christmas leisure mode

Dear friends,

Please excuse my absence this week. Hubby and I have been relishing family time during this Christmas season. We’ve been blessed with wonderful visits with our children and extended family. It’s good to put aside daily routines, to enjoy present moments without the nagging voices of obligations and “should be doings”!

As the year comes to an end, I’m thankful for the gift of this blog.  I began the year hoping to post each day. I did not fulfill this resoultion, but I have posted about 220 times this year. For someone as poor at keeping resolutions as I, this is a big deal! I find joy in the pondering and writing; and inspiration in the dialogue. I look forward to continuing this project in the coming year.

While I am lazily enjoying these leisure days, my blogging friend Marilyn continues to write beautiful and inspiring pieces over at communicating.across.boundaries  She is presently in Egypt with her family, visiting daughter Annie. Annie gave us a window into the historic happenings of this past year in Cairo and Tahrir Square. Marilyn continues this gift of sharing first hand experiences by generously blogging and photographing her travels. She brings a unique perspective having lived in Egypt for several years with her family. It’s a wonderful read, as Marilyn’s blog always is.

Wishing you all a blessed New Year filled with joy, happiness and peace!

Affectionately,

Isabella

what will this child become?

Jesus and John the Baptist

What then will this child become? Luke 1:66 

The miraculous circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist had local tongues wagging. First, dear elderly Elizabeth becomes pregnant well past her child-bearing years. Daddy Zachariah is struck dumb after questioning the heavenly messenger`s announcement. After the boy is born, Mama insists on calling him John; the name given by the angel. Hubby seconds the motion, writing his approval on a tablet. And, lo and behold, Papa`s voice returns!

This was no ordinary birth. How could his life be ordinary? What, then, will this child become?

We ask this question of all the children in our lives. A newborn elicits deep pondering about hope, potential and promise. The wee face and body provides only a twinkle of a glimpse into future looks and personality. Changes appear daily.

From toddlers to school-children, individual talents and challenges begin to emerge. As bodies grow, characters are formed. Having five children of our own, we were always amazed at their uniqueness and diversity.

By high school, the first hesitant attempts at planning a future life begin. We now know, from experience, of the heavy stresses placed on our young people as they discern career choices and life`s paths. Who knows at 18 years of age what this child will become?

Through the twenties paths are tried and tested. Some lead in a simple straight line to fulfilled dreams. Most wind through and around different places, providing either freedom or uncertainty depending on where the mind and heart are residing.

Perhaps as our children begin their own families, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We now know what they have become! But, we all know that life is full of surprises, unexpected challenges and new opportunities. Untried paths can open up before us regardless of the time of life we are in. I am in my middle years, still wondering what I will become.

As the holy season of Christmas approaches, we prepare to celebrate the coming of the most extra-ordinary babe, born in the most ordinary surroundings. His miraculous birth has tongues wagging to this day. He showed us the blessedness of each child born, the sacredness of each life created by a loving God.

Here`s to all the children in our lives – young and old. May we all trust in God`s loving plan for each of them; and always be open to the surprises along the way!

Wishing you all a joy-filled and blessed Christmas!

affectionately,

Isabella

hildegard of bingen – soon to be saint and doctor of the church

Before the renaissance man, there was the medieval woman…

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/med/hildegarde.asp)

On December 16th, Benedict XVI declared that Hildegard of Bingen will be canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church next October.

I was first introduced to Hildegard by my dear Benedictine friend, Sr. Grace, who nudged me to read her biography. Grace also introduced me to St. Gertrude and Julian of Norwich, instilling in me an appreciation for them and other strong women of the Middle Ages.

History is never without bias. Written mostly by men, it also chooses the personalities and events that are promoted and remembered. Women’s history is trying to correct the imbalance. Thanks to historians around the world, we now have greater access to women’s stories and experiences. The silence is slowly being broken, and gaps are being filled. The renewed interest in Hildegard is a good example of the effects of this scholarly work.

Presently there are 33 Doctors of the Church. The first women declared Doctors of the Church were St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila (both in 1970). St. Therese of Lisieux followed in 1997. Hildegard will only be the fourth.

I came across a blog called The Chant Café that offers this reflection on the announcement,

It seems significant that Pope Benedict has made the decision now to canonize and exalt this true patroness of sacred music. Is it possible that he is building up toward a more intensely focused movement for sacred music in the Church? Is it possible that perhaps a new document or motu proprio might await us with the naming of Hildegard as a Doctor of the Church, or sometime following? One never knows, but this is one of many signs that there may be more to come for us in the promotion sacred music from the highest of ranks in the Church. 

Interesting. Some are embracing the news as a promotion of more traditional sacred music in our church. Others are embracing the news as much needed recognition of a gifted woman scholar, writer, musician and leader in the church; a woman who defied the gender restrictions of her time.

Perhaps mutual love and respect for Hildegard of Bingen  will help a wee bit to bridge the Trad-Lib divide!