Thursday, May 28, 2009

“When Dickens entered a room,” said one who knew him well, “it was like the sudden kindling of a big fire, by which every one was warmed.”

I read that quote from Orison Marden’s book “Pushing to the Front”; it was in a chapter about manners and I immediately visualized a scene of a London hearth with a warming fire and what a wonderful thing to be said on someone. As Christians we are to show ourselves friendly and to carry the fragrance of Christ, but all too often it is not the case. I read on in the chapter and ran across this –

“A guest for two weeks at the house of Arthur M. Cavanaugh, M.P., who was without arms or legs, was very desirous of knowing how he fed himself; but the conversation and manner of the host were so charming that the visitor was scarcely conscious of his deformity.”

It’s a rare thing to be so engaged and drawn in by a gracious person; but it is a trait that we all admire and would aspire to, although we,(certainly myself), rarely captivate people. I generally spend most of my time trying not to offend them; sometimes I remind my self of what an acquaintance of Carlyle said of him when he saw him for the first time -- “His presence, in some unaccountable manner, rasped the nerves. I expected to meet a rare being, and I left him feeling as if I had drunk sour wine, or had had an attack of seasickness.” But when grace is running freely connections happen that are truly spiritual. I think whether Christian or not, we should aspire to rear our children to be gracious and well mannered.
This chapter has many little stories for example of the best and worst of manners; here’s the good –

“The late King Edward, when Prince of Wales, the first gentleman in Europe, invited an eminent man to dine with him. When coffee was served, the guest, to the consternation of the others, drank from his saucer. An open titter of amusement went round the table. The Prince, quickly noting the cause of the untimely amusement, gravely emptied his cup into his saucer and drank after the manner of his guest. Silent and abashed, the other members of the princely household took the rebuke and did the same.”

Now here’s an illustration of the bad –
“Here is a man who is cross, crabbed, moody, sullen, silent, sulky, stingy, and mean with his family and servants. He refuses his wife a little money to buy a needed dress, and accuses her of extravagance that would ruin a millionaire.
Suddenly the door bell rings. Some neighbors call: what a change! The bear of a moment ago is as docile as a lamb. As by magic he becomes talkative, polite, generous. After the callers have gone, his little girl begs her father to keep on his “company manners” for a little while, but the sullen mood returns and his courtesy vanishes as quickly as it came. He is the same disagreeable, contemptible, crabbed bear as before the arrival of his guests.”

I wish I couldn’t relate to that last story but sad to say it happens too often. But that is why I read things like this to check me, remind me and encourage me to be more Christ like.
Top photo by Stephane Le Gal, bottom photo by Mike Malloy


Trudy said...

Hi Fred,

I enjoyed this post immensely. It is very thought-provoking and a welcome reminder for all of us to be more mindful of how we are portraying ourselves to others.

I loved the pictures and the quotes too.

God bless you always!


Mel said...

I love this, Fred!! It's totally going on my fridge. :)

HAINAngel2000 said...

Me too Fred on your last note. Sometimes life gets so overwhelming that you forget to remember grace. Sometimes I get so frustrated I could pinch my own head off lol. I admit it! It is so hard when everything is falling around you and past hurt you thought you forgave come up and just everything sometimes seems so heavy and overwhelming..I related with both and your right we need to keep ourselves in check. This past 2 weeks I have been praying about my attitude. Keep me in your prayers.

Mel said...

Hi Fred!

I'm sorry for the very short comment yesterday, I was extremely pressed for time. I thought about your post all day and have indeed printed it to put on my fridge. That quote about Dickens... I can't tell you how much I want to be just like that. And the story about the grumpy dad, I know so many people like that, and they do more to shame the name and cause of Christ than the worst dictators.

Have a wonderful day and weekend, Dear Fred! Many blessings to you and yours.

FCB said...

Hi Trudy,
I'm glad you enjoyed this post, it made me think as well. Here's a confession; I was writing this just after I got home from work, where I spent the entire week moving furniture, cabinets and inventory from a business we are closing. I was exhausted, irritable, and just wanted to get lost in my thoughts and blog. About halfway into this post my wife came home after noticing the neighbors were having a garage sale. Her first words to me were, "honey, why don't we move some of the furniture out of the garage and take it over to the garage sale?" Now, I'll let your imagination decide which of the two pictures I most resembled.
God bless,

Hi Mary,
So true, life can seem so overwhelming at times, and like I mentioned to Trudy above, it wasn't one of my finest hours, to understate it.
I've been praying about my attitude as well, the only difference is I haven't been praying for two weeks, how about 40years! I do have my moments though. God is still on the throne!
Love Fred

Hi Mel,Mel,
I'm glad you liked that quote about Dickens, isn't that about the nicest thing you could say about someone? I'm sure we would all agree that you warm all of our hearths as well.
God bless you,

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred:)

Very interesting post.

In many households, the father doesn’t treat the family members with respect and courtesy that he would normally show to neighbors and outsiders. As a result there are misunderstandings and unhappiness in the house and sometimes it becomes very serious. I have a quote on this type of behavior and I will post it in my blog sometimes in the future.

As regards a lame person winning over by charm, it reminds me of what I read in Tennessee Williams drama The Glass Menagerie where Amanda tells her crippled daughter, Laura, not to get depressed on account of her deformity but compensate it by charm and vivacity.

I enjoyed reading your post immensely.

Have a nice day Fred:)

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
Your comments make me wonder why we can treat those that we love the most with less respect than a total stranger? Humanness is a mad disorder :)
Your quote about charm and vivacity reminded me that when my mother was a young lady, she and her five sisters were all sent to "Charm School", where they were taught the finer points of posture,, etiquette, table manners, dignity and warmth.
I sometimes wonder if some of the teens I see would not benefit from a class or two. Charm is a little lacking these days.
Thanks for your comments as always,