31 August 2015

Amidst Storms

I fell asleep amidst a storm last night. The sky was loud and layers of thunder cracked the landscape. The flashes of lightning were constant and  my home was filled with flashes of light. Almost ceaseless the lightning was. The rain pounded at the windows. I kept my eyes closed and felt myself falling asleep. Normally I would not easily be as relaxed to fall asleep during such a loud storm, but I was calm. God was in my thoughts. God was near me. He was close when the loud resounded. He was in the quiet moments in between the cracks of thunder. He was with me in each moment of my drifting to sleep.

As the storm eased a bit, I did fall asleep. I knew that it was the sense of calm that God gave me to fall asleep so quickly. Noises and storms usually keep me awake. But I was so tired, and needed to fall asleep. I need the nearness of God more than just when I am falling asleep. I long to be held close, protected, comforted. I want to feel loved. Our Lord does hold us and love us. It is a love that penetrates deeply into our souls and reaches all the needs we have.

Heart and soul. Loved all by God, who does not walk away from us. Who is never too busy to pay attention. Who is not bound in time like we are. When we find ourselves emptied, we are filled by God's ceaseless love, which restores us, leaving nothing wanting. The silence and peace comes.

28 August 2015

Utterly Bookish

bookish - adj. devoted to reading and studying (OED)

Can someone be utterly bookish? If so, can someone be more than utterly bookish?
If that is a possibility, I submit myself to be a candidate for exhibit A.

Books are the keystone for all things that we want to learn about and study. Within the thin pages, there holds the vital story and wisdom that we would all benefit by if we took the time to read it. I know my thoughts are anomalous from the general public and the thoughts that surround good reading these days, but I am determined. If you get me on the topic of reading, you might not be able to get me off of it. As one who is not generally a loquacious person, I become one who suddenly reaches into a depository of thoughts to share when asked about books and reading.

Where might this spring from? I can only explain that it is a life-long fascination with the importance of learning and growing. Of the mind and thinking, and how we are gifted with the ability to ponder, sub-create, and process. Of words, their origin, and the use of words.

Human minds, then, are not the only supernatural entities that exist. They do not come from nowhere. Each has come into Nature from Supernature: each has its tap-root in an eternal, self-existent, rational Being, whom we call God.
 - C.S. Lewis

How could we question our role in this universe? How could we think that what we say (and do) does not matter? We have a complex intelligence able to use and choose words and learn more all the time. We have these wonder-filled minds that store data and memory. All this means we can ponder God in our own unique way because we all have different wonderings.
I would say that is a pretty important thing.

This is why I love books and reading so much. If we are not learning and continuing to see ideas and goodness through the eyes of authors, we are limiting ourselves. We are cutting ourselves off from thoughts that engage us. An idle mind is a dangerous thing, right? It is dangerous because it is set in its own ways, unwilling to see others. And when we only look inward, we become a nesting place for all sorts of complacency and neglect.

I have been using my mind to its capacity lately, with work, studying, my own leisurely reading, writing, and listening to lectures online. And yet, I know I have not reached my capacity, nor have I actually been using my mind to capacity. And that is exciting to me because I am utterly bookish, in the true sense of the word.

26 August 2015

Variation on a Theme

I pause in the middle of a page in my book. Listen. The great overarching theme of the sounds of summer are playing tonight. The distant rumbling crescendo of thunder grows closer as it plays for the twilight. The flashes of heat lightning precede all the notes. A preliminary effect perhaps left over from a storm beyond the neighborhood. The lingering bouts of rumble usher in my bedtime, and leave us dry for the evening.

As the summer goes, a more rare evening, full of heat, humidity, but lack of rain.

A variation on a theme.

This tune of summer could use a variety with added notes of autumn, but we are yet to be satisfied. I cling to the hope of early songs of autumn with a sense of expectancy that will not likely come to fruition.

Carried away to the realm above the land where the storm resides, my mind wanders. I watch the flashes of energy in the sky from my window. Here is where some dreams dwell. Beyond my reach, floating in the midst of questions, yet full of hope.

Soon I am brought back down to earth. Is it water droplets I see on the window? It only adds another beautiful dimension to the theme of the song. A song that I am most thrilled to read to.

