Feb 22, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Despite my love of new experiences, I really like things that stay the same. Or rather, I like things that repeat and reoccur, either daily or weekly or yearly or whatever. It's nice to experience things in a sustained way, allowing the experience to change and grow over time. I like seasons, how each spring and summer and winter and fall feel fresh and new.

I also like the seasons of the Church, and I have the background for it. Growing up Episcopalian, I watched as our church observed the liturgical calender. Although I didn't understand it all at the time, it made an impression on me. And I've grown to cherish the liturgy and ritual that accompanies the weekly service and the seasons of Advent and Lent, among others.

Communality, however, has not always known what to do with liturgy and ritual and the church calender. It means different things to different people, in both theology and experience. But we have tried, over the years, to live our way into our own liturgies, sometimes gratefully receiving what the Church has ready to offer, sometimes creating our own, brand-new. It's been a good journey.

So I love the fact that we have, for some years now, ushered in the season of Lent with the observance of Ash Wednesday. I started to say "celebration", but somehow that's not what it is. Whereas Advent points us towards the birth of the Christ, Lent points us towards his death. And resurrection, but Lent reminds us that we shouldn't be in a hurry to get there, that we must pass through the shadow of the cross to reach the tomb; there's no shortcut. Both are seasons of preparation and contemplation, but Lent definitely has a more somber tone.

Ash Wednesday provides an appropriate place to begin this journey into darkness. In solemn consideration of our sins, our temptations and shortcomings, we anoint each other with ashes and speak truth to them, "From dust we came, to dust we shall return." It's not the whole truth, but it's a part that needs to be spoken at this particular moment.

One of my favorite parts is seeing Miranda participate. Even as a baby, precious to us in her newness and vulnerability, it's true of her as well. It's good for me, as her mother, to be reminded of her mortality. Although we didn't get a photo this year of her being marked with ashes, here's one from last year with community member and good friend Lisa. Check our Lisa's blog and her husband's for some great Lenten reflections and praxis.)

We also entered into a Lenten fast, which I'll save for another post.

Feb 21, 2007

o, ō, ω, s, ς, σ, e, ē, ê, έ, η… &#%*!?!!

Today was a rather tedious day at the library. I'm revising a paper I wrote on the use and meaning of "temperance" in the Platonic dialogues. This is the paper that I'll submit for my "transition viva", which is the process by which I'm officially upgraded from Masters student to PhD candidate. In other words, the paper needs to be good. So, in addition to sharpening the conclusion and tightening the arguments, I'm simultaneously checking all the spelling, grammer, and wording.

Now, Plato wrote in Greek, so the word I'm actually researching is "sophrosyne", which is Greek for temperance, or moderation. And as I'm revising the paper, I realize that I wasn't very careful about staying true to each author or commentator's particular rendering of the word. That is, each person may or may not have done the following:

  • used the Greek alphabet, (σωφροωυνη v. sophrosyne)
  • if not in Greek, then transliterated the long vowels (σωφροωυνη v. sophrosyne v. sōphrosynē)
  • used italics (sophrosyne v. sophrosyne v. sōphrosynē v. sōphrosynē v. σωφροσυνη v. σωφροσυνη)
  • used any particular spelling, and there appear to be 3 or 4 options (sophrosyne v. sophrosyne v. sophrosune v. sophrosune v. sōphrosynē v. sōphrosynē v. σωφροσυνη v. σωφροσυνη v. ςωφροςυνη v. σωφροσύνη)

Additionally, I have to select which version I'll use in the original portion of my paper. Now, I've used 2 translations of 4 different dialogues, and 11 different commentaries. My paper is 46 pages long, with around 200 footnotes. So, I spent today doing the following:

  1. Checking each and every use of (some form of) the word sophrosyne
  2. Verifying that those in the original portion all say sōphrosynē (my advisor seemed to prefer this one)
  3. matching EACH of the remaining words to its source (which commentator, which spelling) to make sure I've stayed true to the original

And so... 4 hours in the library, 16 bibliographical sources, 46 pages, and 201 footnotes later, I ask you -- wouldn't it be easier to just say "temperance"?

&!#?% academic standards.

Feb 18, 2007

Communality in the News(paper)

The Lexington Herald-Leader did an article on our group and one other house church in the area. It's nice! Plus, see if you can identify someone you know in the picture. (Hint: I'm fuzzy.)

