Cornwall Cogitation (North America) #14 Saturday 30 December 2017 Yippee! I say Yippee! to the transition from the old to the new year, Yippee!
I lean on the words of Isaac Watts in the hymn, O God, our help in ages past (1719). “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home . . . from everlasting thou art God, to endless years the same.”
“Preserve us, O Lord, waking, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.” (Words from An Order of Compline, Prayer Book Society of Canada), Anglican Church of Canada).
Happy New Year!!
Featured image: Wood-fired warming station, one of a number scattered around Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights 2017 (more photos below).
Home safety tip
On television I saw firemen doing a check of smoke alarms, in New York City I think. The story showed alarms that did not work or were not located in the right place. The thing that caught my attention, however, was that even if the smoke alarm sounds when tested, it still may not respond to smoke. If it’s more than 10 years old it may have lost it’s “nose” for smoke.
I gave our alarms the smoke test by placing a lighted candle close to them and then blowing it out. Nothing happened. Not enough smoke, apparently. So, I got out our oil lamp and did the same. Presto, the alarms sounded as if they’d been woken up from a long winter’s slumber. They kept on shrieking until I disconnected the battery. Now I know.
The Queen’s Christmas message zeros in on home
Growing up we tuned in on the radio, and later television, to Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas Day message. I remember my aunt Elvera, especially, making sure she had the radio turned on for the reigning monarch’s message. Her Royal Highness’s message provided a word of hope, encouragement, resolve to the far-flung Commonwealth–maybe even to some of the anti-Royalists who were listening.
This year Queen Elizabeth recalled tragedies of the year, such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the Grenville Apartment fire in London in June, and the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean.
The main part of her message, though, dealt with home, including welcoming Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markel to the fold. I quote two paragraphs:
“We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love; of shared stories and memories, which is perhaps why at this time of year so many return to where they grew up. There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home. . . .
“Today we celebrate Christmas, which itself is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together. Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. We remember the birth of Jesus Christ whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad. Whatever your own experience this year, wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.”
Looking back, moving forward: fun with five phrases
To mark the move of the calendar to a new year, I’m quoting the definitions for Watch Night and five phrases from The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (Cassell & Company, 1970; Wordsworth Editions, Ltd.,1994).
“Watch Night. 31 December, to see the Old Year out and the New Year in by a religious service. John Wesley introduced it among the METHODISTS and it has been adopted by other Christian denominations.”
Modern day New Year’s Eve events have eclipsed Watch Night, but the idea can be applied at home. We’re having a New Year’s Eve dinner where food, thematic stories, conversation, toasts, and prayers will see us into the New Year.
A bit of fun with five selected phrases
I offer a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the week, the month, the year, given with some intemperance of tongue but appealing to the wider wonders of imagination. In other words, I’m taking a figurative romp through selected expressions from yesteryear where any resemblance to 2017 might just be a historical coincidence, or of no consequence at all–at least one or two registering a smile or nod,
“In one’s right mind: Sane; in a normal state after mental excitement. The phrase comes from Mark v,15: ‘And they . . . see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting and clothed, and in his right mind.'”
“Over the left. In early Victorian days, a way of expressing disbelief, incredulity, or a negative. ‘Each gentleman pointed with his right thumb over his left shoulder. This action, imperfectly described in words by the very feeble term ‘over the left’, when performed by any number of ladies or gentlemen who are accustomed to act in unison, has a very graceful and airy effect; its expression is one of light and playful sarcasm.” Dickens: Pickwick Papers, ch. xiii.
“To eat humble pie: To come down from a position you have assumed and to be obligated to defer to others, to submit to humiliation. Here ‘humble’ is a pun on umble, the umbles being the heart, liver and entrails of the deer, the huntsman’s perquisites. When the lord and his household dined off the venison on the dais, the huntsman and his fellows partook of the humbles made into a pie.”
“To shoe a goose. To engage in a silly and fruitless task.”
“It will all come out in the wash. Everything will turn out all right in the end, as dirt and stains, etc., are removed by washing.”
Friends, Judy and Bruce, from Illinois in their Christmas card and note put into words what I have not been able to do as succinctly and clearly. They quote Henri Nouwen: “Often we are not able to cure; but we are always able to care.” Applying Nouwen’s words they say, “In this year when we are powerless over the appalling changes taking place within our ‘democracy’ we are learning we are not powerless over our ability to continue caring on a personal and political level and this restores feelings of hope and efficacy within us. We are grateful!” Thank you, Judy and Bruce. We, too, are grateful.
Outside our window
Festive colors, with hot chocolate, a week ago at Wellfield Botanic Gardens
And then came snow, more snow and low, low, even lower, temperatures
Photos from around and in Shipshewana, Indiana, on Friday, third last day of the year.
Get a book or movie, hot chocolate or anything else, light a candle, wrap up in a blanket and say “Yippee!” Happy New Year!