As a teacher, one of my fundamental desires is to “Aspire to Inspire” my students. I found this list of rules (with a great little backstory*) and am sharing it so that you might possibly find truth in it as I did.
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.
*John Cage (most famous for 4’33”) was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg (created 12-tone technique for composing music). Cage, in turn, inspired a generation of composers and artists. One so inspired was a California nun, Sister Corita Kent, who created this list of Rules in 1968 for a class project. For more information read this Open Culture article.
From earth I flow, seaward I go,
Refreshing the world on my way.
My duty done, my guerdon* won,
I rise on celestial ray.
Drink, weary traveler, in the Land,
And on thy journey fare
‘Tis sent by God’s all giving hand.
And stored by human care.
*Guerdon is an archaic word meaning reward or recompense.
I enjoy looking through Flickr photos. I peruse the “Explore” recent photos category as often as I can clicking on all my favorites so I can look at them again in the future. Many of the images are sometimes ho-hum and very predictable, but I usually see something that inspires me greatly. Recently I found a whole series of images “em ha” uploaded as Public Domain items. I’m sharing my favorites here. The wildflower photos are mine, though. (TTQ)
Do you ever see something out of the corner of your eye and think — “Oh! That would make a great photo!”
This seems to happen to me frequently. But I hardly ever do anything about it, and I regret that.
Last spring, on my drive to school I spied three red tulips that were growing in a very obscure place beneath a tangle of on/off ramps. Each day as I drove the tight right-turn of the clover leaf going under a multi-lane Interstate highway and off ramp to emerge going in my chosen direction on the Interstate I just drove under, I would see the flash of red off to my left. Each day I thought, “Bloom where you are planted. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.”
How did tulips get planted in this desolate, neglected, non-landscaped area of highway underpass undergrowth? Did someone throw a few tulips out of their car window one day and they happened to land in a protected and fertile enough spot? I plant bulbs in my flower beds nearly every fall, and each fall, many of them are eaten by squirrels (or other varmints).
Red Tulips. Images by James Petts via Flickr CC.
Red tulips. Image by cranberries via Flickr CC.
Each day, I thought “I should stop to take a picture of those tulips before they stop blooming.” Each day I would tell myself I didn’t have time and that there was no safe place to pull over and stop. Needless to say, there is no photograph because I never stopped. But the image has stayed with me.
Another image that I regret not stopping to document happened last fall near my school. I was with my college-aged son in the car going shopping for school necessaries when we was on break. It must have been Thanksgiving weekend because what we saw were people putting a large inflatable Santa sleigh (complete with reindeer) on top of a ranch style house. The funny part was that there were two legs sticking out from under the sleigh part, toes down. It looked like Santa had accidentally landed on someone and squished them flat. Who knows what that person was doing on the roof while Santa was trying to land, but that is beside the point. We discussed stopping but didn’t.
I WISH I had taken a few seconds to stop and take a quick photo. My son and I both laughed at the sight of those legs; at first we thought the legs were not real but were an intentional part of the scenario they were erecting. As we drove away I had the chorus of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” running through my head.
Just this past week I was driving on a road that goes behind the garage area of a nearby car dealership. There are always a lot of cars parked along this not-very-busy-dead-end-road; some new cars for the dealer, some cars for their repair shop; and I presume some of the cars of the dealership employees. I noticed a long black sedan type of car. Sticking out of the closed trunk was one skeleton arm and hand. It was totally creepy looking (and fake, I might add!). Again, I considered stopping but didn’t have a camera with me (not even my phone camera). Consequently — no photo.
On a trip to Indiana driving at highway speed on US 30 between Valpo and Warsaw (which must be in contention for the US most boring highway) my eye caught a beautiful scene as it flashed by in an instant. There was an old red well-used barn, a field of sunflowers in full bloom, a blue sky with puffy white clouds and the whole thing was framed in green leafy trees. You guessed it: I didn’t stop.
