Feb 10 2012

Friday Florilegium

 

Do not be discouraged at your faults; bear with yourself in correcting them, as you would with your neighbor. Lay aside this ardor of mind, which exhausts your body, and leads you to commit errors. Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupations. Speak, move, work, in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be. Do everything without excitement, by the spirit of grace. As soon as you perceive your natural impetuosity gliding in, retire quietly within, where is the kingdom of God. Listen to the leadings of grace, then say and do nothing but what the Holy Spirit shall put in your heart. You will find that you will become more tranquil, that your words will be fewer and more effectual, and that, with less effort, you will accomplish more good.–FRANÇOIS DE LA MOTHE FÉNELON.

If she falls into some error, she does not fret over it, but rising up with a humble spirit, she goes on her way anew rejoicing. Were she to fall a hundred times in the day, she would not despair–she would rather cry out lovingly to God, appealing to His tender pity. The really devout woman has a horror of evil, but she has a still greater love of that which is good; she is more set on doing what is right, than avoiding what is wrong. Generous, large-hearted, she is not afraid of danger in serving God, and would rather run the risk of doing His will imperfectly than not strive to serve Him lest she fail in the attempt. –JEAN NICOLAS GROU (pronouns changed)

God has brought us into this time; He, and not ourselves or some dark demon. If we are not fit to cope with that which He has prepared for us, we should have been utterly unfit for any condition that we imagine for ourselves. In this time we are to live and wrestle, and in no other. Let us humbly, tremblingly, courageously look at it, and we shall not wish that the sun could go back its ten degrees, or that we could go back with it. If easy times are departed, it is that the difficult times may make us more in earnest; that they may teach us not to depend upon ourselves. If easy belief is impossible, it is that we may learn what belief is, and in whom it is to be placed.–F. D. MAURICE.

 


Jul 28 2011

Hidden Abundance

In both Anne of Avonlea and Little Women there are similar scenes I find beautiful: the poignant moments Anne and Jo decide to write about what they love. Sitting at a candle-lit desk, the sounds of the house stilled in sleep, Jo gets out a clean sheet of paper and simply begins. The pages stack up over time and are finally tied together with ribbon (yes, the ultimate romantic touch) and sent away.

The message is clear: write what you love, let it go, and leave everything else to off-stage resolution.

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My most recent response to questions about my dissertation has been to cite total number of pages written: 55.  The page-count mantra is more me telling myself, “Look! You’re almost a third of the way through!”

Since I’m handwriting this 1st draft, the slow accumulation of a stack of pages also connects me to my writing heroines.  I wonder if my adviser would appreciate me sending her a tied, handwritten draft.

Oh, right. For a moment I forgot it’s the 21st century.

But still, still, even with some sprinkles of writing romance, I’ve wrestled with a (perceived) loss of words (and loss of interest in them), words that came so easily 10 years ago, words and joy that went missing after exams and the often barren environment of doctoral education. Words I betrayed by turning a harsh and condemning gaze upon them, judging them not good enough.

TS Elliott says that words crack under the weight of meaning. What about the weight of expectations?

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The words come from my heart, and my heart went quiet in the face of so much self-criticism.

But, I’ve been reminded quite clearly today, my words are not so dammed as I’ve believed. (Ah, the revealing nature of word choice.)

My dear friend Doug said something to me last week that I took to heart: Don’t focus on your weaknesses, don’t try to change them.  Focus on your strengths.

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I got out my journals–the writing project I do without even thinking about it as writing–and, factoring in page size and a conservative estimate of handwritten words per page, I’ve written over 130 pages since January.

Love, frustration, wrestling, friendship, joy, sadness.  The story of a life.

Easily 3000 pages since I began in 1986.

I’ve spent so much time focused on scarcity, I missed the abundance.

The words are still there. They never left.

What changed was only my perception of them.

What abundance longs to be noticed in your life?  What gift do you ignore because it is like breathing? What strength is inviting you to give it some loving attention?


May 7 2011

Friday Florilegium

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A florilegium of quotes, some snippets of what I’ve been reading this week….

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run , that ye may obtain.”   –1 Cor 9:24 (from my hundred year old King James. Ah! The romance of an old bible!)

“When I meditate on the annunciation and try to find my place in it–for I am convinced that we all experience our own small annunciations–I wonder what I would do if I found an angel waiting in my kitchen as I burst through the door, already late in starting dinner. Or lounging in my study when I need to write a lecture for tomorrow morning. Or already sitting in the taxi when I am on my way to the airport. I would be tempted to say, ‘but you haven’t made and appointment. You should have called first. I ‘d love to oblige, but this just isn’t a good time. Maybe later…’ But annunciations cannot be scheduled in advance…The angel–whatever form the bearer of tumultuous tidings might take–rarely carries a lily and practically never appears at a convenient time or place. Like Mary, as I imagine her, we would be quite happy to continue in our decent ordinariness. And yet the greeting comes: Hail, O favored one. Make a place for him within you. Get ready for your tranquility to be shattered. put yourself aside, let your life be changed.”  –Margaret Guenther, The Practice of Prayer (one of the best books on prayer I’ve ever read!)

“What do you want your home to be? What does God want it to be? Waste no time wondering if you can do it. The question is simply, Will you? Your weakness is itself a potent claim on divine mercy.” –Elisabeth Elliot, The Shaping of a Christian Family

“Our true aim must not be to work much, and have prayer enough to keep the work right, but to pray much and then to work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to [all people].–Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer

“I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use and that He found me.”  –Hudson Taylor (It’s been over 20 years since I wrote my undergrad history thesis on missions in China, Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward. Their witness never fails to inspire me.)

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” –Hudson Taylor

If you have quotes or verses that you’ve been reflecting on, please share them in the comments!

Friday Florilegium 1


Apr 15 2011

Friday Florilegium

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“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”

–James Michner

Friday Florilegium 1

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