Because I think that’s part of what it means to be pro-life. To see children always as gifts of grace, not inconveniences. As always welcome as part of God’s family, not as distractions to be avoided. To encourage and love them and show them that they are wanted. That we want them there because Jesus wants them there.
“How My Kids Didn’t Ruin Mass,” Carrots for Michaelmas
(does this extend to “how my shrieking eel baby hopefully didn’t ruin growth group”?)
Suppose you find yourself, in the late afternoon, in one of the English cathedral towns—Durham, say, or York, or Salisbury, or Wells, or Norwich—or in one of the great university cities, like Oxford or Cambridge. The shadows are thickening, and you are mysteriously drawn to the enormous, ancient stone structure at the center of the city. You walk inside, and find that a service is just beginning. Through the stained glass, the violet light outside is turning to black. Inside, candles are lit; the flickering flames dance and rest, dance and rest. A precentor chants, “O Lord, open thou our lips.” A choir breaks into song: “And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” The precentor continues, “O God, make speed to save us.” And the choir replies, musically, “O Lord, make haste to help us.
A cold coming we had of it.
Just the worst time of the year
For such a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling,
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
Happy Epiphany, y’all. A priest friend read this for part of his sermon today. It was lovely to sit in a small sunshine-shot circle in a friend’s living room, nursing the baby, listening. The friend is well-read and articulate and, most importantly, kind, and has probably never spent a day nor a string of days watching Private Practice set to autoplay, covered in spit up, as I have lately.
T.S. Eliot always makes me think of the summer in college J and I met with friends to discuss the Four Quartets, and the juxtaposition, between that era and this, was sharp and sweet. So much has changed. Both are good.
(listen to Eliot read the whole thing here)
That being said, I can only confess to being repeatedly humbled and reconverted by Lewis in a way that is true of few other modern Christian writers. Re-reading works I have not looked at for some time, I realize where a good many of my favorite themes and insights came from, and am constantly struck by the richness of imagination and penetration that can be contained even in a relatively brief letter. Here is someone you do not quickly come to the end of — as a complex personality and as a writer and thinker.
Rowan Williams on C S Lewis
. I resonate with this very strongly. Lewis was fairly important to me when I was a young Christian, but not nearly as important as several other figures, and for many years I largely ignored him. Only when I was asked to write a biography of Lewis did I confront the uncomfortable fact that I was keeping Lewis at arm’s length not because of any of his own failings, but because I was tired of dealing with vast hordes of evangelicals for whom whatever CSL said about anything was the last word on that topic. It wasn’t Jack that I was tired of, but Jackolatry. When I had to read everything that he wrote in preparation for writing the biography — no small task, let me tell you — I was forced to see that his was a far more copious and supple mind than I had ever realized. Like Archbishop Rowan, I occasionally had the uncomfortable experience of finding in Lewis the source of some idea that I had believed to be my own, and further had believed to be very up-to-date, responsive to the moment — not the sort of thing that would ever have occurred to an old dinosaur like CSL. Those were telling moments. (via ayjay
I close the bathroom linen closet. Pick up a brush to swish toilets. I don’t need more time to breathe so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here — for the seeing eyes.
So—more time for more what?
The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-Man with his own termination date. […] With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?
‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…’
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
I’ve meant to read this for ages and just haven’t gotten around to it and I can’t believe it. It’s like Annie Dillard, but more explicitly Christian* and more domestic — so far, no one has gone on any Arctic expeditions.
*though of course Dillard is Catholic now.