Monday, December 6, 2010

Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas

As we remember Nicholas today, Bishop of Myra (in modern day Turkey), we rejoice in our ethnic traditions, in gift giving, and in childhood wonderment during this season.

Gracious God, send your spirit upon us that we may follow in the steps of  St.Nicholas, loving you and generously caring for others; we ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

George Blanda, RIP

As a kid, I used to LOVE to watch football (still do, but not as much). Even though I didn't care for the Oakland Raiders (I was a Chargers fan and they were in the same division), I admired and enjoyed watching George Blanda. He was one of a kind!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Turkey vulture festival in Kern River Valley

Turkey vulture festival in Kern River Valley

(For those of you in the area looking for something to do.)

Religious Kitsch of the Week

One definition of  "Kitsch" (from the German) is “Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts.” Vulgar does not always refer to something indecent, here instead refering to something coarse or distasteful.


Of course, in the arts, one man's kitsch is another man's inspiration. Bad taste is subjective. With that caveat, let me introduce the first Kitsch o' the Week:

(This comes courtesy of my friend John Hudson, who posted it on his Facebook page.)

Here we have Sensei Jesus, watching over two karate kids. While I think it pleases the Holy Trinity when we take care of our bodies and engage in physical activity (we are temples of the Holy Spirit), this figurine seems to indicate that Jesus watches over our every chop and kick to the spleen. It reminds me of the football player this weekend who thanked the Lord for helping him not fumble the ball. (If so, the reverse must be true: that God causes fumbles to happen on the field. Usually he doesn't get the blame, though. "I would like to acknowledge the Lord for making us lose this Saturday. I didn't mean to fumble, but Jesus failed to help me grip the ball!")

Anyway, Jesus as Mr. Miyagi is my first pick for Religious Kitsch of the Week. "Be at peace, boys. Wax on. Wax off!"


God Bless David Mitchell

Since the Church is in the job of  communicating, she ought to do it as clearly as possible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

OK. I'm Back: College Mascots

I apologize to all three of my regular readers (!), who have eagerly been awaiting a word from the prophet.

Of course, I'm kidding, but as a new program year approaches in the parish it's time for me to get in the blogging habit again.

I've always been fascinated by college mascots. I remember going to my first Naval Academy football game with my dad (vs. Syracuse) and wondering about the goat on the sidelines. Like the USNA, most schools originally had a real animal for a mascot, but now either include a larger animated one (think of those big Disneyland characters) or they have replaced the live animal altogether. (I guess it can be a little unnerving to have a live cougar on the sidelines.)

For instance, the Army mule has undergone a transformation from this:


to this:




(Army still has the real mule on the sidelines, just as Navy has the goat in both real form and "cuddly' form.)

In any case, there are some fascinating mascots out there in NCAA land. My own Alma Mater (UC Riverside) has a "Highlander" as a mascot (the first Chancelor was Scottish and the campus is sorrounding by the Box Spring Mountains). However, the mascot is a bear wearing Scottish tartans. The reason? The bear has long been a symbol of California and the bear is the mascot of both the main campus of the University of California (Berkeley) and the Los Angeles campus (the Bruins). So, UC Riverside kept the bear theme with a twist:


UC Santa Cruz kept to the blue and gold theme, but jettisoned the bear altogether (what would you expect from folks in Santa Cruz?!) to become the Banana Slugs! As you can see from this next picture, an "animated" slug works much better for games and functions than an actual slug:



One mascot I didn't know existed was the Whittier College "Poets." (Richard Nixon being the most famous alumnus of that small Quaker school.) I'm not sure how they got the name "Poets," but the logo sure is clever.



That's all for now. Go team!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from Vacation and VBS

More on both, but after a month of quiet, I'm ready to post!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Act of God?


"Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life." --Bobby Bare
[ Via: AP ]

MONROE, Ohio —

A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.

The “King of Kings” statue, one of southwest Ohio’s most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.

The sculpture, 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown in a game of football.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Prayer for this Week of the Holy Trinity

Almighty God, most blessed and most holy, before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces: With lowly reverence and adoring love we acknowledge thine infinite glory, and worship thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto our God, for ever and ever.


--Book of Common Order

Monday, May 31, 2010

Halpert to Hudson

Jim Halpert passes to Stanley Hudson for another Dunder-Mifflin TD in the Paper Bowl, Scranton, PA!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Holy Trinity

On this day that we celebrate a doctrine (unique to the church calendar), here's a great piece from C.S. Lewis on the importance of theology. It's worth a read.

