Strange gods

Tags

, , , ,

One of my Mom’s paintings

Another post so soon! Thanks to my step-father’s dedication and a range extender, I have reliable internet again and, since I’d finished my poem…

This poem is inspired by Deuteronomy 32:12-13; a small segment of the Song of Moses which is another beautiful example of song/poems in the bible.

Strange gods

The trumpet sounded with the dawn and I set myself to roam

I searched for a meeting place-somewhere I could call home

I wandered far, both day and night, until I saw a golden dome.

Its beacon shone in light and dark and attracted a vast throng

I joined myself to them and learned to sing their lovely song

Yet came the day I found I was getting the words wrong.

Why this song?, I finally asked; “What’s all this repetition for?”

His voice is singing myriad-shouldn’t we all learn something more?

But they called me a blasphemer and they showed me to the door.

I walked until I found a group of people singing in the street

They greeted me, welcomed me, took me with them so I could eat

Once in their home they sat me and soothed my aching feet.

I set about becoming one with their song and with their creed

Yet they said I was not really like them not in word and not in deed

They could teach me to become so but to stay I’d have to bleed.

I like it here, I like your song, I want to stay with you

But you have the best in Jesus-what more can my blood do?

They said I’d seen no light at all and I had to search for someplace new.

I stumbled on until I found someone I thought I knew

She asked me to go with her-promised to show me what was true

We sat down at a table spread before a wondrous view.

The vista was incredible-the mountains had never looked so near

There was not a cloud overhead the air was cool and clear

There is no work for us, she said, but to eat while we wait here.

There was food that I had never seen and I was told to choose a treat

But there was nothing savory-no salt among the sweet

So she told me to go elsewhere if I wished plain bread and meat.

I wandered into new lands but found no open door

Finally I collapsed with body, heart, and soul too sore

To rouse myself again-I could not take one step more.

In the darkness there He found me though I’d thought I was alone

He ministered Himself to me, restored me blood and bone

Then He bade me tell Him everything, all I’d seen and how I’d grown.

With faltering lips I shared with Him my lengthy tale of woe

I told Him how I’d sought Him and had found Him even though

His face, at first familiar, had become one strange I did not know.

The fault is mine, I said in close, I must possess a fatal quirk

There was no song I would not sing-no task I thought to shirk

So something must be wrong with me because I could not make this work.

Fear not, Dear Child, I’ve brought you here so finally you can see

My call was not to bondage-My call is to set you free

I’ve called you not unto a place but for you to walk with Me.

How can I know for sure?, I asked. On what do I depend

for certainty I’ve heard aright? That You will call me ‘Friend’?

Fear not, He said a second time, I’m with you to the end.

One more thing-I hesitated-when will this race be won?

I want to understand everything but they say it can’t be done.

Fear not, He said a third time, for you and I are One.

I stand Faithful. I stand True. I alone will lead

I will also walk beside you-I will meet your every need

I will slake your thirst with living water-on rock honey you will feed.

I put my hand in His and He lifted me up from the ground

and onto difficult and winding paths with His voice the only sound

I hear as we walk along and no more strange gods have I found.

Poems and Songs

Tags

, , ,

Hello Readers!

I finally have a post. Things have been going awry with my laptop and then my internet connection so I haven’t been able to get online long enough to post. I am working on a poem that occupied my mind during my last walk at the reservoir so, while I consider iambs and rhythm and rhymes, I thought I’d post about poetry.

Poetry plays an important part of my reading and writing life. The musician in me likes reading poetry and likes reading it aloud so I can hear the rhythm and beat the author chose. Reading aloud also allows me to attempt to feel what the author intends for me to feel. I do the same when I write poetry. I read my own aloud because every syllable is deliberate. I am composing rather than writing as I attempt to put together words and rhythms that paint not only a picture for my reader but introduce them to the song I am creating. One of my favorite poets is a master at this. When Edna St. Vincent Millay writes “nor yet a floating spar to men that sink and rise and sink and rise and sink again”1, I know how it feels to be adrift in the sea: overwhelmed, unable to set my feet on anything solid, struggling to keep from drowning.

I read poetry as a writer because of the pictures authors are able to paint with words. Sometimes there will be that perfect phrase that shows me how to put in words the image important in my fiction. One of the most sense filled poems I’ve ever read is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur. I can see myself lounging in a garden-without any mosquitoes and lumpy ground, of course- as Omar Khayyam writes, “Here with a loaf of Bread beneath the bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse-and Thou”2.

