55. Three Things

Spider Web

I’m paper piecing my way through Proverbs. This block was fun: no curves, nice contrast, (it’s more of a brown in real life), and best of all, more scraps got used up from the stash.

We love fabric, don’t we? Let’s play fiber trivia.

Question: What is the strongest fiber in the world?

Answer: spider silk. Specifically, that of the Darwin’s Bark Spider. (Ironic that it bears that name, eh?) This little guy spins silk up to six times stronger than high-grade steel, (per weight, of course).

This is made of spider silk. I KNOW, I had to watch a video on YouTube to see how it was done. (Photo credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

https://youtu.be/aLSGBQUA8l0

King Solomon began this passage with: “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand . . .”

If he had had the benefit of the invention of microscopes, cameras, and so on, his list would have been a lot longer.

The better tools we have to reveal more wonders, the more we realize that there’s a whole lot more out there waiting for us to discover. Way to go, God. Of course He has created so so much amazing wonderment, we will never discover it all. It keeps life very interesting.

Spiders employ logarithms, (or is it algorithms?) when spinning their orbs. Math and I do not get along, but I know wondrous mathematical wonders when I see them.

Such as . . . nautilus shells, honeycombs, and snowflakes; three things that are all too wonderful for me.

54. Proverbs

Honeycomb

I whizzed through Proverbs. I’ve read this book many times before, so I felt that I had permission to plow straight through the familiar words of wisdom from King Solomon. Anyways, because of this whizzing, I noticed that some phrases kept repeating themselves this time through. Whether we’re meant to or not, we attach importance to repetitions. So I give you those phrases now:

The desire of a man is kindness . . .

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. . .

And last, but not least, the multiple warnings that it is better to live in a (corner of a roof, desert, wilderness, etc., essentially anywhere else) than to share a large house with a contentious woman. He also compared vexing women to a constant dripping on a day of steady rain.

Geez, Solomon, why did you take on SO MANY wives if they could potentially be a cause of such annoyment to your majesty?

But I’d like to comment on those other statements. They work as a pair in my mind.

First up, “Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes”. He’s got that right. These days, we’ve given it a fancy term: post-modernism. But it’s nothing new. Questioning authority and testing social norms goes back to the Garden of Eden.

No matter how hard post-modernists resist, it’s true that the law is written upon their hearts. How do I know this? People may say that there are no moral absolutes, yet they subscribe to their own set of rights and wrongs. They’ve created their own absolutes, even though they say there are none. They may disagree with the law and gospel explained in the holy scriptures, but they still operate in law and gospel-like systems.

The current example that springs to my mind is the issue of climate change. First, activists put their faith in the research that reports that it is indeed at a crisis stage. Next, there is an end times prophecy. Last I heard, we’ve got twelve years left to live on this earth as we know it. Shaming and guilting regarding our personal carbon footprints is seen as a worthy pastime. There’s even a system of indulgences to pay for the sin of the aforementioned carbon footprint with carbon offset donations. But, unfortunately their gospel falls short. They cannot offer the hope that comes with the good news of ultimate forgiveness and redemption. They’re stuck under their law with no gospel to offer relief. What a burden!

Now to pair up the other repeating phrase: the desire of a man is kindness. We are all just trying to get it right as we walk through this life. We all have our belief systems, and some are more right than others. But extending patience goes a long way in the learning process. Simple acts of kindness make a difference. It can be as small as choosing to say nothing at all if I can’t say something nice on social media sites. It can be as magnificent as sharing the gospel of hope and eternal life with others. Like Martin Luther said, “I’m just a hungry beggar showing you where I found bread”. (I think he actually said, “we are beggars, this is true”.)

And like Jewel sang, “In the end, only kindness matters”.

https://youtu.be/AfsS3pIDBfw

53. Help

Moon Over the Mountain

I went into this next block with a lot of negativity. My inner voice said, “Who do you think you are? You don’t have the skills to execute this curve. You’re not going to have fun with this one. And who do you think you are, putting this out there for others to see? You did a bad job of it, and even had to add extra sashing for some unknown reason. Those fabric choices couldn’t be any uglier. And who do you think you are, that anyone would care to listen to you anyways?”

