Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ruined or improved?

I picked up a book of selected poetry by Christina Rossetti to give to my cousin for her birthday. Being a book (and therefore having nothing lost in the opening thereof), I spent a bit of time looking through it while bussing home from the store. There were quite a few interesting poems about which I had some thoughts that I wanted to share with my cousin so I have decided to underline and write some comments in the book.

This was a strange idea to me at first but the more I think about it, the more I like it. I always enjoy finding books second-hand or, even better, inheriting them with someone else's thoughts on the page. It shows how that person interacted and was moved in some way by the text. Also, I want to share my thoughts with my cousin and yet there is no knowing if we will ever sit down together for the purpose of discussing the poems. And, who knows, perhaps she will notice and remember something I have written or underlined and will mention it at some point. Even if it does not happen at least I have conveyed what I would like to to her. I believe that this makes the book so much more personal.

I now have decided that in future I shall attempt to do the same for all the books that I give away. The idea may lend itself better to some types of books and some types of people than to others (I wouldn't want to do it to a coffeetable book or one given to a type-A personality!) so I shall keep that in mind but I am happy that I was thus inspired in this particular case. And I do believe that I have improved the gift by so doing.

So, to commemorate this inspiration, here is a poem:

A Birthday
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dias of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
-Christina Rossetti

And to put the title of the poem in context:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. -John 3:3-8

Monday, January 29, 2007

His Will

These quotes from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest) hit on some ideas I have been thinking about in light of a discussion (I won't say debate) I was part of yesterday:

There is the call of the sea, the call of the mountains, the call of the great ice barriers, but these calls are only heard by the few. The call is the expression of the nature from which it comes, and we can only record the call if the same nature is in us. The call of God is the expression of God's nature, not of our own... my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. (January 16)
The call of God is not a call to any particular service...service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature... and is the echo of my identification with the nature of God... The Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I serve Him in the ordinary ways of life out of devotion to Him. (January 17)

The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ? (January 18)

We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses...Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. (January 25)

All I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. (January 28)

The discussion yesterday concerned apathy and our duty to fight against it. Although I agree whole-heartedly that we should strive to fight this tendency (it has been an on-going struggle of mine), I disagreed with the means suggested. It seemed to me that the suggestions were all based on our own strength rather than looking to God for strength. It is good to strive for God, but (as mentioned in the quotes above) it is not our wills that should bear the load. Our own determination and plans will get us nowhere; when we try to fight for God on our own strength we are setting ourselves up for failure. We need to surrender our wills to Him and let Him use us whenever and wherever is best. Yes, we are to make plans but we cannot let our service for God become our highest goal. If we instead set our hopes in His will then if He tells us to change our well-thought out plans, we are more flexible since all is done in obedience to Him.

This is probably quite dis-jointed to read and may not make much sense outside of the context of the discussion but I wanted to write it out!

Friday, January 26, 2007


In class yesterday, we studied Tennyson's Ulysses, my favourite excerpt from which I shall quote here (I especially like the first four lines here):

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
and this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

There is so much in this section (and even more in the rest of the poem) and it is expressed so beautifully and fittingly but I have been thinking of the truth, yet the sadness of these sentiments (especially those in the middle of this section).

Ulysses is, in this poem, an old man who is contemplating one last adventure. He laments the fact that we have a limited time on this earth yet unlimited possibilities of action: "Life piled on life/ Were all too little" yet, as a Christian (although, being human, I can certainly relate in part) since I have a hope of eternity (and not one of "silence") this should not be a problem. We are pilgrims on this earth and although we are to be concerned with the matters of this life, our treasures and goal should be on things above so that when we reach the age where these lamentations are appropriate, we rather yearn for that better place than lament that we cannot spend more time here.

I have many other thoughts on many other aspects of the passage but I think that I shall leave it at that and let my dear readers discern what they will from it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

vanitas vanitatum

I finished Vanity Fair in time for class yesterday. Slogging through all 888 pages was rendered much less a chore than it would seem from the length by the delightful running commentary of the narrator and the truthfulness of the depictions of life found in much of the book. I cannot say that it is a happy book or even that it has a happy ending (even though Amelia and Dobbin are married in the last chapter). On the other hand, it is not a depressing book either (unless one wishes to take it so).

