unlimited opportunities

The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited. – Neil Armstrong

there is no substitute

There’s no substitute for the love of language, for the beauty of an English sentence.  There’s no substitute for struggling, if a struggle is needed, to make an English sentence as beautiful as it should be. – Harper Lee

May I live this day . . .

MATINS by John O’Donohue

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,

Clear in word,

Gracious in awareness,

Courageous in thought,

Generous in love.

criticism

Criticism was always the shortest kid in the class. He learned early to use words to defend himself. As a teenager, Criticism loved to take things apart. At that time he didn’t care if they ever got put back together. He retains a strong curiosity about how things work and a deep respect for tools. Criticism is a strict father. He adores his children, but he fears their spontaneity.

Sometimes I want to write Criticism a letter and tell him to leave me alone. The problem is that when I don’t see him for a while, I start to miss him. Still, my conversations with him often make me nervous. I usually believe the bad things he says and forget about the good stuff. When we really disagree, I am upset for days and run around asking everyone I meet to reassure me. If I could trust him more, it would be different, but he changes his mind as much as I do. For all his sensitivity, it was years before he realized that other people also have feelings.

– J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities

How should we then live?

. . . Christian values, however, cannot be accepted as a superior utilitarianism, just as a means to an end. The biblical message is true and it demands a commitment to truth. It means that everything is not the result of the impersonal plus time plus chance, but that there is an infinite-personal God who is the Creator of the universe, the space-time continuum. We should not forget that this was what the founders of modern science built upon. It means the acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, and it means living under God’s revelation. Here there are morals, values, and meaning, including meaning for people, which are not just a result of statistical averages. This is neither a utilitarianism, nor a leap away from reason; it is the truth that gives a unity to all of knowledge and all of life. This second alternative means that individuals come to the place where they have this base, and they influence the consensus. Such Christians do not need to be a majority in order for this influence on society to occur.

Note: the title of Francis Schaeffer’s book comes from the watchman passage in Ezekiel 33:1-11, 19.

Verse 10:

Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

God alone sees us as we are

Word of the day (and thought for the day):

DISCRETION

NOUN
1.  tact: the good judgment and sensitivity needed to avoid embarrassing or upsetting others
2.  freedom to decide: the freedom or authority to judge something or make a decision about it
“Tipping is left to the customer’s discretion.”
3.  confidentiality: the ability to keep sensitive information secret
[ 14th century. Via French < Latin discretion- “separation, discernment” < discret-, past participle of discernere (see discern) ]
Flannery O’Connor’s rather relentless scorn for “nice Christian people” who sincerely believe they’re the good folks, better than average, and pleasing to Jesus, makes her stories, like Hawthorne’s, classics of our literature. I treasure them, certainly, for their many literary virtues and their rich, dark, humor, but more importantly, for their sharp, honest theological insight: there is none righteous, no, not one–and don’t you forget it! O’Connor’s great gift to readers lies in the way she tricks us into identifying with the worst of these self-righteous characters, blinded by the beams in their own beady little eyes, ever ready to sit in judgment on their neighbors.
. . . Because we are commanded not to pass judgment on one another, it may be that discretion–regard for privacy, protection of the closed spaces of heart and workplace that allow people to “work out their own salvation in fear and trembling”–needs a high place in the ground rules of community life.
. . . discretion requires us first to pray, so that we might learn when to share and not share, and when to sacrifice the love of story for the protection and healing that comes only in silence.

little efforts matter

How we spend our days is,

of course,

how we spend our lives.

~ Annie Dillard

words without thoughts

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

– Hamlet, Act III, Scene iii

C. S. Lewis writes about the Efficacy of Prayer that “Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men for our experiment.”

The World’s Last Night and Other Essays

Further – “Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.”

And

It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning: before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.”

Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me.” When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.

the Sacrament of the Present Moment

God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment.

Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.

– Evelyn Underhill

we all love poorly

Forgiveness

is the name of love

practiced among people

who love poorly.

 The hard truth

is that all people love poorly.

We need to forgive and be forgiven every day,

every hour unceasingly.

That is the great work of love

among the fellowship of the weak

that is the human family.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

 

The Spirit is at work

Spiritual reorientation

often leads to upheaval in the psyche and in personal life.

Relationships may not be able to remain the same….

We may be led into situations

that painfully stimulate new capacities

or demand digging deep to cultivate new virtues

like patience or courage….

Through it all, the spirit is at work.

– Robert C. Morris

good morning, coffee

GREG BROWN
“Good Morning Coffee
 I will bring you your good mornin coffee, will you smile

If not now then have a sip or two and maybe in a while

I love you I love you in the good mornin and in the night
Every day I wait with you wherever we are it’s all right

Here’s your coffee, it may still be too hot, it is freshly brewed
I’ll just pour myself a cup and then I will crawl in with you

Greg Brown’s mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown’s first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses.

Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report’s Americana rankings and Brown’s first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone’s four-star review of Further In called Brown “a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition.” 1997’s Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination.

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