Rambling Woman

For one thing, I’m a terribly practical person when you get down to it.  I don’t say “totes” or “adorbs” or “fave” or “legit”.  I’m not sure how often I use the word totally.  When this faithful MacBook hits rock bottom and decides it will no longer serve me, it will be my last computer for a long time. I’ll get a type-writer instead, to write my books on.  I like the ideas of the old world—not just something you think about, but something you live.  I want to live that way.

I’m not caught up in politics or what’s going to happen with the war.  In some ways I’m irresponsible.

But I am quiet in my soul, and the quiet radiates out of me and into my life, and I desire to live simply, as much in the physical company of those near to me as possible, and not so much over superficial places on the internet.

I have a mind to do something purposeful. Not just part-time-jobbing my twenties away, but really doing something that means something to me.  I don’t believe that the earth was made to give to us.  I believe that whatever it gives counts as blessings from God, for the righteous and the unrighteous.  I believe that we were put on this earth to tend it.

Yes, I like to mess around with style and fashion.  It’s enjoyable to pick out a crazy outfit and go somewhere.  But lately it’s felt like more of a strain.  It’s so difficult each morning to decide what to wear, and to know it has to be nice and different.  And then you see all these girls, and they’re all wearing the same type of thing—”what’s in” I guess you call it.  Lately I’ve simply been wearing whatever comes into my hands first.  My priorities are to be clean and presentable, and whatever clothes me should flow with that general idea.

But where I am most at home is outdoors, and above all, with animals.  I like the fresh, cutting smell of pine and wet wood in the fall.  I love the serenity of the woods and the fields under quiet snow.  I like the warmth of a horse’s breath on your cold hand in the early morning, when he’s stamping for his food. I like taking care of things, things that are living, things that are dependent on you for their well-being.

I’m just about ten days from my nineteenth birthday.  The years seem to be going fast.  I’m young and a vigorous blood flows in my veins.  I am ready now to perform these things, to start living out and following a God-given dream I believe I was meant to realize.  To start establishing myself, not independently, but purposefully, as fits a young woman.

In these Wendell Berry books, young people decide that they love each other and they get married and settle down to live life.  They don’t go through this whole ordeal of trying to decide whether or not the girl or boy in question is ready for marriage.  They go ahead and do it, live life, learn from their mistakes.  Now it seems like there are so many inhibitions to marriage.  So much doubt about whether or not “he/she’s the right one! what if he/she isn’t?” And it doesn’t have to be that complicated, because honestly it’s never something that can be answered with logic.  But my point is that our lives nowadays complicate so much, even marriage.  College, career, lifestyles, etc.  So much divides us nowadays.

In those books and in those times women weren’t defined as writers or lawyers or artists or musicians.  They were measured and judged by their character qualities—by their sweetness, obedience, honesty, contentment.  They were admired, and while their husbands worked in the fields and with the animals they cooked and cleaned, fed the chickens and milked the cows, took care of the children, prepared the food for winter, canned, pickled.  She may have had artistic qualities—for instance she may have been a writer.  But her goal as a writer was not publicity.  She would write for herself, and for those around her.  She wasn’t always alone in her work, and neither were the men in their work.  There were always people who stopped by to talk, always people who stopped by to help out.  Even work was a type of community, for both women and men.

The point is this.  I want to be that kind of a woman.  I am strong in both mind and spirit and body, and I know I am capable.  I want to be admired for those qualities, and I want to be known as capable of cooking and cleaning, of being responsible, of being hard-working.

“She had come into her beauty.  This was not the beauty of her youth and freshness, of which she had had a plenty.  The beauty that I am speaking of now was that of a woman who has come into knowledge and into strength and who, knowing her hardships, trusts her strength and goes about her work even with a kind of happiness, serene somehow, and secure.  It was that beauty she would always have.  Her eyes had not changed.  They still seemed to exert a power, as if whatever she looked at was brightened.” (Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry)

God created the woman as a capable help-meet to Adam.  He created her a marvelous thing, as marvelous as man, but in a different way.  How can we expect to be the same?  He created her a beautiful thing, strong and intelligent and above all, with purpose.  We are not as strong as men, but we have our strength.  Our arms are strong for our tasks.  We are created with strength for what we are purposed to do.

And I think it’s noble.

I am old-fashioned. I don’t understand things about these days, or else I do but I disagree with them.  And I live so much in the old world that coming into the new world is like a jolt, a shock.

I am happy.  I have a purpose, and I want to work with the land.  I know from experience it is a satisfying kind of work.  A hard work, but satisfying.

