Sunday, November 18, 2007

All Cozy Inside

In the past couple of days, brilliant white tips have appeared on the mountains. Our wet and chilly autumn is slowly creeping into a wet and icy winter. But inside we have been toasty warm with frequent crackling fires, steaming soups and stews, and warm blankets added to the beds. Our lives, too, have been buffetted on the outside by freezing cold winds, hitting our faces and taking our breath away. But inside there is warmth and peace from the fire of the knowledge of God's goodness.

This afternoon since returning from the church potluck, I have been wrapped up in blankets in bed. First for a nap while Cora napped, now for reading and writing while David took her to the park. My mind is consumed as always by our recent events, but less for fear of Cora's future than in simply attempting to synthesize and assimilate all the many loving revelations the Lord has been teaching me. This has been such a painful experience because I of course want to protect Cora; my love wants to shield her from suffering any pain or difficulty in the future, which this disorder she has been diagnosed with will certainly cause. I want only good things, happy things, an easy road for her. But God knows that the easy road is the worthless, meaningless road. He likewise wants good things for His children: for me and David and Cora. The difference is that He in His infinite wisdom knows what is truly good. And this trial is good. It requires us to lean more on Christ; it flames in us a desire to seek the things above rather than the things of earth; it drives us to take refuge in God's shelter and to seek comfort from His Word; it changes each of us into more of who God wants us to be. And so I praise Him for this inner warmth amidst the icy cold blasts, and I look with hope and expectation to the fulfilling of all His purposes.

Friday, November 2, 2007


My weekend at the monastery was a time of quiet, meditation, prayer, and study. It was a beautiful place, up on a hill in the Fraser Valley, surrounded by golden woods and near a high bluff with a spectacular view. I loved awakening before dawn to boisterously ringing church bells. The first morning I stole away to a lookout room to pray before breakfast, watching the sun rise behind black mountains, gradually lightening the river down in the valley below. We were hearily served delicious meals of fruit and vegatables grown by the monks, and beef from their own cattle. Our professor, a benignant and gentle old man, had a manner very conducive to learning about spirituality. And in between the trenchant lectures on integrating spirituality with ministry, we had plenty of time for assimilating and prayerful introspection in the quiet of the woods or our own room. One afternoon, one of the brothers spoke to us about Benedictine spirituality. Afterward, we joined he and the other monks for their sung evening vespers, their deep and reverent voices filling the high vaulted ceilings of the cathedral with worship. Sunday morning, we went to mass, after which the 20 of us (Protestants) celebrated our own little private communion table, praying for each other before each one took the elements. That was a special time, as we had quickly grown to know and care for each other in the course of the two days.

I was happy to return to my family, although they had had a really bad night. A teething Cora had kept her daddy up most of it, and they were both exhausted and ill feeling, while I contrastly was physically relaxed and spiritually invigorated. Poor things.

Since then, the pace of life has been pretty furious, hence the reason I am only just now writing. But I have been diligent to not lose hold of some of the gleanings over the weekend. They are still fresh, and God just as present, even in the hectic busyness as they were in the still places.

Tuesday, we went to the doctor for both Cora and I to have our checkup (same doctor!). Cora got 4(!) vaccinations, a tramatic event which she took like the super tough girl she is. Only a couple minutes of frantic crying after the four consecutive and increasingly painful shots were given. She cuddled close to me and watched the doctor after that like a hawk. She is not quite even 21 pounds. Her little buddy who's a month younger than her is 26 pounds!

Halloween was a new experience. On Wednesday mornings I always go to a playgroup at our church, a leisurely time chatting with other moms while the kids run around. Cora usually falls asleep on the way home, and I gently transfer her to her crib. But this time she woke up from the catnap wired and their was no getting her back to sleep that afternoon. Early in the evening, we joined our pastor's family for a bit of trick-or-treating along their street before heading back to the church for a fall festival. We have quickly become good friends with Barton and Heather. They have a 3 yr old (Cora and I will be going to her birthday party tomorrow) and a 9 mo old, and we share a lot of things in common. For her costume, I had gotten Cora an adorable little monkey suit (what else could she be?) from Baby Gap, and boy, she was a hit! She was so cute following Emily (the 3 yr old) around. At the doorstep, people would hold out their basket of candy for her to choose a piece, but instead of taking one, she would put the piece she was holding (and had been gnawing on) into their basket. What a good sharer! Then we were off to the festival, where there were games and snacks. On our way back home, we discovered a huge crowd of people outside a church near our house, and we were drawn into it by the yummy smells and loud music. They were waiting for a fireworks display (fireworks are a big part of Halloween here), and so we stayed for the show, eating hot soup and a hotdog while we watched. Cora put her head on my shoulder and watched with eyes glazed over. By the time we got our monkey home to bed, she was exhausted, but so happy. She just loves being out and about so much. Hmm. Wonder where she gets that from.