Does anyone else dislike this task? Our family's distaste for putting the decorations away is usually evident each year when we get out the decorations and see the sorry state in which we left them. This year was particularly bad, as many ornaments were broken, sets of things were packed with little regard to companion pieces, and some things were just plain missing, found later in odd corners of the house. Not a happy way to start the holidays!
Well, '07 will be different. Today's task was done with much care and accompanied by lots of "freshening" that made the chores lengthy but pleasant. Nearly all hands were on deck as we worked from 10 until 4. And tonight, the house has been returned to its non-holiday state and a huge stack of Rubbermaid buckets is ready to go to the garage. (Minus candles, which I again made the mistake of storing out there this year...they were a total loss, of course: this IS south Texas!)
The only other thing on my "to do" list that got accomplished today was a photo order. While Johanna was here for Christmas, she took Shelley out and shot a couple of hundred beautiful pictures. You've probably never seen Johanna's work, but it's just magnificent. And how in the world am I supposed to choose a reasonable number when she is SOOOO good? Three hours later, I'm down to seventy or so...
In truth, closet cleaning at the end of the year is a good metaphor for all those wonderful cleansing routines that are so suited for year's end...throwing out the old calendars and putting up the fresh new ones, getting all the old papers filed away, putting away Christmas wrap and making room for some fresh all-occasion wrap, looking at my list of books read in the old year and making a new one for '07, cleaning out my nightstand drawer and putting in some brand new "goodies", crossing answered prayer requests off my list and revamping it for a new year. I do love Christmas, but there's a special place in my heart for this "in-between" week, a time to rest, breathe deeply, pray, and listen for God's voice in all my surveying of priorities.
It's been a glorious holiday season in many ways, and now it's time to close my eyes, thank God for all the blessings of the season and the past twelve months, and wait for His direction in how I am to walk into a new year....
Mrs. Griffin was my language arts teacher in 7th and 8th grades in Wichita Falls, Texas. More than that, she was and is still my friend. She taught me much more than reading and spelling, although I can trace my love of both to her influence; she taught me and still teaches me much about life and love and faith. When I left her classroom in 1968, I promised her that I would never lose touch with her, and I've been honored to keep that promise.
I don't get to see Jane very often. We exchange cards and letters a few times a year and talk on the phone occasionally, but I hadn't seen her in five years. So today, CJ and I got in the car and drove north to Wichita Falls and spent a few hours with Jane and her lovely daughter Cheryl. There are no words to describe the privilege of getting to visit with them once again and share yet another of my daughters with them. Having lived a very transient life, with perhaps twenty moves in these forty years, there is something very moving and soul-nourishing about reaching back through the years and touching someone who touched me so long ago...who held my hand through one of the most difficult periods of my life and gave me some of the tools for living that I still employ today. I count her among the sweetest blessings I possess...
I am blessed.
No, I mean really, richly, undeservedly blessed.
In the past week I've been privileged to share the holidays with most of my favorite people: my sweet husband, seven of my nine precious kids, half of my grandkids, several of our wonderful extended family (some of whom had never met our branch of the tree), and my very best friend (who fits in the extended family category as well LOL).
We have laughed and sung carols; we've taken pictures, played games, attended Christmas events; we've eaten all manner of things, a few of them nutritious; we've gotten used to the constant drone of the dishwasher; we've exchanged gifts big and small and reflected on all the gifts that can't be wrapped; we've celebrated our Savior's birth in a hundred ways.
I end my Christmas Day giving thanks to the Father of Lights that He has shone His light among us...not just in the world but in my house, Granny's House, today. It is His gift that makes all our gifts to each other possible. I couldn't ask for more...
Lessons from the Swaddling Clothes
Not only does the road ahead of us remain a question mark, in earthly terms...but that road sometimes seems shaped like a question mark, doesn't it? Curving, turning round on itself, leaving little hope for seeing farther than the very next step, and often not even seeming to point in the right direction.
But God (there's that wonderful phrase again) has a way of making the crooked straight. More accurately, He has a way of slowly revealing that His path was straight all along and that our myopic vision was the culprit, making all in front of us appear distorted.
