Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Obstinate Keyboard!

Gorgeous weather called us to Boston today. We didn't do anything special, though we got my cannoli at Maria's Pastries, which is easier to get to than Mike's. We then meandered down Rose Kennedy Greenway, photographing fountains, chatting with a park ranger, getting John a cupcake (after all, I had my obligatory cannoli) and riding the train home with our train buddies.

So, I get to my computer pretty soon after arriving home, excited about having time to blog before supper. And....my computer keyboard goes into rebellion. The Windows key wouldn't respond, forcing me to use the mouse. So I reset my accessibility controls, hoping that will solve the problem. Then my Tab key decides to be capricious as I fill out PCA Time Sheets. Next, I try backing up those Time Sheets to my other email, whereupon all my keys stop responding!

At that point John comes out, resets the accessibility controls exactly as I had set them, and the keyboard's perfectly happy! Naturally, the whole process eats up 20 minutes. But at least I can type. And enjoy the after-taste of my cannoli!

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Unknown Soldier

If I could read this headstone, I'd know much more than that the Daughters of the American Revolution marked his grave, designating that he fought in the Revolutionary War. I've never been able to learn his name, despite several attempts. The Quincy Historical Society told me it was a really interesting question, promised to email if they found out anything, and went back to doing whatever it is that historical societies do.

On this Memorial Day, I'm thinking of him. I'm thankful for what he did so that I can say what I believe and worship God freely. If I never learn his name, I'll still visit his grave in Hancock Cemetery to cry, pray, and remember his sacrifice. To me, he symbolizes all the forgotten heroes that gave us this wonderful country/

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hopefully Devoted

Ezra 7:1 says:

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

The phrase "prepared his heart" is, in the New International Version, rendered "devoted himself." But before we move into what he devoted himself to do, let's think a bit about devotion. Olivia Newton John declared herself "hopelessly devoted" to John Travolta in Grease, meaning that she overlooked his "bad boy" tendencies for the purpose of being with him. He meant more to her than her upbringing, her circle of friends and her reputation. Forsaking everything else, she donned black leather and abandoned her world for his.

Ezra exhibited similar devotion. Unlike Newton John, his devotion encompassed more than mere emotion (though emotion was probably involved) to become determination. He set a course for his life, making a specific commitment.

Ezra charted his course in three steps.

First, he purposed to study God's law (meaning Scripture). He had lived in Babylon as a captive, possibly not even certain that Scripture existed. Merely reading it might have been a profound enough experience for him. But he recognized Scripture as God's very Words, worthy of exploring and examining as he mined its jewels and embraced its riches. He wanted to be intimately acquainted with it so that he'd understand God's values, priorities and ways. He correctly saw it as the way to know the gracious and powerful God who had restored him and his people to their homeland.

But Ezra's devotion to study God's Law led him to his second step--acting upon what he learned from his study. He wasn't content with mere academic exercise, nor did he want the mere prestige of a scholar. His passion, rather, was to apply all he learned to his life so that he could obey God. He desired to respond to God in relationship with Him!

As an outgrowth of his relationship with God, Ezra wanted to draw others into relationships with Him by teaching His Word. He didn't hoard God's treasures like a miser; he dedicated himself to making it available to the others who, during the Babylonian Captivity, had also been deprived of its abundance. Thus, the third component of his devotion was to teach it, so that others could know the Lord as intimately as he did.

Olivia Newton John's devotion was indeed hopeless, leading her to a lifestyle of sin and emptiness. In glorious contrast, Ezra's devotion led him to the ultimate hope of a relationship with God. That's the devotion I want to have!

Illustates My Day

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Problem

A Saturday afternoon Bible Study meets in our apartment. For years, we've prayed for a Bible Study to meet here, since we can't get our wheelchairs into most homes and our schedules with Personal Care Attendants (as well as the erratic nature of the RIDE) precludes evening events. A few months ago, however, a group started meeting here, and I praise the Lord for it!

There's only one downside to this arrangement. Not enough time for other pursuits on those Saturdays (we don't meet every week). The study makes me want to write! I'm excited by what we discuss, and want to share my thoughts here, with my blog buddies. Ah, but the chief peril of typing with a headstick is that it's mighty slow going, and composing a post worthy of today's discussion on the value of studying Scripture would simply take more time than I have at my disposal.

