Saturday, October 23, 2010

God Speaks

This song has been on my mind since sometime yesterday morning. It was written by Mel Rees and was on an LP Record that we used to listen to Friday nights and Sabbaths when I was young. The lyrics are most comforting...

God speaks in the stillness of the night
God speaks in the days so warm and bright.
the flaming sunset paints the sky
And sets the clouds ablaze
God speaks in all these wondrous ways.

God speaks in the mountains and the plans
He speaks in the scent of autumn rains,
In mighty rivers rushing in their haste to reach the sea,
God speaks to you and me.

How can we feel alone with Him so near?
Lift up your heart, He'll see and hear.
When things go wrong and no one seems to care,
Just look around, He's everywhere.

God speaks in the whiteness of the snow,
He speaks and the flowers begin to grow,
His voice is hear in chapel bells
And in the peaceful doves,
God speaks in every heart that loves.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reading Recommendations--a meme

This post has been sitting in my drafts since March 2009. I'd forgotten all about it and just now discovered it unfinished and, obviously, unposted. I finished it this morning and am sharing it in the hopes that some of you will do your own version, sharing books you love and recommend. Thanks in advance for the new reading material!

Four Childhood Books I've read (and re-read):

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (plus all her other books)
My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O'Hara
3. All the
Anne books by L. M. Montgomery and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne (plus When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six...the poetry books)

Four “So-Called Classic” books read and never forgotten:

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and, a new favorite, Persuasion)
  2. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (play about Thomas More)
  3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (my favorite Shakespeare to teach)
  4. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (an achingly beautiful book, first read in college, another favorite to teach)

Four personal modern “Classic Novels” favorites:

  1. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  3. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  4. Anything by Elie Wiesel; ditto for James Alexander Thom
  5. (These are random picks as I have many favorites)

Four authors I've read again and again:

  1. Chaim Potok
  2. William Shakespeare
  3. Louisa May Alcott
  4. Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  5. Jane Austen
  6. Soooooooooo many more!!!

Four authors or books I'll never read again... ever:

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula
2. Charles Darwin's
Origin of the Species
3. Can't think of any others right now...
4. ???

Four books on my To-Be-Read list:

1. Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold (a novel about Charles Dicken's wife)
2. Symphony by Jude Morgan (a novel about the inspiration for Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique)

3. An Altar in the World--A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
4. Wormwood by Susan Wittig Albert (from the China Bayles series)

Four Non-Fiction Books I’d take to a desert island (instead of 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction):
  1. The Bible
  2. Gifts from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
  3. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  4. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
Four Book recommendations I have followed (and loved):

1. Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mystery novels about a 19th century Egyptologist and her eccentric family (a librarian friend got me started reading this amazing series)
2. Stephen King's On Writing (a former student (turned English major) recommended this fantastic book about the craft of writing...I loved it and have used it for my honors composition classes. They, too, love it. And I've never read any of his other books!)
3. Louis L'Amour's westerns, another student recommendation (this time by a reluctant reader)
4. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (first in a lovely, lovely series!)

The last lines of one of my favorite books:

It is now some twenty minutes since the man left, but I have remained here on this bench to await the event that has just taken palce--namely, the switching on of the pier lights. As I say, the happiness with which the pleasure-seekers gathering on this pier greeted this small event would tend to vouch for the correctness of my companion's words; for a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. what i the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution cout for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.
~ from The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (the third to the last paragraph)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Come, Rest Awhile...

Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear

The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.

One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life. Come, rest awhile.

~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

I blatantly stole this poem from a blogger friend, Gracious Hospitality. I know she won't mind. It says exactly what I've been feeling for the past two months or so. I have needed to rest awhile for so long, I almost didn't know how to do it once I got the chance. I truly had forgotten what it was to smile. My life was too busy. Busy doing God's work, albeit. But too busy all the same. I had been ignoring the part where Jesus Himself says we need rest. Of course the only true place to find rest is in Him:

"Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Why is it that it seems wrong to rest sometimes? When you're involved in the Lord's work, it seems as if there is never enough time to do all that needs to be done. There is always one more meeting, one more activity, one more phone call to make. One more, one more. And you feel guilty if you don't do that one more thing. Trouble is, it begins to add up...and take its toll.

I spent 17 years at my last job. 17 years that were exhausting and draining to the point where I felt empty, dead inside and out. Everyone wanted something from me and even though I gave them my all, literally, it was not enough. Couldn't possibly have been enough for all they wanted. Towards the end, I didn't want to answer my phone, open my e-mail, go to church, go anywhere except to my family's homes. I went to work because I had to, and I did my job because it was there, but I knew I was spent. And I knew I had to go.

I didn't know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do, but having spent my entire life serving the Lord, I knew He would give me something else to do. Somewhere fresh and new, something I could do while at the same time be renewed myself. It took a month and a half for something to come along. In the meanwhile, I rested.

I took a workshop, visited a number of literary "hotspots," wrote, spent time with my family, and walked. A lot. I lost 20 pounds, recovered my perspective, and felt happier than I have in years. And then came the new job. In Arizona. Just teaching. Amazing.

God knows. He knows what we need. He knows how and where we can best serve Him. He knows long before it ever happens. And yet He lets us figure it out for ourselves. That, too, is amazing. That He knows, and yet lets it be our choice.

As I write this, I am sitting on my back patio, listening to a church service, surrounded by bird song, interrupted by the frequent hummingbird buzzing in for a refreshing dip into the feeder just feet from the table where I write. Three months ago I could not have foreseen this. I could not have, not even in my wildest dreams, imagined myself in Arizona, back in a boarding school, enjoying every minute of my day. True, I am thousands of miles from most of my family, and that has been very hard, but I feel alive again. I am well-rested every day. And I'm smiling again. Yes, smiling.