From Today's Readings

"True religion, the religion of the Bible, is seen under two aspects: one looking up to heaven, the other looking down to earth. It gathers all the interest of man under its protection and fostering care. Like the sun which, though fixed in the heavens, pours the flood of its light and glory and cherishing influence upon earth; or like the atmosphere which, though above the earth, enters into every place upon it, and sustains the insects that creep as well as the birds that soar -- so religion irradiates with its lights, guides by its revelations, animates with its stimulus, sanctifies by its power, and blesses with its influence, in all their relations and all their interests, all those who yield themselves up to its authority and government."

- John Angell James, Female Piety


Fourth and Fifth Day of Christmas: Color

Today was a lazy day. A day to curl up on the couch with my big lap dog, well she thinks she is a lap dog. Reading Charles Williams. Listening to Windham Hill and Frank Sinatra.

A day full of color. I know I am repeating what I said below in the "Richness" post, but it is one of those lessons we learn over and over again. Day by day.

Christianity gives us real color to life. It does not paint life with artificial, light pastels, nor does it cover the canvas with dark, foreboding blacks and grays. We see in true color. We can see darkness, for it is real, but then we see the reigning Light. Life becomes vibrant, never dull.

For "we see through a mirror dimly", He gives us snatches of Light in this, His world. But one day, we shall see in full color, without dark. And it will be brilliant. 'Till then, we can barely comprehend the glimpses we have of Light.

And we wonder.


Third Day of Christmas: Wonder of the World

Thursday night, Dad's oldest brother, my uncle Tony, came with his wife and two sons. My uncle is a Lieutenant Colonel, and has just finished serving a whole year in Iraq. He worked side by side with General Petraeus and several other great leaders. I love and respect him so much, we sat down in our backroom and listened to him tell us stories - meeting the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, among many people. The Deputy Prime Minister gave my uncle a plaque with the historical winged Iraq, and my uncle gave the plaque to my sister (who is his god-daughter).

My uncle has traveled everywhere - India, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Spain... Japan... Iraq. He has a story for every place he has been, a wealth of wisdom from those years of experience.

Listening to him talk gives more perspective than any geography course can. It is so hard for us to believe that we are not the centre of the universe, other countries exist, other cultures. We are not the only ones. And sometimes we need an eye-opened for us to realize that.

This is another wonder - a wonder of the world. Something we will never comprehend. So large, so encompassing, filled with a variety of people. Think: the Spanish-speaking Mexican wakes up to make tortillas, while in another part of the world, a Spanish-speaking Spaniard is getting ready for sleep. In one part of the world, they could be speaking a language that has never been written down, never been named. It is amazing.

When we understand a little bit of this wonder, we can see past our small lives and see them in the scope of not just the world, but the universe.

As Charles Williams wonderfully put it.

"Damn and blast! Why was this bloody world created?"

"As a sewer for the stars. Alternatively, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

- War In Heaven


Second Day of Christmas: Wonder of Workmanship

I spent practically all day tied to the living room table, surrounded by scraps of material. Hoping that it would come together to make a dress. Sewing is one of my favorite past-times, along with a hybrid of others. And as I pinned two pieces of the rough purple material together. Pin. By. Pin. Suddenly I realized how commonplace, and yet not so, the act of creation - workmanship - is.

God has given us this precious gift, this ability to create. To take a slab of wood, length of satin, piece of paper, and then form it into a thing of beauty.

We're physical beings, and we all experience a unique pleasure when we make something - anything! - with our hands. It could be the small origami box, the wedding dress, or the hand-written note. Such a small gift, it seems at first, but it broadens out into a mind-boggling gem from Him. Imagine life without creating anything... without the smile of your little brother or sister as you make them a paper airplane... without the awe of looking at the pyramids or the Parthenon. Humans were created to create. As obvious as it sounds, it just another one of those daily postulates of life that we take for granted so often.

Take a moment, the next time you write a story or take a picture, take a moment to remember that it is a gift, a wonder. The wonder of workmanship.


