Both Landlord and Tenant

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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”

 

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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

 

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Becoming the Disturbance

photos by Nate Gibson
photos by Nate Gibson

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No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.
~Charles Lamb

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
~T.S. Eliot  “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

This New Year’s Day, like so many that have come before, arrives with the ordinary revelry,  yet a lingering odor remains.  All is not as it appears and is faintly disturbing.  Like a dog joyfully rolling in something stinky simply because it was there,  2015 may look squeaky clean but reeks of what has come before.  It can’t be ignored and, even brand new, is already badly in need of a bath.

I too tend to prefer things familiar, safe and routine, even if that means I roll about where I shouldn’t, still smelling like yesterday, if not last month.   It’s time I stop being indifferent to the passage of time and the change that it brings.  There is no turning back or staying stubbornly with how things used to be.  Time leads irrevocably forward, with me in tow, and I must follow,  acutely aware more of my life has been lived out than lies ahead of me.

Do I dare disturb my own comfortable universe?  Or continue to disturb others with that lingering odor?

Perhaps this new year I will try walking a slower walk, stay clear of the stinky stuff, take time to look at all things with new eyes, breathe each cleansing breath appreciatively, keenly aware it was not my last.

Then others near me might breathe more freely.

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A Common Nativity

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.
It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left.
It is the nativity of our common Adam.

–  Charles Lamb  

We come to this new year
naked as dormant branches
in the freezing night.

Mere potential is barely budded,
nothing covered up,
no hiding in shame.

A shared and common birthday,
a still life nativity in a winter garden,
another chance to make it right.