In fact, it occured to me while reflecting on this metaphor, that God's desire in my life is to turn the question marks into exclamation points! He has plans for me:
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'
He KNOWS the plans, and He is using every step of the path to straighten the crooked. He is in the business of turning the question mark into an exclamation point, a declaration that He will bring glory to Himself out of all the elements in my life that are now mysteries to me. I cannot see what He is doing, save for shadowy glimpses here and there, because, as He reminds me
"...My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
"For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Even the mountains and trees will give voice to God's exclamation point in my life when He accomplishes what He desires in me...He WILL be successful and His creation will break into shouts of joy! No more question marks, nothing hidden, no more mystery. And none of the pain that goes with the questions.
Having this perspective allows me to embrace the questions, knowing that my Father's perfect vision straightens out all the crooked punctuation and turns it into a declaration, with exclamation point, that His gifts, at this season and always, are good and perfect.
And another blessing is that our California family will arrive tonight! Some of the crew have never been here, never met this branch of the family tree, so it will be a very meaningful visit to have them with us for Christmas. It's the kind of blessing that magnifies the meaning of Christmas and makes the holidays this year extra-special for the San Antonio branch...
There is something very appealing, and very useful, about a voice from outside our own American culture who is familiar enough with the culture to make cogent and razor-sharp observations. Many times we're too close to the forest to see the
This morning's Steyn article in the Chicago-Sun Times resists quoting by its very structure, so just go read the whole thing.
My back and legs are shouting to me tonight, "Do you know you stood and wrapped over fifty gifts today?!" Yeah, I know...and as much as I'm aching, I am loving the growing piles of gifts under our trees and just imagining the fun we will have opening them. It's worth the pain!
Tomorrow I will make my baking and meal list for the next two weeks and finish up my grocery list. And MAYBE in a couple of days I'll be blessed enough to have my holiday recipe collection recovered :-)
So how are YOUR Christmas preparations coming?
32 years ago today, I became a parent.
Yes, 11 months earlier I had had the physical and spiritual experience of becoming a mother. But because God did not allow us to bring our firstborn home and instead took Jonathan to be with Him, my real experience of being a parent began with the arrival of Aubrey in December of 1974. She arrived more than three weeks "late" at 9 lbs and 23 3/4 inches (can you picture a newborn, two feet long?) with a huge shock of long black hair and dimples that showed up with her first grimace. And with the first glance, we were in love.
I could write (and sometimes do, see below regarding the fashion Bible) about the major events and the sweet anecdotes from Aubrey's life. But nothing, ever, touched my heart in the same way as watching her become a mother. Maybe it's a universal thing...for a mother, is there anything as fulfilling as having a daughter who becomes a mother herself? Especially one who does it so creatively, so sensitively, and so faithfully? Aubrey has spent the past eleven years falling in love with six children of her own, and each time I see her with one of them I am reminded of the wonder of the circle of life and of God's graciousness in allowing me to witness another generation of His children.
Those of you who know Aubrey know that she's much more than a mother. She is a blessed and loving wife to my (counter-scrubbing!) son-in-law; she is one of a group of sisters who fill each other's lives with laughter and tears and meaning; she is a tireless servant to scores of women and families during every imaginable kind of crisis; she is the elegant pastor's wife of our lucky congregation....and she is my friend.
I couldn't ask for more.
Happy Birthday, Aubrey!
We all know it's one of the hazards of this wonderful, amazing age we live in: a computer crash or a hole in your anti-virus protection can cost more than money.
So last night, it happened to me. I've had this laptop for a year and a half, and it's been "afflicted" with something ever since I made a stupid decision to download the Google browser in beta in the summer of '05. I uninstalled after a week and my computer has never been the same. I think it had more than one problem, really, but it had finally become so annoying that I was at my wits' end. So a dear friend of ours whose computer IQ is higher than Ty Cobb's batting average (without the decimal, of course) came over last night and nursed it back to health and speed and all those things you get with a brand new computer.
In the process, sadly, a lot of valuables, which I had not backed up and had not warned him about, have disappeared. My collection of recipes, hundreds of family favorites and holiday specials and gifts from friends, is now "gone." My book database, with more than 3000 entries and telling me which of my books are loaned out and to whom, is "gone." I use the word in quotes, because my knowledgeable friend as well as my brilliant son-in-law, who's been known to save a few lives with his computer smarts, both tell me that nothing is unrecoverable and that with patience we'll be able to recover the information.
