Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Be Thou My Vision

It's been interesting to notice which songs have become bedtime traditions with Hope and, in contrast even now, with Kate. They're quite different. While Hope has heard "Arrorro, mi niña" and an original Spanish lullaby of my own making since the day she was born (give or take a day) along with some Orthodox childrens songs we've learned, Kate and I have, on the few times I've been the one to rock her to sleep for the night, fallen into the tradition of singing all the verses of "Be Thou My Vision" which I can recall by memory. A fellow parishioner who, like me, came from a very similar sort of "bapticostal" background -- right down to the same youth missions organization during the teenage years -- knows this song, at least in part, in its "praise band" version, usually with lone, female singer in front swaying, eyes closed and almost trance-like, as she leads the crowd into a Hollywood sountrack-esque crescendo by the last verse (I, however, was fortunate enough to first hear the Michael Card version on his album, Starkindler, which I like very much and recommend).

Singing it now, though -- especially with the awareness of and need for (if not the active practice of) hesychia and constant remembrance of our Lord -- the verses take on a sober, almost martial tone, without triumphalism, without emotionalism ... yet still deeply moving. If you've clicked on the link already, you'll have heard most of the following verses (and, if you were watching, endured the sappy slideshow the author posted with the song). Nevertheless, here follows what I can remember of this beautiful Irish hymn of the Church:

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my Light.

Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my true Word,
I ever with Thee, and Thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my Battleshield, Sword for the fight,
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight,
Thou my soul's Shelter, Thou my high Tower;
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always.
Thou and Thou Only first in my heart;
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heav'n's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun.
Heart of mine own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Amen. Sleep tight, Kati.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What Wonderful Daughters

First up, let me show you what served as a distraction for dang near everybody in liturgy this morning. As if this child did not already look a lot like me; now we've got her in glasses. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed she'd been crossing her eyes (or just one, more often than not) when looking at us. The pediatric opthamologist we took her to told us she is extremely far-sighted and that these lenses (which, thanks be to God, she wears very well and for long stretches of time!) would, in undercorrecting the problem, help her still use her eye muscles to focus on things near her, but would not exhaust them to the point of their giving out and causing one eye to turn in. So this picture is just to brag on my beautiful, four-eyed babygirl who wears her new spectacles so well.

The toddler gets bragged on for whole 'nuther (but in my opinion, better) reason.

Tonight we had finished venerating the icons after evening prayers. Mommy had taken little one into her room to feed her and put her down for the night by the time big sis and I left the master bedroom (where la iglesia pequeña -- the little church, as we call our icon corner -- is located) and as we exited into the hall, I told Hope to keep quiet as we went by the room so Kate could go to sleep. As I entered the dining room from the hall, I noticed Hope stopping by Kate's door and raising her Papi fashion I waved her on, "no doubt" reminding her of something she'd "obviously" forgotten -- that it was "Kati's" bedtime.

Y'all, this is the kind of kid I've been blessed with: Not only did she immediately come when told, but then, with a hurt and disappointed look on her face, told me with a cracking voice and pouting lip, "But...I just wanted to bendecir su puerta!" ("bless her door," in Spanish) Her hand had not been raised to open the door, but to make the sign of the cross over it in order to help her baby sister sleep.

So I, rightly feeling every inch a moron and a sinner (families really are there to help us with our salvation, aren't they?), hugged my now softly sobbing toddler and told her just how proud I was of her and, after I'd asked her forgiveness (which the little saint gave right away), she and I went back to her door and, one right next to the other, we made the sign of the cross over Kate's door -- "En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amen."

May God protect and further grow this thoughtfulness and generosity that resides in my elder daughter's heart, and may Kate's patience and good temperment follow her.