My script of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.
A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.
~Frank W. Boreham
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
From the valley floor, rising far above the brambles, is an ancient holly and a stand of venerable oaks. At this season of the year the holly is crimson with berries, the oaks, barren of summer leaf trace the sky with patterns resembling Nottingham lace.
Recently, the air was filled with bird song. It was such that gave new meaning to the term fortissimo. The power lines above, the holly and the oaks were bare. Where was this great choir hiding? The knots and snarls of the hedge were a wave of motion. The singers themselves were humble dappled-brown house wrens, not considered the greatest songsters of the bird world. Yet all together their song filled the air and lifted the spirits on a Northwest-gray winter's day.
Is it a stretch to call this a "figure of the True"? An echo of the past?
This season reminds us of the angel's sky-song to lowly shepherds in the field. I know the gospel account reads that the angels "said" rather than "sang". But really, wouldn't such amazing praise sayings from such a multitude have formed song?
It pleases me to think so.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
She was a cheerful child who found delight in the world around her. She noticed the quirky, the whimsy, the fun of things in the world around her. She was always setting things in order, not in a freaky-compulsive way, just putting things to rights when she saw the need. She loved doing, experimenting, drawing (very early she taught her older siblings the fine art of wall writing with crayon), of gluing and creating.
From earliest childhood her heart was turned to things spiritual. In a gentle way through her growing years, she learned the way of her Heavenly Father and His leading in her life.
As a young woman, once again by the sea, He began teaching her how to trust Him with the whys and unexplained things of her life. She learned to lean on Him, to know and accept Him as her Rock, not just of her Salvation, but of safety and confidence. She set her face 'like a flint' toward the uncertainty and unknown of her future. Then as was her way, she followed on, shoulders back, face forward.
The years passed in the usual way of things, a husband and home, babies and all the ups and downs, the travelings about that come to a life. There were seasons where much was required of her. There were good times and difficult, yet her faith never wavered. Often tested, it was found to be Rock solid. In all the times, in each situation she was making do and making beauty, creating Home where hospitality was a central activity. All was carried out with quiet grace and seeming ease.
In time she returned to the sea, near the place of her beginning. It was a time of contentment and joy, of fulfillment and ministry. It happened to be a season where stability and a measure of ease was given and enjoyed as never before.
It was here that her Rock required of her the dearest treasure of her heart. And here she accepted from the Father's hand His good will for her, for him, for them.
Once again she faces the Uncertainty and Unknown yet she follows on her pilgrim way. Once again she has, out of bits and pieces set things in order, created beauty, made a Home. Once again, shoulders back, face forward she goes.
Those of us privilieged to be among her 'great cloud of witnesses' stand in wonder, love and praise. We are blessed to know her as daughter, mother, Nana, sister, auntie, friend.
Those of us who love her dearly wish her a most blessed Day of Days in the midst of her precious family circle, the reward of her years of faithful tending, guiding, loving. We pray blessing and joy on this day and unmeasurable blessings in her days ahead.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
How I love the ancient wordings;
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Has any literary lady given us such happiness?
So many rich and delightful story lines, love stories and characters have been crafted by her pen.
Certainly the women in this clan are grateful for her genius, for the actual literary works, but also for the movie adaptations made from these books. (with the possible exception of the Pride and Prejudice version set in the Antebellum South.)
Who else has given us the equal of Mr. Darcy?
Who, at the same time, has given our menfolk the likes of Mr. Collins to imitate and mock?
Jane has graced our lives, has she not?
So, Gentle Reader, on this day of days, celebrate in some small way .. even if you haven't been invited to the ball at Netherfield.
Friday, December 11, 2009
In George's day, as in our own, there would have been those in the Christian community that took a dim view of it all. Every age has had it's Scrooges.
So here from George's faithful pen is the heart of the matter:
"It was love, mere love; it was free love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world.
What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus?
Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance be quite forgotten? God forbid!
No, my dear brethren,
let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church with joy in our hearts;
let the birth of a Redeemer...be always remembered;
may this Savior's love never be forgotten."
George does go on to caution us to simplicity in our giving, in our eating (O dear!), our celebrating. And that we should do.
