Evening on Calais Beach

IT is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder–everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouch’d by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

–by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I’ve been missing the gentleness of life lately. When is the last time I had a really gentle thought? When have the conversations in our house been quiet and peaceful, completely lacking in sarcasm or discontent? Why don’t I have these moments of calm, holy times quiet as a Nun, when the gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea? We went to a small beach today, just to do something different. The girls enjoyed playing in the sand, but I was uptight because one of them waded too far and got water in her rain boots, and my son laid around on the merry-go-round, clearly not enjoying himself.

If the second part of the poem is correct (and I don’t think the theology is quite right), then my lack of feeling gentle does not mean God’s gentleness is far from me. It seems as if I constantly have to be reminded that God doesn’t leave me alone. He’s there, even when I don’t think He is. Well, then. I go through these ungentle stages of life. But the higher reality is always there, always gentle, always brooding o’er my present time.

Setting Thoughts Loose

Normally I like to tie my thoughts together, find connections, make tight little packages out of them. Tonight I’d rather set some things loose.

I trimmed my daughters’ hair today. They have beautiful hair. One golden-brown and naturally highlighted with streaks of blonde. The other almost white-blonde, very straight, very complementary of her eye and skin color. Both of them have thin hair, and also very fine, which makes it difficult to keep in any sort of style, but who cares? Lovely hair is lovely hair.

A nearby barn burned down today. The wind chill is below zero. I wonder how it felt to be a firefighter. Did they feel the flame-heat or the cold-burn? Did the water spray all over and make icicles on their helmets? They dosed the remains of the barn more than usual because of the dry, cold weather. Will it be ashy ice by morning?

What can I do to make my kids want things less? They seem so discontent. If I give them a nice treat to go with our poetry tea time, they wish they could have more of it. It seems if I give them anything, it simply reminds them of something else they don’t have but wish they did have. I spend so much time saying No to them. It doesn’t seem nice, any way I look at it. I think they just talk too much. How do I tell them they need to keep their mouths shut without opening my own?

We’re studying Hosea in Ladies’ Bible study. I think it is the most uncomfortable book of the Bible. Give me Song of Songs any day. I’ll talk about that much more than Hosea.

I recently finished an uncomfortable but very suspenseful novel which takes place in 17th century Amsterdam. It’s called The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (2014). The main character, Nella, really blossoms throughout the book, and I love the importance of responsibility and loyalty in the book’s themes. She loves her husband in much the same way Hosea loved Gomer. But it turns out differently in the end. Actually, I don’t think we know how the story of Hosea and Gomer turns out. There is no end. Just a prophecy.

Loyalty is a powerful thing. So is integrity. A person could find her whole life built upon those qualities. It is very disappointing when someone you are loyal to is not as equally loyal in return. But integrity stops you from doing anything about that disappointment. And, of course, it is disquieting to realize that God is more loyal to me than I am to Him.

Disquieting is a quiet word. It fades into a silence. But the silence is ungentle. Quiet and gentle have a lot to do with one another.

That’s enough for now. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with me. I don’t think my posts will often be like this. I still prefer short and to the point.