Christmastide - Wonder

For the first time, my family and I are going to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Nothing big, just small festive activities each day. And in the same spirit, I'm going to post on each of the 12 days, all related in some way to wonder.

Wonder is truly a rare, yet God-sent, place of being. When we wonder, we must humble ourselves, and simply lift up our eyes with adoration and be content without an immediate answer. It is a state of child-like simplicity, a beautiful, God-glorifying state.

And as we celebrate these 12 days of Christmas, I hope and pray to learn some wonder.


First Day of Christmas: The Wonder of Creation

(Taken with Dad's cellphone, because the reliable camera broke down.)

We saw the sun go down with majesty on Christmas Day, marking the beginning of Christmastide.

The chilling ocean breeze danced around us. I leaned against Daddy's shoulder, with my youngest brother holding my hand tightly.

"Why does the sun go down at night and not up?"

"Because God made it that way."

"Oh, right."

In the distance, a solitary saxophone began its song. The clear, honeyed notes treaded gently upon the crashing waves.

Non nobis, Domine, Domine, non nobis, Domine.

The golden sun melted into the silver sea, and it is impossible to be there. Feeling my youngest brother's hand in mine. Watching Mom's face beam with happiness. It's impossible to be there and not praise God for His wonder-ful creation.

"A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched." ~ GK Chesterton

Creation is truly a wonder.


Rejoice! Gaudete!

For unto us a Child is born! Unto us, a Son is given!

May the Joy of our Lord be with you all this blessed Christmas day. Merry Christmas!


Missing Her

Last night, we had our annual Night-Before-Christmas-Eve taco run. Half the family went to buy the food, and the other half stayed, making cookies, turning on the log in the living room, and making Mexican hot chocolate with the ever-loved Abuelita chocolate. The quiet of the house came to a stop when Dad and the kids came back with food, fifteen minutes later, all that was left was an artistic array of napkins, cups, and half-eaten tortillas. No utensils, of course.

As a wonderful surprise, today we were able to talk to my Army sister, the oldest of us seven, and stationed in Iraq now. We laughed and reminisced o'er past Christmases with her. This will be our first Christmas without her.

Tonight will be a night filled with lots of family, after the two hour drive down, tamales, singing, and lots and lots of laughing.

And in the midst of all, we'll stop and smile at each other. Missing our sister, and thanking God for her safety.



One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the abundance of light - candles grace our kitchen, living room, and dining room. Flickering lights on the Christmas tree dance through the night. Just take a peek outside, and you'll see more light. Big bulbs of blue, delicate greens, and frosty whites and cremes, trying desperately to emulate snow in a very un-snow place.

Christmas music brings another kind of light to the season - a merry, lightness of heart, and the the deep and sober light of reflection and thanksgiving. Strains of the Messiah float through the house: ten minutes later, you can see me at my customary place by the piano, accompanied by the voices of the family, J. the third and our music genius, L.

I love the light of Christmas.


Thoughts from Stargazing - Part 2

Third night of stargazing. The ocean breeze drives all the city smog away, leaving the brilliance of the stars undiminished. Stepping outside is entering another world - a world with flickering light, living in amity with the velvet dark. A world where the cold embraces you, and the only sound you hear is the rustling of the winter breeze among the verdant trees. Any word spoken in the silence becomes sacred. A prayer offered to the Almighty God.

I speak a name, the white air vanishes into the cold, carrying my prayer with it. The stars beam afar, visual reminders of Him. How glorious!

And for just moment, with eyes riveted above at the wheeling stars, time is gone. No thought of future, present, or past spoils the moment - or was it an hour? I'll never, I don't want to know. For when the moment ended, a burning desire swept o'er me. I remember those passages from A Severe Mercy and The Weight of Glory. We're immortal. And hope shines afar.


Thoughts from Stargazing - Part 1

I didn't count sheep. I counted stars, the stars that flashed above my head. The Geminid meteor shower. After losing count at 37, I leaned back and wondered. The insignificance of mankind became a dawning reality. Stars are the little snags in the celestial cloth that seperates us from the Heavens.

And Heaven and Nature sing.

