Arbreux, January 26, 2001. A page from my journal . . . acg

If I had a piece of life... I wouldn't let a single day pass without telling the people I love that I love them. I would convince each woman and each man that they are my favorites, and I would live in love with love. 

I would show men how very wrong they are to think that they cease to be in love when they grow old, not knowing that they grow old when they cease to be in love…. 

I have learned that when a newborn child squeezes for the first time with his tiny fist in his father's finger, he has him trapped forever. 

I have learned that a man has the right to look down on another only when he has to help the other get to his feet.


Living with a love like His inside of us in a world like ours is a burden, but a burden unlike all others; it gives us wings to fly, lifts us up with joy unspeakable.We are magically in an instant of thought whisked to another Kingdom and another world.  The Holy Spirit has invaded us and tells us we are redeemed and free from the past…all its wrongs, all its woes.  It is a burden only in the sense that we are charged to tell this exceedingly good news to all we encounter along our pilgrim way.” 

I wrote that statement to corral my thoughts after studying again Luke’s intriguing story of Zacchaeus, the short little man who climbed up into a tree so that he might see Jesus whom he had been told would soon be passing by.  What surprised him was that Jesus “looked up” and saw him and then invited Himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house!  This was the publican whom everyone loathed because he collected the hated taxes for Rome.  But Jesus loved Him.  And Zacchaeus was transformed saying, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him forefold.”  This story should warm our hearts anew in February, the month with a theme of love and Valentines. 

The most often told fable of St. Valentine was that he gave everyone gifts on his own birthday, reversing the conventional practice of receiving gifts.  I consult my encyclopedia and find that Saint Valentine was a Christian martyr killed during the reign of Emperor Claudius in the late 3rd century A. D.  Though he has long been the patron saint of lovers, the custom of sending valentines on his feast day is only indirectly connected to the saint.

The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day had their origin in England and France during the Middle Ages when it was observed that half way through the second month, i.e., 14 February, birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:  For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.  Saint Valentines feast day was thus consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters to those who chose each other.  

The monogamous birds of Arbreux will soon be pairing on cue, but today they are content to make untold visits to my feeders.  Bluejays, finches, chickadees, cardinals, wrens, woodpeckers, and more all share my woods and enrich my life.  I’ve found that striped sunflower seeds are their favorites, but now and then I pitch a handful of cashews and pecans.  I fancy that the birds think of me as incredibly wealthy, having a cache of nuts so large and delicious.  Alas, I am!

“Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in Love He sought me, And on His shoulders gently laid, And home, rejoicing brought me.”
Henry W. Baker, The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”I John 3:16

“Man has no choice but to love.  For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”  Leo Buscaglia

The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.  Somerset Maugham



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Arbreux, June 6, 1999. A page from my journal . . . acg


Joy of life

seems to me to arise from a sense of
being where one belongs…
of being foursquare with the life we have chosen.
All the discontented people I know
are trying sedulously to being something they are not,
to do something they cannot do…
It is curious, is it not…with how little wisdom
we farm the soils of our own natures.
We try to grow poetry where plumbing would
thrive grandly! — not knowing that plumbing
is as important and honourable and necessary
to this earth as poetry."

David Grayson, Adventures in Friendship


The winds of war affect us all directly or indirectly, and the tragic war in Kosova now takes me away from Arbreux for a few weeks. Tomorrow I will join a task group at Fort Dix, New Jersey involved in the resettlement of refugees.

Although my work will be administrative, I hope to personally visit with some of these people and offer them a thin straw of hope. I hope I can offer a warm hand of agape caring and friendship.

I came home just yesterday from Grand Rapids, Iowa. Along the sidewalks of that clean city for the Memorial Day weekend flags waved in bright sunshine on brisk windy days. I thought of Arlington Cemetery and Punch Bowl in Honolulu, and the thousands of crosses there, American flags waving as far as the eye can see.


"Long, where on glory’s fields they fell,
May freedom’s spotless banner wave,
And fragrant tributes grateful tell
Where live the free, where sleep the brave."
(Samuel F. Smith)


How wise were those who set aside this day of remembrance.

My good neighbor had mowed my lawn, enabling me to concentrate on doing my laundry and re-packing my bags for another mission. As I did so, I counted my blessings once more in earnest, comparing my lot not only with those homeless refugees of Kosova but also again with the poor and wretched around our globe, recalling the misery of so many places I had visited in Asia and Africa in my Peace Corps travels.

So to go away from Arbreux for a month or so, knowing I can return to tranquillity and this abundant life is not a sacrifice but a joy.

This is the year of the 17-year locust and this morning the forest roared with their cadence. I can hear their soliloquy tonight and they remind me that our universe is full of mystery and wonder, no matter other thoughts of the winds of war.


I am impatient these days; there is not enough time in this one life. I need more lives; I have made plans already for three or four. I could easily expand to ten or twenty, all full-flavored, ardent, interesting. Full of curiosity! Looking into the sciences one after another, traveling to unexplored places…reading all the good books I do not yet know… meeting every human being then alive… – to know, to talk, to love.

-- David Grayson, Under My Elm



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