Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Week Puzzle

It’s Holy Week, and for some reason, I am spiritually tired.  This is inexplicable because this year I haven’t even had to deal with the spiritual overload of simultaneous Lent and Passover prep, with all its egg-whipping and matzo-soaking.  Passover is still a month away. 

If a mere layperson like me is feeling this way, I can only imagine how clergy must feel.  And then, think of how spiritually exhausting a week it must have been for Jesus, back during the Original Holy Week.

So to counteract spiritual malaise, I continue to look for beauty.  Here is something I find beautiful and which is, at least tangentially, related to Holy Week.  This is a jigsaw puzzle painted by Older Daughter, and given to us as a Christmas present. 

Older Daughter is very creative, and God is very creative, and, so, holiness is to be found in creativity. 

It is a puzzle; the events of Holy Week are puzzling (to say the least). 

We had this puzzle on our dining room table since Christmas.  Just last week I discovered that it is missing a piece.  This makes me very sad, as my darling daughter made it, and I wanted to frame it.  (That’s what I get for being such a procrastinator!) But the missing piece is indicative of Holy Week, too, in that despite all the goodness of God that Christians believe comes from the Original Holy Week, there are still so many unanswered questions about this world and our lives.  I’m not sure I’m even making sense, but I stumble along and lean on my hope that God is not finished yet.

This is what the world looked like at the beginning of creation,
before it was missing a piece.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Things of Beauty

Seeking to move away the pall from our dark spirits, I wish to show you, in reverse chronological order, photos of some things which I found beautiful this week. 

Beauty in the yard:
These crocus buds appeared this morning, after a night of rain.

Today they were in full bloom.

Beauty in the kitchen: 
These are snacks for our book club.  The book we discussed was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  

In days of yore, when I went to Paris for business trips, I would get a tiny little jar of that "Bonne Maman" jam with my petit dejeuner.  That is the only fond memory I have of those business trips.  
I did not have the nerve to bake little pieces of paper into the bread.

I don't have a photo of the pie my son and I made on 3.10 for Almost Pi Day.  It was not necessarily beautiful to behold, but it tastes oh, so heavenly!

Beauty at the synagogue:
On Sunday I helped to make thousands of hamantashen cookies for the upcoming Purim bake sale. Purim is the celebration of the story of Esther.  One of the commandments is to read the book of Esther, which is called "the Megillah".  The Megillah is a one-sided scroll, which is pictured in this stained glass.
The Megillah (scroll of the book of Esther) is that
brownish-greenish thing to the left, with grayish pieces of vellum
 extending to the right.  It has the Hebrew letter
"lamed" underneath it, sort of.  (Like that helps you see it.)
Hamentashen are supposed to be in the shape of either Haman's hat or Haman's ears.  Haman is the bad guy in the Esther story.  I guess if you eat the bad guy's hat or ears then you have dominion over evil.
Perfectly formed hamentashen.
Things of beauty and tastiness!

Look how these triangular cookies are made out of circles.
Isn't geometry beautiful?

Beauty in the fridge:
These things are beautiful because stocking up on them means that my son is home for spring break! The top photo are some of his favorites; the lower photo has food he won't touch, which is fine, because they are for me.
Okay, the bananas and the peanut butter don't go in the fridge.

These things are beautiful because Fresh Vegetables.

What's beautiful in your world this week?

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
John Keats (1795–1821)

From “Endymion,” Book I.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:  
Its loveliness increases; it will never          
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep  
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep  
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.          
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing  
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,    
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth     
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,       
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,           
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall         
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,    
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon     
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils         
With the green world they live in; and clear rills 
That for themselves a cooling covert make           
’Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,       
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms: 
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms             
We have imagined for the mighty dead;   
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:         
An endless fountain of immortal drink,     
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

(This is only the first portion of the poem, which goes on and on and on.  I haven't read the whole poem.  I wasn't an English major, but I was fortunate to hang out with English majors.  Maybe, with the aid of a strong cup of coffee, the English majors managed to read the whole poem.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Now it is our turn

And so it is our turn. 

Our town’s turn to shake our heads and wonder why.  Our turn to be in national headlines.  Our turn to mourn the victims.  Our turn to figure out how to word our messages to loved ones who will read the news and worry if our particular family is okay.

Some families are not okay.  Some families are mourning.  Some families are terrified.  Some families now have difficult decisions to make.  Some families will never be able to forget this day.

Pittsburgh and vicinity has been declared one of the Best Super Places to Live.  Not for everyone, it isn’t.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Food and Calendar Conversations

Recent Common Household commentary about food, including food as it relates to holidays both secular and religious. 

Me:  “There is banana bread here.”
Son:  “I don’t think I’ve ever had banana bread.  Is it like monkey bread?”
Me:    “No.”
Son:  “Or is it just bread for monkeys?”

* * * * *

Common Household Husband:  “To me, pie is just something you eat when you have no cake.”

* * * * *

The Common Household Son was complaining that there were no more frozen waffles, which is what he usually eats for breakfast.  I said, “Can’t you eat cereal?  Every red-blooded American eats cereal for breakfast.”   Younger Daughter shouted from the other room, “Who says our blood is red?!”

* * * * *

Me:  “What kind of cheese do you want for your sandwich?”
Husband:  “There’s some low salt, low fat, low self-esteem cheese in the fridge.”

* * * * *

Me:    “On Tuesday we are going to the Pancake Dinner at church.”
Husband:   “Why are they serving pancakes?”
Younger Daughter:  “On Tuesday it is the tradition to use up all the fat.  Before Lint.”
Husband (thinking of pre-Passover traditions):  “You mean, you go through the cupboards with a feather and brush away all the fat?”
Me:   (speechless)
YD:  “What?!  There’s no feather involved in Lint.”
Husband (rhapsodic about Passover):  “As a people, we have gone through the cupboards with a feather. … How long is Lent?  Is it a 30-day countdown?”
Me:  “Lent is 40 days, not including Sundays.”
Husband (explaining the Jewish calendar):  “You know there are two months of Adar this year.  How does that affect Lent?  Maybe Lent is 80 days this year instead of 40 days?”

* * * * *

Me: (reading the newspaper about an event for Presidents’ Day):  “Oooh!  A Cherry Pie hike!  What a great title for a hike.”
Husband:  “Is there a chocolate cake hike?”
Me:    “No.  George Washington was not famous for chocolate cake.”
Husband:  “I have no use for it if it doesn’t involve chocolate cake.”