sweet water memories

This is my 3rd winter in the Northlands, my third season of months on end of snow and ice. We have had two large storms in the last week and I have realized that I need to change my perspective on snow. I do not want to just endure, I want to rejoice . This desire to rejoice, even in the midst of windchills and ice and deep snow brought me to Psalm 148.

Psalm 148 is a psalm of praise: Hallal YHWH over and over. Praise Him! Praise Him! Tucked away in the list of that which praises YHWH, I discovered snow...snow praising Him! If snow praises our Heavenly Father, then I definitely need a new perspective on it.

There are many verses in scripture that speak of snow and teach us that snow is from Him just as everything else is....His breath blows it, His storehouses store it. One verse brought home to me the issue I had been having with snow: fear.

Prov 31

"She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet"

Thank you Father for bringing me to this place of recognizing my fear...fear that keeps me from resting in your love. Thank you for allowing me to see the beauty of what I would not see before.

As I read the scriptures on snow I was reminded of the source of water. There comes a time in the seasons when the snow that has laid upon the ground begins to melt...begins to flow and replenish those places the need this life- giving water. Here in the Northlands a beautiful creek is behind our home. Right now it is frozen ,suspended....covered in snow. With spring it will become a gigantic, gushing flow that speeds down the mountain and into Lake Superior. The power of this melting off is amazing and forceful.

When I was younger, my favorite place to get away and think was a spot up on the Mogollon Rim called Horton Springs. This spring came right out of the side of the Rim and the water was sweet, pure and cold. Obviously it is and was fed by the melting snows. There is a connection between the snow and the water that I was not willingy to see or appreciate until this weekend.

Thank you Father...thank you for new perspectives.

Horton Springs

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I have been occupied and quiet and I see that this season will continue for awhile. In moments , I have been reading Yours, Jack. These are excerpts of letters that CS Lewis wrote. They have been greatly encouraging and thought provoking. Of course, reading Lewis brought me back to George MacDonald and the following essay stretches my wings and creates a desire to soar with the gifts God has given:

George MacDonald

The Fantastic Imagination

Introduction from The Light Princess and other Fairy Tales, also reprinted in a Dish of Orts.

That we have in English no word corresponding to the German Märchen, drives us to use the word Fairytale, regardless of the fact that the tale may have nothing to do with any sort of fairy. The old use of the word Fairy, by Spenser at least, might, however, well be adduced, were justification or excuse necessary where need must.

Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale; then read this and that as well, and you will see what is a fairytale. Were I further begged to describe the fairytale, or define what it is, I would make answer, that I should as soon think of describing the abstract human face, or stating what must go to constitute a human being. A fairytale is just a fairytale, as a face is just a face; and of all fairytales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful.

Many a man, however, who would not attempt to define a man, might venture to say something as to what a man ought to be: even so much I will not in this place venture with regard to the fairytale, for my long past work in that kind might but poorly instance or illustrate my now more matured judgment. I will but say some things helpful to the reading, in right-minded fashion, of such fairytales as I would wish to write, or care to read.

Some thinkers would feel sorely hampered if at liberty to use no forms but such as existed in nature, or to invent nothing save in accordance with the laws of the world of the senses; but it must not therefore be imagined that they desire escape from the region of law. Nothing lawless can show the least reason why it should exist, or could at best have more than an appearance of life.

The natural world has its laws, and no man must interfere with them in the way of presentment any more than in the way of use; but they themselves may suggest laws of other kinds, and man may, if he pleases, invent a little world of his own, with its own laws; for there is that in him which delights in calling up new forms--which is the nearest, perhaps, he can come to creation. When such forms are new embodiments of old truths, we call them products of the Imagination; when they are mere inventions, however lovely, I should call them the work of the Fancy: in either case, Law has been diligently at work.

His world once invented, the highest law that comes next into play is, that there shall be harmony between the laws by which the new world has begun to exist; and in the process of his creation, the inventor must hold by those laws. The moment he forgets one of them, he makes the story, by its own postulates, incredible. To be able to live a moment in an imagined world, we must see the laws of its existence obeyed. Those broken, we fall out of it. The imagination in us, whose exercise is essential to the most temporary submission to the imagination of another, immediately, with the disappearance of Law, ceases to act. Suppose the gracious creatures of some childlike region of Fairyland talking either cockney or Gascon! Would not the tale, however lovelily begun, sink once to the level of the Burlesque--of all forms of literature the least worthy? A man's inventions may be stupid or clever, but if he does not hold by the laws of them, or if he makes one law jar with another, he contradicts himself as an inventor, he is no artist. He does not rightly consort his instruments, or he tunes them in different keys. The mind of man is the product of live Law; it thinks by law, it dwells in the midst of law, it gathers from law its growth; with law, therefore, can it alone work to any result. Inharmonious, unconsorting ideas will come to a man, but if he try to use one of such, his work will grow dull, and he will drop it from mere lack of interest. Law is the soil in which alone beauty will grow; beauty is the only stuff in which Truth can be clothed; and you may, if you will, call Imagination the tailor that cuts her garments to fit her, and Fancy his journeyman that puts the pieces of them together, or perhaps at most embroiders their button-holes. Obeying law, the maker works like his creator; not obeying law, he is such a fool as heaps a pile of stones and calls it a church.

In the moral world it is different: there a man may clothe in new forms, and for this employ his imagination freely, but he must invent nothing. He may not, for any purpose, turn its laws upside down. He must not meddle with the relations of live souls. The laws of the spirit of man must hold, alike in this world and in any world he may invent. It were no offence to suppose a world in which everything repelled instead of attracted the things around it; it would be wicked to write a tale representing a man it called good as always doing bad things, or a man it called bad as always doing good things: the notion itself is absolutely lawless. In physical things a man may invent; in moral things he must obey--and take their laws with him into his invented world as well.

"You write as if a fairytale were a thing of importance: must it have meaning?"

It cannot help having some meaning; if it have proportion and harmony it has vitality, and vitality is truth. The beauty may be plainer in it than the truth, but without the truth the beauty could not be, and the fairytale would give no delight. Everyone, however, who feels the story, will read its meaning after his own nature and development: one man will read one meaning in it, another will read another.

"If so, how am I to assure myself that I am not reading my own meaning into it, but yours out of it?"

Why should you be so assured? It may be better that you should read your meaning into it. That may be a higher operation of your intellect than the mere reading of mine out of it: your meaning may be superior to mine.

"Suppose my child ask me what the fairytale means, what am I to say?"

If you do not know what it means, what is easier than to say so? If you do see a meaning in it, there it is for you to give him. A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs THIS IS A HORSE written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means? It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning. If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside. A meaning may be there, but it is not for you. If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much. At all events, the business of the painter is not to teach zoology.

But indeed your children are not likely to trouble you about the meaning. They find what they are capable of finding, and more would be too much. For my part, I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.

A fairytale is not an allegory. There may be allegory in it, but it not an allegory. He must be an artist indeed who can, in any mode, produce a strict allegory that is not a weariness to the spirit. An allegory must be Mastery or Moorditch.

A fairytale, like a butterfly or a bee, helps itself on all sides, sips every wholesome flower, and spoils not one. The true fairytale is, to my mind, very like the sonata. We all know that a sonata means something; and where there is the faculty of talking with suitable vagueness, and choosing metaphor sufficiently loose, mind may approach mind, in the interpretation of a sonata, with the result of a more or less contenting consciousness of sympathy. But if two or three men sat down to write each what the sonata meant to him, what approximation to definite idea would be the result? Little enough--and that little more than needful. We should find it had roused related, if not identical, feelings, but probably not one common thought. Has the sonata therefore failed? Had it undertaken to convey, or ought it to be expected to impart anything defined, anything notionally recognisable?

"But words are not music; words at least are meant and fitted to carry a precise meaning!"

It is very seldom indeed that they carry the exact meaning of any user of them! And if they can be so used as to convey definite meaning, it does not follow that they ought never to carry anything else. Words are live things that may be variously employed to various ends. They can convey a scientific fact, or throw a shadow of her child's dream on the heart of a mother. They are things to put together like the pieces of dissected map, or to arrange like the notes on a stave. Is the music in them to go for nothing? It can hardly help the definiteness of a meaning: is it therefore to be disregarded? They have length, and breadth, and outline: have they nothing to do with depth? Have they only to describe, never to impress? Has nothing any claim to their use but definite? The cause of a child's tears may be altogether undefinable: has the mother therefore no antidote for his vague misery? That may be strong in colour which has no evident outline. A fairtytale, a sonata, a gathering storm, a limitless night, seizes you and sweeps you away: do you begin at once to wrestle with it and ask whence its power over you, whither it is carrying you? The law of each is in the mind of its composer; that law makes one man feel this way, another man feel that way. To one the sonata is a world of odour and beauty, to another of soothing only and sweetness. To one, the cloudy rendezvous is a wild dance, with a terror at its heart; to another, a majestic march of heavenly hosts, with Truth in their centre pointing their course, but as yet restraining her voice. The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.

I will go farther.--The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is--not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself. The best Nature does for us is to work in us such moods in which thoughts of high import arise. Does any aspect of Nature wake but one thought? Does she ever suggest only one definite thing? Does she make any two men in the same place at the same moment think the same thing? Is she therefore a failure, because she is not definite? Is it nothing that she rouses the something deeper than the understanding--the power that underlies thoughts? Does she not set feeling, and so thinking at work? Would it be better that she did this after one fashion and not after many fashions? Nature is mood-engendering, thought-provoking: such ought the sonata, such ought the fairytale to be.

"But a man may then imagine in your work what he pleases, what you never meant!"

Not what he pleases, but what he can. If he be not a true man, he will draw evil out of the best; we need not mind how he treats any work of art! If he be a true man, he will imagine true things; what matter whether I meant them or not? They are there none the less that I cannot claim putting them there! One difference between God's work and man's is, that, while God's work cannot mean more than he meant, man's must mean more than he meant. For in everything that God has made, there is a layer upon layer of ascending significance; also he expresses the same thought in higher and higher kinds of that thought: it is God's things, his embodied thoughts, which alone a man has to use, modified and adapted to his own purposes, for the expression of his thoughts; therefore he cannot help his words and figures falling into such combinations in the mind of another as he had himself not foreseen, so many are the thoughts allied to every other thought, so many are the relations involved in every figure, so many the facts hinted in every symbol. A man may well himself discover truth in what he wrote; for he was dealing all the time things that came from thoughts beyond his own.

"But surely you would explain your idea to one who asked you?"

I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one. Any key to a work of imagination would be nearly, if not quite, as absurd. The tale is there not to hide, but to show: if it show nothing at your window, do not open your door to it; leave it out in the cold. To ask me to explain, is to say, "Roses! Boil them, or we won't have them!" My tales may not be roses but I will not boil them.

So long as I think my dog can bark, I will not sit up to bark for him.

If a writer's aim be logical conviction, he must spare no logical pains, not merely to be understood, but to escape being misunderstood; where his object is to move by suggestion, to cause to imagine, then let him assail the soul of his reader as the wind assails an aeolian harp. If there be music in my reader, I would gladly wake it. Let fairytale of mine go for a firefly that now flashes, now is dark, but may flash again. Caught in a hand which does not love its kind, it will turn to an insignificant ugly thing, that can neither flash nor fly.

The best way with music, I imagine, is not to bring the forces of our intellect to bear upon it, but to be still and let it work on that part of us for whose sake it exists. We spoil countless precious things by intellectual greed. He who will be a man, and will not be a child, must--he cannot help himself--become a little man, that is, a dwarf. He will, however need no consolation, for he is sure to think himself a very large creature indeed.

If any strain of my "broken music" make a child's eyes flash, or his mother's grow for a moment dim, my labour will not have been in vain.



dancing chickens, weeping bees and attaining 700

With a family as large as ours, it can sometimes be hard to spend one on one time with each child.
This week I had that chance with the three who live full time in our home and it created a longing in me to ensure that I do it more often.

Sardius and I spent an evening at the symphony, courtesy of Bampa for Sardius' birthday. We enjoyed a simple ice cream cone beforehand . We attended the pre-symphony talk and decided that while it was interesting, the talk was too long to do it again :)

Sardius is learning to play the violin and finds great enjoyment in music. I find this incredibly ironic as he is our one child who appears to be tone deaf. Our favorite piece was Pictures at an Exhibition. The program listed the different paintings/sketches that corresponded to the movements and we had a hard time not giggling as the music wonderfully portrayed a chicken ballet. The ending movement represented a city gate and church....the music so powerful that we were both deeply moved.

I treasure every moment that I can sit close with Sardius and hold his hand, his head leaning on my shoulder...
Anonimo took Jasper, Emerald, Sardius and Electrum to Jasper's hockey practice. This left a quiet house with just myself and Quartz. Quartz is a solitary young man and he has always been uncomfortable with more than just a couple of people around him. We have walked some agonizing paths with him and my love and burden for him go very deep.

Quartz recently learned to play rummy, so we sat down to a special time of just being together. I would normally choose to play classical music or gentle hymns, but I know that this music, especially the hymns, grates on his nerves. I brought up the Pandora website and had him make his own station, knowing that his love in music is techno/percussion. My only thought as we listened to it was an extreme thankfulness that he does not like rap or heavy metal.

He taught me to play rummy and the evening slowly rolled along. I talked too much as I always do with him...I have too much desperation in wanting to reach through to his heart. I have not heard the words "I love you" in over two years from his mouth. I have though, perhaps seen it spoken in his eyes and the tilt of his head. He mocks my beliefs and cannot begin to comprehend my love for God.

He attained 700 before me and the game and time was over.

The love for this son is almost too much sometimes.
Garnet and I both love good books and a time of reading. We both love to write. A favorite book is The Secret Life of Bees. It is very rare that we actually go to a movie theater to see a movie, but when this movie came out this week, I agreed that we should go see it.

