Tag Archives: peace

“Thou art indeed just, Lord,”

Lately, I have been busy, but feel I am accomplishing little. It is the sort of busyness our Western culture strangely seems to value. I could enumerate several tasks I have completed throughout the day, yet the weightier ones, the ones which possess the most significance seem to remain neglected, undone. I have a list of deadlines looming, but even more our family seems unsettled and my own soul is not fully at peace. I am experiencing the disappointment of constant striving but without focus or satisfaction.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) experienced this, as well. The English poet was increasingly frustrated with his lack of productivity. The depth in his poetry seemed to elude him and though he wrote and wrote, the results disappointed him. He struggled with discouragement, even depression, most of his adult life.

Like the psalmist David, Hopkins begins his poem “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord” with a lament and complaint.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and

why must

Disappointment all I endeavour

end?

This is a cry of theodicy, a questioning of God’s goodness and care in a difficult world that seems far from ideal. He then ends it with a plea for help and a praise-filled recognition of the Lord as the true source of refreshment.

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I

contend

With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is

just.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and

why must

Disappointment all I endeavour

end?

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,

How wouldst thou worse, I wonder,

than thou dost

Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and

thralls of lust

Do in spare hours more thrive than I

that spend,

Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks

and brakes

Now, leaved how thick! laced they

are again

With fretty chervil, look, and fresh

wind shakes

Them; birds build – but not I build;

no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one

work that wakes.

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my

roots rain.

It is somewhat comparable to David’s content in Psalm 13 where the psalmist also confronts his creator on his fairness and justice.

How long, O LORD? Will

you forget me

forever?

How long will you hide

your face from me?

How long must I take

counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my

heart all the day?…..

Consider and answer

me, O LORD my God…..

But I have trusted in

your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in

your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt

bountifully with me.

Psalm 13, A Psalm of David

For weeks I have felt weighted down by my ineptitude as a mom, teacher, peace maker and spirit-filled being. Even if I grow heavy with the feeling of unfruitfulness, I can count on his grace and his refreshing rain like the psalmists rely on, to supply “my roots rain,” for “he has dealt bountifully with me.”

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Peace

Holiday2013 030_edited-1The first Noel the angel did say

was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:

in fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

As parents we strive to cultivate in our children a truth faith in Christ; we also fight against many cultural norms.  It is a daily fight to keep materialism, egocentrism, and shallow worldviews out of our homes and hearts.  This is precisely why yesterday’s church service pleased me so much.  As we sang this beautiful Christmas hymn, I felt I was participating in my own culture, without having to fight against it.  I was happy to participate in a typical custom and tradition – the singing of Christmas carols.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel

Whether your faith sustains you daily, or whether you only nominally believe, whether Christmas is for you a holiday full of presents, family and warm memories, or whether it is the fulfillment of God’s promises to bring His Son to help His people, if you celebrate Christmas, you most likely sing carols.

I was struck Sunday morning in church services by the sheer beauty of sharing something with the fellow believers around me, but also with those outside a religious context.  I am not always happy with the lessons pop-culture throws at us spiritually, politically,  and morally.  Yet, today, God’s people are joyful in their sharing of this cultural tradition.  However, in my mind, it is because of Christ we sing.

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on

whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:14

The angels emerged on the scene, albeit a small, bucolic scene, praising God’s plan in marked contrast to popular culture.  While the entire Roman world was benefitting from “pax Romana”  the angels sang of an abiding, ancient, eternal peace.  Their chorus resounded of a peace beyond political realms, and social boundaries.  Sunday morning we stood next to other believers, professing His birth for the sake of our community and for the sake of the world.  We sang of the peace of God.

And by the light of that same star

Three wise men came from the country far;

to seek for a King was their intent,

and to follow the star wherever it went;

Like the wise men, for many of us peace is an incomprehensible, distant thing.

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Ephesians 2:17

The angels sang of both glory and peace.  The joy and warmth of the season should be felt in this message –              We thank God.

We share His gift of peace with all we meet.

As you love the holly leaves this winter, as you breathe deeply of spicy evergreens, may you breathe in and love His peace, whether you are far from Him now, or close enough to call Him Christ.

Merry Christmas.

Jealous of Thoreau

I am jealous of Henry David Thoreau.  Yes, I do know he is deceased, but I cannot help it.  I am still jealous.

001

After reading several chapters of My Side of the Mountain, a story of a New York boy who decides to live out on his own in the Catskills, A is doing some preliminary reading on Thoreau.  As he  is starting to do some research for his eventual essay, I began to re-read bits of Walden, various quotes from other sources and came upon this –

I think I cannot preserve my health  and spirits unless I spend four hours a day…sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

 DSCF2290_1672

Exactly!  If I could just spend half my waking hours away from all people, I would be replenished and peaceful.  I could handle the rest of the day.  This is fairly close to how I spent some of my time in my 20s.  It was glorious.  I was a Thoreau in a city park.  Now, I am a mom of three boys with scarcely a moment to myself.  Mr. Thoreau, my spirits are failing, but a hibernation to Walden Pond  seems impossible.  Four hours a day?  Four consecutive minutes seems a stretch.

 DSCF2254_1643

Given the opportunity I would not change my life, but am I the only one who complains about what I do have?  The children are needy.  Life, at times, seems tedious, and I can be easily preoccupied.  My schedule is crowded.  The house constantly needs attention.  Mr. Thoreau, how do I carry with me the quietude of the forest?

 Beautiful, beautiful day!

Mr. Thoreau, I think I may be talking to the wrong person.

 study in sunlight and leaves

Jesus was constantly surrounded by people.  They were always following him and grabbing for him.  They were needy and insensitive.  He had a great deal he wanted to accomplish in any given day.  Did he get distracted?  He was often side-tracked by the crowds.  He was never able to spend four hours a day sauntering anywhere.  And yet his “health and spirits” always seemed strong.  Even in fatigue he never lost his temper; his compassion and vision for people never faded.  He had the eyes and heart of God.  He had an insatiable desire to spend time with his father.  He pulled away.  Even for a moment.  Often times a moment was all he was afforded.  Yet it was enough.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Luke 5:15-16

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!"  -L.M. Montgomery

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Mark 1:35

Jesus, teach me to pray.  And let it be enough.