In particular, I'm eager to blog about Ezra 7:10, which talks about Ezra's attitude toward God's Word. It's a meaty verse, and full of opportunities for application. Will I remember enough to write about it tomorrow? Will something from church eclipse it in my mind? Will I want to take a sabbath from blogging, perhaps just posting a music video?

I thank the Lord for Saturdays that scurry past me, leaving too many wonderful thoughts and ideas in their wake, and little time for me to expand those thoughts and ideas. Not a bad problem to have.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wouldn't That Be Fun?

As I continue pondering the Rapture, it occurs to me that I hope it happens soon, and on a day when I'm in the Old Granary Burying Ground. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that the dead Christians will rise first, followed by Christians who are still living.

An estimated 8,000 people are buried at the Old Granary. Since Boston was mostly Puritan in the 17th and 18th Centuries, I'm guessing a good percentage of the people entombed there genuinely knew the Lord. That being the case, quite a few resurrected bodies will be flying up from that piece of ground, joined by tourists and other visitors (like me and John) who also belong to Jesus.

I can picture the Freedom Trail guides who so openly mock Puritan (and, by extension Christian) beliefs, standing in befuddlement, trying to decide what to do with the two power wheelchairs that John and I vacated, as well as how to continue their tours. But I'll be busy adoring the Lord, thrilled to finally look into His eyes as I join Christians from all centuries and continents in joyous worship of Him!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not Locked, After All

Central Burying Ground tucks itself in the southwest corner of Boston Common, bordered by Tremont and Boylston Streets. Of course I'd seen it before, often gazing longingly through its wrought-iron fence. When I first moved to New England, its gate was open, as if to invite visitors, but the step up from the sidewalk excluded me from wandering through it's headstones. Which is just as well, since it's somewhat hilly and has no foot paths. In recent years, the gate has been locked, perhaps because  the terrain is equally as treacherous for able-bodied people as it is for wheelchair users.

At any rate, John and I would usually wheel past the burying ground, he hardly noticing while my heart yearned to read the headstones. Then again, I'd silently scold myself, how many headstones (other than famous ones) have I read at the Old Granery Burying Ground or King's Chapel Burying Ground? Ahem! Yeah, well...so I'd say nothing, and let John devote his photographic skills to other parts of the Common.

Yesterday, however, I could no longer ignore Central Burying Ground. According to Celebrate Boston's webpage about this cemetery, the town established it in 1756 and buried mostly  foreigners who had died in America and poor people (though a few prominent people such as portrait painter Gilbert Stuart and Boston Tea Party participant and Revolutionary War soldier Samuel Sprague also lie there). British soldiers from the Revolution occupy some of the graves.

Celebrate Boston's article also notes:

Brick and stone tombs were built on the Boylston Street side beginning in 1793. Many burials were done here between 1795 and 1815. In 1836, the Boylston Street Mall was laid out (walkway lined with trees on both sides). Any obstructing graves that were unclaimed by ancestors were buried under this new walkway, and a line of tombs was built on the other side of the grounds for some of the displaced tombs.

Gotta love Boston, huh?

John took several photos of the burying ground, which is probably so peaceful because there aren't bunches of tourists and wannabe history buffs (like me) tramping around it. I'll just share two of them:

Once we arrived home, I looked Central Burying Ground up online, and greatly enjoyed reading its history. It's not as famous as the Old Granery, King's Chapel or Copp's (which is decidedly not wheelchair accessible), but it intrigues me because of all I read last night. I may not have physical access to this tiny, almost hidden, cemetery, but I've entered it now. And I'm not finished exploring it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Worry

I haven't been raptured!

Yesterday, I did some behind-the-scenes work on this blog. You'll see the results on July 18. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I'll post a photo or two from today's Boston Adventure. So, I'm still here, and looking forward to our ongoing conversation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture Introduced

Rather than spend hours typing a definition of the Rapture, I thought it might be more efficient to begin with What Is The Difference Between The Rapture And The Second Coming? This article from GotQuestions.org (the link to this website is on my sidebar) separates these two events. The Rapture will occur first, delivering Christians from the judgments of God that will happen during the Tribulation. And it's specifically the Rapture that I'll discuss today.

What, first of all, is the Rapture? 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says that the Lord will come and raise Christians from their graves just before snatching up Christians who are still alive, taking all of us to heaven. And 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 adds that our bodies will be instantaneously transformed into bodies like the one He gained at His resurrection. I believe it will take place prior to the Tribulation, though I realize Bible scholars much more knowledgeable than I have debated that point for centuries.