After all, I’m not entirely a bookworm.  If I’m practical in my speech, I make up for it in imagination.  I get that from books.  And in my imagination and in my entire being a dream is born, and I don’t discard it just because it is a dream.  I take it up carefully, tenderly in my hands.  I grow it and I grow it until it is big and strong and ready to be fulfilled.  It’s not just any foolhardy dream.  There are some dreams you can tell are futile.  But then there are others… you feel it to the core of your being, and you can’t explain how or why, but you are led.  And God gives you grace, and grace feeds it, and God gives you opportunity and means, and then, in the end, you realize it.

I realize it.

RH

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Love Revolution

Youth is the time for ideals.  Adulthood is the time to achieve those ideals.  It’s what the stages of life are about, it’s what we live for, these ideals.  Each person changes the world, because the world cannot stay the same. We can’t help having ideals, we can only guide them.

One of the greatest ideals is love.  Real love, the love that everyone seeks for and few find because they look for it in the wrong places.  What kind of love is the ideal? Divine love or earthly love?

Unlike divine love, earthly love does not have the power, the knowledge, or the will to achieve what it longs for. (Wendell Berry)

What we long for is the love that can achieve what it longs for: the love that will satisfy, divine love.  Though we don’t often know it, we are consumed by a desire to be completed, and this desire, some find too late, does not come from our physical being but from our soul.

The sober person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily those of the senses, like the pleasures of the drunkard, for instance, but those of the soul. He is by no means a stoic, on the contrary, with a full measure of joyful anticipation he looks forward to the return of the Lord but he doesn’t run away from his task. – William Hendrickson

Imagine a love that is founded in respect, that contains gratitude and humility, that takes its chief delight in sacrifice in order to serve.

Maybe I always saw the past as beautiful because it was fleeting.  As the future met me, it passed, and became the past, and was beautiful.  I had an aversion to change, and it seemed like everyone was changing, breaking out and flying away.  I didn’t see myself as changing, but others must have thought so, because I was caught up in the change of those closest to me, and it was their change that changed me.

The only changeful thing I did was to get married, and even that had been predicted.  Clyde was sick, had been crippled from birth.  I had known him since I was born, and when I was a girl I used to go and read to him, or amuse him.  He liked that, though he was six years older, and I liked to make him laugh.  He became a natural part of my life, and I never wanted anything more than to take care of him.

When we were still children, he asked me if I would up and leave the town someday. I told him no, because then he couldn’t come with me.  Later when I promised to marry him, he was hesitant to tie me down.  I told him I would make the same commitment if he was well or sick, but I liked it best when I could take care of him.

We live quietly, others come and go.  My heart aches with all this change, because it doesn’t happen quietly.  They are caught up in an external change.  They don’t know what it is to care for someone so as to sacrifice your life to their service, they don’t know what it is to do so joyfully.  They missed the inner change in their rush, the quiet, the sublime.

The above was a story I wrote when I was thinking deeply about this idea of real love.   I thought about how it is founded in sacrifice, I thought about how my heart beats and how my life is sustained by the breath of life, but how my soul is saved and redeemed by a sacrifice, and so, by love.

If we could have this love!  If we could only love each other in the way love was meant to be demonstrated!  We cheapen it, we make it less than it’s worth, and you see it rampant in the culture and even, sadly, in the Church.  It is more than a feeling; love is your soul, your existence.

Why is it that the hero who gives up his life or himself for love inspires us?  We admire those Sydney Cartons and those Cyrano de Bergeracs, and yet we throw our love away, or we throw away the feeling that might have, with effort and work, deepened into an actual reality.

Love cannot be restored.  How can it be restored if it can never be taken away? It is fixed—real love is.  If you stopped loving someone you never truly loved them.  Love never ends, it is always there, always present, always with us, in us, around us.  It is either our failure to see, or our misuse of love that makes us believe it is a sham.  The word sham reminds me of a quote.

Sham love ends in compromise and common philosophy; but real love has always ended in bloodshed. – Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton)

Chesterton also says that because love desires personality it desires division.

It is the instinct of Christianity to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces, because they are living pieces. It is her instinct to say “little children love one another” rather than to tell one large person to love himself.

Love was meant to be given away, not with-held.  But there is a difference between emotional love and soul-love, just as there is a difference between sibling love and marital love, though the parallel is different.  Soul-love, the real love, cannot be hurt or offended in the way emotional love can be.  It is constant, and cannot be quenched.  It can only be given, like a sacrifice.  It delights in returned love, but does not require it.  Emotional love that is rejected, whether by just any person or by a prospect for marriage, will always tear the heart down. I’m not saying emotional love is bad.  The emotions must be contained within soul-love, but emotional love should not exist as its own entity.

Do you know how the Christian old-maid can be perfectly content?  Because she is already loved with real love, and she is preparing for the day when she can return that love perfectly.  She will go through phases of discontent, but will always find her tranquility and peace in something deeper.  For when the mind and soul are truly committed, the senses can be controlled.

