Evening Solace

27 02 2014

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame’s or Wealth’s illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.

But there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart’s best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back, a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others’ sufferings seem.
Oh! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie!

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress,
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven
Seeking a life and world to come.

Charlotte Brontë

winter moon

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Man’s Medley

25 02 2014

Hark, how the birds do sing,
and woods do ring.
All creatures have their joy: and man hath his.
Yet if we rightly measure,
Man’s joy and pleasure
Rather hereafter, than in present, is.

To this life things of sense
Make their pretense:
In th’other Angels have a right by birth:
Man ties them both alone,
And makes them one,
With th’one hand touching heav’n, with th’other earth.

In soul he mounts and flies,
In flesh he dies.
He wears a stuff whose thread is coarse and round,
But trimm’d with curious lace
And should take place
After the trimming, not the stuff and ground.

Not that he may not here
Taste of the cheer,
But as birds drink, and straight lift up their head,
So must he sip and think
Of better drink
He may attain to, after he is dead.

But as his joys are double,
So is his trouble.
He hath two winters, other things but one:
Both frosts and thoughts do nip,
And bite his lip;
And he of all things fears two deaths alone.

Yet ev’n the greatest griefs
May be reliefs,
Could he but take them right, and in their ways.
Happy is he, whose heart
Hath found the art
To turn his double pains to double praise.

George Herbert
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Their Anthem Raise

23 02 2014
O sing a new song to the Lord,
Sing all the earth and bless His Name;
From day to day His praise record,
The Lord’s redeeming grace proclaim.
Tell all the world His wondrous ways,
Tell heathen nations far and near;
Great is the Lord, and great His praise,
And Him alone let nations fear.
 
The heathen gods are idols vain;
The shining heavens the Lord supports;
Both light and honor lead His train,
While strength and beauty fill His courts.
Let every tongue and every tribe
Give to the Lord due praise and sing;
All glory unto Him ascribe,
Come, throng His courts, and offerings bring.
O fear and bow, adorned with grace,
And tell each land that God is King;
The earth He founded in its place,
And justice to the world will bring.
Let heaven be glad, let earth rejoice,
The teeming sea resound with praise;
Let waving fields lift high their voice,
And all the trees their anthem raise.
Birches in Yellow and White
So let them shout before our God,
For, lo, He comes, He comes with might,
To wield the scepter and the rod,
To judge the world with truth and right.
Psalm 96 (as rendered by the 1912 Psalter of the Presbyterian & Reformed Churches of America)




February

22 02 2014

The robin on my lawn
He was the first to tell
How, in the frozen dawn,
This miracle befell,
Waking the meadows white
With hoar, the iron road
Agleam with splintered light,
And ice where water flowed:
Till, when the low sun drank
Those milky mists that cloak
Hanger and hollied bank,
The winter world awoke
To hear the feeble bleat
Of lambs on downland farms:
A blackbird whistled sweet;
Old beeches moved their arms
Into a mellow haze
Aerial, newly-born:
And I, alone, agaze,
Stood waiting for the thorn
To break in blossom white,
Or burst in a green flame….
So, in a single night,
Fair February came,
Bidding my lips to sing
Or whisper their surprise,
With all the joy of spring
And morning in her eyes.

Francis Brett Young

winter sunrise





Answers

20 02 2014

I keep my answers small and keep them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I keep from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, I still hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow

And all the great conclusions coming near.

Elizabeth Jennings

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A Blind Man’s Light

16 02 2014

Hail holy light, offspring of Heav’n first-born,
Or of th’ Eternal Co-eternal beam
May I express thee unblamed? Since God is Light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from Eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear’st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,
Whose Fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,
Escap’t the Stygian Pool, though long detain’d
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne
With other notes then to th’ Orphean lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal night,
Taught by the heav’nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov’reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit’st not these eyes, that rowle in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear Spring, or shady Grove, or Sunny Hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee Sion and the flow’ry Brooks beneath
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equal’d with me in Fate,
So were I equal’d with them in renown.
Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus prophets old.
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud in stead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Natures works to me expung’d and razed,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou Celestial light
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

John Milton

For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy Light shall we see light. O continue Thy loving-kindness unto them that know Thee; and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart.  (Psalm 38:9-10)

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Follow Me!

13 02 2014

 “Follow Me.” 

There is a power in this unique gospel, unique person and unique gift that changes lives and in time can turn the world upside down. There is something about Jesus that transcends religious and political barriers. Samaritans who were regarded as heretics and Romans who were thought of as barbarians found themselves around Jesus saying, “I want to follow that man!” Isn’t this the need today for our country and world? 

One of the leaders (attending the 2014 United States National Prayer Breakfast) told me a personal haunting story as to our world’s predicament. He was in a South American country and the Ranking National Religious Leaders infighting was front page news. This leader was begged to meet with the Religious Leaders. When he arrived there were five older Religious Leaders present and 25 younger emerging leaders. He started by asking,“Do you have any questions for me?” One of the younger men asked, “Why don’t young people go to church anymore?” He said, “You will probably throw me out of here. They don’t like you and after three days in your country neither do I.” He told them that a new commandment had been given to love one another, that all men will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another, that oneness will demonstrate to the world that God sent the Son. He said that young people are sick of political and religious infighting and though they don’t understand it all theologically…young people are attracted to unconditional love and people who die to themselves. He talked about Jesus and His words, “Follow me.” The older leaders weren’t moved but the younger leaders said, “This is the most exciting thing we have ever heard. We have never heard it before. Where can we get this material?” The answer my friend spoke,“Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

Michael Sprague of Grace Adventures