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Friday, January 4, 2013

The 1st Anniversary.......

of our little blog is upon us! Honestly, I feel like this year has contained a decade of events. So much has happened since I started "Longbows and Rosary Beads" on January 4, 2012, and I feel that the future is uncertain at best, on both a personal and global scale. But the blog has really helped with to channel my feelings, make new friendships, strengthen old ones, and stand up for the things I believe in. Here are some recollections of blog highlights for 2012:

     After starting "Longbows and Rosary Beads", my first order of the business was to recount my Christmas experiences for 2011, including a rather stressful Christmas concert, a beautiful mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, my annual cold-weather illness, and Christmas morning choir singing. The subject of Charles Wesley's original lyrics for what would become "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" was among the subjects brought up in the comment boxes. Later, I recounted my participation in the Living Stations of the Cross production at church, Easter Vigil Mass, and my thoughts on allergies and spring fever. Also, my commenters obliged my request to post what they planned on offering up for the Lenten Season.  Several months later, I recorded my meetings with several friends in Gettysburg (they know who they are!), plus my rather inglorious "ship-wreck" performance at Bay City! Well, you can't win 'em all..... ;-)

    Stories of the Saints are always bountiful as the calendar runs its course, and I tried to post the back-stories of some of my favorite holy men and women, including St. Cuthbert, St. Thomas More, St. Margaret Ward, St. Edmund Campion, etc. Also, I posted various poems from the pens of famous authors, from our own "Poet Laureate", Mack from Texas, and from yours truly. Among the list were "The Highwayman", "The Lady of Shallot", "At the Sign of the Blue Boar", "Our Lady of Britannia," "Ever England," "Strong John of Waterloo", etc. As you can probably deduct from the titles, the majority were inspired by romantic historical settings and themes. The comments and analysis posted by my readers added real dimension to pieces themselves.

     Movie reviews also provided some fun forays into historical films and fantasy flicks, old and new. Although I am still primarily a period piece buff, this year I took a plunge into world of pixie-dust when I watched The Chronicles of Narnia, Merlin, and finally (under duress!) The Lord of the Rings. My reviews on the latter caused a flurry of commentary from my various friends who insisted I view the films. I must admit, their absolute zeal in the ranks of "Ringers" helped me appreciate the depth of the storyline better than I ordinarily would have. I can appreciate it best as a type of allegory for human nature and providence, as well as a parallel with different incidents in history. Plus I have gotten some fringe benefits, such as getting to write for a Tolkien-themed issue of an online magazine several my friends and I created, and being invited to a Tolkien-themed party!

    The issue of Scottish independence (or conversely, the issue of breaking up the UK) came blasting onto the scene when the Scottish Independence Referendum was brought to the fore in early 2012. I started off by writing a few posts on this blog in favor of the Union, freelance operations that occasionally drew some angry commentary from SNP advocates and encouragement from pro-union followers. But a step towards reaching a wider audience took place when I was invited to be a guest-writer for "Open Unionism." My first post there met with a firestorm of wrath on the part of the opposition. My second post caused far less reaction (thankfully, for the sake of peace of mind!), but I have been told from the blog administrators that it was still a relatively widely read post.

     Several major international events took place in 2012, including Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, the Summer Olympics in London, several tragic mass shootings in the United States, Hurricane Sandy, and American Presidential Election. Also, issues such as the controversial reforms in the British Parliament, the pressure to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain and America, and the continued attack against Christian symbols in public places were brought up in our World News posts. Many of these articles generated opinionated yet polite discussion, and I thank all those who took their time to contribute. Although the Presidential Election went against my deepest wishes and the wishes of many of my readers, I think we can all be thankful we live in a country where a peaceful democratic process still holds sway. Furthermore, we can be thankful that no matter how things around us may change, we don't have to change our ideals to accommodate the world.
    This year had it's ups and downs for my family on a personal level as well. We had to attend the funeral of a dear family friend who we knew since I was very young (full story to come in a future post.) Our own immediate family went through a variety of unexpected ailments, including my mom throwing out her back and later having an allergic reaction to corn, as well as my annual "exercise in misery" known as the common cold! Also, my elderly grandmother was taken to the hospital just the other day after contracting Pneumonia. She already suffers from Dementia and is now in a particularly weakened condition. While we have had some positive reports about her today, nothing is certain yet, and she still in suffering from an internal infection. She is in a Catholic hospital, and we put in the request that she receive the Anointing of the Sick and be visited by a priest for a blessing. Please pray for her recovery, the strength of her caretaker, and the peace of our entire family. Thank you to all those who responded with prayer and kind messages. We deeply appreciate it.