21 August 2015

The Thing With Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

- Emily Dickinson

Awaken. Yet in the rare abundance of time, set yourself in dreams again. A gaze inward and beyond to that which has not come to pass. But hope lies within, and it perches in the soul, never letting go.

Whatever darkness is trending, we shall not be wearied. Hope does not look down with dread and fear. Hope leaps when there is no guarantee of an established landing, because by the time it needs to land, it is provided for. Believing fully in the grace of the living God, hope stays above the fear, even when the sky is swept in darkness.

If one cannot see in the dark, one can still listen. Listen to the words. Follow His words. It will guide you through the black space in which you find yourself, seemingly alone. Just because you cannot see all around you does not mean you are alone. Not everything is begot with eyes, and at times we are so weary and preoccupied, we cannot see that which is directly in front of us.

While hope remains, the Light guides. The faithful follower of the Light shall not be driven into the fog forever. For goodness is just beyond the next hill. You cannot see it yet. It is just out of reach, but it will some swiftly, as you think to yourself - I will never get there. There you will be. At rest. At peace. Emerged from the dark. Awakened to true light.

19 August 2015

Weather Report

With evidence to back it up, it would seem that the following weather pattern has ensued. The mornings begin with a bright sunshine. Muted and golden, at first. The sun rises just before 7 am and it rises with heat already intact. The humidity stains the atmosphere and grows more intense as the sun shifts higher into the clear sky that seems washed clean from the previous evening's storm. Birds chirp at the sunshine and the grass is a deep green. Mossy nourishment is evident down each historic street of my neighborhood.

As the morning hours wan, friendly looking clouds begin to appear against the solid blue. Soon, though, more clouds join and form larger groups of puffy clans. A few hours later their presence becomes more noticeable as their whiteness shifts to a deep grey. You notice a breeze begins to blow, and it has an urgency to it. The clouds look fatter, billowing with rain. That sky might tease you for hours, or it could swoop in quickly. No report could tell you exactly what will occur each day, but you will know when the sky is about to open when the wind blows like squalls, relentless like the sea, and thunder accompanies the lightning strikes. 

You can hold your breathe, for the next moment the sheets of rain will burst out of the heavy clouds, and any glimpse of bright sky will be profoundly covered by curtains of rain that no longer tease, but soak, and the thunder sounds its power right above you

It is at this time that it is most advisable to remain indoors with a good book, some tea in a large mug, lit candles, while sitting near enough to a window to watch the storm between pages.

It could be 15 minutes later of 4 hours later that the storm eventually clears away. But when it does clear away, the sky will suddenly open up to a sunset that draws attention to itself by way of dramatic colours reflecting onto the leftover darker clouds. Bright shades of pink and orange will look like paint on the tips of clouds all over the sky. One may have the sense that we are on a different planet for the hues of light will cast glows of crimson and tangerine.We begin to imagine ourselves as part of the galaxy full of stars and planets from simply looking and noticing the display of beauty set before our eyes.

And this. This is a daily occurrence. How can we ever feel that each day is not a gift? 

17 August 2015

The Blank Pages

Your head is a living forest full of song birds. - E.E. Cummings

He is beside us and within us, and everywhere in between. Our minds are wonder-working and full of words and images. A gallery of art and creation is included in the original hardware of our minds. We do not need any upgrades, other than to upgrade our focus and attention.

O! The loveliness of blank pages. The freedom of the imagination!

It is here, on these pages that the song can be sung. The scene can be seen. The beauty can be shown. It all comes alive within the chosen words, selected with care and thought.  The makings of so many ideas and stories dwell quietly within these pages. Various scenes, words, descriptions, memories conjure even more ideas. Lines of poetry form out of a few words. 

I record here the little that I know and the much that I wonder.

The world we know is tiny. A small planetary dot amidst the realm of galaxies so numerous we cannot keep track of them all. Yet, we are even smaller. A tiny dot on the face of God's good earth. While we may be small, we each have an important roll to fill. A place in the story is reserved for you.

Here, on these next pages, your story will ensue....

14 August 2015

Glimpses Past and Future

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future.