Every­one has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you in this last book. They all say ‘the ordi­nary reader does not want The­ol­ogy; give him plain prac­ti­cal reli­gion’. I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordi­nary reader is such a fool. The­ol­ogy means ‘the sci­ence of God,’ and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clear­est and most accu­rate ideas about Him which are avail­able. You are not chil­dren: why should you be treated like children?
In a way I quite under­stand why some peo­ple are put off by The­ol­ogy. I remem­ber once when I had been giv­ing a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten offi­cer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a reli­gious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him out alone in the desert at night: the tremen­dous mys­tery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat lit­tle dog­mas and for­mu­las about Him. To any­one who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedan­tic and unreal!’
Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had prob­a­bly had a real expe­ri­ence of God in the desert. And when he turned from that expe­ri­ence to the Chris­t­ian creeds, I think he really was turn­ing from some­thing real to some­thing less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turn­ing from some­thing real to some­thing less real: turn­ing from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admit­tedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remem­ber about it. In the first place, it is based on what hun­dreds and thou­sands of peo­ple have found out by sail­ing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of expe­ri­ence just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a sin­gle glimpse, the map fits all those dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences together. In the sec­ond place, if you want to go any­where, the map is absolutely nec­es­sary. As long as you are con­tent with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than look­ing at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Now, The­ol­ogy is like the map. Merely learn­ing and think­ing about the Chris­t­ian doc­trines, if you stop there, is less real and less excit­ing than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doc­trines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the expe­ri­ence of hun­dreds of peo­ple who really were in touch with God-experiences com­pared with which any thrills or pious feel­ings you and I are likely to get on our own are very ele­men­tary and very con­fused. And sec­ondly, if you want to get any fur­ther, you must use the map. You see, what hap­pened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was cer­tainly excit­ing, but noth­ing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is noth­ing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion-all about feel­ing God in nature, and so on-is so attrac­tive. It is all thrills and no work; like watch­ing the waves from the beach. But you will not get to New­found­land by study­ing the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eter­nal life by sim­ply feel­ing the pres­ence of God in flow­ers or music. Nei­ther will you get any­where by look­ing at maps with­out going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea with­out a map.

In other words, The­ol­ogy is prac­ti­cal: espe­cially now. In the old days, when there was less edu­ca­tion and dis­cus­sion, per­haps it was pos­si­ble to get on with a very few sim­ple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Every­one reads, every­one hears things dis­cussed. Con­se­quently, if you do not lis­ten to The­ol­ogy, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones — bad, mud­dled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trot­ted out as nov­el­ties to-day are sim­ply the ones which real The­olo­gians tried cen­turies ago and rejected. To believe in the pop­u­lar reli­gion of mod­ern Eng­land is ret­ro­gres­sion — like believ­ing the earth is flat.

Take from the 23rd chap­ter of Mere Chris­tian­ity by C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LSMFT


"I think nothing else helped so much to lessen the strain for all of us." I bet! :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Quote for Tax Day

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta." ~Dave Barry

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Eastertide (and damn those orks!)

Obviously I haven't posted for a time. (Monday in Holy Week seems like months ago!) The good news, of course, is "Christ is Risen!" (If you want to read a great poem from John Updike, check this out: Seven Stanzas at Easter.)

Anyway, about those orks.... In an earlier post ( see here ) I shared how my command of ork forces was a disaster. Well, during Dylan's Easter Vacation he commanded the orks and I took the reigns of the Warriors of Gondor. Different game, same result! Dylan won. The orks were victorious and dear old dad hangs his head in shame for letting Boromir meet such an inglorious end.



Hope lives eternal, however. Onward to victory!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday in Holy Week

O God, your Son chose the path which led to pain before joy and the cross before glory. Plant his cross in our hearts, so that in its power and love we come to the final joy and glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen  (Lutheran Book of Worship, Monday in Holy Week)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lenten Quote: Frederica Mathewes-Green

"Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brute-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home."
--Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation

(Editor's note: Sounds very much like the first of the 95 Theses of Martin Luther:
"Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance." )

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wellington's Rifles

I haven't posted gaming news for awhile, so here's a few pictures of my Napoleonic British Rifles. It has been a long time since I've put paint to lead, as we have been going throuugh house reconstruction. I'm eager to finish more of these guys and finish painting French Voltigeurs and Line troops, so that Cpt. Sharpe, Sgt. Harper, and crew can save England from the despotic French!


New Orleans: Beignets!

