Manalive

“Inglewood,” said Michael Moon, “have you ever heard that I am a blackguard?”

“I haven’t heard it, and I don’t believe it,” answered Inglewood, after an odd pause. “But I have heard you were–what they call rather wild.”

“If you have heard that I am wild, you can contradict the rumour,” said Moon, with an extraordinary calm; “I am tame. I am quite tame; I am about the tamest beast that crawls. I drink too much of the same kind of whisky at the same time every night. I even drink about the same amount too much. I go to the same number of public-houses. I meet the same damned women with mauve faces. I hear the same number of dirty stories– generally the same dirty stories. You may assure my friends, Inglewood, that you see before you a person whom civilization has thoroughly tamed.”

“Christ confound it!” cried out Moon, suddenly clutching the empty claret bottle, “this is about the thinnest and filthiest wine I ever uncorked, and it’s the only drink I have really enjoyed for nine years. I was never wild until just ten minutes ago.” And he sent the bottle whizzing, a wheel of glass, far away beyond the garden into the road, where, in the profound evening silence, they could even hear it break and part upon the stones.

“Moon,” said Arthur Inglewood, rather huskily, “you mustn’t be so bitter about it. Everyone has to take the world as he finds it; of course one often finds it a bit dull–”

“That fellow doesn’t,” said Michael decisively; “I mean that fellow Smith. I have a fancy there’s some method in his madness. It looks as if he could turn into a sort of wonderland any minute by taking one step out of the plain road. Who would have thought of that trapdoor? Who would have thought that this cursed colonial claret could taste quite nice among the chimney-pots? Perhaps that is the real key of fairyland. Perhaps Nosey Gould’s beastly little Empire Cigarettes ought only to be smoked on stilts, or something of that sort. Perhaps Mrs. Duke’s cold leg of mutton would seem quite appetizing at the top of a tree. Perhaps even my damned, dirty, monotonous drizzle of Old Bill Whisky–”

– G.K. Chesterton

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Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness, John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,

         Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,

I shall be made thy music; as I come

         I tune the instrument here at the door,

         And what I must do then, think here before. 

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown

         Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie

Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown

         That this is my south-west discovery, 

      Per fretum febris, by these straits to die, 

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;

         For, though their currents yield return to none,

What shall my west hurt me? As west and east

         In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,

         So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are

         The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?

Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,

         All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,

         Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem. 

We think that Paradise and Calvary, 

         Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place; 

Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me; 

         As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face, 

         May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace. 

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord; 

         By these his thorns, give me his other crown; 

And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word, 

         Be this my text, my sermon to mine own: 

“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

John Donne

Trouble

“When Rogers had thanked God, he rose, took my hand, and said:—

“Mr Walton, you WILL preach now. I thank God for the good we shall all get from the trouble you have gone through.”

“I ought to be the better for it,” I answered.

“You WILL be the better for it,” he returned. “I believe I’ve allus been the better for any trouble as ever I had to go through with. I couldn’t quite say the same for every bit of good luck I had; leastways, I consider trouble the best luck a man can have. And I wish you a good night, sir. Thank God! again.”

“But, Rogers, you don’t mean it would be good for us to have bad luck always, do you? You shouldn’t be pleased at what’s come to me now, in that case.”

“No, sir, sartinly not.”

“How can you say, then, that bad luck is the best luck?”

“I mean the bad luck that comes to us—not the bad luck that doesn’t come. But you’re right, sir. Good luck or bad luck’s both best when HE sends ’em, as He allus does. In fac’, sir, there is no bad luck but what comes out o’ the man hisself. The rest’s all good.”

Excerpt From

Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/annals-of-a-quiet-neighbourhood/id501016131?mt=11

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The Family

“Hardly anybody (outside a particular religious press) dares to defend the family. The world around us has accepted a social system which denies the family. It will sometimes help the child in spite of the family; the mother in spite of the family; the grandfather in spite of the family. It will not help the family.”

GK Chesterton, G.K.’s Weekly, Sept. 20, 1930

How Shall I Find Him?

“The cry of the human heart in all ages and in every moment is, ‘Where is God and how shall I find him?’ — No, friend, I will not accept your testimony to the contrary — not though you may be as well fitted as ever one of eight hundred millions to come forward with it. You take it for granted that you know your own heart because you call it yours, but I say that your heart is a far deeper thing than you know or are capable of knowing. Its very nature is hid from you.

“I use but a poor figure when I say that the roots of your heart go down beyond your knowledge — whole eternities beyond it — into the heart of God. If you have never yet made one discovery in your heart, your testimony concerning it is not worth a tuft of flue; and if you have made discoveries in it, does not the fact reveal that it is but little known to you, and that there must be discoveries innumerable yet to be made in it?

“To him who has been making discoveries in it for fifty years, the depths of his heart are yet a mystery—a mystery, however, peopled with loveliest hopes. I repeat whether the man knows it or not, his heart in its depths is ever crying out for God.”

–George MacDonald, Weighed and Wanting (Ch. 5)

The Quiet Ones

Been thinking lately about how many good people there are who unapplauded and unappreciated go about the daily and often daunting chore of simply doing the right thing. In the face of the multitude of challenges, setbacks and personal heartbreak, and often at the sacrifice of their own personal needs and desires. It is so easy to simply assume things are running along perfectly, because usually good people don’t complain about stuff, they just handle their business quietly.

May you continue to find courage and strength to meet each new day, and may the joys that touch your lives shine bright and warm your heart. You bless us with your efforts, shine as a lovely example in a sometime dark world and make the world a better place to be. 🙂

The Shapes

A Confession

I am so coarse, the things the poets see

Are obstinately invisible to me.

For twenty years I’ve stared my level best

To see if evening — any evening — would suggest

A patient etherized upon a table;

In vain. I simply wasn’t able.

To me each evening looked far more

Like the departure from a silent, yet a crowded, shore

Of a ship whose freight was everything, leaving behind

Gracefully, finally, without farewells, marooned mankind.

Red dawn behind a hedgerow in the east

Never, for me, resembled in the least

A chilblain on a cocktail-shaker’s nose;

Waterfalls don’t remind me of torn underclothes,

Nor glaciers of tin-cans. I’ve never known

The moon look like a hump-backed crone–

Rather, a prodigy, even now

Not naturalized, a riddle glaring from the Cyclops’ brow

Of the cold world, reminding me on what a place

I crawl and cling, a planet with no bulwarks, out in space.

Never the white sun of the wintriest day

Struck me as un crachat d’estaminet.

I’m like that odd man Wordsworth knew, to whom

A primrose was a yellow primrose, one whose doom

Keeps him forever in the list of dunces,

Compelled to live on stock responses,

Making the poor best that I can

Of dull things… peacocks, honey, the Great Wall, Aldebaran

Silver weirs, new-cut grass, wave on the beach, hard gem,

The shapes of horse and woman, Athens, Troy, Jerusalem.

– C.S. Lewis

Lewis found Mr. Eliot’s Comparison of an evening to a patient on an operating table unpleasant, one example of the decay of proper feelings. He mistrusted, in fact, the free play of mere immediate experience. He believed, rather, that man’s attitudes and actions should be governed by, what he calls in the same poem, Stock Responses (e.g. love is sweet, death bitter, and virtue lovely). Man must, for his own safety and pleasure, be taught to copy the Stock Responses in hopes that he may, by willed imitation, make the proper responses. He found this perfectly summed up in Aristotle’s “We learn how to do things by doing the things we are learning to do.”

(Exerpt from the preface to Poems, by Walter Hooper.)