Live faithfully a hidden life

Dear friends, thanks for visiting us today. We are still struggling with our loss, but surviving. Right now I am completely consumed with various tasks — catching up on school work, with three major papers, much reading, and several smaller assignments yet to complete; dealing with the seemingly endless paperwork that goes with my new life circumstances; taking care of Matt without the nurturing help and loving presence of Jeff; managing (as well as I can) two homes; and just generally trying to get through the grief. I ask your patience as I re-blog a post that has been on my mind a lot lately, that features one of my all-time favorite quotes. Since it’s almost four years old, perhaps there will be many of you who never saw it, and many others who have forgotten it. Meanwhile, please know that I appreciate your comments, thoughts, prayers and warm wishes, and will answer each and every comment as soon as I can! As Marlene says, Giant Hugs!

Calligraphy artist, Chinatown, San Francisco 2004

Calligraphy artist, Chinatown, San Francisco 2004

“…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 around you today.  You are surrounded by saints, cleverly disguised as fallible human beings.  Indeed, you may be one yourself.


  1. Judy from Pennsylvania

    You give us yet another gentle, thought provoking quote to savor in this Thanksgiving season of gratitude. Thank you, my friend.

    Julia, please seriously consider taking a well deserved break from replying to each and every comment on your posts. I believe that all of us here already know that you appreciate our reaching back to you, and you’re under a heavy load of many responsibilities right now. Let us do something for YOU. Please let us give you the gift of lightening the load for at least a little while. You are precious to us. Take care of yourself and let the comments section rest for a while. We’ll still be here, reading and absorbing and growing from the wisdom and love you share in your writings. You are loved.

    • Thank you Judy! I’m a chatty sort, so the comments are actually therapeutic for me. BUT as you can tell, I did take quite a long break from them. I like to respond but it’s nice to know you understand when I can’t. I’m doing my best to take care of myself but at times it’s difficult to manage, as I have to be full time caretaker for Matt. Amy has been a great and steadfast help, and the prayers and good wishes of all of you have blessed me more than you will ever know. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. In my case, it’s an excellent disguise! 😉
    Good morning, Julia, and thank you for your faith in us, it helps me be more faithful, too.
    Blessings to you, today!

    • Thank you, Susan! I too am in quite an expert disguise. I even fool myself. 😉

  3. Lani Beagle

    Thinking about you a lot, Julia. Prayers for comfort and peace continue.

    • Thank you, Lani! Do you come to Atlanta often? I’d love to get together sometime when you are here. Please give my best to Karen and your Mom, and I wish you and all your loved ones a wonderful holiday! ❤

      • Lani Beagle

        Thanks for the wishes, Julia! Until my 3rd grandchild was born, I was going once a month (since my dad died), but I have slacked off now and it is only about one every 2-3 months. I won’t be there again until January – and the time then depends on the weather. I would love to see you too so when things settle for you, or you are able to plan a time for us to try and meet, let me know. I would surely love to see you! Hugs to you.

        • Lani, that’s about how often I get there too. Maybe we can find a time to connect. I imagine for you, as for me, the time you are there is full with activity and must-do things, but maybe someday… 😀 Sending giant hometown hugs your way!

  4. Keeping you and the family in prayer.

    • Thank you Daryl. The prayers are helping us to survive, and we appreciate them so much. Thanks for being here.

  5. Cherie

    Julia, sweet southern sister, I pray for you always. I embrace the thought of all these beautiful hidden lives that see us through ours. Love to you and Matt! Love and Light! Cherie

    • Thank you Cherie. Love and light to you too, at this time of counting blessings! ❤

  6. Jim Beavers

    Julia, thank you for continuing to think of us, your readers, during this most difficult time in your life. I truly believe that you are the saint described in your blog post today.

    • Oh Jim, that is such a kind and generous thing to say. You have been with us here for a very long time — almost since the beginning? and I am so glad you are still here with your words of encouragement. Hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday!

  7. Ann

    What a wonderful quote. I don’t remember this blog although I think I have read all of them!
    Just glad to hear from you.

    Remember…one day at a time.

    • Thank you, Ann. I have always believed in the “one day at a time” (and sometimes “one hour or even second at a time”) philosophy, but never have I had to rely on it quite so much as now. Thanks for being here!

  8. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ I’m sure “overwhelmed” must be an understatement. I hope that “Defeat Despair” will never be a burden to you. Even if it continues in a different form, lesser time frame, or must end, you have created a special PLACE here for four years! If comfort comes to you today in the comments, let us give that to YOU, as a small “Thank you”! Hope your week gets off to a good start. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, thank you. The comments truly are a comfort. Many a day when it seems nothing has gone right, I will check them just before falling into bed exhausted (only to lie awake much of the time) and seeing the words of so many people who have become quite special to me, whether or not we have met, provides a real solace and a sense of not being all alone, no matter how alone I might feel sometimes. I don’t ever think of my blog as a burden. If I did, I wouldn’t keep it going. I do appreciate how understanding everyone is with my extended absences lately. Your friendship and support is a continuing beam of light in the darkness! ❤

  9. Mike

    I forgot you were in school what are you taking? I am also going for a faithful hidden life of honor. This reminds of the quote by someone in regards to a history of Caesar and his plebes, ” Did they not also not live, love and breathe?”

