play about how badly, very badly, people cope with impending death and grief. There’s an agitation and anxiety pervading the characters that is wretched to watch. Then you come to realise that each of the characters is relying on drugs, in one way or another, in their various forms, to cope. Distressing. I also found the ending, or resolution, somewhat unsatisfying and rather cliché as it turned to watching clouds in the sky and the outlet of music as means of expressing grief and believing that life goes on in some form (and rather than the wife finding a way to relate to her husband in their mutual grief, she goes elsewhere to play her music – but perhaps that just added to the portrayal of how ineptly they found a way to come to terms with their situation and support each other). Similarly, it was rather predictable that the main character’s persistent left-over baby tooth falls out, then she has sex. It’s not something new to closely link ‘sexual awakening’ with ‘coming of age’ or growing up, and I’d actually appreciate seeing something more original and complex about all that is involved in the progress to adulthood.

Babyteeth was interesting and engaging, and I was pleased to see it, and the tears ran down my face, and I thought the acting was superb (those are brave people!) but I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend this one. I have seen more thoughtful and nuanced treatments of similar ideas, without the actuality of it being quite so visually explicit (and my friend, who frequents a whole lot more plays than I do, was not so impressed).

(One thing I found curious about the evening was how disconcerted I felt by other members of the audience facing me. I did get really quite emotional in parts of the play, but rather than being at the movies, where  everyone is sitting in darkness facing the same direction and you are able to have your own personal and semi-private response, in these little semi-circle theatres there’s a public element to your expression and a kind of restrained embarrassment. In some ways it’s more of a communal event in that way, for good or bad. And you know what else, when the show was over and all the characters came out on stage to bow, I sat there with eyes shining looking at them all in appreciation, then realised, to my horror, that everyone else in the audience was clapping fervently, and I was sitting there in the second row, with my hands in my lap, not clapping. Not at all because I didn’t want to applaud the play or the acting, but just because I was otherwise lost in my own appreciation and that was not my instinctual way to show it, somewhat to my surprise. (Let that be a hint to those who think some of us are somehow repressed because we don’t raise our arms in church – when some things are simply not a means that comes naturally to some as a way of showing appreciation or expressing emotion. Though, having said that, I accept that when it comes to applause, it's a fairly basic cultural norm for appreciating a performance – what that says about arm elevation in church, I don't know.))

Monday, March 05, 2012

Yarnbombing reaches new heights

I've shared a few pictures of yarnbombing on this blog before, but this, this, takes it all to a whole new level. The word 'exquisite' is suffering from overuse, but this really is, don't you think? (It looks in places like it might be a composite of old doilies joined together, but the overall effect is quite lovely.) This finer kind of crochet hasn't made so much of a comeback as yet (though you do see doilies added to other things or turned into bunting etc), but perhaps it shall ... My Mum recently rescued some of my great-grandmother's crochet for me (my Nanna was going to throw it away!) after this fashion so I look forward to receiving it.

From File Tag Ville (yes there's yarn bombing facebook page!)

On the co-leading of bible studies

So, this could be one of those posts that touches things that are a little sensitive, though perhaps not so much to those who read this blog (not that I know who many of you are, though). But, the thing I wanted to talk to my minister about (and I hadn't managed a chat in passing at church earlier so we arranged a time to discuss it) was about women leading mixed bible studies, and what exactly was the church “line” on this. I am from that far end of the spectrum that had something of a question mark over whether or not and how this should be done, but in conversation with a couple of others from the congregation at church I realised that they were at the other far end of the spectrum and didn’t see a problem with women preaching in church (and that became an awkward awkward conversation, but I knew that their views wouldn’t be representative of the leadership of the church I attend) so, I was just after some clarity on how exactly the church viewed the whole thing, as I am co-leading a bible study this year, and have “lead” (or facilitated, as I prefer to call it) the study once so far.

In preparation for this catch up I listened to a sermon my minister preached on 1 Tim 2:8-15 (after the women’s pastor suggested this). I found this so excellent, that I am sharing it here. I was going to type up some of the notes I took on this, but as Paul Dale says in the sermon, he sticks more closely to his own notes for this particular sermon in case people think they hearing him saying things he didn’t say, so I’ve decided that if I don’t write it out verbatim, perhaps I shouldn’t give you bits, in case some of it is shared and misrepresented (and I don't especially wish to start a conversation on this topic apart from this sermon). But, if you find this of relevance, do yourself a favour and listen to this sermon, where this passage is handled so very well. I was encouraged by the position given and how it is reached, and with what is said about women in mixed bible study groups near the end (and there's even some discussion on the women and childbearing verse!).

One busy night in church

I spent the last weekend quite entirely by myself, before going to church yesterday, trying not to get too depressed over life's disappointments*, but I kept coming back to some of the things I posted about during last week, so much so that I knew we were up to a week where we’d have a time of open encouragement at church, so I decided I was going to share it. And, boy, did I let them have it. I shared with everybody Paul Tripp, Psalm 84 vs 11, Charles Spurgeon and the Westminster Confession (or Puritan catechism – how many names does that document have?). I might have been a little OTT. And I might have spoken a wee bit too fast in my flustered nervousness and self-consciousness of having perhaps too much to say. But half a dozen people or so came to speak to me about this afterwards, so that I was glad I had shared in the end.

The other factor with it all was that I was also meeting up with our pastor before church to talk about something specific (that shall be another post) and had listened to a podcast sermon a couple of times in preparation for that, then I was on ProPresenter at church (gone are the days of Power Point) and also on bible reading and the pastor wanted to interview me before I read the bible on what it means to belong to church. So, I set off around 3 pm in the afternoon with such a head full of different things, I thought I might be doing well if I could say the right things in the right place or remember any of it. Then I was trotting up and down the church aisle (which feels interminably long when you are trying to get to the front from the back) in the middle of church from the computer at the back to the microphone up the front. When I hit the last slide button I felt quite relieved.

*I am not usually so pathetic on weekends, but after going away last weekend, feeling tired all week (and there are so many bugs of various sorts going around at work it's a wonder I've avoided them all) I didn't have the wherewithal to initiate anything social. But tonight I am off to the theatre with a friend, just to make my life look sophisticated and interesting.

Friday, March 02, 2012

This gentle, weeping rain

It rather suits my mood to be walking around in the rain this week. And it calls to mind certain lines of poetry on rain:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven ...
-The Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare
There follows a mist and weeping rain
And life is never the same again.
-Phantastes
George MacDonald

If you have any poetry of rain to share, please do.