The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. ~Alexander Hamilton, “The Farmer Refuted”
One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun… ~C.S. Lewis
We so easily forget from Whom and Where we come, the purpose for which we are created and sent forth, how bright and everlasting our origins. If we fail to live and serve as intended, it is our own failing, fault and responsibility, not that of the Creator.
When our light shines so that others see, we are the beam and not the source. The path leads back to the Son and the Father and we are a mere pathway.
Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. ~Rabindranath Tagore
...then came a sound even more delicious than the sound of water. Close beside the path they were following, a bird suddenly chirped from the branch of a tree. It was answered by the chuckle of another bird a little further off. And then, as if that had been a signal, there was chattering and chirruping in every direction, and then a moment of full song, and within five minutes the whole wood was ringing with birds’ music, and wherever Edmund’s eyes turned he saw birds alighting on branches, or sailing overhead or chasing one another or having their little quarrels or tidying up their feathers with their beaks. ~C.S. Lewis from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Every spring I hear the thrush singing in the glowing woods he is only passing through. His voice is deep, then he lifts it until it seems to fall from the sky. I am thrilled. I am grateful.
Then, by the end of morning, he’s gone, nothing but silence out of the tree where he rested for a night. And this I find acceptable. Not enough is a poor life. But too much is, well, too much. Imagine Verdi or Mahler every day, all day. It would exhaust anyone. ~Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings
Their song reminds me of a child’s neighborhood rallying cry—ee-ock-ee—with a heartfelt warble at the end. But it is their call that is especially endearing. The towhee has the brass and grace to call, simply and clearly, “tweet”. I know of no other bird that stoops to literal tweeting. ~Annie Dillard,Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven. ~Emily Dickinson in an 1885 letter to Miss Eugenia Hall
What does it say about me that in the darkness of December mornings, I yearn for the early sunrises of June but once I’m firmly into the June calendar, it no longer is so compelling? It confirms my suspicion that I’m incapable of reveling in the moment at hand, something that would likely take years of therapy to undo. I’m sure there is some deep seated issue here, but I’m too sleep deprived to pursue it.
My eyes popped open this morning at 4:17 AM, spurred by vigorous birdsong in the trees surrounding our farm house. There was daylight sneaking through the venetian blinds at that unseemly hour as well. Once the bird chorus starts, with one lone chirpy voice in the apple tree by our bedroom window, it rapidly becomes a full frontal onslaught symphony orchestra from the plum, cherry, poplar, walnut, fir and chestnut. Sleep is irretrievable.
This might be something I would ordinarily appreciate but last night nearby pastures roared past midnight with the house-shaking rumble of heavy tractors and trucks chopping and hauling fresh green grass destined for silage.
Only a few months ago I remember wishing for early morning birdsong when it seemed the sun would never rise and the oppressive silence would never lift. I conveniently forget those mornings years ago when we had a dozen young roosters who magically found their voices very early in the morning a mere 10 weeks after hatching. Nothing before or since could match their alarm clock expertise after 4 AM. No barbecue before or since has tasted as sweet.
So I remind myself how bad it can really be and today’s backyard birdsong is a veritable symphony in comparison.
Even so, I already need a nap, yet a full day of clinic awaits. Ah, first world problems of a farmer/doctor/sleep-deprived human.
The warning of the Book of Job is that it could happen to us too: everything we have strived for, cared about, loved and valued taken away.
If we are stripped bare naked, nothing left to us but our love for God and His sovereign power over our lives, will we still worship His Name, inhale His Word like air itself, submit ourselves to His plan over our plan?
I know I fall far short of the mark. It takes only small obstacles or losses to trip me up so I stagger in my faith, trying futilely to not lose my balance, falling flat-faced and immobilized.
When I’ve seen people lose almost everything, either in a disaster, or an accident, or devastating illness, I’ve looked hard at myself and asked if I could sustain such loss in my life and still turn myself over to the will of God.
I would surely plead for reprieve and ask the horribly desperate question, “why me?”, girding myself for the response: “and why not you?”
The invitation that I most don’t want to receive, scary and radical as it is, is from God straight to my heart. He invites me closer, asking that I trust His plan for my life and death, no matter what happens, no matter how much suffering, no matter how much, like Christ in the garden, I plead that it work out differently, more my own choosing that it not hurt so much.
The invitation to His plan for my life has been written, personally carried to me by His Son, and lies ready in my hands, although it has remained untouched for years. It is now up to me to open it, read it carefully, and with deep gratitude that I am even included, respond with an RSVP that says emphatically, “I’ll be there! Nothing could keep me away.”
