Sunday, March 28, 2010

When Clouds Were Masterpieces...

Suggested Listening: Chopin Piano Concerto 1 2nd movement...listen to all 3 movements if you have time.


My backpack hits the tiled floor with a thud and I wearily drop into a chair. The sound of an unknown violinist drifts up the stairwell from a distant practice room. Although I know I should be reaching for my Nursing Folder there is a moment of hesitation. In quietness I turn to survey the trees, soaring bird and cumulus clouds visible through the wall sized window. Without so much as a word of warning, my mind, so often consumed with swirling thoughts of LRC assignments, random medical terminology and case studies, hoists anchor and sails for distant shores. Vivid memories, like old friends, stop by just to remind me they would not like to be forgotten.

In the olden days of yesteryear there were many happy days spent in an era now commonly called the “Home-schooling Years”. Those were simpler days. I recall them with fondness and a hint of wistfulness. How distinctly I recall reading Wordsworth aloud to my dog in the shade of some great tree. Then there was the time I was working on Algebra to the music of Fritz Kreisler and noticed the greenness of the oak leaves against the blueness of the sky. These memories survive in such a vivid form I still almost smell, hear and feel them. I remember sitting cross-legged in front of the stereo and vigorously conducting the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.
I remember being the "Cloud-Watcher". I loved to study clouds and make impromptu, impassioned speeches on how “every cloud is a masterpiece, never to be reproduced!” It seemed a pity so many people walked about looking down. They missed the exquisite architecture of thunderclouds, the sun-rays gilding their edges and the indescribable hue they turned at twilight. It was a soapbox of mine.

Whether wandering the fields, sitting in my favorite tree or at my school desk, my One Hundred and One Famous Poems book was often my companion. Poetry’s ability to express the deepest, most profound thoughts and feelings imagined fascinated me. Sometimes I was not always sure of its meaning, but the sheer beauty of the words still held me. Often I’d repeat a line or two until the meaning came to me.

True worth is in being, not seeming, ---
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good—not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There’s nothing so kingly as kindness
And nothing so royal as truth...
~ Alice Cary

Aostrophe to the Ocean
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar...
~ George Gordon Byron

There are countless others such as the weighty lengths of “The Present Crisis”, “The Day Is Done “ by Longfellow, “If” by Kipling. Then there is “The Daffodils” by Wordsworth (aforementioned piece read to attentively listening puppy dog).

In those homeschooling days I felt our local NPR classical music announcers were my friends. "This is Allan Ellstrom with the afternoon concert..." This unknown yet known friend told me the time, the weather and the history behind Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. There was much music during those days. I studied to Bach and Handel in the mornings, faithfully practiced piano an hour a day and played in a Piano Trio with some homeschooling friends.
These homeschooling buddies and I would have very fun, spirited discussions regarding music. They continually sought to win me over to Modern music with all its screaching dissonance. I stalwartly defended the grand ole masters. Once Josh worked on me long and hard to listen to Respighi's "Pines of Rome". I'd have none of it. Time does bring changes though. I just recently listened to the Pines of Rome. Its not all that bad after all.

I miss baking bread every week, taking off for bike rides whenever I wish and evenings of reading stories aloud. I miss tending to our small garden, taking extended road trips, exploring historic sites and old libraries. I miss lunch with Paul Harvey. I miss planting Daffodils and being home to see the first blossom.
I miss the slower, simpler life.

Times are different now, but clouds are still masterpieces.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


For some unknown and mysterious reason, the action of tying knots fills me with inexpressible glee! Its amazing how one piece of rope can intricately wrap around itself and then hold such weight! Some of them are easily movable when slack, only to become as unmovable as the rock of Gibraltar when weight is put on it. The wide variety of knots leaves your mind spinning in awe and dancing with aspirations of inventing a new one!

I cannot deny that some of my fascination with knots is due to the many spiritual and philosophical analogies they bring to mind. There are many.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

O for a Faith That Will Not Shrink

God in heaven extends undeserved grace to all his children. No matter the blackness of the sin His grace is greater than our plague. Sin is sin, but if there is a sin blacker and more terrifying than all others it is the sin of indifference -- a half-baked, lukewarm commitment to Christ's cause.

In light of this fact I cry from a rended heart "God be merciful to me, a sinner, of whom I am chief." Oh, to have the fire that ran through William Wilburforce's veins as he thought of little else other than ceasing the suffering of his brothers the slaves. How much I long to have the singleness of purpose possessed by Amy Carmichael, the giant faith of Jim Elliot, the courage of Mary Slessor. I crave the poured out life that goes to extremes for Christ that other may live, hear truth,and come into contact with their Maker.

Is there really any sacrifice of time, sleep or energy too great to lay on the alter? Is popular opinion, pain, loneliness or death things worthy of fear? The only thing I should fear is a normal existence, separated from my God.

How many countless lives might be lost eternally by the choices of one unsurrendered heart. An unsurrendered heart that is fearful of that which is not worthy of fear and worshiping that which is not worthy of worship.

Written awhile ago, but the thoughts still press on my mind.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Things I Learned From a Canoeing Trip

- There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over a steaming river or set over a calm one dotted with lily pads.

- Morning Chorus of birds greeting the day is enthralling

- Fatigue hits after 5 miles, but at least another 20 is possible

- You only remember you are tired when they say you're stopping soon

- River Otters are awfully cute

-PFD's (personal flotation devices) keep you warm at night

- Starting a fire is a good way to start the day

- Steer into the wind
- Slice the wind with your paddle

- Its amazing to stand "out in the ocean" during low tide and look at the stars

- You go twice as far when the paddlers have similar strength level

- Teamwork is essential

- I think I should paddle a canoe with someone before ever agreeing to marry them

- Its hard to wash off charcoal

- Being a week free of mirrors was healthy

- Showers are not a necessity. You can live a week without one...I did.

- Smell of pitch wood is heavenly

- Manatee's don't move much

- Bandanna's are very useful and multi-functional

- One can either be aware of the nature and beauty around them or not

- Its easy to forget about the rest of the world when out on the river


- I want to go again