And then, I have found poetry to be the perfect medium for connecting with God. I feel what Rabia of Basra feels when she writes, “Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist…In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church that dissolve, that dissolve in God”3. I read her words and my heart knows it is so.

There are so many other poets whose works are on my bookshelves: poets whose works that span the ages. Emily Dickenson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Shel Silverstein (because silly verse is important as well), sit beside the Sagas of the Icelanders, Ovid, and Homer. I love that poetry has been a form of expression since before humankind wrote their words down. A cry formed in the human heart and found expression in poetry.

These poems often went hand in hand with music which brings me to my go-to poems: the Psalms. This collection of songs, prayers, and poems (my Amplified Bible even calls Psalm 16 a poem of David) are some of my favorite poetry. Whenever I pick up a new translation of the Bible, I immediately turn to the Psalms in order to hear these poems in a different way. A preacher I listen to recently said all of life is found in the Psalms. That made me turn to them again trying to read them with new eyes and I’ve found what he said is true.

Every expression of life can be found in the Psalms. Exaltation, Despair, Love, Betrayal, Longing, Fulfillment, Anxiety, Triumph: the gamut of human emotion is found in the Psalms. So is brilliant imagery. The writer in me reads and re-reads “Behold, (the wicked man) conceives iniquity and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. Psalm 7:14” and “He made darkness His secret hiding place; as His pavilion (His canopy) round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Psalm 18:11”. I don’t yet know how these mental pictures will end up woven into my fiction but I hold them at the ready.

As a person of Faith, the Psalms are a way I connect with God. Most of the time I go to them for that purpose rather than as a work of literature but I think they are that as well: some of the most beautiful ancient literature composed before Rome itself rose and fell.

  1. Collected Poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay. “Sonnet XXX”.
  2. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur. Translated by Edward Fitzgerald and Illustrated by Charles Stewart.
  3. Love Poems From God. Rabia of Basra. “In My Soul”.

Note: All quotes from the Psalms were taken from The Amplified Bible published by Zondervan.

Juxtaposition

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Despair

The Waters rage

I am cast adrift

With no buoy to tell me where I might be

Nothing beneath me to anchor me

I see nothing but the tempest

I wait for the eye of the storm

But there is no peace, no calm

I call out but no one hears my voice

This battle is lost-I will sink

For my strength already fails

And no hand is extended toward me

Hope

He is a Man of Suffering

He is Acquainted with Sorrows

He has felt all my pain

All my despair

All my anguish

Before I felt it myself

For I have been His

From the Foundation of the World

He strengthens me

I withstand the storms

For He has pledged Himself to me

And I am never alone

Walking in the Way

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Crossroads

I stood once at a crossroads with two paths laid before me

There were no signs to mark them or guides that I could see

To help me choose which path to walk and show me which way I should go

But I heard two voices call to me; one was Loud and one was Low.

The Loud voice called me one way and said great things to me

Promising to make me everything I thought I could be.

The Low voice said nothing more but to call me by my name

And I knew that if I chose that path I’d never be the same.

But what I would be I didn’t know and no promises were made

And as I stepped onto the first path I heard the Low voice fade.

The path I chose seemed bright and easy, the going never hard

And yet I often stumbled; I was bruised and sometimes scarred.

I did not turn back from the path that foolishly I’d chosen:

I threw my life away and my body was left broken.

I lay there on the path sobbing ‘midst my pain and shame

And then, oh so softly; I heard a Low voice call my name.

With gentle hands He lifted me and held me safe and sound

Next to His heart He healed me and I was no longer bound

To the Death that I had lived in for now Grace had been imparted

And though I knew He loved me; He set me down where I had started.

I stood at that same crossroads with two paths laid before me

There were no signs to mark them or guides that I could see

To help me choose which path to walk and show me which way I should go

But I heard two voices call to me; one was Loud and one was Low.

I now longed for the Low voice and determined not to fail

I stepped forward onto the path confident I would prevail.

But the Trickster lay in wait for me and seduced me with his lies

And while I thought I was obeying Him; it was the Evil One in guise.

I fell once more to my knees with shame and broken heart

Sure He would not take me back: we could not be more far apart.

That nothing between the two of us would ever be the same

But as my tears slipped down my cheeks; I heard Him call my name.

Once more with utmost gentleness He held me in His hands

Rescued me from whence I’d come and from my enemy’s plans.

