Five Minute Friday: break

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“Break” comes with connotations of pain and I shy away: do I want to write about pain today?

But then I think of all the positive kinds of breaking: we may break a silence. We may break a fast. We may break from working or from school. Every morning day breaks through night, and weary watchers rejoice. A breaking may be a rest, a relief, a joy.

And I wonder if other things broken — the painful sorts of breaks — might also, viewed from another angle, be openings for joy?

Perhaps the broken heart, the broken dreams, the broken bodies are really broken to let in light, nourishment, hope of a kind we wouldn’t have imagined.

When morning arrives, we don’t mourn that a night has been broken, we thrill that a day has been made.

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Today, I join Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to muse over her prompt, “break.” The button above will take you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): real

This blog post starts mid-thought, as I had asked myself why writing on “real” seemed difficult for me. Here follow my ramblings.

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Maybe it’s because “real” isn’t one of my favorite words. Don’t get me wrong, reality and I are on good terms, but there is this sense in which people use “real” to apply more to unhappiness and ugliness, and I contend that reality is also in the loveliness of now.

I used to wonder — after we moved to Massachusetts when I was seven — if Massachusetts were not a dream. What if, I mused, I were to wake up and find myself in my pink room in Florida with all these intervening days — and later years — fleeing with the mist of sleep. What if this isn’t real?

More than twenty years later, it would be devastating and baffling to awaken to find that all this living I’ve been doing has really not been done, to find myself still a little child with all the growing-up struggles still ahead and only the difference of knowing they’d be hard instead of discovering the hardness bit by bit.

If we could see the hurts coming, we’d cut ourselves off from the loveliness, wouldn’t we? I would, holding back, trying to deaden the pain by deadening the pleasure as well. If I don’t come to love this place, these people, it will be easier when I have to leave. If I don’t discover how good this is, I won’t miss it when it’s over.

Praise the Lord real life doesn’t work like that. We know, in vague ways, that hurts will come, but we also get to have the sweetness, full and surprising.

Only Christ knew all the suffering that was before Him and walked forward anyway, fully invested in spite of all, healing the very sick who perhaps later stood among the crowd calling “Crucify Him.”

He did it for the joy set before Him — real joy, no ephemeral dream; joy which by His love He sets before us, as well. “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead.” Real light shines on us.

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Today I write on Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt, real. The button above will take you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: plan

A drive which took me past places with names that delighted me: “Escatawpa,” “Citronelle,” “Saraland,” “Dismal Creek.”

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My GPS thought my destination was on that side of town, and told me to turn off the road into piney woods. But instead I had to drive through town and out the other side, and once I thought I’d missed the road and took a scenic detour through a neighborhood, and when I finally found it I drove too far and had to turn around. But I arrived.

Going over some of the bridges, the wind was stiff and pelicans hung suspended against it.

And in other places the rain was hard and I sped up the wipers, slowed down the car.

Some people say it’s about the journey, and sometimes I agree. But when I journey, I like to know I’m going somewhere, and, however sweet the journey, I like to arrive at the planned destination.

The destination was planned before the foundation of the world; by the blood of the Crucified One my arrival is assured; by His steadfast love, the journey is sweetened.

I’m thankful.

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Linking up today with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers. The button above will take you there.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): gather

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This morning I read the story of Ruth — a book possessing a poetry and romance all its own, as it seem to show between its lines that Boaz acted not only out of obligation but also from delight in the woman who gleaned behind his reapers.

Gleaning. Gathering. Not necessarily glamorous pastimes, these, and I think of the humility of the Moabitess who demonstrated her poverty gathering the leavings of those more fortunate.

There are other graces in this story, too: the remembrance that God commanded that things be left behind in harvest particularly for the poor and the strangers who, like Ruth, might be in need of such gleanings.

But also this realization: that, though the Lord had said that no one from Moab nor any of their descendants might enter His assembly forever; yet He deigned to enter this Moabite woman into the genealogy of His Son, who makes a way for all to enter His assembly by making us citizens of a new and coming kingdom — who, as Boaz palely shadows forth –interposes to redeem His people. Not simply because it is His duty, but because it is His delight.

He gathers us — even us who were His enemies — and makes us His own. And this, because He loves us.

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Today I gather with the Five Minute Friday writers over at Kate Motaung’s blog. The button above will let you gather with us, too.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

February: learnings 2015

February: month of skunk journeys and astonishing weather shifts, of walks under clear skies and under evening rain showers, of so-many-essays-to-grade for my students and so-many-people-to-thank for social media birthday wishes, of fears and hopes, of confidence and uncertainty, of ice clattering out of pine trees and daffodils illumining the space around the Chinaberry tree. And of learning things.

What-We-Learned-in-FebruaryToday I link up with Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky to share things we’ve learned in February. The photo above will take you to her site. Meanwhile, below is my list.

1. I learned that cyber-dogs are no longer merely the stuff of Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit — though Preston the evil cyber-dog from “A Close Shave” makes these dog-like robots seem scarier than they necessarily should be:

2. Also on the scary-science front, I learned that scientists think human head transplants could begin to happen as soon as 2017. Obviously, the head-transplant would be for the benefit of the person possessing the head, not for the benefit of the person possessing the body. But the idea gives me the creeps, and I think I’d rather stay in my own body, even if it means a shorter, more painful life. (It also raises so many questions about bodies and souls and how they are connected. Is the head the essence of a person? This science seems to assume that our heads live on our bodies like hermit crabs live inside shells. But I don’t think it’s quite like that.)

3. I learned, as I learn every year, how wonderful strawberries are, in color and flavor and general perfection: strawberries

4. I learned that sometimes the only morning in the week when you wake up eager to go to work is the day that, on threat of snow, work is cancelled and you stay home all day watching the trees ice over.

5. I learned how computer thesauri combined with poor grammar mastery can result in things like “role model subsequent.” It took me an unnecessarily long time to figure out that in the author’s mind “subsequent” = “following.” But while “following” can be an adjective or a noun — and in this case would be a noun — “subsequent” is just an adjective.

6. I learned that molecular sieves exist when my oil-industry brother came home with a couple of sieve spheres in his pocket.

7. I learned about AirDrop on my MacBook — only a year after getting the MacBook. But so handy!

8. I learned that the sound of my empty classroom — a classroom with a computer at every seat — is like the hum in Uncle Andrew’s study in The Magician’s Nephew. In the book, the hum comes from the green and yellow rings which take you in and out of worlds — and is not, in some sense, a room full of computers a sort of wood-between-the-worlds? I take satisfaction in shutting down each of the 37 computers and reducing the room to silence before I walk out.

9. I learned even more of the complications of Middle Eastern politics as I listened to NPR reporter Robert Siegel talk of his recent visit to Jordan:

I’ll tell you what one Jordanian told me – and he would never be quoted on this publicly. He said what he had really been afraid of was that ISIS would hand over Moath Kasasbeh, the pilot, alive. What would have happened then, he asked? Would Jordan have turned pro-ISIS in the streets if that had been the result? It still worried him.

It reminds me of the frighteningly fine line between good and evil, and of the dangers of not giving bad things their proper bad names. (G. K. Chesterton points out that the Victorians allowed the propagation of all kinds of immorality because they were too prim to refer to ugly things except in euphemisms — and euphemisms cover the ugliness which, to be eradicated, must be exposed.)

10. Speaking of naming things, this article by Kevin Loria at Business Insider raises the question of whether we can see colors that do not have names. And it makes me wonder what I’ve wondered before: can we know that we’re all seeing the same things which we name the same? I saw the dress as gold and white, and it made me wonder. . . . Even in walking by sight it seems we walk by faith.

11. I learned how clouds can cast shadows on the sky:
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12. I learned that Marilynne Robinson’s newest novel, Lila, is good to read, though somewhat disquieting in its ending. It’s a novel in part about finding home and grace, unexpectedly and even perhaps against one’s will, in unexpected people and places. Many passages resonated, but I’ll share this one:

It felt very good. . . . Good like rest and quiet, like something you could live without but you needed anyway. That you had to learn how to miss and then you’d never stop missing it.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: visit

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“Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?'” J. Alfred Prufrock entreats. “Let us go and make our visit.”

Always going to and fro, the women talk of Michelangelo, and I remember the days of calling cards on silver salvers, though I never lived them.

In some strata of society, visits used to be governed by careful rules, wrapped in ceremonies of hats and gloves, tea and polite conversation. There were no comfy phone visits, because there were no phones, let alone social media to allow us to watch one another from afar.

I think of how a culture of visits would be at once awkward and wonderful, forcing us into face-to-face, willing or no. A culture of visits presupposes time for visiting, and I think of spacious days when there were fewer things to know and thus more time for knowing.

And, after all, face-to-face knowing is so much more thorough and satisfying than the knowing of words and images on a screen. Shades of expression, of tone, of gesture force us to deal directly with the implications of our words, and we see first-hand their power to cause pain, or awkwardness, or delight.

Which is part of the wonder that the Sunrise from on high should have visited us, accomplishing redemption for His people. He knows us face-to-face, and, one day, face-to-face is how we shall know Him.

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Today I join Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew, writing on her prompt, visit. Visit her site using the button on the left.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: when

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When your back and shoulders ache for no good reason.

When weariness puts question marks at the ends of all your answers.

When the bag is too heavy and the air too cold.

When the faces facing yours are barely awake in spite of everything.

Then you remember that His love will never let you go.

And when you remember that, you rest.

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Posting for Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt, when. The purple button above will take you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott