Happy Christmas!

How is the year already almost over? It’s been a pretty good one for me, especially compared to 2014, which was rather difficult, to say the least. However, I’m in a good place now, for which I’m very grateful. And naturally I hope the same for all of you – may these holidays (if you celebrate them) be filled with love and laughter and 2016 bring you lots of joy and adventure!

Christmas collage 2015

Happy birthday, Papi…

I still miss you. Today I was very busy with our annual conference, but it just hit me again. I think this space in my heart will never be not broken, but I’m lucky to have so many amazing memories with you. Love forever, your loving daughter.

Oh, and to end on an up note: May the Fourth be with you… 🙂

Happy holidays!

Yesterday I returned home from an amazing four weeks in what still feels like my second home. You can read about my time in New Zealand in my travel blog and also look at the photos, but today I just wanted to say “hi!” and wish all of you a wonderful holiday, in whatever form you celebrate – or not…

Happy holidays! Happy holidays!
This year’s “greeting card” comes to you from Wellington, to be exact from Scorching Bay. 🙂

I’m off to my mom’s today – tomorrow my brother and sister-in-law will join us for our family celebration. It’s the first one in my mom’s new, smaller flat, making it kind of officially her home, if that makes sense…

A gem of a poem

All Is Well
Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.
Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St Paul ‘s Cathedral

This was read at the end of today’s episode of the new BBC “Father Brown” (based on / inspired by the wonderful short stories by G.K. Chesterton). Needless to say, it made me cry, but in a good way. (The show itself is well worth checking out, imho, despite the liberties taken – the heart of it, namely Father Brown himself, is still there.)

Farewell, Papi…

Last week, my father died after a long struggle with cancer. In the end, it all happened quickly, and we were all with him when he passed, which is what he had wished for.

He is now at peace, of that I am certain, and it helps me deal with the loss. Also, so many people have been with us in their thoughts and prayers, as well as at the funeral last Friday.

Family photo

One of the cards we received had this beautiful quote on it, which I tried to translate:

Wenn etwas von uns fortgenommen wird,
womit wir tief und wunderbar zusammenhängen,
so ist viel von uns selbst mit fortgenommen.

Gott aber will, dass wir uns wieder finden,
reicher um alles Verlorene und
vermehrt um jenen unendlichen Schmerz.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Brief 1908


When something was taken from us which we were deeply and wonderfully connected with, we lose much of ourselves. However, God wants us to find ourselves again, richer for all that we lost and increased by this infinite pain.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, letter 1908

Random poetry moment

Found an excerpt in a blog post on Soujourners, really like it – it’s the emphasized bit.

Mending Wall – Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Happy weekend, everyone!

Baptism card
The card with my baptism verse (1 Peter 5,10) – they had my birthday wrong, so I only got it today.

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The one where I talk about my religion

As I mentioned in my BADD 2010 post I’d like to improve this semi-dormant blog with the occasional post of actual substance. Hence the brilliant new category title. 🙂

Important: Please note that these posts are highly subjective and personal. I am not in any way, shape or form, trying to tell anyone how to live their lives – and in return I do ask that you respect my right to live mine the way I choose to.

So let’s dive right in: Yesterday, on Whitsunday, I was baptized. I don’t know how common adult baptisms are elsewhere, but in Switzerland pretty much everyone is baptized as a baby, either into the Protestant or Roman Catholic church. However, I was born a Baptist pastor’s daughter (which means a different thing here than it might in the US – the Southern Baptists actually left the World Baptist Union), and one of the things I like best about it is that getting baptised is supposed to be an adult’s free choice. My parents raised us in a Christian home, but never one that was restricting. I grew up believing in all the things that are good about Christianity – and not surprisingly my relationship with God and religion was for a long time informed by my family.

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Ada Lovelace Day 2010

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. – Finding Ada

As a social anthropologist with a minor in German literature I studied “typically female” subjects at uni – but I have always been interested in “male” subjects as well, and (not to belabour an obvious point, namely that the gendering of subjects is a societal construct) always had excellent grades in biology and chemistry during my school years (in physics and math I fluctuated between really bad and really good, depending on the topic). Thus I have always cheered (sometimes loudly, sometimes silently) when finding women’s names in connection with technological and scientific advances, knowing that it takes an extra bit of dedication and passion to succeed in male-dominated fields.

When it came to the Swiss equivalent of A-Levels (‘Matura’), we were allowed to choose our own topics for the oral History exam – and I, checking my bookshelf, picked Marie Curie, the woman famous for discovering (along with her husband Pierre Curie) radium and polonium and studied their radiation and the effect that radation had on tumours. As many of the great pioneers, she risked her life in the name of science and discovery and contracted aplastic anemia from prolonged exposure to radiation, of which she eventually died.

She was a truly impressive woman – both as a dedicated scientist (the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, and she got two of them – first in Physics, then in Chemistry), as a working and successful mother of two daughters (the older one would later also win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the younger one write Marie Curie’s biography), and as a person of Polish decent living and working in France, exposed not just to sexism but also to xenophobia at various times during her life. Madame Curie definitely belongs on any list of great scientific minds, regardless of gender, and definitely on an occasion like Ada Lovelace Day…