Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Tapestry

Weaving take time. Pondering, savoring and sorting do too. I've always been slow on the uptake and counting blessings and putting them in order still is a slow process. Somehow images of events settle in the brain as on a film roll. Only in the developing can the unnecessary or unpleasant be tossed aside and the delightsome ones placed in line. Or its like a tray of pearls of graduated sizes to be laid in order before stringing.
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

Thanksgiving Prayer

"Thou that has given so much to me,
give one thing more, a grateful heart...
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise."
~George Herbert

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

Photos imprinted on the mind

The first one is that of a lustily squalling infant laced into a Navajo cradle board. (No, the child is not of that Native tribe, just born in their territory).

The second is of three grinning little girls dangling legs out the barn hay bay window. She with her cousins of close age.

She then is a glorious, elegant bride by her handsome groom. Then a beaming mom with her little China dolls.

It sounds the perfectly illustrated dream story.

Yet in this pictured life there have been griefs of the deepest, most devastating sort. There has been loss and gain, struggles and victory, ill health and so much more. And from all the unseen there has formed a woman of amazing grace and charm. There is also a ready wit and incomparable sweet spirit.

If a ballot was handed to relatives far and near regarding "Who is the dearest, the kindest and best?, "Who has never forgotten your birthday?" and "Who would you most want at your holiday table?" her name alone would appear.

She is that and more. She is a most treasured kindred spirit and correspondent.

She is one of the Heavenly Father's best 'good gifts' to us all.

So this day we say loudly, with balloons and banners flying:

A very Happy Birthday to you, dearest Niece.

"May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;

May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;

May He send you help from the sanctuary,

and strengthen you out of Zion;

May He remember all your offerings,

and accept all your burnt sacrifice,


May He grant you according to your heart's desire,

and fulfill all your purpose...."

from Psalm 20

Restored Years

"Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears;
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.
~Joseph Addison

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Simple Life

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".