Monday, December 29, 2008

Holy Innocents - A Very Special Day

There is something crazy wonderful to me about spending time in a church during "off hours" ... during hours of the day in which one is not typically in church. Yesterday, St. Bartholomew's had a day-long prayer vigil for the unborn, lasting from the end of the 10:10 am Holy Communion until the 6 pm Evensong/Benediction service.

Parishioners had signed up for half-hour time slots to come and light candles and pray for the protection of the unborn (something that I feel is particularly needed given the pro-abortion views of our President Elect, for whom we also prayed, of course).

My wife and I had signed up for an early time slot, after which we went over to watch movies with Mrs. G (the Rector's wife and Youth leader) and the youth of our parish: Miracle on 34th Street and The Keys of the Kingdom.

Then back to St. Bart's with the whole Youth Group in tow. The evening services were wonderful. I think it is the first time I'd been to Benediction at St. Bartholomew's, as I don't recall having seen the monstrance before yesterday. It was very moving.

But going back to the prayer vigil, and the subject of off-hours church-going: praying in the stillness of the early afternoon church, surrounded by many lit candles, reminded me of two of my favourite stories. I won't spoil either of them for you, but simply commend them to you as possible additions to your holyday reading list:

James Agee - The Morning Watch - set during Holy Week at an Anglo-Catholic boarding school.

Henry James - The Altar of the Dead (Click on link to left or this one to read it FREE online). This story has always haunted me, and did so particularly yesterday, as I lit a candle (in part) for those dead by abortion. I have recommened this story, I think, to over 100 people now, and so far I don't know for sure if any of them actually read it. If you do read it (or have read it) please be kind enough to comment here. I'd love to know what you think!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An Anglican Christmas Story

We made a family decision not to send out our usual home-made Christmas card this year. Umm ... because I didn't come up with a poem for it.

Instead, we made this nifty video, showing Anglican family life, circa 2008.

Hope you enjoy it ... Merry Christmas to all !!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Too Close To See The Meaning

Often, my life seems meaningless. Here is one explanation, which occurred to me after finishing a session with my current oil painting.

I make my paintings by peering very closely at the details of a reference photograph and then trying to get the paint on the canvas to resemble what I see (or, think I see; I've been known to get it wrong) in the photograph. I spend a lot of time looking at the canvas very close up, like this:

I push the paint around until it looks about right, but I never think about the pattern it is making - I am too close up to see that. Instead, I have a slavish sort of devotion (or "duty") to the Reference Photo (an analog of Holy Scripture). And I have to admit that, pushing the paint round ... does get old. Why does that old Reference Photo have to be so bloody complex?! It is tedious sometimes, and still I see no pattern or meaning, only abstract shapes and colors.

Finally, when it is time to go to bed, I step away from my easel and take a longer view of what I am working on. Today, it looked like this:

I wonder if, when my life is reviewed from the long view of eternity, there will appear some sort of pattern that pleases the Artist. I do hope so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vashti Bunyan - Winter Is Blue

This song precisely captures my mood this week. Not the best week of my life.

winter is blue
living is gone
some are just sleeping
in spring they'll go on
our love is dead
nothing but crying
love will not find even
one more new morning

why must i stay here
rain comes i'm sitting here
watching love moving
away into yesterday

winter is blue
everything's leaving
fires are now burning
and life has no reason
i am alone
waiting for nothing
if my heart freezes
i won't feel the breaking

why must i stay here
rain comes i'm sitting here
watching love moving
away into yesterday

(© vashti bunyan 1966)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Anglican Curmudgeon Reviews a Classic

If you only read one Anglican blog post during Advent I suggest this one, in which the Anglican Curmudgeon gives us a nice reminder of the timelessness of J. Gresham Machen's classic book, Christianity and Liberalism.