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…
Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God is enough. ~The Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
I know from experience that when I allow busy little doings to fill the precious time of early morning, when contemplation might flourish, I open the doors to the demon of acedia. Noon becomes a blur – no time, no time – the wolfing down of a sandwich as I listen to the morning’s phone messages and plan the afternoon’s errands. When evening comes, I am so exhausted that vespers has become impossible. It is as if I have taken the world’s weight on my shoulders and am too greedy, and too foolish, to surrender it to God. ~Kathleen Norris from The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Woman’s “Work”
There are sleepless nights when the burdens of my waking hours weigh heavily. Almost anything becomes is more fearsome in the dark.
Even in the misty dawn of daylight, the puzzle pieces of the duties of the day feel scattered and impossible to put together, making no logical pattern or sense.
They can feel as random as a million dandelions overwhelming a pasture.
In those helpless moments, I must remember that if I surrender them over to God, He picks up what I cannot carry.
God does not change, God is sufficient, God is patient.
He is enough for now, for tonight, for today, for tomorrow.
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still Even among these rocks, Our peace in His will And even among these rocks…
…And let my cry come unto Thee. ~T.S. Eliot from “Ash Wednesday”
Too many daily distractions prevent me from remaining still and seeking peace in my earthly life.
I constantly build up, and then tear down, and keep moving just to prove I can.
I care too much, I care too little — anything to avoid being mistaken for a mere stone-faced rock.
I’m always aware everlasting stillness will come soon enough, indeed much too soon, in the grave, in the forever fate of stone disintegrating to dust.
Yet even rocks fail to stay rooted in place; the earth heaves them up from the depths, they are washed away with the waves, moved at the mercy of the tide or the soil, landing somewhere new and unfamiliar only to be temporarily stilled, before they are shifted once again.
Let my peace become stone-like, to be picked up and moved where He wills, to settle where I am placed until the time comes to be moved again.
Let my peace be in the knowledge that God alone moves pebbles and mountains, not I.
And so I cry out as even stones cannot remain silent in the presence of the Living God.
The cold grows colder, even as the days grow longer, February’s mercury vapor light buffing but not defrosting the bone-white ground, crusty and treacherous underfoot. This is the time of year that’s apt to put a hammerlock on a healthy appetite, old anxieties back into the night, insomnia and nightmares into play; when things in need of doing go undone and things that can’t be undone come to call, muttering recriminations at the door, and buried ambitions rise up through the floor and pin your wriggling shoulders to the wall; and hope’s a reptile waiting for the sun. ~Bill Christopherson “February”
Just when you think it is safe to go out in shirt sleeves and sweats, subzero wind chill blasts through your bravado and reminds you February is still WINTER on the calendar and in reality.
February can be a month of regret and recriminations, of “should-haves” and “should-not-haves” while waiting, frozen and immobile, for spring to bring us back to life. Like cold-blooded creatures, we need the sun to warm us up so we can move again. This sun today, bright as it is, only lights up our flaws and holes – no warmth whatsoever.
And it’s not just me struggling to stay upright in the storm. Our old red barn, waiting for its spring date with a talented rehab carpenter, hasn’t many roof shingles left after this latest blow, and a recent partial wall collapse in the wind prompted a neighbor to ask if we had meant to create a new door into our barn.
The old barn is kind of like how I feel at times: lacking a decent foundation, a bit shaky on my underpinnings, a lot sagging in the middle, broad in the beam and drafty where I shouldn’t be.
So much to be shored up, fixed, patched and restored. So much need for a talented Carpenter who knows how to mend and strengthen the broken and fallen.
“Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?” – William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
February never fails to be seductive, teasing of spring on a bright sunny day and the next day all hope is dashed by a frosty wind cutting through layers of clothing. There is a hint of green in the pastures but the deepening mud is sucking at our boots. The snowdrops and crocus are up and blooming, but the brown leaves from last summer still cling tenaciously to oak branches, appearing as if they will never ever let go to make room for a new leaf crop.
A February face is tear-streaked and weepy, winter weary and spring hungry. Thank goodness it is a short month or we’d never survive the glumminess of a month that can’t quite decide whether it is done with us or not.
So much ado. So much nothing. So much anything that becomes everything.
As a bird cannot exhaust the air in the sky nor a fish exhaust the water in the sea, neither can we exhaust the grace of the God. ~Charles Spurgeon
It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale. So many things have been shown so to me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags, that the pouring from ever-renewable sources is endless, impartial, and free. Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
This grace never flags, never exhausts itself, flows free and endlessly. And that is so– yet free comes at great cost. Freedom can never be free. Snow and ice melt, clouds deplete, emptying out their weight, transfigured into something other. There is sacrifice upstream and from the heavens. It could and has run red, it is so costly. Quenching our every thirst, we no longer lie panting and parched. Revived, renewed, transformed, grateful, Forever changed. Amazed and amazing, we are purchased and paid in full.
By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast — a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines —
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches —
They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind —
Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined — It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
But now the stark dignity of entrance — Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted they grip down and begin to awaken ~William Carlos Williams “Spring and All”
January wraps up with much of the country in deep freeze, covered in snow and ice and bitter wind chill.
Yet outside begins to awaken– tender buds swelling, bulbs breaking through soil, in reentry to the world from the dark and cold.
Like a mother who holds the mystery of her quickening belly, so hopeful and marveling, she knows soon and very soon there will be spring.