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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And the Words Leaped Off the Page and Into the Heart

And every time it happens there is fresh surprise and delight.

Being in the heat of a grievous battle at the moment, spiritual in nature, not of our own making and not without future consequences, there is a continuous heaviness. And with the heaviness comes a perplexity that refuses to allow the mind to rest. Hence day trudgings and long night seasons with the weariness that walks along side like an unshakable shadow.

But its the Lord's Day. Again. One must put on one's "Sunday Face" and go out the door.

First, as is the habit of a lifetime, devotions.

Once again dear dead Archbishop Cranmer met me with his 'freshly' written collect. So simple in wording, so dynamic in scope.

Almighty and everlasting God,
which dost govern all things in heaven and earth;
mercifully hear the supplications of thy people,
and grant us thy peace all the days of our life.

Govern: to rule by right of authority as a sovereign does; to exercise a directing or restraining influence over; guide; hold in check.

All: the whole of with reference to quantity, extent, duration, amount or degree; the greatest possible; every.

It always comes down to the same Job-ean point: Is God who He says He is? Are His promises trustworthy? All the days? This Day?

It can once again be summed up with that precious Yea and Amen from J.B. Phillips:

He is our God and only the God who is our inescapable contemporary. Immanuel, God with us.

Always. Only. Enough.

Mercy covers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Joys

It matters not what is happening in and around my life, wars and rumors of wars or other distresses, seed catalogs can put it all to rights.

The arrival of seed catalogs in January is as dependable as Spring itself.
The cheer and good hope they bring makes the heart beat faster and at the same time feeds the soul.

The first pages looked at are those with sweet peas. No matter the size of a garden plot, sweet peas are one essential. For me, sweet peas, lavender and roses are the gardening trinity.

Sweet pea seed is the first ordered. Papa always planted the peas - edible and flowering - in February. I try to follow his pattern when possible. There were the years of high mountain living where snow could still be on the ground in June. When it melted finally, sweet peas were planted. Often they bloomed into October when the new snows arrived.

But this year, this very day I ordered my seeds for Spring, sweet pea seeds that is.

Always there is a package of Chatsworth from that great house in Derbyshire. They are a soft lavender, great in size, dependable bloomers and wonderfully fragrant. They are to me about as perfect as as anything can be in the garden.

So with seed ordered, I am reminded that we have a future and a hope and not just in the garden only. Always the garden points to the Unseen, Heavenly things.

And the heart sings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Behold the Birds of the Air...

...their main aim is to obey the principle of life
that is in them
and God looks after them.

Jesus says that if you are rightly related to Him
and obey His Spirit that is in you,
God will look after your 'feathers'."
~Oswald Chambers

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Decline and Fall of Sunday Dinner

In the long ago misty past, early Sunday morning found Grandma in the kitchen and mama setting the table with Grandma's best china and silverware - on a table cloth, of course. All was in readiness for our return from morning worship service.

Aromas of wonderfulness greeted us as we returned home. Dinner was served. I mostly remember chicken offerings. But what ever form it took it would be done to perfection. Grandma was that sort of cook. We all sat around the table in the dining room. Daddy at the head of the table and Grandma on his right hand. She always sat with her knees pointing to the kitchen and at a moment's notice was up and getting whatever was required. The blessing would be given, and Dad would begin filling the plates one by one and passing them down the table. There was quiet conversation, mostly by the older folk. More often that not, guests were included round the table. It was nearly always a pleasant time. The only firm words were for behavioral issues concerning us children.

Now we travel through the years to our own Sunday table during our Mennonite-farm years.
We raised much of our own table fare, meat included. Dinner most often was a fall-apart roast beef with the spuds, carrots and onions cooked together with the meat and oh, so flavorful. Those were the Halcyon Days and sweetly memorable.

From there we moved to the city. The Dad was now a Youth Pastor. The children were teens or nearly so. More often than not, other teens joined us at table. Always in those days there were evening church activities too. The days were full. The menu now consisted of tuna sandwiches on flannel bread with chips, pickles and Pepsi.

Many changes through the years as locations and cast of characters changed. Now it is mostly we two. And yesterday, as we sat at plastic tables surrounded by noisy slurping strangers, I looked at our Polish dogs on buns and remembered. And then laughed at the evolution of Sunday Dinner.

Memories are lovely things though, aren't they? And yes, the Polish with catsup, onions, sweet pickle relish and a bit of 'kraut are tasty, if not the remembered elegant fare on china plates with loved ones gathered round.

One can even give thanks for a Costco 'dinner' served up on paper and eaten with plastic fork and knife.

(photo from Costco, via Google:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Honor of Your Birthday

I just want to say, Thank You, Mr. Milne,
for the delights you have provided our family
through the generations.
You gave us all those charming characters
that have inhabited our lives to be sure,
the delightful stories of their adventures,
and of course, Pooh Sticks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The Lord knows the way
through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow".

How grateful I am to know my Shepherd,
that He knows each step of the path I must travel,
that He is trustworthy.

Today, and every day, actually, that is enough.

[lovely photo by Charlie Waite, BBC news]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.
~Jeremiah 17.12

Is not this brief statement of fact immense? Here is a verse, 'read past' numerous times through the years, read past but never seen.

"The throne of God is the sanctuary of the soul.
There is no security for faith anywhere else."

Through history the sanctuary has been a place of asylum, of retreat, of refuge.
To think that we as fugitive pilgrims may flee from the enemy that pursues to the Very Throne established before Time.

No evil can overtake us, capture or detain us. Unless of course we fail to run for refuge to our ever-waiting Father and our God.

Knowing this "May the Lord of peace Himself grant you peace continually, whatever comes."


[Google image]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

They That Go Down To Sea in Ships...

We by tradition have not been a sea going clan. While there are those of us who love the sea, or water of any kind, still or flowing, while there are those in our ranks who enjoy 'messing about in boats', it has not been something engaged in as a profession.

It is one thing to watch sea epics, the heroics of Horatio Hornblower and the like. It is quite another thing to have a precious young member of the family deployed on a troupe ship in order to sail beyond our horizon.

That is the reality of this day and I find my heart filled with the pride of the honor of this young warrior and his willingness to serve our country. But also there is, in my very dusty humanity, the presence of anxious thoughts. There is also the overwhelming sadness that I know this going and the separation that is to follow brings to those I love.

This is not a new story, this going down to the sea in ships, leaving loved ones behind. It is as old as history itself. It just has a very different color to it when it become your story, our story.

So off our dear lad goes in this new year. With this will come new challenges for him and his young bride. There will be much to learn in the months ahead. My great comfort is in the certainty that both know their God, are secure in their love for each other, and in His sovereignty and care.

And we at home will follow these every day with our prayers, as they grow in this new season of their lives. We pray Mercy to cover, Everlasting Arms to hold, Grace to strengthen and comfort.

Holy Father, in Thy mercy
Hear our anxious prayer,
Keep our loved ones, now far absent,
'Neath Thy care.

Jesus, Savior, let Thy presence
Be their light and guide;
Keep, oh, keep them, in their weakness,
At Thy side.

When in sorrow, when in danger
When in loneliness,
In Thy love look down and comfort
Their distress.

May the joy of Thy salvation
Be their strength and stay,
May they love and may they praise Thee
Day by day.

Holy spirit, let Thy teaching
Sanctify their life;
Send Thy grace, that they may conquer
in the strife.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God the One in Three,
Bless them, guide them, save them, keep them
Near to Thee. Amen
[Hymns Ancient and Modern #595]