Monday, January 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/13/19: St. Luke's and Biblical Hyperbole, Wellness Trail, Fantastic Family Dinner

1. I felt it again this morning. A vital piece of my inward life has been missing during these many months that I have not been taking part in Episcopalian worship. I drove to Coeur d'Alene this morning for the 10:30 Rite II Holy Eucharist and I loved immersing myself in the poetry of the liturgy, the beauty of the Scripture readings, our singing of the Psalm appointed for today and this morning's hymns, and the power of the Communion.

I remembered back to when I was about eighteen years old and I was having an immature spiritual argument with a Roman Catholic high school classmate and I said something like "you guys just do and say the same things over and over again every Sunday. I just don't see how that doesn't get old and lose its meaning." Ha! Over the last more than thirty-five years when I started worshiping as an Episcopalian, the repetition of the liturgy has not gotten old; it's been invigorating, leading me to fresh and deeper understandings and experiences of the Divine and inviting me into a worship experience shot through with Scripture -- not only in the multiple Scripture readings (Old Testament, Psalms, Epistle, and Gospel), but in the way Thomas Cramner and subsequent editors of the Book of Common Prayer wove passages of Scripture into the prayers and the administration of Communion.

This morning's reading from Isaiah 43:1-7 brought back thinking I've done before about the use of hyperbole in Bible passages. Unfortunately, when we use the word "hyperbole", we usually think of it as a false exaggeration. But, in the passage from Isaiah today (and this also occurs in the Gospels and elsewhere), the writer of today's passage uses hyperbole to magnify a truth, to help us see this truth more clearly. God (or the Lord) speaks words of reassurance in this passage, saying, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." To illustrate the power of this redemption, he goes on to say, magnifying this truth with hyperbole (a good thing): "When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

Through this heightened language, through the idea that in God rivers will not be overwhelming and fires will not burn one, we get a magnified picture of life itself facing us with waters to cross and fires to pass through. These fires and waters are rarely literal ones, but represent difficulties in life, the things that are frightening. We experience them as if they were overwhelming waters and devouring fires.  This passage calls us not to fear them.

In his homily, the priest didn't talk about what I just wrote, but rather talked about the power of being claimed and being named -- the passage from Isaiah was presented as a parallel to the Gospel reading narrating Jesus' baptism. I listened to the homily and, at the same time, reveled in my enjoyment of hyperbole in the Bible (and in Shakespeare, by the way) and, when not abused, how hyperbole is a rhetorical means of achieving clarity, not necessarily an instrument of lying and false distortion.

2. I let this all sink in at the counter at the Breakfast Nook where I enjoyed today's breakfast special:  Dungeness crab Egg Benedict.

I brought my camera with me and I had planned on stopping at the Bull Run Trail Head on the Trail of the Cd'As for a photo walk.

But, I think Charly and Maggie have been struggling more than usual lately with me being out of the house when I leave for hours at a time and I wanted to let the breakfast I'd eaten settle more, so I drove straight home.

Once home, my suspicions about Charly and Maggie were confirmed. I cleaned up a small mess one of them made, and I spent a couple of hours in the house keeping them company.

I still wanted to get in a photo walk, so I drove up to the hospital parking lot and climbed the stairs to the Wellness Trail. I took some shadowy pictures of The Trail that goes to the high school and walked the trail for about a half a mile up to a vista overlooking Kellogg. It was a good walk. Back home, I read on my pedometer that I got in nearly 3000 steps, over a third of them uphill and I took a few pictures. I'll post a few at the bottom of this post.

3. Tonight, Christy and Everett hosted family dinner. Christy cooked up a very tasty chicken dish called Chicken Marbella from Alex Guarnaschelli's cookbook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart. It's a variation on a famous recipe from The Silver Palate and features an unusual combination of ingredients: prunes, olives, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and other ingredients and I'm sure glad that having a recipe look a little weird on paper didn't stop Alex Guarnaschelli or Christy Woolum from making it. It was one of my favorite dishes in the history of Sunday family dinner (I have no idea what my favorite might be).

Christy also set out the ingredients for wedge salad and made a Bleu Cheese dressing from a recipe Mom had for decades, that we loved growing up, and that, I think, was similar to the popular Roquefort dressing at the Sunshine Inn back in the Sig and Bunny days.

Our conversation was fun: movies, music, Carol Burnett, volunteerism, and all sorts of things came up today. We had a really good evening together.

Here are some pictures from my hike:

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