Apr 13, 2011

Over the Pond (8) -- The Daily Hymn

After meeting with Robert on Monday, I spent some time at the Cathedral. Over the years I've come to deeply appreciate the centering affect its presence produces in me. As I perused the hymnal and listened to the choristers practice, I remembered the years of singing hymns at the Episcopal church of my childhood, the Asbury seminary chapel, and other places. So, I'm taking OTP (8) on a tour of my favorites while I'm here. Below is "All Creatures of Our God and King". I'd forgotten that Francis of Assisi penned the lyrics, and I'd certainly never heard the 5th and 6th verses. But I feel they somehow complete the hymn, particularly the verse about "most kind and gentle Death." I know it doesn't always work this way, but there's something... comforting, in a way, about the image of Death gently "leading home the child of God."

If you'd like to sing along where you are, here's a link to a recording of the melody.

All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong

Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,

Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,

Make music for thy Lord to hear,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou fire so masterful and bright,

That givest man both warmth and light.

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day

Unfoldest blessings on our way,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,

Let them His glory also show.

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,

Forgiving others, take your part,

O sing ye! Alleluia!

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on Him cast your care!

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,

Waiting to hush our latest breath,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou leadest home the child of God,

And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,

And worship Him in humbleness,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,

And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Apr 12, 2011

Over the Pond, volume 8 -- It's been a long time coming

Well... here I am again! So, I just checked, and I've blogged just 5 times in the last 21 months. That's pathetic. And there's just no way to get caught up in any clever manner, so I'm going to jump back in with an old crowd-pleaser. It's the first installment of Over the Pond, volume 8. (If you'd like to read any of the back issues, you can get them on the sidebar.) Seriously, it's been so long that I can't remember how to do this.

So, if you've followed previous seasons of OTP, you'll know it means that I'm back in Durham to work on my dissertation. It's my first trip since September 2009, which I apparently never got around to blogging. Chalk it up to the fact that I was 27 weeks pregnant and trying to finish my paper on Augustine. Anyway, now that our son Roman (and that's a whole other set of posts) is 15 months old, it seemed like a good time to resume the journey towards the PhD. In a way, it feels like I was just here. The familiarity of arriving into London Heathrow, making my way through Passport Control and across London to King's Cross and onto the train to Durham. This trip was more draining than I remember (although it could be that I was just more exhausted upon departure. Hey, with 2 little kids it's possible.) Since I left during the kids' spring break, I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, so I didn't depart until 7:30 Thursday night. A couple of hours and 2 glasses of pinot later, and we departed for London at 11pm. I had good intentions of either studying or sleeping, but -- like I always seem to do -- I spent much of the flight reading a wonderful new novel that I'd saved just for the trip. If you are in search of a good read, I highly recommend Never Let Me Go.

The trip through London was pleasantly uneventful, and I grabbed my favorite, favorite English sandwich, a warm brie-bacon-cranberry-spinach baguette. This is one of my favorite things about my trips. After phoning my friend Maeve, I hopped a train for Durham, which would have been far more pleasant if I'd had a seat anywhere but the hot, hot vestibule. After a quick doze and a a game of train bingo with a British 8 yr old, I reached Durham just in time for a small dinner party at my friend Maeve's flat, where I'll be staying this week. It was a bit of a challenge staying up after the trip, but a fabulous meal and a few glasses of shiraz were just what the doctor ordered. So the library's about to close, and I'm headed to Evensong at the Cathedral, to the Market Tavern for some pub grub, then back to Maeve's to write. But I promise -- I will be back tomorrow. With pictures.

Dec 19, 2009

He's here!

Roman Matthew Kenney
December 16th, 2009, 2:38am
8 lbs, 9 oz, 21 1/2 inches long
Born naturally after 7 hours active labor

Everyone is doing well! Details, pictures, and birth story to follow. If you're on Facebook, there's already lots of stuff there, but I'll be sharing it here as well. I'll also be posting some Miranda-related items at Chronicles of Wunchie.

Thanks so much to everyone who prayed for us & supported us in every way. We're looking forward to introducing him to everyone, so feel free to call & stop by!

Sep 26, 2009

Over the Pond, volume 7 -- On its way...

Hello all...

I know I promised on Facebook to blog this, my last journey to Durham before the new baby arrives. But somehow I've had very limited access to wireless here, and have been trying, trying, trying to get schoolwork finished, and for some reason Blogger Dashboard won't let me post pics or access links or anything. So, I'm going to try and blog it when I return next week. I might even get some good posts done, since I won't be feeling guilty about blogging instead of doing homework.

