Preparing to Confront Fascism

Stay ready or get ready, think things through, act accordingly. This piece by Yale historian and Holocaust expert Timothy Snyder is making the rounds on Facebook. I would amend or supplement his reading list but his points are well-taken:

“Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.”

Snyder is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (which includes former Secretaries of State), and consults on political situations around the globe. He says, “Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. DEFEND AN INSTITUTION. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. RECALL PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. WHEN LISTENING TO POLITICIANS, DISTINGUISH CERTAIN WORDS. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. BE CALM WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ARRIVES. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. BE KIND TO OUR LANGUAGE. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. STAND OUT. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. BELIEVE IN TRUTH. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. INVESTIGATE. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. PRACTICE CORPOREAL POLITICS. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SMALL TALK. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACE OF THE WORLD. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. HINDER THE ONE-PARTY STATE. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. GIVE REGULARLY TO GOOD CAUSES, IF YOU CAN. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. ESTABLISH A PRIVATE LIFE. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. LEARN FROM OTHERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. WATCH OUT FOR THE PARAMILITARIES. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. BE REFLECTIVE IF YOU MUST BE ARMED. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. BE AS COURAGEOUS AS YOU CAN. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. BE A PATRIOT. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

“Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God” – a book review

whycoverWhen I read this title, my first thought was that people are going to think this is a kitchy attempt to evangelize atheists or to teach people how to evangelize atheists. However, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at a conference with the author, Frank Schaeffer, last fall, and I know that he is the kind of man who comes at you straight on,  full frontal, with no guile, with his understanding of the world or politics or life, not like a breath of fresh air, but like an ocean breeze that just blows the blinds open and clears out all the cobwebs! I read this book in two sittings. It is that wonderful. I did have to come up to take a look around and check in with my family, once.

This book is not about the debate between theists and atheists and it is all about the debate between theists and atheists. Frank takes us to a different space in that debate, however. He reveals why this is so emotional for so many; why it is so “hot button.” It is really a debate within each of us. What Frank is doing in this deeply personal book of self-examination is calling us to stop shouting at each other long enough about what we claim to believe, whether that be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or whatever, to listen to our own doubts and insecurities; then look honestly at the inconsistencies in our own systems of belief.  All of the world’s religions have changed over the centuries, and evolved. Just read the words of Jesus to see how radically he changed the Israelites’ religion. Paul tried to walk back some of Jesus’ more revolutionary ideas by silencing women in the church after Jesus encouraged them to speak. So we are whatever religion we are, or are not, mostly by accident of birth. Let’s be humble about that. If we read the words of Jesus, we are not supposed to judge, so let us not put other people in hell, not even for a little bit. Sometimes atheists make the best Christians. Sometimes Christians don’t know where God is. “My God! My God! Why has thou forsaken me?” “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”

The words “objective reality” are just a metaphor for something I’ll never encounter. …

Anyway, since no one is ever just one thing, who are we planning for? Which “me” should be running the show? We’re all in the closet, so to speak. We barely come out to ourselves and never completely to others. I’ve never met an unequivocal atheist or religious believer. I’ve only met people of two, three or four or more minds—people just like me. Atheists sometimes pray and eloquent preachers secretly harbor doubts. The evangelist Billy Graham preached certain salvation and heaven guaranteed yet privately told my dad, a friend and fellow evangelist, that he feared death and had many doubts.

We’re all of at least two minds. We play a role and define that role as “me” because labels and membership in a tribe make the world feel a little safer. When I was raising my children, I pretended to be grown-up Daddy. But alone with my thoughts, I was still just me. I’m older now, and some younger people may think I know something. I do! I know how much I can never know.

Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Christian, you are that because of where and when you were born. If you are an atheist, you are that because of a book or two you read, or who your parents were and the century in which you were born. Don’t delude yourself: there are no good reasons for anything, just circumstances. Don’t delude yourself: you may describe yourself to others by claiming a label of “atheist,” “Jew,” “evangelical,” “gay” or “straight” but you know that you are really lots more complicated than that, a gene-driven primate and something more. Want to be sure you have THE TRUTH about yourself and want to be consistent to that truth? Then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, be that religious or secular. You will always be more than one person. You will always embody contradiction. You—like some sort of quantum mechanics physics experiment—will always be in two places at once.

