On a High Part of the Coast of Cumberland
Easter Sunday, April 7, the Author's Sixty-Third Birthday
By William Wordsworth
The Sun, that seemed so mildly to retire,
Flung back from distant climes a streaming fire,
Whose blaze is now subdued to tender gleams,
Prelude of night's approach with soothing dreams.
Look round;--of all the clouds not one is moving;
'Tis the still hour of thinking, feeling, loving.
Silent, and stedfast as the vaulted sky,
The boundless plain of waters seems to lie:--
Comes that low sound from breezes rustling o'er
The grass-crowned headland that conceals the shore?
No; 'tis the earth-voice of the mighty sea,
Whispering how meek and gentle he 'can' be!
Thou Power supreme! who, arming to rebuke
Offenders, dost put off the gracious look,
And clothe thyself with terrors like the flood
Of ocean roused into its fiercest mood,
Whatever discipline thy Will ordain
For the brief course that must for me remain;
Teach me with quick-eared spirit to rejoice
In admonitions of thy softest voice!
Whate'er the path these mortal feet may trace,
Breathe through my soul the blessing of thy grace,
Glad, through a perfect love, a faith sincere
Drawn from the wisdom that begins with fear,
Glad to expand; and, for a season, free
From finite cares, to rest absorbed in Thee!
Okay, wrong holiday, but it seemed to go better with what I was posting about Christmas below than any of the Christmas poems I have.
discord26! Thank you so much for my holiday present! *big hugs* Also thank you to the people who sent cards (I hope mine got to everyone, though I doubt they've all made it to Europe) and particularly to the people who sent homemade things. I wish I had the time and talent -- maybe next year in addition to making photo cards for the relatives I will come up with some sort of bizarre collage for fannish friends.
Had a lovely lunch with gblvr, extended because it was raining so hard that we did not dare walk to her car, then so that we could watch the ROTK EE Easter Eggs together because Ben "I'm Not Gay" Stiller and Elijah "Sean Astin Is Not Gay" Wood are funnier shared. Then took one son to a friend's and the other to violin, during whose lesson I went into CompUSA (shockingly un-crowded -- their prices must not be as good as Best Buy's this week) to get a new ethernet card for the old computer which is too slow for apaulled's endless Phish downloads.
I also discovered that my new computer with its lovely IEEE 1394 adapter did not come with a firewire cable, so I spent for-effing-ever on chat tonight with Dell representatives; the first one took an hour to put through an order for the wrong cable, a 4-pin to 4-pin instead of a 6-pin to 4-pin, and the second took just as long to make sure that I really, really wanted a 6-pin plug for the particular IEEE 1394 adapter in my computer. (Showing her pictures and the lines on Dell's own web site stating that it needed a 6-pin cable did not impress her.)
And I would have chatted with friends while I was doing this, but Trillian 2.whatever was refusing to let me sign on to Yahoo, so I downloaded Trillian 3 and promptly discovered that, although they had said when I paid for Trillian Pro that I would be able to upgrade to the professional versions of later releases, I was stuck using the basic mode, and that things that were simple in the old interface have become confusing and oddly placed. So by the time I got the damn thing working, it was (looks at clock) eek. Late. I am sure everyone is insane with holiday stuff anyway, and hope people are having fun rather than going insane!
thefridayfive: Christmas Eve Edition. They asked, so I'll talk about how it feels to me to be a minority in a country where a religious holiday is overwhelmingly celebrated as a secular festival. I'd make a rotten traditional Christian, but then, I make a rotten traditional Jew. As did Jesus.
1. Christmas is celebrated by many people in many different ways. What does Christmas mean to you? A Chinese restaurant and a movie if I'm with my family; homemade Swedish food, a decorated pine tree, candles and music if I'm with my in-laws. I try to ignore the commercialism, the plethora of snowmen and Santas on lawns, the television specials, the "oh we poor majority Christians are oppressed because somewhere in America there is a scrooge trying to keep the Baby Jesus out of our town center" crowd, the "give me a donation before you leave this mall or be forever lumped in with the greedy of the world" crowd, etc., because Christmas isn't and never will be my holiday. I only talk about what Christmas means to me in privacy, or at least when someone asks like here, because I'm so very aware of speaking as an outsider.
2. Have you or do you attend a religious service on Christmas Eve or Christmas? Why? My father-in-law is a Lutheran pastor, now retired and preaching only part-time, but I went to late services every year for about ten in a row when he was senior pastor at a church outside of Hartford. The late service was nearly all music and very little preaching, which is why I went to that one. I have never had any trouble celebrating Christmas with people who believe that it's simply a holiday about one incarnation of love in the world. The Jesus who talks to me inside my head is an absolutely consistent teacher of love, who responds when I bitch to him about the narrow-mindedness and cruelty of some of his followers by asking me how I could believe that he'd support any sort of divinity who would consign people to everlasting hellfire based on the name for the divine in their prayers or on their disinterest in praying altogether, let alone on whom they choose to love and which body parts they use to do it. You know how Bible-thumpers say that if you talk to Jesus with an open heart, he will answer? In my experience, this is true, even though I'm Jewish and do not technically believe in him, and I'm sure those same Bible-thumpers would burn me at the stake for the things he tells me. My internal pantheon is populated with fierce goddesses and Hippie Jesus, and yes, I realize how insane that sounds. What my own personal Jesus always says to me is, "You don't believe in the god of Hebrew scripture any more than you believe in me, anyway -- you believe in unconditional love and forgiveness and a purpose to the universe, from which no one is excluded except people who insist on exercising their free will by practicing hatred and bigotry, and even that's only in the here and now because you believe that people evolve." And that's true.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life, Rudolph, Frosty, Home Alone? What is your favorite holiday film? I loathe "holiday" films (note that these are Christmas films, not films about festivals detached from that event). I prefer Easter films, specifically Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, The Robe and Life of Brian. If I must choose a Christmas film, I guess it's The Poseidon Adventure -- the passengers have to climb up a Christmas tree to escape the sinking ship, the Jewish woman goes ahead of the rest and gives her life for them, Gene Hackman's character dies in classic Christ figure fashion at the end -- it's a religious movie without any of the more obvious, cliched symbols, veiled as an action flick. I find it genuinely moving, unlike various manipulative Christmas films from a great many versions of A Christmas Carol to Elf. (And, well, I'll make an exception for National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation because I think that's the one with Beverly D'Angelo stripping off her towel.)
4. Which is better: the giving, or the getting? The people who shut up about how giving is the only thing that matters and acknowledge that, yeah, we all enjoy getting a little.
5. When you were little, what was something you asked Santa for, but now may make you chuckle? I never for a minute believed in Santa, and even if I were Christian, I would not tell my kids a fib about a man in a red suit. To me this speaks not of the magic of the holidays but of many children's first discovery that their parents had deliberately deceived them. I've met many onetime Christians who've told me that, from the time they discovered that Santa wasn't real, they couldn't make themselves care about the miracle of a god who came to earth. Like I said, it's not my holiday, but this is one place where the "Put the Christ Back In Christmas" people make sense to me. When you're six years old, you don't care about the esoteric miracle of a virgin birth, you care about the concrete miracle of the jolly man who brings presents; when you find out you were deliberately deceived about the details, I think it can be hard to accept that "the spirit of love and giving" should be compensation. But I'm sure this is different for many other people, and I know some people who were instead gleeful when they figured out the truth, so again, this is just my gut reaction as an outsider looking in.