Garnet is my step-daughter and a young woman, the oldest of our 8. Anonimo and I have discovered that each of us will never have the same emotions for our step-children as we do for our blood children. Our hearts have been bound to our blood children since birth. Our hearts have only been tied to our step-children for a short time.

We have learned more about the love of the Father with our step-children than we have with our blood children.

Both Garnet and I enjoyed the movie and I wept as a picture of love was drawn before us on the screen. A picture of love between people related and people not related, but brought together as family.

I hope to enjoy other movies and time with Garnet. I also hope to let go of my stubborn heart.


The fog has rolled in this morning and softens the lines of my normal view. This lack of clarity makes for a beautiful picture.

Perhaps not everything always needs to be so clear and "finished". Perhaps softening my view is what is needed and .......most of all, what is most loving.


excercising artistic expression

My dear Anonimo has quirks....just like I do :) and I love him for these quirks and so much more.

When we married, Anonimo had a wooden dining room table that he prized. After his divorce he had little in the way of furnishings and this table was one of the first things he purchased at a second hand shop.

He would lovingly clean the table top and then apply oil to make it shine. He likes a clean where the light reflects off the finish of the wood.

I, on the other hand, treasure irregularities and mishaps. For me a table should tell a story of all the years it has sturdily sat and provided a place for the family to gather together. A scratch? No problem says I. A hot pan scorches the corner. Ahhhh, that will always be a memory says I.

Anonimo does not treasure the irregularities and mishaps. He prefers the restored, the symmetrical, the "nice".

For many months we had that dining room table and around it sat several mis-matched chairs. As much as I might like mis-matched, I did not like those chairs. We looked at furniture store after furniture store and were aghast at the cost of chairs. Neither of us could bring ourselves to spend so much on a matching set of chairs.

A few weekends ago we stopped at a yard sale. Sitting by the entrance was one dark wood chair with a blue covered seat. A small sign was propped on the seat: Chairs $5 each, Table $35. "May we see your dining room set?"

We walked inside the small house with a very nice older man. Immediately our eyes widened in surprise. What a perfect dining room set. Gorgeous wood. The legs of the table sturdy and yet artistic. 6 matching chairs, with one of them being a "papa chair". The table had always been covered with a table pad and so the wooden top was pristine.

Total price $65.

We went home and took down Anonimo's prized first table. When we took out the leaves it shrunk into a tiny round table and we all laughed in delight at this. The mismatched chairs went into the van to go to the dump.

Getting the new table into the house was quite a chore, but Anonimo and Sardius managed. As soon as it was set up , Anonimo gathered his rag and cleaning materials and began his "artistic exercise".

To watch him clean the table is like watching a performance. He is focused and concentrated on the task, his arms and hands sweep across the table. His stands back and carefully eyes the table from every position until he finally judges it "clean".

I smile everytime I see him do this. It could be the other way could exasperate me. Thank you Father that it does not.

We both came out of first marriages where we did not know what it meant to appreciate our partner and love. This time we embrace instead of exasperate.

In many ways we are so incredibly different, but in so many other ways we are perfectly matched.

eHarmony took all of our quirks and all of our qualities and shook them around and computed: Anonimo for Aletheia, Aletheia for Anonimo.

It worked, quirks and all.


Mr. Tooth Decay never sleeps

Sardius woke in the middle of the night in pain. "My teeth hurt". I was immediately pricked as I remembered that I should have taken him to the dentist month's ago to fix a cavity.

He got a little snack and took an advil and went right back to sleep.

I called the dentist and was able to get him in that day. As I left work to pick him up, I was so thankful that I have a job with flexibility (and good insurance).

The dentist worked on Sardius for over an hour and then called me in. "Now mother, I see here by this x-ray that Sardius was here last year and that we identified a cavity. I am not sure how this all slipped through the cracks, but you must remember- Mr. Tooth Decay never sleeps."

I , who hate correction or reproof, slightly simmered as his eyes gazed at me over his gauze mask. His jaw moved back and forth as he chewed his never-ending gum.

"ummm, yes."

And I walked away convicted of my pride and my procrastination. Sardius was just happy to have the tooth fixed .

Next stop was Walgreens to pick up wart medicine for his hands. We went to the pharmacist counter for a recommendation and Sardius held out his hands . The pharmacist spoke one word: "Wow."

For years he had severe eczema on his hands. Now he has wart upon warts. He bears all this beautifully. I know that I would not bear it as well. And I do not...for my warts do not show on my hands.....they attach themselves to my soul....and show in those moments when I least expect them.

Sardius' medicine will freeze off the warts in about 14 days.

What about my warts? Am I procrastinating in their removal?
What about my cavities? Am I allowing them to continue while I sleep?

I am not one to see an analogy in every situation....yet this one does hit home.