I have a new favorite food! Eating beignets during Lent was almost sinful, but I cannot begin to describe how wonderful a fresh, warm beignet tastes (with a cup of cofee) on a cold evening in New Orleans. My mouth is watering as I type.

Lenten Quotes: Chrysostom

John Chrysostom, (4th century church father) speaks of the true Lenten fast:

"Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.

Do not let only your mouth fast,
but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands
and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is
sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and
devour our brothers?

May He who came to the world to save sinners, strengthen us to
complete the fast with humility! Have mercy on us and save us."
Amen.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lenten Reading from Down Under

Are there Lutherans in Australia? Sure are! A Lutheran Church of Australia pastor posts a must read for this Lenten season:
click here

New Orleans: D-Day Musuem

Actually, it used to be the D-Day musuem, but the correct name these days is The National World War II Musuem. The focus originally was on D-Day, as the "Higgins Boats," that were the key to the amphibious landing, were built in New Orleans. As General Eisenhower put it, "Andrew Higgins ... is the man who won the war for us. ... If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different."

The museum has expanded its focus to include other theaters of the war (including the Pacific "D-Day"), and it is not to be missed when visiting New Orleans. It is easy to forget how perilous the worldwide situation was for many years with the powerful Japanese, German, and Italian war machines threatening so many. At the start of the war, the U.S. Army was only the 18th largest in the world (behind Romania!). The exhibits were fascinating and the Tom Hanks movie "Beyond All Boundaries" should be seen by all Americans (especially school children).

To go to the musuem site, please click here .

As someone who has laid to rest many World War II veterans, I fear that the American propensity to forget will lead us to neglect and fail to appreciate the sacrifices of so many. This is history that needs to be remembered. Each man I buried had a fascinating story to tell. They may have indeed been, in Tom Brokaw's words, "the greatest generation".

Lenten Quotes: Martin Luther (part II)

Lord Jesus,

You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.

You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.

You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.

- Martin Luther

New Orleans: A Streetcar Named Desire (or 951)

On Monday I picked up a streetcar on St. Charles Street and headed for the World War II D-Day musuem past Lee Circle. I was surprised to see that these were real working streetcars and not the tourist type in San Francisco and other cities I've been too. Yes, there were tourists like me aboard, but the majority were folks going to work or students going to school or the elderly getting a ride to a needed destination.



After the musuem (more on that in another post) I headed out to the Borders bookstore in the Garden District. The Garden District is a distinct neighborhood in New Orleans (like the French Quarter) and includes Antebellum mansions and many beautiful 19th century homes. I also passed the historic Zion Lutheran Church, begun in 1847 by German immigrants. (The current church dates to 1871). The bookstore was housed in a beautiful older home and I asked one of the clerks what it used to be. The surprise response? A funeral home!



New Orleans has the most character of any U.S. city I have visited and it is truly an ecclectic and a fascinating place.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Orleans: Fleur-de-lys Capital of the World

I don't know if that title is true or not, but I have been to Quebec City (Capital of French Canada) and I have observed a wider use here than there.
(Quebec Flag)

In New Orleans the fleur-de-lys is on the trash containers, on the city flag, on the football helmets, on the tourism brochures, interwoven with the decorations, and nearly ubiquitous. I joked with Katy that they sure do love the  Boy Scouts here! (Past and present Boy Scouts may remember that the fleur-de-lys is the universal symbol of scouting.)

In New Orleans, the symbol is a reminder of her French heritage. The Cajuns are really decendents of the Acadians from French Canada. In the Great Expulsion of 1755-1763, mostly during the French and Indian War,  the British forceably deported more than 14,000 Acadians from the maritime region of Canada. Approximately one third perished. Many later settled in Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns.

More from New Orleans later....


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off to New Orleans

No new posts for a bit. We are off to New Orleans for a few days. I must confess that it feels a bit odd to leave the parish during Lent (for a place associated with Mardi Gras, no less), but I'm looking forward to it.

Interesting travel notes to follow.

Lenten Quotes: Watts

The Lord can clear the darkest skies
Can give us day for night.
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight.

--Isaac Watts

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lenten Quotes: Christenson

Why do I offer quotes from other people and various saints of the church? Well, let me offer a quote (!) from Marlene Dietrich: "I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself."

Now you know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lenten Quotes: German Proverb

"To change and to change for the better are two different things."
-- German proverb

(Let's pray that our Lenten discipline changes us for the better.)

It's a Good Day for U.S. Hockey!

