The frugal snail, with forecast of repose, Carries his house with him where’er he goes; Peeps out,—and if there comes a shower of rain, Retreats to his small domicile again. Touch but a tip of him, a horn, – ’tis well, – He curls up in his sanctuary shell. He’s his own landlord, his own tenant; stay Long as he will, he dreads no Quarter Day. Himself he boards and lodges; both invites And feasts himself; sleeps with himself o’ nights. He spares the upholsterer trouble to procure Chattels; himself is his own furniture, And his sole riches. Wheresoe’er he roam, – Knock when you will, – he ’s sure to be at home. ~Charles Lamb — “The Housekeeper”
I like to think of myself as carefully self-contained and safe from whatever threatens – not dependent on others, able to bear my own burdens, completely sufficient unto today.
The reality is far different. As sturdy and solid as I may seem on the outside, I’m nothing but soft and a bit mushy on the inside. And I have a tendency to retreat and hide inside my shell when the going gets rough.
Yet even shells can and will be broken. I know it’s my home only for a little while.
So knock when you will: I’ll be here.
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14
I find my greatest freedom on the farm.
I can be a bad farmer or a lazy farmer and it’s my own business.
A definition of freedom:
It’s being easy in your harness. ~Robert Frost in 1954, at a news conference on the eve of his 80th birthday
The past was faded like a dream; There come the jingling of a team, A ploughman’s voice, a clink of chain, Slow hoofs, and harness under strain. Up the slow slope a team came bowing, Old Callow at his autumn ploughing, Old Callow, stooped above the hales, Ploughing the stubble into wales. His grave eyes looking straight ahead, Shearing a long straight furrow red; His plough-foot high to give it earth To bring new food for men to birth.
O wet red swathe of earth laid bare, O truth, O strength, O gleaming share, O patient eyes that watch the goal, O ploughman of the sinner’s soul. O Jesus, drive the coulter deep To plough my living man from sleep…
At top of rise the plough team stopped, The fore-horse bent his head and cropped. Then the chains chack, the brasses jingle, The lean reins gather through the cringle, The figures move against the sky, The clay wave breaks as they go by. I kneeled there in the muddy fallow, I knew that Christ was there with Callow, That Christ was standing there with me, That Christ had taught me what to be, That I should plough, and as I ploughed My Saviour Christ would sing aloud, And as I drove the clods apart Christ would be ploughing in my heart, Through rest-harrow and bitter roots, Through all my bad life’s rotten fruits.
As happens every day, as she sang to me, her arm reached past my perch through the open cage door, to pour fresh water in my bowl. Just beyond her, overhead near the barn, were clusters of glistening red cherries bouncing in invitation in the morning breeze.
So I heeded, flapping clumsily over her arm as she spilled the water, her mouth an “O”.
I escaped my cage, my first time flying more than a few feet, awkward and careening. I made it to a high branch and grabbed hold tightly, staring down at her asking me to come back. Instead I listened to the cherries next to me, their sweet song of red juice pouring over the sides of my beak.
I ate more than my fill of freedom.
When the breeze picked up in the darkening hours, I missed the comfort of my indoor loft nest lined with cedar shavings and horse hair, with snug walls where I have spent many wintry nights, and soft summer twilights. My mournful evening anthem was hushed by the wing swoop overhead of a clicking owl, anxious for dinner. I listened to the chorus of coyotes nearby and tucked my head in fear, with no wire enclosure to protect me. I fell silent, barely sleeping.
At dawn, she found me picking at cat food in the dish near the back porch, with an ancient feline crouched a few feet away, tail twitching, ready for instant breakfast. I fluttered off, returning to relative safety of the orchard treetops, alert for hawks. For two days I explored the trees surrounding my little home, its door still open as a standing invitation. She filled my water bowl and brought my seeds just as she always did, singing. I listened carefully to the familiar tune, twisting my neck one way and then another to hear her better.
The cherry song no longer seemed as sweet.
The next morning, she found me in my little nest inside my dove house, the door still wide open. She filled my bowl with fresh water and brought me new seeds, closed the door, latching it snug and safe.
The cherries still beckoned but not to me.
Today, joyful at dawn, I woke her with my mourning song.
Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things – in merely doing kind things? … he spent a great proportion of his time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people.
There is only one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping. But what God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.…
I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are. How much the world needs it. How easily it is done. How instantaneously it acts. How infallibly it is remembered. ~Henry Drummond from The Greatest Thing in the World
Sure on this shining night Of star made shadows round, Kindness must watch for me This side the ground. The late year lies down the north. All is healed, all is health. High summer holds the earth. Hearts all whole. Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder wand’ring far alone Of shadows on the stars.
If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God. ~G.K. Chesterton
Most evenings there is no sunset fanfare, no departing glowing orb on the horizon, no color spreading upward into the clouds. The typical evening canvas is just grey and ordinary at dusk, transitioning to twilight, giving into nightfall.
Yet there are times not at all ordinary. On those evenings, the Master reaches deep for his palette and starts mixing. As He begins His work, grey gradually gives way to amber and orange, shifting to red and purple and yellow. A daub here, a speckle there, then full out splash and streak. The backdrop is never the same night after night. He takes creative license with His creation.
We are invited to pick up a brush and apprentice for Him, learning the sweep of the hand, the grace of the wrist stroke, the fine work of the brush tip outlining the black of darkening shadows.
There can be no wrong color combination; anything goes. It is a riveting gift of extraordinary artwork: it is meant to be shared, to be taught, to be cherished even if only for a few brief minutes.
When the sky glows like unfolding rose petals, all will see it; this work won’t be hidden away in a gallery or museum.
All too soon it moves on, the canvas plain and dark once again. And we’re left holding the brush, eager and ready to try again when the timing is right.
There is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset. ~G.K. Chesterton
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. C. S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
I reveled in being the good egg.
Smooth on the surface,
gooey inside, often a bit scrambled,
ordinary and decent,
indistinguishable from others,
not making waves.
It’s not been bad staying just as I am.
Except I can no longer remain like this.
A dent or two appeared in my outer shell
from bumps along the way,
and a crack up one side
It has come time to change or face rot.
Nothing will be the same again:
the fragments of shell
as useless confinement.
my home becomes
the wind beneath my wings
soaring an endless horizon
that stretches beyond eternity.