He strengthened me, restored me, and though around me His love flowed

I found myself at a familiar place; having again to choose a road.

I stand once more at a crossroads with two paths laid before me

There are no signs to mark them and no guides that I can see

But I know the voices on them that call for me to follow

And I will not be led astray again; for those promises are hollow.

I will strive to hear that gentle voice that will never force nor trick me

But simply calls me further on to glories I can’t yet see.

I trust Him to keep my feet firm and stable as I walk

That He’ll be my provider; my protection and my rock.

I know that I will stumble and at times completely fail

But I trust Him to hold and keep me as I push along this trail.

But I proceed with caution for I never want to hear

Any voice but His; though others sometimes sound sincere.

I have walked the path that leads to destruction and despair

I want not to set foot on it again and so my deepest prayer

Is that He would give me Wisdom on how to hear His voice

To listen clearly and to always make the wisest choice.

I want to continue forward and never be sent back

To that starting place I find myself when I’ve fallen off the track

I want the choice I’ve made to keep me still when I might roam

With my heart and mind fixed on Him as His Love guides me home.

 

I See An Almond Branch

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

almond-tree-4933573_1920

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

I thought I was weathering this quarantine fairly well.  Not that I haven’t struggled with worries and fears but I have sought to try and fill this time with positive things.  I have taken time to pray by myself and with others, I have increased the amount of studying I do, I have tested recipes, and I have focused on writing.  I have counted myself blessed to have a job that offers a few hours each week so, by focusing on essentials only, I have been able to face this time without panic and despair.

Until this week.  Everywhere I looked I saw images of angry, fearful, hate-filled people and every story I heard filled my ears with the same.  I was also dealing with a great deal of pain.  I don’t know what I did to aggravate my injuries but my pain has been intense.  It was physically difficult to get out of bed and it quickly became emotionally difficult as well.  I admit it.  I took my eyes off Jesus and saw only the terrible things being done everywhere in the entire earth.

The moment I did so, I was overwhelmed.  I saw how powerless I was to stop terrible things being done to people I know and love.  How much more powerless am I to help people I’ve never met?  I can’t even help myself.  I panicked and then I despaired.

I did what I knew how to do to fight.  I prayed, I read studies that uplifted and encouraged me, I tried to encourage others the best way I knew how even though I didn’t feel it myself, and I listened to teachings so my ears heard positive words rather than negative words.

My spiritual breakthrough came today.  I listened to Malcolm Smith’s webinar number 168 entitled “What Do You See?”.  Mr. Smith’s message is taken from the book of Jeremiah Chapter One verses 11 and 12.  The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah and asks him, “what do you see?”  Jeremiah replies, “I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree.” (Quoted from the Amplified Bible)  Mr. Smith then goes on to describe why this particular vision is important.

I do not seek to copy his teaching nor am I remotely qualified to attempt to teach on this passage myself.  I will add a link to the teaching at the end of this post in case anyone is interested.  I do seek to put into words why this teaching was of such particular joy to me.

The almond tree blossoms in late winter/early spring.  It is the first plant to do so and, as such, is the promise of the life to come in spring.  It is the tiny bit of life seen while everything else still lies in the grasp of winter.  I do not think I push the analogy to say it is the bit of resistance in the plant world to the death that comes in winter.  It is tiny but it is real.

This struck me.  I cannot deny terrible things are happening nor do I wish to turn a blind eye to another’s pain.  I cannot feel compassion unless I know pain myself and recognize it in another and I do not seek my own peace at the cost of ignoring another’s suffering.  I want to be able to fight against evil with actions of love but it is difficult to prevent all of these terrible things from piling up, one on top of another, until they are innumerable voices screaming in my ears nothing but hopelessness and death.  I can do so little.  There are days when I am in so much pain I can do nothing at all.  These are the days of despair when I believe I am alone-and alone who can do any work for good?-and I forget there are almond branch stories.

There are stories of great sacrifice; people that have laid down their lives in order to take care of a fellow human being and people that risk doing so because the love in them won’t allow them to act otherwise.  There are stories of giving; people who give all they have and then more because the love in them cannot rest while a fellow being goes hungry.  There are the most precious stories of all where people do return the evil done to them with love.  There are big stories and there are small stories like the story a friend shared of a little girl in her neighborhood leaving a May basket on her door step.

These are stories of love that knows no barriers and no limitations.  These are stories of brave souls who hurl that love into the maelstrom of chaos raging around us believing in the hope that love is the far greater power.