So, thanks for even being interested, and we'll see you next week!

Jul 26, 2009

5 things meme

I borrowed this from Morning Coffee.

5 things I was doing 5 years ago:

  1. preparing for our 5-week trip to Europe
  2. trying to get pregnant
  3. writing a paper on Aristotle
  4. working in the garden with the neighborhood kids
  5. working with Communality

5 things on tomorrow's to-do list:

  1. leadership meeting
  2. finish 2 DSE articles
  3. fold & rotate laundry
  4. order cake & make to-do list for Miranda's birthday party
  5. get to the gym

5 things I would do with a million dollars:

  1. pay off our mortgage
  2. fund a 1-year sabbatical for Billy so that he could do some personal writing
  3. donate money to our favorite nonprofits, to Communality, & to One Horizon, & become an extravagent tipper
  4. take Billy & the kids to Guatemala, & go with Billy to Africa
  5. ok, I'll admit it -- get a twice-monthly manicure & pedicure

5 places I have lived:

  1. Lubbock, Tx
  2. Jonesville, Va
  3. Stickleyville, Va
  4. Wilmore, Ky
  5. Lexington, Ky

5 things I want to be doing in 5 years:

  1. teaching ethics somewhere I enjoy
  2. having adventures with my 9 yr old and 4 yr old
  3. pursuing a more healthy lifestyle -- eating better, exercising more regularly
  4. travelling
  5. expanding my gardening and local food skills -- eating more sustainably, locally, & healthfully

If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. Leave me a comment so I'll know to go read yours!

Jul 13, 2009

The 17-week turnip

Here's the latest on our growing, 17-week baby.

Jul 3, 2009

Ok, Ok! I'm back!

It's been a crazy few months, but I'm glad to be back, and am counting on a newly-arrived burst of energy to keep me here. More on that later. What's been happening?


If you couldn't tell by the change in the picture behind my title, I'm pregnant, and due December 18th! We're at 16 weeks, and I'm feelings much better after a difficult 1st trimester. The dizziness and nausea which were ever-present for about 7 weeks have gone, and the remaining fatigue is tempered by bursts of 2nd trimester energy. Here's hoping they last, and that I make good use of them while they remain!! I'm also going to prenatal yoga at Baby Moon, a truly incredible pregnancy and birthing support center. If you are pregnant in the Lexington area, or know someone who is, I HIGHLY recommend paying them a visit.

Our community hosted another School for Conversion in April. Here's a post on the ashram about our time together, and some great pics of the event. Start with this one and move to the right. I'm also headed to Missiouri next weekend to facilitate another School with the Shepherdsfield Community.

I presented a paper at this conference on the virtue of temperance, which is the subject of my dissertation. Here's an article where I'm quoted about the topic. (Ok, only once, but still.)

Along with the rest of the board and teachers of Schools for Conversion, I'm now blogging at the Tikkun Daily site. It's an interfaith gathering of "spiritual progressives" who are considering how faith makes a difference in daily life.

I'm also working on several articles for the forthcoming Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics.

We hosted another concert by the psalters. Here's a post I did about the evening.

Billy took a fabulous trip to Africa through his work with the foundation. Here, here, and here are some posts about his time.

And, I have been doing some blogging at Miranda's site.


Whew. Is that enough for now?

Mar 22, 2009

OTP (6) -- some humor from Hackney

"Love Poem" by Banksy

Beyond watching eyes
With sweet and tender kisses
Our souls reached out to each other
In breathless wonder

And when I awoke
From a vast and smiling peace
I found you bathed in morning light
Quietly studying
All the messages on my phone

OTP (6) -- Cultural Imperialism (both imports and exports)

I'm not sure if this happens to everyone, but whenever I'm here in the UK, I always find things that I wish I could import back to the States on a grand scale.
  • I'd bring back the beautiful window boxes which seem to exists absolutely everywhere. They adorn houses, restaurants, and lots of other public buildings. And they always seem to look beautiful, whatever the time of year.
  • I'd teach everyone to make tea like they do here -- usually by the pot, and when they pour, they leave enough room for you to add milk without it spilling over the rim.
  • I'd introduce pub culture. I ate dinner Friday night at a pub in Edinburgh, and was interested to see all these folks at the same pub: 1) 2 elderly women eating a sandwich dinner, 2) 3 academic types (one was carrying a work by Foucault) discussing something esoteric and sipping pints), and 3) a table of hevily pierced, tattooed, mohawked fellas watching sports and being mildly rowdy. I just LOVE that all these folks felt at home in the same place.