Apparently Thackeray said that his intention was to show how different characters manage to struggle through this Vanity Fair of life without God. It is a fascinating picture, full of human nature. This was the time of the Victorians--a time when conduct and etiquette books were replacing the Bible as moral authority; a time when appearances meant more than truth. But beyond the exposure of these trends for what they are, the book continues to resonate since it is a book on human nature. It is a book about vanity, about ambition, about drawing-room and public politics. Each character in it is flawed in one way or another; it is truly a "Novel Without a Hero" (its subtitle).

This book can be seen in many ways as a parallel to Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." -Ecclesiastes 1:2.

But is there any hope to be taken from this book? There is but one character in it who stands against the flow (and she doesn't get much air-time). Lady Jane is true to her faith and is an example of a character who passes through this Vanity Fair of life without getting caught up in it.

The concluding sentences sum up much of the thrust of the book:
Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or having it, is satisfied?

It is true: we have no hope of being satisfied in acquiring our temporal desires but thankfully we have a hope in the life to come where we shall be satisfied with eternal treasures!

AWEHD hints

Here are a few more lovely extracts from The American Woman's Encyclopedia of Home Decorating:
Decorative theory is the same in all types of rooms. Have essentials of comfort; plan every inch of space to hold conveniently what you really use. Store or throw away what you don't use. Decide to live with charm and have books, pictures, plants about you.

Don't ever overlook having the kind of easy chair a man will like. Decorating is making a home comfortable to live in for a number of people.

Don't treat your dining room like a stepchild.

A fireplace in a dining room is a joy...just as we love sunshine in a dining room in daytime--so a bright crackling fire warms the cockles of the heart (as well as the room) at evening meal.

No matter how large or small the bedroom, if it is to serve its purpose, it must be comfortable for those who use it.

...don't forget colour; it's your strongest ally...

Monday, January 22, 2007


I find fire facinating. But beyond the physical world, I am finding a facination in the conceptual use of fire in the Bible and how it is both straightforward and complex (as, I would say, are all Biblical concepts).

The word "fire" is used around five hundred times and, putting aside its use in sacrifice, the majority of the times it is used, it is in the context of God's terrible judgement on sinners. Yet, even within that context it is also used to show God's tender mercies to us! How can these two be reconciled? I hope the following three verses help illustrate what I am trying to articulate about the varying degrees that His fire, applied to human life can change it (from destroying to cutting away what is useless to purifying).

As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
-Ezekiel 22:20

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
-Zechariah 13:9

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
-I Peter 1:7

Saturday, January 20, 2007

homey hints

I picked up The American Women's Encyclopedia of Home Decoration while cleaning off a shelf in my room and as I was leafing through the pages before returning it to its place, (yes, this is a necessary step to cleaning a bookshelf) I came across some quaint quotes that also contained wisdom. So although I am nowhere near the stage of owning my own house (that I might decorate it), I thought I might share some principles that can be applied to whatever little piece of floor one might call one's own.

It isn't the money you spend that counts but good assembling of attractive things.

Don't have many small ornaments; they mean work to clean.

It is the idea behind the decorating that counts.

Is there a woman who doesn't want just the right draperies?

A long mirror in a bedroom is a luxury within reach.

Order is the first rule of the closet.

And my favourite:

A place to stretch out in the daytime often saves a "state of nerves".

The Deacon's bench

If you were wondering where the name for this type of furniture originated, read on...

According to my sources, in early American times benches similar to this remake stood before the high pulpit in churches and was, in fact, occupied by a deacon. This deacon was (as the story goes) equipped with a long staff to shepherd the flock in such a way as to awaken any listeners who happened to doze off during the two hour sermons!

Friday, January 19, 2007

A full life

He liveth long who liveth well;
All else is life but flung away;
He liveth longest who can tell
Of true things truly done each day.

Then fill each hour with what will last;
Buy up the moments as they go;
The life above, when this is past,
Is the ripe fruit of life below.
-Horatio Bonar

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
-Galations 6:8-10

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The following poem describes almost exactly the sensations and feelings I have had numerous times when skating alone outside (the best way to enjoy skating). Today was the first time this year that I have had occasion to lace up my skates again. Although the experience (in a public, indoor arena) was not up to the same standard as outdoor skating, the fun of actually skating again was quite adequate! So to commemorate another season, here is a beautiful poem!
The Skater

My glad feet shod with the glittering steel
I was the god of the winged heel.

