Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A final defiance in the face of the terror of uncertainty.

After two nights of waterworks suddenly failing about 9pm and two nights of long distraught conversations with my parents (I was distraught, not them) I finished off my predicament by staying up until midnight writing this. But our ISP wouldn't publish so it had to wait till now.

‘Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum’s head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.
“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”’

Satan, I defy thee! Death, I now decry thee! Fear, I bid thee cease! World, thou shalt not harm me nor thy threats alarm me while I sing of peace! God’s great pow’r guards every hour; Earth and all its depths adore Him – silent bow before Him.

Get thee hence!

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead, His hand to watch, His might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need, The wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, His shield to ward, The Word of God to give me speech, His heavenly hosts to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force, the natural lusts that war within, The hostile foes that mar my course; Or few or many, far or nigh, In every place and in all hours, Against their fierce hostility, I bind to me those holy pow’rs!
I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three, of whom all nature has creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word. Praise to the Lord of my salvation; Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

In Thine arms I rest me; foes who would molest me cannot reach me here. Though the earth be shaking, every heart be quaking, Jesus calms my fear. Light-nings flash and thunders crash; Yet, though sin and hell assail me, Jesus will not fail me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Inspector Javert: Some thoughts on the Law (when I should be sleeping)

“Why did you let me go?”

“I had no choice.”


“Once many years ago, a good man, bought my soul, removed from it all evil thoughts and gave it to God.”

“There is no God. There is only the Law. Guilt and innocence do not exist outside of the Law.”

“If that is what you believe, then you must kill me. Kill me now.”

“Turn around.”

Jean Valjean turns his face to the wall as Javert aims his pistol with all the steely resolve and cold calculation of the precise, unyielding Law.

Inspector Javert strikes close to home. In a certain sense, I love and hate Javert intensely. I love (neither in the sense that one “loves” a peanut butter and jelly sandwich nor in the sense that one “loves” a fiancĂ© or a husband) him for I pity him and truly, he is a part of me which I cannot rid myself of. I loathe and hate him because he is a part of me – the aspect of my mind which gives me no rest, which accuses, which kills. I used to call him my conscience. Now I don’t know what to call him but “the Law”.

He keeps me from murdering my neighbor, from lying about my brother, from yielding to every desire of my body, and from open theft. Yet he does not stop there. He dredges up the deep dirt – the filth of my heart which horrifies me - and when it fails to trouble me, accuses of a callous conscience.

I also used to think of the Javert in me as a “decent sense of justice”. But really he is only my own self-righteous pride which makes me demand my own condemnation. Inwardly (I have never been able to observe myself from any other angle – more ‘s the pity) I also would stiffly march up to my superior, keeping the proper distance in speech and action, informing him that I have failed in my duty and insulted him and therefore he must condemn and drive me from my post.

If one would know the true trouble of my heart it is a constant awareness of the presence of Inspector Javert.

When my heart weeps for his bottled up pain, it weeps for itself. Even in the movie it is evident: watch him – Javert holds every muscle under strict control, does not speak unnecessarily, does not reveal any emotion. It is evident that he is in control and that Javert will not allow himself to make a mistake. His soul is proud. At the same time it is crying in agony – it is writhing in torment. But fool that he is, he does not allow himself to notice his own piercing pain. He controls it like every other part of him.

Perhaps it is the Law that makes us humans fearful of losing control.

So what does the Law do when it encounters Grace. What does Javert do when he is forced to face the victim he has pursued so long and finds in the ex-convict the forgiveness, grace, and love his heart yearns for but which his soul spurns.

He breaks asunder. He truly does. You cannot see it on the outside. But he loses control. He fears this love more than anything else.

In the end, Grace tears from Javert his control of himself and forces him to show mercy. But Javert will not show mercy to himself. His pride will not receive mercy. If the God who does not exist and the men he did not create refuse to deal out “lawful” retribution to Javert both for his violation of the Law and his failure to break the Law by showing mercy, Javert will deal that punishment himself.

Quite a fearsome end.

There is no freedom to be found in the Law - None whatsoever. It is tense, it is burdensome, it weighs upon the soul of man. It hunts – through the years, through the offices of the prosperous, the cubicles of the dying, through the impetuous carnage of rebellious youth, the sludge of the sewer. The only place Javert does not dare to step foot is the quiet of the Convent.

The law kills. It is fell – deadly. It gloats and mocks. Pity is a thing unknown to the Law. “Their hearts are unfeeling like fat.”

Victor Hugo is quite correct in his analysis of the effect of the Law on poor miserable sinners. We cannot by our own reason or strength believe or receive forgiveness of sin. It simply isn’t in the power of Inspector Javert or any of us.

Thank God that he forgives us anyway. Thank God that “the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with his gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith.” Without Him, our lives would end precisely like Inspector Javert’s – in hopeless despair and unbelief.

