Friday, March 21, 2008


Last night Eric and I attended the Tenebrae service at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (tenebrae means 'darkness in Latin). The first time I had heard of Tenebrae was last year soon after Easter. My chiropractor had attended one and filled me in, and I was intrigued and made a point to go this year.

I had heard the basilica was filled to capacity last year, so we went half an hour early and eventually found a couple of the last free seats. With so many people in one place, it was slightly disconcerting to have the pervading silence until the service began.

The service is solemn, consisting of Psalms and Lamentations and excerpts in Latin. Candles were regularly extinguished until there was only one, the Christ candle, remaining lit. Then all house lights went out.

The candle is carried out, leaving complete darkness, and everyone begins pounding on the pews to represent the earthquake after Christ's death. After some time of this, the candle reappears, and everyone departs in silence.

I found the symbolism welcoming, because however much I would like to think otherwise, I'm not very good about taking time to be reflective and this made me be so. There were two scenes that I especially enjoyed. First, the two cantors were singing from Lamentations, and their voices would join for the mournful plea, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord, your God." Second, the ache caused by the departing candle, and how its appearance erased the despondency.

Monday, March 10, 2008

SKP 2008 #1: Jacobean

My life has been relatively routine -- I work, I knit, I help with the high-school youth group, I visit with friends. Since I continue to be a negligent blogger, I feel like I need to put in a plug for any remaining readers to check out Bloglines or Google Reader, either of which is a central source to input numerous blog addresses or website feeds, and it keeps an update of changes. I have found Google Reader to be a convenient place to follow blogs, even letting some pile up if I don't have time to read them, and then I don't forget about the blogs of friends who only update twice a year or so (I tease, Eric, I tease).

One friend brought my attention to SKP 2008 (Sock Knitters Pentathlon 2008), a knitter's challenge in honor of the Beijing Olympics this summer. The goal: every two months, a pattern is posted. Complete it in the alloted time, and you remain in the running for prizes distributed at the conclusion of the contest, one year later. The first pattern was posted March 1. There are some serious knitters out there, at least one who finished her pair of socks before I awoke last Saturday morning, so I'm not holding my breath for actual prizes of yarn. In fact, if I don't like one of the future patterns, I wouldn't bother going through the time and yarn to knit it (unless I thought I knew of someone who would enjoy a pair), and skipping a pattern would remove me from the competition.

My personal goal, however, is to beat Carly. It looks like I did accomplish that with the first pair; it didn't hurt that she was sick much of last week either, even sick enough not to knit.

This is my personal best, as I began the first sock on Saturday, March 1, and completed the pair on Thursday, March 6. It doesn't hurt that we now have an informal knitting guild at work, with several of my coworkers knitting through the lunch hour with me. In fact, all four of us in the main office went to a yarn shop over lunch a couple weeks back, with the sole purpose of buying sock yarn on sale. I can only say that it's a spreading virus.

I also have recollections of my mom never liking idle hands, so even to this day I feel more comfortable when I can have something occupying my fingers when there's little else for them to do. Knitting is perfect for this, books almost so. Books fall short when watching a movie or talking with friends, since you cannot do both simultaneously. Knitting is the perfect complement, since my fingers usually know what to do, leaving my brain free for other pursuits.

Furthermore, Elizabeth Zimmermann doesn't help matters. After having several of her books on my wish list for many months, I now find myself the proud new owner of two of them. If you click the above link, you will find tributes written about her after her death. People loved her far beyond her contribution to the knitting world, and as I flip through her books, I get a great sense of her personality. I can read her columns for the sake of reading, whereas other tutorials or patterns are clear enough to follow but void of any personality.