Fullness

 There is a fullness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fullness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fullness at all times; a fullness of comfort in affliction; a fullness of guidance in prosperity. A fullness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fullness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” O, what a fullness must this be of which all receive! Fullness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this “fullness” is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel — God with us.

-Charles Spurgeon

“…and from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16

Letter from Jim

One of our family favorites is Garrison Keillor’s series labeled with the names of the seasons.  A particular favorite is the

Spring

“Spring” collection, which contains the following piece entitled Letter from Jim.

The letter comes from a childhood friend who has recently turned forty.  At the same time, he has lost his job and, out of desperation, taken a job for which he is ill-suited and overworked, for far less pay.  He feels unappreciated by his wife and family. He befriends a younger woman in his office, and the opportunity presents itself for him to drive to Chicago with her for a weekend conference.  He continues:

‘I thought, so this is what adultery is like: simple.  I sat down in the front yard under our spruce tree and waited for her to pick me up.

I believe that men and women can part for many reasons, including the lack of love and appreciation.  I left my parents for my wife because she appreciated me and they didn’t.  Twenty years later, I sit in my own front yard, waiting to join a woman who appreciates me more.  But in five years, or six, or eight, will I go to a higher bidder?  What happens when I’m older and my grade falls?  Who do I choose when I’m old and can’t run fast and nobody chooses me?

‘I sat there in the front yard and thought, so this is what adultery is like: it’s just horse-trading.

‘As I sat on the lawn, looking down the street, I saw that we all depend on each other.  I saw that although I thought my sins could be secret, that they would be no more secret than an earthquake.  All these houses and all these families, my infidelity will somehow shake them.  It will pollute the drinking water.  It will make noxious gasses come out of the ventilators in the elementary school.

‘When my wife and I scream in senseless anger, blocks away a little girl we do not know spills a bowl of gravy all over a white tablecloth.

‘If I go to Chicago with this woman who is not my wife, somehow the school patrol will forget to guard an intersection, and someone’s child may be injured.  A sixth-grade teacher will think, ‘What the hell?’ and eliminate South America from geography.  Our minister will decide, ‘What the hell? I’m not going to give that sermon on the poor.’ Somehow, my adultery will cause the man in the grocery store to say, ‘To hell with the health department, this sausage was good yesterday; it certainly can’t be any worse today.’

‘I just leave this story there.  Anything more I could tell you would be self-serving.  Except to say that we depend on each other more than we know.’

A Table Blessing

Last Wednesday, as the temperature dropped into the twenties, we hosted an informal outdoor service of Thanksgiving.  It was a bit chaotic — what with children trying to keep warm and make s’mores and parents keeping toddlers from lurching out of their strollers into the firepit — but we had an opportunity to verbalize thanks for blessings and sing some songs.  Then we all ran inside to warm up and chat.

I read this passage from Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb:

May your table be graced with lovely women and good men. May you drink well enough to drown the envy of youth in the satisfactions of maturity. May your men wear their weight with pride, secure in the knowledge that they have at last become considerable. May they rejoice that they will never again be taken for callow, black-haired boys. And your women? Ah! Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its own. May you relish them indeed… May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old, broad jokes to fling at the stars and tell them we are men.

We are great, my friend; we shall not be saved for trampling that greatness under foot… Come then; leap upon these mountains, skip upon these hills and heights of earth. The road to Heaven does not run from the world but through it. The longest Session of all is no discontinuation of these sessions here, but a lifting of them all by priestly love. It is a place for men, not ghosts—for the risen gorgeousness of the New Earth and for the glorious earthiness of the True Jerusalem.

Eat well then. Between our love and His Priesthood, He makes all things new. Our Last Home will be home indeed.

Nearness to Joy

The grief that came to me then was nothing like the grief I had felt for myself alone, at the end of my stay in Lexington. This grief had something in it of generosity, some nearness to joy. In a strange way it added to me what I had lost. I saw that, for me, this country would always be populated with presences and absences, presences of absences, the living and the dead. The world as it is would always be a reminder of the world that was, and of the world that is to come.

p. 132, Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry

I just would like to put in another plug for Berry’s work.  I started reading his writing in a collection of short stories, called Fidelity, and moved on to Hannah Coulter. Now I’m deep into what most people say is his other masterwork, Jayber Crow.  It’s every bit as good as people say it is — maybe better.

Story Enough

I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying.  Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag — religions abound with stories.  But Father Martin made me understand that the stories that came before it — and there were many — were simply prologue to the Christians.  Their religion had one Story, and to it they came back again and again, over and over.  It was story enough for them.

Life of Pi, p. 53

Jonathan Edwards’ Final Words

Written to his daughter, Lucy:

Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.

Till We Have Faces

If you were to ask me which fiction selection by CS Lewis I’d recommend, I would say without hesitation The Great Divorce.  I have read it multiple times and always find something new every time I read it.

I recently began Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, one which my husband has long recommended to me.  I was struggling through it until about page seventy, where it turned a corner and I was suddenly getting emotional and asking David to please quote it at my funeral.

(It was really that fast.  One page, sighing and wondering if it’s worth going on.  Next page, aching chest and PLEASE READ THIS WHILE YOU ARE MOURNING MY DEATH.  My husband is a saint for putting up with me.)

Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:

It was when I was happiest that I longed most. It was on happy days when we were up there on the hills, the three of us, with the wind and the sunshine … where you couldn’t see Glome or the palace. Do you remember? The colour and the smell, and looking at the Grey Mountain in the distance? And because it was so beautiful, it set me longing, always longing. Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, … come! But I couldn’t (not yet) come and I didn’t know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home….  The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.

And in the same vein, from another Lewis selection:  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.”