I admire such a woman, and I would be like her if I could.  Even if I get married, I want to be like this before marriage, for I would learn how to love the true Object, Christ, and be fulfilled.  1 Corinthians 13 is a wonderful passage, but isn’t paid attention to as it ought to be.  It describes love as the essence of life, basically.   It describes it as being patient, self-sacrificial, never-ending, able to endure the stormiest weather.   Love can bear all things, yet it is tender, it is strong, yet kind, it is not arrogant or rude, but it is truthful, desires truth, and rejoices with the truth.

Death and love are seldom thought of together in a proper sense.  I have two friends, the first friend told me: “You get annoyed with love and fascinated by death.”  And it’s true.  I get annoyed with the meaningless expression and feeling that people call love.  The second friend told me: “The funny thing is that death and love are intertwined.  Without love, death is hopeless.”  They are so connected with each other, because love pushes for death that it might attain the perfect love, that it might finally reach its object.  Also, because the ultimate death occurred by and through love.  Christ died for us because he loved us, was willing to suffer infinite humiliation and death because he cares for us.

I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven.  Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves within it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled.  In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be. – A World Lost (Wendell Berry)

The love described there was the kind of love that achieved what it longed for.  It was a love not created by us but developed in us, and realized by death and rebirth.

If the purpose of marriage was love (not real love) then the divorce rate would be 99.9%.  The .1% is for the couples who actually stayed “in love” for the whole of their married lives.  Thankfully, marriage is not about love.  It is a commitment with divine sanctioning, that aims at deeper ends than for the participants to be near each other for the rest of their lives.  I realize I’ve never been married and have no right to speak in depth about this, but I have to say this.  There is work in marriage I think, hard work, and if it is the right kind it results in satisfaction.  If we could try to pursue real love then we would find that we could really be satisfied.  For to me, marriage is partly a joint-effort, not to find love for each other, but to pursue real love and to reach the Object of that real love.

It is a zeal tempered with prudence, softened with meekness, soberly aiming at great ends by the gradual operation of well adapted means, supported by a courage which no danger can intimidate, and a quiet constancy which no hardships can exhaust. – A Practical View of Christianity (William Wilberforce)

This is a description of the Christian’s zeal in the Church.  I imagine that love is the exact same.  Yet listen to what he says about the Affections within a Christian.

Of the two most celebrated systems of philosophy, the one expressly confirmed the usurpation of the passions; while the other, despairing of being able to regulate, saw nothing left but to extinguish them. The former acted like a weak government, which gives independence to a rebellious province, which it cannot reduce.  The latter formed its bloated scheme merely upon the plan of that barbarous policy, which composes the troubles of a turbulent land by the extermination of its inhabitants.  This is the calm, not of order, but of inaction; it is not the tranquillity, but the stillness of death. (To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and call it a peace. – Tacitus.) – A Practical View of Christianity  (William Wilberforce)

I’m not proposing stoicism at all.  I think that passion is an important part of love, but I believe most fervently that it is not love.  It can be its own entity, but when separated from Love, it becomes a beast, and makes animals of us all.

Love does not concern itself with advantages.  It is not competitive.  It allows us to confront in kindness, but it has nothing to do with self-pride.  It allows us to live in humility.

We need a love revolution.  And a revolution takes work.  When looking for a husband or wife, the first person to catch your eye is not always the right one.  (“Less vividly is the mind stirred by what finds entrance through the ears than by what is brought before the trusty eyes. . . ” – Horace)  Don’t listen to your heart, which is and has proved to be deceitful above all things, but listen to the principles that are firmly grounded within you.  Why should we forsake all our work?  The woman preparing to be a spinster loses nothing in all her work when she unexpectedly gets a husband.  She has someone to work alongside now, a further encouragement, another object for the love she’s seeking to imitate.

I have been convicted about love.  Adulthood is the time to carry out and pursue ideals, and I am entering on that stage.  This is the one pursuit that will not disappoint.  How can it, when it is founded in Christ?  It is done for him, and for him alone.  He is the only Object.  He has brought me into the world in his providence, he will take me out, he will greet me in death, he is sanctifying and will finally perfect me.  He is the solid foundation, the aim I’m working towards.  He is love, and I pray for his love to flow through me, so that I become wrapped in it, enamored with it, so that it is in me and through me, so that it becomes my very being.

Tea With Lewis and Chesterton… and Alice

I can just picture it.  Lewis and Chesterton are having tea, talking about the impossibility of the reality the world is talking about, and the probability of greater morals existing in other worlds.  They both turn, Chesterton has a marmelade roll Lewis has brought with him halfway to his mouth.  Lewis’s teacup is suspended three inches above the saucer.  Both of them smile at the little blonde-haired girl next to them.  “What do you think, Alice? Do you think everything in Wonderland is impossible?”  And Alice probably said no, she didn’t.

