fialleril: [earth of light / sky of earth] (desert sky)
Long time no post. Life has been busy - the semester is in full swing, which means I have student activities, liturgies, service projects, and other events nearly every day of the week. It is wonderful work, and I love it, but it doesn't leave me with a lot of mental energy for in-depth LJ posts, alas.

Anyway, some things I have been up to since last posting:

- Saw Florence + the Machine in concert, which was AWESOME. It would have been more awesome if I didn't have a cold/sinus infection at the time, but it was still completely awesome.

- Went to a Scottish festival and found out a little more about my family along the distaff line: My mother's mother's mother's mother was a Calhoun, the name that particular branch of the Colquhoun clan took when they came to USAmerica. The clan badge is a stag, which I find interesting because I have always had a particular fondness for deer.

Also, on a very geeky note: I am Scottish-descended on both sides of my family. My mother's side is Colquhoun, whose motto is "if I can" (which to me sounds like "I do what I want if I can get away with it" - an excellent motto), while my father's side is part of the Robertson clan, whose motto is "glory is the reward of valor." Sounds like Clan Slytherin and Clan Gryffindor to me.

I have been oddly into family history recently, and am considering doing some more in depth research into my roots, since everything seems to be very mysterious. My parents only know their own history about two generations back, and then very hazy vague knowledge of the distant past (like, supposedly my dad's family came to USAmerica from Scotland via Nova Scotia, but nobody really can say how or when or who). My interest is probably partially because I'm now the family member who lives closest to my maternal grandmother, so we've taken to meeting up regularly, and she has always had an interest in family history. I got to visit her house last Christmas, and she showed me the old Colquhoun family silver and whatnot. So I do know a bit more about my mom's family history than my dad's, but the more I learn the more it piques my curiosity.

- Took a group of students apple picking, which was lots of fun. And also kind of amusing for me as a farm kid, because several of the city kids had never picked their own fruit before. It was great to see them get so excited about it, and to see their interest in how fruit grows, what the difference between varieties is, how you know when it's ripe, etc.

- I did get a couple days' vacation and went to Columcille in Pennsylvania. Such an excellent place. I spent a day just meditatively walking and being in nature and refreshing my energy. I wish it was a bit closer to Albany, so I could take students there.

And there you have it: the State of Fia.
fialleril: [when the time comes to let it go, to let it go] (to live in this world)
Third in my series of character studies of Loki's monster children using riddles from Tolkien's The Hobbit. This one is Hel's (which you can tell because it's definitely the longest).

Previous parts: Fenrir | Jormungand

Title: comes first and follows after
Characters: Hel
Rating: PG
Word Count: 863
Summary: Hel is born in the shadow between the stars.
Warnings: passing reference to potential body horror Loki eating the witch's heart (highlight to read)
Notes: Hopefully it will be clear enough, but Hel refers to Angrboda as "mother" and Loki as "mama" (I've combined a couple of myths here - highlight that warning text and you'll know which ones).

comes first and follows after )
fialleril: [here there be monsters] (mystery and wonder)
Remember that series of character studies on Loki's children I started, using Tolkien's riddles from The Hobbit as a lens? Here is the second one, about Jormungand, which was definitely the trickiest one to write.

(The first one, about Fenrir, is here.)

Title: and yet never grows
Characters: Jormungand
Rating: PG
Word Count: 555
Summary: His father hates walls, but Jormungand laughs at them.
Notes: The riddle for this one isn't quite as obvious, but I am using the actual answer to the riddle, "mountains," as a metonym for "the foundations of the earth." The title is a bit delightfully ironic, since of course Jormungand is famous for his never ending growth spurts.

and yet never grows )
fialleril: [a sword age, a wolf age] (wolf)
Yes, more Norse myth stuff.

I have started a series of short fics about each of Loki's three monster children, taking a metaphorical look at them and riffing on Tolkien's riddles from The Hobbit. It started with this one, when I realized that this riddle fit Fenrir quite well, and its answer gave me a whole new way of understanding the all-devouring wolf and his meaning and importance in the mythology.

