Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~ Albert Schweitzer
Long ago I gave up striving for perfect symmetry, strong shapely limbs, the straightest trunk, the most luscious foliage and colorful blooms.
Instead, my life is as fruitful as possible, even if I bend more in winter storms, my roots not anchored as deep, despite bare and broken branches, falling leaves, crooked trunk, and increasing lumpiness.
I try to provide the best of which I’m capable, with a minimum of scab, rot and hidden worms.
The promise of breathtaking beauty for eternity makes getting up in the morning worth the effort when we would rather hide our homeliness and decay under the covers.
Yet nothing can be as beautiful as the reality of broken people giving their all for other broken people.
It is for this we are created; our imperfections on display, continually pruned and refined to produce needed fruit, abundantly filling and ever so sweet.
It’s enough to make you wonder…
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It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” ~J.R.Tolkien from The Two Towers
“Save me from all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared.” ~The Book of Common Prayer
It used to be that people feared a sudden, unprepared death, because they feared meeting God sudden and unprepared. Now, we only fear death — because we don’t fear God. Turn on any street corner, walk through any airport, sit on the edge of any hospital bed, and you can see the glorious wonder of it: All the faces of humanity carry the image of God. ~Ann Voskamp from “A Holy Experience”
What is man that He is mindful of us – no matter who we are, where we are – we are His reflection.
His face is mirrored in ours: the old and dried up and wrinkled beyond recognition, or the mere floating conceptus, yet to implant and thrive.
When we are overwhelmed by the events of the world, when it seems all is in shadow, we must remember, whether old and feeble or as yet unborn, we are part of a great story and our plot progression is a mystery. We keep going because we are holding on to something better than any treasure.
We are promised light and joy at the end, no question about it. We will pass through the shadows and through His grace, the darkness will pass right through us, never to dwell within or surround us again.
This year’s Barnstorming theme for the season of Lent:
God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us where we are. ~Tim Keller
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
there are no words there is no song is there a balm that can heal these wounds that will last a lifetime long and when the stars have burned to dust hand in hand we still will stand because we must
in one single hour in one single day we were changed forever something taken away and there is no fire that can melt this heavy stone that can bring back the voices and the spirits of our own
all the brothers, sisters and lovers all the friends that are gone all the chairs that will be empty in the lives that will go on can we ever forgive though we never will forget can we believe in the milk of human goodness yet
we were forged in freedom we were born in liberty we came here to stop the twisted arrows cast by tyranny and we won’t bow down we are strong of heart we are a chain together that won’t be pulled apart ~Kitty Donohoe “There are no words”written on 9/1/11
As a grade school child in November 1963, I learned the import of the U.S. flag being lowered to half mast in response to the shocking and violent death of our President. The lowering of the flag was so rare when I was growing up, it had dramatic effect on all who passed by — something very sad had happened to our country, warranting our unified silence and our stillness.
Since 9/11/01, our flag has spent significant time at half mast, so much so that I’m befuddled instead of contemplative, puzzling over what the latest loss might be as there are so many, sometimes all happening in the same time frame. We no longer are silenced by this gesture of honor and respect and we certainly are not stilled, personally and corporately instigating and suffering the same mistakes against humanity over and over again.
There remains so much more sadness to be borne after that tragic day 18 years ago – such abundance of grief that our world has become overwhelmed and stricken and it seems we’ve lost all imagination for the “milk of human goodness.” Instead it seems we have become more divisive, pulling ourselves apart.
We must return, as people of faith, to that stillness to which we are called on a day such as today. We must be still; we must be silent. We must let the bells toll and the names be read out. We must grieve the losses of this turning world and pray for release from the suffering we cause and we endure. Only in the asking, only in the kneeling down and pleading, are we surrounded by grace. A flag half lowered may have lost its power to punch our gut, but we are illuminated by the Light, forged in freedom, born in liberty.
We must stop allowing our chain links from being pulled apart.
Buttercup’s heart was a secret garden and the walls were very high.
Buttercup: We’ll never survive. Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.
Westley: Hear this now. I will always come for you. Buttercup: But how can you be sure? Westley: This is true love. You think this happens every day?
That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back. ~William Golding, quotes from The Princess Bride
How was I ever blessed to find just such a farm boy? A farm boy who says “I love you” in many ways every day, so the walls of my secret garden heart come tumbling down…
Creation is the arena in and through which God wishes to reveal himself. In creating, in preserving, in pursuing; in hallowing, in participating, in wooing— the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have made all creation, and all its creatures, great and small, their delight.
We recognize that, being made in his image, we are appointed as his stewards. This does not give us carte blanche with God’s world. We are not given creation to plunder, but to hone and tend in such ways that every little part of it gives glory to God. ~Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones
I like the thought of creation being “wooed” into existence by God. Indeed I need to be gently wooed into tackling the day and tending my part of creation. The night may have been sleepless, the worry endless, the efforts I make futile.
Yet I’m here for a reason, as is every spider, mouse and even mosquito. It is all to His glory, as insignificant as I feel.
There can be nothing but wooing wonder in all He has made.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream
and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive – comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us
and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will be God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike
either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.23 ThenIwill remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
How can we choose the right side when God shows us only His backside? We cannot see His face as He covers us with His mighty hand – to protect us – but to see God from the back is enough to choose His right side.
For He chooses us… our fronts, our backs and everything in between.
Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
….It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble.
We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day. ~E.B. White in a letter
We can’t claw our way out of
the mess we’ve made of things;
it takes Someone
to dig us out of the hole,
wash us off,
clean us up,
and breathe fresh breath into our nostrils.
We can only hope
hope will be contagious.
We can only hope
and grab hold as His hand reaches down
to lift us up, carry us out of the dirt,
and hold us tight.
Now a red, sleepy sun above the rim Of twilight stares along the quiet weald, And the kind, simple country shines revealed In solitudes of peace, no longer dim. The old horse lifts his face and thanks the light, Then stretches down his head to crop the green. All things that he has loved are in his sight; The places where his happiness has been Are in his eyes, his heart, and they are good. ~Siegfried Sassoon from “Break of Day”
Remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity. ~Charles Spurgeon
Hard times leave us frozen solid,
and too cold to touch,
yet there is hope and healing,
remembering the immensity and goodness of God.
Even when life’s chill leaves us aching,
longing for relief,
the coming thaw is real
because God is good.
Even when we’re flattened,
stepped on, broken into fragments —
the pieces left are the beginning
of who we will become,
made whole again
because God is good.
The frost lasts not forever.
The sun makes us glisten and glitter
as ice melts down to droplets.
We become the goodness of God,
His eyes and ears,
heart and soul,
hands and feet.
Even more so,
we are His tears.