Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Book Review: Safely Through The Storm

I said, “Let me walk in the fields.”
He said, “No, walk in the town.”
I said, “There are no flowers there.”
He said, “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said, “But the skies are black;
There is nothing but noise and din.”
And He wept as He sent me back;
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin.”

I said, “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun.”
He answered, “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.”

I said, “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say.”
He answered, “Choose to-night
If I am to miss you, or they.”

I pleaded for time to be given.
He said, “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide.”

I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said, “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”

Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light divine
The path I had feared to see.

--- George MacDonald

I’ve been reading this book, of late, as part of my morning meditations. It contains 120 reflections on Hope, like the ones I have included here above and below. The reflections are all short ; the whole book is only 65 pages, and most of the authors and works are ones I have previously read. Benedict XVI, JPII, Nouwen, de Sales, Newman, Anselm, Brother Lawrence, Kempis, von Hildebrand, and of course, Groeschel, are all among my favorites. Yet seeing them all here, some of their most memorable lines --- although many of which I had forgotten --- gives me great comfort and inspiration these mornings.

Of course, if you have not read as much as I, these things will all be new to you. A great start for the day is here for many Catholics or other Christians, as well as a great end to a day also. These thoughts on Hope are meant to be considered when thinking about life’s difficulties past, or the difficult day ahead. They are of great comfort when winding down from a difficult day behind --- finally! If I had known what Debbie Herbeck’s book is, I might not have bought it, thinking there was nothing new for me in there. But she puts all these things together, re-visiting old friends with me, and all that is old is made new.

It is a good purchase, my friends, even to just put on the bookshelf, and to lift up and carry with us when we face days that we know will be trials, or for when we’ve faced a difficult day and don’t know how to end it, but cry. It’s then that we need Hope, and you can find it here.

It is true that a canvas simply and blindly offered to the brush feels at each moment only the stroke of the brush. It is the same with a lump of stone. Each blow from the hammering of the sculptor’s chisel makes it feel – if it could – as if it were being destroyed. As blow after blow descends, the stone knows nothing of how the sculptor is shaping it. All it feels is a chisel chopping away at it, cutting it and mutilating it ---. We might ask it: “What do you think is happening to you?” And it might answer: “Don’t ask me. All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hands of the sculptor, and I must love him and endure all he inflicts on me to produce the figure he has in mind. He knows how to do it. As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me. But what I do know is that his work is the best possible. It is perfect. I welcome each blow of his chisel as the best thing that could happen to me, although, if I’m to be truthful, I feel that every one of these blows is ruining me, destroying me and disfiguring me. But I remain unconcerned. I concentrate on the present moment, think only of my duty, and suffer all that this master sculptor inflicts on me without knowing his purpose or fretting about it.”

Yes, you frank and precious souls, leave to God what is his business and carry on peacefully with your work. Be quite sure that whatever happens to your spiritual life or to your activities in the world is always for the best. Let God act, and abandon yourself to him.

--- Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

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