It is such a fragile thing, hope.  Perhaps it is much like the almond blossoms who dare to flower in the midst of cold and frost.  These blossoms speak with a still small voice but that voice declares a promise of spring: abundant life to come.  I read these stories aloud to myself and listen to others tell them so that my ears hear words of hope and promise.  These words help me to find the strength I need to do something.

Because there is more to the picture of the almond branch.  In its expansion of Jeremiah 1:11 the Amplified Bible states the almond branch is the emblem of alertness and activity.  Alertness and Activity, Kate; not panic and despair.  I see an almond branch and it tells me I am not absolved of responsibility because I’m tired and in pain.  Perhaps I cannot do anything big but I can do something that tells an almond branch story of my own even if only one other person hears it.  I can do so knowing I am not alone.  In this time, it might be one almond branch flowering here and another there while the world lies under the weight of winter but each one is a promise that spring is coming.

Malcolm Smith’s Teaching: it’s just under an hour.

What Do You See?

Gaining Strength As I Go

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

After a two year hiatus, I am back to blogging!  Before I made Renaissance Woman public again I went through all of my old posts updating, checking links, deleting (a lot of deleting) and I found it apropos that my final blog post in April of 2018 was about making forward progress even if it’s at a turtle’s pace.  Two years later and the theme of that post is still valid.

The last two years have been fraught with difficulty.  My biggest obstacle occurred at the end of 2018: a major surgery I spent what felt like all of 2019 recovering from.  My neighbor described his wife’s last surgery to me and said it is a fight to come back from such a thing.  I agree: it felt like a battle and it became obvious early on it wasn’t one I was going to win in a day.  My first post-surgery walk went no further than the mailbox on the corner of my block which is an embarrassingly short distance.  I’d love to say I made more progress the next day but I didn’t.  My recovery was one of two steps forward, three steps back, and then at last four steps forward.

It took months but I finally walked a full mile.  I even took a trip to the mountains with a friend in July of 2019.  I admit I was grateful for late snow storms that kept hiking to a minimum as I had overestimated my ability.  Still, I’m never one to turn down a chance to be in God’s Creation and I didn’t collapse during our hike at Fish Creek Falls. I call that victory!

Falls Two

I had to learn to be gentle with myself.  I am still learning to be gentle with myself because I have found that six weeks might be enough for incisions to heal but the rest of me is on my own clock.  I can do nothing to alter the speed of this passage of time.  All I can do is surrender and take one day at a time one step at a time.  I still wear the turtle pendant I mentioned in the last post and it has been a tangible reminder to me that any forward movement, even if it is just one step, is better than stagnation.

Stagnation is a terrible thing.  When I think of stagnation in a physical sense, I think of my lymphatic system.  This amazing system running through my body is so important for my health and yet it has no ability to move itself.  What do I mean?  The lymph has no heart to aid it as it moves upward through my body to my subclavian veins and thus relies on the motions of the muscles and joint pumps.  I must move or my lymphatic system is unable to do its job and my immune system suffers.  This pumping of my lymphatic system doesn’t require insanely difficult exercises. (I always think of Tae Bo.  Is that still something exercise lovers do?)  All I have to do is move a little bit throughout my day.

I found this quote:

“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.” ~ Bruce Lee

I think that’s beautiful.  “Things live by moving and gain strength as they go”.  There isn’t an aspect of my life I can’t apply that to: especially writing.  Writer’s speak of the flow of words and so I write to keep that flow constant.  I will write here on this blog, in my journal, in my notebooks, in my manuscript (manuscripts now-I had to put my series aside to conduct research on a few things and I’ve been working on a stand alone book since April of last year).  I write, I walk, I move to keep stagnation at bay.  I seek merely to gain strength as I go.

River

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating National Poetry Month

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

The poem below is one of mine I’m posting for National Poetry Month.

It will tie into tomorrow’s blog post.

DSCF0109 (1)

 

Epiphany

Three miles-less will mean defeat

The gravel’s crunch beneath my feet

Each step propels me down the track

Yet I’m aware of all I lack

My body falters-lungs constrict

It fights against all I inflict

I answer all my pain with rage

My heart thuds-panicked-in its cage

I will not fail. I won’t give in.

I won’t be beaten. I will win.

I stop.  I breathe.  Confront the myth-

Of Who am I competing with?

