Let Loving Hearts Enthrone Him

Last Saturday, I went to the Candlelight Concert of the Tacoma Youth Chorus–the group that I had been in for nine years when I graduated high school. It was great to see some people whom I hadn’t seen in a few years, catch up a little, listen to music. Alumni were invited to sing a couple songs on stage, which was a lot of fun. I so miss being a part of a music group, performing like that with other people is unlike any other experience. Definitely on my list of things to do as soon as feasible in my life.

If you’ve never participated in organized singing–not just like, the national anthem or something–it really is a special experience. Similar to sports teams, I guess, or anything like that where you’re cooperating with a group. But it has a feeling all its own. Creating beauty like that, it’s just exactly what I needed. Still need.


One of the very surfacy things that I love about the Christmas season is all the baking. Since baking is very much my scene, an excuse to do it in excess and have everyone just be like “yeah that’s a totally normal amount of baking” is wonderful. There are a lot more things to bake on my list but so far, I’ve done shortbread cookies (including a delicious orange cranberry iteration), peppermint cheesecake (including my first time making ganache), and fig bread pudding (which is as close to figgy pudding as I’ve ever come). All delicious, thanks for asking. And beautiful, so here are some pictures.

If you are in my physical proximity and would like to bake together some time, let’s do it. It truly is such a joy for me and is so much better when doing it with other people. The above were baked with my mom, step mom, and brother, respectively. Let’s make something tasty together.


It’s wild to be posting this Christmas entry what feels like so early, since it’s on a Wednesday this year. There’s a whole week to go. And likewise next week, my New Year’s post will come on Boxing Day. But it would be remiss of me to neglect the kitties and so I will share a few more pictures because cats.

There are few things better than cuddly sleeping cats, I think.


Little theological moment. I don’t think that the “king” imagery and language of the Bible is wrong about God but I don’t think that the idea is a) the whole story and b) helpful in all circumstances. In fact, the Bible demonstrates to me that God was pretty against the idea of kings, being very reluctant to let Israel an earthly one at all. And here’s what I think that indicates: yeah, God is king in a kind of literal way, being creator and ruler of the universe; no, God is not a king in a scepter and crown way. So sometimes the fixation on royal imagery in Christianity bugs me because if God is a king the way people are kings, then there’s a problem. If God is king in a totally different way, why not just use a different word.

Since coming out, I have had occasion to move in some very progressive Christian circles and a term I hear relatively often is ‘kin-dom’ to replace kingdom in some contexts. This is well-supported in another image that’s jam-packed into the Bible all over the place: family. An imperfect metaphor (as all metaphors must be) but a good one. This is why I’ve chosen this line to title my Christmas post this year. Because if we’re going to talk about God as king–which isn’t a bad thing–we would do well to make it quite clear what kind of king we’re talking about.

There will be no throne, no crown, no palace, no castle, no trumpets. God sits enthrones within our hearts. And that is what makes Christmas a whole thing worth celebrating. That the Lord of the Universe does not require taxes, does not issue or revoke citizenship, does not demand fealty or service or even law-abiding behavior.

God simply draws near. Comes into this world even as into our hearts. And it is with our hearts–not our actions, our achievements or misdeeds–that we enthrone him.

The Road Before Us

You know I’m always here for singing a chorus or two but today, the road that lies ahead involves something a little different.

I’ve written before about how The Road Not Taken is NOT called The Road Less Traveled. Because they were really worn about the same. But even so, it is about which road you choose to take. Sometimes, however, there are roads that simply aren’t open to you. There is no choice, less traveled or otherwise.

And so all that is left to do is to take the road before you. There is no fork, there is no turn, there is only the road that is already under your feet. Thank God that we have a chorus or two this Christmas season, at least, to help us along the way.


A phrase that I heard this week: “You cannot burn yourself to keep others warm.” I don’t know to what extent that may or may not be currently applicable to me– as either the burner or the recipient of warmth–but it was very arresting when I heard it. Finding that balance between extending yourself toward others and keeping yourself whole.

Interpersonal relations are hard. Also, being a personal is hard.

Even so, I’m glad that I do have people around me. I’m not always cognizant of what a blessing that really is. People who care about me. And cats, of course (pictures forthcoming, sorry).


You may know that I am an avid re-consumer of entertainment media. I do not know why it took me so long to rewatch Wonder Woman, having first seen it in theaters when it came out. And boy am I glad that I rewatched this week. What a excellent film and what a poignant tale in this regard: evil will never be defeated because it lives within each of us but every day and every moment, we have the opportunity to choose good.

And, of course, I truly do believe that only love can save the world.


A disjointed post for a kind of bleh week. Big disappointment followed by a flurry of effort followed by zero effort. On the plus side, considering some of the things I want to bake in the next few weeks so I’m very excited about that. Hopefully, there will be a large number of delicious home-made treats in my life very soon.

In particular, I’m hoping that my cheesecake will turn out better than my last few attempts. They’ve been nice but not quite mixed and a little underbaked.


The British parliamentary election is today and I’m very interested to see the outcome. Probably won’t be anything I love but what can you do. Also, apparently this is the first British election in December since the 1920s (and I’m just realizing that now you have to say 1920s instead of 20s because we’re going to be in the 20s again very soon).

It’s been so interesting and unfortunate to watch this whole Brexit drama unfold the past few years. I’m still kind of hoping against hope that it won’t happen but not hoping too much at this point. I will obviously have to look at real-time results because elections are I guess like sports games for me except with actual stakes that impact people’s lives very directly. Anyway.


As an update on the previous previous, made cranberry orange shortbread yesterday, it was delicious. I also painted my nails, which I haven’t done in ages. Tried to do something festive and it didn’t quite work but at least they’re red and green!

There are worse ways to take a road before you than pretty nails and tasty treats. And as for the chorus or two, I’ve got that in hand as well. Will be going to a choir concert on Saturday for the choir I was in for many years–half my life, in fact, by the time I graduated high school. There will be audience carols and, as an alumnus, I will get to sing a couple songs up front as well. Very much looking forward to it.

Plus, though it’s just been rainy here, there’s been lots of snow in the mountains the past couple days, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!

No Such Beauty

Before I get into anything else, a small observation that struck me for a sec this week. I wrote a sentence or two last week about appreciating the later evenings. As a sign of spring. I realized this week: I’m not used to it being dark. And not in the seasonal, latitudinal sense. Like, obviously I’ve been back for a while. And was in New Zealand before that. But Seoul was never dark. Ever. And I missed it. There are lots of advantages to city living and a lot of reasons that I miss that, too. But I think somewhere inside, living in a city kills me a little bit.

Anyway, on to something that brings me life. Cats. And also other things, probably.

Camaro2018-4-18

This past weekend I was tremendously privileged to be able to attend the Chamber Singers reunion at American University, my undergrad alma mater. I was a member of Chamber Singers my whole time at AU, including tours to Russia and the Balkans. I’ve only been absent from DC for three years (almost exactly) but a lot has happened in that time. This reunion was a deeply welcome change of pace and settling of heart.

I was in Choral Society at Trinity, but that was a) not a very in-depth choral experience, as enjoyable as it was and b) finished more that two years ago. And in the intervening time, I have not been a part of a musical group of any description. The only singing I’ve done has been to myself or at church. And that truly was and remains a hard thing for me.

So this past weekend was a bit of a remedy for that, however brief. Friday and Saturday were absolutely gorgeous, a particular blessing in light of the bizarre weather they’ve had this year (and spring weather in general). They were too hot, in my opinion, peaking in the mid-eighties. Sunday and Monday were grey, rainy, and mid-fifties. What can you do. I got to see cherry blossoms galore, daffodils galore (my second favorite flower), and a regional tree climbing competition because apparently that’s a thing.

