Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mercy and the Brontës

Connections @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We read the ‘Who's That Writer?’ section in our vocab book during Symposium. Emily Brontë! That's the author of the poem we've been memorizing! I mentioned that I 'strongly dislike' Wuthering Heights. Levi said, “Hey, that's the book that a character in High House quotes constantly” (and then found the book and quoted the quotes). I mentioned that I much prefer Jane Eyre by Charlotte. But of course, we have a book about that. “We should read more about the Brontës today...”

This was my "keep your eye on the low branches and look for kingfishers" of the day, filled with arguments and frustration.

:: Watching for Kingfishers: Moments of Mercy on the Odyssey of a School Year by Heidi White @ CiRCE

"I thought about school years, and watching for mercy. Anybody can passively wait for goodness, as I was waiting for our vacation to transform itself into a refreshing experience. But watching is different than waiting. Watching is active. It implies concentration. To watch means to pay attention."

This reminds me of the tiny glimpses of mercy in the stories of Flannery O'Connor. Barely perceptible, unless you're watching, unless you're paying attention.

Mary Oliver gives us “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

You cannot be astonished if you are not paying attention.

And if you are astonished, share the wonder.

It’s that simple.

[Clearly we were having trouble keeping a straight face for this serious autumn poem…]

Friday, October 7, 2016

World Weary?

Nature Art @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I know I am.

Every day, every minute, I have to remind myself that this humble work of loving, nurturing, learning, teaching, home-making, celebrating is my calling.

I am not called to be a majority.

I am not called to win.

I am called to be faithful—faithful to the work set before me.

And God will be there.

In the midst of supper, of walking along a road, of real questions and real life.

In the midst of laundry and “woman’s work.”

As I grow, partake, observe, and worship…
In the garden, at the table, in the museum, and with the church.


It was a rough week. And a rough day.

I allowed outside cares to weigh on me. I argued with invisible people. I fought with the children. I forgot the important things.

While writing this post, I started to shoo away a child who was hurting and disappointed. Even while writing this post. How do I forget so quickly?

But I caught myself, and stopped. We snuggled on the couch and talked.

Now we are going to clean the house and make it lovely (because the house right now reflects the ugliness of the day).

We’ll light some candles. We’ll put on some music.

When Dad arrives home from his week-long business trip in an hour, we’ll greet him with hugs and smiles instead of mess and bickering.

We’ll play a family board game and ignore the to-do list.

We’ll feast as an act of war.

Will you join us?

:: Feasting as an Act of War by Andrew Peterson @ The Rabbit Room

"Sit down with your children and listen to them. Eat with them. Hug them. Teach them to tend a garden, placing your hands in the wounded yet life-giving earth. Stop doubting and believe. Look your daughter in the eye and tell her she is more beautiful than she could possibly imagine. Muster the courage to show up at church on Sunday. Make your home lovely. Commit to the slow work of shaping the world around you so that it looks like your best guess at what the Kingdom looks like."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Thunder of His Power Who Can Understand?

The Thunder of His Power @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We have been saying the Lord’s Prayer/Pater Noster in English and Latin during our morning symposium.

During my quiet time this past week I read the following:

In the Episcopal order of worship, the priest sometimes introduces the Lord’s Prayer with the words, “Now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say…” The word bold is worth thinking about. We do well not to pray the prayer lightly. It takes guts to pray it at all. We can pray it in the unthinking and perfunctory way we usually do only by disregarding what we are saying.

“Thy will be done” is what we are saying. That is the climax of the first half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to make manifest the holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint. “Thy kingdom come… on earth” is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who would be thrown the Hell out? Which if any of our most precious visions of what God is and of what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the mark and which would turn out to be phony as three-dollar bills? Boldness indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.

You need to be bold in another way to speak the second half. Give us. Forgive us. Don’t test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God’s, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours. We can do nothing without God. We can have nothing without God. Without God we are nothing.

It is only the words “Our Father” that can make the prayer bearable. If God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe we can risk approaching him anyway.

~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life


Later in the week I read this passage in Job during my quiet time:

Job 26:7-14 (NKJV)

7 He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
8 He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
9 He covers the face of His throne,
And spreads His cloud over it.
10 He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at His rebuke.
12 He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.
13 By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
14 Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways,
And how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?

