Spring is here …

Just a few shots from my yard today. The light was perfect after I got home from school, so out in the yard I went.

(My lovely flowering snow crabapple in the backyard.)

(The volunteer purple violets that are all over my yard.)

(Some of the violets are even the prettiest shade of white with a touch of the palest pink.)

(A few of the tulips that persist in blooming each year amongst the bed of lilies.)

Coop of Distinction

OK, so some of you probably don’t know that I have this “thing” for chickens. They make me laugh. They remind me of Mrs. Rudd’s (my childhood babysitter in Tallahassee) chicken coop in the back yard and collecting eggs from the occasionally nasty hens. I think of roosters crowing in the early morning and the smell of straw, the wonderful brown of those eggs and the deep, deep color of the yolks, the creak of the coop door, and even the dreaded chicken snake. The livestock and poultry exhibits are the first stop at the Minnesota State Fair every year. I like chickens so much I made a quilt full of them several years ago using Bethany Reynolds‘ Stack-n-Whack method and asked the quilter to fill it full of chickens when quilting it – which she thankfully did. I just can’t be blue when I see a chicken. But I never thought I would see a chick coop like this one. My friend, Roz, sent the link yesterday and the mind just boggles when you read how long it took the artist to create this particular coop. Just think of how nice those chickens have it. The stained glass, the chandelier, the ceiling. Jean Benelli has some of her other artwork shown at this website. I am particularly attracted to the Chicken Saint in neon. All this chicken talk is reminding me of my own dream to one day have my own chicken coop. I know it will probably never happen, but one can dream, right?

Thrilling news ….

In early March I applied to the Lilly Scholar program with Augsburg College. Augsburg names 10 scholars each year, who form a special cohort group for one academic year to explore the meaning of vocation for their lives. In addition to the recognition, you are granted a $2,000 scholarship and access to registration for any Luther Seminary class (which normally are closed to undergrad students). I just checked my e-mail account and found a message from the program administrator:

Dear Boyd,

We are delighted to inform you that you have been accepted as a Lilly Scholar for the 2005-2006 academic year! The scholarship selection committee was very impressed by your application. They felt strongly that you would be successful in the program and that you would bring a valuable perspective to the group.

Well, you can imagine I think how I must be feeling right now! I’m just a whole mix of emotions. Will I be able to live up the expectations of my facilitators in the program? More importantly, will I be able to live up to my own expectations? What will I discover during next year’s intense focus on the meaning of vocation for my life? It’s certainly a wonderful opportunity to be given. It’s all more than a little humbling as well, I might add. I’m really rather beside myself at the moment ….

What do you speak?

Well, I’m more of a linguistic mutt than I would have thought. I guess it makes sense given my Southern roots, my Yankee stepmother and her family, and having spent the last 10 years in Minnesota. Take the test and see what it says about you.

Your Linguistic Profile:

30% Dixie
30% General American English
25% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Midwestern

Illuminating the Word

Saturday was the day that H and I had members-only preview tickets to attend the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts exhibit of the St. John’s Bible. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the St. John’s Bible was commissioned by St. John’s University (College of St. Benedict), following a long-lost Benedictine tradition of handwritten bibles. St. John’s is located in Collegeville, about an hour north of Minneapolis. The chief scribe and artistic director of the project is Donald Jackson, the Queen’s Scribe, who lives in Wales and is considered one of the foremost calligraphers of our time. According to the website for St. John’s:

In the tradition of great medieval Bibles, The Saint John’s Bible will be monumental — two feet tall and three feet wide and more than 1,000 pages bound in seven distinct volumes.

How could I begin to describe what I felt? I’m afraid words fail me. How many ways are there, anyway, to say “exquisite?” The exhibit is set up so that pages from Genesis are the first that you see, you progress through the books and end with the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. I don’t know exactly why it made such a difference, but reading the scriptures again in this form – well, it was almost like reading them for the first time. As much as I appreciate the utilitarian value of my mass-printed study bible, this wasn’t just about reading. This was an experience of sacred dimension that engages the imagination. As I stood in front of the page and read my favorite Psalm, the 91st, I got tears in my eyes. Somehow, the careful formation of every single character and illustration seems a fitting treatment for the holy scriptures. The illustrations are just beyond description – extraordinary in every way. I’ve never seen anything like them. But if you go to the St. John’s Bible web site and click on See & Hear, you’ll get a glimpse of some of them. You can now purchase the Gospels and Acts of the Apostels (as well as reprints of specific illustrations) as a bound volume and I’m going to get one for myself just as soon as I can save up the money to do so. There is also a PBS Special that has aired several times in the Twin Cities area, though I haven’t been able to find a link at the PBS web site to the program.