Begin Again.  Take it slow

Let lungs expand inside my chest

It matters not how fast I go

My racing heart returns to rest

My muscles slide beneath my skin

Feel sun and breeze upon my face

There is no race that I must win

I do not fight to keep this pace

A bird takes wing, soars overhead

So much is waiting to be seen

To my right, a flash of red

A single apple midst leaves of green

Now that I do not resist

I see all I would have missed.

 

 

 

Be A Turtle

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

turtle-1309901_1280

I recently had one of those experiences where someone says something, a simple statement, yet it takes hold in my mind and that simple statement blossoms into deep meaning.  I was perusing an exercise forum on Facebook and a woman talked about her experience with a particular form of exercise, stating she wasn’t well enough to practice every day but was “turtleing her way through”.  I saw what she was saying, acknowledged the truth of the statement, and forgot about it.

Well, not really.  I began to see memes pop up on my Facebook page: pictures of turtles, tracks in sand, and messages like “any progress is forward progress” and I would think “turtling my way”.  During this time, I was finishing a book on the culture of the non-elite in Ancient Rome and Aesop was mentioned several times.  I already had Aesop on the brain when these memes popped up in my feed, not surprisingly, I began to think about the Tortoise and the Hare fable.

Do you remember this tale?  If not, briefly: The hare was laughing at the tortoise for being slow and awkward.  The tortoise challenges the hare to a race and the hare, thinking it’s a good joke, accepts.  The hare takes off, leaving the tortoise far behind, but stops halfway to the goal to play, snack, and take a nap.  The hare sleeps longer than intended and, upon waking, finds the tortoise no where in sight.  The hare races towards the finish line and finds the tortoise already there, waiting.

I’ve always read this with my focus on the hare, thinking it was a lesson on the dangers of being a bully and being arrogant.  I re-read it with my focus on the tortoise and two things caught my attention.  One, the tortoise good-naturedly, issues the challenge.  To do so the tortoise had to be aware of the hare’s character but, more importantly, self-confident.  The hare making her the butt of jokes did nothing to shake her assurance.  Two, the translation of the fable I have says the tortoise “plodded on, unwavering and unresting, straight towards the goal”.

That struck me.

I have such expectations of myself.  I think that can be a good thing-drive is important-but it ceases to be good when my expectations are unreasonable.  I’ve pushed myself in every aspect of my life, unwilling to admit I am subject to the physical and mental limitations I have.  I should write more words per day.  I should be further along in my spiritual walk.  I should be in better shape.  While all of these are worthwhile goals, I tend not to take into account my car accident.  I hate thinking of myself as a disabled person and, while I think it’s a good thing I don’t want the accident to define me, I must acknowledge my injuries left me limited.  Accepting those limitations aren’t always easy but it helps to have a mantra.  Over the last few weeks, mine has become “be a turtle”.  I tell myself that on a daily basis.

Any progress is forward progress.  Even if it’s one word written, one step taken, one prayer, it’s one more than I had yesterday.  Like the tortoise in the fable, I move unwavering toward my goal, though I admit I do rest 🙂

I was given a gift for my 17th birthday; a turtle pendant.  I haven’t worn it a great deal but I’ve kept it in my jewelry box.  I’ve begun to wear it as a reminder to be a turtle but also as a reminder of the fullness of time.  It’s been one or two years since I turned 17 and, at that time, the pendant was just a gift from a friend.  Gratefully received and appreciated but just a gift.  Neither she nor I knew it would take on such meaning for me at this point in my life.  A simple gift.  A simple statement.  Perhaps not so simple after all.

20180417_110534

My birthday gift.

 

 

A Resolution I Can Keep

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

20180321_165240

The first week of 2018 is coming to a close.  How are everyone’s resolutions going?

I don’t usually make resolutions but, moving forward, I am resolved to be kinder to myself.  I tend to be hard on myself, demand a great deal of myself, and then fall into negative self-talk when I can’t meet my own expectations.  In 2018, I resolve to say positive things about myself and focus on what I believe is my calling.  Writing.

I didn’t always think writing was my calling and, by ‘calling’ I mean the one thing I loved to do above all other things.  Writing was a hobby, nothing more.  After all, there were many other worthwhile things I could be doing.  I liked reading, enjoyed words, and always wrote even if it was just in a journal but it was always the thing I did to keep myself sane while I pursued that worthwhile (i.e. more important) thing.  And yet, there was always an image in my head: an example a friend set for me that always had me asking myself, is this worthwhile thing something I love doing?

