Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday: Resurrection Joy!

I have been reading about an Easter Sunday tradition in Wales:

In one village "the people used to gather on Easter morning 'to see the sun dance and play in the water and the angels who were at the Resurrection playing backwards and forwards before the sun.' They were not serving any useful purpose, ... they were not there for healing - they were at play, and in their dancing and playing they touched something in each of the onlookers:

To and fro went the wings, to and fro
over the water, playing before the sun.
The people had no words to tell
the astonishment, the individual bounty -
for each his own dance in the veins.
brush of wings on the soul."

May we also experience Easter joy as we contemplate the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus - a reminder that resurrection from the dead is God's will for us all!

(Quote taken from To Pause at the Threshold, p. 61. The poem fragment by Welsh poet, Ruth Bidgood)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday (A Poem)

I love this day
of silent waiting
when fasting is over,
but feasting not begun,
when pain is past,
but flesh not quickened.
This is where we live,

this human place,
waiting before the cave
in the tarnished garden
where it all began
and ended
to begin anew,
we hope,
Nobody can be sure
what will happen next.

(From a poem by Bonnie Thurston, found in To Pause at the Threshold, p. 79)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rabbits in the Snow

One of the advantages of snow on the ground is that it allows us to see animals that would otherwise be camouflaged... like these frisky wild rabbits in our back yard.

The snow pile (seen below) that one is sitting on is higher than the nearby picnic table seen in the left! And the rabbit blends into the hedge's colors.

The mound of snow looks so big!

But part of it was shoveled off the roof!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Story: Judgment of Jesus

Years ago, I visited a excavated site in the Old City of Jerusalem that was possibly the Pavement of Gabbatha mentioned in the account of the trial of Jesus prior to his crucifixion.  I thought of that visit when I recently read an interesting comment by Willian Barclay:

"The scene comes to an end by saying that Pilate brought Jesus out... [at] the Pavement of Gabbatha - ... the... pavement of marble mosaic - and sat upon the judgment seat... Now the verb for to sit [in Greek] ... may mean to sit down oneself, or to seat another. Just possibly it means here that Pilate with one last mocking gesture brought Jesus out, clad in the terrible finery of the old purple robe and with his forehead girt with the crowns of thorns and the drops of blood that the thorns had wakened, and set him on the judgment seat."

This version of the incident is apparently found in several ancient texts. Barclay goes on to say:

"The apocryphal Gospel of Peter says that in the mockery, they set Jesus on the seat of judgment, and said, 'Judge justly, King of Israel.' Justin Martyr too says that " they set Jesus on the judgment seat and said, 'Give judgment for us.' It may be that Pilate jestingly caricatured Jesus as judge. If that is so, what dramatic irony is there. That which was a mockery was the truth; and one day those who had mocked Jesus as judge would meet him as judge - and would remember.

"So in this dramatic trial scene, we see the immutable majesty, the undaunted courage and the serene acceptance of the Cross of Jesus. Never was he so regal as when men did their worst to humiliate him."

(The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of John, Volume 2 pages 245-6)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Change of Scene

It's been a long, snowy winter...

Time for a change of scene!

On Monday Terry and I headed south via the back roads to the St. Lawrence River seaway... and a quick shopping trip across the border.

 We wondered if the seaway valley would have as much snow as we do...

 They seem to have a little less.

 I always enjoy seeing the lovely old churches that were built a hundred or more years ago.

 These were in Cardinal and Morrisburg, the home of "Upper Canada Village" - a tourist village of historic old buildings that give a sense of Ontario's past. Many were taken from the land that was flooded to create the seaway.

I was happy to see that - although our snow was far from gone - ships were sailing on the seaway, and Canada geese were optimistic enough about the arrival of spring that they were flying north!

 We heard their welcome honking in the sky - and at times were able to see them, too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Price War!

"I wish I knew how much money to bring with me when I go to fill up with gas," one of my students commented a few years back. "Gas prices fluctuate as much as the weather around here."

They do - which is why many of us keep a daily lookout for a sudden (temporary) drop. (There is even a website dedicated to keeping up with our ever-changing gas prices! Terry checks it regularly.)

Gas price wars aren't new... but haircut wars?!! I could hardly believe it when this coupon arrived at our door a few days ago...

A haircut for $4.99?! I'll definitely be checking it out!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cloth Chess Board

I bought an large wooden chess set years ago, but never used it because the over-sized pieces were too big for any of our checker boards. What to do? Eventually I decided to make a large fabric chess-board that could fold up when not in use. (The other part of the idea was to create a cloth carrier case - with compartments for the chess pieces. But I never got started on that part of the project!)