Questions of Fidelity

My friend Sherry did an absolutely fabulous post on our convoluted relationship with the concept of fidelity. She said it better than I can, so go check it out, right now. (And warm your hands in the fact that it's 95 degrees in Melbourne.)

Feb 15, 2007

This is your fault, Geoff Maddock

OK, so I'm fixing dinner tonight, and Miranda is occupied with the Baby Noah DVD, and I'm adding commentary from the kitchen. "Oh, look, Miranda, there's a panda bear. Look, there's a dolphin."

So the next section is "In The Outback." We see kangaroos and koalas, and then the video says, "The Wombat." And I glance over and nonchalantly say, "Look, Miranda, it's a fat-assed wombat!"

Wait a second... what did I just try to teach Miranda to say? And why did I say it so naturally?

Then I remembered the video of the 2000 Sydney Games that Geoff showed folks from the community. It had highlights of some Aussie commentators covering the games, not at all... conventional in its style (but terribly, terribly funny). And they had this stuffed wombat (BTW, it's a 3 ft long, Australian marsupial) called Wallie the Fat-Assed Wombat, who waddled across the screen and found his way into the hands of several Aussie winners on the platforms. So now, I immediately and pretty unconsciously modify the word "wombat" in this manner.

So, when Miranda is sent home from preschool for repeating this zoological tidbit, we know who to thank.

Feb 14, 2007

Mark Twain Be Damned

Wasn't he the one who said, "It's better to keep quiet and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt"?

Well, here is where I threw caution to the wind and opened my mouth about our community and its participation in the New Monasticism network. It's a one-hour radio interview I did with a church historian and a friend from the network. You can click on the permalink if you'd like to listen to it. I'm only in the first half-hour, but it's all pretty interesting.

239 Burke: Update

Our inspection went well; we have a few roof, fireplace, and furnace issues to resolve, but no dealbreakers. And if you know our inspector, you realize that's a miracle. (He's done lots of inspections for Communality folks; we call him the Terminator, the Destroyer, the Dream-Crusher...) No, he's just very, very thorough, and we all like him -- he looks out for us.

We've doing the radon test as we speak, and also got an estimate to waterproof the basement. We'll do these things immediately after closing (+/- April 2), then begin moving in. That's all for now.

Feb 7, 2007

A change is looming

A bit of context:

In January 2000, during our engagement, Billy and I decided to buy a house. We liked the idea of building equity in a home, of investing in a neighborhood, of having the space to practice hospitality. After a few weeks of searching, we found our present home at 701 Golfview Drive, where we've lived for the past 7 years. Our entire married life has been there; it is where we welcomed Lena, John, and Miranda. It's been our home, and we've been really happy there. And not just our house -- the neighborhood has become our home as well. Playing and gardening with the neighborhood kids, working with the neighborhood association, spending time with the guys up the street at the Golfview House, walking to Buffalo Wild Wings -- so many things have become special to us.

Yet slowly but surely, we have been outgrowing this house. Even with a fabulous design (vaulted ceilings, 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a walk-in closet and a laundry room., plus garage!), it's still just over 1000 square feet. When we moved in 7 years ago, it was just the two of us, and our house seemed spacious and welcoming. We had our bedroom with its walk-in closet and private bath (snazzy!), an office, and a guest room and guest bath. It was lovely, and everything seemed to have its proper place, and was easy to keep under control. Now fast-forward 2 1/2 years and add another, non-related adult, and there goes our guest bedroom and bath. Fast forward another 3 years and add an infant, and there goes our office and a large part of our living room. (Although we enclosed an area of the garage to serve as an office, it's not quite the same.) We can still coexist under the same roof, but things are pretty tight. And having guests means one of two unappealing options -- they're on the couch or they're at a hotel.

So, for the past several months we've been looking at houses. We had a contract on one last fall, which fell through due to a slimy and deceptive homeseller. (I'm just saying...) But last week, we signed a contract on this nice home. It's in a neighborhood that I've always loved, just a mile and a half out of downtown and the High Street House. There are mature trees and lots of front porches, and an elementary school and a park and a grocery within a half-mile walk. Its interior is stuck in the 70's, but that's fixed easily enough. It has a nice backyard for Miranda, for a garden, for entertaining and chatting with neighbors. It's twice the size of our present home, with room to expand into the basement if we choose. And I think we'll be really happy there. There will be much grieving as we leave our sweet Golfview home, which I'll probably process here on the blog, but I know God has good things in store for us on Burke Road.

We have our inspection and radon test this week, and will hopefully close around the end of March. I'll keep everyone posted.