Later again, while still reading Job during my morning quiet time, I read G.K. Chesterton’s essay The Book of Job from In Defense of Sanity. Much of this essay is underlined in my book, but we’ll start with this quote:

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

And Chesterton on the boldness (he calls it optimism) of Job:

Job is an optimist; he is an outraged and insulted optimist. He wishes the universe to justify itself, not because he wishes it to be caught out, but because he really wishes it to be justified.

…He shakes the pillars of the world and strikes insanely at the heaves; he lashes the stars, but it is not to silence them; it is to make them speak.

Thinking of Job, I was reminded of this article by Adam Andrews, The Lesson of Job: Literature's Luckiest Protagonist.

He ends by repenting of his idolatry and spurning his previous attempts to usurp God’s place in the universe. He has learned the most important lesson of all: there is a God in heaven, and I am not He.

Missy and I count ourselves lucky in that the calamity that was necessary in Job’s case has not been visited on us. And yet, it is fair to call Job lucky, too – for his troubles produced repentance and humility, which are the best goals of a good education.

This brings me full circle to the opening quote by Frederick Buechner:

“If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God’s, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours.”



[above photo]


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Liturgy ~ In the Midst

In the Midst @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Supper. Walking along a road. In the midst of real life.

“Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but… at supper time, or walking along a road.

This is the element that all the stories about Christ’s return to life have in common:

…Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, “Children, have you any fish?”; the two men at Emmaus who know him in the breaking of the bread.

He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.”

~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life

Walking along a road @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn ~ The Ripe Earth

The Ripe Earth @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We walked through my brother-in-law’s vineyard Sunday at sunset, picking grapes. [Luke snipped the clumps (he loves these grapes) and collected them in his sack while I took pictures and ate grapes.]


"At no other time than autumn does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

[We have been reciting the following poem while walking together in the mornings. It is one of my favorites that Levi memorized years ago.]

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

~Emily Bronte

Grapes and Laundry

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.

~E. B. White

Doing Good, Making Honey (Lectio Divina!), and Bearing Grapes

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee
makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season
without thinking of the grapes it has borne.

~Marcus Aurelius


Photo above.

[I should have used the headings Eat, Digest, Grow/Transform for this Lectio Divina!]

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Autumn did seem to arrive suddenly this year. It was on the first day of autumn during our brief morning walk that Leif brought the apples to my attention.

We have two ornamental crabapple trees (I think that’s what they are—I’m a poor naturalist), but one decided to grow an apple tree from the graft site at the base. Half of this tree is now crabapple, and half is apple. Surprise! It is a young tree, and this is the first year we’ve received a small crop of apples. The kids were delighted and had apples for morning snack after drawing them in their nature journals.


Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lola immediately searched her books and found How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She read through it, stopping to sing her continents song on the map page (naturally integrating her CC Foundations memory work, hurrah!). This book is similar to another favorite, Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle.

While traveling the world to gather ingredients for apple pie may be a bit unrealistic, I love that she knows where and how we get ingredients. She has picked fruit, ground wheat for flour, and watched a how-to video on milking cows (we’ve had cows grazing in our field before, but it’s more difficult to find someone with milking cows!). Next on our list are gathering eggs (maybe we can bribe Aunt Holly) and churning butter.

Bowl of Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We had to make an apple pie, of course, so Lola helped me pick apples this morning and we managed to get a pie made.

Hot Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Now, for the realistic version: I did manage to get the pie made, even though I’m sick with a cold and all four children were disobeying and I finally told the two youngest to leave the kitchen because they were driving me crazy. The apples were little and a pain to peel and slice. I also managed to peel the skin off my finger and slice my thumb with a cardboard box. My crust turned out so flaky that it didn’t hold together well. I tried to use a form for cutting out cute little apples on the top crust, but they just looked like holes. After baking, the crust was browned, but the apples weren’t soft, and everything fell apart when I cut into it. The kitchen (and house) looked like a war zone. I ended up going back to bed to avoid it while the kids watched television instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing. The end.]