I want to prance with joy at the feet of those who digitized and complied the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts through UCLA (with the help of an international academe). Pages and pages of Medieval manuscripts—complete with holes, ink blotches, dirt, and marginalia—are catalogued and linked to fully digitized books.
Here, for example, is a Hildegard of Bingen manuscript page from the book Sciuias siue Visiones ac reuelationes .
It is a book of dreams, visions, and revelations, written in Latin and digitized courtesy of Merton College in Oxford, England, and complete with a hole in the parchment that the scribe had to work around.
Talk about material culture! Look how the scribe had to squeeze to write around the edges of the hole, and you can even see the fibers coming through. The number of holes in this book and the fact that there are shadow lines coming up from underneath convinces me that these parchment pages were being re-used after have been scraped clean of some earlier text.
(Who is Hildegard of Bingen, you ask? She was a Saint and Abbess, a visionary and mystic nun who lived from 1098 to 1179 in Germany. Here’s an article from the Medieval Sourcebook by Kristina Lerman.)
Here’s another page from the same book, this one shows marginalia.
If a scribe forgets something while writing, it is usually to be found in the margin in the same color ink, an extra word or letter or something. This marginalia is in red.
The scribe used red in the manuscript, so he (and likely it was a he, though women copied manuscripts as well) might have come back through the book to write additional comments on the text—or add in bits that he forgot. This marginalia might also be someone else’s commentary on the text, maybe a tonsured Prior looking over the scribe’s shoulder as he was writing it out.
This is so awesome, I can smell the tallow. All I need now is a little ink on my fingers.
And to conclude our adventure in manuscript happy-land, all we require is—
for someone to figure out how to read this! (Curious, curious! )
I was thinking of the problems that arise because of the (necessary?) combination of money and ministry. Churches pay rent, sponsor retreats, fund mission and aid work, and the rest… And I am thinking how amazing it will be in the New Jerusalem when money will be gone and the manna of the heart will fulfill all the needs of ministers and ministry.
And then I think, manna of the heart! What a wonderful image! What a great way to say describe something that is hard to describe. I wonder, did I coin a cool new phrase?
Of course I turned to Google to find out. Has anyone written ‘manna of the heart’ before? Yes! Actually, Mr. George Burrowes who wrote a Commentary on Song of Solomon in 1860. On page 47 he writes “There are periods in the Christian Life when the soul enlightened by the Holy Spirit sees a deep, instructive, and glorious meaning in the Song; when the truth thus found here, proves to be the very manna of the heart, the very quintessence of spiritual nourishment…”
Quintessence of spiritual nourishment, pretty good!
We get the word Quintessence from the classical & medieval periods, from the pagan philosopher Aristotle. Medieval people based their world understanding around his idea of the the four essences: earth, fire, water, air. The fifth (quint) essence was separate and distinct from all of these and was thought as the ultimate essence, ethereal and pure. Monks believed the result of their distilled liquors held something of the quintessence. It was thought to be heaven or heaven-like, perhaps. (Makes me think of today’s advertisements for perfumes!)
(Well…I tried hard to find a cool medieval image of Aristotle and his four essences, but I failed… mea culpa.)
What’s most important, though, is this idea of manna of the heart. I am reminded of one of Wesley’s rules of faith, to ‘stay in love with God.’ We are encouraged to stay spiritually nourished, even when it’s hard to do so. When times get complex, when the ministry money gets tight or runs out… Or when the candles are burned up, and the church is far away, these are the moments to remember that manna comes from God, and only from God. It is given always in times of need, to the lost, the wandering, and the people of the wilderness.
So. Manna of the heart, the stuff that comes each day to sustain the faithful, to fill us with comfort, love, and care, no matter the circumstances of our lives. Try a morning devotion and you will see exactly what I mean. Spend a moment with a candle or a psalm. Or both. Or neither, just God and yourself in a quiet moment together.
Going through my office. There were a few boxes put aside a few years ago, they’ve been in limbo at the back of the closet. And things are changing for me. So I’m dredging them up, sorting them out, seeking to live into the vocation of my life.
And what dusty treasures there are.
A set of note cards from when I was studying to take the GRE. I have to laugh at words like extirpate, appurtenance, mephitic (actually I like that one). People say I have far too large a vocabulary as it is! Lol. I’m sesquipedalian, shall we say! Lol. But if I’m the only one to enjoy my jokes, I ask you, what’s the point?
No, these are best set aside. Why fill my memory with so many unnecessary syllables? Speak Plainly! Goodbye to the linguistic bibelot! I will reach instead for hardy Anglo-Saxon words. I will squat over them, pinch them together, and whack them into shape. That’s more fun, anyway.
And on into the boxes… to find a envelope with a baby tooth inside. Why did I not mark which child the tooth belonged to??
A note from a 1995 family camping trip.
A picture my daughter drew for me when I was “Mama” and she was six, with hearts and bunny rabbits.
