Sunday, November 18, 2012

  "Almost all who aim at serving God do so more or less for their own sake. They want to win, not to lose; to be comforted, not to suffer; to possess, not to be despoiled; to increase, not to diminish. 
Yet all the while our whole interior progress consists in losing, sacrificing, decreasing, humbling, and stripping self even of God's own gifts, so as to be more wholly His. We are often like an invalid who feels his pulse fifty times a day, and wants the doctor to be perpetually ordering some fresh treatment, or telling him how much better he is. This is very much all the use that some people make of their spiritual director or pastor. They move round and round in a petty circle of easy virtues, never stepping beyond it heartily and generously; while the director (like the physician) is expected to soothe, comfort, encourage, foster delicacy and fastidiousness, only ordering little sedative treatments, which drop into mere habit and routine." Fenelon

Ouch! "easy virtues", and "only ordering little sedative treatments, which drop into mere habit and routine." These "treatments" will never do to usher God's kingdom into the world. Our world requires more from me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Model Church

The Model Church

Well, wife, I’ve found the model church – I
worshipped there today!
It made me think of good old times, before
my hair was gray.
The meetin’-house was fixed up more, than
they were years ago,
But then I felt when I went in, it wasn’t built for

The sexton didn’t seat me away back by the door;
He knew that I was old and deaf, as well as old and
He must have been a Christian, for he led me through
the long aisle of that crowded church, to find a place
and pew.

I wish you’d heard that singin’ – it had the old-time
The preacher said, with trumpet voice, “Let all the
people sing!”
The tune was Coronation, and the music upward
Till I thought I heard the angels all striking their
harps of gold.

My deafness seemed to melt away; my spirit caught
the fire;
I joined my feeble, trembling voice, with that melo-
dious choir,
And sang as in my youthful days, “Let angels pros-
trate fall.
 Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord
of all.”

I tell you, wife, it did me good to sing that hymn once
I felt like some wrecked mariner who gets a glimpse
of shore;
I almost wanted to lay down this weather beaten
And anchor in the blessed port forever from the storm.

The preachin’? Well, I can’t just tell all the
Preacher said;
I know it wasn’t written; I know it wasn’t read;
He hadn’t time to read it, for the lightnin’ of his eye
went flashin’ along from pew to pew, not passed a
sinner by.

The sermon wasn’t flowery, ‘twas simple gospel truth;
It fitted poor old men like me, it fitted hopeful youth.
“Twas full of consolation for weary hearts that bleed;
‘Twas full of invitations to Christ, and not to creed.

The preacher made sin hideous in Gentiles and in
He shot the golden sentences down in the finest pews,
And – though I can’t see very well – I saw the falling
That told me hell was some ways off, and heaven very
How swift the golden moments fled within that holy
How brightly beamed the light of heaven from every
Happy face!
Again I longed for that sweet time when friend shall
meet with friend,
“Where congregations ne’er break up, and Sabbaths
have no end.”

I hope to meet that minister – that congregation, too –
In that dear home beyond the stars that shine from
heaven’s blue.
I doubt not I’ll remember, beyond life’s evening
That happy hour of worship in that model church to-

Dear wife, the fight will soon be fought, the victory
be won;
The shining goal is just ahead, the race is nearly run.
O’er the river we are nearin’, they are throngin’ to the
To shout our safe arrival when the weary weep no
more.                                             John H. Yates

"True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought
Can still suspect and still revere himself."

We watched her breathing through the night -- 
  Her breathing soft and low---
As in her breast the wave of life
  Kept heaving to and fro.

So silently we seemed to speak,
  So slowly moved about, 
As we had lent her half our powers
  To eke her living out. 

Our weary hopes belied our fears,
  Our fears our hopes belied;
We thought her dying when she slept,
  And living when she died.

For when the morn came, dim and sad,
  And chill with early showers,
Her quiet eyelids closed; she had
  Another morn than ours. 
Thomas Hood. 


This picture by Steve McCurry is fascinating to me, (click on it to enlarge) as so many of his photos are. I was going to just post it alone, but this piece below by Orison S. Marden,  ties in somewhat and either way they are both interesting.

  Many persons of real refinement are thought to be stiff, proud, reserved, and haughty who are not, but are merely diffident and shy.
  It is a curious fact that diffidence often betrays us into discourtesies which our hearts abhor, and which cause us intense mortification and embarrassment.
Excessive shyness must be overcome as an obstacle to perfect manners.
  There are many worthy people who are brave on the street, who would walk up to a cannon’s mouth in battle, but who are cowards in the drawing-room and dare not express an opinion in the social circle. They feel conscious of a subtle tyranny in society’s code, which locks their lips and ties their tongues. Addison was one of the purest writers of English and a perfect master of the pen, but he could scarcely utter a dozen word. In conversation without being embarrassed.
Shakespeare was very shy. He retired from London at forty, and did not try to publish or preserve one of his plays. He took second or third-rate parts on account of his diffidence.
  Generally shyness comes from a person thinking too much about himself – and wondering what other people think about him.
  “I was once very shy,” said Sydney Smith, “but it was not long before I made two very useful discoveries; first, that all mankind were not solely employed in observing me; and next, that shamming was of no use; that the world was very clear-sighted and soon estimated a man at his true value. This cured me.”

What a misfortune it is to go through life apparently encased in ice, yet all the while full of kindly, cordial feeling for one’s fellow men! Shy people are always distrustful of their powers and look upon their lack of confidence as a weakness of lack of ability, when it may indicate quite the reverse. By teaching children early the arts of social life, such as boxing, horseback riding, dancing, elocution, and similar accomplishments, we may do much to overcome the sense of shyness.

The eagerness and freshness of youth.

"Oh, the eagerness and freshness of youth!
How the boy enjoys his food, his sleep, his sports, his companions, his truant days!
His life is an adventure, he is widening his outlook, he is extending his dominion,
he is conquering his kingdom. How cheap are his pleasures, how ready his enthusiasms!
In boyhood I have had more delight on a haymow with two companions and a big dog-- delight that came near intoxication-- 
than I have ever had in all the subsequent holidays of my life; for realities in after-life are seldom so impressive as imaginations in early life.

 In childhood we turn our thoughts to the country, as to the region of pleasure; we recur to it in old age as a port of rest, and perhaps with that secondary and adventitious gladness which every man feels on reviewing those places, or recollecting those occurrences, that contributed to his youthful enjoyments, and bring him back to the prime of life, when the world was gay and with the blossom of novelty, when mirth wantoned at his side, and hope sparkled before him."

I never tire of the "port of rest" that childhood memories bring. This piece is a combination of Henry W. Beecher and Samuel Johnson. The phrase, "when the world was gay with the blossom of novelty," captures for me much of what I long for and miss from childhood. The nearest I come to this is when traveling to distant destinations where the culture is different and the sights are new and I can drink of the "blossom of novelty." 

Photo by Rarindra Prakarsa. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Secrets of the successful

Possibilities in Spare Moments

  "One hour a day withdrawn from frivolous pursuits and profitably employed would enable any man of ordinary capacity to master a complete science.
One hour a day would in ten years make an ignorant man a well-informed man.
It would earn enough to pay for two daily and two weekly papers, or eighteen large volumes a year. An hour a day might make all the difference between bare existence and useful, happy living. An hour a day might make – nay, has made – an unknown man a famous one, a useless man a benefactor to his race. Consider, then, the mighty possibilities of two – four – yes, six hours a day that are, on the average, thrown away by young men and women in the restless desire for fun and diversion.

   On the floor of the gold-working room, in the United States Mint at Philadelphia, there is a wooden lattice-work which is taken up when the floor is swept, and the fine particles of gold-dust, thousands of dollars’ yearly are thus saved. So every successful man has a kind of network to catch “the raspings and parings of existence, those leavings of days and wee bits of hours” which most people sweep into the waste of life. He who hoards and turns to account all odd minutes, half hours, unexpected holidays, gaps “between time,” and chasms of waiting for unpunctual persons, achieves results which astonish those who have not mastered this most valuable secret.”

Orison Swett Marden, painting by Seymour J. Guy, Utilizing a Spare Moment.