There will eventually be a riddle fic for Jormungand and Hel as well, and most likely a bonus one for Loki too. (Go ahead, guess which riddle from The Hobbit he is. I think it's actually pretty easy.)

Title: this thing all things devours
Characters: Fenrir
Rating: PG
Word Count: 570
Summary: Fenrir remembers everything.
Warnings: references to canon torture
Notes: Yes, all the verb tenses are deliberate. This was loads of fun.

this thing all things devours )
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
Just got back from the Easter Vigil, my absolute favorite night of the year. This is a night about nothing less than the recreation of the world: we begin outside with the primal fire, and each of us lights a candle from that primordial flame. We reaffirm that we are sparks of eternity created in the image of God and recreated anew in this very moment, rebirthed into life and reality and community. We follow the light into the darkness, lighting more candles as we go until the night is ablaze, and we affirm that this night is not and has never been about simply the resurrection of one man. If that were all, it would hold no ultimate meaning. No, this night is about the recapitulation of all time and the gathering of all people. It is about a promise.

On this night we affirm that Jesus, who was oppressed and unjustly condemned, nevertheless was not silenced. We affirm that injustice cannot be the final word, that in spite of all the horrors we have seen in the world, the mightiest word is love. And we affirm that love has the transformative power to remake the world once again, and that it has already done so and continues to do so.

Happy Easter to everyone who's celebrating!

holy holy holy

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 09:51 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
Tonight is one of the holiest nights of the year. It marks both the beginning of Passover and Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Christian Triduum.

It's a night that promises deliverance and liberation. It's a night when God kneels down and washes his still-all-too-clueless disciples' feet. It's a night about the recreation of the world. And it's a night when God says, "I no longer call you servants, but I call you friends."

Blessings to everyone who's celebrating these holy days!

agia metamorphosis

Sunday, March 8th, 2009 06:10 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)


Today, the second Sunday of Lent, was also Transfiguration Sunday, which is one of my favorite holidays in the church year. It's also my very favorite icon in the Orthodox iconographic tradition.

I do think that the Eastern church captures something in their theology of the metamorphosis (as it's called in the East) that the Western church has neglected, though. For the West, the transfiguration is chiefly about the revelation of Jesus' identity as God and as a teacher sent from God, and secondarily about the reality of his coming death. For the East, though, everything is seen in light of the Resurrection, and the glory of the metamorphosis is not only that it reveals God, but that it reveals true humanity. The metamorphosis is the image of the deification which all people are called to and are undergoing as they journey back to God.

The metamorphosis is a lifting of the veils that cloud our eyes to reality, so that the whole world shines with God's infinite splendor, and the image of God becomes visible in all people and all creation.

It is, essentially, an exercise in seeing reality.

So driving back from church today I made an effort to live into that sight. And I wrote this poem. I'm not sure it's really adequate, but...

God on Ponce de Leon )
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (pro patria mori)
I'm slowly savoring my way through Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a novel that reads like a sacrament, and at the same time I'm working on my thesis and applying to PhD programs in theology and literature, and so I've been thinking a lot lately about stories.

It seems to me that there are certain stories that stick with us, for whatever reason, and we spend our entire lives retelling those stories. Maybe it's one constant story, or a few, or maybe we retell different stories at different points in our lives.

For me, right now, there are two.

More meandering reflection under here )
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (wisdom & strength)
On Saturday evening I got back from my Women in Theology & Ministry retreat, and I've kind of been winding down from it ever since.

It was a great retreat, and really intense at times, too. (Especially because it only lasted one night and one day!) The women at Candler are all pretty amazing people, and some of their stories just blew me away.

We had the chance to write both a midrash (a reworking of a biblical story, to oversimplify a bit) and an ethical will. I wasn't entirely certain going into the retreat what an ethical will was, and it ended up being not quite what I expected. Like midrash, it arises out of Jewish tradition (our retreat leader was a Jewish story-teller), and was originally a way for parents to pass on to their children the beliefs, lessons, stories, experiences, etc. that were most important to them. But its meaning can be expanded beyond that. People have written ethical wills to their country, to the earth, to their parents, to all sorts of people. One of the examples we looked at was a woman writing to a grandmother she had never met.