    • Good quote, Mike – I either never heard it, or forgot it. I’m in a PhD program in communications, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll last. It’s very demanding and though I enjoy it, I can’t make it my first priority, mentally or from a logistical standpoint. Time will tell if I am able to hang in there. At the very least, I have certainly learned a great deal already, and not all of it in the classroom. If you get my drift. 🙂

  10. Mike

    I am reading Mary Karr’s book on memoir which is more of a text book and I intend to buy it ,although I have been trying to downsize in that area and know if we move or when we move to Atlanta I am not taking all these 4600 works, and there is a quote in there from G.H Hardy from his memoir ” The mathematicians Apology” which is supposed to be good in which he talks about the significance of making even an insignifcant contribution to the world of mathematics, which turns out to be enough to make some meaning in his life. I digress, Still working on the runons. Anyway that is what came to mind. Supposed to be an excellent memoir Mr. Hardy that is,

    • Amazing! I just finished listening to her unabridged recording of that same book. I thought she had a lot of good things to say, but I didn’t feel the same instant connection to her that I felt to Lamott, Goldberg or Cameron. Like Anne Lamott, Karr (as you know if you are reading her book) is a reluctant convert to Christianity. I suppose part of the difference between her and Lamott is that Lamott is a NorCal person, Karr a northeasterner (though originally a Texas native, but one who seems to have very little love for that state– another way in which I differ from her). 4600 Books! WOW. I have never counted mine but I know it’s not nearly that many. I know nothing about the Hardy work you mention– can’t even recall hearing of him, though it could be due to the fact that my brains are currently scrambled. I hope you can find good homes for your books if you do need to leave them behind! Maybe your local library has a good used book store and you can take a tax credit for donating them.

  11. Giant, squishy hugs, Julia. You have a lot on your plate and are wise to take it in small bites. This will all be here when you are ready.

    • Thank you Marlene! I can always count on you for a good dose of caring common sense. And of course, as we know, common sense is anything but common these days!

      • My daughter says common sense is so rare, it should be declared a super power. That’s mine. 🙂

        • Well it’s a great one to have! We could use you here in DC, but that’s another story…

          • I think they require that common sense be checked at the entrance to all political buildings. We don’t want to go there. 😦

  12. MaryAnn Clontz

    Much love & “Giant hugs” to you & Matt! This photo may be the place from whence you purchased my beautiful Chinese treasure. As you continue to care for Matt, take time to “be”; loving yourself in the process.

    • Mary Ann, I am almost certain it is the same place. I purchased several gifts there, and talked awhile with the artist about his work. He is one of many people I met ever-so-briefly during my days in the city, many of which I spent prowling around the alleys of Chinatown. If you go there anytime soon, try to find Hang Ah street— actually not a street, but an alley — my memory could be off, but his shop– assuming it still exists– was somewhere around there, not far from the fortune cookie factory.

  13. Thank you for posting Julia. There are no words to console you in your grief, but I hope it helps that we are here and will be when you feel like posting. Prayers still being said and love still being sent.

    • Patricia, it helps immensely. It really does. Thanks so much for the prayers and love. We are surviving on them! ❤

  14. Great quote, Julia.
    Courage is one step ahead of fear. – Coleman Young
    Take heart and take time, Julia. Attend the tasks you have been for you at present. We’re here when you have the moment and need to reach out.

  15. One of my favorite quotes. It’s the background on the home screen on my computer. Thanks for posting! Another one that I see daily on my refrigerator because of your generous gift is “I cried at first . . . and then, it was such a beautiful day, that I forgot to be unhappy.” This is more true in Florida. 😉

    Praying for you and your family as you continue walking through your grief. Love you!

    • Barb, I’m glad you still have that magnet — and also, I’m glad it is more true in Florida! 😀 Especially at this time of year, I imagine. Thanks for your prayers and friendship. I hope and trust that you, Ann and I will all be together again somewhere or other for a day or two of fun as the “she musketeers.” 😀 Hope you and your family will have a wonderful holiday! You are a blessing to me!

  16. Amy

    I know you and Matt are still trying to figure this new life out. I am keeping both of you in my prayers. I am sure that while you are able Jeff will not be in an unvisited grave. God keep you my friend. I love you.

    • Yes, I think one thing Jeff and I both love about Arlington is how well-kept it is, and how beautiful a place it is for walking. Perhaps you and I shall take some of those long walks we’ve always talked about. Not quite the setting we had imagined, but beautiful nonetheless.

      • Amy

        Yes it is a beautiful place and great for reflection on many, many things.

        • I look forward to taking many walks there.

  17. Mike

    The book is by G.H Hardy “A mathematicians apology.’ Supposed to be the best memoir by a mathemitcian, albeit the only one? The last Lamott book it seemed like all she did was write about her son and his travails-which is probably OK, but not much in terms of spirituality. I am on this memoir kick now and just finished for the first time Mayou Angelou’s ” I know why the caged bird sings.” Genius work. I tried to read the Augustine work one time-confessions.-Have you ever read it? I am sure the number 466 is hyperbole.
    This is a q uiet T day for us with families on the East coast. I tell people we are having deserts only. But it is kind of bittersweet. My health is in a holding pattern.

