Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Morning Has Broken

Many mornings I start the day with a walk.

This morning was no exception--except for the major exception that I am in Eureka Springs, and my walk took me from the top of an Ozark "mountain" down a long dirt-gravel road into a valley. I was the only person I could see the whole time I was out, except for the man on his porch that I saw on my way back up out at the top of the road.

So for an hour or more I walked around and saw no one else, heard no one else. Only birds, the scampering of a squirrel now and then, the insect sounds. Oh, even a crow cawing at one point. "Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird....."

How to describe the light coming through the air as it was when I took this photo? I felt like Saul on the road to Damascus, or perhaps a character in a Lord of the Rings novel. The light was alive. The morning was alive. I was alive.

Reminds me of a Hopkins poem, one of his better known. One I resonate with so much, because I live in a city and am often reminded of how "all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil...." It is beautiful to be in a place where you can forget that for a while.

And morning is always a reminder that God is at work, sustaining what is, and also making things new.

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
     World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 --Hopkins, "God's Grandeur"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Don't Rush

 I find God never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.
                                                                                              --Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion.

I don't believe my piano teacher ever read Thomas Kelly, but she certainly believed these words. "Don't rush" wasn't just instruction for how to play piano well. She did not rush her life. She always had time for music, for prayer, for people--piano students, college students, her children and later grandchildren.

Recently another dear friend and mentor to my husband died. Someone shared this in the tributes, a quote from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, about what it means to be a holy person:

Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less…..They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from… I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put it at its very lowest, it must be great fun.

"They will usually seem to have a lot of time." Of course. If we believe we will live for eternity, why on earth do we get in a rush?

Whether playing piano or listening to people or planning and executing the day, I think "Don't rush" is excellent wisdom for both holiness and happiness.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

To Everything There Is a Season

And apparently the season for calendar sales is getting longer and longer. Maybe it has something to do with climate change, but I'm just sure calendars did not used to appear, as these did, in the middle of August. I could hardly believe my eyes a couple of weeks ago, when it was nearly a hundred degrees outside, and 2014 calendars were not only sprouting but in full bloom at the bookstore.

Beyond my ability to believe. Positively crazy. Like a Star Trek time warp.

After my initial shock, I was determined to keep calm and trust that everything was going to be okay.

Oh, what does it say there, there in the right bottom corner? Something about "this day"?

This day will never come again. And yet we live in a time that would have us always looking ahead, rarely staying in today long enough to notice and remember it.

Of course this is about the bookstore making money, keeping themselves afloat. But the very fact that they will sell calendars in August, along with the way Walgreen's has Halloween fare out as soon as July 4 has passed, has to do with more than just making money. It tells us something that our culture will allow this to happen. It says that making money is more important than living sanely with and in time.

"Saving the Season," a book out on a nearby display, seemed to clash with the ushering in of a whole new year just across the aisle.

It was especially thought-provoking because as you can see, this wasn't one display case of calendars. I believe there were six double units like this. I could not help feeling a bit overwhelmed.

At least Thanksgiving Day is only a little over three months past the day we were in the store.

I think life has to be lived in small batches to have much meaning. And to be preserved well in memory.

Maybe this is the first year to have calendars on sale in August. But of course it isn't the first sign that human beings don't always value time. Not long after coming upon the calendar display, I came across these wise words from The Cloud of Unknowing, written in the late 14th century:

Pay attention, then, to how you spend your time.
You have nothing more precious than time.
In one tiny moment of time, heaven may be gained or lost.

I suppose one wise thing to do with my time would be to go buy a calendar while they still have such a great selection. . . unless they have all already been bought. Ha.