As the article from GotQuestions.org notes, sometimes it's difficult to see a distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming in Scripture. For instance, in Matthew 24, Jesus predicts the 70 A..D. destruction of Jerusalem, the Tribulation, His return, and finally the Rapture in a way that makes it sound like a continuous event. Ah, but if you look carefully, He gives His instruction to discern the times by His short parable of the fig tree (verses 32-35), and then goes back to the Rapture in Matthew 24:36-44.

In 36-44, Jesus describes life going on as usual, when believers suddenly disappear. As I see it, He takes us, not during a time of turmoil, but at a time when things run as smoothly as things can run in this broken, sinful world. His point is that, because He will come unannounced, Christians must be living holy lives, attending to His business.

We must not be deceived either into thinking we can predict His coming, or into presuming that He will never come. The Lord calls us to be ready. That readiness, which comes from trusting in His shed blood to atone for our sin and also trusting that God physically raised Him from the dead, assures us that He will raise us up in the Rapture.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Postponement Is Not Avoidance

Having introduced the topic of sound doctrine in my last post, shouldn't it necessarily follow that I would post examples of correct doctrine? Actually, yes! That's the plan. Of course, such posts should be interspersed with other topics. After all, this isn't strictly a theology blog, but rather a compilation of various aspects of my life. As such, it must remain varied.

Yet, I had planned to address the doctrine of the Rapture today, figuring that Harold Camping's failed prophecy has probably led many people to doubt that a rapture will ever take place. Such a conclusion, while certainly understandable, would nevertheless be a false conclusion, and I believe it would be appropriate (not to mention important) to explain what Scripture teaches about this inevitable and (for Christians) wonderful event. You see, although I didn't want a false prophet to be vindicated yesterday, I eagerly await the Rapture, and would have been overjoyed to have Jesus take me up to be with Him!

Granted, the Rapture would have required John and I to leave a wedding at pretty much the moment when the couple was being pronounced "husband and wife." And that point brings me to the reason I'm delaying my discussion of doctrine today. I'm tired! Physically and emotionally tired. The RIDE was an hour late picking us up to come home, and I felt stress because my PCA was in the parking lot of our apartment building, waiting to put me to bed. Very annoying for her, I'm sure. I wondered if the annoyance would drive her to quit. Thankfully not, but it was a reasonable concern. As a result of all the confusion and frustration, added to the physical toll of being in my wheelchair two hours longer than I am normally, the thought of tackling a topic as complex as the Rapture just didn't appeal to me.

But I'm going to tackle the doctrine, probably breaking it into several posts. It's important to discuss all aspects of the End Times from a Biblical standpoint, especially with the two extremes going on of people like Camping presuming to predict when the Rapture will happen and (on the other end of the spectrum) mockers who consider the whole idea to be ridiculous. Like the Rapture itself, my posts about it indeed are coming!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Windy Out There!

Harold Camping didn't originate my desire to write about the importance of sound doctrine, but his latest prediction of Christ's return (his tenth prediction of it, I read, since 1978) convinced me to introduce the topic today. Not that I believe I can fully address the topic in a single post. Indeed, I've posted six days in a row this week, and I'm tired. So today will be a mere "let's get acquainted" post.

Ephesians 4:11-16 provides a starting place for discussing the necessity for solid biblical teaching. Allow me to quote the passage:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Sadly, I've been in churches that misconstrued this passage to mean that doctrine is the thing that disrupts Christian unity. Erroneously,  many Baby Boomer and later teachers took verse 14 to mean than any sort of doctrine carries believers about on winds, causing confusion and distracting people from the simple love of Jesus. But a careful reading of the passage, cross-referenced with other Scriptures, will reveal quite a different message. Sound teaching, it says, keeps us from being blown around by various false doctrines (such as the idea that anyone can predict the date of Christ's return) that draw us away from Christ's teachings.

Earlier today, I read a blog post entitled "Down With Dufflepudism," which I'd encourage you to read. The post is short, cute...and shows the dangers of not being grounded in God's Word. Following the Lord requires understanding His doctrines so well that we readily recognize the false doctrines that would blow us away from Him. Frankly, it's windy outside of His shelter, and we need to know Him as He reveals Himself through the Bible so that false teachers like Harold Camping can't deceive us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

$2 Afternoon

Our next door neighbor, a sweet Jewish lady in her 90's, ambled over here earlier this afternoon carrying two dollar bills. Usually, that means she wants change from John, and she'll enter the apartment calling him "Banker." But today, she asked for me.

