Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January 2023

January daffodils header
• January daffodils! Most people think of daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and flowering bulbs as harbingers of spring. [link to my Green Team talk from a few years ago.] I was a little surprised to wake up to this beautiful yellow display, and then I discovered I took almost the exact same picture almost exactly a year ago.

Urban Wilderness Lectionary Project for January. I've been adding a header photo or art to each post.

Epiphany Chalk House Blessing
• Epiphany House Blessing. During January 2021 I wrote about Epiphany / New Year Chalk House Blessings on Urban Wilderness. Paraphrased:
Blessing your house with chalk is a practice for New Year's Day, Epiphany, or any time. Chalk comes from the earth; it's a communication medium. Chalk can be part of play for almost any age. The inscription for this year is 20+C+M+B+23—the calendar year with CMB sandwiched in the middle. You can write above the door, beside the door, on the door, vertical or horizontal. You can bless the main entrance and/or separate rooms. If you have an office, workshop, or studio outside your home, you can bless those, too. We blessed the three doors that go inside from outside as well as each separate room.

CMB can stand for traditional magi names Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, or it can be initials for Christus Mansionem Benedicat / May Christ Bless this House. Although Latin "house" is similar to English mansion for a huge dwelling or manse for the pastor's house, it doesn't imply large.
mid-January succulents
• Mid-January succulents

January daffodils small picture with California
Living Local 2023

Friday, January 20, 2023

Five Minute Friday :: Doubt

doubt faith illustration against urban flower neighborhood mural

Five Minute Friday :: Doubt Linkup

Philosophers and theologians like to remind us faith or belief (trust) and doubt (not trusting) form a bonded pair that can't be separated. We know faith as a gift of the Spirit, yet it's in spite of the existence of doubt. In memorable and memorizable form, Martin Luther's famous explanation to the Holy Christ/Sanctification third article of the Apostle's Creed in his Small Catechism reminds us it's all gift, all grace:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth… This is most certainly true.

All that is good and it's important. That it gives life on many levels is most certainly true. But my most recent doubts have been about not believing my life ever would reweave organically again. Actually? Because of too much experience and countless tries to recreate a world of meaning, purpose, and service to others, I still doubt it's possible. Not that believing everything you see and hear ever is wise, not that refusal to keep on keepin' on is a bad idea, but few events and outcomes are particularly random or unintended.

Look around! Look at yourself! How much of your family's, friends', or your own overall situation can be credited to careful planning, hard work, and capturing (sometimes closely related, sometimes at right angles to expectations) surprising opportunities that seem to fall out of the sky? A total carpe diem lifestyle almost always yields good fruit. But I've done all that and I still doubt!

I've done all that and still have serious doubts because community support is such a major piece of life-restoring and sustaining results. Where's this FMF headed? Where is my life headed?

Please stay tuned. Okay?
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five minute friday doubt photograph
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Saturday, January 14, 2023

Five Minute Friday :: Receive

the word receive with five unwrapped holiday gifts
First FMF of this new year!

Five Minute Friday :: Receive Linkup

From Gian-Carlo Menotti's Ahmal and the Night Visitors:

The child we seek holds the seas and the winds on his palm.
The child we seek has the moon and the stars at his feet.
Before him, the eagle is gentle the lion is meek.

On love, on love alone will he build his kingdom…
His might will not be built on your toil.
Swifter than lightning he will soon walk among us.
He will bring us new life and receive our death.
And the keys to his city belong to the poor.

The Child will bring us new life and receive our death.

People may offer us a gift of a birthday present, a compliment, their presence, a little more time (name yours!), but the gift isn't complete until we receive it. In many cases that means no action on our part; some times to receive a gift is simply not to refuse it, but we frequently need to unwrap it to find out what it is and to use the gift. Humans have been known to say "exchange gifts," but as one of my professors pointed out, an exchange (money for something, bartering this item I have for that one you have, any quid pro quo) is perfectly legitimate and necessary in a developed market economy because we're not hunter-gatherers… but a gift is something else.

The late Richard Farina wrote the song "Pack up your Sorrows."
If somehow you could pack up your sorrows,
And give them all to me,
You would lose them, I know how to use them,
Give them all to me.

In the world of music, Christ-figures are fairly familiar. Think about James Taylor singing "Handyman," "You've Got a Friend," "Shower the People You Love," "Up on the Roof."

Jesus receives our sorrow, disappointment, devastation, and grief as a gift and we receive life in return as a gift from him. How about us? Can we receive another's pain, problems, and troubles as gifts and return new life? Not because we expect to get, but because we love to give?

• Please check out my blog for 15 January / Epiphany 2 for a little more about this.

five minute friday receive
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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Harris & Copland: 3rd Symphonies

Copland, Symphony #3; Harris, Symphony #3

Copland, Harris Symphonies CD Copland, Harris Symphonies CD back

With trilingual liner notes in English, German, and French along with strikingly bright cover art featuring a DC-2 hovering above a horse-drawn stagecoach, this recording of two classic American symphonic standards is well-prepped for export! For both pieces Neeme Järvi conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It's fair to say Roy Harris' Symphony No. 3 in one movement and five parts is an icon of twentieth century American music, and especially given that the final, 4th movement of Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 is a version of his "Fanfare for the Common Man," his third symphony isn't far behind in the category of iconic.

Basically I like the orchestra's playing under Maestro Neeme Järvi, who served as DSO Music Director from 1990 through the end of the 2004-2005 season. However, at times the music simply sits there, so in general I'd like to feel a greater sense of the narrative moving along and greater passion shaping the phrases. Not surprisingly, the luminous sound of the Chandos recording is a joy to the ears! Do I recommend this CD? Definitely! It will give you another perspective on a pair of major orchestral works that are among my very favorites, and maybe yours, as well.

my amazon review: solid performances, clear sound