Generous beyond all reason

For only $2.99, I got hyacinths to feed my soul while buying groceries to feed the rest of me.
How’s that for a generous life?

“This is among the oldest, deepest, most primal truths: the facts of life may be, at times, unbearably painful. But the core, the bones of life are generous beyond all reason or belief. Those things that ought to kill us do not. This should be taken as encouragement to continue.”Augusten Burroughs

Perhaps the oft-repeated question should not be “why do bad things happen,” but rather, “where does all this beauty and abundance and joy and love and delight come from?” People of faith believe there is a divine wellspring of goodness that blesses our world even as it explains our existence and gives meaning to life. But surely even those who believe this planet evolved from a cosmic accident must agree that the bones of life, as Burroughs refers to them, are indeed generous in a way that defies easy description.

Did the sun break through your window this morning so brightly that waking up was a bit easier? Did your mailbox surprise you by containing a note from someone you love? Are the green shoots of daffodils beginning to pierce the frozen ground in your yard? Have you had a delicious cup of coffee or tea that jump-started your brain as it pleased your taste buds? Is a dog or cat lying nearby, exuding warmth and companionship?

Did you have the exquisite delight of buying a small gift that you know will be wanted or needed by someone dear to you? Are you wearing a comfortable sweater in your favorite color? Is beautiful music almost certain to be part of your day, playing on an amazingly inexpensive but sophisticated speaker that transmits the sound of a faraway orchestra? Can you imagine the faces of all those individual musicians, each of whom gave a lifetime of practice to bring you a symphony that never fails to bring tears of joy to your eyes?

I could go on and on, but really, I don’t need to. Chances are this post has you thinking spontaneously of the countless sentiments and supports and sensory surprises that color your day with happiness. Life really is, at its core, beautiful and generous beyond all reason. Even when things are at their worst, some part of me never doubts that primal truth. It is a rock-solid encouragement to continue.

Whether your day is wonderful, difficult or somewhere in between, I wish you many reminders of abiding beauty and the peace that passes understanding.



  1. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, my friend! ☕️ My day is already gifting me with so many of the pleasures that you’ve mentioned, Julia. Thank you for your blog, Defeat Despair, that is such a special part of my life. I can count on you, every Monday! Of course, I would understand if you could no longer continue your blog. But what you’ve given me, in words, photos, and friendship will always linger! Yesterday, the beauty of the red Cardinal that sat in my pot of purple and orange pansies, only lasted a moment but I witnessed and enjoyed! It was a sensory surprise! When we moved to our cottage by the ocean I declared that I would never take the beauty of my surroundings for granted! It can happen, ever so subtly and with time. I hope you’re finding comfort in your surroundings, the familiar and the new! I sure love you and Matt! Happy Valentines Day, as well. ♥️🌷💘💐💝

    • Sheila, as always your kind words and support are a balm for my heart. I am so happy we met here. I loved picturing the Cardinal in your pansies – what a great combo of colors! Speaking of which, I am guessing that one of the things you miss most about our dear Walter is the way every glance at him was a feast of color for the eyes…but I digress. You’re right, taking things for granted happens “every so subtly and with time.” I can remember when Matt survived his first open heart surgery just before his first birthday, Jeff and I coincidentally had seemingly everything coming up needing repair or replacement…cars, appliances, etc. and how, despite our still-limited income, it didn’t even faze us. We thought we would never again worry about anything now that Matt had survived the ordeal we had dreaded (with good reason, it turned out) since the day he was born. Of course this was before we knew that there would be periodic open heart surgeries for the rest of Matt’s life. But still, as you say, we grow accustomed to our blessings and stop seeing them. Jeff’s illness and death has brought that home to me in a way nothing else could have done. Thanks for reminding me and all who read these comments, how easily we can forget all that we have or all that we were blessed to have in the past. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! Thanks so much for being here! ❤

  2. Chris

    Very nice, Julia! I think we’re happy because we are blessed to be one of God’s children. For most people it’s a simple attitude; is the glass half full, or half empty? Even in difficult times, I try to see it as half full! 😊
    Also makes me think of Ebenezer Scrooge. Everyone can change, but think about all the love and joy he missed before his transformation.
    So, your friend Connie really married Jerry’s cousin!! I’ll bet that is interesting! 😂
    Have a wonderful week!

