Saturday, September 30, 2006

Birthday with Paul Revere--The Sequel

As I was saying, from Paul Revere's house, we followed the Freedom Trail to Revere Mall, just in back of the Old North Church.The centerpiece of the Mall is a bronze sculpture of Paul Revere, riding out from the church to warn that the British were coming to attack Patriot troops in Concord and Lexington. We crossed into the church courtyard itself, but saw only stairs up to the church. However, since we saw cars driving in front of the church, we wheeled our chairs around the block so that I could see the front of the building. We were both pretty sure there wouldn't be wheelchair access.

We were both pretty wrong. Happily, a lovely brick ramp went up to the door, and we wheeled inside with confidence. Once inside, we learned that Old North Chuch is the oldest church in Boston. Originally built by Puritans, it had become an Anglican (or Loyalist) church by Paul Revere's time. Therefore, it's ironic that the Patriots used its steeple to hang the lanterns that signaled the British troops' invasion from the Charles River. But as you can see in the above photo, the Belfry Steeple was the highest point in Colonial Boston, and therefore the most strategic point to hang the warning lanterns.

The lanterns were hung in the Belfry, not by Revere, but by Robert Newman. Newman was the church janitor, though he was denominationally a Puritan (he worked for the church in order to feed his wife and children). As janitor, he had the keys to the church. When intelligence discovered that British forces were coming by means of the river, he climbed the stairs behind the organ (pictured below) and up to the top of the Belfry.

The British naturally could see the lanterns also, and knew pretty much what they signified. They came to the church, but found it locked. By the time they broke in, Newman had escaped through a window in the sanctuary. He was arrested a few days later on charges of treason against the king. But the open window led to his acquittal, since it could have easily been opened by a Patriot breaking INTO the church.

I look forward to more adventures on the Freedom Trail next summer!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Birthday with Paul Revere

Even though my birthday's actually tomorrow, the weather forecasts and other scheduling considerations made it necessary to do my birthday adventure yesterday. Using buses and subways, we followed the Freedom Trail from Haymarket Station to Boston's North End, where we visited the home of Paul Revere.

This house was built in 1680, so Paul Revere wasn't its original owner. The exterior of the house has been restored pretty much to its 1680 appearance. When the Reveres owned it, the colors outside were brighter (probably yellow with red trim, according to drawings the docent showed us), and there was a third story dormer where, at various times (but never all at once) his sixteen children slept. Revere's first wife (Sarah) died soon after the birth of their eighth child. For months later, as was typical for Puritan widowers who had children that needed care, Revere married Rachel and fathered eight more children.

Using a very steep portable ramp, we managed to go inside the ground floor of the house. Sorry to say, photography isn't permitted inside. It's a small house by 21st Century standards, each floor having but two rooms. Each room was the size of a modern apartment's living room, however. Bedrooms included a sitting or dining area, where people entertained guests. A family as well off as the Reveres (who made a fair amount of money from Paul's silversmithing) usually had one very nice bed in the master bedroom, so they liked their guests to see it in much the way people now like guests to see their Plasma TVs.

After leaving the Revere House, we followed the Freedom Trail to the Old North Church, from whence Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride in 1775 warning that the British were coming. But I'll save that for my next entry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good Spiritual Food

I used to believe contemporary praise music (notice I didn't say "worship," because worship encompases so much more than singing comtemporary praise songs) was the most important part of church. Singing them does open me up emotionally, and I know there have been instances when God used those emotions to keep me from falling away from Him. So I greatly appreciate contemporary praise songs.
But now I'm so, so glad to be in a church that worships through contemporary praise songs, hymns and solid preaching. Of the three, I now find contemporary praise songs the least effective in promoting true worship in me. Firstly, I find myself feeling prideful that I'm raising my hands and feeling spiritual emotions. Such pride is hardly true worship!
Secondly, I am increasingly aware that that contemporary praise music appeals more to my feelings than to my mind. At times, that's good, but it doesn't give me balanced spiritual nourishment. Hymns and preaching feed me the doctrine that causes me to grow. We know the Lord through Scripture, and only afterward through emotional experience. Contemporary praise music is a delicious dessert, complementing the balanced diet of hymns and expository preaching.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

History--United States, Holocaust and Personal

Walter and I have been friends since 1972, when he accepted Christ through our church back in California. He grew up in Wesson, just east of Boston, so he's been out here this week to attend his high school reunion (I'll be polite and refrain from saying which reunion) and visiting his brother. He graciously set Monday aside to spend with us. Of course, his visit merely gave me and John an excuse for another one of our adventures!

We began by taking the ferry from Quincy to Long Wharf. Our first stop was Quincy Market, where we ate something that was advertised as Authentic Mexican Food. If that's authentic, I'm Abigail Adams! Oh well, during lunch Walter caught me up on news from back home. It's always good to hear how people there are doing. We told John a few old stories, and showed him pictures of Walter's wife, daughters and granddaughter.

From there, we visited the musuem at Fanueil Hall. I was most impressed by a cannonball from the Battle of Bunker Hill. It's about the size of a soft ball. Kind of exciting seeing that!