She wanted me to make a sympathy card, hastily adding, "Not a religious one; they're Jewish." Okay, so our love for the Lord is so obvious to her that she considers it necessary to reign us in (though I already know she prefers secular cards, and always make humorous cards for her on Hanukkah). She wanted something simple to say she was sorry that the person had died.

I tried to convince her not to pay me. I mean, the woman, in giving me clothes that she can no longer wear, has doubled my wardrobe and saved me a fortune! But she's a formidable woman of 4 feet, seven inches, and her firm reply, "Business is business," ended the discussion.

The same day John photographed Fanny Appleton's house, we had seen a tree on the Beacon Hill side of the Arthur Fiedler Bridge as we crossed over from the Esplanade. I thought it might make a pretty picture for my neighbor's card.

I cropped it, put it on a robin egg blue background, added a white layer, and applied a mask that both muted the photo and gave it a thin blue border.

Inside the card, I wrote: "Please accept my heartfelt sympathies on your loss." I applied a script font, and prayed like fury that the color ink in my printer would hold out (my computer had given me a warning just this morning that my color ink was at 0%). Thankfully, it printed!

When John took it to her, she was so delighted that she kissed his cheek, so I guess I did a good job. Still don't think she should have paid me, but I'll find a way to do her a favor. In the mean time, I'm pleased to have an extra card on hand.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Little Distrations

Today has been a distracting day, with minor crises popping up randomly, but frequently. Nothing serious, really, but enough to rattle both my nerves and my concentration. These distractions pull me into my momentary circumstances, averting my eyes from the Lord.

Funny, isn't it, how the smallest things divert our attention from Him, when all the while He intends for those very things to draw us to Him? Well, actually more sad and disgusting than funny, and I don't believe the Lord finds our captivity to attitudes of worry and self-reliance very amusing. He grieves over the fact that we like to maintain our independence from Him, even in our weakest moments, so sure that our anxiety will somehow enable us to rectify our problems. What absurdity!

Isaiah 26:3 is one of my memory verses:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

I'm not sure why I review it as a memory verse in my daily Quiet Time, since I already remember it as a chorus my Bible Study group used to sing when I was in high school. Be that as it may, I sit here forty years later and shamefacedly realize how seldom I apply the principle, especially on days like today.

Rather than fretting, why don't I recount His faithfulness? In truth, He has all my circumstances under control, and He wants to use them to shape my character into conformity with His. Would you believe I pray daily for an eternal perspective, asking the Lord to teach me that I'm an alien to matters of this life? I plead with Him to help me respond in ways that befit a citizen of heaven, only to retreat into worldly patterns of anxiety and irritability when my plans are interrupted. Thankfully, His faithfulness overpowers my doubt, and He always meets my need. I look forward to the day when little distractions do nothing more than flood me with assurance of His faithfulness.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Unassuming Piece Of History

A few years ago, in celebration of my birthday, John and I took a Literary Walking Tour in Boston. The final stop that day was at what once had been the house of Nathan Appleton, a wealthy industrialist with a daughter named Fanny. Fanny, (properly named Francis) had caught the eye of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who pursued her, despite her rejections, for seven years.

Nothing online corroborates our tour guide's story of Longfellow, having grown accustomed to her negative answers to his proposals, walking through Boston Common with her one day, and cryptically asking, "Will you take the Long way with me?" Online sources say that she wrote him a letter on May 10, 1843, agreeing to marry him. Did she do so after their walk in the Common? Oh, I very much hope so!

Soon after Fanny accepted Longfellow, the couple married in the parlor of the Appleton house on Beacon Street. That parlor looks out at Boston Common. Over the years since we took the Walking Tour, I've fought to glimpse the house from the Common, but always had difficulty because the path along that side of the Common is bordered by a steep embankment.

