Friday, February 29, 2008

living within limits

last weekend my father bought me a  devotional book.  he knew i wouldn't  be keen to read just any book of that kind so he purchased one from which he has benefited greatly.  it is written by a physician whose committed message to  the world is about marginless living and overload, a chronic problem of americans.  it is a message i want to penetrate my chaotic, anxiety-ridden world daily.

i was delighted to discover, just three day in, that dr swenson included a quote from our beloved wendell berry:

"much as we long for infinities of  power and duration,  we have no evidence that these lie within our reach, much less within our responsibility.  it is  more likely that we will have either to live within our limits, within the human definition, or not live at all.  and certainly the knowledge of these limits and of how to live within them is the most comely and graceful knowledge that we have, the most healing and the most whole."

at the end of the day's  reflection, the author reminds us to "always remember that the race is not a race for records but a race for love.  hear me.  you do not want to come to the finish line and discover you were in the wrong race."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

a weekend away

i had the pleasure of spending a weekend away with four friends at an idyllic rural retreat center.  we stayed at the loretto motherhouse, a monastery for nuns, in nerinx, kentucky.  set in the rolling hills along old buffalo trails, it was founded as an order for education in the late 1700s.  from it more than 200 schools have been established across the u.s. and the world.  these sisters were the first to settle and occupy the famous property of gesthemene (home of thomas merton).  it was quaint, serene and holy.  it reminded me of why i love kentucky so much.

we were hosted in a seven-bedroom house built in the 1800s.  it was like staying in the home of a grandmother with antiques, radiator heat, and old quilts.  we dined with the sisters and shared lovely conversation.  we toured the property and met an astounding 70-year old resident artist.  in the evening they invited us to join them in the chapel for a concert by the pianist for the louisville orchestra.  apparently the acoustics of this building are so renowned they have 2-3 concerts a week.  we were mesmerized by this musician as she played beethoven, brahms, liszt, debussy and chopin.

as a small group of women, we relaxed in one another's company and had long talks.  we ate cookies and junk food.  we also gave each other license for lots of rest and reading and quiet.  it was a perfect retreat. 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the flu

this illness has laid my husband low.  for the last 10 days geoff has been terribly sick with the flu.  what started as fever that geoff seemed to catch from isaac became full-blown into days of fever, a chest infection, an ear infection and, on the side, a painful outbreak of fever blisters in his nose.  he is on two different anti-biotics and painkillers for his ear.  he is still unable to spend much time out of bed and his pajamas hang on his skinny frame.  in the ten years of knowing geoff, i've never seen him so ill.

in addition to his poor health, we've had bitter winter temperatures, snow last week and a promised winter ice storm later today (walking isaac to school this morning my face burned with a wind chill of 8, -13 C).  in one of our flower beds there were tiny tips of tulips come early that are now that strange dark green of dead, frozen foliage.  winter doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

we are reminded of the miracle and gift of good health we take for granted daily.  much of our mundane activities of life are actually filled with the privilege of energy and vitality, movement and wellness.  grace comes in so many forms and yet is so overlooked and unacknowledged.

last night, geoff was already in bed and i put isaac between us to read him a hefty stack of books before bed.  isaac looked at the books excitedly and snuggled in and said "this is the best day of my life."

Monday, February 11, 2008

considering consumption

i found this website in a great magazine - orion - that our friends, the kochs, shared with us (a commendable means of reducing consumption in and of itself).  it is a helpful resource for many things - issues of time, t.v., simplicity, green stuff, etc.  it's worth checking out -

sick little one

by mid-afternoon yesterday, isaac was showing signs of being unwell.  with the widespread flu stuff going around it is not surprising.  we attended church at the rock in the morning to see matthew sleeth speak about faith and creation care.  in opting not to take isaac to fellowship in the evening, he and i climbed into my bed and watched fiddler on the roof.  it was a treasured moment for me to eat ice cream with him and field his questions about this classic film.  he actually paid very close attention.  he leaned in close to me and his little febrile hands held on to my robe.  the three of us lined up together in the bed and through the night he tossed and turned with a fever.  this week is sayre's winter break and it is bitterly cold outside (pipes frozen yet again) so it is a good thing to have him still and quiet at home.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

