November 11th, 2010

saxon cross

What serves the Grail?

By contrast, thy own people were given angels' food, and thou didst send them from heaven, without labour of their own, bread ready to eat, rich in delight of every kind and suited to every taste. The sustenance thou didst supply showed thy sweetness towards thy children, and the bread, serving the desire of each man who ate it was changed into what he wished.
-- Wisdom of Solomon 16:20-21

Our Wednesday Bible study group is nearing the end of the Wisdom of Solomon, and with it, the end of our tour of the Apocrypha. Yesterday, we read another passage on the foolishness of idolatry referencing the Exodus. The Egyptians' worship of creature-gods is turned on its head in the plagues, but the Israelites are fed with manna.

The above passage caught my interest. This idea that manna tasted like whatever each person desired is an obvious embroidery on the miraculous food; the Israelites themselves found it monotonous after a while. I pointed out that the medieval Christians were heavily soaked in Biblical imagery, including that of the Apocrypha. This particular image, whether consciously appropriated from Wisdom or not, shows up in the Matter of Britain.

When Galahad arrives at court and sits in the Siege Perilous at the Round Table, the Grail appears at the feast and everyone finds the food he most prefers in front of him. This idea is especially developed in Charles Williams's Arthurian poems. He points out that at the core of the tales is a growing awareness of the Eucharist; this is far more fundamental to the presentation of the Holy Grail than cauldrons of plenty and such from Celtic folklore.

Veterans Day memories

I am the son of two WW II vets.

My father was a flight engineer in the Army Air Force, flying out of North Africa, then Italy. He was evacuated to the United States toward the end of the war, after a wall of sandbags his crew were building fell on him, breaking his leg. For a while, he suffered from survivors' guilt, but VA doctors helped him over it.

My mother was a staff sergeant in the WACS, working intelligence in New Guinea. She suffered a nervous breakdown toward the end of the war. Army doctors tranked her up to her eyeballs, and she returned to the States on a slow boat. She struggled with depression and on-again, off-again prescription drug dependency the rest of her life.

All my uncles on both sides were in the war, and all of them were combat veterans. That's quite a feat, considering that there were 16 million Americans under arms, and only 1 million saw actual combat.

The joke around our house was that we would be watching some movie set in Europe, and my father would suddenly interrupt the show, saying, "I bombed that place!" Still, neither Mother nor Dad was ever flippant about their service. They saw terrible things and contemplated terrible contingencies. They counted the cost, and paid it willingly. I have their medals hanging on my living room wall.

Somehow, I never wound up serving in uniform. The times were different, and I was following a different call, I suppose. My son-in-law is a Navy veteran, however, and I am very proud of him for his service.
humped zebra

O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

I spent the afternoon and evening at a District Committee on Ministry meeting in Terre Haute. I told people I was going to go dig ditches this weekend to relax. And so I am.

I bought pipes and fittings for eventual main drain, composting toilet overflow, and well water. Scott T. is coming over tomorrow and we're taking these over to Wilderstead. Saturday, we go fetch the Ditch Witch I'm renting and dig three trenches and bury the pipes. Footers for the undercroft and retaining walls for the landscaping will then go over the pipes we bury. When the time comes to complete the plumbing of the house, there they'll be, all ready to hook up to.

Still to do tonight, tomorrow morning, or Saturday evening after my return from Wilderstead: laundry; confirmation class prep; sermon writing; nominations report for Church Council meeting on Sunday; prep for Venturers' meeting on Sunday; various small errands, including fetching some stuff from the Council office on the other side of town. One of these days, I've got to get caught up. Oy.