The slow work of God

3611951_orig copy 2Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
(1881 – 1955)

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Sowing and reaping

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You reap what you sow —
not something else, but that.
An act of love makes the soul more loving.
A deed of humbleness deepens humbleness.
The thing reaped is the very thing sown,
multiplied a hundred fold.
You have sown a seed of life,
you reap life everlasting.

–Frederick W. Robertson
(1816 – 1853)

Artwork: Vincent van Gogh

This day we fight

Map-Of-Middle-font-b-Earth-b-font-The-Lord-Of-The-Rings-Nice-Silk-FabricI see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. This day we fight.

–Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King

Published in: on 07/26/2015 at 19:15  Leave a Comment  
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Against the wind

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You find out
the strength
of a wind by trying
to walk against it,
not by lying down.

–C. S. Lewis

Humility, truth and vines

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Humility is the acceptance of the true spiritual order. It teaches the branch to abide in the vine. It restores the disordered hierarchy in the heart by replacing God upon His throne there.

Humility is simply truth, and independence is nothing but a lie, honouring the branch above the vine, the member above the body, and the creature above the Creator — calling a stream the fountain, and a planet the sun.

–Thomas Erskine
Unconditional Freeness of the Gospel

Climbers or Critics?

Rock Climbing on Turnagain Arm

It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy causes; who at best knows in the end triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

–Theodore Roosvelt

Giving is life-giving

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I suppose all the ills
of human personality
can be traced back
to one thing—
not understanding
the meaning of the phrase:
“It is more blessed to give
than to receive.”

–Dr. Alfred W. Adler
Jewish psychiatrist

Where Hell begins

Distant view of Mount Fuji silhouetted against an blue sky

Christianity asserts that we are going to go on forever . . . Now there are a great many things that wouldn’t be worth bothering about if I was only going to live eighty years or so, but I had better bother about if I am going to go on living forever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are getting worse so gradually that the increase in my lifetime will not be very noticeable but it might be absolute hell in a million years. In fact, if Christianity is true, hell is precisely the correct technical term for it. Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others, but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or to even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on and on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will “be” Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 02/10/2014 at 17:40  Leave a Comment  
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The goal is to love

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To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished.

Our goal was never to live;
our goal is to love.

It is the goal of all noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even your life itself.

–N. D. Wilson
Empire of Bones

Published in: on 01/11/2014 at 3:48  Leave a Comment  
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Higher ground

Rock Climbing on Turnagain Arm

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for the long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness… (That seems to be why) dissatisfaction – coupled with a longing for peace and truth – are the only way we set off on the pilgrim path of wholeness in God…

As long as we think that the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he or she acquires an appetite for the world of grace.

–Eugene Peterson

Little decisions are big

decision

Good and evil increase
at compound interest.
That’s why the little decisions
we make every day are
of infinite importance.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 11/21/2013 at 6:17  Leave a Comment  
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Choices

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Every time you make a choice
you are turning the central part of you
into something a little different
than it was before.

–C. S. Lewis

Image: Adam Van Bunnens

Published in: on 10/14/2013 at 14:49  Leave a Comment  
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The heart of every virtue

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If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude.

Every virtue is an expression of love.

No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.

–Richard P. McBrien

Without thankfulness

Country Road Sunrise

Life without thankfulness
is devoid of love and passion.
Hope without thankfulness
is lacking in fine perception.
Faith without thankfulness
lacks strength and fortitude.
Every virtue divorced
from thankfulness
is maimed and limps along
the spiritual road.

–John Henry Jowett
(1864-1923)

The most beautiful people

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

–Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Being a man

That’s what being a man
is all about, boy.
It’s just doing
what’s got to be done.

–Robert Newton Peck

Published in: on 01/24/2012 at 7:55  Leave a Comment  
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The only issue

One of the most difficult aspects of piety is learning that in a sense there is nothing we need to do.

No amount of spiritual experience
will get us more connected to the vine.

No virtue will bring us anymore into union with Christ than we are already. The only issue for us to attend with utter seriousness is what it means to be who we are in union with Christ.

–Andrew Purves

Published in: on 01/01/2012 at 17:18  Leave a Comment  
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Keeping the rules

Nothing gives one a more spuriously
good conscience than keeping the rules,
even if there has been a total absence
of all real charity and faith.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 10/27/2011 at 10:41  Leave a Comment  

Making choices

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 09/21/2011 at 12:43  Leave a Comment  
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On the road to disgrace

The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease… Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.

–Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

Redefining greatness

Whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least. That is the crux of the matter for us, isn’t it? Most of us know we will never be the greatest; just don’t let us be the least. Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. No one wanted to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.

–Richard Foster

Published in: on 06/08/2011 at 13:41  Leave a Comment  
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