For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. — Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man”
There ought not to be anything but that my mind has ordered it so —
So I had been taught — for the mind is designer
Reality but the by-blow, bastard child that diminishes as I diminish
But that the Emperor of Ice-Cream has clay feet
Which stand on eternity’s threshold eyeing a feast.
There the bread and wine of Thy design
Grain and grape sweetly lies upon the tongue
To “taste and see the goodness of the LORD”
Yet nothing tasting if not sanctified by Thy Word
Blood spilled and body broken
Spoken gospel of love heard by a few
Who once nothing being are born in You
Till nothing become sons and daughters
Alive to You.
Laura at dVerse asks us to address paradox as a matter for today’s “Poetics” prompt, including using as a starting point and/or epigraph the above Wallace Stevens quotation. Click on Mr. Linky for more and join in!
I’m loving the Psalms this morning, especially those whose words have sunk deep into my heart. Of them, Psalm 121 always comes to mind. And how it causes me to say, in the words of Psalm 13: 6, “I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.”
Good To Me (Audrey Assad)
I put all my hope on the truth of Your promise And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy
Because You are good to me, good to me You are good to me, good to me You are good to me
And I lift my eyes to the hills where my help is found Your voice fills the night – raise my head up to hear the sound Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy
Because You are good to me, good to me You are good to me, good to me You are good to me, yeah
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me All my life I will trust in Your promise
Yeah, Your goodness and mercy shall follow me All my life I trust in Your promise
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me All my life I will trust in Your promise
Because You’ re good (You are good to me, good to me) So good (You are good to me, good to me) You are good to me
Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember
Written by Johann Lindemann in 1598, “In Dir Ist Freude” (“In Thee is Gladness”) was translated from the German by Catherine Winkworth almost three hundred years later. Winkworth was a pioneer in promoting women’s rights as well as promoting women’s higher education. Johann Lindemann was one of the signers of the Lutheran Formula of Concord, and served often as a cantor in various churches in his native Germany. The hymn is often performed using J.S. Bach’s arrangement.
In Thee is Gladness
In thee is gladness amid all sadness, Jesus, sunshine of my heart! By thee are given the gifts of heaven, thou the true redeemer art! Our souls thou wakest, our bonds thou breakest, who trusts thee surely hath built securely, and stands forever: Hallelujah! Our hearts are pining to see thy shining, dying or living to thee are cleaving, naught can us sever: Hallelujah!
If he is ours, we fear no powers, nor of earth, nor sin, nor death. He sees and blesses in worst distresses; he can change them with a breath. Wherefore the story, tell of his glory, with heart and voices all heav’n rejoices in him forever: Hallelujah! We shout for gladness, triumph o’er sadness, love thee and praise thee, and still shall raise thee glad hymns forever: Hallelujah!
Prostrated by the summer’s heat, we cannot always see the fruit that is being produced on a vine. Just so, cast down by our sufferings, it’s hard to see the fruit God is producing in us. Even so, Lord God, we pray, let it all be to your glory! Amen.
Getting my coasters all lined up for a reading break.
Yesterday I was privileged to read Candace Owens’s Blackout and was impressed by this young woman’s sagacity and determination to break out of the collective mold she had been forced into by virtue of the color of her skin through the demagoguery of political leaders and educators. Her personal story was well worth reading in and of itself, apart from the views she now holds as to how best her fellow black Americans can advance their communities and enhance their lives individually.
Today, back to British historian Tom Holland’s Dominion, his most recent offering, much more of a slow read given the breadth of his subject but now that I’m more than half-way through, enjoying his take on the world-changing nature of Judaeo-Christian values which have raised the conditions of the marginalized, the poor and the helpless to a status they would never have enjoyed otherwise. By dint of his being an agnostic, Holland’s objectivity is especially impressive for its unfiltered look at the now universally-touted values of individuality, freedom, civil rights and tolerance that Christians helped advance throughout the world by their belief in the dignity of every human being made in the image of God.
All this by way of saying I’ll be on a blogging break for an indefinite time but will catch y’all back here as soon as may be.
Some of you have noticed the tagline to my site title “This Jolly Beggar”: “In Absolute Joyful, Dependance on the Grace and Love of God.” The story behind that is on my “C. S. Lewis on Jolly Beggars” page.
So when I saw these tiny sparkling blue flowers in an out-of-the-way patch of dirt down an alley, I recognized in them this quality of joyful dependance on God. Nothing dimmed their sparkle. And eyes that were open to their presence were blessed beyond all reason. Why? Because languishing here in this little patch where no one noticed them, these little stalks of blue stars, these jolly beggars boldly testified to God’s faithfulness.
Today I read of another “jolly beggar,” Rika Theron, who lives in South Africa. As the author of the article on Rika writes:
This. This is a life of suffering. And this is a life of breathtaking beauty. . . . .
In a world that worships fame and productivity, indulgences and self-sufficiency, Rika’s life may seem unbearably difficult. She has not enjoyed the fleeting pleasures afforded to most people and has spent her life in relative seclusion, in pain and dependent on others. Yet watching Rika live in joyful dependence on God, touching the seen and unseen world, I realize she’s changing the universe as she fights her daily battles – perhaps having a greater impact on the kingdom of God than celebrities with large ministries. In heaven, the people who have suffered alone, in a small corner of the world, will shine more brightly than we can imagine.
Dyma gariad fel y moroedd (Here is love vast as the ocean)
Welsh hymn by William Rees; Translator, William Edwards
Here is love, vast as the ocean,
lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our ransom,
shed for us his precious blood.
Who his love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing his praise?
He can never be forgotten,
throughout heav’n’s eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion,
fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
poured incessant from above,
And heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
kissed a guilty world in love.
Are You not the Light, O Lord, and we but the mirror? Disperse the clouds that obstruct Thy light and be Thou our vision. Amen.
“Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
In response to SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film Challenge today, to wit, a film that inspired you, I like his repartee to the prompt: “Inspired me to what?🤣”
Inspired me to what?
And that made me think of a movie I saw just in the last month on Amazon Prime: Healing River (2020), written & directed by Mitch Teemley. It’s a religious drama borne out of sudden tragedy. I hesitate to call it “religious” because that brings to mind the Hallmark pablum variety. This is more of a drama in the vein of Mike Nichols’s directorial debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966). Although it’s no black comedy, Healing River socks it to you with its fluid cinematography, character psychology, acerbic, no-holds barred dialogue and – here’s where the inspiration comes from – brutal honesty about what it means to be a Christian.