- Romans 8.28-29

A place of beauty lies within you. You are equipped with all that you need. It is not something you have to apply each morning. No, the soulful beauty was planted in you, and there it grows. It just needs air to breathe. All the elements of the facade do not matter. To the world, it matters, but you are not of the world. You were made for so much more than just this world.

We are all left guessing and waiting for things that we hope will come to pass, but we are many times left without inclinations or guidance as to an answer. All is quiet. The lack of answers has the tendency to spread rumors of closed doors in your mind.

It is with a swift and sudden movement that God sometimes makes things come to light, and you see that He was there all along. His fingers slowly moving the right pieces into the proper spot at the perfect time. Don't lose heart. We are to keep living all the unanswered questions.

12 August 2015

Sight For Sore Eyes

As I glanced at some of my recent photos taken on my phone, I realized I had a little pileup of town photos. These are from the recent couple of weeks around my neighborhood and downtown area. Rather than have them sit in a file folder collecting virtual dust, I thought I would share a few views of my town. Plus, I just needed a break from studying, so these photos are a sight for sore eyes (literally).

I have become more and more fond of my town here. It grows and thrives in its own way, with new creative things happening all the time. It's inspiring, and living in the midst of it, in my historic neighborhood is quite fun because it is so close by.

10 August 2015

Nothing is Common

"I have come," said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.
- The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

It's all about You
Highest of all.

I am not certain about many things, but one thing I am sure of is my wonder amidst God's simplest beauties. A ray of light. A shadow cast. The sweetest strawberries. A genuine smile. Fresh flowers. The scent of tea. 

I know that there is something in these things which catches my heart and causes it to pause and relish in it. It is not because of anything particular to a person, but rather to all people. 

The light reminds me to be hopeful. The shadow is the darker time we must go through. Sweet fruit reminds me of the sweetness of life; the precious moments to be savored. The smile is the love of God shining outwardly and sharing that joy with others. The flower is the grace we don't deserve. And the tea is our daily provision of community. We are taken care of and warmed by the presence of others.

Behind each seemingly mundane thing is the evidence of God and His goodness, for, as the Creator, we would have none it without Him. We cannot share in the joy of something that isn't there. Each thing is about God, or it should be. 

07 August 2015

Obedience in the Same Direction

And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily--open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.
-Eugene Peterson

Life and our pursuits is a long obedience in the same direction. I borrow that phrase from Eugene Peterson and I keep hearing those words ring in my heart. Truth and encouragement wrapped up in one. 

The act of slowly moving forward, leaning on ahead toward the next bend in the road takes great effort. It involves learning more and taking on a greater responsibility. It is the willingness to allow God to do in His time what He wills. It is the patient nature that must be extended. It involves growing outward toward the imagination that has formed a larger shape ahead that we must move into. The beauty of the imagination is that it is ahead of us. We must grow into it.

I always find myself desperate for the imagination and for poetic words. For musings that dwell in the depths of the heart and that dig deeply into thoughts. The words that scrape away the dust of idleness and isolation. The words that conjure anything but complacency. They run and create the story as they emerge. They sub-create line by line.

So, I will be obedient in the same direction as long as it takes, and keep on going. Each step is part of the story. All the moments compiled are worth it. All the moments revealed are full of marvel.

06 August 2015


Omniana, n. Thoughts of scraps of information about all or many kinds of things, esp. (a collection of) notes, jottings, or short pieces of writing on all or many kinds of subjects.

It's only now, that I have these few minutes to write, that I can get to the omniana that is passing through my brain. I make conjectures about all the questions I have, and discover that sometimes the questions bring up even more questions.

I've been stretched thin, lately, bending and feeling the ache of that space outside my comfortable box. The weariness of each day has grown on me that by 9:30 each night I am spent. My mind has reached its capacity and it wants to turn off, but I keep going. My brain has been stretched far each day, but I keep trying. This is not all in all a bad thing, except when a balance is off.

My dear friend Jen reminded me in a recent talk that my weariness is felt most intensely when I am not taking the tiny prayer breaks that help keep me centered. Just a few minutes of thankful prayers to re-center myself makes a whole world of difference. Thinking about the truth in those words brought to mind that if I cannot take a few minutes for some quiet prayer to be still, then why should I expect to feel put together and peaceful when I am not listening to God? If I am excluding Him, my own strength certainly isn't going to get me through the hours in the way that will keep me joyful and also show love to others. When I leave God in charge, there is a lovely side effect of peace and stillness amidst a chaotic time.

