Courage!

(TO VERA GEBBERT, who . . . having read Isaiah 66:9 from the Bible she kept open on her dining table: On not wishing to be pregnant. 23 March 1953)

Your first story (about mistaking [your pregnancy] for seasickness) is one of the funniest I ever heard. In our country there are usually alterations of shape which would throw grave doubts on the sea-sick hypothesis!… but no doubt you manage things better in America. Any way, congratulations and encouragements. As to wishing it had not happened, one can’t help momentary wishes: guilt begins only when one embraces them. You can’t help their knocking at the door, but one mustn’t ask them in to lunch. And no doubt you have many feelings on the other side. I am sure you felt as I did when I heard my first bullet, ‘This is War: this is what Homer wrote about.’ For, all said and done, a woman who has never had a baby and a man who has never been either in a battle or a storm at sea, are, in a sense, rather outside—haven’t really ‘seen life’—haven’t served. We will indeed have you in our prayers.

Now as to your other story, about Isaiah 66? It doesn’t really matter whether the Bible was open at that page thru’ a miracle or through some (unobserved) natural cause. We think it matters because we tend to call the second alternative ‘chance.’ But when you come to think of it, there can be no such thing as chance from God’s point of view. Since He is omniscient His acts have no consequences which He has not foreseen and taken into account and intended. Suppose it was the draught from the window that blew your Bible open at Isaiah 66. Well, that current of air was linked up with the whole history of weather from the beginning of the world and you may be quite sure that the result it had for you at that moment (like all its other results) was intended and allowed for in the act of creation. ‘Not one sparrow,’ you know the rest [Matthew 10:29]. So of course the message was addressed to you. To suggest that your eye fell on it without this intention, is to suggest that you could take Him by surprise. Fiddle-de-dee! This is not Predestination: your will is perfectly free: but all physical events are adapted to fit in as God sees best with the free actions He knows we are going to do. There’s something about this in Screwtape.

Meanwhile, courage! Your moments of nervousness are not your real self, only medical phenomena. All blessings.

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Compiled in Yours, Jack

Truth First

“There are two very different types of minds. The tough-minded and the tender minded. Everybody wants truth, and everybody wants happiness. But the tough minded put truth first, and the tender-minded put happiness first.”

–William James

ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM

Not that the widespread wings of wrong brood o’er a moaning earth,

Not from the clinging curse of gold, the random lot of birth;

Not from the misery of the weak, the madness of the strong,

Goes upward from our lips the cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Not only from the huts of toil, the dens of sin and shame,

From lordly halls and peaceful homes the cry goes up the same;

Deep in the heart of every man, where’er his life be spent,

There is a noble weariness, a holy discontent.

Where’er to mortal eyes has come, in silence dark and lone,

Some glimmer of the far-off light the world has never known,

Some ghostly echoes from a dream of earth’s triumphal song,

Then as the vision fades we cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Long ages, from the dawn of time, men’s toiling march has wound

Towards the world they ever sought, the world they never found;

Still far before their toiling path the glimmering promise lay,

Still hovered round the struggling race, a dream by night and day.

Mid darkening care and clinging sin they sought their unknown home,

Yet ne’er the perfect glory came—Lord, will it ever come?

The weeding of earth’s garden broad from all its growths of wrong,

When all man’s soul shall be a prayer, and all his life a song.

Aye, though through many a starless night we guard the flaming oil,

Though we have watched a weary watch, and toiled a weary toil,

Though in the midnight wilderness, we wander still forlorn,

Yet bear we in our hearts the proof that God shall send the dawn.

Deep in the tablets of our hearts he writes that yearning still,

The longing that His hand hath wrought shall not his hand fulfil?

Though death shall close upon us all before that hour we see,

The goal of ages yet is there—the good time yet to be:

Therefore, tonight, from varied lips, in every house and home,

Goes up to God the common prayer, “Father, Thy Kingdom come.”

G.K. Chesterton – 17 years old

An Inexhaustible Wellspring

“Many a time the cloud went and came, and many a lesson it taught to Gabriel Grub, who, although his shoulders smarted with pain from the frequent applications of the goblins’ feet thereunto, looked on with an interest that nothing could diminish. He saw that men who worked hard, and earned their scanty bread with lives of labour, were cheerful and happy; and that to the most ignorant, the sweet face of Nature was a never-failing source of cheerfulness and joy. He saw those who had been delicately nurtured, and tenderly brought up, cheerful under privations, and superior to suffering, that would have crushed many of a rougher grain, because they bore within their own bosoms the materials of happiness, contentment, and peace. He saw that women, the tenderest and most fragile of all God’s creatures, were the oftenest superior to sorrow, adversity, and distress; and he saw that it was because they bore, in their own hearts, an inexhaustible well-spring of affection and devotion. Above all, he saw that men like himself, who snarled at the mirth and cheerfulness of others, were the foulest weeds on the fair surface of the earth; and setting all the good of the world against the evil, he came to the conclusion that it was a very decent and respectable sort of world after all. No sooner had he formed it, than the cloud which had closed over the last picture, seemed to settle on his senses, and lull him to repose. One by one, the goblins faded from his sight; and, as the last one disappeared, he sank to sleep.”

Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

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

Heir of Earth and Heaven

With thee on board, each sailor is a king

Nor I mere captain of my vessel then,

But heir of earth and heaven, eternal child;

Daring all truth, nor fearing anything;

Mighty in love, the servant of all men;

Resenting nothing, taking rage and blare

Into the Godlike silence of a loving care.

I cannot see, my God, a reason why

From morn to night I go not gladsome free;

For, if thou art what my soul thinketh thee,

There is no burden but should lightly lie,

No duty but a joy at heart must be:

Love’s perfect will can be nor sore nor small,

For God is light—in him no darkness is at all.

Tis something thus to think, and half to trust—

But, ah! my very heart, God-born, should lie

Spread to the light, clean, clear of mire and rust,

And like a sponge drink the divine sunbeams.

What resolution then, strong, swift, and high!

What pure devotion, or to live or die!

And in my sleep, what true, what perfect dreams!

Excerpt From

A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-book-of-strife-in-the-form-of-the-diary-of-an-old-soul/id499797732?mt=11

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