So, to all those nay-sayers, take a lesson from George, bless him.
May we follow in his footsteps here too.
May our joy be evidenced to all, in all, through all.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
But here's the best news ever as written by J. B. Phillips (yes, the same who translated the New Testament into Modern English)
"Each Advent season the original, quiet, and simple Christmas story takes our breath away.
For human beings no long exist in insignificance and fear on a lonely, whirling planet floating in terrifying space...God has become Man!
God has not only made His personal visit,
not only given us the pattern of true and happy living,
not only died to reconcile us to Himself,'
not only is risen again both to shatter the fear of death and prove His own claims,
but there is no barrier now between him and us.
God in Christ is our contemporary.
If that is not Good News, it would be difficult to know what is!"
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
So here's your lesson ( :) on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556). His genius, it has been said, "consisted of that rare and mysterious virtue, humility." This made him wise which enabled him to survive the treacherous political waters of Henry VIII's court. It was during these years that he - Thomas - began the editorial work that led to the Book of Common Prayer. He was not always in the king's favor, and Henry made the task difficult, but Thomas survived and his work continued because he submitted himself to his king.
When Henry went to his reward (and we'll not take time to consider what that may be, just to say he is fortunate its not my call. I still find it hard to forgive him for his dissolution of monastaries and wife ill-treatment) , Edward VI came to the throne.
In 1548, during his short reign Common Prayer was introduced. It was abolished during the reign of Mary (Cranmer went to the stake under that bloody woman) . Elizabeth I restored the prayer book. It was opposed by the Puritans. Restored. Revived. Not until recent centuries has it been tampered with, watered down in an effort to make the language 'user friendly'. (hateful term which only serves to diminish meaning and richness of language) It is amazing to me that through the centuries Cranmer's work still stands. His prayers and collects still retain the cast iron of truth and language.
There are many fine sources for Advent devotions. Yet, for me, the prayer book with its reminder that this present season is not all glimmer and glitz but rather a time of heart preparation as we glory in the First Advent of our Lord and anticipate the one yet to come.
For each Sunday of Advent there is a collect or prayer but the first is to be included each week of the month. And so I end with this:
Monday, November 30, 2009
In this case, This day, was made up of threads, assorted colors, to be untangled and sorted, straightened to be then woven.
The first bright thread of the day, was that of a table set with great thought and care. At each place was a name card, each letter hand stamped representing an amazing investment of time and love by a creative, caring hostess. This seemed an echo of the Feast to Come. The care, the names making it communal yet oh so personal.
Always at any such gatherings of this family there is the golden thread of Doxology. Again, an echo of the singing around The Throne of the Lamb.
Through the day so many moments: soft conversations in corners between cousins, young husbands' gentle words or touches of love to their adored brides. (They can't begin to imagine how this thrills and delights the observer.) Aunties immediately responding to diaper needs of the Little Lad. Then the Lad himself toddling about happily dangling a pull toy, going to this one and then another for a hug, a tickle. Also in one moment of distress and not finding mommy comfort sought out the arms of his dear and trusted Nana. If ever there was an anchor point in any tapestry stitching, it would be this blessed child. And there is laughter, always laughter.
Pictures of any sort require contrast in images. There were indeed darker threads of brief shadows in eyes, on brows, for those not present with us, those that belong to us, longed for, but removed by circumstances and geography.
It is hard to complete this allegory with cleverness and wit as there were so many colors of the day, many images that are very dear and lay too deep for disclosure. What can be said regarding this completed picture of family, is that the border that keeps all square and from unravelling is an amazing love. This love is in all, through all, round about all. It is a secure sort of "in spite of" love; a love that acknowledges and accepts flaws but loves nevertheless.
If there is a centerpiece for this particular tapestry piece it is this, and with it this Grand-Nan can go to her grave fully satisfied! It is Little Lad going to the toy basket, selecting a book, bringing it and climbing into this lap in order to hear a story.
Life here in the Shadowland doesn't get much better than this.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
give one thing more, a grateful heart...
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise."
Blessed beyond imagining, with comforts manifold,
not the least of which is a family who by their lives reflect their Savior,
and whose love enlarges this mother's heart with joy unspeakable.