The hills in the far white sky were lost;
The world lay still in the wide white frost;

And the woods hung hushed in their long white dream
By the ghostly, glimmering, ice-blue stream.

Here was a pathway, smooth like glass,
Where I and the wandering wind might pass

To the far-off places, drifted deep,
Where Winter's retinue rests in sleep.

I followed the lure, I fled like a bird,
Till the startled hollows awoke and heard

A spinning whisper, a sibilant twang,
As the stroke of the steel on the tense ice rang;

And the wandering wind was left behind
As faster, faster I followed my mind;

Till the blood sang high in my eager brain,
And the joy of my flight was almost pain.

Then I stayed the rush of my eager speed
And silently went as a drifting seed,--

Slowly, furtively, till my eyes
Grew big with the awe of dim surmise,

And the hair of my neck began to creep
At hearing the wilderness talk in sleep.

Shapes in the fir-gloom drifted near.
In the deep of my heart I heard my fear.

And turned and fled, like a soul pursued,
From the white, inviolate solitude.

-Charels G.D. Roberts

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lewis on love

These two quotes are probably my favourite to date and I have meant to post them for quite some time but was waiting to finish and post my condensed version of the third chapter of The Four Loves first (this is from the fourth chapter) but they're so good that, on the one hand, I can wait no longer to post them (who knows how long it will take me) and, on the other hand, if I do end up re-posting them along with the rest of that chapter, people have the opportunity to read it twice (something worth doing!). So here they are, set apart from the rest of the chapter:

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all dangers and perterbations of love is Hell.

And, coming in a close second in both merit and location on the page is the following:

We shall draw near to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

Actually, I'll throw in this final one since it follows from these two and is quite good too:

It is probably impossible to love any human being simply "too much". We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinacy.
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves from the chapter: "Charity"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


My thoughts exactly:

Carob is a brown powder made from the pulverized fruit of a Mediterranean evergreen.
Some consider carob an adequate substitute for chocolate because it has some similar nutrients (calcium, phosphorus), and because it can, when combined with vegetable fat and sugar, be made to approximate the color and consistency of chocolate.

Of course, the same arguments can as persuasively be made in favour of dirt.

In Which Dickens Expounds Generally Upon the Writing Practices of Philosophers

Having had to read through more than one work by a philosopher in the course of my studies, I was delighted to come across this quote from Oliver Twist dealing with the circumloquatious nature that characterizes much of the writing to be found under that subject. Another amusing aspect of this quote is that it is employed to illustrate to the reader the manner in which a couple young pick-pockets exit the scene of a crime and return to their base. As the primary feature of such a retreat must be to evade detection, the parallel is quite enjoyable to those, as mentioned above, forced to read through such rabbit-trails found within the writings of certain venerable philosophers:

If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philosophical nature of the conduct of these young gentlemen in their very delicate predicament, I should at once find it in the fact (also recorded in the foregoing part of this narrative), of their quitting the pursuit, when the general attention was fixed upon Oliver; and making immediately for their home by the shortest possible cut. Although I do not mean to assert that it is usually the practice of renowned and learned sages, to shorten the road to any great conclusion (their course indeed being rather to lengthen the distance, by various circumlocutions and discursive staggerings, like unto those in which drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow of ideas, are prone to indulge); still, I do mean to say, and do say distinctly, that it is the invariable practice of many mighty philosophers, in carrying out theories, to evince great wisdom and foresight in providing against every possible contingency which can be supposed at all likely to affect themselves. Thus, to do a great right, you may do a little wrong; and you may take any means which the end to be attained will justify; the amount of the right, or the amount of the wrong, or indeed the distinction between the two, being left entirely to the philosopher concerned, to be settled and determined by his clear, comprehensive, and impartial view of his own partial case.

Monday, January 15, 2007


It has been a while since I last posted a picture so feel justified in the otherwise content-less nature of this post.
After all, it's so pretty what else can I say?