    A final thought comes to mind when looking back on this year's blogging ventures is the way that music has played such an intricate part in my writing. My political blogging, especially dealing with the Scottish Independence Referendum, has been charged by rhythmic Gaelic singing from my collection of Celtic cassettes and CDs. My movie reviews have been given dimension by listening to correlating movie sound tracks. My Christmas and Easter chronicles are given a special sense of fondness by listening to traditional seasonal favorites. I believe that my two greatest interests, writing and music, really are mystically connected with one another. They are both very emotional arts, coming from the heart. It is interesting to muse on how the ancient bards of Celtic tradition sang songs and weaved yarns as a way of life, letting the two mix and mingle, flowing together like living water or rich wine. The Celts believed that the journey was just as important as the destination. Perhaps that is a very good summary for blogging, as well.    

    Again, thank you to all my readers and commenters for your encouraging, enlightening, and thought-provoking posts. Without you, this blog would never have gotten off the ground as it did. By the way, if you have any favorite memories from reading or commenting on "Longbows and Rosary Beads" this year, please post them!

The Journey goes on....





  1. Most Excellent Pearl,

    Happy Epiphany and happy anniversary!

    As Tolkien said:

    The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began.
    Now far ahead the Road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can,
    Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
    Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.

    - Mack in Texas

  2. Congratulations on your blog's... er, birthday!

    I like what you said about writing and music - after all, I love 'em both, too! Your thoughts remind me of... you guessed it, a quote! The great Catholic writer Peter Kreeft this time, exploring the "mystical connection" between writing and music. I think you'll like it. I'll keep it short:

    "The most powerful and magical language is music. The reason for this is that music is the original language... Nothing is more powerful to the good society, to education, to human happiness in this world. Music is not ornamented poetry, and poetry is not ornamented prose. Poetry is fallen music, and prose is fallen poetry. Prose is... poetry made practical. Even poetry... is music made speakable, it is the words of music separated from their music. In the beginning was music."

    Okay... so that wasn't so short, after all. Don't let me get started on the journey being as important as the destination - I'm sure I could discuss that one at length, too!

    Still praying for your grandma - be sure to keep us up-to-date.

    Hmm, I suppose my favorite memory would be teasing you with Ellen and Emerald about all your LOTR-related posts after you insisted you didn't like LOTR. :D Of course, most of the poetry posts were great, too. Which reminds me - I'm still waiting for those additional Christmas poems you promised last month!!

    Happy Epiphany!

    - Katherine

  3. Aww, congrat's, Pearl! :)

    It was wonderful to have met you and this blog has been one of the few that continues to inspire me to continue with my writing. :)

    My best wishes for you and your family, and your Grandma in particular, and I wish you another successful year with Longbows and Rosary Beads (LARB for short?).

    Take Care,
    Rae-Rae :)

  4. Hooray! It's been one glorious year! On to the next! CHARGE!!!!!

  5. Happy birthday, Longbows and Rosary Beads! And congratulations, Pearl, on a job well done this past year. I've been glad to get to know you better through this blog - thanks for all your inspiring and enlightening posts. It's been a privilege to read and comment on them.

    Like Katherine, my favorite blog memory is your reluctant conversion to LOTR ("under duress"? Come now, you wouldn't have written those extra posts about it if you didn't secretly like it!) and our subsequent teasing ;-) My New Year's resolution is to convince you to read the books and become a true Tolkien geek . . . You need to discover the real LOTR, because Jackson's interpretation simply doesn't suffice. Hey, there's always hope! Speaking of LOTR, Mack's quote couldn't be more apt.

    That's a beautiful quote from Katherine, too. Music isn't my forte, but it's worth noting that it's involved in God's creation of the world in Tolkien's "The Silmarillion."

    Yes, please keep us updated on your grandma. Your entire family is in my prayers. Again, I'm thankful to have known you this past year, through ups and downs (believe me, there have been a lot of them for me too) in both our lives. Best wishes for 2013 - I'm looking forward to another year of great blog posts!

    Happy Epiphany!

    - Ellen

    P.S. "We don't have to change our ideals to accomodate the world" - well said.

  6. Ellen, since you pointed out that music is involved in God's creation of the world according to "The Silmarillion," I have to admit that the Peter Kreeft book I was quoting just so happened to be talking about Tolkien's (and C.S. Lewis') version of the creation story. Regardless of the context, I thought the quote seemed to explore what Pearl was saying.

    Well, Pearl, looks like you're in for it now! : ) Actually, as I've said before, it's been great getting to know you whether you ever admit to liking LOTR or not. You do like the story of Aragorn and Arwen, don't you? Then you will like the story of Beren and Luthien. I will have to send the poem to you sometime. It's like Arwen and Aragorn and also a bit like "The Highwayman" or your "Strong John of Waterloo." And you can find it in the BOOK.

    I agree with Ellen that Mack's quote is quite appropriate... but now I can't resist quoting another poem that you can find in the BOOK... well, read it or not, as you like. You did say you liked thought-provoking comments and analysis...

    - Katherine

    Upon the hearth the fire is red,
    Beneath the roof there is a bed;
    But not yet weary are our feet,
    Still round the corner we may meet
    A suden tree or standing stone
    That none have seen but we alone.
    Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
    Let them pass! Let them pass!
    Hill and water under sky,
    Pass them by! Pass them by!

    Still round the corner there may wait
    A new road or a secret gate,
    And though we pass them by today,
    Tomorrow we may come this way
    And take the hidden paths that run
    Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
    Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
    Let them go! Let them go!
    Sand and stone and pool and dell,
    Fare you well! Fare you well!

    Home is behind, the world ahead,
    And there are many paths to tread
    Through shadows to the edge of night,
    Until the stars are all alight.
    Then world behind and home ahead,
    We'll wander back to home and bed.
    Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
    Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
    Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
    And then to bed! And then to bed!

  7. Hi, everyone!

    Thanks for your congrats on the 1st anniversary of "Longbows and Rosary Beads"!

    @Mack: Thank you for posting the Tolkien "roads" poem. Indeed, Tolkien did have a way of capturing the spirit of the journey of life quite profoundly.

    @Katherine: Thank you for the Peter Kreeft quote. I like the way he said "poetry is fallen music." That's interesting because I always have an easier time memorizing poetry with a tune attatched!

    Yes, I admittedly like the story of Arwen and Aragorn. Furthermore, I just dressed up as Arwen for an LotR costume party! Hence, I will have to look up Beren and Luthian. OR you could just give me a summary......;-)

    Ah, so that's where the song "Edge of Night" featured in the movies comes from! I actually just sang it at the above mentioned party! The difference between the poem and the song, it seems, is the extra stanza in the song: "Mist and shadow, cloud and shade, all shall fade, all shall fade....."

    @Rae-Rae: I'm so happy my blogging efforts have inspired you! You too have inspired me with your well-researched historical posts, on both "HMS Hinchenbrook" and "The Great Cabin". It's funny you should mention an abbreviation for the friend used "LB&RB"!

    @Emerald: VENGENCE ALA REID 2013!!!! ;-D

    @Ellen: It's been my pleasure you have you for a commenter. And I will give you the satisfaction of the knowing that, through your efforts and those of your fellow "Ringers" (they know who they are....ehem....), I have been able to gain a much deeper appreciation of Tolkien's works and orthodox perspective on life.

    HOWEVER.....I am still not a "Ringer"!!!! I am a History Buff!!!

    But who knows? Perhaps the books....someday.....;-)

    Love to all,
    Pearl of Tyburn

  8. I do enjoy this blog, and wish it many more years to come!
    Have you seen the Hobbit yet? (I doubt you have, but you are starting to join the force of Ringers, so I might as well help pull you in) Sorry there's no love story like with Aragorn and Arwen, but there's EPIC dwarves instead!

  9. Ummm... if you say so! The poem I posted is a hobbbit "walking-song." "Bilbo Baggins had made the words, to a tune that was as old as the hills, and taught it to Frodo as they walked in the lanes of the Water-valley and talked about Adventure." It is sung by Frodo, Sam, and Pippin while journeying to Buckland to meet up with Merry - a section of the plot that was eliminated from the movies altogether. But, if it happens to have been worked into a later part of the movies... great!

    That party sounds great! And, if you want to know, I have never actually applied the term "Ringer" to myself, though I don't argue with it. I never heard it before you used it, and since I have heard that it primarily refers to movie fans. So I think it's possible to like LOTR without calling yourself by any particular name. I'll find the words of the poem about Beren and Luthien for you, and I think you'll like it. In the meantime, I think the title "Tolkien appreciator" will do! ; )

    - Katherine

  10. Happy Anniversary Pearl!

    You can be well pleased at how your blog has grown and at the readership it has developed so far. All thanks to your talents and perseverance.

    I cant believe its been a year since you started either - time flies when having fun I guess!

    When I read "highlights" at the start, I was going to make a joke and say "why didn't you include the invasion of the crazy SNP people?" - but you did! haha!

    A sign of a good writer is one who can inflame passions with their work, and I am glad the post developed into opportunities for you at Open Unionism.

    I will eat a blog birthday cake on your behalf! ;-)

    And here is to many more happy anniversaries for "longbows and rosary beads"