Remember the NYC pizza rat? Well, I had a pizza squirrel one day in my backyard. The squirrel had pretty much a whole slice of pizza and somehow managed to carry it across our backyard, up a tree trunk and then hop to the top of the fence with it. The squirrel paused then looked at me with an accusatory glare as if to say, “This is MY pizza. Keep your hands OFF!” I wondered where he had found a whole slice of pizza and how he managed to carry it while running and climbing. I wondered if eating the pizza would make the squirrel sick. I wished I had my camera so I could catch a photo (or video!) of the pizza-toting squirrel. Alas, the only image I have of this scenario is in my mind.
Am I the only one who has these photographic regrets?
Does this happen to anyone else?
He who has God lacks nothing. Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta.
Rose-covered garden path, Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
church in NJ
image by Jill, The Tromp Queen (Creative Commons license: attribution-noderivatives-noncommercial 4.0) Milwaukee Art in Bloom exhibit 2014
image by Su Heng Pak (peshk78) via Flickr CC
Hermit Thrush eggs image by Ken McFarland via Flickr CC
Milwaukee River image by TTQ cc
Lake Michigan, view from MaM; image by TTQ cc
first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc
View of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Magical mist and morning sunbeams at Turkey Run SP on Trail 3; photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
Door County sunset reflected on the water, photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill crabapple blooms
My attempt at a creative photo of That Tree. photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
Road in Ephesus
sun is gone — photo by quarkyjazz
photo by quirkyjazz
The Tromp Queen’s boots
setting sun near Rountree Branch, photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
light National Cathedral, DC
stained glass from the National Cathedral in DC
Praise What Comes
surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
that lets you work in many kinds of weather. Praise
talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals, books
that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks before sleep. Praising these for practice, perhaps
you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
and only a few very simple questions: did I love,
finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
of the many names of God? At the intersections,
the boundaries where one life began and another
ended, the jumping-off places between fear and
possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?
~ Jeanne Lohmann ~
I posted this poem in a previous blog post, but the photos disappeared. I added a mosaic of images (most are photos I’ve taken) that the poem evokes for me. I still find this poem captivating and inspiring. I hope you do, too.
The theme of the sermon this morning was “My Statement of FAITH.” The church recently got a new pastor and the installation ceremony takes place today.
During the children’s sermon, a statement was made that struck me as odd: “You have to have a LOT of faith.” I think she might have even said, “You’d have to have a lot of faith to make that happen” which is a whole other issue but for right now I’m going to focus on the LOT of faith statement. She was speaking about the Israelites having faith that God would provide food (manna) and water for them during their journey in the wilderness after they escaped from slavery in Egypt. (The manna story is told in the Bible in Exodus 16)
The people of Israel called the bread manna.
It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
(Exodus 16:31 NIV)
I wrote a note to myself that said, “Isn’t any amount of Faith enough?” What would constitute a LOT of Faith?
What about the parable of the mustard seed?
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:31 NIV)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5,6 ESV)
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 NIV)
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.
(Matthew 21:21 NLT)
The image of a mustard seed sized bit of faith has always been a source of fascination and something I ponder. I wore a mustard seed necklace somewhat similar to this one for quite a few years. (I still have it, but the chain is too short for me to wear it now.)
I thought about what I think Faith means. I thought of Hebrews 11:1,3, 6, 11-12
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
And it is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
And then, I mused about the very personal experience I had with the story of Abraham and Sarah’s miraculous child: (for a more complete telling of this FAITH and GRACE-filled story, read this.)
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man (and one woman), and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
If I ever get a tattoo, the one I would most consider would be an image of the word faith slicing through the word grace, as in “by faith are you saved through grace.” (Faith through grace, get it?) Something like this, but with it cutting through a larger word “GRACE” done in a way so that both words are clearly seen.
But I digress.
The pastor ended with the thought that each person’s statement of FAITH is their life. Your statement of FAITH is YOU.
My faith is personal. I am not one of those people who evangelize every person I meet. I don’t, however, avoid talking about my faith it if is relevant to the conversation. I pray throughout the day. If I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do. I have deep convictions about certain beliefs and a very strong sense of liberal theology (which isn’t surprising given the hodge-podge patchwork of churches I’ve attended so far in my life). This quote* says it so well:
In essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, charity (love).
Faith is not a creed, a recitation of a list of beliefs. Faith is not something that can be measured.
Faith, in my opinion, can not be more or less than it is. One either believes or doesn’t.
Yes, there may be reservations or questions — but when it comes right down to it — are you IN or out? You can’t stay on the Titanic and be in the lifeboat at the same time. Well, technically, I guess you could do that but your ultimate choice would be Titanic in the end.
At some point the decision has to be made.
I don’t think there is more or less, to it.
I don’t believe one can have a “LOT” of faith.
Faith just IS. Or it isn’t.
You’ve taken the leap or you haven’t.
One tiny grain of faith, as small as a mustard seed is enough to move a mountain. Given that, does attempting to quantify faith make any sense?
How much more faith than that tiny grain is possible or even needed?
Faith has gotten me through all the major decision in my life. I’ve seen miracles. I’ve lived miracles. I’ve had sorrow, sadness, heartache and pain. There has been joy, laughter, and love. Through it all, like a thread woven into a gorgeous piece of fabric — FAITH is what holds it all together for me. Thanks be to God.
*The attribution of the quote is quite a story. You can read all about it here. Research points to this person as the author: Marc’ Antonio de Dominis (1560-1624), archbishop of Split (Spalato).
My family has been “into” kayaks for many years now. Though we have 4 people in our family, we had 6 kayaks for quite a while. We still have five!
My husband is the activity cheerleader and organizer. A few weeks ago he went on a “midnight paddle” that was put on by the River Alliance of Wisconsin and Milwaukee River Keeper. The event didn’t take place at midnight — they actually started at 7:30 pm.
Since then, he has been trying to convince me to go with him on an the same route for an evening kayak trip on the Milwaukee River.
You might wonder why I would need to be convinced. Well, kayaking is fun while you are on the water, but there is a lot of lifting, carrying, tying down, loading and unloading involved. Since I’ve gained some weight in the last few years, it is also very difficult for me to get in and out of the boat and sometimes I end up IN the river.
Last night, I said yes.
It was nearly dark by the time we got into the boats and started down the river. There is a wonderful canoe/kayak landing hidden away which I presume was built by the Kiwanis club because there was a big canoe shaped sign proclaiming the place as “Kiwanis Landing.” For Milwaukeeans, the landing is just upriver from Bel Air and Gastropub on the north side of the river. (?)
Almost immediately I was spellbound by the experience. A mother duck and her three ducklings swam alongside of me. They might have been hoping for me to toss some food out for them, but I loved seeing them so close as they quacked, paddled their feet and chomped on bugs.
After the first bridge, there are condos and apartment buildings on both sides. At times the walls on both sides of the river reach so high, you feel like you’ve entered a canyon.
Image by Hasker, paddle3 CC license.
Image by Hasker, paddle2 CC license.
Image by Hasker, paddle1 CC license.
Going under the bridges is kind of spooky. There are ladders, dark corners and creepy little windows. Imaginations can run wild in a place such as this! (This photo is not of the creepy ones; it was the only photo I could find of under a bridge at night in MKE.)
At one bridge, we watched while the road was lifted so that a taller boat go could through. We were passed by pontoons, huge yachts and regular speedboats. There was a LOT of boat traffic going both ways, so we were vigilant about making sure we stayed safe.
If you’ve never spent time on a boat at night, you might not realize there is a system of required lights that help everyone navigate around each other. In the front, there is supposed to be a light that is green on one side and red on the other. Red is starboard, I believe. If you see the red light, you should yield right of way. If you see the green, they are seeing your red light and it should be safe for you to proceed. If you are heading directly toward each other, you pass on the green side. All boats are supposed to have a white light in the back of the boat. For slower not very large boats like kayaks, the only required light is a plain white light in the front. We both had lights, but if we do this again — I’d prefer to have the red/green light in the front and a white light in back as the larger, faster boats are required to have. Or possibly not go on a gorgeous summer Friday night. There was LOT of boat traffic, and some boats were being driven by people who clearly didn’t have much experience (rental party boats, for instance).