That one inspired me, and I ended up writing my ethical will to a grandfather I never met. I wrote it as a poem, and some of the things I discovered about myself and my identity in the process were really surprising. I was struck profoundly by how much our ancestors are a part of us, even if we never met them and know hardly anything about them.

I might share that poem, and the midrash I wrote about Hagar, but I'll have to give it some more thought... :)

tongues of fire

Sunday, May 11th, 2008 07:35 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)


Today is the feast of Pentecost, one of my favorite feasts of the church year. Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit - in the Eastern church, the sign of the promise of deification.

For Americans, it is also Mother's Day. I find this very appropriate.

The Spirit is our Mother. As the Jesus of John's gospel says, new life means a new birth from water and Spirit, the amniotic fluid of God the Mother. And new birth means a new understanding, a renewed knowledge that we are all one family of humanity, born of that same Spirit: that our wars are acts of fratricide and our injustices are committed against our sisters, our brothers, ourselves. But new birth also acknowledges the value and beauty of difference. We are one, but we are not the same, and each of us is a unique reflection of the divine.

This is why the disciples, having received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, began to speak in all the languages of the world.

cut for further theological reflection on John 20.21-23 )

grace to the Mother

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 09:54 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (wisdom & strength)
Last night was my last Global Feminisms class of the semester. We had a time of theological sharing, where everyone shared some insights about the theme they'd been pursuing all semester - and shared in a creative way. ;) So it was actually really enjoyable (despite the fact that it lasted for five hours!).

My theme was story-building. So I thought that it was only right that I should present it by telling a story. I'd been working on this poem for a while (ever since Good Friday), and I think I'm finally happy with it. So I'm posting it here, just in case anyone is interested in my attempts at mysticism/story-building.



A Birth Lyric for Good Friday )
fialleril: [Hades and Persephone] (anabasis)
Another short piece I wrote for my Global Feminisms class. We were asked to write about one of our passions. So this is my reflection on why I write stories. I'm not sure how well I expressed myself, so critique is welcome!

Creatrix Mundi )

in memory of me

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 11:27 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (wisdom & strength)
I was recently asked to write a short reflection on one of the struggles in my life for my Global Feminisms & the Christian Tradition course. Perhaps that sounds rather dull and cliché. ;) But I actually rather liked the final product, which I wrote more like a story than an essay. So I thought I'd share it here—the story of my relationship with the Eucharist.

This Is My Body )
fialleril: [This is the nature of war: it turns us into enemies.] (remember)
Name a character from one of my fandoms, and I'll give you either (or several of the following) (a) three facts about them from my personal canon/fanon, (b) a reason he/she sucks, (c) a reason he/she is awesomecakes, (d) five things that never happened to that character or (e) five people that character never fell in love with and why.
fialleril: [By virtue of all I have done, may the pain of every living creature be completely cleared away.] (Aang)
Yesterday, I was able to attend the Dalai Lama's inaugural lecture as Distinguished Professor here at Emory.

I've thought for a while about how best to express what he said, but I think that any summary I could give would only dilute the purity of his message and his vision of peace.

However, you can find transcripts and videos of his talks and full coverage of all events here at the Emory newspaper web site, and I'd really recommend checking that out.

Also, go here for full photo galleries of all the various events. Here's a sample:


The Dalai Lama receives his new Emory Faculty ID card.
He didn't quite know what to make of it.


What struck me most about the Dalai Lama was his aura, and the way the people responded to that. It was almost like something out of one of the ancient saints' lives. We are still drawn to the saints and the holy men and women, and that holiness is something palpable. It was really an experiential reality. But I don't mean holiness in the way that we might often think of it. This was a robust, deeply human, warm and vibrant man, a man shining with what the Orthodox would call the Uncreated Light. And what most stays with me about him is his laughter. He had a kind of deep, rich, unashamed laugh. "Impish," one of the newspapers called it, and that's a pretty good description. Sometimes he would even giggle.

tree-hugger

Saturday, September 29th, 2007 05:14 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (holy)
"Whoever does not love trees, does not love Christ."

