Birds of a Feather

It is Finished March 30, 2013

Filed under: Holiday,The everyday — kcfeather @ 8:22 pm

Holy Saturday. Almost Alleluia.

Yesterday before our church’s Good Friday Tenebrae service, I finished my Lenten project of reading through the Bible, from front to back. I’ll report some reflections on the process soon, but throughout the past week, I keep coming back to the last words of Christ on the cross. It is finished. (John 19:30)

What a wonderful reality to rest in and to celebrate, tomorrow, and each day. We A very talented musician sang a song by this title at the service, and I thought I’d share. After the second verse there is a *beautiful* bell solo. Stick with it, if only for that. If you use a blog reader, you may have to click through to hit play and hear the song.

It is Finished, the Redeemer Said

Words: Samuel Stennett, 1787, and Michael Van Patter, 2011
Music: Michael Van Patter, 2011
(c) New York Hymns, 2011

It is finished, the redeemer said
And meekly bowed his dying head
While we his sentence scan
Come ye sinners and observe the word
Behold the conquests of our lord
Complete for sinful man

So who shall urge a second claim?
The law now no longer can condemn
Faith a release can show
Justice itself now a friend appears
The prison house a whisper hears
Loose him and let him go

His word divinely finished stands
And oh, the praise his love demands
Careful may we attend
Conclusion to the whole be this
Because salvation finished is
Our thanks shall never end


[Good] Friday Five March 29, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 1:07 pm

1. I love the longer days and (slightly) warmer weather we are experiencing, but we are both starting to sneeze and that means…allergy season. Ugh.

2. Another ugh, tax season. I don’t mind paying the taxes, but I do mind doing them: correctly figuring out what to report where for a year in which we had income in multiple states takes quite a lot of careful attention.

3. We’ve only had one Cadbury Creme Egg each (since they hit the shelves, the day after Valentine’s Day…) It turns out that though we both have fond memories, Easter candy just isn’t as good when you’re an adult.

4. I had lofty, Pinterest-inspired plans to decorate Easter eggs this year, but they fell by the wayside. I realize that there are still a few days left, but I’m just being realistic – it’s not going to happen. Maybe next year!

5. Yesterday I played tourist with a friend and we went on a short guided tour of Elfreth’s Alley, “our nation’s oldest residential street.” It is a bizarre place in that it is still a residential street (normal people still live there) but it is also a tourist attraction. The residents must be extremely patient. One of the houses (again, still inhabited) is only 9 feet wide!! Talk about tight quarters.


Poetry Corner: Reverdure March 21, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — kcfeather @ 10:29 pm

Spring arrived yesterday, and it even felt like it – the sun was shining, crocuses were slowly opening up as we took an evening stroll (while it was still light, at 6:30!) Then today, we woke up to snow flurries.  Go figure.

My dad sent us a care package recently that contained a few newspaper clippings, a few books, and a Wheaties box.  Thanks, dad!  One of the books was a collection of poems by Wendell Berry – Clearing.

The final poem of the book is beautiful, and so appropriate for the season. I was going to say that 8. was my favorite section, then I thought no, 12. or maybe 14. But after several re-readings I can’t choose – so I guess you’ll just have to bear through the long poem (it’s worth it!)


Wendell Berry

You never know
what you are going to learn.

The wintering mind turns
inward, like the earth
wintering. Beneath frost
it keeps future and past
alive. In spring it rises
from its deeps, folds out
again to light. Mind
and leaf unflex in shine.

How to get in
and out of your mind?
The way in prepares
the way out.

The groundhog, who turned
his tail to the cold, now
sticks out his face.

In the first warm morning
the black calf walks down
to the river, the light irised
in his hair. Over his back
leap the shadows of willows
leafing. The good sun
makes him go easy.

The phoebes have come back.

The drums of the woodpeckers
ask and answer.

The blue of the bluebird
is in the leafless apple tree,
new breath.

The redbird sings
O let it come, O

let it, let it.

An old grandmother
a little surprised
to be waking up again,
the ground slowly remembers
the shapes of grassblades,
stems, leaves, birds,
cattle, people, songs.

The slope whose scars I mended
turns green now.
Healing becomes health.
Reverdure is my calling.

One thing work gives
is the joy of not working,
a minute here or there
when I stand and only breathe,
receiving the good of the air.
It comes back. Good work done
comes back into the mind,
a free breath drawn.