icing and cake

yesterday we celebrated aida's birthday with her and her son, tarik.  isaac and i made a chocolate cake from scratch with cream cheese icing to top it.  as he licked the bowl, isaac was provoked to reflect on his desires for his own cake (he thinks about his 5th birthday, which is months away, about every other day).  he told me he'd like to have a transformer cake with pear icing.  i said i wasn't sure i could find pear icing.  he said "that's o.k., we'll check the internet."

the cake was alright, but I overloaded the icing with cocoa.  as geoff walked in the door  i asked him to taste it to see if it was o.k.  he said "mmm, that's nice, i like the lemon in it", to which i said, "no, it's chocolate icing.  it's not meant to have a lemon taste."  with some reluctance i presented it to aida, who kindly appreciated it.  we had a delightful evening together eating cake and watching the primary results.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

new roommate

yesterday we gained a new friend and housemate.   a seminary student moved in with us for the semester while he completes an internship with communality.  we were so glad he wanted to augment his mentored experience with actually living downtown (as opposed to the seminary in wilmore) with a family.

after six months of living on our own, a restful but unnatural experience for us, we are relieved to have someone else in this big house.  living with others is all isaac has known and when we returned from australia we could tell he really long to have others with us.  repeatedly over these last months he invited people, lots of different people, to come home with us.  yesterday as he and i drove home from our regular monday afternoon with heidi, jodie and the kids, i told him we would arrive home to find caleb and eat our first meal together.  isaac was giddy and laughing in the backseat and making jokes.  he said to me " maybe caleb will forget we live there and make us a welcome home sign", "maybe he's making us some tea."

Monday, February 4, 2008

with a little help

after a weekend of rotten family-wide illness we are very grateful for our friends.  a nasty bug has made it's way through our community and in some form to almost everyone we know.  we had it over the weekend and it was bad.  on thursday night isaac went through it only to recover in time for geoff and me to compete for bathrooms friday night. 

by saturday morning we were thoroughly wiped and isaac was thoroughly well.  thanks to our dear friends we had the day to recover. first thing saturday a.m., jodie brought us medicine, soup and gatorade, and a dvd sent by laura (wonderful by the way - paris, je t'aime).  by midmorning heidi picked up isaac and he spent the day at her house with her children through to dinner.  we spent the entire day in bed.  jodie kindly brought him home to us just in time for him to go to sleep.  as i soaked my aching body in our big claw-foot tub that evening (a rare luxury in our household), i was filled with a sense of gratitude for friends who made a day of rest possible and live along side us like family, getting us by with more than a little help.

Friday, February 1, 2008

mud cookies

for days this story has been haunting us.  it is staggering to me, completely unreal, that just south of this country, which is suffering from an epidemic of obesity, people are forced to eat that which is inedible.

haitians eat mud cookies

the joys of connection

already an internet connection at home is paying off.  last night we had cable internet installed after six months without it (since our return from oz).  we've learned to accommodate the inconvenience by spending many hours at the coffee shop and juggling spotty email correspondence.  while we've felt the peace of a luddite-like household, being off line has been particularly costly in our international communication with family and friends.

straight away last night geoff contacted his family who are together on holiday in queensland - the wilsons down from png and kev and kath up from melbourne.  we longed to be together, especially in the tropical warmth.  at the time of this skype call i was upstairs with a vomiting boy.  then today, out of the blue as geoff and i were ordering seeds from an online garden catalog, we had a call from the turners of london.  it was an overwhelming joy to see their faces broadcast into the late-afternoon gloom of our kitchen.  we haven't spoken in months and our hearts lurched as we realized how much we miss them.  we're back online and i never thought i'd say how glad i am about it.