Sunday, January 18, 2015

Touched by Scenes of Wonder

Have you read the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S.Lewis? Highly recommended.

This morning, watching the sunrise, I thought of the lines from the first book, The Magician's Nephew. Polly and Digory (old Professor Kirk in the other stories) watch as the great lion, Aslan, sings the sky and the stars into being.

"The eastern sky changed from white to pink and pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose...You could imagine that it laughed for joy as it came up."

I am grateful for these moments of wonder, the glimpse of the spectacular.

A little later, here, the ordinary gray skies glowed, illuminated from the sun, hidden behind.

 In the story, there are three others watching with Polly and Digory. One becomes a king, one becomes the influence of evil in the new world, and one just goes back to his selfish, narrow-minded ways. Polly and Digory go on to other adventures, but mostly, on to many ordinary gray days in their ordinary homes and lives.

The ordinary days, touched by scenes of wonder, don't seem so ordinary after all, do they?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Full of [ ]

Don't worry, this is G rated.

I wonder what my one-word should be for 2015?

What should 2015 be full of?

What one word best defines my goals-plans-hopes-dreams-attitudes toward this year?

I thought, perhaps, Edit. An on-going theme and process, part of learning to Travel Lighter through the maze of my days.

Or, perhaps, Listen. To listen - and hear, really hear - those around me, to listen quietly for the Lord's voice, to say to life, "I am listening."

But, those words didn't seem quite right.

Two quotes I recently read stand out in my mind:

"Pay Attention.
Be Astonished.
Tell About It."
                                                   -Mary Oliver

"Step One:
Wonder at Something.
Step Two:
Invite Others to Wonder With You."
                                                      -Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist 

Wonder at something.
The glitter snow falling during Christmas, sun reflected gold in the snowflakes.
Flavors and smells of an Italian meal, baking in the oven.
Puppy squeaking her tennis ball in her mouth, delighted with the noise.
Flour, yeast, water, oil, kneaded and rising under the towel.
Ocean waves, storm clouds breaking at sunset.

Invite others to wonder with you.

 What causes you to wonder?

I looked wonder up in the 1828 Webster Dictionary (a very cool fascimile edition that uses KJV Bible verses and classics to illustrate definitions). It used words like: surprise, astonishment, amazement, miracle, admiration, wondrous. All of these, expressed, point at the wonder of the daily ordinary. Because that is where I live. To pay attention to the difference between expectation and surprised by gifts of wonder.

I finished re-reading Ann Voskamp's one thousand gifts. At the end of writing about her journey, Ann says, "No, I'll never stop the counting, never cease transcribing the ballad of the world, the rhyme of His heart...His presence filling the laundry room, the kitchen, the hospital, the graveyard, the highways and byways and workways and all the blazing starways, His presence filling me. This is what it means to be fully alive."

To be surprised by wonder. Isn't that an oxymoron? Yet, we are surprised. Awed.

Another word in the definition: marvel.
The Marvel comics are revitalized by the movie industry in the Avenger series. Heroes doing wonderful things, doing wonders, saving people, the world, the universe.

What wonder-full things do I do? Fix dinner. Clean the bathrooms. Clean up doggie poo. Plant seeds. Knead the dough. Be patient when it would be "easier" to snap back a comment (sometimes, not always). Understand, learn.

What wonder-full things do you do?

Can we really learn to see the daily ordinary as wonder-full?

Full of wonder?

Would you like to be full of wonder with me this year?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 Then, 2015 Now

2014. A glance in review.

We bought a mountain cabin in May for a really, really good deal. In real estate terms, that translates to Needs Lots of Work. For now, it is a place to go most weekends in the spring, summer and fall (no heat there yet - a bit chilly for winter visits). A fun opportunity for adventure and learning construction for the teen guys and their dad (and me). Eventually, (soon?) it will be a place for family retreats and time together, and our retirement home. We are gutting, adding windows to widen and enjoy the view, re-arranging rooms, replacing old yucky spots, and getting rid of four legged, furry vermin who decided it was their home while it sat empty for years. I'm looking forward to the point when we can begin re-building, rather than tearing apart.

The type of books I read changed after we bought the cabin. I moved toward reading lots of decorating, design type books, looking for the style, ideas to use. My two favorites are Remodelista, A Manual for the Considered Home, and Country Living 500 Kitchen Ideas. Do you like before and after pictures? Me too. But as there aren't any "after" pictures yet, I will spare you the "before" shots. For now. Discovered I gravitate to the scandinavian style - their simplicity and unclutered rooms, full of light. For the new kitchen, I have three requirements: no corner cabinets, a walk-in pantry, and lots of light. What was a long narrow laundry room will be the walk-in pantry off the kitchen, the counter top and cabinets will be along one wall with a center island, and we are adding two large windows along the kitchen-open-to-the-dining room wall for the best view and light. Love it. Look forward to cooking up food for a crowd in that kitchen.

With the focus on decorating and remodeling, I realized something. The point of decorating or design is to ask:
                                           How will we live here?

Not so much how it will look, but will it work for us, how we live:
How will it be convenient? Or practical? Or comforting? Or friendly? Or light-filled? Or pleasant? Or welcoming? Or life-filled (people, pets, plants...). These are the questions that define a personal, realistic decorating style. These are the questions I want to answer in this new place of ours.

Our family welcomed  two new grandsons this year! Little feet to learn to walk in their daddy's steps.

We traveled to California, Oregon and Arizona for family visits. Had the opportunity to take a four generation guys-with-the-same-name photo. Priceless.

A seven month writing hiatus happened. No particular reason, just a pause, a space in blogging and writing. I missed it, the connection with you readers. Let's re-connect.

And now, 2015 has arrived. Shouldn't we be flying cars and eating precisely proportioned pre-planned packaged food for perfect health? 2015 isn't quite as futuristic as I thought it would be. Maybe that is just because I am slow to catch up with all the changes?

2015. Looking ahead, I plan to take a Master Gardener Class this year, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I think this year will be my window to make that happen. Looking forward to that.

We have the first trip of the year scheduled, to fly to Iowa the end of January to visit our family there, celebrate two grankiddos' birthdays and spend time with our son and daughter-in-law. Our travels are all family oriented, one disadvantage of having everyone spread out in six states, but I am grateful for the opportunities to see all of them. Hooray for special airline deals!

Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts, is a book I will re-read at least once a year. Last year Ann challenged herself to write a fresh gifts list to 1,000 in one month. Thirty-three or so gifts, listed, each day. That challenged me to re-visit my list, set aside during my writing hiatus. My list, counted at that point, would take ten a day to complete one thousand by the end of the year. Not as ambitious as hers, but for me, a good goal. And I did it! Once I started, it was easy to keep going, keep watching, keep paying attention daily to all the details of grace in my day, and to be thankful. My list is in a  small book I keep out on the table or countertop. (The gifts list posted above on the computer page is not current - but I will be updating it soon.) And the gifts of grace, listed daily, go on.

"The quiet song of gratitude, eucharisteo, lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give."
                                                                                                             -Ann Voskamp

This quote, the "quiet song," and "to accept "(welcome), tie together my word-of-the-year for 2013, quiet, and 2014, welcome. My word for 2015? Another post, to come.