And Chesterton would smile approvingly and continue complimenting Lewis on the “excellent marmelade,” and Lewis would nod and smile and begin observing how the world would be much better off if all little children were like Alice.

Reality.  The word used to hit me in the face.  I used to think of something covering up or tinting my passion for beauty.  When I thought of the stars, or flowers, or mountains, or love I got excited… My imagination felt alive.  I felt alive.  But then the word came—reality—and I felt guilty for thinking of those things.  It seemed as though reality was something that covered up the stars… something that made love seem “idealistic”… unreal…  Impossible—something people only dreamed of.  To me, reality seemed like finishing highschool at seventeen or eighteen. Going to college for 4+ years. Pursuing a career.  Maybe getting married between 27 and 35.  Maybe have a kid.  Maybe two.

Then I had a realization.  I suppose that means I came to terms with reality.  Reality is now my friend.  Facts and reality coincide… to an extent.  I see the flowers.  I can touch them, feel them, smell them.  There are flowers—that, in fact, is reality.  Reality isn’t something blurring the stars… it is the stars.  As for love, it’s the most realistic thing I can think of.  I was quite wrong in thinking there is no beauty in reality.  You could say that reality is beautiful, or that Beauty is reality, for there is a God.  Or it might be better to say that God is.  That is reality, because that is a fact. I was reading C.S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity and I was struck by something he said towards the beginning.  Before now, I had never really thought about the existence of God being a fact. I thought that because not everyone believes in God, it couldn’t be a fact.  If I had thought seriously about this, I would have slapped myself very hard for that philosophy.  If I didn’t believe in God—why, my life would be the unrealistic one.

“If the universe was really without meaning, we should have never found that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should have never known it was dark. Darkwould be a word without meaning.” Further back he says: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got the idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be a part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it?” [Mere Christianity, book 2 chapter 1.]

It is so interesting to read how Lewis himself sees and describes how, when he was an Atheist, in the very act of proving that there is no God, he was proving that there is a God.  (I love reading Lewis—Mere Christianity is brilliant, and he’s really a fantastic writer.  When I read his fiction, I feel like I’m sitting right next to him, and he’s telling the story.  When I read his apologetics, I feel as though I am standing right there, arguing in a friendly way with him.)

Is reality, in fact, something cold and hard that you land on when you’re head is in the clouds?  Is the logician right when he says Wonderland is irrational and senseless?  It’s not just wonderland.  When I use this word, I am referring to any fantasie. (As opposed to fantasy—spelled with a y.)

Fantasie means more than Twilight or Harry Potter. (Sorry to any fans out there.)  It refers the beauty of mind and soul… the world in our subconscious, all things beautiful and imagined.  Things are only impossible when they cannot be imagined.  All possibility is contained within imagination.

If a child actually wondered if the moon were made of cheese, is it really impossible?  Perhaps the logician would say: “Yes, it is; cheese is made from curds.  It goes through a certain process, and it is impossible that there could be enough cows even in the world to make enough cheese to fill a moon.”  But the child has already had the idea.  The idea has become a possibility.  There is a certain amount of logic that must be combined in the imagination.  For instance, as soon as the possibility has been birthed with the idea, one must find out if the possibility is real.  For all we know, God might have made the moon out of cheese.  And he still could.  And once you admit that, you denounce the word “impossible.”

I have never seen a blue talking and smoking caterpillar.  I have never seen the Jabberwocky.  But because I have never seen them I can’t say that they don’t exist.  It simply hasn’t been proved to me that they don’t.

If there is a law that pick-pockets shall go to prison, it implies that there is an imaginable mental connection between the idea of prison and the idea of picking pockets. And we know what the idea is. We can say why we take liberty from a man who takes liberties. But we cannot say why an egg can turn into a chicken any more than we can say why a bear could turn into a fairy prince.  As ideas, the egg and the chicken are further off from each other than the bear and the prince; for no egg in itself suggests a chicken, whereas some princes do suggest bears.  Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the “Laws of Nature.” When we are asked why eggs turn to birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned to horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o’clock. We must answer that it is magic. It is not a “law,” for we do not understand its general formula.  It is not a necessity, for though we can count on it happening practically, we have no right to say that it must always happen… We risk the remote possibility of a miracle as we do that of a poisoned pancake or a world-destroying comet.  We leave it out of account, not because it is a miracle, and therefore an impossibility, but because it is a miracle, and therefore an exception. All the terms used in the science books, “law,” “necessity,” “order,” “tendency,” and so on, are really untinellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess. The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, “charm,” “spell,” “enchantment.” They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched.  The sun shines because it is bewitched. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV

I had to try very hard not to type out the whole book just now. I think he has a point.  In his book Orthodoxy, Chesterton cleverly combines logic and fantasie in a wonderful way.  He makes fantasie a reality, and reality a fantasie.  Is there anything blasphemous about saying a tree grows because it is magic?  No, there is not.  Because a tree does not grow by any law or power of our own.  It grows by a supernatural power, something altogether outside of our understanding.

So why should the world of dreams and imagination and idealism be praised?

There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind —what they are in their thought world determines how they act.  This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of a dictator’s sword. – Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? Chapter I.

Because it determines how we live.  It is not only the imaginative person who has a thought world.  Even the mathematician (I am very unjust towards mathematicians) has a thought world.  Even in his logical mind there are thoughts that determine his actions.  I’m sure even he has had dreams at night about yellow rabbits eating chinese takeouts. (Sorry – bit tired here.) But at any rate, think of what the world would be like if everybody was a logician.  We would all be the same.  Where’s the fun in that?  What if everybody was an idealist? Everybody would be the same – still no fun.  And note – idealist here does not mean Sir-Thomas-More-Utopia-Idealism.  Or Avatar, for that matter.

Napoleon Bonaparte had dreams.  Most people would have called him idealistic, but he almost succeeded in becoming the emperor of the world. He almost made his dream a reality.  The world was thrown into chaos because of one man.  His dreams, his thoughts, his idealism helped shape the world.

Fairy tales might be the most realistic thing on earth. Why? Because a true fairy tale always has a knight-in-shining-armor, always a damsel in distress, always a dragon or evil witch or king of some sort.  Why is this realistic?  Because Christ is the knight-in-shining armor, the Church is the damsel in distress, and the dragon is the devil.  The consequence of the dragon is the judgement that’s inevitable unless a savior comes to save her from the thing she cannot save herself from.  That is why fairy tales are realistic. And if they are, reality is no longer a stone wall you walk into when you think you’re walking on clouds.

Makes me think of love.  Is love idealistic? Yes, because it ought to be.  Idealistic because true love is perfect.  The love on this earth that is exchanged between people is warped and shadowed by sin.  Yet, in marriage vows you will hear the phrase: “Love her as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Perhaps our view on love is a bit irrational.  Love itself is not a fraud; it is the idea that depraved humans came up with and accompany love with that is a fraud.   If you read Ezekiel 16 you will see that love is not about obsessing over someone, or even saying: “I love you.”  It’s a sacrifice.  It’s a sacrifice of life, on the part of a perfect person, for a person who’s wronged again and again.  Love is a covenant.  And a covenant is more holy and sacred and beautiful than any kiss in the moonlight.

Lots of rabbit trails here.  Where were we?

If J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were such great thinkers, then why did they write fantasie?  If G.K. Chesterton was such a great writer and thinker, why did he uphold fairy tales?  Because fantasie reflects the world we live in today.  There might not be a Jabberwocky, but there is a president Obama. (Okay, sorry.)  You might not find someone by the name of Sauron here but you will find someone very, very similar.  That great Being who created middle-earth and spun melodies out of the stars, Iluvatar, might not be found by that name here, but you will find Him, certainly, if you search for him.

Idealism is not something to be scorned.  It is something to be admired.  The pursuit of perfection exists, though perhaps that pursuit ends in heaven, when we are fully sanctified.  Reality is beautiful, and idealism is beautiful.  But you cannot have one without the other in order for them to be beautiful. Idealism, as we understand it, becomes foppish and empty.  Realism, the logician’s world, without idealism, because hard and empty.  There must be a perfect blend.

To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. – Orthodoxy, chapter II.

Belief must come without explanation.  If Christianity could be understood, there would be no reason to believe.  The whole point of belief is that you must put your faith in something you are absolutely certain of, but that is not fully explained.  Because Christianity isn’t.  There is a degree of mystery, a depth of understanding that is beyond our human comprehension.  If I understood that, they would have to add a fourth person to the Trinity.

That is why it is a hundred times easier for a child—who still maintains the child-like imagination and simple faith— to believe that God created the earth out of nothing than for the scientist.  Yet how beautiful it is when the scientist, logician, and mathematician all lay aside their stuff about laws and impossibilities and believe with the same child-like faith this truth.

So why do I like Alice in Wonderland? Book and movie? Because the idea of something different – of oversized mushrooms and flowers with faces, of smoking caterpillars and mad March hares and a mad hatter – appeals to me.

Even in the physical appearance of the story, the colors and shapes provide such an artistic picture that’s different from things you see in this earth.  It astonishes me, yet it’s not surprising.  I love it, and who can say it’s impossible? I saw it – just the other night.  And I’ve read about it numerous times.  I can’t really get in my car and go there, but I can draw up mental images.  In my thought world I have already made friends with the March Hare (who is one of my favorite characters.) And our relationship is one of the quirkiest, oddest things you’ve ever seen.

