We had a really lovely start to the new year. First, Mass for the feast of the Mother of God. I was thinking how perfect it is that Jan 1 is a holy Day of Obligation. I’m so glad to have that nudge otherwise I might not do what I know I should and start the year off on the right foot. And I was pondering how the year begins on the day that fulfills the Octave of Christmas, the perfection of the feast. When I was younger it seemed like just a coincidence that the year began shortly after Christmas. Now I see that the year actually begins with the birth of Christ. On the eighth day, the day he was circumcised, the day he formally received his name. The year begins with Christ, the light in the darkness, the warmth in the cold. Just as the year is turning, the days starting to grow longer. Yes it it right. It is holy. With Mary as our beacon we step into a new year, the Mother of him who makes all things new.
After Mass, a walk down memory lane, driving through Salem, past all our old haunts. We drove past our old apartment, dear 2A, and all around our neighborhood and down to Forest River Park where I walked all the time with Bella, and Salem State College where I taught, and the hospital where the big girls were born. We didn’t make it over to Immaculate Conception Church; but otherwise it was definitely a best of tour. Then visiting with family and holding my newest niece, dear little Bridget, who was born a couple of days before Chrismas. How lovely to have a relaxing visit– and yes, it was relaxing even though there were 13 kids there. (The littlest one never made a peep though.)
As we drove home in the dark, I was thinking how very peaceful I feel. I hope the rest of this year is as full of love and good things.
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A friend asked for recommendations of the best books we read in the past year, so I started going through my blog archive to jog my memory. Wow. I’m realizing I was a terrible reader in 2013. I’m now making a resolution to read more and keep better records. I was doing a monthly reading log through July and then stopped.
But these are the best books I read:
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell
Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson, OP
Brief Light by Sally Thomas (poems)
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden.
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I guess this post is a bonus art and poem for today. I really wanted to honor Mary on her feast with the Cimabue painting. Cimabue is a less known artist, eclipsed by Giotto, who is thought to be one of his students. But I came face to face with this majestic piece when I first visited Florence and I fell in love with this beautiful Madonna on her golden throne. Seen as a photograph, it isn’t all that striking, I suppose; but in person it had a luminosity, a presence. I was transported to another place. I almost heard the angels singing.
Also, I really wanted to share this sweet little poem by Chesterton. We discovered it one day this summer as we sat outside in the backyard on a blanket reading poetry in the sunshine. And I resolved then to remember it when it was cold and dark. So here it is: yet another bit of light in the darkness. What I love most is that last couplet: “And all the flowers looked up at Him, / And all the stars looked down.”
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)
The Christ-child stood at Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton