Saturday, February 13, 2010


What began in my mind as a birthday post for Oldest daughter--her 20th birthday celebration at the end of January capped a wonderful month of family togetherness--has expanded its borders into something more...full. And while our time together inspired me to write of the fullness of Oldest Daughter's life, the fullness of our family life was juxtaposed with it, as we once again walked together, side by side.

Adding to her Christmas Break from school, Oldest Daughter spent her January/Winter Term with us in Jordan, preparing for and giving a solo concert, fulfilling her Winter Term project requirement.

Though we enjoyed the pleasant strains of violin music this summer when Oldest Daughter was home, January's concert was the first time we enjoyed the fullness of what Oldest Daughter's playing/performing( in some ways, a distinct aspect of playing) had become since her senior recital, performed in May 2008; the maturity and openness of her musical expressions was notable.

Observing the high degree to which the audience, full of long time friends and acquaintances from the community, delighted in Oldest Daughter's performance, I began contemplating the place of music, particularly live music performance, in the life of a community. Most in the audience were not aficionados of classical music, though more than a couple made comments about how Oldest Daughter's music moved them, and " carried them away to another place to enjoy beauty." Fullness of community by sharing music, beauty--beautiful music; I'm still thinking about these things...

Oldest Daughter was able to share some more of this fullness with some our our little friends--they were learning about the orchestra and came over for a special lesson about the violin.

We enjoyed fullness of fellowship and fullness of stomachs as we share some of Oldest Daughter's favorite Arab dishes with family and friends in a celebratory birthday dinner. Featured fare: Koosa Mahshi, zucchini with meat and rice stuffing, and Ma'loubi, an "upside down" dish of fried cauliflower, savory chicken, rice, and toasted almonds.

I delighted in the fullness of my relationship with an "older"daughter, who raised up from infanthood, has become a dear friend, confidante, and close sister in the Lord. God's ways are amazing!

At the end of our month together, and on Oldest Daughter's birthday, we headed just out of town, to a long-time favorite area of the countryside to enjoy each other in the fellowship of the Lord and in his creation.

In a greening field, studded with anemones and limestone we prayed together, rejoicing in the fullness of family that we had enjoyed in Christ the past month; and we prayed for Oldest daughter as she prepared to return to Oberlin, thanking God for the fullness of life that she has and is yet discovering in Jesus as she walks with Him, and asking Him to draw her ever closer to Him even as she travels far from us.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Love Words

Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

In the title of her second chapter, Love Words, Marilyn McEntyre employs a lovely paronomasia (or, pun but puns are are generally humorous) . Shortly into the chapter her double meaning is made evident:

"...So our task as stewards of the word begins and ends in love. Loving language means cherishing it for its beauty, precision, power to enhance understanding, power to name, power to heal. And it means using words as instruments of love."

The encouragment to love words and to love by words reminds me of ideas I considered this summer when I read a few excerpts of Plato's Phaedrus via The Art of Assertion:

( Phaedrus 261a) : "Such soul-leading is a liberal power, one which in its finest and fullest manifestation is a form of love: the finest rhetorician not only loves wisdom, but also loves others who do so. The finest rhetor, then, is a friend...The best university is a rhetorical community of friends, and the ultimate purpose of this book is to teach the reader how to live within such a community with words so full of care that they release the light of brilliance." p.13

-and- "The care of words and things--that is, the care of things through the care of words--is a generous, disciplined forum: this human activity is rhetorical throughout, the true influence of friends who have, as Phaedrus puts it at the close of the Phaedrus, 'everything in common' (279c), in particular the shared motion toward the real. pp 13,14

In Praise of Prepositions~
In celebrating particular parts of speech, McEntyre higlights the deep and amazing work of which prepositions are capable, connecting and showing relationship not only between words, but between the objects, persons, and ideas which they name. I have been considering and reflecting on the words from a hymn, taken from an ancient Celtic prayer, "St. Patrick's Breastplate".

Christ be with me, Christ within me.
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

"...prepositions help us, as Henry James put it, to 'understand things in relation,' which he claimed, is the only way they can be rightly understood." p.37

Love words.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

We are snow wimps here in Jordan--light snow flurries were grounds for locals schools to declare a Snow Day. But, since this will likely be one of our coldest days of the year, it is the perfect time to share this new recipe, compliments of my friend, Susan, via another friend, Robyn (thanks!). Susan served it to us last week and we immediately requested the recipe.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

3 cups milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

Over low heat, whisk all the ingredients into the milk. My kids like this served with a squirt of whipped cream--of course!