Or I could leave it untouched, fearing it is too scary to open. Or even toss it away altogether, thinking it really wasn’t meant for me.
Even if, in my heart, I knew it was.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ ~C. S. Lewis
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer.
But a rather special sort of “No answer.”
It is not the locked door.
It is more like a silent,
certainly not uncompassionate,
As though he shook his head not in refusal but waiving the question.
Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.”
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable?
Quite easily, I should think.
All nonsense questions are unanswerable.
How many hours are there in a mile?
Is yellow square or round?
Probably half the questions we ask –
half our great theological and metaphysical problems –
are like that. ~C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed
I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. ~C.S. Lewis from Till We Have Faces
And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?
~Frederich Buechner from The Magnificent Defeat
And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” ~Mary Oliver from Long Life
Some mornings it is impossible to stay a silent observer of the world. I demand answers to the unanswerable.
Overnight, wind and rain have pulled down nearly every leaf, the ground carpeted with the dying evidence of last spring’s rebirth, dropping temperatures robing the surrounding foothills and peaks in a bright new snow covering.
There can be no complacency in witnessing life in progress.
It blusters, rips, drenches, encompasses, buries.
Nothing remains as it was.
And here I am, alive.
Called to comment.
Dying to hear a response.
This is why I believe that God really has dived down into the bottom of creation, and has come up bringing the whole redeemed nature on His shoulders. The miracles that have already happened are, of course, as Scripture so often says, the first fruits of that cosmic summer which is presently coming on. Christ has risen, and so we shall rise.
…To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. Two thousand years are only a day or two by this scale. A man really ought to say, ‘The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago’ in the same spirit in which he says ‘I saw a crocus yesterday.’
Because we know what is coming behind the crocus.
The spring comes slowly down the way, but the great thing is that the corner has been turned. There is, of course, this difference that in the natural spring the crocus cannot choose whether it will respond or not.
We have the power either of withstanding the spring, and sinking back into the cosmic winter, or of going on…to which He is calling us.
It remains with us whether to follow or not, to die in this winter, or to go on into that spring and that summer.
~C. S. Lewis from “God in the Dock”
You, who are beyond our understanding,
have made yourself understandable to us in Jesus Christ.
You, who are the uncreated God,
have made yourself a creature for us.
You, who are the untouchable One,
have made yourself touchable to us.
You, who are most high,
make us capable of understanding your amazing love
and the wonderful things you have done for us.
Make us able to understand the mystery of your incarnation,
the mystery of your life, example and doctrine,
the mystery of your cross and passion,
the mystery of your resurrection and ascension.
~Angela of Foligno (1248-1309)– prayer
My husband, with help from our neighbor kids and our son who was visiting for Christmas, has prepared soil beds on our farm and planted hundreds of spring bulbs, including over two hundred crocus. We are called to this action, especially in the midst of winter – to plan for, to anticipate, to long for the spring that is coming. We become part of the promise that winter is not forever.
The larger bulbs – the tulip, the daffodils – have no choice but to respond to spring – the expanding light calls to them as the soil begins to warm. But the crocus are a mystery, sprouting earlier when there is no reason to. Snow is still on the ground. Frost still crisps everything at night. Yet they come forth from the soil even when everything is still weeping winter.
What comes behind the crocus?
We too rise up from the dark to enter the light.
We too are part of the mystery.
You are our portal to those hidden havens Whence we return to bless our being here. Scribe of the Kingdom, keeper of the door Which opens on to all we might have lost,
Generous, capacious, open, free, Your wardrobe-mind has furnished us with worlds Through which to travel, whence we learn to see Along the beam, and hear at last the heralds, Sounding their summons, through the stars that sing, Whose call at sunrise brings us to our King. ~Malcolm Guite from “C.S. Lewis: a sonnet”
Sign on the Lewis wardrobe: “We do not take responsibility for people disappearing.”
This is no mere piece of furniture;
Enchantment hangs within
Among the furs and cloaks
Smelling faintly of mothballs.
Touch the smooth wood,
Open the doors barely
To be met with a faint cool breeze~
Hints of snowy woods and adventure.
Reach inside to feel smooth soft furs
Move aside to allow dark passage
Through to another world, a pathway to
Cherished imagination of the soul.
Seek a destination for mind and heart,
A journey through the wardrobe,
Navigate the night path to reach a
Lit lone lamp post in the wood.
Beaming light as it shines undimmed,
A beacon calling us home, back home
Through the open door, to step out transformed,
No longer lost or longing, now found and filled.