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I have been reading both Vanity Fair and Oliver Twist this past week and came across a passage from each that reinforces some of my thoughts on the issue of how we interact with and percieve the world around us:

The melancholy which had seemed to the sad eyes of the anxious boy to hang, for days past, over every object, beautiful as all were, was dispelled by magic. The dew seemed to sparkle more brightly on the green leaves; the air to rustle among them with a sweeter music; and the sky itself to look more blue and bright. Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts, exercises, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.
-Dickens from Oliver Twist

All the world used her ill, said this young misanthropist, and we may be pretty certain that persons whom all the world treats ill, deserve entirely the treatment they get. The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it, and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.
-Thackeray from Vanity Fair

Thursday, January 11, 2007


A friend of mine brought this quote to my attention and I wanted to share it too. Not only is the content of the quote appropriate but the name of the book is a perfect fit here (now I'm interested in finding and reading the rest of this book).

God has not promised to rescue us according to our time schedule. If it appears that your prayers are unanswered, do not dishonor the Lord with unbelief. Waiting in faith is a high form of worship. In some respects, it excels the adoration of the shining ones above.

God delivers His servants in ways that exercise their faith. He would not have them lacking in faith, for faith is the wealth of the heavenly life. He desires that the trial of faith continues until faith grows strong and comes to full assurance. The sycamore fig never ripens into sweetness unless it is bruised; the same is true of faith. Tested believer, God will bring you through, but do not expect Him to bring you through in the way that human reason suggests, for that would not develop your faith.
-Charles Spurgeon Beside Still Waters p. 148

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Of Mercy and of Justice

Another of my studies this year has been Shakespeare. The play we are looking at at present is Measure for Measure. It has been an interesting play to study in that it deals with Justice and Mercy.

In the second scene of the second act, Isabella is appealing to the current ruler, Angelo, who has cast Isabella's brother into prison for a crime under a law that had long sat mouldering but which was suddenly revived for the sake of reforming the city. She begs for mercy, he unwaveringly points out the neccessity for justice.

[Isabella] Too late? why, no, I, that do speak a word,
May call it back again. Well believe this,
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the King's crown, nor the deputed sword,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
If he had been as you and you as he,
You would have slipt like him; but he, like you,
Would not have been so stern.
[Angelo] Your brother is a forfeit of the law
[Isabella] Alas, alas!
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgement, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.
[Angelo]... It is the law, not I condemn your brother
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:
Those many had not dared to that evil,
If the first that did the edict infringe
Had answer'd for his deed...
[Isabella] Yet show some pity.
[Angelo] I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall;
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another...
[Isabella] ... O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant...
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and suphurous bolt
Split'st the unwedgedable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before hight heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
[Angleo] Why do you put these sayings upon me?
[Isabella] Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,
That skins the vice o' the top. Go to your bosom;
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault; if it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.

It is truly a hard question as to which of the two ought to have more sway over our law system since we are all fallible humans, yet laws are necessary (much as the argument went on before).

But the beautiful thing about God's plan is that both His justice and His mercy are perfectly satisfied in Christ's act of propitiation! He is both the Lawgiver and the loving God we read about in Psalm 103:

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
-Psalm 103:10-12

Christ not only took our sins upon Himself and paid for them perfectly, but He gives us His righteousness in exchange! The first is His act of mercy in satisfying justice, the second of grace. We can never praise Him enough; it is no wonder that we will want to glorify and honour Him through all eternity!


The way it works out I will be studying Victorian literature in two separate classes this term but I couldn't be happier about it! I love this period of writing--especially since I am a fan of the novel (and more particularly of the Victorian novel). To me, reading a Victorian novel does not constitute work. Yes, they're quite long (being paid per word often does that to writers) but they're so good. I've put the assigned reading for those two classes in the list on the sidebar as well as at the end of this post for all to view with envy. Not only do I get to read these books again (there are only three I havn't read before) but I get to study them in their historical contexts, I get to link them through various ideas and concepts... I'm really looking forward to this aspect of my studies.

I hope to put some of my thoughts and conclusions from those studies in here so hopefully the list will help people to follow along--it's fairly close to the order in which they are to be read (but I really put it there to brag, there's no doubt about that).

Assigned Victorian Novels
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
Hard Times - Charles Dickens
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Lady Audley's Secret - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Middlemarch - George Eliot
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - R.L. Stevenson
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not Our Own

From several varying sources in the past few days I have found good quotes that touch on different aspects of our duty to God in particular referring to our duty to offer back that with which we have been blessed.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
-I Corinthians 6:19,20

Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself, it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.
-Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest, January 6th

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
-Luke 12:46-48

Full of pity view us, stretch Thy scepter to us,
Bid us live that we may give ourselves to Thee:
O faithful Lord and True! stand up for us and do,
Make us lovely, make us new, set us free--
Heart and soul and spirit--to bring all and worship Thee.
-Christina Rosetti Epiphanytide

For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness...
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
-Psalm 18:28,32

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

...Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so proper as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us 'twere all alike
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd
But to find issues, nor Nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,
Both thanks and use.
-Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that witholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
-Proverbs 11:24

God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having--viz., life with Himself.
-Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest, January 8th

Friday, January 05, 2007

Another hint for the weather

To continue the feeling of my last post here is an exerpt from a second poem that deals with the warmth of a fire contrasted with the cold outside:
extract from:
Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed:
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
And, for the winter's fireside meet,
Between the andirons' straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October's wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow.
-John Greenleaf Whittier

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Singeth the kettle...

Today was a glorious day! The sun shone bright and there was an invigorating breeze with a whiff of melting in it. It feels like a new beginning as I once again begin classes. I generally am a little excited with every fresh start of a semester (this, of course, does not usually last for very long...) but today more than ever when I walked outside between each class and lingered in the square under the trees I sensed the joy of this fresh start on a fresh day.

This day was a wonderful gift and I am enjoying the effortless warmth I experience as a result of this unusually mild spell however, in my mind there's something wrong when I see green grass in January. As much as I enjoy spring weather, there are aspects of winter weather that I also appreciate.

Also, it will take some time and cold weather before the Canal is in any state to be enjoyed (beyond aesthetically) this winter. At this time many enjoyable winter sports are out of the question and there is another aspect to the issue: the loss we have of the comfort of coming inside from the cold. There is nothing quite like the feeling of comfort that comes from being warm and cosy by a fire or wrapped around a steamy mug of some wonderful beverage while the wind rages outside. One can only truly enjoy hot chocolate to the full after being tired out from some romp in the snow and being presented with it upon one's arrival inside to warm up and dry off.

So in this spirit I have a song that may hopefully remind the weather of its proper office or, failing that, may remind us of wonderful times we have enjoyed during years gone by.

A Canadian Folk Song

The doors are shut, the windows fast,
Outside the gust is driving past,
Outside the shivering ivy clings,
While on the hob* the kettle sings.
Margery, Margery, make the tea
Singeth the kettle merrily.

The streams are hushed up where they flowed,
The ponds are frozen along the road,
The cattle are housed in shed and byre
While singeth the kettle on the fire.
Margery, Margery make the tea
Singeth the kettle merrily.

The fisherman on the bay in his boat
Shivers and buttons up his coat;
The traveller stops at the tavern door,
And the kettle answers the chimney's roar.
Margery, Margery, make the tea
Singeth the kettle merrily.

The firelight dances upon the wall,
Footsteps are heard in the outer hall,
And a kiss and a welcome that fill the room,
And the kettle sings in the glimmer and gloom.
Margery, Margery, make the tea
Singeth the kettle merrily.
-William Wilfred Campbell

*One of my material ambitions is one day to have a hob that I might put my kettle there to sing!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ten-year reunion

at Augustine College
It was good to be able to catch up with what other graduates are doing. It was also good to meet some from other years and compare notes.

The whole weekend was great but my highlight was New Years Day after everyone else had gone home: a few of us lazed the afternoon/evening away consuming countless cups of tea and crunching countless cookies while discussing cabbages and kings. It was a luxury I had forgotten about while away from Augustine. I seem also to have forgotten the copious amounts of work that balanced out the few lazy days but such is the golden glow of memory. I am happy that while things change every year (especially with the student body ever changing), some things remain the same and it is these essentials that mean so much.

So one more resolution to tack on the list will be to spend more time at Augustinian events (and non-events). We'll see how that one pans out once work is factored into the equation but I know that if I put forth any effort in this area I will be richly rewarded so hopefully that is enough incentive to keep this resolution.