I can't tell you how many times in the past 12 hours I've heard the gasping question, "You mean you didn't have it all backed up?" As if I would be apoplectic right now if it was all on a disk somewhere :-) My bad...I know better and this has sure taught me the lesson in an unforgettable way. I'll be taking my friend's advice and getting an external hard drive on which to store the stuff I think I can't live without.
So...in the meantime, I'm trying to reconstruct a list of what seems to have disappeared while I take measures to avoid hyperventilating.
Isn't the computer age great?
We are in a serious and important runoff election for our congressman, and your vote is needed. My day tomorrow is going to be very challenging logistically but I am going to the polls at 7am and I hope you'll make it sometime during the day!
CONGRATULATIONS to our lovely friend Nicole who, along with many other talented Christian young people, treated us to a stunningly beautiful Christmas concert tonight. Nicole opened the evening with a moving viola performance of "Be Thou My Vision," one of Granny's favorite hymns. The whole event was a blessing to all of us who attended...THANK YOU, NICOLE!
And have I mentioned what fabulous sons-in-law I have? All three bring their own richness and blessings to our tribe and I am beyond thankful for the way God has matched them with our precious daughters.
Tonight, though, I am singing the praises of the son-in-law who lives the closest, as he has borne the weight of the fact Granny has been sick in bed and our household has been without The Papa for a couple of weeks. In that time Dirk been called on (or volunteered) to fix a septic backup, take our daughter to the urgent care clinic for a bee-sting complication and get her meds from the pharmacy, cut down our Christmas trees and haul them home, and I can't remember what else. He does these things in his "spare" time, working them around teaching a full load, pastoring our church, fathering six children, and doing their own trips to the ER and specialists with our asthmatic grandson. Tonight, with all this extra time on his hands, he brought his family, a light supper, and Aubrey's homemade cranberry bread over to Granny's House so we could visit a bit. And while Aubrey and the other girls and I visited in my bedroom, Dirk cleaned the whole kitchen! I don't mean just cleaned up from supper, but scrubbed the counters, stove, sinks, handwashed all the non-dishwashable things that had accumulated--it shines in there!
My kids have done a wonderful, compassionate job of caring for me the past week while I've been sick, and you moms know that when you're down for a while, it's a blessing just to have the necessities taken care of, and you worry about scouring the sinks later! But between CJ and now Dirk, we're way past the necessities and on to the point where I'm not afraid to get out of bed. (Come on now, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) All the kids have shared the load, and now my sweet son-in-law sort of "frosted the cake" by sprucing up the neediest area.
Thank you, dear Dirk, for being a true servant and for modeling servanthood before my children and yours. The Papa owes you a game or two of golf and I owe you a couple of proofreading jobs and your favorite salad ;-) You are a treasure.
Tuesday I came down with a respiratory virus that has made me sicker than I've been in a long time. Two and a half years, to be exact...the reason that I remember this is that I nearly had to miss my daughter's wedding. I'm hoping that it doesn't move into pneumonia this time as well. I'm sitting here in my bed, knowing that a premature return to normal life could make me worse and that I need to keep resting; and yet my view across the room bombards my brain with all the unwrapped gifts and chores still needing to be accomplished.
Two things have kept me from getting completely unwound about all this. One was this post at Chrysalis Song, a place God often uses to feed my soul. The other was my recollections from the book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard Swenson. This book is one of those old friends that will always stay on my shelves, if for nothing more than the reminder I get from a passing glance at its cover. Its pages held an extremely simple yet profound concept, one that forever changed my life, both the inner and the public sides. The parts of the book that still adhere to my soul keep me from rushing back to all the urgencies of life during this time of illness, and they also give me needed reminders of how I can continue to structure my life in ways that make these unexpected, parenthetical events less devastating to my general direction and my specific goals.
I won't do a book review here; the book is old enough that many of you will have already encountered it or its principles. I was reminded of just how old it is when I ran across this quote:
Overload is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of the 90's. Margin is the cure.
Too bad the cure didn't take hold in the 90's :-) Here in the next millennium we battle overload infection of an even more virulent strain, but the RX of Margin is one that will never expire. If you haven't incorporated it into this busy season, I recommend that you slow down enough to find Swenson's book and read it...twice.
...a topic dear to my heart, one which combines learning styles with the ever-growing problem of most kids being "left behind" in some way or another:
COLUMBUS, OH--Backed by olfactory-education experts, parents of nasal learners are demanding that U.S. public schools provide odor-based curricula for their academically struggling children.