The sun was down. There was a half moon in the sky. The lights from the bridges, businesses and buildings shimmered like a magic kaleidoscope on the surface of the water changing as the breeze and wave patterns evolved.
I didn’t take my camera, but my husband had his cell phone. I kept asking him to take photos because the light on the water was so mesmerizing.
Image by Vincent Desjardins, via Flickr CC license Milwaukee (WIS) Downtown, Riverwalk.
Image by Vincent Desjardins, via Flickr CC license Milwaukee (WIS) Downtown, Riverwalk.
Image by tyle_r of skywalk over Milwaukee River, via Flickr CC license.
Image of Milwaukee River at night by Rough Tough, Real Stuff via Flickr CC license.
Image of Milwaukee River at night by Rough Tough, Real Stuff via Flickr CC license.
People on the water are usually friendly, waving and sometimes saying a few words as boats pass each other.
We went about 2 miles or so through Milwaukee and turned around near the Public Market. We passed several outdoor patios (at restaurants and breweries for example) full of happy people, drinking and talking. One guy tried to convince me that we were heading for some dangerous rapids up ahead. Another person warned of sharks.
I laughed when we saw one of the letters of the Usinger’s sign was unlit. The building now proclaims “Singer’s” — which as a music teacher and choir director I found amusing. (For non-MKE folks, Usinger’s is one of the famous sausage and bratwurst companies here).
As we paddled back toward the landing, a couple shouted “Good job; you made it!” and clapped for me. The woman added, “We saw you headed the other way.” I laughed and thanked them.
We also saw a very interesting and quirky boat docked on the river: the Solomon Juneau. Apparently it is a fixture on the downtown river and the man who owns it has lived in it for many years. For additional photos of this boat, click here to see “Aboard the Solomon Juneau.”
I kept thinking, “I grew up in my little tiny town with one stoplight and here I am paddling through the middle of a major city on a Friday night in a kayak.” You never know where life will lead you, that is for sure!
I will say, I was horrified by the amount of trash in the river, though. I can’t believe people are still so lackadaisical about throwing stuff willy-nilly into water (or anywhere not in a trash can, for that matter). Next time, I’m going to take a big trash bag (and some rubber gloves) so I can pick it out of the river. Didn’t they see that pollution commercial with the Native American and the tear running down his face?? He would have been crying again last night for sure.
But other than the trash and a few boats going too fast with clueless drivers, it was a magical evening. I can’t wait to go again!
Oh, I forgot! We saw a great big green frog at the end as we were getting out of our boats. He was alarmed by all the fuss, I think.
Running up Glen Croe, the road crosses and re-crosses the river in the crag-confined floor of the glen before climbing steadily up the valley flank to its head on the pass between Loch Long and Loch Fyne.
Here in the pass is Rest and Be Thankful, at 246m (800ft) where one can stop to enjoy the excellent views of the surrounding countryside and well, rest and be thankful. For part of the way, the road follows the line of the military road built in 1753: the soldiers who built it gave the pass its name.
The ‘Rest’, as it is often called, is a vital travel link for much of mid and south Argyll; it is a way stop for travelers going through to the old county town of Inveraray.
In early days visitors held the area in a kind of fearful awe. Sarah Murray, a bold English traveller from 1799, thought it was “one of the most formidable, as well as most gloomy passes in the Highlands, amongst such black, bare, craggy, tremendous mountains, as must shake the nerves of every timorous person.”
A new road took the terror out of the glen, though landslides from the unstable slopes above frequently occur and can sometimes block the road.
A marker stone records the history of the pass at the bottom of the car park, just where the old road comes in. (photo below)Rest & Be Thankful are the words which are located on this stone near the junction of the A83 and the B828. A stone was placed there by soldiers who built the original road in 1753, and the road has been known by the same name for centuries. The original stone fell into ruin and was replaced by a commemorative stone on the same site.
The inscription on the stone reads:
REST & BE THANKFUL
MILITARY ROAD REPD
BY 93D REGT 1768
COMMRS FOR H.R & C.