In all that the Hidden Hand sends, whether tears or laughter, it is all good.
That much we have learned and continue to learn. Thanks be to God!
Friday, November 13, 2009
For your work shall be rewarded," says the Lord,
"and they shall return from the land of the enemy.
There is hope in your future." says the Lord,
"that your children shall return to their own border." Jeremiah 31. 16, 17
"And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten...." Joel 2.25
In the margin of my Bible there is a date. The date notes a time of great personal desolation.
A first grand child was born, lived nearby and was much loved and adored. It was an astonishing, humbling time, seeing first hand the 'circle of Life' and delighting in all it represented.
Then circumstances brought about a separation. The heart suddenly had a hole causing indescribably pain. Oh the tears "Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted..because they were no more."
Always in such times, the life habit has been to run to scripture to help order the thinking, to find comfort. And there it was. Of course, the above words were not written to me. Then again, weren't they? It was a time to "touch the page to see if the ink was dry."
But how could this be? Return? (and they were not really in the enemy's land, only the papa had chosen schooling in a far off place.)
Somehow, although there was the how and when of a return looming large, through the fog of the present grief, there was a claiming, a clinging, followed by a knowing, that all would be well and all would come about in the Father's good time. The hole in the heart was not stitched closed, but soothing ointment was applied.
Fast forward, dear Reader, to the present time.
Through many astonishing movements of the Hidden Hand down through the intervening years, I now find myself geographically in the center of The Mother of that first wee lass, the Lass herself, mother of a Wee Manchild. We are allowed to meet together for tea, lunch and chatting nearly every week now. Only a Sovereign God could have orchestrated this. So many miles have been traveled, a great many locations have been lived by us all since the date penned in the margin.
At one glorious fragment of time yesterday, I was in my cloister chair, feeding Wee Man his naptime bottle. As I sang to him, he hummed in his baby way. (His momma has sung to him since before he was born so this humming is no surprise.) It occurred to me as I held him that he was the third generation of my own flesh and fur I've held in such a way, the third generation to whom I've sung All Things Wise and Wonderful.
Once again there is a heart filled to bursting at the mercies of our God, His faithfulness throughout the pilgrimage. Weeping ceased, years restored. Blessings unnumbered.
Ten thousand, thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.
This effort begins because of a secret pact with a beloved grand daughter.It will continue perhaps because of the felt need to leave a record in the world,a common desire of everyone no doubt, to leave 'footprints on the trail'.
Footprints are helpful. They mark the trail, they indicate dangers and strayings but most of all they tell us that we are not alone on the journey. Someone has gone this way before..
This record then, is of a life, a simple story, not grand or spectacular in any way. It is and has been ordinary in the usual way of things. It is notations, thoughts of a very private pilgrim who has reluctantly led a very public life. There was an idyllic farm childhood, and enduring marriage to a city boy, 4 beautiful children, ministry. It is a simple story, not because all has been easy-breezy sweetness and light. It has been many-faceted, multi-colored with frequent laughter and tears..laughter uproariously, tears by the gallon.
There have been grave disappointments, dreams dashed, hope deferred, griefs unspeakable. But there have also been blessings innumerable, love abundant and joy. Oh, much joy.
There have been treasured friends collected along the way, funny friends who have enriched and ennobled, companions, kindred spirits.
And Grand children. Nothing is more blissful than these. One by one they have taken residence in my heart and enlarged its borders. They have brought heart-concerns, occasionally, but love and delight always.
So this is a record of days of small things. But the overarching glory, the Light on the Path is because of a Sovereign and Faithful God who from my childhood has shone His glory, given His direction, added His blessing to all my days of pilgrimage.
So the, Dear Reader beware: this blog will be about those things that define my life: a faith that sustains and guides, a family that delights and nourishes. It will be about books that challenge and shape my thinking and a garden that brings calm and balance. And music, always music.
Perhaps in weak and silly moments there will be the side trip into the world of movies watched and enjoyed, and mentions of a cat that controls, purrs and sheds hair through my life.
So you see, truly a simple story of a common life where splendor is sought in the ordinary; where an old pilgrim travels an older trail hopefully with a measure of grace and demonstrations of joy.."to the praise of His Glorious Grace".