Recently digging through all my brown and beige fabric scraps, I found this almost-completed cloth game board... and finished it!

A few days later, I noticed that the Martha Stewart website has an idea for painting a checker board on canvas. That would be fun, too! (And probably a lot less work!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Practicing Silence

Several of the books I am currently reading are converging on a similar idea: the value of practicing times of silence. In a recent book the Path of Life, Benedictine monk Cyprian Smith talks of sitting silently when he feels overwhelmed or discouraged. Another contemporary, Richard Foster, a Quaker theologian, (in Sanctuary of the Soul) as well as seventeenth-century wife and mother Madam Jeanne Guyon (in Experiencing God Through Prayer) describe ways in which they practice silent meditation to counter the busyness of life.

(Was life stressful and busy four hundred years ago as well? I thought our generation had invented stress!)

Maybe quiet reflection has always been a rare practice! Seventeenth-century French theologian and writer Francois Fenelon (quoted in Sanctuary of the Soul) explains: "God does not cease speaking, but the noise of the creatures without, and of our passion within, deafens us, and stops our hearing. We must silence every creature, we must silence ourselves, to hear in the deep hush of the whole soul, the ineffable [indescribable] voice... We must bend the ear because it is a gentle and delicate voice, only heard by those who no longer hear anything else."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baby Shower

I don't attend many baby showers these days...

So it was fun to celebrate with fellow blogger, Kendra...

An avid crafter, she used to host a monthly craft night ("Yums and Yarns") that brought women of all ages together. We would bring a portable project we were currently working on.

 There were a few moms there with babies...

A few of us had memories of being a mom with a baby!

And others weren't there yet!

The food was amazing!

(We should have tea parties more often!)

 A fun time for all!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Our First Day of "Spring"

It has been a long, snowy winter - and yesterday (our official "first day of spring") brought ... more snow!

The weatherman reminds us that a year ago people were walking outdoors without jackets and snow boots, some even donning shorts!

Terry - who does most of the shoveling - is ready to put away the shovels and the snow blower, and move on...

Even I - who survive winter by diverting myself with art and quilting - am ready to spend time outdoors in a world of green, not white, again!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sisterhood of St. John the Divine Convent Toronto

One of the reasons I traveled to Toronto was to attend a workshop on "Sacred Time" given by Kathleen Norris, an author whose books I discovered about two years ago.

The workshop was held at an Anglican (Episcopalian) convent, the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, located in a north-eastern suburb of Toronto.

I spent two nights at the convent, a large bright residence full of windows and surrounded by gardens and trees.

It was not my first convent stay, but it was my most relaxing one. I spent two weekends at a historic old convent in Ottawa attending Cursillo conferences some years back.

This time there was a lot more free time to read, sleep or go for walks. (A Cursillo weekend is a busy event!)

Another difference was that meal times were silent.

Nobody talked, though some pulled out books or magazines to read after eating. Eating my first meal in the silent dining room, I was particularly aware of how good the food tasted! (When I eat and talk, the food is often forgotten!)

The sleeping area was also a non-talking zone, which made for a sense of peace. I found myself sleeping better - and longer - than I have for years, a good reason to return!

We were free to join the nuns at their three daily chapel services.

It was a beautiful, relaxing place to be!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Exploring Toronto

One of the fun aspects of visiting Toronto - for me - is being able to spend time with my two kids who live there.

They invariably introduce me to new restaurants -and places to shop...

... like Sadie's, a small cafe that serves breakfast all day.

There was no snow on the ground, so we kept walking... wandering over to Kensington market...

... an outdoor food market in the downtown area...

... to buy ground coffee beans at Moonbean Coffee Company.

Later, on my own, I explored the Trinity-Bellwoods park neighborhood, near where my daughter works.

Visiting Toronto always means putting on my walking shoes - and exploring.

I never know what I'll see!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Toronto's St. Lawrence Market

One of my favorite Toronto places is St. Lawrence Market in the heart of downtown.

Others must like it too!

One building is a Saturday Farmer's Market.

Across the street, a larger market is open daily, Tuesdays to Saturdays.

I wandered through some of my favorite areas, and perused the fresh produce...

(Rhubarb?! It must be spring somewhere in southern Ontario! Or is this greenhouse grown?)

I always find chocolate and baked goods hard to resist!

And pasta making is so fascinating ...

I just had to buy some fresh pasta...

... before moving on to discover more of Toronto's downtown sights and sounds.