Next we went through the Holocaust Memorial, which is always very painful, but important. As I read how so many nations minimized or ignored Hitler's actions until he had killed far too many people, I hoped the world would not ignore al Qeada's threat to the world today. I wish more people could go through this memorial and make the connection between the two eras.

After the Memorial, we went to the Old South Meeting House, which the Puritans had established in 1729. On December 16, 1773, colonists met there to protest England's tea tax...and hatched the idea for the Boston Tea Party.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. I hope more friends from my past will visit and give me and John an excuse for more adventures.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bargain Huntress

Wednesday, clutching the "Shopping Spree" money that John had given me as an anniversary gift, we took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing and visited the clearance racks at TJ MAXX. Here's two of the three pieces I got.

Sweater (originally priced at $59): $7
Skirt: $15
Feeling I got from sniffing out good bargains: PRICELESS!

Monday, September 11, 2006

We Must Remember

Five years ago, I responded to Al Qeda's attack on America by confessing sin in my own life, and urging my loved ones to get right with God. I didn't see the attacks in and of themselves as being God's judgement on America, but as a reminder of the judgement our nation deserves. For a while, people did start thinking about the Lord. Church attendance across the country rose, and people actually wanted God to bless America.

But five years later, God is once again unwelcome in our country. Few people attend church, and those of us who do dabble in sin. Myself included. We avoid sermons on repentance, hell and judgement, instead gravitating to prosperity theology and Christian psycho-babble. We rationalize sin by distorting the doctrines of grace and forgiveness. Jesus is Savior and Friend without being Lord and Judge.

I watched televised commemorations of 9/11 this morning. I wept for the children who lost parents. I wept over the massive loss of lives. I wept that so many people don't support our president in the war on terror. But mostly, I wept over my own sin.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

After Harvard

Disappointed that Brattle House wasn't preserved as an historical monument, we took the Red Line to Quincy Center. We had to catch a connecting bus back home, but John let me go to nearby Hancock Cemetary to visit a grave that captured my attention four years ago. As you can see, it's worse than eroded--the headstone is broken in two. All identification has worn away. It's only by the emblem staked beside it that we know he fought in the Revolutionary War.

I'm saddened that this man, who sacrificed so much to establish this country, lies so neglected. But I'm even more saddened at how far our country has strayed from the Christian morals and values of our Founding Fathers. Soon, we'll return to Hancock leave flowers on his grave.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Brattle House

Harvard Education...Of Sorts

We didn't want to waste yesterday's beautiful weather (knowing that the "evil white stuff" will be falling all too soon), so we took a bus to Ashmont Station, and then took the Red Line to Harvard. I really should have turned my wheelchair off inside the University's gates, so I could "pahk my cah in Hahvahd Yahd," but I was too interested in exploring.

I should have done some research before going. I know the Puritans began Harvard for the purpose of educating men for Christian ministry, but I couldn't find any buildings built before the 1800's. The most interesting building we found was Memorial Church, in the center of Harvard Yard. Look at how tall its steeple is!

Sadly, we couldn't take photos inside the sanctuary. It was resplendent, with a huge vaulted ceiling, intricate moulding, and luminous red carpeting. Even the elevator was classy!

After leaving campus, we had lunch at a quasi-Moroccan restaurant called Casablanca. Good, healthy food, by the way! We had lemon chicken, cucumber, yogurt and feta chees wrapped in pita bread with a side of mixed greens (like a salad). On the wall behind the bar was a mural depicting Rick, Sam, Elsa, and the other usual suspects. (Sorry John cut off half of Elsa's face.

Once we'd finished lunch, we went to explore Brattle House, thinking it was preserved as an historical monument. To our disappointment, however, it now houses classrooms and administrative offices for Adult and Continuing Education. Unfortunately, I can't get Blogger to upload any more pictures right now, so I'll continue this narrative next time.

Friday, September 1, 2006

It's All Happening At The Zoo

Although John's birthday isn't till Tuesday, we celebrated yesterday with a trip to Franklin Park Zoo. I can't show you all the photos we took, nor can I relate all the adventures. But I will share about the three exhibits that we enjoyed the most.

I have always loved ostriches because of their flirtatous eyes. So we were delighted to see one right away. He had no problem posing for John, as you can see! Isn't he marvelous? He kept biting at the fence; I'm not sure if he was attempting a jail-break, or if it tasted good. But we sure enjoyed visiting him!

John knew I like giraffes, so he steered me to their habitat. We got very close to one of them. A younger giraff was nearby, so I'm wondering if the one we photographed was the mama. She didn't seem overly thrilled about being photographed, but she did her duty. Wow! These animals are 19 feet tall! I just love being around them!

One of the most interesting exhibits was Butterfly Landing, a huge tent housing a beautiful flower garden and several species of butterflies. It's a very serene garden, with soothing music, a Japanese footbridge, and a little waterfall.

We were thankful that this zoo doesn't push evolution down people's throats. John and I could enjoy God's creatures freely, rejoicing in His sense of beauty and variety.

Oh...please note the new framing technique I've just learned.


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