And conversely, there are things which I wish I could bring to the UK.

  • I'd bring enough "mixer valves" to install in each and every faucet in the country. That is, the contraption that allows you to mix the hot & cold water before it comes out of the faucet. I get so tired of washing my hands or my face or brushing my teeth, and having to alternate between the cold and hot taps. First you freeze, then you scald, then freeze, then scald, etc. Bleah.

Mar 21, 2009

OTP (6), day 9 -- Quick update

In Edinburgh.

Conference went well.

No one laughed at my paper.

In bed, exhausted.

Headed to London tomorrow.

Until then.

Mar 20, 2009

OTP (6), day 8 -- Time flies when you're having fun

It always happens. I find myself packing for the train out of Durham and wonder, "Didn't I just get here??" Well, here are some of the other interesting things I did when I wasn't studying.

  • I got to watch Maeve and two colleagues work on a project/grant from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on 'The Media, Poverty, and Public Opinion in the UK." It was fascinating to hear about ways in which media, both traditional and "new media", can be used to shape public opinion -- positive and negative -- on poverty. People like Daniel Meadows at Photobus are using digital storytelling to empower people to tell their own story in their own way. Maeve & her friends did a presentation that evening in the St. Chad's Senior Common Room, which was great and very well attended.

  • I attended a postgraduate seminar on "Trees in Tarkovsky's Work" by Prof. Gerard Loughlin.

  • I watched children from a local school prepare for a concert in the Cathedral. It's nice to see the way that this magnificent World Heritage site is incorporated in the daily life of the community.

  • I went to a formal dinner at St. Chad's College and sat the Reverend Canon Rosalind Brown, the "residentiary canon" of the Cathedral. She also used to be part of a group called Community of Celebration outside Pittsburgh, which sounds strikingly similar to Communality (yes, in more than just the name).

Sorry for all the links in this post. It's all just so interesting.

Mar 19, 2009

OTP (6), day 7 -- What else should I do between papers?

It seems there’s always something interesting going on in Durham. This time, there’s a fascinating exhibit at the Cathedral entitled On Being Human, created by South African artist Jane Alexander and featuring her ideas about the Bom Boys, children who live on the Streets of Cape Town. Check out the website through the link – it’s quite something.

Also, Robert (my advisor) and others are becoming involved in Climate Durham, an initiative to help reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

OTP (6), day 7 -- What should I do between papers?

Through some stroke of luck, I have arrived in Durham during the most glorious spring weather. The sun has shone almost every day, bringing to my awareness the beautiful, vibrant green of the lawns, the vivid yellow of the daffodils and the blooming forsythia, the heather flowering a deep violet. The temperatures have stayed in the mid-60s, absolutely perfect for sitting on the Palace Green, as I’m doing now.

It’s easy to forget about the charmed aspects of life as a college student. As I sit here and write, there are dozens of students lounging on the Green – eating pastries from The Almshouses on the Green, discussing their end of term papers, young couples holding hands or napping together. Most interesting to me is the group of guys playing a passionate game of croquet on the lawn. This is not something you’d see in the States. (Maeve has just informed me that you wouldn't see it most places in the UK, either. "It's a class thing," she said.)

Mar 18, 2009

OTP (6) -- Proud of my (future) alma mater

The Department of Theology and Religion here at Durham got some exciting news this spring. Apparently, they are the top ranked theology department in the UK for research and publications. That's actually very cool.


(from the Durham U website)
Department Receives Top RAE Rankings

The Department of Theology and Religion is pleased to announce that in the Research Assessment Exercise for 2008, it has been ranked at no. 1 among all departments of theology and religion in the UK in two categories: (a) the highest percentage of publications at 4* (world-leading research) and (b) the highest Grade Point Average for these publications. This is a major achievement, which confirms Durham University's position as a front-rank institution for Theology and Religion and reflects its continuing leadership in the academic discipline.


Good thing I was accepted before they received this accolade and could start getting picky!

OTP (6), day 6 -- Grandeur

Tonight, I went to Evensong, then had dinner at La Tasca, a Spanish tapas restaurant on the Bailey. Afterwards, I walked up the cobbled streets to my friend’s flat, and cut through the Palace Green between the castle & the cathedral. As I entered the Green in the darkness of late evening, I was amazed, yet again, by the grandeur of the cathedral. Enormous, majestic, frontlit by spotlights, with tombstones on the lawn dating back to the 1200s. Even on my 10th visit, I just can’t get enough.