That friend is Tara Novak and the example she set for me occurred on a New York trip we had opportunity to take with our High School drama group.  Tara is an immensely talented violinist and she brought her violin on that trip.  In the early morning, Tara was practicing her violin in the stairwell of the hotel our group was staying in.  That has always stayed with me.  With her talent, no doubt Tara could have taken a few days off practice and no one would have ever noticed.  She didn’t.  No matter what others might think or say, Tara was running scales before breakfast, honing her craft.  I never asked her if she did so because she loved violin too much not to play: whatever her reasons, her example is the standard I have measured my choices against.

I have taken enjoyment in many things and, perhaps they were worthwhile, but none of them was the thing I’d do in a hotel stairwell.  The only thing I’ve never wanted to take a day off from and, yes, would do in a hotel stairwell, is writing.  I love words.  Reading them, writing them, finding that one word that perfectly expresses what I want to say.  Words are my passion.

Pursuing that passion isn’t always easy.  I have some physical limitations from the car accident that can make writing difficult and I am not always nice to myself when I come up against those limitations.  I tell myself if I was a better writer, more talented, I would be able to write less drafts and my book would not be taking so long to complete.  I find Tara’s example a comfort in these times.  She wasn’t in that stairwell playing Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D Minor (though she could have done if  she wanted!): she was playing scales.  I like to think of my writing that way.  I have thousands of words and, even though they aren’t yet honed into the manuscript I can look at and say “it is finished”, each word is like a note in a musical scale: the necessary practice for the manuscript that will come.  I remember Tara in a hotel stairwell on those days writing doesn’t go well or I’m especially tired.  She reminds me to never give up and I am able to show myself kindness.  I will always be grateful.

20171021_223800
Not a stairwell but I did recently get some work done in a hotel room. It came equipped with a lounge chair.

If you’re interested in how practice truly does make perfect, you can find Tara Novak on Facebook    as well as her website.

Going a Viking

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

DSCF0033

The latest special exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is Vikings: Beyond the Legend.  I was looking forward to seeing it.  When I first began researching different cultures for my book, I had no idea where to begin.  I visited the children’s non-fiction section of my local library and pulled off the shelf every cultural and historical book that looked remotely interesting.  I remember reading a few books on Vikings but, as my attention was quickly diverted to the cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean, my reading on Vikings quickly fell by the wayside.  I was looking forward to re-acquainting myself with them.

I began said re-acquaintance by attending a lecture at the museum before purchasing a ticket to the exhibit.  The lecture assured me I would see the Vikings in a new light; show me proof they were much more than raiders and killers portrayed by history.  Maps shown at the lecture did make me aware that Viking ships made it far further into various lands than I knew and that was interesting.  However, as another slide showed archaeological evidence that victims of a raid had been neatly buried in one mound with all their heads neatly buried in one adjacent, the lecture didn’t do much to dispel the raider image.  I had hopes the exhibit would do a better job.

It did.  The artifacts on display are incredible.  I learned Viking culture was so much more than swords and raids.  Metallurgy did involve the forging of swords but it also resulted in fabulous jewelry the intricacy of which, the exhibit tells me, is almost impossible to replicate today.

 

I was able to see Viking ingenuity at work in the inner workings of a lock.  The spring mechanism, activated by pressure from the teeth of a key, was brilliant.  I wish I had been able to get a photo of it.  The exhibit did tell me that the penalty for theft where the goods had been locked away was higher than if they had not.  An interesting facet of law.

The role of women in Viking culture interested me.  I had always thought that only men went a viking but, apparently, this isn’t so.  Women too, went on these travels.  Women had a great deal of authority in the home, more so than most other women of their day, and this role and power as household manager is symbolized with the keys found in some burials of women.

DSCF0072

Of course, Viking raids did definitely happen and were brutal.  And yet, the Vikings were also accomplished traders, dealing in goods as far away as China.  There was a replica of a Buddha found in a burial but, try as I might, I couldn’t get a clear photo of it.  I did manage to get a picture of a glass beaker, something I would have thought would be unheard of in Viking lands.

DSCF0111

I left the exhibit with a desire to know more and I decided to go straight to the source.  What did the Vikings have to say about themselves?  To find out, I purchased The Sagas of the Icelanders from the gift shop.  I look forward to reading it and learning more about this fascinating culture.

A caveat:

I googled tips for taking photos in a museum and did try to put them to good use but I still have a long way to go. 🙂  These are the rest of the salvageable photos.  The exhibit will have to come back…