It came home to me personally on a number of levels. I have always loved church. I have been ordained four or five times in five or six churches. (The disparity is due to whether you accept my infant ordination at my baptism in the Episcopal Church. The bishop gave me the laying on of hands of Peter. No one knows why.) I currently cannot attend. I suffer PTSD from being bullied and having my life threatened by clergy. I have also discovered that I have a developmental defect in my brain, and subsequent strokes in my right parietal lobe. Limited blood flow and damage to that part of the brain tends to make the ‘victim’ more religious. So the fact that there is such a defect effect could be considered evidence for the existence of God as this is all part of the design; or it could be an explanation for my quixotic quest to find the church that would not betray me, all my life. Christian me believes one. Atheist me  believes the other. Simultaneously.

The one thing I know for sure is that I need to serve the poor in Jesus’ Name. I don’t care who joins me as long as they are not there to save anybody but themselves.

Thank you, brother Frank, for letting me know I am not alone in this insanity we call human life. Let us dare to “create beauty, give love and find peace!”

God, whoever he, she or it may or may not be, bless you, Frank and Genie Schaeffer!

Peace,
Cranford Joseph Coulter

 

A real live hero

johninhatMy friend and neighbor, John Haggerty, has saved a few lives in his various roles of hockey coach and supervisor and woodshop manager. Sometimes it is by good instruction in safe practices. Occasionally, it has been far more dramatic. Once, it made the Philadelphia papers. I didn’t know that at the time. John told me about the incident, but didn’t show me any clippings. One of the team members got  his jugular sliced by a skate blade. John was right on it. He pinched the wound closed and kept pressure on it all the way to the operating room. What the newspaper article didn’t mention was that John had his skates on the whole time. So he was putting constant pressure on this boy’s neck while they were taking him out of the ambulance and wheeling him all the way into the OR, with his skates on.

If he had not thought so quickly, and been so steady on his skates, that boy would have lost his life by bleeding to death. Here is the article. Now John needs our help to rescue his house. You can make a donation at the GoFundMe site or by making a Paypal gift directly gift directly to him at oddcoach@aol.com or mailing John a check to John Haggerty, 107 E. Chestnut St., Souderton, PA 18964

We need to raise $67,000 by April 30 to cure the foreclosure. God bless you.

An herb to help you not lose your head named for a saint who lost his.

Shrubby St. John's Wort native to PA
Shrubby St. John’s Wort native to PA

There is a genus of plants that consists of nearly 400 species with nearly worldwide distribution. It is kind of amazing. These plants all have bright yellow blossoms. Some of the plants are perennials. Some need to reseed. Some are shrubby bushes. Some are trees, growing almost 40 feet tall. They are almost all called St. John’s Wort, with other descriptors or qualifiers before it. it’s genus name, hypericum, comes from the fact that they bloom just prior to the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist on the summer solstice, June 24. The faithful would take branches of the flowers and place them over the icons in their homes and in their churches for the feast day.  Some varieties continue blooming until the feast of St. John’s Beheading on August 29.

St. John's Wort - hypericum perferatum
St. John’s Wort – hypericum perferatum

The petals of the flowers contain hypericin which is an antidepressant. For millennia people have been using the flower petals for tea for this purpose. Now drug stores sell 300mg capsules of powdered, dried St. John’s Wort that one may take three times a day. It is the only antidepressant I know of that doesn’t list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. (Miscarriage is a possible side effect, however.) Doctors prescribe it as it has been proven effective. We have three varieties of St. John’s Wort growing here. The photo above is from our front yard. It is a close up of a blossom on a native PA shrubby variety.  We have hypericum perforatum by the driveway side of the house and Four-petal St. John’s Wort, a native of Florida, back by the barn.

Non-native St. John's Wort in front of Telford-Souderton Post Office
Non-native St. John’s Wort in front of Telford-Souderton Post Office

I find it interesting that our local post office has loads of St. John’s Wort in front of it. Our local postal workers all seem to be happy and well adjusted. They have a couple of native bushes and then loads of these woody stemmed perennials, with giant blooms. The bees only bother with the natives. It provides a graphic lesson in the importance of planting natives. Only natives provide food for the bees and insects, butterflies and birds.

Four-petal Florida St. John's Wort
Four-petal Florida St. John’s Wort

Last summer, our plants each had one blossom on them the day before the feast and burst into full bloom on the day of the feast. This year, our native bush had only one blossom open two days after the feast. It is just now starting to fill with blooms. I think it is observing Old Calendar, this year.

 

St. John the Baptist icon by the hand of Constantine Youssis
St. John the Baptist icon by the hand of Constantine Youssis

 

Thank You, Everybody!

As I am writing this, on Saturday evening, it is just Bethann and me in the house. Last week at this time, we had a house full. Our rent party was a roaring success! I was amazed at the variety of people who showed up and then there all those who sent well wishes and checks or cash with others, by mail, electronically, or the next day at church. One friend brought six other friends with him. So we made some new friends!

The evening started with Tadesse Abay offering a blessing for the food in his native Ethiopian. I don’t understand Ethiopian, but I know he did more than pray for the food. He blessed our home and family and our continued ministry. It was a real honor to receive this blessing from such an honorable and godly man.

Kevin Paige was an amazing minstrel. He started out playing the ukulele in the kitchen. He moved to the front parlor and played more on the ukulele. I walked through at one point and he was playing “The Girl From Ipanema” and a half dozen little kids were dancing like it was a rock song, looking like the kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It was a happening! He switched to the guitar and then to the Dobro, at some point. Deacon Herman played a few songs by Dylan and a couple of his own. It was great. It wasn’t like a concert. It was party music. Conversations kept going. Kids were dancing and playing.

We met these friends over the span of nearly 40 years, but there is one thing they all have in common. They have all been involved in the work of The King’s Jubilee at some point, from the first person who responded to the first ever newsletter in February 1989 to the friend who drove me home from Phila. in the TKJ-mobile two nights earlier.

We received over $4,000 in gifts plus a sizable gift from the church. We used $500 as a first fruits offering to help a neighbor restore his electric service; and $300 to The King’s Jubilee to buy a computer for a recently homeless, faithful volunteer who needs a laptop for community college.

I started negotiations with the mortgage company for a loan modification to hopefully lower the interest rate, so we can manage better. I mailed in the payment to cure the default. When I spoke to the loan modification counselor and told him about how much we received in gifts, he was amazed. I told him that we have a lot of friends who care. We are quite frankly amazed! We need to send him a copy of the blog entry advertising the rent party and other evidence so the bank knows the story.

There are some takeaways for me from this. The first is that when one gets in trouble, one should not just go down quietly. I have heard of people watching their neighbors being evicted and they didn’t have a clue beforehand they were in trouble. If they had, they may have done something to help. People got through the Great Depression by working together. Of course, back then, people didn’t have cars, air conditioning, in-home entertainment and large suburban lots to keep them separated from one another. Make an effort to get to know your neighbors. Then there are people who work hard and still fall on hard times, but don’t have any friends who can help. This brings up the problem posed by the question, “Who is my neighbor?” We all know that Jesus answered with that it is the one who is in need, according to the parable of the Good Samaritan. That is where ministries like The King’s Jubilee come in. It is also why we need to protect our safety net as a society. If we can come together to help a friend or neighbor, why can’t we learn from the parable of the Good Samaritan and as a society help every neighbor?

We are trying to write thank you notes or send thank you emails to all who gave. We are not sure if we are remembering all who gave, since there were bills slipped in handshakes and stuffed in pockets. Just know that we are very grateful and feel very blessed to be surrounded by such a community of caring and generous souls. May God bless you all!

Rent Party

We organized a “rent party” last week. I have been wanting to do this for some time. It is a practice that comes out of 1920s Harlem in New York City. Fats Waller and James P. Johnson used rent parties to help get by. When someone was going to come up short on their rent, they would throw a party to raise the rent. You clear the furniture out of the main room, invite all your friends and neighbors. Tell them to invite all their friends and neighbors. Charge a cover charge at the door. Provide some food. Have some musician friends play and sing for their supper and free drinks. Have some cheap beer and wine available for more contributions to the cause. This is where line dancing was invented. The most famous of these is the Electric Slide. These parties would be so crowded that, in order to dance, you had to synchronize. It was only later that Nashville expropriated it to turn the Electric Slide into country line dancing. It was a good way to have some fun on a Friday or Saturday night; for less money than at a bar or nightclub, with people you knew, while helping someone out of a tight spot.

Hard times are here again. But unlike during the Great Depression, most of us are unaware of one another’s situations. We are used to being anesthetized by the internet and by cable TV and by constant, on demand entertainment, infotainment, news and propaganda. We have been conditioned to think that anything that is not packaged and branded and sold to us is inferior, and possibly suspect. We get upset about the statistics we see on whatever “news” outlet we prefer, and we will argue about politics that ultimately will benefit the rich regardless of which party is in power, because, let’s face it, they’re all rich and out of touch with any personal sense of neighbors in need. A lot of people on the right are screaming that government is not the answer. A lot of people on the left are crying that the government is too slow to respond. Yet most, on both left and right, just continue to holler at each other while we could actually be doing something to address the suffering and the poverty about which we all say we are concerned.

A rent party is the perfect blend of free enterprise spirit and socialist concern! It’s a cheap date with live entertainment, good, home-cooked food, spirits, laughter, and friendship. Or you can choose to give more with the expectation that when you are short, the others will come to your aid. Another thing I want to say is that there is no shame in coming up short some times. “Events conspire” as they say. Kids get sick. Hours at work get cut back. Utility prices change. Oil and gas prices change. Appliances break or wear out. Expected Christmas bonuses are not given or are miserly. There are dozens of nickel and dimey things that can get a household behind the 8 ball before you can say, “Bob’s your uncle!” Then there are the salesmen and bankers who can paint a rosier picture of the future to get one to finance things one shouldn’t and acquire more debt than one should. Then there is student loan debt. When people are working hard and still not able to make ends meet, there is no shame.

We had a great time. The duo of Kevin Paige, who teaches music at Clemmer Music in Harleysville, PA, and Jeff Bonnet, who usually is part of a classic rock cover band “Out of Touch”, provided most of the entertainment. They were joined on some of the numbers by Dr. Raymond Acker, known to some as Deacon Herman, who also did some solos on guitar and vocal, both originals and some by Bob Dylan. His two sons did a beautiful medley from The Lord of the Rings acapella. April made a leafy salad, rice and beans, veggies and dip, chips and salsa, and coffee. Bethann made chicken breast, potatoes and peppers, orzo and spinach, pigs in a blanket, and wacky cake. Uncle John tended bar with a box of Merlot, a box of Chardonnay, a case of PBR, a case of Icehouse, and a mixed case of Mike’s Hard. We bought way too much alcohol. We have lots leftover. I guess we need to have another party. Thankfully, somebody bought some of the leftovers.

Unfortunately, it was a foggy night, so a number of people did not feel confident to travel. We charged $10 cover and $3 suggested donation for beer or wine or hard lemonade. We had a great time! We raised about $700 to help a young couple with their mortgage. Everyone said we should definitely do this again.

I hope the idea catches on. We could use more live music in our homes. We could use more joy and happiness. We could use more helping one another in hard times.

Churchtown Supply Co.

Churchtown Supply Co.
Churchtown Supply Co.

Last Friday, John Haggerty and I headed off to retrieve a painting from a friend in Greensburg, PA. On the way, we stopped by Churchtown Supply Co. on Route 23, 2049 Main St., Narvon, PA, 17555, to pick up some enamelware dishes that I had asked them to set aside. Bethann and I bought each other burgundy and cream speckle and moss green and cream speckle dishes for Christmas and had asked for that from everyone else in the family, as well. Lydia and April had not gotten their money to their Aunt Susan in time for her trip to Churchtown Supply, so they were going to get us a gift certificate to the Washington House instead. It turned out that Churchtown Supply didn’t have enough of our colors on hand to make their contribution useful at the time. But the Washington House was closed the day of Christmas Eve, so they could not get the gift certificate.

Enamelware
Enamelware

I called Churchtown Supply. After several attempts, I spoke to Nancy on Wednesday, Dec. 28. She had just received a new shipment of our colors of enamelware and would set aside the plates and bowls that I requested for me to pick up on Friday morning.

Churchtown Supply Co. looks like your typical, main street hardware store from the 1960s or 70s. It is a bit unusual in that it is just on a ribbon of road with houses and churches strung out alongside of it and a lush valley falling out immediately behind it. You park diagonal nose in, like they do out in Kansas. You walk in and Barry and Nancy invite you to help yourself to coffee and cookies from a folding table, where you can also pick up your free wildlife calendar. The place is comfortably lit, with most of the light provided naturally by the plate glass windows across the front, facing south toward Main St.

I had them tally up the pieces that I had them set aside for me, to see what the damages were; then I shopped for some more pieces to complete the collection. We got to talking. I asked them how they managed to only be open Tuesday through Saturday 8am to noon, and that I was envious. Barry said they had worked for 30 or 38 years for 90 hours a week so this was comp time. He had had some health issues and now Nancy is battling breast cancer, so it’s about what they can handle. They said, “It’s something to do. It pays the utilities and the taxes.”

John, Barry, Nancy and I spent some time swapping stories about the pros and cons of dealing with customers. We had a very nice time. I intend to go back and get more dishes. I encourage any of you to patronize their place, as well. They are hard working folks who could use a break. Their shop is about 4 .3 miles west of Morgantown on Rte. 23.

Tell them Cranford sent you.

What a Wonderful Daylily Season!

lilies by the driveOur first daylily bloomed on Mother’s Day, May 9. There were daylilies blooming in our yard every day except two from then until September 15. The Bitsy daylily rebloomed twice and is blooming today, November 4. I am always amazed by daylilies, but this was an exceptional season, with the extreme heat and dry spells, and still no hard frost.

One day in late Spring, I was doing a little weeding in front of our house. An old lady was walking slowly along the sidewalk. She stopped to admire the flowers. She said, “You know that God loves you, don’t you? When you see flowers like that you have to know that there is a God and that He loves us!”

New Icon Corner

Bright CornerI finally finished our new icon corner. The two things in a house that a man should make himself, even if he makes nothing else, are the front door and a proper bright corner. A bright corner is a special place for prayer for the family. It is called the bright corner because it faces the rising sun and because it is where the icons are. Icons are windows to heaven, hence “bright”. It is either in a corner or along a wall, if possible toward the East. As Orthodox Christians, we face East to pray, because Christ was called the Sun of Righteousness in Malachi 4:2. We orient (face East) toward the rising sun as we anticipate Christ’s second coming in glory.

The bright corner is where morning, noon and evening prayers are said. There are many variations on the bright corner. Ours is not to be taken as typical or normative, but it works for us. Our bright corner is in the East corner of our den. There is a Cross on the wall near the corner. To its left is an icon of the Theotokos. To its right is an icon of Christ. This is the same basic arrangement as the iconostasis at church. This immediately connects us to church. Next to the Theotokos is an icon of the Conception of the Theotokos showing Ss. Joachim and Ann embracing. My wife, Bethann, has St. Ann for her patron. To the right Christ is the Epitaphios, because St. Joseph of Arimathea is my patron and it was the Burial Service and Lamentation Matins that really converted everyone in our family. Around this central cluster are arranged, in no particular order, icons of the patron Saints of our children, grandchildren, godparents, parents, godchildren, a couple of good friends, nieces, great nieces & great nephews. Some icons do double or triple duty as multiple people share the same patron. We chose to do it this way so our bright corner forms a very visual, permanent prayer list. As we see each person’s patron Saint we are reminded to pray for him or her and ask for their Saint’s intercession as well.

A vigil lamp is hanging from the ceiling, in front of the Cross and the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. This is to honor them. It also calls us to prayer. Our lamp was made by Nick Papas. The icon of St. Nicholas is on our wall as it his his patron and one of Fr. Bonifaces’s patrons, as well.

What I just made, was the cabinet below the icons and lamp. It is made of no VOC melamine from recycled materials, no VOC wheatstraw board, locally harvested and milled poplar bead board and stone tile. This was my first attempt at stone tile installation. Some of the tiles are partly upended. This is to form a plate rail to hold festal icons and prayer cards. The back boards are engraved with daylilies. I took a photograph of one of our daylily blooms and my neighbor and I used his Shopbot to carve it into these boards. There are open spaces around the daylily medallions so we can use 12 Gospels ribbons to tie palms and willows to the icon corner during Great Week.

I chose the daylily motif, because it is especially meaningful to us. This is an excerpt from an entry that I wrote on shoutforjoy.net:

Daylilies are amazing. They put forth a beautiful bloom and it is gone in a day, only to be replaced the next day with another glorious bloom. Jesus told us to consider the lilies of the field in order to encourage us to have faith in God’s provision for us. This in turn is to encourage us to share what God blessed us with today with others, knowing that God will have new blessings for us tomorrow.

Daylily Detail

To be reminded of this as we say our daily prayers is encouraging.

On top of the icon corner are a candlestick, an incense burner, a prayer book, a box containing charcoal and matches. In the top compartment of the cabinet is a box of incense, a lighter, a New Testament, a Festal Menaion (hymns and prayers for the 12 major feasts), a service book and a supply of wicks for the oil lamp. We burn incense in our home as this also calls us to prayer. Incense is present in every prophetic vision of Heaven and was used in the Tabernacle and the Temple and has always been used in the Church. It is always associated with prayer. Using all of our senses in worship and prayer helps us to focus on eternal priorities.

The lower shelves of the cabinet holds other spiritual books and festal icons.

Of course, it does not matter how beautiful or well appointed a bright corner is, if no one stands before it to pray. Lord, teach us to pray!