Monthly Archives: November 2009

Hymns of Thanksgiving

(I know it’s a bit late to still be talking about Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t get a good Internet connection until now!)

“We plow the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land….”

Those lines on Semicolon’s blog immediately brought the tune of the hymn to my mind, and reminded me to bring out the hymn booklets I made a few years ago as a way to bring the family together before the Lord later on Thanksgiving Day, after we have eaten the bounty for which we gave thanks.

Another hymn in that small collection is “We Gather Together,” which always reminds me of the children’s book Cranberry Thanksgiving. I read that so many times I got sick of it and gave it away, with regrets following. The story tells of love generated among hostile neighbors over turkey dinner and singing of that hymn together.

A recipe for cranberry bread is a focus of the tale, and I’m sure it made for some vicarious experience for our children, who didn’t eat cranberry bread, or any bread for that matter, at Thanksgiving. In our house it was pies, pies, and pies, with the cranberries found in a big bowl of homemade sauce.

This year was my first Thanksgiving celebration not in California, as we are at Eldest Daughter’s house on the East Coast. But thanks to a blogging friend’s reminder, I brought those hymn booklets with me for a taste of home. We sang with at least as much cheer and gusto as the fictional characters!

Putting Books on Shelves, Taking Them Off…

Earlier in the month I told how I got worked up when parts of my book order began to arrive in the mail. I admit, I do feel a bit sheepish, buying more books and telling about them, when there are plenty of good ones already on my shelves. But that’s me, a glutton.


These are mostly used, almost all from different sellers, and the shipping totalled way more than the books themselves. Most of the titles have been on my wish list for months or years, and I know that some of the books, now that they are in my possession, will sit on the shelf for at least months, more likely years, before I get to them. But they have a better chance of being read now.

Not to mention, they are now available for me to remove from the bookcase briefly, to open and lovingly turn a few pages–even when there isn’t time to give my full attention to the contents. Winston Churchill gave an admonition to book-lovers to do just that. I read the saying in a London museum, and it appears I’ll have to return there if I am ever going to find it verbatim.

In some cases it is a mystery how I heard about the book or why I wanted it. The Golden Book of Writing looks valuable, and I can always use help in that department, but it will have to remain uncredited as far as who recommended it. Maybe it was my friend at who always says, “We have recommendations for you!”

John McWhorter has been interviewed a couple of times on Mars Hill Audio, so I’ve been familiar with him and wanting to read more from his mind. Linguistics is a subject that grabs me ever since I was privileged to take a tutorial in the subject as a freshman in college. Perusing the titles of McWhorter’s bibliography feeds my book greed.

Dana Gioia is another author whose acquaintance I first made through MHA, and I mentioned that meeting here already. I only owned one book of his poems before–now I have two, and two collections of essays. Disappearing Ink is a collection of essays subtitled Poetry at the End of Print Culture.

Kristin Lavransdatter I loved so much that I snatched up sets whenever I’d see them, in the old translation that so many people despise–I didn’t. But now I want to read it in Tiina Nunnally’s rendition.

Because I dearly love my friend, whom I will call Bird, I bought The Lady’s Not for Burning, a play by Christopher Fry. Bird is 98 years old, and this play is one of her favorite pieces of writing, I think partly because it was something she enjoyed with her late husband. Bird is terribly hard of hearing, but she can hear me when I sit nearby and we talk about how thankful we are to God for many things. She is a little worried that her eyes will fail her and she won’t be able see the print on the pages of her books; I told her I will come and read to her then.

I think she would really like Kristin Lavransdatter.

That Temple You Are

We have begun the celebration of the Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, focusing on an event that is not mentioned in the Bible, but is a story with important meaning.

As Fr. Thomas Hopko explains in The Winter Pascha, “Its purpose is not so much to commemorate an historical happening as to celebrate a dogmatic mystery of the Christian faith, namely, that every human being is made to be a living temple of God.

“The festal event is that the three-year-old Mary, in fulfillment of a promise made at her conception by her parents, Joachim and Anna, is offered by them to God in the temple at Jerusalem.”

And in the next chapter, “In the Orthodox Church the Virgin Mary is the image of those who are being saved….she shows how all people must be when they are sanctified by the Holy Spirit as servants of God and imitators of Christ.”

Lord, may we by your grace imitate your Mother in her glad obedience, and also by your grace live as becomes temples of your Holy Spirit.

“For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.”  I Corinthians 3:17

Psalter and Soup

This Advent season I’m participating with other women, organized by Sylvia, in reading the Psalter every day for the 40 days. Our Psalter is divided into 20 groupings each of which is called a kathisma, and every woman will read one per day.

There are more than 40 of us participating so that the whole book of Psalms will be read twice a day. Everyone who perseveres will end up having read the Psalter through twice before Christmas, as well! What a joy it has already been.

I’m also trying to read The Winter Pascha by Fr Thomas Hopko, which has 40 readings about this period in the church year that has similarities to Lent and Pascha. I read two days’ entries and now can’t find the book, so we’ll see how that goes….

We just got a good rain and everything is washed clean, the sky is blue, and the snowball bush is showing its glory.

It’s the season for soup! It’s easy to make a lenten meal in the soup kettle, and today I am putting in three kinds of beans and some winter vegetables.

I don’t often buy parsnips or turnips. When I used to read Down, Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle to my children, the vegetables the characters are so fond of must have seemed as exotic as boys and girls riding barefoot for lack of shoes to wear.

In the story, the mountain children carry a bagful of turnips down to the town, turnips they themselves planted and tended lovingly, in hopes of selling them for enough money to buy shoes. But everyone they meet along the way is hungering and thirsting for just such a delicacy, and when they arrive in town they discover that only one turnip is left in the bag.
 I’m afraid that after my first 15 years of family cooking, with its centerpieces of lentil soup and bread, I might have inadvertently started cultivating a taste in my family for fancier food. Fast periods are a good opportunity to repent and reform.
 But this plain food tastes pretty fancy after all.