A notebook I kept when my sister died of cancer. A shopping list. A note. A list of medications, a dispensing log that starts with handfuls of pills and ends with simply morphine: ½ dropper every ½ hour. And then she was gone. God bless my beautiful sister, I miss her so much.
I have rolled beeswax candles, too. And some hand dipped. I think I wash off the dust and light them, and think of Charlie.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. God makes me lie down in green pastures; leads me beside still waters; and restores my soul …
I had to go up to Snohomish, so I figured, what’s another hour up to Bellingham to see my boys?
On my way up the 5 I had to snap this photograph. This is the famous 1-5 Redneck politics sign from Washington State. It’s always worth a look so see what they’ve got posted on it. The trip north wouldn’t be the same without it.
I arrived at 11am and stayed for about 23 hours. It was great. Here are my boys on the beach on Bellingham Bay. They are posed to channel Steve Zissou’s Life Aquatic. I don’t quite get the reference, but I love Bill Murray and especially Angelica Houston so I should probably watch the movie at some point. (Maybe on my next trip to B-ham!)
Here’s a picture of the bay itself. We stopped at a little coffee shop on the shore which was about half a mile or more from Old Fairhaven. There were a number of people and families there, a very nice spot.
Here’s a picture of some beachy-barnacle rocks. Don’t pretend like you didn’t want to see a picture of these. I know everyone loves seascape barnacles as much as I do! lol.
We also went to breakfast. Well, Michael and I did, at the Harris Ave Cafe. Michael submitted to a photograph wearing his favorite hat.
I’ve been to the Harris Avenue Cafe before. It’s the kind of place you go back to. And, just for the foodies who might read this blog, here is a photograph of the eggs toulouse. It’s an English muffin with poached eggs, smoked salmon, and their champagne cream tomato sauce. I had this last time, too. It’s wonderful.
The only bummer of the day was that the Abbey Garden Tea Room was closed. WAH! What a tease to name something Abbey Garden Tea Room—a mix of British tea and Abbeys, my favorite things in the world come together—and then have it be closed.
I took a picture as that was as close as I was going to get to it for the moment. (I’m still sulking. When I go back it better still be there. And it better be fabulous!)
After dinner at a well-known local brewery (my eldest is now 21), we piled home onto the sofa to watch Hot Rod and play Apples to Apples.
The trip was so much fun, and far too short. I’ll have to go back—soon.
My daughter and I packed our bags and headed to Delaware and Pennsylvania to see family, including (and especially!) my brand new baby nephew Michael Julio.
We arrived on Saturday and on Sunday was the baptism service. My mom baptized the baby at the Delaware Methodist Church and Verity had him dressed so adorably. She got a long christening gown which topped off with a little cap. The outfit made him look like a very tiny French chef, lol. I have to get a picture of that for all of you. (I preached so I wasn’t really able to hang around with the camera.)
We had a wonderful time. I got to see my sister and my nephew (here posed with my daughter) who is now all grown up. I hate it that time has passed so quickly. I remember my nephew as a little charmer with curly hair and then a teen with a wicked tackle on the football field.
I tell you, just spending precious time together was amazing. Gathered over bagels or pizza or meeting new people over a baptismal party buffet. And all the while we had the fun of watching my mom’s pugs rush around the house, around and around and around. This one is Caleb, Sirus was cameral shy:
We also got to go to Lancaster and visit Amish country. At the edges of Amish country, today mixes with yesterday. In one shopping parking lot was a horse and buggy parked in a space alongside the cars, lol! I wish I’d gotten a photograph of that.
The most fun was the buggy ride through the Amish farm lanes. My daughter has the best pictures, but I got these on my cell phone. Here is my daughter with the buggy horses:
And here is an Amish school house:
Complete with boys’ and girls’ outhouses:
You know, as an historian, as we drove up along the first Amish farms I realized just how much of American history we were looking at. It was the horses that did it, each farm had a few of them for buggies and farm work, and it hit me that I was looking at Fishers Landing, and every other affluent American farming community from the 1890s. Fishers Landing was not dissimilar. It, too, had large prosperous farms where horses were raised for work, for speed, or to be trained as carriage horses. It too had families of many children.
Of course, many of the the Amish farms were larger and their homes were larger than those of yesterday’s Fishers Landing. They have had more time to build and rebuild with the existing infrastructure in place. But still, it caught my breath to be confronted with the visuals, so ideallic, of our American heritage.
It must be strange to be Amish and have us come traipsing through their territory goggle-eyed at them. It is polite to ask before taking a picture, and the Amish Messenger on horseback who came up behind our buggy said he’d rather not have his picture taken. Too bad because he looked wonderful in his beard and hat! And the children were so adorable in their hats and bonnets. Still, not sure how amused I would feel if our situations were reversed, and an Amish person with a camera were suddenly passing my driveway staring curiously at me…
(Note: did you know the Amish use solar panels?)
Finally, I would like to thank all the Amish for putting up with a tourist from Washington State. And especially, I would like to thank the farmers and their Amish Jersey cows for the creamiest, most delicious Rootbeer float I have ever had in my entire life.