Friday, February 2, 2018

Candlemas and the feast of Saint Brigid

 
I wasn't up to doing much the past few days, so I am celebrating two of my favorite holidays all though the weekend. February 1 is the Feast of St. Brigid of Kildare, the saint I chose as my patron when I was confirmed, and February 2 is Candlemas. I will try to post something about Candlemas later this weekend, but for now, let me tell you a story.
One of my favorite ledgends has always been that of St. Brigid, Mary of the Gael. 
There are so many different versions of this tale that this may not be the one you know, but this is as I remember my Mama telling it, and has a special place in my heart:

Brigid was the daughter of a great pagan chieftain called Dubhthach and a Christian slave girl named Brocca ~ much to the anger of Dubhthach's wife. The ledgend says a druid, who was greatly honored by the chieftain, had a vision that the slave girl's child would be greatly blessed.
Though he was not able to see how this blessing would come about, the kind druid bought Brocca, and when Brigid was born he treated her as if she was his own daughter, and allowed her to be Baptized.
As a very young child Brigid would become sick whenever she was fed, so God sent a white cow with red ears to give her milk. Once Brigid was well again the cow went back into the woods and vanished.
She tried to be a good child. She did as she was told, and helped her mother and the Druid take care of their herd of red cows. However, she would often be distracted by prayer, and give away all the milk and butter they had to whichever hungry person came to the door. But whenever she prayed, God would send angels to bring sweet milk and butter to replace the food she had given away.

However the greatest miracle happened when she was nearly grown. Whether she was sent a holy vision, or if Angels came and carried her in their arms no one can tell, but one day while Brigid was walking something miraculous happened. She found herself transported from her home in Irland to the streets of Bethlehem, on the night of Christmas Eve. A man who looked like her druid foster father and called her 'daughter' beckoned her into his house. He had her prepare the stable behind it for a family who could not fit inside the already full building.
The man and the woman had traveled far, and the pregnant wife was not much older then Brigid herself, but even though they were weary they were kind.  They only had a few bundles of supplies and a small sturdy donkey with them, and Brigid made the couple as comfortable as she could on a bed of hay in the stable, and brought them some bread and milk from the kitchen.
That night, the man who looked like Brigid's foster father woke her and said, 'Hurry daughter, the woman in the stable is having her child.'
Brigid ran to the stable and was there at Christ's birth. By some miracle she acted as midwife when she lifted Jesus into his mother's arms. That night, after the shepherds had left to return to their flocks, she held the child  while his mother slept.
The next morning she again went walking, to think of all the wonders that had happened. Once again she heard a voice calling to her, and looked up to find herself back in Ireland, with the druid her foster father calling her name.
She is called the Mary of the Gael, for just as Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, brought Christ into the world, so Saint Brigid brought his message to Irland. 
May you all have a most blessed Candlemas, Imbolc, the day when the infant Jesus was presented in the temple ~ a celebration of Light,  of Fire, of Hope, and New Life. And a day to give thanks for the small things,  for new lambs and blackthorn flowers, weaving cloth and glowing candles. ♡

Friday, January 26, 2018

Surprised by Joy


Last summer, while my grandmother was living with us, she began to read C. S. Lewis' Surprised by Joy.
I think it was for her book club, or maybe for her scripture study class - I'm not sure. In any case, soon after she began reading, she began coming to me with questions about obscure words, French phrases, and many,many book titles.
Pretty soon she go me reading the book too (and writing notes for all of the little penciled * she had left throughout the text).

To be honest, I am still not quite finished reading (I fell behind around Christmastime), though I am still enjoying it just as much as I was when I began!
 Lewis has been one of my favorite authors since the days I first entered Narnia with the magician's nephew ( I will forever be very fond of sweet Polly). But other then the Narnia books, I have only read his fiction ~ Til We Have Faces, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce.
 If you haven't read Till We Have Faces, order it from the library or go search Half Price Books right now! It is one of my favorite books, and such an amazing retelling of the store of Cupid and Psyche ~ perfect if you were (or are) a  Greek mythology buff like I am!

Of course I would go off on a tangent about books! - though, for this post at least it is quite fitting:
One of the first things I began notice in Surprised By Joy was all mentions of Books and how they formed Lewis' childhood. Shakespeare, Dickens, Trollope, Keats, Shelley, and Tennyson are all mentioned before the forth page.
 I can tell you, I was in Book-list making Heaven!

So I began to search our bookshelves as I read, looking for the books he mentions.
(I do have to admit, the book of Wagner operas illustrated by Arthur Rackham was not on our shelves. I had already been looking for it online, and it took months of looking before I finally found a copy within my budget!)