The Medieval view of Heaven went over and over in my mind. Think of the sky as an inverted basketball, we're on the inside - looking out. Not only space seperates us from the Heavens, the various spheres of light. We can't hear the music. The music of the spheres.

I fell asleep at that point. Under the stars, under the bright light of the angels, under the signs of His majestic, glory, holiness, and love.


Tree Decorating



Saturday, I spent all day in the guest-room of my aunt's house (my sisters and I spent the weekend with her). With a large mug of tea in hand and my lovely hardcover edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, hours passed by with the rapidity of seconds. Time was lost, I was in England again, Pemberley... ah yes. Two weeks worth of homework, finished in one day.

When I finished the book, elation and joy completely o'erwhelmed me. The book underlined, put in bold and capitol letters, the marvelous fact of life. The richness of life.

There is such a great richness to life - the richness of thoughtful books, dance, languages, good wine (or, erm, Kirchwasser), debates, music. The simple pure richness of the clear, un-smog-filled air. And sometimes, the full richness of life hits with a solid KLANG, a wake-up call, so to say. And as the bell reverberates, sending vibes of sound all over, so does that realization of the richness of life reverberate throughout our entire being.


On the bedside table...

Charlotte Bronte: Shirley

Charles Spurgeon: Pictures from Pilgrim's Progress

John Angell James: Female Piety

Ron Julian: Righteous Sinners


Highly Recommended

I haven't been to the theatres since May, but I have been waiting for this movie for a couple months, so I took a chance and went to the theatres (paying the ridiculous price of $7.30... at least it's better than $10.50).

It was worth it. It was definitely worth it. The music was superb, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous, and the story was sweet.

All in all, a highly recommended movie.

"I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales."


Shoes and Keys



We all have yearnings, small or great. They always starts from somewhere outside. The younger sibling has the lollipop, and we have a small yearning for a lollipop. Watching the adventures in various movies, and reading about them in books, we yearn for those adventures. Yearnings, simple yearnings. Sometimes so trivial, it's the quick prick of a needle, at other times so deep, it's a heart-rending stab ... and we cry out in the night.

As a little girl, I remember reading (or listening to Mommy read aloud) Louisa May Alcott's books, The Little House on the Prairie Books, The Moffat Books, and The King's Daughter. And I always yearned for an older sister. Jo had Meg, Laura had Mary, Janey had Sylvie, and there were the countless examples in the short stories. Yet, I was the oldest of six children, with two younger sisters, and three brothers following, so and older sister couldn't really come. Years came, as well as a much-loved adopted older sister, and that dream of an older sister gave way to dreams of the "bosom friend", someone so close to oneself in hopes, values, and goals. And I'm very - what's the word? - let's say odd, so the dream of a kindred spirit remained one I never really believed could come true. But, through an amazing gift of God, it did. My first contact with kindred spirits came through the oh-so-wonderful Schola Great Books class, which in turn gave way to Latin, Greek, and Gibbon classes as the years passed. I met many of my dear friends and made some more at Schola gatherings, and I soon began to realize that I was not the only odd one.

And then last year, I was invited to visit one of my close friends for an entire week. We had met at the Schola Summer Academy of 2005 and kept in contact through letters, emails, and of course, being in classes with each other. She didn't live too far from my home, and so the cost of a plane ticket was significantly reduced from $300 to less than $100. So I went and came back from one of the best weeks in my entire life. I had found my bosom friend, my older sister.

Another year rolled on by, and last Wednesday, as my birthday gift from my parents, I was yet again on a plane to visit my dear friend and her family. And again, I simply cannot describe how fully beautiful it was. This is only one of a series of posts that are inspired by that visit (upcoming - Joys of the Original Languages, Dancing: Fire and Grace, and Richness).