Though I came here
by history’s ruin, reverdure
is my calling:
to make these scars grow grass.
I survive this fate and labor
by fascination.

I want to fence the thicket-ridden field
unused all my life, and turn in the calves
to browse the vines and leaves in May.
They will begin to open it, eating
the low growth, letting vision find its way
in among the close-standing trunks.

And then in the winters, as I need,
I will thin the trees, leaving the walnuts,
poplars, ashes, oaks, burning
what I cut to heat the house. Springs,
on the frozen mornings of early March,
I will sow the opened land. Slowly
good pasture will widen over the slope
in the shade of scattered tall trees,
change doing the ground no harm.

And so, in the first warmth of the year,
I went up with saw and axe
to cut a way in. I made a road, I made
a thought-way under the trees, up
the slope, and that was ancient work.
In rhyme of flesh with flesh, time
with time, act with act, I made my way
into the woods, leaving an order
that was mine, a way opening behind me
by which I came out again.

Above that thicket growth
the hillside steepens,
the trees are old. The farm
reaches one of its limits
there, and finds its example.
No leaf falls there that is lost;
all that falls rises, opens,
sings; what was, is.

And this steep woods will be
left standing, a part
of the farm not farmed,
its sacred grove, where we
will have nothing to do.
The trees live in eternity
and they live now. Their roots
are in life and death.
They have the earthly health
whose signature is song.

And there are ways
the deer walk in darkness
that are clear.
It is not by will
I know this,
but by willingness,
by being here.

It is time again I made an end to words
for a while–for this time,
or for all time. Any end may last.
I love this warm light room, where words
have kept me through the cold days.
But now song surrounds it, the fields
around it are green, and I must turn away
from books, put past and future behind,
to come into the presence of this time.


Friday Five March 16, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 2:13 am

1. Apparently, we live in “the most underrated city in the world” according to Mark Bittman of the New York Times.  Take that, world!

2. Bittman also wrote an article here about one of my very favorite things – public markets!  Pike Place (in Seattle) has a special place in my heart, and though it’s a bit less scenic, I am learning to love Reading Terminal here in Philly.  This time of year, I also think fondly of exploring London’s Borough Market with C when we were in London back in April 2006.  That was a fun place.

3. Also this time of year, we love the cheap daffodils at Trader Joe’s.  Last week, in addition to the $1.49 daffodil bouquets, they were selling potted gardenia plants full of buds for only $7.99.  I made an impulse purchase, and couldn’t be happier – so far, 3 (of about 25 or so) buds have blossomed. Gardenia can be finicky, but this guy seems to be a pretty happy camper.

4. We just booked a trip to the Bay Area in early April, and are really looking forward to it!

5. Our car got towed on Monday (first time ever for either of us – although living in the city that is home to Parking Wars, it was only a matter of time).  I had to spend 2 full hours at the impound lot on Monday morning waiting to get it back.  Boo…several hours of my life that I will never get back.  The anti-vacation, if ever there was one.


Proving a Point March 10, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 1:44 am

Last month, at the beginning of a rainy weekend, we decided to check out the new Netflix television series House of Cards. Netflix had released all 13 episodes of the first season at once, and while we didn’t necessarily plan to, we ended up watching the entire season over the course of the weekend.  It may not match the level of The Wire (our all-time favorite TV show) – but it was pretty good, and (obviously) very addictive.

In one of the earliest scenes, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) buys her husband, Senator Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) a rowing machine for his mancave of a basement. This is not a major storyline (no spoilers here), just a little thread that runs through several of the episodes.

A few days later, C said to me, “I have an idea” – as if out of the blue.  Then he continued:  “Maybe we should get an indoor rower…it fits easily into a (tiny Philadelphia) basement, and would be a good way to get exercise without having to leave the house.”  (Treadmills wouldn’t really fit in the front doors of a lot of the homes around here, let alone fit down the basement stairs.)

I said, “Oh really?  I wonder where that idea came from.” Silence. I then suggested that it seems like most home exercise machines end up collecting dust.  In response, C immediately incorporated the erg into his routine at the gym (see below).  So if it lasts awhile, who knows – maybe we’ll be the proud owners of a rower. Although I think we’re first going to work on becoming proud owners of a basement in which to put said rower.