"Despite the proliferation of countless scholastic tests intended to identify children with special needs, the challenges facing nasal learners continue to be ignored," said Delia Weber, president of Parents Of Nasal Learners, at the group's annual conference. "Every day, I witness firsthand my son Austin's struggle to succeed in a school environment that recognizes the needs of visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic learners but not him."
"My child is not stupid," Weber said. "There simply was no way for him to thrive in a school that only caters to traditional students who absorb educational concepts by hearing, reading, seeing, discussing, drawing, building, or acting out."
Read more here. We simply must help put a stop to this injustice. ;-)
UPDATE: A few of you have gotten worried and wanted to know where you could get a scratch 'n sniff test to see if your children were "nasal learners." Let me assure you, this was TOTALLY satire and not meant to scare anyone. It was meant as a comment on our over-diagnosed, over-prescribed, over-analyzed mindsets, even among homeschoolers. The quoted article was from The Onion, and if you know anything about the Onion....'nuff said ;-)
Most of my kids like oatmeal for breakfast, and a few of them will actually make it from scratch in the microwave. But some of them wouldn't think of measuring out their own ingredients, and eat it only when they can open up their own personal packet and pour it right in the bowl. Yikes, have you ever measured how much is IN one of those packets? Barely enough for a newborn serving, yes? Well, this way you can determine the optimum serving for your kids and dole it out in exactly the right amounts. And you can add the spices, dried fruits, etc. that you know will draw them right to that steamy bowl on a cold morning!
Mmmm....sounds good. If I weren't bedridden with a very annoying virus and fever for the third day in a row, I'd be up making myself some right this minute :-/ Anyway, put on your hat and gloves and hike over to Instructables and find out what other ideas they're sharing!
If there is a better losing cause than the fight against slovenly language, I am unaware of it. The first rule of language is change, but why, those of us who have signed up for the fight never cease wondering, does 80 or so percent of this change seem to be for the worse?
Why, for example, do we need the word "icon" to describe hugely successful performers in show business, sports and elsewhere? We began with "star," which was replaced with "superstar"; and when it was discovered that too many superstars were floating around, icon was called in. After icon is used up, we shall, no doubt, have to go straight to "god."
I am myself writing a little book on Fred Astaire for a series of books called American Icons. When I reported this to a witty friend, adding that "icon" was of course a vastly inflated word, itself part of the vocabulary of hype, he, without losing a stroke, replied: "Whaddya mean? What about Ike and Tina Turner?"
In recent years I have written brief essays attacking the overuse and dopey imprecision of the words "icon," "multitasking" and "focus." The success of my attacks can be measured by the vastly increased use over the years of all three words. Cleaning up the language is a herculean job; unlike Hercules' assignment of cleaning up the Augean Stables, here it must be done with the animals still in them. It's a full-time job.
I know the biggest cooking day of the year is over, but if you still have a holiday event where you're going to be feeding a crowd, you should take a look at this method for managing all the cooking and serving.
Some of you will look at this and groan, but if there are SOME of you who, like me, are always welcoming new ideas for efficiency and ways to get your computer to help, you'll love this. And the ideas could be tweaked lots of different ways to organize all sorts of projects.
While you're there, poke around the site a bit. There are lots of fun projects and plans!
NEWS FLASH: If you're carrying your mother's Bible to church, or even hiding with it in your closet, you are SO second millennium. Seems the Bible, more than ever before, is becoming BIG business:
Gone is the day, largely, when the Word was valued for its contents and for its living, breathing effect on people's lives...for many it's the hottest accessory:
Always a dependable seller, the Bible is in the midst of a boom. Christian bookstores had a 25% increase in sales of Scriptures from 2003 to 2005, according to statistics gathered by the Phoenix-based Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, a trade group. General-interest bookstores, while declining to give figures, have also seen increasingly strong sales. "Bibles are a growth area for us and we're giving them more space in our stores," said Jane Love, religion buyer for Barnes & Noble. "It's partly because of the way they've evolved over the last three or four years."
"For a long time the Bible was just the Bible," noted Kevin O'Brien, director of Bibles at Tyndale House. "You put it out there and people bought it. They didn't ask about the options, because there weren't any options. But now, especially in evangelical circles, people are seeing their lives not just in color but high-definition color, and they want the Bible to fit in with that. This is not your mother's Bible."
But Bibles are becoming as much personal statements as fashion statements. "What people are saying is 'I want to find a Bible that is really me," noted Rodney Hatfield, a vice president of marketing at Thomas Nelson. "It's no different than with anything else in our culture."Really. No different than anything else? Then it's no wonder that we want it dressed up, decorated, packaged, and marketed like the latest self-help book or romance novel...
Responding to such desires, publishers offer compact Old and New Testaments like Thomas Nelson's so-called checkbook Bible and Zondervan's Bible in a Bag, as well as myriad themed Bibles, among them archaeology, leadership and sports. "Sometimes what you have to work with seems quite inadequate," begins one section of the basketball edition. "Consider the plight of Rollie Massimino, the coach of the Villanova Wildcats . . . Villanova was ranked, well nowhere . . Several thousand years earlier there was another underdog group that didn't have much to work with. They were called the Israelites."Yep, and I'm sure we'd read about how God got out his Blackberry and advised the Israelites that they were to confront the Canaanites with a full-court press.
It's a wonder that the Bible Boom hasn't been accompanied by a corresponding explosion in Godly living and thinking, huh?
(I will have to confess here that this fashion accessory angle is all not an entirely new phenomenon. I am the mother of a daughter who once brought our family van to a screeching halt as we left for church, telling The Papa that she absolutely HAD to go back inside for just a minute. When she came running back out to the car, I asked her what in the world had been that important, and she looked at me with one of those "Duh!" looks so common in a 15 year old and said, "I had to switch Bibles! That other one didn't match my outfit!")
Read more about the Bible Boom in this WSJ Opinion Journal piece.
Last night's new episode of SuperNanny on ABC reminded me of one of our favorite Grandkid stories. A couple of seasons ago, when the Slaughter elves were still living with us, Molly climbed up on Granny's bed to watch SuperNanny. Pretty soon she ran into the family room to breathlessly exclaim to the Papa and her mother, "You guys oughta come look! There's kids on this show that are badder than us kids!"
Sweet show last night, though I wish they had done something to explain the real differences between hitting a child and true spanking. Other than the inexplicable dismissing of spanking, the show has a lot of common sense, compassion, and just plain ol' guts. I hope that many of the featured families end up sticking with the plan and seeing lasting changes in their relationships...
December 4, 1972...
...a handsome young college student drove his girlfriend to a basketball game in his 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. They never got to the game. While in the parking lot, this young man found the courage to ask for his beloved's hand in marriage, and she said yes, after thinking for....maybe thirty seconds.
The ring in the corner is purely for effect. The young lady wore no diamonds until the 32nd year of their life together; until then the diamonds were spent on peanut butter and shoes and braces. She wears the diamonds now, joyfully, as a reminder of the things in life that are really important.
Thank you, Papa, for seeing something in this girl that no one else had seen. Thank you for staying.
UPDATE: Seems I might have been too clever by half...half a YEAR, that is. I was writing not about our real anniversary, but about the anniversary of our engagement 34 years ago today. I was really not clear, as evidenced by all the congratulations emails, comments, and ecards that are coming in LOL...thank you all for your kind words, and I'll get back to you in July for the BIG 34 :-)
I had GREAT plans for yesterday. I was going to finish all the Christmas cards by noon and then get the boxes packed for mailing, and still have time left in my day to do a few school-related tasks and do my nails (which, common sense dictates, can't be done until the boxes are packed!). But...few things will bring your plans to a halt faster than a septic tank backup. I'll spare you the gory details; suffice it to say that having all the plumbing on hold, having to wait for a plumber on a weekend--and all the little niceties that come with that--sort of, well, stifled my plan. But okay, my wonderful son-in-law and son worked as best they could to fix the problem and when they couldn't we found a plumber who came late in the day and got us, er, flushing again and amputated my right arm in payment. Grateful to be flushing, I was glad to give up the arm, I mean the check, and start scrubbing and bleaching the shower, where the backup had manifested, and all the other affected areas. An hour and a half later things were as good as new.
Looking at the clock, I decided that I could still get in a couple of hours of wrapping and packing before I needed to iron clothes for tomorrow.
Those of you who know me well know that during December my very large bathtub becomes a repository for boxes of Christmas gifts as they get here. So I headed to the tub to retrieve the ones that need to be mailed. I bent over to pick up the first box and immediately knew I was in big trouble--for some reason the box had a very soggy bottom. Strange, I thought...wonder if something inside one of the boxes had come open and poured out? And then I looked down in horror to see a half inch of sludge in the tub: the shower had not been the only receptacle for the septic contents. Again, I'm trying not to be too graphic here, but you can imagine the scene that followed...
