Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Ring out the false, ring in the true

Verses from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is …

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Silence so deep

“You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there–the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you …

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To see takes time

“…in a way – nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time…So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and …

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Try again

“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett I have always loved this quote.  It acknowledges the predominance of failure along with the crucial importance of tenacity.  From the early explorers, to Abraham Lincoln, to Thomas Edison and countless other examples, world history teaches us that the ability to fail repeatedly without giving up …

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God’s furniture

Who has not found the heaven below Will fail of it above. God’s residence is next to mine, His furniture is love. — Emily Dickinson Regardless of my personal circumstances (and probably even more so when times are difficult), I never feel the love of God so directly as when I am outdoors amid “His …

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To select well

“To select well among old things is almost equal to inventing new ones.” — Nicolas Charles Trublet On the day after Christmas, many of us are sifting through our old belongings to make room for the new gifts we received the day before. But some of us have a hard time parting with things, even …

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Unconditional joy

“Joy to the world!  Whether the world deserves it or not.”  — Ashleigh Brilliant Wishing you a beautiful day full of the unearned graces that can only come from above.  Merry Christmas!

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Joy shall be yours

“Villagers all, this frosty tide,     Let your doors swing open wide,      Though wind may follow, and snow beside,     Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;               Joy shall be yours in the morning!” — Kenneth Grahame,   from The Wind in the Willows Christmas Eve has long been my favorite day …

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You can’t buy Christmas

“You can’t buy Christmas: you have to make it.”  — Ashleigh Brilliant Store displays can amuse and inspire, but each Christmas is a home-made treasure.  Here’s hoping that you are creating a happy one this year.

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The gift not yet opened

“The most splendid Christmas gift, the most marveled and magic, is the gift that has not yet been opened. Opaque behind wrapping or winking foil, it is a box full of possibilities…Often what precedes is better than what follows, even when, like Christmas Day, what follows is good.” — Gregg Easterbrook As with other happy …

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As if it cost a fortune

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.  Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then?  The happiness he gives, is quite as …

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Every year I dream

Lyrics from the song A Christmas Dream by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice Recorded by Perry Como (You can listen to the song and see some beautiful Christmas photos here.) Watch me now, here I go, all I need’s a little snow Starts me off, sets the theme, helps me dream my Christmas dream …

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Any simple thing

“Christmas in 1949 must compete as never before with the dazzling complexity of  man, whose tangential desires and ingenuities have created a world that gives any simple thing the look of obsolescence—as though there were something inherently foolish in what is simple, or natural.”  — E. B. White, in The New Yorker, December 1949 We are …

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Give freely and abundantly

“Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” — Annie Dillard  Don’t count me among the cynics who think the holiday season is primarily a commercial enterprise.  I love the way people give each other gifts at this time of year.  Yes, there are too many …

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Like of each thing

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth; But like of each thing that in season grows.” —William Shakespeare When we moved to Virginia from California, I missed having roses in December.  Yet I was happy to be living once again in a climate similar to that …

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You have to be a child

“You have to be a child to know how wonderful is a store window filled with dolls and sleds and other toys.  And this wonder came free to Francie.  It was nearly as good as actually having the toys to be permitted to look at them through the glass window.” — Betty Smith , in …

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Not a has-been

“I am not a has-been.  I am a will-be.”  — Lauren Bacall Everybody you know is a work in progress, no matter their age.  No exceptions. “…and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (1 John 3:2, NIV)

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The books themselves

“I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them–with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.” — Eudora Welty I can think of few sorrows for which …

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Always springtime

“It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.” — Jean Vianney, the Curé d’Ars Spring brings growth, renewal and rebirth.  Yet it also brings rain, mud and labor.  Keeping springtime in our hearts does not mean denying or ignoring the difficult and painful.  Rather, it means looking ahead with hope and expectation, even when …

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Curiosity conquers fear

“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” — James Stephens I’m not a particularly brave person, but my curiosity about almost everything knows no bounds, and I can vouch for the truth of Stephens’ observation about its power to overcome fear.  Through the years, my curiosity has often met with disdain: “Why should you want to know that?” …

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Live faithfully a hidden life

“…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” —George Eliot, from the closing lines of Middlemarch Look …

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Sit quietly in a room

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”  ―    Blaise Pascal For decades, every year until this one, I have spent much time meticulously decorating our Christmas tree, a sort of yearly scrapbook with an ever-growing collection of ornaments, each representing a memory.  I often question whether this …

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Something truly sacred

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.” — Fred Rogers Those who know me best know that Fred …

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Doing something worthwhile

“Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.”  — Sir Wilfred Grenfell It fascinates me to watch people who are engaged in tasks at which they are not only talented, but obviously enjoying themselves.  From the scene-stealing gymnasts or rock musicians, to the less flashy but no less interesting craftsmen or cooks, their absorbed focus …

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Until things are brighter

“Ah, I’d like to wear a rainbow every day and tell the world that everything’s ok But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back ‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man in Black.” — Johnny Cash “Every man knows he’s a sissy compared to Johnny Cash.” — Bono Optimism untempered by reality …

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