Friday, November 28, 2008

The shape of things

An opportunity to see the shape of things is something I like about this time of year, especially the shapes of oaks like these along a ridge inside what's known as the Whitetail Loop at Lime Creek. I also like the color scheme --- an infinite number of shades of brown, blue, gold and muted green. After the colors of spring, summer and early fall it's good to rest the eyes. Subtleties that might be lost in another season --- blue cedar berries and the shape of a pinecone --- stand out. All in all, it's a good season to be alive (but then aren't they all?)

It was good to have the place all to myself first thing today, the day after Thanksgiving. I hope everyone else was part of the mob at the big boxes spending money they didn't have on things they didn't need --- all for the sake of the economy. We've got to jump-start that sucker you know.


I've been mildly under the weather for the last couple of weeks, the office flu that this fall has involved a few days of wracking coughs before it somehow moves into the digestive system. Nothing painful, messy or debilitating: Just aggravating. Since I had the flu I couldn't have the free flu shot offered at the office where I'd caught the flu in the first place. Life works that way sometimes.

My now dissapating disease caught up with me as the week was ending that had included an election-night marathon followed by a few 12-hour-plus work days involved in a project that required constant attention and a good deal of precision. I'm superstitious about weeks like that, expect to get sick --- if I'm going to get sick --- immediately after them and was not disappoined.

Since I'm not often sick, I spend time when I'm entirely capable of doing useful things wallowing in self-pity. The wallowing often is punctuated by severe bouts of hypochondria. I awoke in Chariton early one morning, turned on the bedside lamp and started scratching the back of my left hand. It occurred to me then that I was the victim of flesh-eating bacteria. But before the first cup of coffee I'd remembered that the itching spot actually was the aftermath of a small deep burn I'd self-inflicted during a moment of carelessness with the oven door.


I worked Thanksgiving afternoon and evening, something I don't mind doing. Plus being in Mason City on the holday gave me a chance to attend the Thanksgiving Eucharist at St. John's Thursday morning. I had planned to just sit there like a lump being thankful, but suspected I was in trouble when the rector came down the aisle with a gleam in her eye. As a result, I ended up serving both as lector and intercessor.

I've already complained about the trials of Old Testament lessons and the need to practice, but fortunately there were no linguistic traps for me to fall into writhing before the assembled congregation. Just nice words from Deuteronomy. Although I did end up huffing and puffing my way through them.

I'm a Rite I man, and this was a Rite II service. If you're not familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, Rite I was included in the 1979 reworking of it to preserve traditional language (think King James Version --- thee, thou and it is meet and right so to do) while Rite II moved very conservatively into more contemporary language.

Because Rite I services usually are earlier on Sunday mornings and involve fewer people, the beautiful shape of the language generally is allowed to carry the service and music is not a part of it. Rite II, on the other hand, involves all the bells and whistles --- rousing hymns, a certain amount of sung liturgy, and so forth. So after a rousing hymn with additional singing on the side, I arrived at the lectern breathless. By the psalm, however, I'd caught up with myself and all else proceeded smoothly.


The major story of the day on Thanksgiving was the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai --- once known to most of us as Bombay.

Our holiday reporter, Mary Pieper, did a terrific job playing telephone tag on a busy holiday with several North Iowans who were born and raised in India and still have family and friends there. The comments of one, who has lived in this neck of the woods for about 15 years, struck me especially (her family and friends in Mumbai were safe).

Upon arriving in Iowa, she said, she was astonished that no one had protective grilles over their windows --- needed in a part of the world where terrorism is frequent. She has never felt so safe in her life as she has in Iowa, she said.

Now how's that for a blessing to count? Happy Thanksgiving, even if I am a day late!

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