04 August 2015

Book Notes

Here are some of the books I have finished lately. Most of my summer reading has been consumed by financial jargon, but I have managed to squeeze these good books in between somewhere. All of these books are worth taking a few extra minutes to read a page or two.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

This is one of my favourites of Austen's, hence why I read it again. I'll never grow tired of reading the story of contrasting sisters in Marianne and Elinor Dashwood. The former being emotional, loving, and hasty, the latter being calm, calculated, and thoughtful. We can all see ourselves in them and the situations they have to deal with. Nobody else can write about the complexities of society with such detail and character driven internal dialogue like Jane Austen. She's a marvel, and each time I read her books, I catch even more of her sharp wit in the conversations.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

One of my favourites of Chesterton's, which I can read over and over. I recently wrote about this book in my post HERE. This is where Chesterton shines: in his mysterious, paradoxical stories that also hold a good deal of humour. I absolutely love this book.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I rarely pick up modern fiction because I tend to find myself disappointed with the lack of good storytelling, but I am glad I picked this book up. It was beautifully written and it drew me into the story, I didn't want to put it down. While a pandemic wipes out 99% of the population, you read into the lives of several survivors and how they manage to keep going. There is light in the darkness and hope in the insight. It's not about the disaster so much as it is about the people.

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke 

Rilke's only novel. His poetry is so wonderful I could not resist this book when I found it recently. There is something about his writing that draws me in. Even when he is writing as someone else's notebooks, I know it is about Rilke himself, and his own worries, doubts, and wonderings when he lived in Paris. 

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

This short book reminded me of a George MacDonald book. A child is forced into an adventure across the countryside, aided by a few adult mentors, who help him grow in wisdom. Taking place in medieval times, a king is about to be attacked by a neighboring country, and the vital piece of the story is the young boy, without whom the victory could not be won. Another reminder that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. 

Wearing God by Lauren Winner
I've always enjoyed Lauren's writings. Her intellectual brain always dives deeply into an issue or topic, and this new book of hers does the same. Different elements of our lives are focused on and how those things can help us know God better. Clothing, laughter, food and wine, bearing children, etc. I feel like I am always learning something when I read her work. She has a way of drawing the reader into her topic with a perfect mixture of daily life, historical background, and knowledge. 

Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield
Sometimes as I read this book, I thought to myself I knew what I was reading, but I had no idea what I was reading. This book is so philosophical, and dense, it stretches me to understand it. Imagery of nature in human history has changed over time. To begin with, the 'original participation' included God as being manifest in everything. The 'final participation' has developed over time as man has taken on the creator role more so. He writes about idolatry as we are today, replacing all participation with idols, mostly due to the scientific revolution.

03 August 2015


And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.
- G. K. Chesterton

My heart soars on an overcast morning such as this. It soars right up into the slate grey clouds that rest above the land. Muted tones gather like the thick blanket above. I delight in the weather. The sunny sky is not weather. It is, rather, the lack of weather. 

I prefer weather, and to all ends, the kind of weather for walking out and about in a cosy coat and scarf, then coning inside to warm up with a cup of tea. The day is rather more interesting when there is weather in the midst. Do you ever stand at the window to gaze out at a sunny day because it draws your attention? No, but a storm will draw you to the window where you will watch the trees dance in the blustery wind, and the heavy water drops falling fast. 

Even without rain, the clouds swirl, gather, form shapes, and shift from moment to moment. If sunshine slashes between a few clouds, the result is dramatic. When a rainbow shows up, it draws our gaze. We nudge our companion to look at the beauty, the promise that God leaves for us. We want to share that, and even during a torrential rain, we share an atmosphere of coziness with others.

I can always count on Chesterton to provide the words that align with my thoughts.
But all good manners must obviously begin with the sharing of something in a simple style. Two men should share an umbrella; if they have not got an umbrella, they should at least share the rain, with all its rich potentialities of wit and philosophy.

- G.K. Chesterton