When John and I wheeled through the Common two weeks ago, however, we got a wonderful view of the house. With the romantic story filling my memory, I asked John to take this photo:

The parlor where they wed is behind that SUV with the green stripe, though I can't recall if it was on the first or second floor. Someone lives there, making me wonder if they know the love story of Longfellow and Fannie. So many people walk and drive past that house, knowing only that it's just another Beacon Hill mansion. They have no idea of its role in literary history.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mercy: The Mother Of Fear

Genesis 20 is jam-packed with lessons, and I've been absolutely feasting on it yesterday and today! I can't quote the whole chapter here (at least not from the New King James Version), but please click the following link and read the narrative:

So many aspects of the situation between God, Abimelech and Abraham fascinated me these past two days, but I think writing about all of them would be totally overwhelming. Certainly, Abimelech's integrity impressed me, as well as God's response to that integrity. God doesn't reward him by excusing his lustful intentions toward Sarah. Instead, He rewards him with the opportunity to repent!

But I'm not going to focus on the graciousness of being allowed to repent today, even though the concept is beautiful. I'm more interested in verse 8, which I usually gloss over as I read this chapter. I almost missed it again today, but taking notes as I read slows me down enough to help me pay attention to the text, so I had to deal with it.

So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid.

Abimelech had experienced tremendous mercy from God. The Lord, in His righteousness, could have released terrible judgement on this man (even though Abraham had indeed misled him, and did so deliberately), but He chose to exhibit mercy by permitting him to repent. When Abimelech told his household how gracious the Lord had been to him, they had a response that I would never have expected: they were "very much afraid."

Fear in response to mercy strikes the 21st Century mind as kind of odd, doesn't it? Rejoicing seems more appropriate to us. But then, few of us fear God under any circumstances. We use Him as a cosmic Bellboy, call Him Daddy, treat Him as a Buddy Who generally approves of whatever we do, and sometimes remember to thank Him for blessing us, but the idea of actually fearing Him sounds positively primitive to our post-modern sensibilities.

We forget that mercy implies the forgiveness of a debt. Debt, in turn, points to obligation to some person or institution that has power...that has authority. Abimelech's household saw a God of mercy, and understood that His mercy indicated His authority! They knew that this God, Who had entered their lives through Abraham's visit, imposed His moral standards on their king, and could consequently hold them to His standards. Furthermore, His mercy was not to be misconstrued as permission to sin. It permitted repentance, thereby accentuating how serious sin is.

I appreciate the repeated mercy the Lord shows me. For too many years, however, I've taken it for granted, and even misused it to ignore the true nature of my sin. As I praise Him now for mercifully blessing me with so many opportunities to repent, I'm filled with the beautiful fear of dishonoring Him. And I hope, by His grace, that He'll keep me in the safety of that fear.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Week Awaits

The weather prognosticators have been smiling into the cameras as they've predicted fair weather all over the country...except for the North East. We, home of our nation's founding fathers and therefore (in my inflated opinion) deserving of special consideration, are expected to have rain until at least Thursday. So trips to Boston are obviously ruled out. Slogging up Washington Street via power wheelchairs under raindrops just doesn't appeal to me, no matter how creamy a cannoli might taste.

So, barring unforeseen emails requiring lengthy responses, this upcoming week promises daily blog posts. That could be fun. Okay, not as fun as wheeling around Boston, seeing all the familiar sites and finding new oddities and delights (there are always oddities in Boston...and not only in its politics). Certainly not as fun as laughing with (and sometimes at) our Train Buddies on the Commuter Rail coming home! But fun. I guess.

Or pleasurable. That's a more fitting word. For it is pleasurable to concoct blog posts out of my multi-faceted world, weaving a tapestry of words, images and sometimes audio. It's perhaps a microcosm of Forrest Gump's "box of chocolates." Bizarre metaphor? Well, yes, but don't tell me you didn't at least snicker! Anyway, I do like adding to this blog, and seeing how varied my posts can be. There is, I insist, a pleasure in sharing my life through this medium.

This could, my dear readers, be an interesting week, as I muse on Scriptures, display my digital art, or just ramble aimlessly (using the defense that I'm 57 years old and therefore approaching the age when people ramble aimlessly).

Or, the weather forecast could change. In which case, I'll be in Boston!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Have My Reasons

Has anyone noticed the poll at the top of this blog's sidebar? At this writing, nobody has voted in it, and that lack of participation troubles me.

Perhaps some of you consider it a narcissistic poll. Okay...that assessment is understandable, especially given my struggles with self-love and self-promotion. Sometimes, however, logical conclusions aren't necessarily correct conclusions; in this case, the poll is less about fishing for compliments than about learning how to better serve my readers. If my posts bore people, I need to know!