Homer and bonfires (we read through the entire Catalogue of the Ships, much to the *coughs* dismay of some of our fellow readers), and swing dancing! Including an aerial and a dip that made Mr. and Mrs. W wonder what exactly to tell my Daddy when we were in the emergency room of the hospital... ;-) Then Friday came, and M and I stayed in our pajamas from 8 until 3, reading aloud from Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy, and ending the day with a wonderful German movie, Mostly Martha. Saturday was a debate tournament. 'Nuff said. Early morning awakenings (though we did sleep more than the boys and Mrs. W did), long drives in the car with Arkangel's Julius Caesar, and of course, watching debate rounds. Our time together ended on Sunday, after a most marvelous and encouraging visit to PBC (Peninsula Bible Church) and lunch with dear friends, then the long drive back, and finishing up with a Bible study never to be forgotten (I'll post on this very soon!). In retrospect, I find, that instead of an older sister - which is absolutely wonderful enough - I have a whole adopted family!

Thank you so much, dear friends, those five days were so, so wonderful, filled with a mixture of joyous happenings and quiet, memorable times together - and those shining, golden "moments made eternity".


Non Nobis Domine

The Battle of Agincourt

On this day, in 1415, the Battle of Agincourt was fought.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
- Shakespeare
Just the perfect day to sit down and watch Henry V.

Non Nobis Domine. Not to us, O Lord.



I remember once reading an essay. Something to do with the 'detestable' sanitation of our meat farms. The author wrote the article, at least in part, while waiting for his roast beeft to be served at a restaurant. He poked fun at the irony of the situation. And now, laughing, I place myself in a situation like his...

Yesterday, I spent a couple hours reading Thoreau's Walden. Blanket securely tucked around me, inside a warm and cozy house (in the middle of the city), my settings provided quite a contrast with my reading material.

I didn't quite know what to expect when I pulled the book off the library shelf. My sister and I were quickly going out of the library, well as quickly as possible. Most of the books passing by me merely nodded their heads, not calling any special attention to themselves. Not so with Walden. He almost fell out of his place on the domineering bookshelf, in his enthusiasm to get my attention. Of course, I stopped and picked him up. A solid, hardback copy, the library trademark plastic covering it all, I viewed the book with a small amount of trepidation. The older I become, the more hesitant I am to pick up books that have been so equally praised and criticized. Sometimes I wish I could view all books without hearing the voices of generations of readers whispering in my mind. Mac, in Alcott's Rose in Bloom, called Thoreau one of his best friends. Somewhere I had read that Thoreau's theology was a bit... askew, to say the least. Silencing them all, I firmly tucked the book into my bookbag and checked it out.

And now I have finished it, with an armful of thoughts to prove it. It was a pleasant read, Thoreau's Transcendentalism was quite evident throughout the book, but I enjoyed it. Who knows? I might even pick up a copy someday to add to my library. But for now, I'm enjoying a bit of quiet contemplation.

Some quotes from Thoreau:

"We worship not the Graces, nor the Parcae, but Fashion. She spins and weaves and cuts with full authority. The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same."

"Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects, the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped, and beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living be laid for a foundation."

"Nations are possesed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon."



Aye, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And sons grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, 'mid bowers and brooks,
And dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.

(William Cullen Bryant)


Autumn Beginnings

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

(Vladimir Nabakov)

With Autumn clouds drifting overhead, it's lovely to finally sit back and actually enjoy the look of my blog.

Welcome to Tolle Scribe.



The joyful strains of Mozart’s overture to the “Marriage of Figaro” sprang up and filled the air, and thus started my night listening to the Glendale Youth Orchestra as they played through various pieces of delightful orchestral music. The schedule promised a good dose of all four time periods of music, Classical, Baroque, Romantic, and a bit of Contemporary: Vivaldi, Mozart, Ibert, Haydn, and Mendelssohn, to name a few composers. I looked up from the schedule and focused on the music. Nothing could prepare me for what lay ahead, absolutely nothing. But first, the music itself.