I am still making my book list as I read, but for now, these are the books I want to read first:

Le Mort Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory
 The story of the life and death of King Arthur - of course these amazing stories would form Lewis' childhood! For the sake of honesty I will tell you that I have not actually read it cover to cover... the last few years reading and I have not been on very good terms. It began when I began getting sick in high school, and my brain just got more and more muddled and foggy, and when that mixed with my dyslexia I just could not make sense of the words. Even then, about five years ago now, I could not help myself when I saw Le Mort Darthur for $2 at a used book store. After I brought it home I would pick it up from time to time, reading individual stories I remembered from childhood, stories that felt more like old friends then my brain working to understand nonsensical symbols. But this year, with my mind starting to clear, I have put it on the top of my pile - right under Mrs Dalloway, The Two Towers, A Room With A View, and, of course, Surprised by Joy :)

Ants, Bees, and Wasps by Lobbock
 Lewis read this book as a young teen, when he was trying to get over his fear of insects.The note I wrote for my grandma for this book was "Lubbock's Ants, Bees, and Wasps: A book Lucy wants for Christmas! :)" Well, nowadays it's not the type of book you can walk inside a bookstore and find on the shelf... I dream of being an amateur entomologist, so I kept an eye out online and found a beautifully warn copy for only a few dollars. Most exciting was that it has a note inside from Christmas 1886! It is so beautifully written, and as most of the science comes from observation, I have not found any glaring inaccuracies - though I am sure it is not quite up to date. But, the sweet style of it makes any scientific mistakes completely forgivable, and so enjoyable to read thorough.

Don Quixote
Funnily enough, so far that I have noticed, Lewis does not actual mention reading this book - However, on one of the first few pages Lewis uses the word "Quixotic" to describe his father. It was the first thing my grandma asked me to look up, and though I had heard the word used before, I had never put two and two together to realize it came from Don Quixote! I am sure my poor Grammy got more then she bargained for when I went off chattering about how it became a word describing Don Quixote's unrealistic idealism, and how interesting it all was! (she wore a very patient smile though all of my excitement ~ I suppose she is used to me by now.)

The Ring of Niblung by Wagner and Rackham
The copy I have consists of The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, and Siegfried. Lewis only says that he read 'Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods, illustrated by Arthur Rackham,' but I am pretty sure his and my copies are at least similar. Arthur Rackham has long been one of my very favorite illustrators, and over the years I have found old copies of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales, The Romances of King Arthur, and Tales from Shakespeare, all illustrated by Rackham. His work is just the right mixture of creepy and innocent to call to both poles of my art loving heart.

Locksley Hall by Alfred Lord Tennyson
I found a copy of this book about a year ago on the shelf of a charity shop my sister was volunteering  at. I swooped down upon it at once! Tennyson has been perhaps my favorite poet for I don't know how many years. I fell in love with The Lady of Shallotte when I was young - and who can't when they watch little Meghan Fellows reciting it as she lay in that sinking boat? (I can't even bring myself to watch the new Anne of Green Gables shows that have come out, and have just gone back to reading the books!) What made me hug this copy of Tennyson to my chest was the lovely cursive notes written in 1897 by a girl called Elizabeth North while she took a class on poetry.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
 I really can't say much about this one because I have not yet read it, and have been purposefully keeping myself in the dark about it's story! So far as I remember, Lewis only mentions Wells in the context of having conversations with his Uncle about it as a child, but it was enough for me to take it off the shelf and put it in the pile of books beside my bed ;)

Well, what do you think? Have you ever read a book that gave you a whole list of other books to read? I can't wait to see what else C. S. Lewis suggests before the end! Are you busy making a book list for 2018? What's on your list so far?
Oh, and please do tell me how you like Till We Have Faces!

With all my love,
Lucia Marcella

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January


It's been an interesting winter, that's for sure ~
But, 2017 was an interesting year, so I suppose a strange winter should have been expected.
Early on our winter was so warm that our lettuce went to seed, and the monarchs returned to take over the garden once again (I really need to write a post about our wildly beautiful Monarch summer).
But now it is the coldest January I can remember, and perfectly lovely for curling up with a cup of tea and a half-grown kitten or two.
Our kittens, Lottie and Bea, don't quite know what to do with their first winter chill, and are quite shocked when we open a door and the icy wind blows in. They run to the doors whenever anyone opens one, so curious to see what is going on, but as soon as the cold air hits them they sikitter to a stop and stare and you with a very betrayed expression.
I haven't down too much sewing yet in the new year, but keep thinking of new little winter elves to make, and sketching out ideas for little Valentines day folk to put in the Etsy shop.
But now I am working on organizeing for the new year, and have just finished the set up for my 2018 Bullet Journal. I am having much more fun with this year's journal, and making sure to have plenty of art breaks inbetween the pages planing for the year ahead.
Altogether, this year has been a quite one but cozy and good ~ and I hope that is a sign of a good year to come.