IN THE YEAR 1814
To find out the complete history of this wonderful spot, plus anecdotes and several photos — follow this link.
To find out more about the Scotland Forestry Park and Rest and Be Thankful in particular — follow this link.
If you plan to go:
From Glasgow, follow the A82 along Loch Lomond. Then follow the A83 towards Oban, Inveraray and Dunoon. The car park is at grid reference NN 229 074.
G83 7AS is the nearest postcode, a little way down the hill towards Arrochar.
This topic idea has been languishing in my Drafts for a more than a year. I think I stumbled upon this idyllic little slice of the world when I was searching for a photo to represent “rest” or “being thankful.” I search Flickr and the Creative Commons photos using those words and this small roadside park kept popping up. It looks like such a lovely place; I’d love to visit it sometime. Whether or not I ever get there, it is good to know there is a place in the world called “Rest and Be Thankful.” Hopefully people do that there every single day, and may we all take the inspiration to rest and be thankful where we are in our lives every day.
In a person’s lifetime there may be not more than half a dozen occasions that he can look back to
in the certain knowledge
that right then, at that moment, there was room for nothing
but happiness in his heart.
– Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
This quote, though it is ostensibly about happiness, makes me feel melancholy.
It is sad that we make so little intentional time and space for happiness in our lives.
Most people spend (waste) those joyful, happy moments being distracted — by worry, fear, their phone or some other electronic device, by thinking ahead or looking behind.
Whatever the cause, the moments pass by unnoticed and unmarked.
Times Square, NYC. Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Image by espensorvik, TV Remote Control via Flickr CC license
Image by David Erickson, All My Screens via Flickr CC license.
Image by Alan Levine, MessPod via Flickr CC license.
Image by David Ohmer via Flickr CC license.
Thankfully, I DO remember some instances when I have specifically consciously realized: THIS is a moment to remember.
There are several of these “moment memories” from when our children were babies. Becoming pregnant was not an easy road so when the babies arrived, I probably made more of an effort to be “aware” of the moments than some mothers might. Holding your very own freshly bathed, clean diapered, just fed, snuggly baby who is either asleep or falling asleep in your arms — well, there is nothing like it. I wished I could store those moments up for when they turned into raving teenagers telling me they hate me (which did happen, though I know they don’t truly mean it!)
Most people make an effort to stop and enjoy the big events: graduations, births, weddings, retirements, new jobs, new homes, etc. But even these milestone events often pass by in a whirlwind of activity or in a fog of details.
Once in a while I need to escape to a “happy place” in my mind.
This is when I draw on one of those memorized moments.
I have several of these images from which to choose. One is from a camping vacation we took with some dear family friends who had/have children around the same age as ours. We all enjoy tent camping, swimming, hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, etc.
My specific memory comes from a trip we took together several years ago to Clear Lake (“up North” in Wisconsin). The children (early elementary ages at that time) were playing happily in the sand or in the shallow water. My friend, Anne, and I had been sitting in our chairs in the warm sun (safely sunscreened, sunglassed and be-hatted with our crossword books and pencils in hand). Our toes were in the sand. We had eaten a picnic lunch on the beach.
I’m not sure where the “guys” were but maybe they were out in the kayaks or off riding their bikes.
I decided to get into the water. I put a floaty noodle behind my neck and around under my arms and another floaty noodle under my knees. I closed my eyes and just floated. The lake was clear (as advertised!) and cool but not cold. The sun was warm but not hot. The sky was blue and clear, with just a few small white clouds. There were not many other people around, so I mostly heard our content and creative children at play. I heard the birds, the small waves, and distant boat sounds.
We were all happy, healthy, and safe.
I realized — it was a completely happy moment — and I concentrated to memorize the feeling and all the sensations.
Here’s hoping you find a moment soon that is filled with nothing but happiness. And here’s hoping you are aware of it when it happens.
To learn more about the woman behind this quote, click here.
I finished reading “God Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee yesterday afternoon.
I do not think it is impossible to reconcile the two Mockingbird worlds.
This new novel is a “coming home” book. Familiar territory to me, really. I was “born and raised” in a small town in northeastern Indiana. We had 699 people and 1 stoplight. My dad had a barber shop on the main street through town.