Gotta love that inner voice, right?

So I remind myself that I’m playing with scraps of cloth, for crying out loud. The outcome isn’t going to cause us to lose the farm. (We don’t even have a farm). Actually, one outcome is that I’m using up scraps of cloth and giving them a place and a purpose. So I have a good time as I take on this block, make mistakes, big ones, and smile as I remind myself that it’ll quilt out.

And the scripture passage reminds me that I need to apply this attitude to all aspects of my life.

I heard somewhere that things would be different if the stars and moon revealed themselves only once a year. People would anticipate that annual event. They would make sure their schedules were cleared so they would be able to go outside and gaze up at the sky in appreciation and wonder. They would make travel plans to insure a nice viewing spot for their families. There would be stargazing parties and special events and souvenir tee shirts and commemorative coffee mugs. Young lovers would declare their love, and some would get down on one knee and propose because one momentous event begs for another.

But the stars and the moon are always there, so we go about our business, like ants in their anthills, noses to our grindstones, while this amazing show sparkles overhead.

I was thinking today about famous people of history. What if they had WordPress back then? I bet Abraham Lincoln would have billions of subscribers. Jane Austen fans would start their days checking their devices to see if she posted or not. And Shakespeare? Can you just imagine?

And God. WOW. What if we could hear directly from our Creator on Blogger? That would be over the top incredible.

Wait . . .

52. Cornerstone

Cornerstone

I can testify to the truth that scriptures, set to music, are remembered. As I continue through the book of Psalms, so many songs pop up out of dusty decades-old files in my brain. They bring the accompanying flood of happy memories spent in fellowship and fun as I grew up in my church and in my faith.

This passage brought me back to a rather catchy song. I learned it at Winter Camp in the piney, snowy mountains. I was a “counselor” for the week, and the girls I was in charge of were a fantastic group. Snow was a unique experience in my Southern California childhood. I remember how it felt crunching under my boots as I trudged in the darkness to the fellowship hall. The warmth from the crowd, the fire, the happy noises, the music – I remember it all.

Did you sing this one in your youth group days?

Listen here

“The building block (building block)

That was rejected

Became the cornerstone of a whole new world.”

What a profound truth is proclaimed in such a silly way. In Psalms, hundreds of years before the arrival of Jesus on the earth, we read that He will be rejected. Despite the rejection, He will become the cornerstone of the new world, His new covenant.

I immediately think, yes, the Israelites, God’s chosen, will reject their Messiah. But more importantly, God Himself will forsake His Son. Jesus will be rejected by His own Father as He dies upon that cross. I cannot think of anything more cruel. But this must happen in order for Jesus to be fully man in order to bear our sins upon His shoulders. And Jesus submitted to that rejection because of His love for us.

51. Let Everything That Has Breath

Rising Sun quilt block

For a season, I participated in my church praise band. I sang and played guitar. My favorite part was finding a vocal harmony to fill out the sound. Reading David’s exuberant praises to the Lord reminded me of those worship songs. In fact, so many of David’s verses have been used in contemporary worship. All those tunes that I thought were forgotten have played through my head as I’ve read through the book of Psalms. Along with those tunes come memories of shared fellowship with other believers. Songs have a powerful way of reaching past your head straight to your heart. So a roomful of believers will join their voices in chorus and sing things like:

“Here we are, gathered together as a family.

Bound as one, lifting up our voices to the King of Kings

We cry ABBA Father, worthy is your name . . .”

(Remember that one from Maranatha Singers?) I imagine if we sat in a circle and chanted those same lyrics, an outsider might fear they’ve joined a sect or something. But putting them to music, we allow ourselves to bare our hearts to each other and express a level of intimacy with our Creator without discomfort.

And what a comfort it has been, remembering those simple old songs. They remind me to be still, to be present in the moment, to breathe in and breathe out in praises to our awesome God. I’m still considering why yoga has become such a huge presence here in the US and abroad. (See yesterday’s post). I find it interesting that people will pay money and spend time to travel to a studio where they will be guided through an hour of relaxation and meditation. Interesting.