    • Thanks Chris! Recently I read a new version of the old optimist/pessimist full glass/empty glass maximum, which ended with something along the lines of the truly wise person just being happy that there is a glass. I suppose there’s some truth in that, if one takes the glass as a representation of potential happiness. I think the Scrooge story has such evergreen appeal because we all have a bit of Scrooge in us. The jubilant ending is so effusive because Scrooge realizes he has a lot of lost time to make up for, so I guess that all he lost becomes a motivation for change. Re: Connie marrying Jerry Clower’s cousin…life really is stranger than fiction. 🙂 You have a great week too!

  3. Carol Hoyos


    • 🙂 ❤

  4. Jack

    I have a dear friend, a relatively young man of 60 whose wife, formerly a crackerjack lawyer, began to slip into dementia 10+ years ago, and now is in full time Alzheimer’s. The once beautiful, bright and vibrant lady is now but a shadow. Early into the onset of this transition, my friend told me whenever he began to feel blue about what was happening, he would “count his blessings”, hoping that in the enumeration of them he would temporarily put this awful burden behind him. He sings a different tune now, understanding and teaching me that even this is a manifestation of that “divine wellspring of goodness” to which you refer. Though he no doubt pines for the times when his wife was lucid and engaged, he now sees this time as an equal, though admittedly far more trying blessing. CS Lewis tells me to “look up the sunbeam to the sun” and to relearn what it means for God to give counterintuitively. Delusion? Perhaps! But one that has made me believe that God gives what He gives, and but mine to receive, try to be thankful and move forward. In 12 Step parlance, the language says that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. I concur unless I’m in the thick of it!

    • Jack, thanks for sharing these observations. Yes, pain teaches us things we could learn in no other way, but it is still very hard to welcome those lessons. I was encouraged recently by reading Augusten Burroughs’ assertion that in the human sense, loss is not a subtraction, but something that actually makes us larger. That seems counter-intuitive at first, but it’s a profound truth, I think.

  5. I have no idea how I lost your blog. Well, here I am back again.

    • Welcome back, it’s wonderful to see you here again!!! Probably you lost my blog the same way I lost yours and so many others; life is the supreme distraction, and I’ve missed so many of my favorite blogs. I just now sat down at my computer for the proverbial 5 minute email check, but as soon as I saw your comment, I simply HAD to hop on over to your blog and see what you’ve been up to. It’s amazing how the days and months and even years get away from us. But it’s wonderful to know you are still here in the blogosphere, and even have a couple of blogs I did not know about. Of course when I saw the post about the kettle being on, I put my feet up and got cozy. 🙂 Hope all is well in your world and thanks for dropping by!

      • There are mysteries to WordPress that keep me ever engaged in learning more about this platform.. I am delighted that we reconnected and look forward to our ongoing conversations. Your insights are inspiring – it is indeed good to be back. Hugs coming your way.

        • Thanks so much! I’m so happy you are back. I hope someday to figure out how to use the various features of WordPress. Considering that I’ve been blogging for over 6 years now, I know so little about it. Thanks again for your kind words, and for being here (at my blog) and there (at yours). 🙂

  6. Mike Bertoglio

    2.99$ what a bargain. Like 6 dollars at Kroger. I don’t know if you saw Michael J. Fox interview. Very intelligent young man dealing with some unexpected medical issues on top of his Parkinsons? He said -” It is the most unexpected- event s in my life that have afforded me the greatest learning opportunites.” Great faith.

    • The plant started out much smaller but grew quickly. I don’t watch TV so I didn’t see the interview with Michael J. Fox, but I didn’t realize he had other issues besides the Parkinson’s. When celebrities deal gracefully with illness it can serve as an inspiration and a reminder that no one escapes this life without struggles of one sort or another.

  7. Mike Bertoglio

    My question is why do so many good things happen to bad people? You know who.

    • Mike, C. S. Lewis has an interesting take on this question, at least insofar as it applies to Christians. The entire essay is well worth reading, but his conclusion is linked. Sobering words indeed.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: