Thursday, July 31, 2008

as Falling Snow

"Love should be as effortless as breathing and as indiscriminate as falling snow."

(Hugh Prather)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Song 4:9-15

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one bead of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride,
how much more delightful is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your ointments than all spices!
Your lips drip honey, my bride,
sweetmeats and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
is the fragrance of Lebanon.
You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride,
an enclosed garden, a fountain sealed.
You are a park that puts forth pomegranates,
with all choice fruits;
Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all kinds of incense;
Myrrh and aloes,
with all the finest spices.
You are a garden fountain, a well of water
flowing fresh from Lebanon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thank God for Poetry

I'm working my way through a scholarly treatise called "God and the Creative Imagination", and recently finished a chapter titled "Liturgy as Literature". The chapter was really all about poetry, and captured and summarized all that I feel about what this blog does for me.

Here are some snippets, many of which quote a variety of other writers' thoughts.

"The language of Christian devotion (that is, of private prayer, meditation and hymnody) springs from the Christian imagination that is aflame with the love of God and is therefore incorrigibly figurative--sometimes boldly and radically so."

"The language of liturgy is poetry rather than prose: it is the product of Christian imagination that has been chastened and shaped by the liturgical and doctrinal tradition."

Coleridge "...suggested that in prose the words are subordinate to the meaning and ought to express it as efficiently as possible without attracting too much attention to themselves, while the words of poetry must be beautiful in themselves, though without detracting from the unity of effect of the whole"

Coleridge describes the birthing of poetry as "that pleasurable emotion, that peculiar state and degree of excitement, which arises in the poet himself in the act of composition".

and says that poetry is "the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake"

He continues to say that it is "the balance in the mind effected by that spontaneous effort which strives to hold in check the workings of passion" and what is required is "an interpenetration of passion and of will, of spontaneous impulse and of voluntary purpose".

"For Keble, poetry acts as a safety-valve for overflowing emotion: the writing and reading of poetry is cathartic and soothes--that is to say steadies or tempers--the spirit suffering the turbulence of passion."

Keble also describes poetry as "a kind of medicine, divinely bestowed on man, which gives healing relief to secret mental emotion or overpowering sorrow, yet without detriment to modest reserve, and while giving scope to enthusiasm yet rules it with order and due control"

and "the indirect expression in words, most appropriately in metrical words, of some overpowering emotion, or ruling taste, or feeling, the direct indulgence whereof is somehow repressed."

Avis himself says "The pleasurable excitement of poetry is due in part to the role of meter in harnessing powerful emotions."

and "Thoughts that defy expression, emotions that are too strong for human nature to bear, are constrained, contained and made manageable"

All I can say is: Yep.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Begging Rain

I am reading a stunning novel called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and while looking for other books from him, found this.

The Begging Rain

when I am not with you
and you are alone enough
to count the nails in your heart,
and studded like a treasure-house door,
when you arrange your silences
in the vase of an hour,
balancing the bouquet with memories
of hands held,
a spike of laughter
and the colour of my eyes,

when you sit within the swell
of your heartbeat
and the purple tide of daydream
laps at the shore of all your selves,
and your skin sings, perfume-pierced,

surrender to this thought of me:
as the mimosas of Maharashtra in May
long for monsoon
I long for you;
as the crimson cactus flowers of Thar
long for full moon
I long for you,
and in all my afterwards,
when I am not with you,
my heart turns toward the window of my life
and begs for rain.

C.S. Lewis on Home

From The Problem of Pain:

"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Guinevere's Loves

I recently caught the end of the movie "Last Knight", with Sean Connery as King Arther and Richard Gere as Lancelot. I was just in time to see Lancelot and Guinevere interupted by the king from a kiss impashioned by delay and restraint.

The film is full of wonderful quotes, but the scene between the king and his queen in which she pledges her love for him and her will to love him, along with his response, was particularly poignant and rich.

It is a wonderful movie, filled with sword fights, chivalry, romance, and lessons about real love.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This Tremendous Lover

I'm wondering about the book "This Tremendous Lover" by Dom Eugene Boylan, and if it would be worth pursuing. I can't find an online version of it to explore, other than a one page excerpt from Amazon. The title alone seems promising, but my shelfspace is already filled with books that I only paritally love (or less), so I'm hesitant.

It's at times like this that I wish people were actually reading this blog.

Sarah McLachlan: Witness (song lyrics)

(Listen here...)

Make me a witness.
Take me out
out of darkness
out of doubt.

I won't weigh you down
with good intentions.
Won't make fire out of clay
or other inventions.

Will we burn
in heaven
like we do
down here?

Will the change come
while we're waiting?
Everyone is waiting.

And when we're done
soul searching
as we carried the weight
and died for the cause.

Is misery
made beautiful
right before our eyes?
Will mercy
be revealed
or blind us where we stand?

Will we burn
in heaven
like we do
down here?

Will the change come
while we're waiting?

Everyone is waiting...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Exploding Like Spiders?