My childhood was similar to Scout’s in that we roamed free from early morning ’til the lightning bugs came out. We played barefoot; swam (mostly unattended) in the lake among the lily pads and fish; and created imaginative scenarios for “play” involving whomever was in the back yard that day.
Robert Patton, via Flickr CC Will the Ball Get Her Before She Gets Home
Robert Patton, via Flickr CC Later Summer Sports
We had a cement driveway and a basketball goal (regulation height). We had a playhouse and a yard large enough for kick ball. We had a ranch house that we could play “Ollie Ollie Over” around. My mom would make Kool-Aid and cookies. Grass stains, bug bites, sun burn — no problem. Life was good. Days were long. Fights were rare.
We even had a “haunted house.” It was an abandoned house just a few blocks away from our neighborhood, and we walked by or rode our bikes by it (never alone, though) whenever we were feeling brave enough. The house was not inhabited (alas, no Boo character for us), but the trepidation we felt and the stories we imagined kept us in a state of fear whenever we were near it. That didn’t stop us, though, from finally gathering courage to explore the house (on one very sunny, bright summer day). The mystery was blown. There was nothing there. It was just an old house, mostly empty of everything — except the faint clues and hints about the lives that had been lived within its walls.
Now that I think about it, we did have a kind of Boo Radley character. His name was Slim Miller, and he seemed to live in his car. I don’t know the real story of this poor man’s life, but I imagine it was rough (or possibly a result of mental illness?). He had longish hair, a scraggly beard, and an unkempt appearance (no big surprise since he lived in his car). As far as I know he never did anything illegal and he never said “boo” to me or to any of my friends.
When I turned 18, I went away to college after a summer church youth group trip to Haiti. That trip changed my life. I looked in the mirror at some point during that trip and was surprised to see my white face instead of a dark Haitian one. I could count the number of black people in my home town on one hand, and I believe that moment in the mirror opened my eyes and heart forever.
I attended a large state university for one year and then transferred to a Christian liberal arts college (with an excellent music conservatory). Going home for visits and summers as the college years flew by, brought into focus some of the ways my world views were changing/had changed. Assumptions and beliefs I had never questioned growing up either became stronger and more dearly held or gradually morphed into a larger coherent (to me) framework to include the people, cultures, and experiences of my life — broader and wider than many “back home” might hold with but still centered in Faith and Love.
So, I can relate to Scout trying to make sense of her kin and town folk — Harper Lee’s words ring true.
After reading the new book, I mulled over the troublesome issues trying to understand how to piece these two novels together into one coherent narrative.
Some have thrown up their hands saying, “She never meant for this book to be published” or “She wrote this first, submitted it and then the publisher requested major revisions. Mockingbird is the result.” I don’t buy either of those.
I think it is clear she wrote this as a sequel. However it started out, the version that was published yesterday expects that we have lived through that earlier Maycomb County summer with these characters.
I think it was deemed not publishable for various reasons which might have included fears of inciting violence in the ongoing Civil Rights movement, the fragile state of world politics (Cuban crisis, Vietnam, space race, etc), and (apparently) Harper Lee’s own wishes.
The reconciliation will come in part 2. I’m still working it out.
Let nothing disturb thee. (Nada te turbe)
Let nothing frighten thee. (Nada te espante)
All things pass away. (Todo se pasa)
God never changes. (Dios no se muda)
Patience attains all things. (La paciencia todo lo alcanza)
He who has God lacks nothing. (Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta)
God alone suffices. (Solo Dios basta)
–prayer written by St. Teresa of Avila in the 16th century –all images by The Tromp Queen, CC license
(Wise words from The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis.)
In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.
I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.
We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.
Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.
Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past.
But all this is a cheat.
If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.
These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers.
For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
When I attempted a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light… For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.
Now we wake to find that it is no such thing.
We have been mere spectators.
Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face turned in our direction, but not to see us.
We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance.
We may go when we please, we may stay if we can, no one cares.
Now, a scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable Something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment.
We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in the universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.