Fast forward: many of the gifts are ruined. Not only can I not wrap and mail them, they have to be reordered, setting me back another week. Most of the ruined things are books, including one hefty theological volume that I had purchased for a family member. On hearing this last night, Trish, my dear Roman Catholic friend, wanted to know if I was ready to admit, then, that my theology was all wet? One of the few smiles in my day ;-)
So...another two hours later and I had unpacked all the boxes, thrown away the affected gifts and the drippy, messy boxes, brought out the bleach for the second time, washed bathmats, and inventoried the loss for re-order. Time to iron and get to bed, assisted by pain meds to stave off what was a creeping sense that all the physical activity had aggravated my volatile hip/leg problem.
And by 6:30 a.m., I knew I was right and that I wasn't going anywhere this morning. I rose to find that no one else was going, either, which feels very odd. I fully expected to look outside at dawn and see the fading blue moon...
Hugh Hewitt says
This site should be the home page of every 4th, 5th, and 6th grade school computer in America.
I agree, and I'll be making it standard fare around here. I'm going to enjoy it every bit as much as the boys will!
Take a look and tell me what you think...
hat tip: The Papa
As a lover of language and of fine writing, I have a deep appreciation for those who practice it as an art form and not simply a science, as I sometimes tend to do. Oh, I suppose those of us who are word "scientists" are needed just to protect the language for those who are gifted enough to practice the art...but I would love to have been born with their gifts.
Peggy Noonan is an artist.
But not only that...she is in a category of one as an observer of human nature, both individual and societal. When I observe her at her canvas, I never get the feeling that she is writing for a deadline or a word quota or even an audience. I always get the calming sense that she has picked up her pen only just in time to speak something profound that has crystallized moments ago, some growing perception that is only in this moment ready to be shared.
Today, the gracious lady that is Peggy Noonan has picked up her pen to call for a rebirth of grace in public life:
We're going to need grace. We are going to need a great outbreak of grace to navigate the next difficult months.
America is turning against a war it supported, for the essential reason that no one is able to promise a believable path to a successful outcome, and Americans are a practical people. It is not true that Americans are historical romantics. They are patriots who, once committed, commit on all levels, including emotionally. But they don't wake up in the morning looking for new flags to follow over old cliffs. They want to pay the mortgage, protect their children, and try to be better parents in a jittery time. They are not isolationist. They want to help where they can, and feel called to support the poor and the sick wherever they are. They are also, still, American exceptionalists, meaning they believe the creation of America--the long journey across the sea, the genius cluster that invented the republic, the historic codifying of freedom--was providential, and good news not only for us but the world. "And the glow from that fire can truly light the world."
And how many people who have the ear of those in highest power would be courageous enough to observe:
A very small theory, but my latest, is that many politicians and journalists lack a certain public grace because they spent their formative years in the American institution most likely to encourage base assumptions and coldness toward the foe. Yes, boarding school, and tony private schools in general. The last people with grace in America are poor Christians and religiously educated people of the middle class. The rich gave it up as an affectation long ago. Too bad, since they stayed in power.
Peggy's words in this piece are, characteristically, exquisitely beautiful. But today they also carry an exquisite anguish, a severe beauty that can only issue from one who deeply loves her country and deeply feels the ache of its slow bleed. I have a new appreciation today for her peerless wordcrafting. More importantly, my ear is paying closer attention to the subtle rumblings that Peggy Noonan always seem to hear before the rest of us.
Have you ever struggled to explain the meaning of "irony" to your literature students? If you haven't, you will.
Well, this should help.
(The kids just came in and wanted to know if they could have the day off from "school" because of the weather! Just because it's cold! Nice try, kiddos! I'll alert the bus drivers, okay?)
After our normal Friday school schedule is done, I will get to work on wrapping and packing the gifts we'll send to our "away" family...and that means the unpleasant chore of trying to time the trip to the post office so that I don't stand with boxes for two hours. As our part of town continues to experience a population and building boom, the wait has gotten longer in our previously sleepy little post office, one that was definitely not built for the throngs that now compete for the attention of the three sweet ladies that work there. Maybe I need to take them some cookies...