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

Thursday, March 31, 2011


In the past I've written about the joy discovering 'footprints' in books inherited from my parents.

Pristine pages in valuable books are the thing for the book collector and dealer. To me however, I find an inexpressible delight in markings left along margins of a text. Even underlinings ,
if they do not obscure the print are welcomed.

A recently purchased, previously owned book has been gently marked in a very few places. The notations are neat and in pencil. The thing is, with these marked passages in this book, I am touched by and connected to some unknown reader, and in this case an obvious kindred spirit.

The passages marked, without exception, are ones I would have marked.
One of these passages, speaking of life in a country village:
" was good to feel the comfort of sunshine, flowers and birds.

Better still, it was good to realise that,

no matter how dark the day, 'cheerfulness breaks in.'"

It had been a 'dark day' in my village and cheerfulness truly broke in knowing that a Dear Unknown fellow pilgrim had left a waymarker just for me, just for that place in time. Maybe that other day for them had required cheer and it was found in the lovely words of the author.

For me then, it was a double blessing as we three unknown to each other were for a moment woven together in thought.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Tis Spring, the Calendar Says

In celebration of Springs coming, Celia Thaxter's Island garden on Appledore is featured. Mrs. Thaxter, her garden and garden writings have long been favorites.

Hers was a simple garden crammed with simple, old fashioned flowers. Only flowers she loved were found there. Poppies and sweet peas were at the top of her growing list.

This lady of wit and charm was hostess to many of the literati of her day. One of her frequent visitors was John Greenleaf Whittier. This is perhaps of interest only to me, Mr. Whittier being the first poet I fell in love with in my girlhood days.

American impressionist Childe Hassam too, not only visited the island garden, but immortalized it in his beautiful paintings.

So for today, it being Spring but too drear and wet to venture outside to that new crop of shining weeds, I shall sit inside making lists of
gardening tasks to come and enjoy Childe's illuminations and Celia's writings.. with a pot of tea.

Mine is just a little old-fashioned garden

where the flowers come together to praise the Lord

and teach all who look upon them

to do likewise.

~Celia Thaxter, 1835-1894

Sunday, March 27, 2011

...And There I Write Thy Praise

When nature sinks, and spirits droop,

Thy promises of grace

Are pillars to support my hope,

and there I write Thy praise.

~Isaac Watts

Thy testimonies have I claimed

as mine heritage forever;

and why?

they are the very joy of my heart.

~Psa. 119.111, Common Prayer

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Level to the ground
my Jericho Walls of a rebel heart...
There is much unconquered territory in my nature,
scourge out the buyers and sellers of my soul's temple,
and give me in return pure desires,
and longings after perfect holiness.

~from Puritan Prayers

Thursday, March 24, 2011

From time to time I indulge my passion for vernacular architecture by ordering long lists of titles from our accommodating library system.
The long lists become great stacks as they always seem to come at one time.

Recently a series was discovered that is perfect for chair-travel. The photos, by renowned photographers are plentiful, the text carefully crafted prose - almost poetry. Pure escapism, an indulgence of extreme scope.

In the volume pictured here the loveliest account became the thought for the day.

"In [an] ancient village on the Roman road to Strasbourg
" the writer came upon a cottage. The vertical furrowing on the individual roof tiles caught his attention as they caught the morning light. While he stood in the deserted street admiring, a Frenchman came up and asked if he could perhaps help him. The writer inquired about these tiles, their marks.
He was then told that the clay was thrown in a mold. Then the surplus clay was scraped off. "There are the marks of [the maker's fingers], Monsieur!"

Finger prints in the clay - the imprints of the craftsman that catch the light.

Is this not a beautiful picture, Dear Reader, of what we are and are to be?

Today my prayer is this, that my Creator-Craftsman's finger prints can be, not only clearly seen, but also that they catch the Light and reflect that light which also comes from Him.

"...Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hands, so are you in My hand...." Jeremiah 18.6

French Farmhouses and Cottages, Paul Walshe (British architect) and John Miller(British photographer, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., NY.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mellowness of heart
is a way of being
that is openly receptive to God
so that our lives lean toward
a posture of grace,
and goodness.
~Lisa Graham McMinn

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Happiness is:
a cup of tea
a new magazine
a chocolate bar."

~Emma Bridgewater,
British craftswoman

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"I arise to-day
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise to-day
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me...
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me...."

So reads in part, St. Patrick's 'The Deer's Cry'.

Numerous lines have been left out regarding evils from which protection is required.
But one particular reads "against spells of women and smiths and wizards."

Bless him, he knew where dangers lay.

May all the blessings of Patrick's God and ours be yours this day
and in full measure.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Mighty Fortress is our
A Bulwark never failing.
Our helper He
amidst the flood of mortal ills

Monday, March 14, 2011

Heart Conditions, All Sorts

There are times, and this is one of them, when a cold, tight band presses round the heart.

It is a time when such a feeling of helplessness is present, when one is banished to the sidelines as a spectator only, when Fear attacks.

Lions not only line the pathway but seem to fill Life's arena.

Perhaps hearts are still a bit tender, emotions still fragile, memories all too fresh from past battles. This old pilgrim is not feeling brave, only vulnerable today.

Not too many miles from here, our tiniest family member begins a challenge not always presented to one so young - at least not in our clan. Her wee little heart, not quite complete, will be meddled with by large surgeon hands, the chubbiness of her little body invaded. Soon even, her wee chest will be opened in the hope that things can be made better for her. On the drawing board, all this looks noble and grand. But it is our own little lass that is the center of all this. That is what seems so frightful, which causes the tears to fall.

But it is not her heart only. There are the very courageous hearts of her young momma and daddy who, like Abraham of old offer their precious child to the mercy of God through the skill of others.

There is the valiant hearted Nana too. Her heart with its yet unhealed scars of poignant loss.

Then on the far side of the world is our young Naval medic, on board ship "positioning to the shoreline of Japan". And here, on this side of the world, his dear young wife. Her heart perhaps more challenged than any. First with all the unknowns surrounding her beloved, the separation which has called on all the faith and strength of her young life. But she is also the auntie of our little one. She too is sidelined in a way, unable to make better all that perplexes.

So then, this is a fragment of the portrait of our family in the present. All are interconnected and family beyond the reach of the present situations are involved. We are bound by a great love, by a Faith that has spanned the generations, by prayer that covers in greatest measure, by a Faithful God in whom we all trust.

Two precious scriptures have come to mind and shine bright this day: "Only a spectator shall you be, yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High...."
and "but cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this day." [Psa. 91.8a, Amp.; Josh. 23.8]

So for This Day, we, in the words of Amy Charmichael, "run clinging, for we are held" for underneath are the Everlasting Arms.
My thanks to Louis DeLaForet, who posted his perfect photo on the BBC News page.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weeds, Stones, Seeds, Frost and Hope

Of weeds, my garden has plenty. It has been a wet winter in the Northwest after all.

And while there is no documented proof, my cottage must sit on ancient river bed. If that is not the case, then there is such a thing a stone seeds which, along with the weeds, nestle all winter long ready to germinate producing a fine fresh Spring crop. Each Spring, the Man of the Cottage says 'I'll hire the Grandson to remove the rocks from the flower beds'. And each year I remind him that such action would leave such holes we could not afford top soil to fill.

So it goes and the season changes to Spring. Slowly by slowly the weeds are removed, the larger stones are place in piles here and there.

As for seeds, happily my sweet peas for the season to come are in new beds, raised beds. I'm excited to see if blossom production will be up because of this new situation. Slug bait is spread. Wire screening is place to discourage the Garden Cat, She Who Diggeth - other wise known as Lucy Maud. (Yes, she is named after the author by name of Montgomery) Reports will follow on the progress of this planting and protecting effort.

As for hope, well I take the Biblical view of that which is certain, not the wishful thinking that is the worldly mindset. Seed time and harvest are promised to take place in proscribed rhythm. So in that I trust and delight.

Regarding frost, in this instance it refers to our nation's own poet Robert with lines of his evocative poem "Putting in the Seed".
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its ways and shedding the
earth crumbs.
Joyous seed time to all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Fresh Beginning

If we pay attention, there are different points of starting over during the year, during life, during pilgrimage. The seasons offer this, but on this day, the consideration is a point of reference in the Church calendar.

I've stated before that I am not High Church in regular practice, but certainly am a closet follower. The rhythm of the church's High Holy days bring a stability, a continuity that my wandering, careless spirit requires. I tend to get out of alignment with normal usage over the course of time!

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For me, for years, this has been a time of centering, of examining, of clarifying, of simplifying. Through a year's time, clutter accumulates in the home and in the heart. The Lenten season and Spring are perfectly suited to cleaning, clearing and setting to rights.

Ash Wednesday is historically, with the placing of ashes on the forehead, a sign of humiliation. A reminder of who we are and Whose glorious and ultimate humiliation we celebrate this season. And yes, proper humility on my part is indeed appropriate. The lines from Stuart Townend's hymn come to mind "...all the blessings He deserved, poured on my unworthy soul...."

This also includes the idea of repentance for waywardness, foolish choices and points of disobedience adding to the heart's clutter and causing me to get off into what the ancients call 'by-paths'. These also causes me to live beneath my privileges as the child of the King I follow and serve.

Penitence, according to Anglican Dean Paul Zahl is: "seeing things as they are and flinging back that discouraging truth to God to take care of and dispose."

The prophet Joel says : "Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep turning to me with all your heart...until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored. Rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness..." [Joel 2.12-14]

So, Dear Reader, whether High church or Low, Cloister or Chapel, may we go forward into this season with a new purpose and clear focus. As we weed our gardens and freshen our homes, may we apply the same efforts to our hearts that our Lord may be honored and glorified and our steps lighter as we go gently through our world.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow burn, and make me new....
~John Donne

How grateful I am that our God in His gentleness woos and loves me to Himself. Yet there are times when battering and breaking is required. Strongholds, walls, defences of the enemy, of soul-self make total possession by Him impossible.

If I am to be totally occupied with Him, efficient, effective battering must take place. Pain and desolation are not my favorite things. But I must learn to accept His tools, His ways required to bring about that occupation.

My soul seems quite overgrown with brambles and briars of late.
They cling to the crumbling walls of my defences.
There is a dullness that distresses. Like Martha of old, I seem distracted with many things.

This is not the occupation I desire.

Today, battering and leveling are requested that my total occupation once more is Him, my Lord and my God.

This is a good day for it, this Lord's day.