The sweetness of the Gospel hurts only in that it gently pries the immaculate, ice-like, tenacious fingers of Javert from strangling my heart. Javert fights back:

“There is no [gracious] God. There is only the Law. Guilt and innocence do not exist outside of the Law.”

But Christ answers him.

“In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Take drink. This is the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.”
This child of mine is innocent. She bears my mark now - on her forehead and on her heart.

The Law killed Jesus in my place. Why do I keep forgetting that? I am NOT GUILTY. I am free from bondage to fear.

Javert lives in self-righteous fear. Valjean lives in perfect peace and freedom even while he is being pursued and hunted. Valjean knows love and forgiveness and acts in love and forgiveness. That love drives out his fear. Valjean is more free at the moment he turns himself in to the tribunal to save an innocent man than he was in all his years as monsieur le mayor. The love shown to him is strong enough to cause him to break his own “sacred promise” – the vow to kill Javert.

I have not been tense; I have been afraid.

Afraid of what? Of Inspector Javert. Of the Law. Of condemnation.

But there is nothing to fear. “For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” None. Javert can hunt me down from the corners of the earth but he will not find a single accusation that will stick. For Christ bears my brand of “convict”- my identifying mark from the prison of Toulon. And just as Valjean acquitted the innocent wheelwright by displaying his own brand to the tribunal at Arras, so Jesus declares me innocent by bearing my brand of sin before the unbending prosecutor of the Law.

By the grace of God, I have my own “Monsignor Bienvenu” to whom I can flee when Javert chases me. In fact I have two! And I know that they will shelter me – not by their own power, nor will they try to “purchase my soul” with their own silver – by the proclamation of the One who has purchased my soul with His blood. They will feed me not on their own hard-earned sustenance, but with the meal of Him who gives Himself as the food for all His guests – be they ever so uncomely, unwashed, unshaven, and rude.

In the Gospel there is perfect peace, perfect rest without fear, perfect freedom. It was this Gospel proclamation which caused Higher Things to have such a tremendous impact on me.
In the words of Gollum (who I don’t normally quote) Javert was told to “Go away, and never come back!” Back he certainly came and hid himself for sometime – I couldn’t figure out what he was and how he managed to dampen my spirits. But thanks be to God that Christ stills the clamoring of the Law and brings perfect peace through the Gospel.

More thoughts on “Les Miserables” to come. But it’s way past bedtime now. I'll be dead on my feet tomorrow. Uggh!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Proverbs 10:19

When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Carpal Tunnel?

I honestly am having a hard time believing it. Of all the weird medical conditions I’ve worried about contracting, it seems incredulous to likely be afflicted with carpal tunnel at the age of seventeen. It’s not right!

I wake up in the middle of the night to dead hands; hands which sense nothing but a vague tingling and do not move well. They have completely “fallen asleep” and I can feel the lack of blood flow. I must gingerly clench and unclench my hands while vigorously whacking them onto my knees for a few minutes before I can feel blood flow returning and sensation becomes normal. Ugh. My hands even lose feeling while I'm driving down the highway!

At first I thought this was normal – just a quirk of my personal physiology. Then I asked Mom and she comfortingly said, “You’ve probably just got a bit of Carpal Tunnel.” Great!
I suppose it is because I use my hands so much. When I’m not writing, I’m milking. When I’m not milking, writing, or folding paper critters I’m either reading or asleep or eating. Maybe I should give my hands a rest. But I don’t want to. I need my hands to live my life.

Hmm. Sounds like I’m scared of losing control. Maybe I am.

But I shouldn’t be. The fact of the matter is that I was never in control to start with. I may be worrying about a condition that I don’t even have. On the other hand, the carpal tunnel may be very real and I may never get rid of it. If that’s God’s will, who am I to complain? My life is just as safe and secure as it was before my hands started bugging me at night; my life is hidden with Christ in God. Really, nothing has changed.

Hmm. really selfcentered post stop needs to be ended stop ending now stop

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Marmion and Douglas

Here’s another of my favorites. Dramatic recitations are awesome! Anna and I have made quite a practice of quoting this one to each other. As far as I can tell, this is only an excerpt from a larger work by name of “Marmion”, though I have been unable thus far to lay hands on such a masterpiece. This one makes my Scottish adrenaline laden blood run fast. I do hope that William Wallace really was one of our ancestors!