Also, I have surprises up my sleeve, which will be revealed around July 18 (barring a medical procedure yet to be scheduled). No, I won't give hints, though you really could figure out the significance of July 18 if you honestly wanted to know what it means.

Anyway, in preparing for these surprises, I need to know your preferences, opinions and tastes. Originally, this blog actually was a vanity publication, meant to display my supposed talents, but I no longer want to use it for such self-serving reasons. Rather, I want it to serve you, my readers. As I develop my surprises, therefore, I need your feedback. Take my poll. Let me know what you want to read. People, I need you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Powerful Feelings

Feelings come from God, who is Himself emotive. He can be grieved by our sin, angered by our rebellion, moved to compassion by our weaknesses and overjoyed by our faith. Sometimes, I believe, He uses our emotions to call us to Him, letting us see how frail and dependent we are. For instance, my anger always ends up confronting me with my foolishness to presume I can control people or situations, ending up in humble admission that only He controls people and situations.

As psychology has infiltrated Christian circles, feelings have been less about drawing us to the Lord, and more about putting the focus on us. Rather than even considering bringing our feelings under the control of the Holy Spirit, we either attempt to manipulate other people with them, or we yield to them and allow them to dictate our attitudes and behavior. We use past hurts (real or perceived) to excuse our immaturity, when we really need to look into Scripture with the purpose of patterning our lives on the Lord's commands and doctrines.

I've wasted 40 years "validating my feelings" (and demanding that my family and friends "validate" them), when I should have been denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Jesus (see Matthew 16:24). Life is too short to let my emotions jerk me back and forth. I regret buying into the psychological models that pollute so many Christian books and sermons, precisely because those models have kept me gazing at my needs, my wants and my expectations when I should have been loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving my neighbor as deeply as I already love myself (Mark 12:30-31).

Jesus, it seems, isn't as interested in our feelings themselves as He is in how we handle them. Do they control us, or does His Spirit in us control them? Do they turn our gaze inward on ourselves, our outward to Him?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Always Life

The Old Grainary Burial Ground in Boston fascinates me, and has done so since my first visit to it in 2000 (on my second trip to Massachusetts during my courtship with John). Yesterday our only agenda was to take advantage of the nice weather, so I asked John to take me to the Grainary after lunch. Last time we'd seen it, snow smothered it and its gates were locked, forcing John to photograph it through the fence. But now the snow is melted, the tourists are beginning to take Freedom Trail walking tours, and the grass around and between the headstones bursts with lushness.

After viewing Paul Revere's headstone and adjacent monument, I headed in the direction of John Hancock's monument, reading occasional headstones of Puritans who had no "place in history," but who loved the Lord, lived in Boston and had all the same human experiences that you and I have. One grave bore a rhyming verse about this life's vanities, heaven's rest, and a plea to avoid worldly entanglements. I'll have to return and ask John to write it down. The words still apply, and need to be heeded by today's self-indulgent society.

I turned my wheelchair around to show John the verse. We read it together, struggling a bit where three or four centuries have eroded the engraving. Suddenly, I lifted my head, and saw a huge tree, laden with spring blossoms as if to defy the death buried beneath us.

These Puritans believed (or professed to believe) that death would merely usher them into new life with Christ, and this tree reminded me of that promised new life. My attention fixed itself on the fresh new blossoms, so new and full of beginnings. How splendid of the Lord to have this tree in this burial ground, testifying to the life that, by God's astonishing grace, comes as we die to life's vanities in favor of Jesus. Despite all this world's corruption and decay, perpetuated by our stubborn insistence on clinging to sin and its vanities, Christ holds out the offer of life.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Hans Christian Anderson Take on Chihuly

Before commenting on Chihuly: Through The Looking Glass, currently on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, allow me to share this clip of Danny Kaye as Hans Christian Anderson:

Dale Chihuly's blown glass sculptures, while fantastic and occasionally beautiful as far as use of color, reminded me of "The Emperor's New Clothes" yesterday. I admit, contemporary art doesn't appeal to me (although I appreciate my friend Randy Thomas). But please--all the pretension surrounding Chihuly's exhibition made me want to say, "Look, he's just a glass blower on steroids!"

Our first glimpse of Chihuly's work stood in the Shapiro Courtyard. He calls it, quite appropriately, "Lime Green Icicle Tower."

Hmm...I thought it was some sort of fern type thingy. Guess I'm uneducated, huh? Well, any three-story sculpture impresses me, even if I can't distinguish between a fern type thingy and a Lime Icicle tower.

John found this Ikebana Boat, which I estimate to be around 20 feet long.

Regretfully, as great as John is at photography, he couldn't capture the reflected ceiling lights in the mirror that gave the illusion of the boat being suspended in space. And I have to wonder: is that illusion something Chihuly intended, or a bit of serendipity that distracted John from the actual creation? I suspect it's the latter, frankly.

I liked a small piece which (if I recall correctly) represents iris and ivy.

At least it looked somewhat like what it's supposed to be, which gave me a sense of reassurance and security. I like art that is accessible and understandable. Not that I consider this piece great art; there's a sense of immaturity about it, as if it's a sixth grade ceramics project. But I actually understood it, which made it my favorite.

At last, we reached the famed Persian Ceiling, which is prettier in photographs than it is in real life.

Looking up at it, I wanted to say, "It's just scattered pieces of colored glass!"

I couldn't see much artistic merit in Chihuly's work, I'm sorry to say. I wanted to admire the emperor's new clothes, but I simply couldn't see them!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Too Busy To Blog

Yesterday, spring beckoned us to the Esplanade, where we expected to take stunning photos of flowering trees. And we really would have taken several, except for the sad, lamentable fact that the blossoming apparently peaked last week, when it was much to chilly to be wheeling around so close to the Charles River.

But I was determined (stubborn Irish princess that I am) to use a picture for a Mother's Day card. Yes, to mail to my mom in California. Well, of course she won't get it on time! But she herself taught me the fine art of procrastination, making me duty-bound to take it to the next level. So I spent three hours today adorning the photo with just the right photo-editing, mat and masked frame:

Tomorrow, it's off to the Museum of Fine Arts, so again....a day without blogging. But I love being busy, after a long winter with nothing to do but blog. Will you miss me? Yeah, right. At least I'll be finding more subject matter for my blog posts. When I'll actually manage to post remains to be seen...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Should I Rejoice?

Unless he made a conversion to Christ that no one knows about, Osama bin Laden is now in hell. Eternal conscious suffering, with no hope of purging. Justice, as President Obama said last night, has been done. And it was necessary. Yet, my head swims with many contradictory emotions, most of which I never would have anticipated.

Part of me feels like celebrating. At last, nearly ten years after those two planes smashed into the Twin Towers, the innocent victims of bin Laden's terrorism have been vindicated. I suppose, if I was able-bodied, I might have joined the jubilant crowd on Boston Common last night, rejoicing that this very evil man will never again harm people who reject his brand of Islam. I do, deeply and sincerely, admire President Obama's leadership in this assassination, which was entirely necessary and appropriate.

Another part of me wonders how the man who pulled the trigger feels. I hope he never tells his wife, or his kids. Certainly, he's one of the greatest heroes of all time, but he's also a cold-blooded killer. If John had done it, I don't think I'd want to know. I'd imagine that he'll feel both justifiable pride over having killed such a vicious monster and understandable revulsion at having taken a human life.

Still another part of me despises bin Laden for his cowardly hypocrisy. He mobilized how many young Muslims to Jihad...usually suicide missions. He promised an afterlife of numerous virgins, presumably waiting to be deflowered. Even better, Allah would be pleased, and his great cause of subduing the infidels would be furthered. Osama bin Laden convinced them that dying for Jihad was a high honor! Yet, according to an article on Fox25 Boston's website, senior administration officials reported that bin Laden "resisted" during last night's raid. Some martyr! Or perhaps, surrounded by American guns, his faith in Allah was much less than the faith of the suicide bombers who carried out his terrorist plots.

Finally, I'm sad when anyone dies without Christ. Of course, it's extremely unlikely that bin Laden ever would have repented and turned to Christ. So justice was done. I just wish it could have been done less uncomfortably.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'll Never Walk Again

Last night we attended the wedding of John's nephew. As we started to leave the church, I caught my right foot on a door frame, and twisted my ankle. Miraculously, it wasn't broken! In that fact, I see God's sovereignty and grace. It's swollen and discolored, but the pain is subsiding. Please pray I'll heal soon.


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