    • Hi Mike, a memoir by a mathematician sounds intriguing for sure. What would he talk about, numbers? I’m to ignorant of math to be able to appreciate it, but I can imagine that it has a symmetrical and almost mysterious beauty to those who know it well. I haven’t read Lamott’s last book, but I do think it seemed to me, last time I read her, that she is running out of original things to say. Her politics are so predictable, too, and certainly not in line with mine. But I will always love her for the wonderful things she did write. I need to read Angelou’s Caged Bird. Oddly enough, I have never read it, though the caged bird is a motif with which I closely identify. I have read others of her memoirs, though, and her work never fails to inspire me. I have to read Augustine’s Confessions for the Theology in Communication course that I am required to take if I stay in this PhD program. The reading list for that course is daunting but also exciting. But it will mean full time reading. I was originally set to take it this semester, but changed to a part time schedule as my only hope for staying in.

      I totally understand about bittersweet holidays. I have a feeling all of mine will be that way for however long I live. Parenting is a strange world. Even when things go 100% right (which they rarely if ever do) one is left alone in the end. Unless, of course one is in the even harder position I face with Matt. But I have no regrets. Having kids is the toughest job anyone will ever love. I hope your health improves to the point that you are able to enjoy the coming holiday and the spring that will surely follow. Perhaps someday you and Verie will be in Atlanta the same time I am and we can all meet up somewhere. Till then, I wish you a wonder-filled holiday season (with credit to Marlene for that lovely phrase).

  18. I hadn’t read this before Julia, so I’m glad you decided to repost. That’s a rather poignant paragraph about unsung hero’s. I’ve had many hero’s in my life, none of them famous of course, but their influence and mentoring has shaped my life none the less. There was of course my dad. I endeavour to emulate his kindness, thoughfulness and gentleness with all who matter most in my life. As an adult, I understand and deeply appreciate what it took to be a nuturing lifeline in our home. It couldn’t have been made easy for him I’m certain.
    But also, my best friend lived across the lane. Debbie and I are still friends and now have known each other for almost 50 years. Her parents Barb and Dale were my saving grace. I was family there when dad couldn’t be home. In my eyes, Barb was good at everything and seemed to enjoy life so much. She sewed, baked, gardened, ski’d, ran a business, made a beautiful home, took us kids away camping in the motorhome without Dale, laughed easily, loved animals and as you can tell by this long list, was someone I loved and looked up too. So my ‘mom’ lived at someone elses house, that’s not normal but for me, it was a gift. Hero’s are not recognized enough, but their impact echo’s even now. xo K

    • K, I love reading about your memories. I think the first post I ever read at your blog, probably four years ago now, was one you had written about your own family history, complete with lovely photos that were almost like a virtual time machine. I am so happy that you had Debbie, Barb and Dale to help you through the difficult times. Chances are they were just happy to have you there, having no idea that years later you would be thinking of them with joy and gratitude. What a gift. And of course I love reading about your Dad. I think one thing we have in common is our affection and gratitude for having had devoted fathers.

      I can totally identify with having other parents that don’t live in the home. As kids we were lucky enough to have “another Mama and Daddy” (my Daddy’s lifelong friend and his wife, about whom I have blogged before) and I have been so grateful over the years to remember all the happy memories we were blessed to share with them. Yes, I truly believe that the greatest heroes are the ones hardly anyone really knows about. One of our ministers used to refer to what he called the “heavenly grandstands” in which great numbers of famous and unknown heroes are there, unseen but providing inspiration to those of us who remember and know about them, and all that they did, the things they overcame and the ways they blessed the world. He used to ask us to think of them as cheering us on in this life. It’s a mental picture that has helped me many times.

  19. Mike

    I am not sure about Mary Karr. I am now reading her second memoir? LITT. I was always told to say something nice or not say anything. But the way she trashes her in laws- cold, uncaring, snobbish, Egalitarian -etc., while at the same time they pay her rent and buy various items for her. And she is most critical of their parenting as pathological. None of us are perfect on that account and we all try and do our best. She is still a great writer and her descriptions of her battles with demon rum and an almost suicide is truly harrowing. The first memoir is supposed to be set in a more sourthern clime- “The Liars club.” Texas I believe.

    • Yes, Karr is a good writer (though some of her analogies seem forced and miss badly, most of them are great) but I do find her too abrasive and snobbish. It’s as if she thinks the superficially self-deprecating tone she takes is enough to compensate for the the harshness with which she treats others. Her work is definitely harrowing, as you say. I may eventually get around to reading The Liars Club but I can ill afford anymore negativity at this point in my life. I have been much more inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners, which I am reading now. She is incisive and often critical, but there is serious theology and logic underlying what she says. One never gets the impression she is gratuitously snarky. And her insights are keen and quite original. Of course, she’s a Georgia gal so perhaps I simply feel a fellowship with her on that count.

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