I also maintain that dead people are the most interesting ones to talk to.  I would also say that while people alive on this earth are walking around and doing things, dead people understand everything and have a greater level of brilliance because they are dead.  I am jealous of them, because they have seen, as soon as they are dead, the whole value of living.  They know where they are right, and where they are wrong.

I wonder – would Chesterton, now that he is dead, still hold to everything he said in Orthodoxy?  Would Lewis wish The Chronicles of Narnia unpublished?  Would J.R.R. Tolkien still think about Lord of the Rings as though that world actually existed in some form?  Well, I would hope that they would, because I think that they’re absolutely right.

Anne of Avonlea: Girlhood versus Womanhood

Dear Readers :)

These Anne posts are by far my very favorite.  I love thinking through what I’m going to say, and watch the thoughts and ideas take shape in my mind.  My soul thrills when I read these books, no exaggeration.

I quote: “I love Anne of Avonlea because of just the beauty and wonder of a girl going form girlhood to womanhood…” Hayley said this in reply to my question of what her favorite Anne book was.  This flow is caught very much through the book, and the simple, girlish dreams quietly submerge into womanly ideas.

“Friendship is very beautiful,” smiled Mrs. Allan, “but some day…” Then she paused abruptly. In the delicate, whitebrowed face beside her, with its candid eyes and mobile features, there was still far more of the child than of the woman.  Anne’s heart so far harbored only dreams of friendship and ambition, and Mrs. Allan did not wish to brush the bloom from her sweet unconsciousness. So she left her sentence for future years to continue.

The sense of Anne’s girlhood is very strong throughout these pages.  Though she’s mature, a little wiser, and a little more sensible, she’s still… well, a girl.  But look at the end.

“.…it was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. …. Then the veil dropped again; but the Anne who walked up the dark lane was not quite the same Anne who had driven gaily down it the evening before. The page of girlhood had been turned, as by an unseen finger, and the page of womanhood was before her with all its charm and mystery, its pain and gladness.

I sometimes feel as though I’m turning the page from girlhood to womanhood… and then I turn the page back to re-read something, or do something I missed… it’s that hovering stage.  I’m not really a girl anymore, but I’m not quite a woman.

Another thing that struck me was the change in Diana and Anne’s friendship.  Their relationship didn’t fall out, but there was a slight sifting of ground.  It’s when Diana becomes engaged.  Anne says to herself once or twice that she can’t tell Diana “this or that” because “she’ll be sure to tell Fred.  I know, because she tells him everything.”  Far from grudging Diana for this, Anne seems content to keep some of her thoughts to herself.  However, she says: “Oh, I think these engagements are dreadfully unsettling things when they happen to your intimate friends.”  Amen, sistahh!  This again is another change from “Anne the girl” to “Anne the woman.”  As little girls, we love anything that has to do with an engagement, or a wedding.  At that young age, it’s hard to sense the change that comes in a close friendship.  I can understand Anne perfectly in this, because I have three or four very close friends now who are either married or getting prepared for their weddings.  You still continue to love that person to death, but aspects of your friendship change.  You feel a bit lonelier than before, a bit more by yourself.  It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it can be a hard thing, and part of this is what helps Anne turn the page to womanhood.

Gilbert makes me laugh. And smile.  And cry.  Well, maybe not the last one.  But I love reading about the parts where he talks to Anne.  He’s always on the verge of saying something sentimental, and then “wisely” holds his tongue. And then sometimes he slips, and Anne punishes him in some way, but he plays off her punishment so she only feels the sting of it.  It’s so lovely, and so funny, and I wonder if a man is really like that at all.  Gilbert said something at the end that is an absolute reflection of his relationship with Anne—past, present and future.  It had to do with the Miss Lavender romance. (I love Miss Lavender.  If ever I am an old maid, I will be just like her.)

Anne says: “Isn’t it beautiful to think how everything has turned out…how they have come together again after all the years of separation and misunderstanding?”

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” said Gilbert, looking steadily down into Anne’s uplifted face, [I love the height difference here…] “but wouldn’t it have been more beautiful still, Anne, if there had been no separation or misunderstanding…if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?”

I am pretending through this series that I don’t know what happens with regards to Anne and Gilbert, but I suppose I’ll break off of that for just one moment.  Like Miss Lavender and Stephen Irving, Anne and Gilbert had a quarrel.  But unlike Miss Lavender, Anne finally decided to break down her pride and “forgive and forget.”  Unlike Stephen Irving, Gilbert stuck around and when Anne was quite ready to forgive, he was

ready to receive forgiveness.  (This is disregarding that space of about a year or so where Gilbert and Anne ignored each other’s existence mutually.)

Because of meal of humble pie both Anne and Gilbert partook of early on, they opened the road to a life where they would walk “hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other.”

