Wednesday, August 30

I want to post but really don't have much to say. Well, actually I do but I realise there is a lot I cannot really post about on the web. I'd love to tell you how much I am loving my work at the moment, but I am not really at liberty to post about my place of work, or the people I work with. Just know that I'm a teacher and I'm loving it! I would love to post about my life but I feel really transparent when I post about myself. For the same reasons I can't post about my family. This is why I usually post quotes or random thoughts or pictures. Sometimes I post about myself. Sometimes in quite a bit of detail but not today.

Today I don't feel like posting any of those things but I do want to say hi.

So, hi!

How are you?

I miss the blog world and the people in it. Things are really busy. Great but busy! Know that I'm here and thinking of all of you who keep in touch in the blog realm, and I'm missing you too. And I'm well and content. And I hope to post more soon.

Till then, go well!

Sunday, August 20

An Ode to break the drought

............... ..Ode

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav'ns, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim:
Th' unwearied Sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning Earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
"The Hand that made us is Divine."

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

There are a few things I find interesting about this Ode. Firstly, I just love the beautiful imagery of "the spacious firmament," "the blue ethereal sky," "the unwearied sun," and the many other beautiful word pictures created by Addison. These make me ponder the great expanse and beauty of the universe and I love how Addison derives from creation that "the hand that made us is divine." All this gets me pondering though because these kind of associations immediately bring to mind this verse from Romans 1:

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Yet some years ago, a christian friend I really respect stated that he didn't think this verse referred to creation as being a testimony to the nature of God, but this is how I had always read the verse. So, my question is how do you interpret this verse?

The next thing I find interesting about this ode is that in it Addison asserts that to conclude from the evidence in creation that "the hand that made us is divine" is not a matter of faith but of reason. So my next question is this: Do you think it is a matter of faith or reason, or both, to believe that God exists and has eternal power and divine nature?

Saturday, August 12

Tasmania, 2006

Friday, August 4

It's pouring today! I love it. I love the sound of heavy rain on the roof. I love watching the fat drops of water bounce as they hit the ground. I love watching the fern fronds flutter and tremble in the wind as rain drops tickle their delicate tendrils. I love the smell of the rain, the swish, the roar as the rain falls heavier and heavier. I love the shimmer upon everything: so clean and lush and new. I love that I don't have to go anywhere today; that I can stay inside, warm, watching the falling rain play upon the leaves like a master pianist tinkling the keys on a beautiful piano while I listen, in awe.

Thursday, August 3

"Work Backwards" has been a mantra of mine ever since I read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It is an amazing fantasy written in response to Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The book is a great example of Lewis' ability to create amazing imaginary landscapes which communicate profound spirtiual truths while delighting the soul with vivid images. It is a masterpiece.

I was reminded of my favourite C.S. Lewis quote earlier today by a confessional post by Gloamer in which he admits to being a "fan". What I truly love about this book is the way that Lewis suggests that "earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the begining part of Heaven itself." The following excerpt communicates this in a very powerful way:

'Son,' he said, 'ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timelsee he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are fully grown become retrospective. Not only in this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twighlight in that town, but all their life on earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it, " not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me but have this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already confirms his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises and the twighlight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven", and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly.'

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Geoffrey Bless: London, 1952, pp 61&62

I am sure that I will be of those who look back and say "I have always been in Heaven," for despite the "remembered sorrows" I am sure that the joy of knowing Jesus will outweigh everything else; it will, and does, infuse all with value, meaning, enjoyment and life.

So with Heaven as my destination I determine to remember that every action works backwards and makes my life either Heaven or Hell. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say, "I have always lived in Hell." I don't want every joy and pleasure to be tainted by sin, selfishness and greed so that what I thought was sweet leaves nothing but a bitter taste. I want to get to the end and say "I never lived anywhere but Heaven." I want the sadness and pain to be turned to joy and light because I made Heaven my goal and loving the King of the Universe my prize. So now, I work backwards, changing my past because I have hope in the future.
My Most Favourite Thomas Gray Poem Ever would have to be Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes.
This poem was written by Gray to his friend, Horace Walpole, as a tribute to Walpole's cat who really did drown while trying to catch a goldfish. It's a beautiful tribute with a hint of satire containing a warning to all who may find the lure of glistening gold irresistible.

Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes
by Thomas Gray (1716 - 1771)

'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers, that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by and smiled)
The slipperty verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every watery god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred:
Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard.
A favourite has no friend!

From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters gold.

Illustrations by poet and artist William Blake

Wednesday, August 2

"There is something strange in the acts of writing and speaking," Novalis wrote in 1799. "The ridiculous and amazing mistake people make is to believe they use words in relation to things. They are unaware of the nature of language — which is to be its own and only concern, making it so fertile and splendid a mystery. When someone talks just for the sake of talking he is saying the most original and truthful thing he can say."
Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it, New York, New York ...

I have been told to get my passport ready! My doctor wants me to go to New York.

Before you freak out I better say, I'm in perfect health, I'm not going for medical reasons. You see my doctor has decided that he would like me to marry his son. He wants me to marry a "nice man" and apparentkly his son is this man. I have never met his son. In fact, I don't know much about his son at all. I know his name, his occupation, I know he likes to run, I know where he has been educated, and I know his father and mother. Besides this, I don't know much at all.

Of course the suggestion was made in jest with nothing but good intentions and care but the whole suggestion has got me thinking about the nature of marriage. I know people who have married due to the arrangement of their families. These marriages seem to work well.

When I compare the idea of an arranged marriage to my own experience of marriage -- a marriage of choice based on common beliefs (I thought), goals (I thought), and love -- and see the outcome of both I wonder if we in the west place undue emphasis on love. It surprises me to write this because I am one of the most sentimental romantics there is so I value love as essential to a good relationship. But it can't be all there is. Marriage is commitment too. A covenant if you like.

To some extent arranged marriages happen in the west if you consider parents setting up their sons or daughters with people whom they think would make suitable partners as being a kind of arrangement. A couple of my friends were introduced to each other by their parents and are now happily married and very much in love.

So I am wondering what you consider essential to a good marriage. Do you know people who have experienced an arranged marriage? How did that work out for them? Do you think we, in the west, place too much emphasis on love and not enough on commitment? I'd love to hear any thoughts...

For now, I won't be rushing out to get a visa and fly to New York, but I think I will listen to the song.