"The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to love, mad to talk, mad to be saved; the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

--Jack Kerouac

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2 Sam 22:20

He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

David's Election

I finally finished "Certain Women" by Madeleine L'Engle. Not an impressive book, but I was certain that there was stuff in it for me, and kept on.

Here are a few nuggets, on King David.

"'s one of the great things about David, that he never tried to rationalize or justify what he'd done. ... He cried out in an agony of repentance, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' ... I think David suddenly saw himself as an ordinary human being who sinned, like other human beings, and that's when he truly began to love God, and to understand that he was God's anointed, not because he was sinless, but because God had chosen him and he didn't have to understand why."

" was only after David lusted after Bathsheba, caused Uriah's death, only after he had failed utterly with Tamar and Amnon and Absalom, only after he was fleeing his enemies, fleeing his holy city of Jerusalem, that he truly became a king. ... Maybe we have to sin, to know ourselves human, faulty, and flawed, before there is any possibility of greatness. ... David did become great only after he'd lost everything. "

Song 2:14

"O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brokeback Beauty

I watched most of Brokeback Mountain on Saturday, having avoided it since it's release. I didn't expect it to be so beautiful...

John Chrysostom on Sermons

"Every sermon should be an agony of the soul, a passion to beget Christ in the souls of men."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Psalm 38:10

My Lord, my deepest yearning is before you; my groaning is not hidden from you.

Blessed are we

How blessed it is to be female.

God intereacted with Mary in a way humans had never before experienced. He came to her intimately. He became her spouse.

She knew Him.

As a woman I can ponder this experience in ways that men probably cannot.

What a gift; to be feminine.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

From "The Maiden's Bequest" (2) by George MacDonald

"Even her new love did not more than occasionally ruffle the flow of her inward river. She had long cherished a deeper love, which kept it very calm. Her stillness was always wandering into prayer; but never did she offer a petition that associated Alec's fate with her own; though sometimes she would find herself holding up her heart like an empty cup."

Psalm 16:11

In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh to be immaculate...

Last night I thought more about Mary and the Holy Spirit after the annunciation, imagining her greeting Him who her heart knew and loved.

And I realized that only an immaculate conception could allow her soul to open like Lawrence's anemone to receive Him. Even the faintest hint of sin such as I carry would have rendered her incapable of such a greeting; she would have been crushed by the weight of her unworthiness.

This morning's reading from Joshua (3:1-13) tells us that the people needed to be sanctified in order to be present when God's wonders were performed. How much more so do we need purification before standing in His very presence?

How joyous her purity must have allowed her to be in receiving Him...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From "The Maiden's Bequest" (1) by George MacDonald

"Even Annie did not then know that it was the soul's hunger, the vague sense of a need which nothing but the God of human faces can satisfy, that sent her money-loving, poverty-stricken, pining, grumbling old aunt out staring toward the east. It is this formless idea of something at hand that keeps men and women striving to tear from the bosom of the world the secret of their own hopes. How little they know that what they look for is in reality their God!"

Romans 10:8

The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Annie Dillard on Touch and Heaven

From Feast Days (III)

I love with my hand, not my heart.
When I draw your face
my fingers trace your lips.
Crossing a page, my hand keeps
contours; I know that art
is edges.
I touch when I type.
With every finger's tip
I travel the weave of the given.
Hand me a pencil,
cut off my head,
and I will draw you heaven.

Psalm 119:20

20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Enya: Marble Halls (song lyrics)

(Listen here...)

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
with vassals and serfs at my side,
and of all who assembled within those walls
that I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches all too great to count
and a high ancestral name.
But I also dreamt which pleased me most
that you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,
that knights upon bended knee
and with vows no maiden's heart could withstand,
they pledged their faith to me.
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt which charmed me most
that you loved me still the same
that you loved me
you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I thirst.

C.S. Lewis on Desire for God

From The Last Battle:

"For always since I was a boy I have served Tash and my great desire was to know more of him, if it might be, to look upon his face. But the name of Aslan was hateful to me...

Then I looked about me and saw the sky and the wide lands and smelled the sweetness. And I said, By the Gods, this is a pleasant place: it may be that I am come into the country of Tash. And I began to journey into the strange country to seek him...

...there came to meet me a great Lion... Then I fell at his feet and thought, surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honor) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him... But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me... I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him... But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Psalm 45:11-16

Listen, my daughter, and understand; pay me careful heed. Forget your people and your father's house,
that the king might desire your beauty. He is your lord;
honor him, daughter of Tyre. Then the richest of the people will seek your favor with gifts.
All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters, her raiment threaded with gold;
In embroidered apparel she is led to the king. The maids of her train are presented to the king.
They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim; they enter the palace of the king.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chesterton on Desire and Pork Chops

From Heretics:

