Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still fevered, coughing, congested and tired.

Still home, but I worked today.  Actually, I worked 13 hours straight, with just a quick call about a check interspersed with many catching-up-after-letting-the-world-pass-me-by tasks.

I worked because I started a new design project, got feedback on it at 9:00, worked another hour or so, and then sent it to my Cousin D for ruthless examination and corrections.  Oh, how I was blessed by his eagle eye and keen composition sense!  What I turned in an hour after that is quite good...despite my dwindling ability to edit and proofread my own work.

Today, I had planned on going into work no matter how I felt because of how much I have missed, but my boss decided that my lingering germs should not come to the office.  So, I am allowed to work from home today and tomorrow.  That means instead of having six sick days between last week and this week, I will only have three, since I had a tremendously long day today and had a five hours more between Monday and Wednesday.  I am, however, sleeping in before I get back to the grindstone.  Tomorrow's tasks will be contacting those who signed up for entries on our new blog to start soliciting pieces, noodling questions for an educational project, and begin drafting a grant that is due in two weeks.  What took 13 hours today besides my new design project?  Primarily, reading and answering/filing 192 emails and database management for our eCommunications distribution list...and a dozen oh-since-you-are-working-from-home-here's-a-small-thing-you-can-do-for-me tasks.

The house is a wreck, laundry is piling up, the bird cage needs cleaning, Kashi needs walking, the kitchen is a disaster.  I think I shall collapse from catching-up on my home life if I ever manage to get well.  SIGH.

Actually, I have to be in the office Tuesday, so I have four more days to get over this virus.  Given how I feel, I am not altogether confident such will take place.

If you look to the listings of Useful Blogs and Other Links, you will see that I added two more.  One that I would like to highlight is Holy Holy Hymnody.  This blog is actually not active right now, with the author finishing his last year of seminary and about to be a father for the first time  (if not already so blessed by  now), but I have truly savored reading through the old entries, learning bits of history, musical theory, and doctrine in the hymns he parses.

I wish I had the words for what Lutheran Hymnody has given me.  I do not.  Still, I try....

Many complain about the old, complex (complicated) German tunes.  I for one, failed rather miserably at learning them until Pastor started creating audio clips of him singing the hymns...all the verses!  I now have a collection of 81 hymns (and counting) that I can play whenever I would like, as often as I would like, filling my ears and my heart with the grace and mercy of God the Father, His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, giver of faith and life.  So much scripture, so much doctrine permeates these hymns.  So much so that I oft miss the riches.

Such was the case with a hymn from last week. The tune was not one that I took to right away, whereas there were three others that I truly enjoyed, so I sort of set it aside.  To me, it sounds more like chanting than singing.  While I very much enjoy Pastor's chanting during the Divine Service, I do not particularly care for hymns like this one for I find no rhyme or reason--pardon the pun--in the tune.  I try to follow it and it sounds like musical gibberish, as if some child is pounding away on the keyboard.  And I feel very, very stupid trying to figure out how to sing the hymn and failing to do so even on the tenth time through.  When there are so many beautiful, stirring, poignant, and/or simple hymns I have learned, I find little reason to struggle through one like this.

Pastor asked me about it, but I brushed his question aside in favor of another topic.  Truly, I did not understand why he would ask.  Knowing he rarely points something out like that without a very good reason, I decided to sit down and work once more at learning this hymn.  Truly, I had not listened...

Mark How the Lamb of God's Self-Offering

Mark how the Lamb of God's self-offering 
Our human sinfulness takes on
In the birth waters of the Jordan
As Jesus is baptized by John.
Hear how the voice from heaven thunders,
"Lo, this is My beloved Son."
See how in dove-like form the Spirit
Descends on God's Anointed One.

From this assurance of God's favor
Jesus goes to the wilderness,
There to endure a time of testing
That readied Him to teach and bless.
So we, by water and the Spirit
Baptized into Christ's ministry,
Are often led to paths of service
Through mazes of adversity.

Grant us, O God, the strength and courage
To live the faith our lips declare;
Bless us in our baptismal calling;
Christ's royal priesthood help us share.
Turn us from every false allegiance,
That we may trust in Christ alone:
Raise up in us a chosen people
Transformed by love to be Your own.
                                        (LSB 600)

A Prayer!  It ends with a prayer!  And the many of them not sound like much of what has crossed the pages here?  Oh, I should have listened!

Very much I wish I were musically inclined so that I could figure out if the complicated index that tells you if the hymn can be sung to another tune and then where that tune is.  I would like to be able to sing these words.  For I have come to see how hymnody is not merely singing.  No, it is singing and praising and giving thanks and praying to God, both as a member of His church and as His child.

For me, hymnody is a way to stand firm against the persistent whispers of satan, to remind myself what is true and pure and lovely.  It is light that I can shine against the darkness surrounding me.

For Bettina, hymnody is a way of saying, "I love you!" to me.  Though a Baptist, she is trying to learn some Lutheran hymns so that I will have someone to sing with, to praise with, to offer thanksgiving with, to pray that I am not alone in my faith.  We'll finish a game of Scrabble and she'll tell me to wait one bit more, picking a hymn to sing with me.  The other day, she sang to me, serenaded me with Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, a hymn shared between our denominations.  I do not have an audio clip of this one.  Were I to have this in my collection, I guarantee it would be on repeat!

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray and praise thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

                                          (LSB 700)

What greater gift could you ask for than your friend singing these words to you, for you?

Last night was a long, difficult night for I could not grow warm and the chills that wracked my body served only to accentuate the troubled thoughts I have from confession/absolution.  For the first time, I felt no peace afterward.  More so, I left more conflicted than before I started.

I piled several blankets on top of my arctic weight comforter.  I put on three layers of clothing.  I got up and scalded myself cherry tomato red in the shower.  I did exercises beneath the piles of coverings.  Nothing worked.  For over six hours, I shivered and trembled and cried in misery.

Several times I have tried to describe what this feels like and each time I believe I fail at even touching upon the sensation.  I am not merely chilled.  I am not speaking of goosebumps.  Waves of chills course up and down my body, deep within where no amount of hot water or electric blanket heat can touch.  The icy waves pile upon each other, one beginning after another and another so that there is no end, just unbelievable cold crashing against me.  They run beneath my skin; they fill the core of me.  There is no escape, no comfort, and seemingly no end.

After the first hour or so, when the shower only served to make me colder since I had to eventually leave the steamy bathroom lest I faint and make the frigid dash to my bed, I started thinking about the people of Haiti.  Each time my mind started turning back to confession or I started drowning in my own misery and fear, I forced myself to pray for them, to consider those lying trapped beneath the rubble, dying, wondering if anyone will come. My terror would end...did end.  For so many of them, they are still waiting.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

For me.  For them.  For us all.

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