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
It is at the edge of a petal that love waits…
The fragility of the flower
― William Carlos Williams from Spring and All
It is too easy to look for love deep in the heart of things, up front and center, at once showpiece and show off. We think of love as reverberating from within, loud enough for all the world to see and hear and know it is so.
But as I advance on life’s road, I have found love is quietly waiting at the periphery of people: so fragile and too easily bruised and torn – clinging to the very edge of our lives. It is ever-present as it protects and cherishes our core, fed by fine little veins of grace which branch out to feed our tenderest margins.
Love dwells on that delicate edge of us – that exquisite, ethereal and eternal edge of who we are.
Here is the mystery, the secret, one might almost say the cunning, of the deep love of God: that it is bound to draw on to itself the hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness and rejection of the world, but to draw all those things on to itself is precisely the means, chosen from all eternity by the generous, loving God, by which to rid his world of the evils which have resulted from human abuse of God-given freedom.
~N.T. Wright from The Crown and the Fire
Inundated by overwhelmingly bad news of the world,
blasted 24/7 from cable TV,
highlighted in rapidly changing headlines online,
tweeted real time to our pocket phones from every nook and cranny~
We cling to the mystery of His magnetism for our weaknesses and flaws.
He willingly pulls our evil onto Himself and out of us.
Hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness
disappear into the vortex of His love and beauty,
the dusty corners of our hearts vacuumed spotless.
We are let in on a secret, the mystery revealed:
He is not sullied by absorbing the dirty messes of our lives.
Instead, once we are safely within His depths, He washes us forever clean.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil…
And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,
where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.
-Wendell Berry “To My Mother”
Something woke me at 4:45 AM: perhaps the orange glow bathing my face. Never one to miss a light show, I heeded the call and obeyed.
Once outside, I watched clouds boiling – shifting and swirling in unrest as if something or someone may emerge momentarily.
Just early morning bird song oblivious to the turmoil.
Within a minute, the heavens settled and so did I, no longer entangled and dismayed.
Yet for a moment this morning, I did wonder what might become of us all.
Like Time’s insidious wrinkle
On a beloved Face
We clutch the Grace the tighter
Though we resent the crease
People are more than just the way they look.
~Madeleine L’Engle from A Wrinkle in Time
Just a glance in the mirror tells me all I need to know:
these creases I see remind me
each wrinkle is grace in action,
so tangible, so telling, so mobile –
they multiply particularly when I smile
so I must smile more often.
I won’t hide them
nor tighten them away
or inject them smooth.
Instead I’ll grin at the wrinkle of time’s passing
knowing each line gained
is grace clutched tightly
in my otherwise loosening grasp.
but if I could understand what you are,
root and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
Am I root, or am I bud?
Am I stem or am I leaf?
All in all, I am
but the merest image
of God’s fruiting glory,
the tears shed
as He broke
In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem:
in Christianity we find the poem itself.
~C.S. Lewis from Miracles
Science fails when we need a miracle:
~love us always no matter what,
~give us reason to keep on living when we want to give up,
~grasp the hand of the dying who aren’t ready,
~provide hope to the weak and courage to the fearful,
~become sacrifice for all we’ve done wrong,
~redeem us through everlasting forgiveness and grace.
Science is merely the footnote
to a Word and Truth more vast:
a fermata allowing us just a long enough rest to admire Creation,
dwelling for a moment of silence
inside His ultimate symphonic Work.