I think my favorite characters in Great Expectations are Joe and Herbert. They love and give without expecting anything in return. They see the best in others and they want the best for others. They are both the kind of friend I’d love to have.
But I also like the way Joe talks.
For example, instead of just telling Pip that everyone is about the same, he says, “…And all friends is no backerder, if not no forarder.”
Which reminds me of my husband’s favorite line in True Grit. When Rooster Cogbun is being questioned in the courtroom – this is the dialogue:
Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Rooster Cogburn: That’s right.
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: I always go backwards when I’m backing up.
But I digress.
Here is another example of Joe’s verboseness: “It were understood,” said Joe, “And it are understood. And it ever will be similar according.”
Near the end of the book, Joe is trying to gently break some news to Pip: “I think,” said Joe, after meditating a long time at the window seat, “ as I did hear tell how that he were something or other in a general way in that direction.”
Now, Joe is a little wordy, but, I’d rather talk to a kind conversationalist that to a griping grumbler. Wouldn’t you?
“There’s one thing you may be sure of Pip,” said Joe, after some rumination, “ namely, that lies is lies. However they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don’t you tell me no more of ‘em, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common.” – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Lies is lies. However they come. And, boy, have they come around this election season. I can’t even begin to list all the lies spewed out, words twisted, cover ups,and empty boastings.
That aint’ the way to get out of being common. Common is a good way to describe our candidates. Also trite, platitudinous, monotonous, vapid, insipid, full of tripe and drivel. I just love synonyms.
I have no great expectations this election season.
…those six days which were to have run out so slowly, had run out fast and were gone, and tomorrow looked me in the face more steadily than I could look at it. (Pip) – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Life seems like this so often – the days run out fast and are gone. People are always saying “I can’t believe it’s fall.. almost Christmas… a new year already… spring again… another birthday… school is out… time for school to start…”
Some days we want to run out so slowly. Like the days spent with grandkids, or the afternoons on the beach, or the long awaited vacation. Is there a way to slow them down? Not literally, of course, only God controls that. But, maybe they would last longer if we savored them the way we savor a lollipop or peppermint stick. If we truly tasted the good.
Then there is tomorrow. Looking us steadily in the face as we try not to look back. The way my dog looks at me while I’m eating supper. I try not to look at her. But, it never makes her go away. She might lie down at my feet for a while, but she’s still there. So it is with time.
Glory thought, ‘That strange and particular grace a man’s body seems never to forget. Scooping up grounders and throwing sidearm.’
from Home by Marilynne Robinson
Baseball. If ever there was a game that drew you home in more ways than one, this was it. This is it. A slice of Americana in a ball park on a summer evening. It’s the sport that takes you back to the empty fields of your childhood ala The Sandlot. It’s the slaw dogs, the popcorn, the cotton candy, and sometimes the beer. It’s the crack of the bat, the cheer, the organ. Each ballpark has its own personality, knitted together by grass and clay and bubble gum. Some might even be a Field of Dreams.
The announcers for these games seem like guys you’d want to have to dinner. Take Vince Scully for example. Just this morning my husband relayed something Scully said about Sandy Koufax in 1965: “A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts… I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world…. Sandy into his windup, here’s the pitch:Swung on and missed, a perfect game! ” (the crowd cheered for 38 seconds). There is a real connection here, a passion. Heart.
I wish more people could experience the comfort of being at a game, whether Little League or Major League; where it feels like one big family. Where little kids can run up and down the bleachers or run around the bases, where the fans come to expect the seventh Inning stretch and a round of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. There’s just nothing like it.
With the passing of Jose Fernandez, America has turned it’s eyes and hearts to baseball, at least briefly. Fernandez had only become a citizen in April of 2015, and the story of his journey to citizenship is one worth reading. And after you’ve read that, get yourself to a ballpark before the season ends. You’ll be glad you did.
Besides the ones mentioned above, here are some of my favorite baseball movies:
- The Natural
- Fever Pitch
- Trouble With the Curve
- For the Love of the Game
- The Rookie
- A League of Their Own
“…I have often thought that few people know what secrecy there is in the young, under terror. No matter how unreasonable the terror, so that it be terror.” – from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I have come to understand this more the older I get. Last year our grandson went through a long patch of waking up afraid in the middle of the night. It wasn’t an easy fix, because it was difficult to understand just what was going through his mind. No matter how unreasonable his terror may have seemed to an adult, it was real to him.
Last week I experienced the crushing heartache of a young boy gripped by a real fear. His aunt had overdosed and was not expected to live. Here he was at school, with all the ridiculousness of middle school going on all around him, and he was worried, afraid, and grieving for someone close to him that he may not ever see again. She was miles away in another town and he was helpless.
I’ve had students who have lost siblings and parents while under my care. I’ve known some who have attempted suicide and others who have been tugged through a messy divorce.
As teachers, we are a part of a student’s life for hours on end. We can make the most of our relationship with them by being more perceptive and understanding. But most importantly, we can take them to the Lord in prayer.
Psalm 11 has this to say in verses 1-2:
In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
Many of us worry and live in fear. Yes, we are to be wise in our comings and goings; we shouldn’t recklessly put ourselves in dangerous situations. But, often, I think we shy away too much from situations when we don’t trust the Lord. How many of us think, or even say “I don’t want to go to that part of town” when it’s in just “that” neighborhood that people need to hear the Gospel.
Others are preoccupied with stuff and with socking away money for retirement. I don’t recall reading about any of the saints in scripture retiring. We fell prey to the “building bigger barns” syndrome when we bought a house that was larger than we really needed just because we could. And then it was a struggle to maintain.
In this election year, many struggle with the issue of our future as a country. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around all the strange and scary things I read and hear daily. Truly I have to lay this all at the feet of Christ, for I can only pray and trust. I don’t understand the whys, but I know it’s in His hands. Always has been.
Verses 3-4 of Psalm 11 say:
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?
The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
This is how Dale Ralph Davis puts it in The Way of the Righteous
in the Muck of Life: “Despair is managed by keeping Yahweh himself in the center of your vision.” I thought this was a great summation.
And let me leave you with this one last quote from Davis: “You have not seen Jesus yet you love Jesus. Christians are such conundrums.”