Beautiful, wonderful book, full of wisdom… and mischief…

I love Davy Keith.  He is by far my favorite character (apart from Anne and Gilbert) of the series.  I love his mischief, his questions.  He is the epitome of a little boy, he asks all the questions everybody thinks.  “Anne, where is heaven? I want to know.”  And his devotion to food and mud.  He’s a perfect mischief maker, and he makes himself adorable.  Dora, his twin, is prim and proper and does everything the right way but she’s less lovable.  It’s quite funny. :)

By the way, Hayley has written her Anne post at head in the clouds. You should go check it out, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and it was very, very insightful. :)

“Pass and blush the news…”

I don’t think there’s anything more blissful than Christ’s saving grace and marriage.  They’re connected, actually.  By grace we are saved, and we are made partakers of redemption, we become one in body, and soon will be fulfilled at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  That was a lot of theology packed into one itty-bitty sentence… Sorry.  I would talk theology, but I’m here to talk about weddings instead.

My brother got married in late December.  It seems like awhile ago, but I still remember vividly watching them in church over the next few weeks.  There was something very distinct about a newly married couple.  I couldn’t place my finger on it, I’m not sure anyone can.  It’s sort of that mysterious thing… As though two have actually become one in body and soul.  I couldn’t explain this, until our pastor did a sermon series on marriage.

It seems odd for an underaged, single girl to be writing about such a thing, but I still have my first impression of these weddings, and these sermons… and I want to remember what it is, and see how it changes, if it changes.

The following is just a few paragraph comprised of my notes from two or three sermons.

SERMON NOTES:

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I had never heard before that marriage is more for God’s glory than it is for personal enrichment.  Companionship is the “essence” and second character of marriage. It solves the loneliness issue. “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” – Gen. 2:18

That marriage is exclusive cannot be doubted.  God created A WOMAN and brought her to THE MAN.   The covenant is made between one woman and one man, and it binds them together for life.  All other relationships take a backseat… The definition for a covenant is: “A solemn commitment with divine sanctioning.” In this case, God is both witness and enforcer.

Marriage is a living representation of Christ’s mystical union with the Church. That is its purpose.

1. Union: Latin word unio, meaning “one.” Not connected, but united.  …”rich in union…powerful in influence.” When I suffer, he suffers.

2. Mystical union.  Unseen… Sacredly obscure, but spiritually experiential. “He who is joined to the Lord becomes one with him..” We can’t fully understand it but it is illustrated.  The mystical union is essential. Married or not, we are joined to Him.  He is our head and husband.

  • The purpose of marriage is to illustrate our mystical union with Christ
  • It is not for personal enrichment
  • Every marriage is a picture of the mystical union.
  • Marriage is meant to make us holy more than it is meant to make us happy.
  • God uses marriage as a means of sanctification.
  • Passion, excitement, etc are not bad, but they’re not the purpose.

“Marriage is a strengthening of character.”

“Before I was married, I thought it was a necessity to the flesh. Having been married, I see it as an opportunity for the Spirit.” – Martin Luther

(This next sermon focused on the wife’s role in marriage.)

Without sin, the husband would have governed with wisdom in the marriage relationship. Women would have submitted to him with meekness. But man has abused his authority, crushing woman under his heel. Likewise, women have had the desire to usurp the rule.

Thesis – A wife’s primary responsibility is to submit to the husband as to Christ.

Everything submission is not:

  1. Slavery. Slavery is the farthest thing you get from Proverbs 31.
  2. Silence.  It doesn’t mean she agrees with everything he says.
  3. Inactivity.  It does not mean that her gifts remain dormant.
  4. Inferiority. The wife is viewed equal, just as justified as the husband etc.  Jesus is equal to the Father, yet submits to him.

What submission does mean…

A sacred calling to glorify God by….

  • Honoring
  • Supporting
  • Affirming her husband’s leadership. It is not optional, but mandatory. And the commands God gives us gives us grace to do them.

Submission is…

  1. Mandatory – God commands it, and it is to be obeyed.
  2. Voluntary – not forced. It must be voluntary. Christ draws us with chords of love, not force, for submission. Regardless of the husband’s merit, God calls the wife to humbly and willingly submit. Our faith is exhibited in part by submitting to our earthly leaders.
  3. Spiritual – as unto the Lord.  It takes God’s grace to submit to an imperfect being.
  4. Internal – it involves attitudes and actions.  Christ’s food was doing the will of Him to whom He submits.  He submitted joyfully. “It is my desire to do your will.”  A cold, teeth-gritting submission is as good as a slavery capitulation. “Don’t expect your husband to be what only Jesus can be.” – Ruth Graham.  (This was a charge to me… for the future:) I am to praise him, admire him, and respect/regard him in spite of his mistakes and sins.
  5. Extensive, not collective.  “Wives should submit in everything.” Not when we feel like it.  It will be hard, because we know and see his sins and weaknesses that no other human being can see. We were made as a finishing touch to him. To fill deficiencies and weaknesses. To bless him with our gifts. “If anyone fails to provide for relatives or family members, he is worse than a pagan.” – 1 Timothy. Why would a Christian wife be worse than a pagan if she doesn’t submit in such a way? She is holding in contempt God’s law, and trampling on the blood of the covenant. “Happy marriages are never accidental. They are the result of good, hard work.” – Ruth Graham.
  6. Intimate- conversations, the sharing of ideas, etc. Protection against immorality.

