Guilt and Going On

sunset kw

Key West – 2008

…my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times I feel that He has withdrawn from me, and I have often given Him cause…

So I struggle with my theology of failure and the Noes of God.

from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

These words resonate with me. But, I have to think that it isn’t that God has withdrawn from me but that I have withdrawn from Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t have reason to withdraw and leave me in the dust. There is no reason to keep pouring into me. But He does. He gives me more grace. And sometimes I don’t even realize it.

Grace comes to us at different stages in our spiritual pilgrimage, and it accomplishes different effects and evokes different responses. But it is all grace. – Steve Harper

I not only struggle with failure but with guilt and doubt. I long to know confidence. That No from God, His holding back of my confidence, must be for my good. I need to use that No to stay humble, but not to doubt. To draw near and to go on.

Word Pictures

wordpictures

Today I’m going to share some lovely sentences – just for your enjoyment.

ove“The slightly porky man on the other side of the Plexiglas has back-combed hair and arms covered in tattoos…Is that something an adult person in a healthy state of mind would consent to? Going about with his arms looking like a pair of pajamas?” from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

light“She expects fustiness, an elder funk, but the room smells mildly of soap and books and dried seaweed.”  from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

welty“It is because people are mostly layers of violence and tenderness…” from One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty

crosswick“I mourn for the loss of dreams and the presence of nightmare.”  from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

“It’s the things we don’t expect that just rip the scab off,” – said Grandpa from Stand Tall by Joan Bauer

“Every lavish home contains people who have seen disease. Every lawn that must be maintained is attached to a marriage that also must be maintained.” from God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond

“…soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees…”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

tglpps“He was a mean little runt. The two of them together benasties the mind.” from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

“… I could see how quickly I might become a woman gnawing on a chicken leg over the kitchen sink for her dinner,…” from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

mr-p“She’s wearing a green cardigan with a neat zigzag pattern and dusty blue mom-jeans…” from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

map“… shriveled like a chickpea with the cold.” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

Social Media and Letters and Such #2

 

I’ll try to make sense of this  conglomeration of thoughts derived from numerous sources, all focused on  a common issue in my mind: the modern society’s pitfalls of social media and the like.

Fahrenheit 451 was published by Ray Bradbury before I was even born. I am amazed at the insight he had!

“And most of the time in the caves they have the joke boxes on and the same jokes most of the time,…” -Clarisse – from Fahrenheit 451

In my cave there are the joke boxes of television, Facebook, and Twitter. With the same jokes and political garbage most the time.

“There was a tiny dance of melody in the air, her Seashell tamped in her ear again, and she was listening to far people in far places.” Fahrenheit 451

Can you say bluetooth?!? He really hit this one spot on. It drives me crazy to be in the store and think someone is speaking to me and then realize they are talking to far people in far places.

“…people have developed less a sense of community than a loneliness which they attempt to assuage by being with other people constantly, and on a superficial level only.”  –  The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle .

That’s me. I’m with people superficially online, attempting to assuage my loneliness. Often all it does is exacerbate the situation.

“We have an innate pessimism about telephone calls; they have a habit of coming at the wrong time, and they are too sudden, catapulting you into a conversation you weren’t expecting. Letters, on the other hand, are a pleasure to receive, not least because they allow you to consider your reply. But people don’t write letters anymore.” – from A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I must say that phone calls and letters are a step up from social media. At least with a phone call you can sometimes pick up on moods and intentions by a person’s voice. And with letters, you must put forth a little more effort and (hopefully) you take the time to craft your words more carefully.

And so, I leave you with this poem I wrote last year .

 

Left Unsaid  (April, 2016)

So many tweets were left unsaid

Brilliant words were never read

Chatty texts were never sent

Nothing told that wasn’t meant

I forgot my phone at home

No charming comments or replies

No clever words that sound so wise

No rings and beeps and  no voicemail

If someone called I could not tell

I forgot my phone at home

Surprisingly I did survive

In fact I may have even thrived

Lifting eyes up from the screen

With the world I reconvened

I forgot my phone at home

Death

crosswick

There never seems to be a right time to cry, and then emotion builds up, and suddenly something inappropriate will cause it to overflow, and there I am with tears uncontrollably welling up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. – from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

I am no expert on death. Yet, I have experienced it, as we all have or will. I know those stages of grief are real, yet vary from person to person. L’Engle’s words resonate with me.

When my dad died, I was sad, but assured in the knowledge that he knew the Lord. I was with my mother at his side when he died. Because of financial circumstances in my family, I went to work the following month, while still homeschooling our kids. Our life went full throttle, but about nine months later the sadness hit me. Hard. I struggled with depression, though I’m not sure I put a name on it back then.

About twelve years later, I lost a very dear friend. Debbie and I taught fourth grade together for three years, and remained friends even after I moved away from Winter Haven FL back to my hometown of Jacksonville. When she got cancer, I returned to visit her. Later, I flew to North Carolina to see her, where her parents were taking care of her. I returned there for her funeral. I would sometimes listen to her messages saved on my phone – she would leave me long, drawn out ones that my husband and I would laugh about. I fell apart the day they got erased by the guy at the Verizon store who reset my phone.

Last year, when my best friend, Cathy, died. I grieved, but kept pushing ahead. I knew she, too, was a believer. She was finished with the physical battle she’d fought long and hard against cancer. I made it my mission to keep in touch with her son. I cried. But, one night, about six months later, I lost it. I threw things in the kitchen and sobbed until I was spent.

Providentially, I have a husband who understands. He senses my moods (most of the time), he offers comfort, and he sometimes just lets me be. And he knows, when I throw things, I’m not throwing them at him.

Social Media and Letters and Such #1

crosswick

We may be a global village, but instant communication often isolates us from each other rather than uniting us.  –  from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

This profound statement was written in 1977! Now, nearly 40 years later, it is even more true. I have read several articles lately about the detriments of social media, and they are many. Thinking about some of what I’ve read, I ‘d like to break down what L’Engle had to say.

She refers to a global village, which is an oxymoron. A village brings to mind a community of people who are physically close as well as socially. People who know the needs of their neighbors and share many common bonds. Global pertains to the whole world, where, though we may know some of the needs and share interests, we can’t fully enter into the daily groove.  

Little did L’Engle know in 1977 how instant communication would become. How often have we (me included) spouted off on facebook, only to have to go back later and delete, though not always before the words have seared the eyes and hearts of a loved one. Or sent an email that couldn’t be deleted? At least when writing a letter, we have a little more time; time to tear it up before we lick that stamp.  

But, one may wonder, how does instant communication isolate us? It is a weapon, I think, driving us apart by comparison. All the happy vacation pictures, relationship updates, and check-ins. It’s just fuel for the fire of  “I want what they have”, and when we don’t have those things we distance ourselves.  At least that’s my take on it.

You can read other posts inspired by Madeleine L’Engle HERE

Biographical Picks

Looking back on 2016, I was surprised at the number of biographical books I’d read. Here is my list with a brief review of each.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Written after his wife died, I would recommend this to anyone grieving. Lewis is brutally honest with his feelings and gives a true window into the soul of someone who loved deeply.

The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
This is the third out of four of her Crosswick Journals. It takes the reader through the liturgical year, addressing questions of faith and facing old age. Her writing style is lovely. Those of you who read A Wrinkle in Time as a kid must read this series, also.

The Confessions of St. Augustine
Parts were helpful, but some parts were difficult to comprehend. I had to read it very slowly. I enjoyed the biographical parts the best.

More Than Petticoats – Remarkable Georgia Women by Sara Martin
These stories were impressive, and one was of particular interest to me. That was the chapter on Leila Denmark. She is my cousin’s aunt (on her father’s side) and an exceptional woman. She was a pediatrician until the age of 103, and she lived to be 114.

One Writer’s Beginnings – Eudora Welty.
In this autobiography, Mississippi native Welty shares the details of her childhood and influences on her writing.

Dispatches From Pluto : Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant
British-born Grant writes about the south in such a charming way. I really loved his narrative of life in the delta as seen by an outsider.

There is a lot of variety in these selections. Written from 400-2015, there is something here for everyone.