I'm just going to savor the moment. (USA 5, Canada 3)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lenten Quotes: Jesus (via St. Matthew)

Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, `Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.' I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.
--Matthew 9:13

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Quotes: Solomon

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

--Proverbs 3:7

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18th: The Heavenly Birthday of Martin Luther

On the evening of  February 17th, 1546, Martin Luther experienced chest pains. When he went to his bed, he prayed, "Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God" (Ps. 31:5), the common prayer of the dying. At 1:00 a.m. he awoke with more chest pain and was warmed with hot towels. He thanked God for revealing his Son to him in whom he had believed. His companions, Justus Jonas and Michael Coelius, asked him, "Reverend father, are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?" A distinct "Yes" was Luther's reply.




Almighty God, the sender in every age of faithful men and women to recall the Church to its task, and to renew its life: raise up, in this our day, prophetic heralds and evangelists, whose voices, like that of your servant Martin, will give strength to your Church, that your will may be done and your name be glorified, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Behold, Lord
An empty vessel that needs
to be filled.
My Lord, fill it.
I am weak in the faith;
Strengthen me.
I am cold in love;
Warm me and make me fervent,
That my love may go out
to my neighbor...
O Lord, help me.
Strengthen my faith and
trust in you...

With me, there is an
abundance of sin;
In You is the fullness of
righteousness.
Therefore I will remain
with You,
O whom I can receive,
But to Whom I may not give.

-Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Quotes: Martin Luther

"There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow." --Martin Luther

Snow Track for Greyhounds!

Not everyone is enjoying a beautiful Spring day like we are in Bakersfield (feels a bit odd on this Ash Wednesday). Katy shared this with me and I have to post it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Visual Meditation for Ash Wednesday

"Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."

Lenten Quotes: Oswald Chambers


"It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realise what God has done in Christ Jesus."
--Oswald Chambers

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Power of Cheese

Please watch until the end. No mice were harmed in the filming of this video.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Katy!

My beautiful bride celebrates her birthday today. I am a very lucky man.
She is the attractive one on the right. The picture location is near Cedar City, Utah, when we were there for a Shakespeare Festival. Life is an adventure when Katy is around. She's dragging me to New Orleans in February.




Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Odd News o' the Day

From the Associated Press:

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Police say a Pennsylvania man in a hospital gown stole $50 from his ex-girlfriend at Wal-Mart, then tried to flee on a store-owned motorized shopping scooter.

Thirty-two-year-old Craig David Jr., of Smithfield, was charged Wednesday with robbery and disorderly conduct.

State police Cpl. Chuck Frey says David had just been released from a hospital for injuries in a domestic dispute Jan. 1. Frey says David had been hit with a frying pan and table leg.

David was still in a hospital gown Tuesday night when he met an ex-girlfriend who agreed to pay for his prescription medication. Instead, police say he grabbed $50 from her and scooted away.

_________________________________________________________

Wow. That's a sight I really do not want to see:  a man with a flapping hospital gown fleeing on a Wal-Mart scooter! I hope they gave him some clothing when they sent him to jail.



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Journey of the Magi

The Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.



Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.



All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

USA World Junior Hockey Champions

Watch this video and then try to tell me hockey isn't a great sport: WJHC

Congrats to the young men from USA who ended Canada's 5 year gold medal run.

Kevin's Chili

No words are needed.  :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cheese Puffs Flying Around The Office

Here's a clip from one of my favorite television shows. The humor is quirky enough to keep me interested.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On the Hockey Front

Read further about a true Winter Classic . Few events named "classic" live up to the billing, but the last three NHL New Year's Day outdoor games have been terrific. What can be better than outdoor hockey?

When I was growing up, all the college football bowl games were held on New Year's Day. Of course, there were far fewer of them then (Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Orange Bowl). Now, the bowl season runs from December thorugh the first weeks in January. So, the NHL Winter Classic has become my sport of choice on the day all sports fans can be couch potatoes. According to reports and ratings, the Winter Classic has become on of the top 5 sporting events in North America.
(The Bruins won in extra innings at Fenway Park.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Myths

As we near the end of the Christmas season and approach Epiphany, I thought I would share this video. It's a good reminder of the ultimate sigificance of Christmas.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas

As we celebrate  a new year, while still celebrating Christmastide, here's the final two sections of 'Christmas Oratorio.'


Christmas Oratorio – W H Auden

III
Well, so that is that.
Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes -
Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week -
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully -
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
“Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.”
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will will be done,
That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

IV
CHORUS

He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

(W H Auden – 1907-1973)