Fr. Amphilochios of Patmos (1888-1970), Orthodox monk and one of the first Christian ecologists. To those who came to him for confession, he would often prescribe the penance of planting two or three trees.

Babel

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 11:12 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (the space between)
A weird poem/meditation thing inspired by the crazy traffic in Atlanta.

Babel

The rush and flow of traffic
drowns
the heart of the city,
a river of metal and wires.
It's eight a.m.
The people glide past in their cars
like bubbles in a stream,
flowing and
separate.
Hurried.
Wheels on pavement sing the song of the dispossessed.

Motion.
A great flowing mass of metal and rubber
and inside each is
a life
untouched,
untouching.
A glimmer of red;
the flow is stilled.
A child reaches out, fingers stretching
toward the one next to her—
but
she touches only glass.

Through the cracks in the broken pavement
a dandelion is growing.
The other child reaches back,
eyes bright,
touching glass.

Silence.

mandala

Thursday, August 16th, 2007 05:18 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (the space between)
For all of my Star Wars loving friends: I'm curious. What does it mean to bring balance to the Force?

[Poll #1040392]

And feel free to share your reasoning! :)
fialleril: [somebody's gotta save our skins] (voice of reason)
A couple days ago I posted a bunch of POTC icons, and on one of them I noted that every man Elizabeth has ever kissed ends up dead. Here's why.

In The King Must Die by Mary Renault (an excellent book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in classical mythology), Theseus finds himself in the strange world of Eleusis, home of the pre-Greek natives of what is now Greece. In this world, the Queen rules, and she is both queen and priestess. Each year, the king must die with the old year, and a new king must wed the Queen in order to ensure a bountiful harvest.

In Theseus's world, the world of the Greek invaders, the king must also die. But he dies not every year, but only when he feels the call. And it is no one's place to tell him when to make the sacrifice.

Why does every man Elizabeth Swann ever kisses end up dead? Mythologically speaking, she is the Queen/Priestess, and the men to whom she is symbolically married, the year-kings, must die. This explains nearly ever single death in the POTC trilogy.

Hector Barbossa: Yes, Elizabeth is symbolically married to Barbossa in CotBP. She lives with him aboard ship for a period of time, she accepts his gifts (in the form of the dress), and, most importantly, the two share a feast (although Barbossa himself doesn't actually eat anything). For the significance of apples in this regard, see Persephone and the pomegranate. ;) And, of course, Barbossa ends up dead.

Jack Sparrow: Elizabeth kisses Jack. He dies. Enough said.

James Norrington: See Jack Sparrow.

Sao Feng: See Jack Sparrow.

Davy Jones: Mythologically speaking, Elizabeth and Calypso are two halves of the same archetype. (This is made almost painfully clear by the fact that Sao Feng mistakes Elizabeth for Calypso.) Davy actually has two mythological strikes against him: he is both the husband of the Queen/Priestess and the god of the dead. In other words, he couldn't possibly make it out alive.

Will Turner: Given the fact that he's kissed Elizabeth several times and ends up literally marrying her, it's amazing Will lasted as long as he did. To make up for that, I suppose, he gets to die twice. (Symbolically, at any rate.) First he gets stabbed and has his heart cut out (the first death), and then he gets to spend ten years as ferryman/king of the underworld.

The moral of this story? Don't kiss Elizabeth Swann.

seeds

Monday, June 4th, 2007 11:22 pm
fialleril: [the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation] (wisdom & strength)
Another prayer/poem I wrote on retreat a while back:

The God of Small Things

Spiritual moments
are small things
seeds
sparks
grains of dust

But life is born of seeds
whole worlds of dust
a universe from sparks

The birthing does not make them great
They are still small
In their smallness is their beauty

fallen leaves
shells by the sea and acorns in the mud
little four-petalled bluets like stars in the grass
a child in a manger and a flow of blood and water
a beam of sunlight on the dry and ashy ground

God the birth-giver is infinite in Her smallness

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