Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Small Collection (by others)

Here are some poems that I think are lovely and capture the days we've been having. Enjoy!

-Wendell Berry

for Gurney Norman, quoting him
The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
the place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
all that it is, and how flawless
its grace is. Running or walking, the way
is the same. Be still. Be still.
“He moves your bones, and the way is clear.”

Sonnet 73
- by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

The Autumn
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1833)

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

The Lady of Shallott

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Dear Readers,

There is a truth universally acknowledged, that a student in possession of a steady progression of homework, must be in want of distraction. Or a student in possession of a lovely weekend must ignore her work.

Rather, I am not ignoring. I am resting in resistance. I am reveling in a small space of glory. I worked hard yesterday and began the weekend in a Starbucks corner, reading Shakespeare, writing a paper. I missed the glorious day until I met up with two wva students to talk about life and break out the dexterity check. I am excited for them. I want them to see this whole journey from two years down the road, from the person who has taken too long to realize what Servant Leadership means, what critical thinking, what a timely word employs. I want them to rest in the fact that God has brought them here, for this space of time, to teach and shape them and for them to be used as well. It is a beautiful and frightening thing to think of how well I knew both of their staffers and I can see how much they look up to them and have been changed through those relationships. We carry so much for each other just by being present. Just for five days.

Another glory of these days, as filled with difficulty and frustration as they have been, are the moments of realizing how wonderful the community is here. I have been missing Beach Project. I have missed the dinners and the constant conversations and laundry and tea on the porch and the ocean breeze and swimming in the ocean at night. But I have also seen the places where community can happen at Penn State. I have been the guest of the Navigator's Duplex thrice in the previous seven days. They welcomed us for fire and food after Navs last week. They let me leave my bike there that I picked up several days later. I was then over there on Thursday night until the early morning discussing evangelism, relationship witnessing, honest truth speaking, confusion, questioning, glory in a sleepy, cheese-it filled living room. And then after Navs we congregated there again and had a beautiful conversation between atheists and various Christians about the world and how it works and practicing our beliefs and statements. It made me wish I had a living room to welcome people into, though I remember now as I type Lauren Winner from "Mudhouse Sabbath" claiming that we must welcome into our smallest corners. Wishing for greater space is a copout. And I am grateful for the small spaces and messiness given to us by the Duplex inhabitants.

Other beautiful things that have been moving and growing has been my presence at Oakwood Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings. This was a change from Calvary Baptist, my church for the previous two years. There were several reasons for this change and one that I have seen no reason to regret. Pastor Russ has been a faithful bearer of The Word and constantly proclaims to us Christ and who we now are in Him. I have learned so much from his words, as well as the other families and leaders that have taken time and care to get to know us. There is Fiona, the woman from Scotland who teaches Italian language and culture who gives us a ride each week; there is Alex and Becky who lead RUF and who have two little boys, Whit and Miles. Whit and Jack (Pastor Russ's son) are the same age and two halfs of one soul. They run without stop around the fellowship room's center pole. And there is Mr. Houston who teaches Sunday school and his wife. They homeschool their kids and we play with them via Four Square games between and after services. It is a different church than any I have attended for very long but is an extension of my experience at 1st Presbyterian Church of Ocean City, where I attended this summer.

This weekend has been another gift: Kent and Lindsey came to visit! These are two dear friends from the summer. Lindsey was a leader and Kent, a good brother who would drink tea with me on the front porch. Both appeared in poems (see past posts); Kent in "The Gospel According to Kent" and Lindsey in "Walk II". We met up at Panera with Ruthann, Jeremy, Marian, and Katie Stick. We stayed there for many hours before migrating to Saints and then to my room where Kent and Ruthann read favorite Proverbs aloud; we all shared songs; Lindsey encouraged us in discussing discerning false and empty churches that do not preach Christ; and I could not stop smiling. It was restful to be with them and be able to process the summer. I have had little chance to do that and little knowledge of how best to do it. Today was a good step in that direction. Tomorrow, I will be going with Ruthann to Altoona where we shall once again join cooking forces (well... she is the force. I encourage) for Curt's birthday! I am delighted to spend more time with them all before October rushes in upon us.

In other news, I am currently reading:
Taste and See by John Piper
Love is an Orientation by Marin
Receiving the Gift of Friendship by Reinders
Story Matters
Wendell Berry (when I get a chance! His writing makes me happy)

Much reading. Little focused time. I wish I could spend more enjoying these books but I plow ahead when I get a chance.

In other other news, Penn State lost and we are ashamed.

In other other other news, I received a box in the mail today from Daniel that contained unexpected letters from my Erskine friends! I was shocked and overjoyed and ready to cry. I curled up in my blanket, and read them all in one sitting. I couldn't not read them all at once. An unopened letter is irresistable, far more than snow crying to be walked on. I mean that. I did not expect such love and encouragement to come from that corner. Not that I didn't expect it. But it was so totally beyond anything I could have imagined. David Hubbs, the tea connoissoir even gave me some of his favorite loose leaf to try! Oh, and Daniel also included several delightful letters from himself with some more tea. In short, a lovely day was made exquisite.

But perhaps you are simply tired of hearing such updatish things. Many other things are happening but these are the particularly lovely parts.

(PS. An especial congratulation to Caleb and Sallie for their engagement! Hurrah!)

Monday, September 07, 2009


Hello blogging world, this month has been intense.

School is a hard start every year but this one seemed particularly challenging. I was struggling with transitioning from Beach Project life, to home, to school. I was intensely tired and found my schedule uncommonly unwieldy. I think it was solely on my mother's prayers that it even worked! Now I'm in several challenging courses, one of which has me ecstatic: fiction writing! Of all my course work, I want to invest in this the most. The others are interesting and seem to be offering very real challenges in discovering truth. Byron Borger ( has been of particular help in providing me with many book recommendations that I shall attempt to work through as helpful perspectives on topics such as: critical theory, the nature of text interpretation, disability theory (or the theology of disability, homosexuality, literary excellence, human relationship to the body, and the joy of writing. I am so excited to pour myself into these studies and I feel more excitement in them than I ever have before. However, it seems that I have less time to give to it... or perhaps I have more to distract myself from it. It reminds me of something Hannah Eagleson pointed out to me when I visited them in August: so often, people do not do what they love because they are afraid of failure. God, give me courage to do what I love!

This is a short update. I will give an update on RA life and Navigators very soon. Today Maryn is married to Nate Forney! Hurrah!