Marmion and Douglas
Sir Walter Scott

The train from out the castle drew,
But Marmion stopped to bid adieu: --
“Though something I might plain,” he said
“Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king’s behest,
While in Tantallon’s towers I stayed,
Part we in friendship from your land,
And noble Earl, receive my hand.” –

But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke: --
“My manors, halls, and bowers shall still
Be open, at my sovereign’s will
To each one whom he lists, howe’er
Unmeet to be the owner’s peer.
My castles are my king’s alone
From turret to foundation stone, --
The hand of Douglas is his own;
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.” –

Burned Marmion’s swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And –“ This to me!” he said, --
“An’t were not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion’s had not spared
To cleave the Douglas’ head!
And first I tell thee, haughty Peer,
He who does England’s message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And , Douglas, more I tell thee here,
Even in they pitch of pride,
Here in thy hold, they vassals near,
( Nay , never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword,)
I tell thee, thou’rt defied!
And if thou said’st I am not peer to any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied!”—
On the Earl’s cheek the flush of rage
O’er came the ashen hue of age;
Fierce he broke forth, -- “And dar’st thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall?
And hop’st thou hence unscathed to go?
No, by St. Bride of Bothwell, no!
Up drawbridge, groom,-- what, Warder, ho!
Let the portcullis fall.”—

Lord Marmion turned, -- well was his need! –
And dashed the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung;
The ponderous gate behind him rung:
To pass there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.

The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake’s level brim;
And when Lord Marmion reached his band
He halts, and turns with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.

Wow! I can just feel the deep defiance! What unplumbed depths of fiery heart which beats in the proud Douglas and what tension between the Scot and English lord! I can’t help but get really riled up and excited whenever I read this poem (Snap or Anna can tell you about that); my heart starts beating faster and I simply must raise and lower my voice at the appropriate places – I feel the urge to shout, “Lord Angus, Thou hast lied!” and “And dar’st thou then, to beard the lion in his den, the Douglas in his hall…no, by St. Bride of Bothwell, NO!” You have to put emphasis on those words or else you just don’t get the meaning. When the poem shifts to Douglas at the second stanza, you must fold your arms across your chest stubbornly. And at the end of the poem, you simply must shake your “clench-ed hand” at invisible towers. Oo! This is just TOO exciting! I want to run around quoting this poem.

"Cuddle Doon"

"Cuddle Doon"

Alexander Anderson

This is such a sweet poem! It reminds me so much of my own younger days of bedtime…and of putting the young Stuckwisch boys to bed while babysitting. I’d love to memorize this one, but I’d slaughter it: I really have no idea of the correct pronunciation for some of those words, even if I do have Scottish blood in my ancestry. No, I didn’t misspell anything.
I especially appreciate the last verse.

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi’ muckle fash an’ din.
“Oh, try and sleep, ye waukrife rogues;
Your faither’s comin’ in.”
They never heed a word I speak.
I try to gie a froon;
But aye I hap them up, an’ cry,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

Wee Jamie wi’ the curly heid –
He aye sleeps next the wa’ –
Bangs up an’ cries, “I want a piece” –
The rascal starts them a’.
I rin an’ fetch them pieces, drinks –
They stop awee the soun’ –
Then draw the blankets up, an’ cry,
“Noo, weanies, cuddle doon!”

But ere five minutes gang, wee Rab
Cries oot, frae ‘neath the claes,
“Mither, mak’ Tam gie ower at ance:
He’s kittlin’ wi’ his taes.”
The mischief’s in that Tam for tricks;
He’d bother half the toon.
But aye I hap them up, an’ cry,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

At length they hear their father’s fit;
An’ as he steeks the door,
They turn their faces to the wa’,
While Tam pretends to snore.
“Hae a’ the weans been gude?” he asks,
As he pits aff his shoon.
“The bairnies, John, are in their beds,
An’ lang since cuddled doon.”

An’ just afore we bed oorsels,
We look at oor wee lambs.
Tam has his airm roun’ we Rab’s neck,
An’ Rab his airm roun’ Tam’s.
I lift wee Jamie up the bed,
An’ as I straik each croon,
I whisper, till my heart fills up,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi’ mirth that’s dear to me;
But soon the big warl’s cark an’ care
Will quaten doon their glee.
Yet come what will to ilka ane,
May he who rules aboon
Aye whisper, though their pows be bald,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

Ketchuping! or some such thing.

I WILL hopefully write something about graduation and open houses and other such events. Hopefully is the key word in that sentence.

I just had the greatest conversation with Snap de Gopher, which, by the way, is the reason that I am up this late.

Dr. John Eck is a juvenile crow. We "found" him when he was an "abandoned" nestling last week and fed him until he was old enough to fly about three days ago. He's been in the trees around our house since then. Today, the good Doctor grew brave enough to venture from the security of his perch down to the porch and eat out of my hand (and Snap's).

And by the way, we have an inner tube that can hold two cows....Ask Snap for details :D

Until whenever we meet again,

Hobbit who needs hair on her feetses to be a real hobbit.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dr. Eck Returns!

I can't believe it! Oh Joy Inexpressible!

Dr. John Eck came back! If you don't know who Dr. Eck is, read Snap's blog; I'm sure she must have mentioned him/her by now.

And Dr. Eck ate out of my hand (and Snap's) too!

And we aren't violating federal law either because Dr. Eck isn't in captivity! He came back on his own.

Back to work.