Coincidentally, I am at this very moment watching the sun rise as I write this post about a rising sun block. In truth, I haven’t said much about the block. You know how I feel about curves. And the fabric choices don’t thrill me either. But it’s just one of 96 blocks, it’ll get lost in the crowd. I’m fine with that.

I’m not a morning person, so seeing the pink morning skies is a rarity for me. But on this early morning you would find me on a train headed downtown. Unlike so many other citizens, I don’t throw away my jury duty summons. I’ll show up at the federal courthouse and complete my civic duty.

Praise the Lord.

50. In Which We Discuss Tea Rooms and Yoga

Arrowheads quilt block

This Bible passage ends with these words:

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Wow, that’s quite a promise. It exudes confidence and peace. I’ll take it.

I just returned from a month of travel. We started in England, bounced around the coasts of Guernsey, Ireland, and Scotland, then spent time in London, France, and Germany. My plan was to continue reading through the Bible while traveling, because I peeked ahead in the book. The Bible Sampler quilt blocks almost jump straight from Proverbs to the New Testament. There’s a whole lot of Bible in between, and I wanted to take advantage of the time off the internet to read through those books the old-school way. By the way, I’m happy to report that LOTS of people still read books the old-fashioned way. I saw them in the train stations and subway systems throughout Europe.

But of course I was too busy looking at them, and other amazing things, and meeting amazing people, to keep to my own reading plan. And I couldn’t help but notice the changes since I’d last travelled there forty years ago.

One recurring change kept popping out at me. As I strolled the streets of London, the ornate Victorian buildings were unchanged. The parks, the streets, all still there. The city was as picturesque and grand as I had remembered it to be. I love London. I’d be ready to take a photo of a charming, historic city block, but a huge “YOGA” sign kept me from snapping the photo. Now I wish I would have. A collection of yoga studio photos of London would be – I don’t know – a commentary of sorts? Living in this first world of ease and increased leisure hours due to the advances of technology; yoga studios are flourishing because people need to go somewhere to “breathe”? Hmmm.

Now that I think of it, the last time I was in London there were no yoga studios. However, you could find a quaint little tea room within a minute or two of wishing for a good cream tea. They were tucked into the city blocks, little oases from the hustle and bustle of the work day. And I remember Britain stopping at 11:00 to have their “Elevenses” – a national tea break. I am not making this up. At first it was a cause for frustration, because I was accustomed to the consumer-driven service experience of my Californian upbringing. “You mean I have to WAIT twenty minutes for the person to come back off of their break?” But now, let’s just think about this. Isn’t it true that the richer society is the one that has mastery over its choices when considering the use of time, and therefore the quality of life spent in it? In time, I learned to embrace the elegance of the elevenses.

I also remember from forty years ago, with less fondness, Wimpy Burgers and coffee bars. I didn’t see any of these this time around. No surprise there.

So I guess stretching and posing and breathing has replaced cozy visits with friends while sipping hot beverages and nibbling sweets. My old crotchety soul wanted to use the verb “usurped” rather than “replaced”. Either way, it’s still about connecting with other people. And I will admit that yoga has a healthier result. So I suppose progress is indeed moving us forward, even though I think an hour spent in a tea room is much more appealing to me than enduring a sweaty workout.

Even better, an hour spent in the reading of Psalms would be the best use of my time. Namaste.

Home Sweet Home

I’ve returned from a month away. My Betterhalf and I finally took that European trip we’d been talking about for years. It was amazing, and more on that later. You know what else is amazing? Being home again.

Look what’s happening over here:

Do you see all three? I feel sorry for the little guys, they’ve eaten up the last of the milkweed.

Speaking of little guys:I removed my garden gloves in the kitchen, and he was sitting there when I went back to put them on again. So where exactly was he hiding out before??

I’m enjoying a crisp fall morning weeding, pruning, and picking.The lacy ground cherry is charming, don’t you think?

I’m keeping this post short because I want to get back outside to see what else is happening out there.

I’ve just been to Ireland, Scotland, England, Guernsey Island, France, and Germany, but I have to say that there’s no place like home.