The night’s performance focused on six solo musicians: oboe, cello, double-bass, French horn, bassoon, and flute. Mozart’s overture to the “Marriage of Figaro” burst forth with light, cheerful sounds. The familiarity of the song heightened its beauty, especially towards the ending measures. A sixth-grader cellist played as the soloist for the first movement of Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major. Pure brilliance, the beautiful echoes of the orchestra followed the bold melody lines of the cello with grace and obvious delight. Vivaldi’s first two movements of his Bassoon Concerto in E Minor and Dittersdorf’s Double Bass Concerto in E Major followed right after. The very light and almost whispery sound of the bassoon contrasted greatly with the deep, or alternatively high, dynamics of the double bass. Strauss’ horn and oboe concertos came afterwards, and the first part of our night ended with Ibert’s Flute Concerto – marvelously executed, but a definitely modern sounding piece that paled in comparison to the glorious Classical and Baroque music afore it.

Faces, faces, faces; flushed with excitement, hidden behind rebellious hair, beaming above huge instruments. All the musicians took their place after the intermission. The lights dimmed, and the conductor stood up on the podium and gave a brief explanation of the following piece, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. Mendelssohn, without a doubt one of the greatest, if not the greatest, child prodigy musicians to ever live, wrote this symphony at the age of 15. The second movement, Andante, was filled with a strong lyrical melody that almost brought tears of joy to my eyes. ‘Twas quite a strange, wondrous sound to hear all the string instruments playing pizzicato while the flutes, oboes, and clarinets gently uplifted the melody. Then suddenly, their roles inversed, and the native smoothness of the bow on the violin strings took up the soft melody of the woodwind instruments and raised it to a level of emphatic joy. The brass instruments added their two cents, the timpani rolled, and the grand symphony had run its course. The night had finished, and we walked out into the biting cold. Still lost in the music, only my hands felt the effect of the cold. And we walked away from the concert, words simply flowing from my mouth with no stop. Absolutely no stop.

A truly wonderful creation – the orchestra. All the many instruments that sometimes blended together in harmony, flowed in and out of one another, at other times starkly opposed each other. Each and every instrument took on a life of its own, raising his voice to join the chorus. But was only half of the beauty this night. I made an effort to look at the faces of the musicians themselves, and a thought struck me in full force. This performance was no mere collaboration of instruments, but a gathering of immortals. “Everlasting horrors or everlasting splendours,” to quote C.S. Lewis. I remembered the solo cellist, eyes closed, enveloped in the music, he played. The rigid back of the conductor spoke volumes: he almost bounced on the podium caught up in the story of the music. That’s what these musicians truly did – they told a story. Different voices, different ways, yes. But one story. One story. A love for music, a dedication to precision, a delight in sharing this consecrated love. For, whether they acknowledge it or not, the beauty of Music comes from above, from the Father of all Beauty, the Father who is Beauty. And He allowed them to partake in a small piece of His splendour.

Someone cannot have exposure to the Divine splendour and receive no mark, big or small. It is like coming into contact with the burning blaze of fire, place your hand it in, and you will be burnt and scarred. That is exactly what happened this night. I have been scarred for life. Yet another pierce of Joy – clear, keen, and deep – has forever made its mark on my heart. As the cold wind quickly, utterly drove all feeling of warmth from our bodies, so the quick Joy drove out all feeling of sorrow and sadness. What was left? A heart-wrenching feeling. Torn between heaven and earth, I could only experience longing. Longing for more, longing for an eternal Joy, Imago Dei made its imprint on my heart once more, and I felt it. Oh how I felt it. But after the indescribable longing came an enthusiasm, a deeper meaning, a deeper light on Life itself. How absolutely amazing to be alive! What greater proof of the Living God than this? Suddenly, I am filled with happiness, energy, and praise. Words come to me unbidden, shouting and singing with vivacity. Boredom? This weight of divine Glory in our mundane world changes our perspective over everything. Evil exists in the world – a stated fact – but the Lord God of Hosts sent His son to walk upon this very world which lies prey to sin, death, and grief. It is sanctified! We can go on with life knowing that the very evil world that we live in has been steeped in the blood of the Lamb, for His elect. And only good can come of constantly thinking about these issues, these redemptive promises. Life will never be boring. And I pray that I will always live life at this same level. Feeling the sharp pains of Joy, longing, bubbling over with happiness and thankfulness, this… this… Intensity.


  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP