Aiming High

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Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’:
aim at Earth and you will get neither.
~ C.S. Lewis from The Joyful Christian

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The night sky was still dim and pale. 
There, peeping among the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains,
Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. 
The beauty of it smote his heart,
as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. 
For like a shaft, clear and cold,
the thought pierced him that in the end
the Shadow was only a small and passing thing:
there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
~J.R.R. Tolikien, The Return of the King

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We long for a heaven that feels so elusive;
we who are so weary
and with so much need
seek out Light so seemingly
beyond our reach.

Yet by reaching beyond the here and now
we find heaven descended to us
in His incarnate earthliness.

No shadow cast in this worldly darkness,
and no iron nails
can quell the beauty
of His everlasting brilliance.

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Pausing for the Parable

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Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
~Robert Frost “For Once, Then, Something”

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Every happening, great and small,

is a parable whereby God speaks to us,
and the art of life is to get the message.
~Malcolm Muggeridge

brokenbarn

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Every day is filled with one story after another
and I am too rushed to listen,
to stop and consider
what I see or feel or hear,
no matter how small and insignificant.

When I pause
for the parable,
it makes all the difference:

A shattered handmade pot
pieced together by a friend
who then became the glue
making my broken heart
more beautiful.

An iced-over water barrel
reflects distant clouds
above me as I peer deep inside,
its frozen blue eye mirroring
for once, then, something
far beyond me.

A steaming manure pile
becomes a crucible for my failings
transformed into something useful,
a fertilizer eventually spread
to grow whatever it touches.

An old barn roof awaits repair
of gaps torn of fierce winds,
allowing rain and snow
and invading vines inside
what once was safe and secure,
a sanctuary now storming.

I am looking.
I am listening.
I am these stories.
A broken pot made wholly beautiful.
A heating pile of failings becomes growth agent.
A leaking sanctuary needing repair.
A reflected something above, below and beyond me.

My life paused to really hear the stories,
to celebrate my transformation by parables,
one after another after another.

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Two Kinds of People

photo by Karen Mullen photography
photo by Karen Mullen photography

There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable,
those who serve God with all their heart
because they know him,

and those who seek him with all their heart
because they do not know him.
~Blaise Pascal

Some of the worshippers at our 2014 Easter Sunrise Service on our farm hilltop

a stream of people walking up the hill this morning for Easter Sunrise Service on our farm

A Heart Inclined

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
~C. S. Lewis

I’ve been following Kathleen Mulhern’s blog “Dry Bones” where she is currently illuminating Blaise Pascal’s fascinating discussions on faith and belief (i.e. Pascal’s Wager).   I am learning how “seeking is as good as seeing” (Julian of Norwich).

What Pascal determines is that one must “incline the heart” toward belief in God, to “desire” to fill that “God-shaped hole” in our lives:

I tell you that you will gain even in this life, and that at every step you take along this road you will see that your gain is so certain and your risk so negligible that in the end you will realize that you have wagered on something certain and infinite for which you have paid nothing.
~Blaise Pascal

If we do not know spiritual hopelessness, we cannot hope. If we do not know spiritual wretchedness, we cannot find the happiness we long for. If we do not see the abyss at our feet, we cannot believe there is a way across it; if we are not willing to descend into its depths, which lie in our own souls, we will never ascend the heights on the other side.
~Kathleen Mulhern from “Dry Bones”