The next sermon was about the husband’s role in marriage…

Leadership is implied by the command for wives to submit.  Husbands are to love their wives with a sacrificial love.

Husband = “master”; “lord.”

In Roman society the husband had the power of life and death. This kind of rule is anti-biblical.

Being a leader means being a servant. “For Christ came to the world, not to be served, but to serve.”  This makes him a leader-servant. :)

“If he has a servant’s heart, he will act like a servant, react like a servant, when he is treated like a servant.” (I am really sorry, I was writing so frantically I didn’t catch the source of most of these quotes :( )

A husband must lead; striving for godliness, and leading in the spiritual road.  The husband leads, for example, in the realm of obedience.  Obedience to God and His commandments.

The essence of masculine leadership is courage. “Act like men, be strong.” This leadership must be exercised with great biblical courage. The wives become frustrated, and it’s because the husband isn’t leading in obedience.

Maleness = biological

Masculinity = spiritual.

The charge for husbands to love their wives as they love their bodies is simple… People care for their bodies.  Generally, they shower, they feed it, they rest it, they exercise etc.  A husband is to care for his wife in such a way. (Not feeding her, or telling her to go to bed… but looking after her needs and caring for them accordingly, as they would do for themselves.)

“Women tend to think of love as taking the troubles of others, while men tend to think of love as not giving trouble.”

It is hard for a man to love.

It is hard for a woman to respect.

Women understand how to love because they need to be loved.

Men understand respect because they need to be respected.

Yet in addition to loving, the wife must submit, and in addition to respecting, the husband must love.

Nothing exasperates a man like being disrespected. Nothing exasperates a woman like being unloved.

7 ways a husband demonstrates his love:

  1. The husband lives with his wife in an understanding way. (1 Peter) This is done by 1. living a biblical marriage and 2. studying your wife in order to know her in every way possible. Never consider this task completed.
  2. Giving instructions as needed. (1 Corinthians) Not formal teaching, but ongoing dialogue between them: constant washing in the Word. Husband = residential theologian in the home.
  3. Setting a good example. (Phil. 3) Nothign is worse than hypocrosy. Jesus’ severest reproof is reserved for hypocrites.
  4. Being a companion. (1 Cor. 7) Offering open conversation and listening patiently and attentively. Being a companion spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
  5. Being content with her. (Exodus – “Thou shalt not covet.”)
  6. Provide for her needs. “Husbands – you are no longer boys, but men. Grow up, and provide.” – (Billy Graham I think…)
  7. Cultivating her beauty by nurturing a lovely spirit. Christ didn’t find his bride beautiful. He made her beautiful. Treat her with courtesy. If a wife is not being treated properly, there are physical appearances of it.
  • Good husbands are an example of Christ.
  • God has given men a meek opportunity for a lasting legacy.
  • God never requires something of you without giving you the grace.

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That was way longer than I meant it to be… Ah well.  That’s four sermons right there.  Wish I could’ve written down everything I had.  Please remember that these are notes I collected from a sermon, not from my own unreliable ideas and thoughts on the subject; otherwise, I would never have written about it.  But it encouraged me as a young woman looking forward to marriage (Lord willing) and it helped me understand that that distinction about newly married couples is a mystery.  It’s that mystical illustration of Christ’s union with the church.  It’s that intimacy that binds their souls together.  It’s so beautiful.

And at Ashlee and Daniel’s wedding this past weekend, I saw that manifested.  What a joyous thing to witness a Christian marriage! Ashlee and I have been good friends for the past three years.  We’ve shared thoughts, ideas, troubles, concerns, anything we learned… pretty much anything in letters or conversation.  That friendship was very special.  And it was so special being able to witness her commitment to Daniel. What a beautiful thing!

The following quote was quoted at Ashlee’s wedding, as well as in the sermons I posted about.

“The wife was made out of a rib from man’s side; not from his head to rule over him, not from his foot to be trampled by him, but from his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – Matthew Henry

The bride’s dance with her father. This part of every wedding just gets me.  There’s something so sweet, so beautiful, and yet so sad in it. Weddings are joyous, but there is a type of pain involved. It’s blissful.

All photo credits go to Rachel Clarke.