"The obvious truth is that the moment any matter has passed through the human mind it is finally and for ever spoilt for all purposes of science. It has become a thing incurably mysterious and infinite; this mortal has put on immortality. Even what we call our material desires are spiritual, because they are human. Science can analyse a pork-chop, and say how much of it is phosphorus and how much is protein; but science cannot analyse any man's wish for a pork-chop, and say how much of it is hunger, how much custom, how much nervous fancy, how much a haunting love of the beautiful. The man's desire for the pork-chop remains literally as mystical and ethereal as his desire for heave. All attempts, therefore, at a science of any human things, at a science of history, a science of folk-lore, a science of sociology, are by their nature not merely hopeless, but crazy. You can no more be certain in economic history that a man's desire for money was merely a desire for money than you can be certain in hagiology that a saint's desire for God was merely a desire for God. And this kind of vagueness in the primary phenomena of the study is an absolutely final blow to anything in the nature of a science."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Romans 8:18-25

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. 19 For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; 20 for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; 23 and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Song 2:3-7

As an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
so is my lover among men.
I delight to rest in his shadow,
and his fruit is sweet to my mouth.
He brings me into the banquet hall
and his emblem over me is love.
Strengthen me with raisin cakes,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
His left hand is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
Do not arouse, do not stir up love
before its own time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mary and the Song of Songs

Luke 1:34 But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" 35 And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. ... 38 Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.


I had a wonderful contemplation of the First Joyful Mystery while driving home from the cottage last night. It connected to my exploration of the Song of Songs, which I am drawn and drawn and drawn to.

What a lovely thing is the author's handling of verse 38. The scene ends because what comes next is too private, too intimate. The very silence is drenched with meaning.

I imagined what God would have done in preparation for union with His bride. I picture her in a simple room, earthen and humble, clothed in drab homespun, surrounded by the scents of life; wood smoke, animal dung, sweat, dirt, olives. Taking a quiet moment away from a day filled with the necessary tasks of life, to ponder what the angel told her.

And then the Holy Spirit comes and all is changed.

Time halts around them.

Music fills the air.

Mary is enrobed in splendour, and the surroundings change to a scene of love from Solomon's song.

I think this needs to become a poem...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Song 2:8-13

Hark! my lover-here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
"Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!
"For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Willed First?

"First it is my will that you have it; then I cause you to will it; and after that I make you to ask it, and you ask it. How could it then be that you should not have what you ask?"

Julian of Norwich

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Annie Dillard on Freedom of Hearts

From Feast Days (II)

I remember reading
in my room, just reading,
and shutting the book,
and looking up,
and missing you, missing you,
and reading the paper again.
There's no freedom in it
or in fear:
my heart's not mine.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Heb 11:12-16

12 So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. 13 All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 14 for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fictional Synchronicity

I am reading two books right now, both fiction (I'm on vacation). As usual, it is interesting to watch God's synchronicity.

One is "Certain Women" by Madeleine L'Engle. It's the story of the dying of a great man named David, and of his many wives and children. While set in the 1960's, it is connected to the story of King David, and so is interesting for me to watch unfold. The dying man is an actor and an unfinished play about King David is the central theme. It gives me additional insights into the character of this king with whom I am in some way connected. One of David's children is named Chantal, a connection with another of my patron saints.

A book I recently finished (Touchstone by L. King) was set in the context of social unrest, socialism, and anarchy in Great Britain in the 19th century. The second book I am currently reading is coincidentally set in the same context. And in it the heroine appeared in a play about King David. (This one is a mystery by Phillip Pullman.)

Interesting to see how these unconnected books, chosen at random from the library, have these interconnections.

Who Loved First?

"God had thee before he made thee; he loved thee first, and then created thee, that thou loving him, he might continue his love to thee."

John Donne

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Song 7:9-12

May the wine go straight to my lover,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.

I belong to my lover,
and his desire is for me.

Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.

Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranites are in bloom...
there I will give you my love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mary's love

I was thinking the other day about the miraculous love of Mary. How she sacrificed her most beloved, for love of the world. For love of the people in it. For love of you and me. For love of her friends.

I wonder if she struggled with resentment.

Resentment of you and I, and resentment of her closest friends most of all. She loved him more than any other, much more than her best bosom buddy. How unequal to the sacrifice those friends must have seemed, and yet she watched her son's death for them. Watched him leave though her heart begged him back.

There is no greater love than that.

Lord make me worthy of such love. And help me be capable of releasing the resentment of my own crosses.

Annie Dillard on the Universal and the Particular

From Feast Days (III)

...the reason
for some silly-looking fishes,
for the bizarre mating
of certain adult insects,
or the sprouting, say,
in a snow tire
of a Rocky Mountain grass,
is that the universal
loves the particular,
that freedom loves to live
and live fleshed full,
and in detail.

God empties himself
into the earth like a cloud.
God takes the substance, countours
of a man, and keeps them,
dying, rising, walking,
and still walking
wherever there is motion.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Song 6:4-9

I love this passage because it describes God's love for us individually, though there are many others. I do not understand why He wold love me out of so large a crowd, and yet, in these words He says that He does.


You are beautiful, my darling, as Tirzah,
lovely as Jerusalem,
majestifc as troops with banners.

Turn your eyes from me;
they overwhelm me.

Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Gilead.

Yur teeth are like a flock of sheep
coming up from the washing
Each has its twin, not one of them is alone.

Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranite.

Sixty queens there may be,
and eighty concubines,
and virgins beyond number;
but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
the only daughter of her mother
the favorite of the one who bore her.