Also, I visited the Wheaton station on the metro for the express purpose of riding on the longest escalator in the western hemisphere. Apparently I’ve already ridden on the longest in the world, a three way tie between stations on the St Petersburg metro.

There were plenty of alumni events during the weekend. It was quite a crowd, about 55 of us (from a group that’s usually around 30 at any given time) with graduations ranging from 2004 to this past winter. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t do large social situations well and these were no exception. I’m uncomfortable and that’s that. But it was still a special kind of soothing to be around some old faces, old friends, and other people who I barely met for thirty seconds but who cared enough about singing to come out for it.

After the (smaller) concert on Sunday, I was also able to catch up in person with my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in three years (since graduation, pretty much). And that was really good. I wish that I had stayed longer–I didn’t have anything pressing back here. We’ll see how the job search goes, maybe I’ll be back for another visit sooner rather than later.

Our alumni group was actually integrated into the current Singers’ regular spring concert which had a very laid-back vibe focused on some favorite songs. One in particular, which we sang on tour in Russia after my freshman year, we sang as a joint ensemble some 85 strong. One line, in fact, in the midst of a text that feels definitely applicable to my current aimlessness.

There is no such beauty as where you belong.

I’m not sure where, exactly, in the world I belong. Where in life, where in all kinds of metaphysical senses. And, as I’ve said before, I wasn’t 100% comfortable with all the people I was singing with. But there’s a power in music and I can say with certainty that I belonged on that stage at that moment. I belong in music.

I feel like some people feel that way about sports or whatever else moves people, so I probably don’t really have to explain it any further. One way or another, this weekend was exactly what I needed it to be.

Then the Traveller in the Dark

I woke up early on Tuesday morning absolutely convinced that it was Saturday. The week continued downhill from there. Things haven’t been that bad, I’m managing just fine. It’s more the idea, the concept, of doing work that has become so dreadful. In the event, it doesn’t bother me as much, but the anticipation (and everything else around it) is draining.

It snowed (yay!) on Tuesday afternoon but while the forecast predicted one to two inches, it ended up being the faintest dusting. I was, however, braced for that disappointment because life is disappointing. I was hoping to have a somewhat lighter schedule on Wednesday but instead my three hour intensive was immediately followed by four hours of phone classes. Not the worst–and, importantly, it’s balanced by only having my intensive next Wednesday–but a bit disappointing all the same.

In other news, it’s also very cold. You may have heard about the super freezing weather in the US and we’re apparently getting some of that too. I woke up this morning and it was 6 F and the low tonight is forecast to be 3. Which is very cold. There are no blizzard force winds but it is a step or two above breezy which isn’t helping either. I enjoy the cold in terms of staying in and doing nothing but being warm. However, when I do have to go someplace, for example, work, it makes my fairly short walk pretty unpleasant.

We also got together to finish the second half of Two Towers on Wednesday night, having watched disk one last Saturday. Absolutely tremendous, as always. And some of us painted our nails, I was going for ‘something dark and wintry but that could not be mistaken for black’ and we ended up with this gorgeous color between forest green and mint that is exactly right. Of course, I did a terrible job actually painting them (this being my third time) but it still looks okay. Though it’s already chipping.

I was going to title this post something about being unfortunate, or disappointing, or just generally meh. But I went with a line from the lesser-known third verse of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (there are five). Because it doesn’t take much to keep hope alive and, though there are no stars in Seoul, sometimes a single snowflake on the tongue is all the sustenance that it requires.

Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

Celestial Songs

  1. The Spheres from the Sunrise Mass – Ola Gjeilo
  2. Young Galileo – Mark Gresham
  3. Astronaut Anthem – Meredith Monk
  4. Underneath the Stars – Kate Rusby, arr. Jim Clements
  5. Stars – Ēriks Ešenvalds
  6. A Breathing Peace – Daniel Elder
  7. Northern Lights – Ola Gjeilo
  8. Madrigals for the Space Age – Lalo Schifrin
  9. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – Daniel Elder
  10. Choose Something Like a Star – Randall Thompson

Whence Cometh Help

In some ways, I feel like this week has been the deep breath before the plunge. The calm before the storm. The split second before you realize you’ve run over a chipmunk. In other ways, this week has been a plunge, storm, and dead chipmunk. Allow me to elaborate.

This week has marked the beginning of assignment-turning-in season for us REC folks. Of course, it really was last week with the research proposal, but I’m choosing not to think about that because reasons. Anyway, this week’s assignment, completed and submitted this morning, was the first of many for actual classes. And I’m glad this was the first one because it sort of eased me into it–I wrote it like a blog post.

Also, last night was the first performance of Elijah and I think it went really well. It really is just such a fun piece to sing–it runs the whole spectrum of violent-triumphant-sorrowful-comforting. I don’t know about you, but it’s definitely worth a listen if you’re able to find a good recording somewhere. I think my favorite movements are It Is Enough, a bass solo sung by Elijah. Tremendously touching and sad. In terms of choral movements, it’s tough to say, I might go for Behold! God the Lord Passed By or Then Did Elijah. It’s just really a remarkable work, I love it (if you hadn’t gotten that yet). Anyway, tonight’s the second and final performance, should be lovely.

And, sorry, but the incredibly depressing is sort of unavoidable in my course of study. Today, we had a wonderful guest speaker talking about inequality and the wealth management profession. Basically, wealth managers are the people who work for the unbelievably rich to protect their wealth and anonymity. Part of that includes things like tax havens, which are often talked about, but a variety of other things. It’s no surprise that massive wealth enables people to do basically whatever they want. But this talk just fleshed out some things that I frankly can’t fully comprehend because I’m not fabulously wealthy and probably never will be. I know it’s a thing to talk about money influencing government and things like that, but in some places wealth managers have been contacted directly by governments or tax representatives in order to negotiate laws and policies that work best for their wealthy clients. What.

And, interestingly, we hear a lot about the Cayman Islands and Switzerland but a lot of this sort of thing is being done in the US and UK. Also, just a note, wealth and income are not the same. So we talk about income inequality often, but what about wealth which isn’t income and can be passed between generations? The speaker actually used the term feudalism to describe some parts of what is going on. How did we get here? Anyway, I can’t give a rundown of the entire talk, but suffice to say it was sobering, angering, and sort of baffling. The world, guys. The world.

I don’t even think I can write any more about it right now. It’s just such a thing. I can’t handle it. I sort of get that capitalism and things. Inequality is and will be with us. BUT INEQUALITY IS BAD. Even if we’re going to live with some, these levels are unconscionable. Horrific. And indisputably getting worse. Guys. Ugh.

I’m going to take a second to transition to the next paragraph. Deep breath.

Okay.

So back to dead chipmunks. Things have sort of been crazy. Lots of assignment-doing (and even more procrastination). Things are getting done but it’s been sort of torturous. Loads more assignments on the way. Also, last week was St Patrick’s Day, this week is concert week, this weekend is Easter… lots of things. The first week of April is the last week of classes but the month will be full of essay writing. Very full. Then full-time dissertationing.

On the note of this weekend, though, I will write a brief note and you can expect a thorough description in next week’s post. Not only is this Sunday Easter, but it is also the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. If you’re not familiar with the Rising, look it up. I will also probs give some background next week. But basically the country has been going insane in the run-up for it and there’s going to be plenty to say, I expect. Also, I’ve decided that April’s going to be another poetry month here. So if you’re into that sort of thing, get pumped. And if you’re not, I don’t really care. I have some pretty great selections in mind. Not necessarily spring-themed, just poetry.

Anyway, I’ve got to get changed for the concert. Until next week, then.