L'Abri Journals...ACGray
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Chalet L'Abri @ Massanutten

This website updates my life journey following my move from Arbreux (See: Letters from Arbreux at https://acgray.tripod.com/index.htm) Thanks to over 5000 readers who have trailed me around the globe. L'Abri is my new home in the Massanutten facing the Blue Ridge Mountains.


Some day after mastering the wind,

The waves, the tides, and gravity,

We shall harness for God the energies of Love.

And then, for the second time in the history of the world,

Man will have discovered fire.

Teilhard de Chardin

These journals are my outreach to friends and pen pals around the globe to share my life journey and spiritual journey. I welcome email and personal correspondence: My current address is:
395 Flower Drive, McGaheysville, VA 22840

We aren't responsible for any history that reaches back before our own day.  But we are responsible for what happens here and now so far as our influence and opportunities are concerned.  And the Lord God who gave us what we have will not hold us guiltless if indifferently we fail to enter into all that is expected of us if indifferently we let the issues of the day be decided by default.   Richard L. Evans, May Peace Be With You

 LAbri @ Massanutten, November 6, 2001.a page from my journalacg

 The events of September 11th have sobered my thoughts as this Thanksgiving season draws near.   I muse that this season of harvest  is surely a time for taking inventory of all my blessings as did those who celebrated that first American Thanksgiving.  I send up a Deo Gratis for all the good things that have come my way this eventful year, for my long life- journey filled with adventures around the globe, for wondrous acquaintance and companionship of abiding friends found on every continent, for an abundant measure of good health down through the years (and for the times of illness that made me appreciate the wisdom of healthful living), for the immeasurable good fortune of having been born an American with all the legacy and privileges of freedom, for the diligence of teachers and mentors who guided my early days and those who influence these latter days, for the dedicated service of  all who have made my way through life more safe, more secure, more joyful, more meaningful, more spiritually rich and blessed. 

          Richard Evans wrote that in its own way, the Thanksgiving season is the evidence of the fruition of faith.  It is, in fact, the substance of things hoped for with the fruits of the field before us, the things that give us sustenance, the rich, bounteous blessings which are ours by the goodness of God, because someone had the faith to plow and to plant and because God gave the increase.  I add my gratitude for God-given intelligence and the ability to think, for the priceless privilege of life, for the conviction that life has meaning and purpose, for every motivation to repent of wrongs and strive to be a better and more sensitive person to the struggles of those who cross my path.  Give me dear Lord, I pray, the will to hope and plow and plant so that my life work may make lighter the burdens of others.

          We have had warm windy Indian Summer days here in the Massanutten.  Blowing leaves,  magnificent morning sunrises over the Blue Ridge, and the remorseless ticking clock mark my days.   As for man, his days are as grass:  as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone;  and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting   Psalm 103:15-17.

  Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;  though the waters thereof rage and swell, and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.   Psalm 46:2-3

So if you are wondering what to do with your love, then take it and go to hell with it.  Go where people are sinning and suffering, and give the love of God to those who need it most.  But bear in mind that you may not be welcomed because there are those who love the hell they live in.  It is their home and home is where the heart is.  Fortunately, however, we never know who they will be, and so the only solution is to go.  It is to invade evils domain with the liberating love of Jesus, and to help him set free as many as will accept freedom.

                                    M. Dewey Tyson, Love is for Living

 LAbri at Massanutten

a page from my journal Dec. 5, 2001acg

A huge flock of geese V-ed their way over the Massanutten again last week, reminding me that all was right with our world, whatever madness men might conjure.  We are nearing the end of this strangely warm autumn in the Shenandoah, but yesterday morning a magnificent white frost adorned our valley in advent of winter on our topside of the world.  (My friend Rosemary Johnson in Bluff, New Zealand reminded me in her letter that Christmas arrives in midsummer on her now topside of the world!)  But here at LAbri, the pellet stove awaits the first snow of the season and my thoughts go out to friends around the globe, remembering other times, other places, other Christmas seasons.  How blessed I am with warm memories and enduring friendships.  God Bless all who will receive this journal page. 

For me it takes only a reading of the greatest story ever from the King James Version of Dr. Lukes gospel to evoke the Christmas spirit in all its meaning and fullness.  I suspect that the same evils and fears in our world must have been there 2000 thousand years ago when our Lord Jesus was born.  I read the story again today from my Interpreters Bible along with this exposition from Walter Russell Bowie:  Yet the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation is precisely in the fact that those things were so.  For in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and all that the life of Jesus was afterwards to reveal, there is the message that not only is there a God, but that God comes very near.  To believe that God is above us is one thing.  To believe that God is a strength sufficient for us is another and still more inspiring confidence.  But to believe that God is not only almighty, that He is not only all-sufficient, but that He is God with us, God the near, the understanding and the intimate that is the best of all.  The eternal God coming down into human life, the meaning of the infinite entering into expression at a particular point in time, is a stupendous theme.  The world naturally would have expected to have it framed in some mighty portent, some shaking of the earth and skies, some focusing of the whole worlds attention upon this event which swiftly should dominate its age.  Instead, there is the stripping away of all of the worlds pride before the immense simplicity of God.  In this story of heavenly contrasts, where the humblest circumstances of our human life are lifted up into immortal poetry, the gospel of redemption is set forth.  God, who is the source and meaning of all life, reveals Himself in the little child coming unnoticed in the stable of the unregarded town.  It is as though the eternal holiness and beauty said: I will not let you think that in some rare place and privilege life will attain its ultimate fulfillment.  Here in this lowly place, here in the commonest environment, I came to dwell with you.  Here and not elsewhere is Emmanuel.   (Over please)

  LAbri @ Massanutten, January 6, 2002ADacg

             I look out my study windows on winter at last.  The good earth is mantled in white as it was meant to be on this cold January day.  I have the blessed reprieve of silence; only the bearable whir of my heat pump fan and the click of my pellet stove invade my hearing.  No television, no stereo, no human voices to interrupt my inner sanctum.  Such times are rare and precious and gloriously satisfying and sorely needed in my noisy world, so I savor these moments with gratitude.

            This morning unmistakable flashes of white gave them away -- five graceful does were scampering in the deep woods back of the chalet, their white tails signaling their presence.  This was before it began to snow; intuitively, they must have known the snow was on its way.  How easily it would have been for me to have missed them, but Providence ordained that I should set eyes on them, a reminder of how often their kin had appeared in the back meadow at Arbreux, and once more the sober majesty and wonder of where I live and the blessing of life itself.

            Ive made only one New Years resolution:  to redeem the timeto find productive things to keep active my hands, my mind, my heartmy soul.   Thoreau at Walden Pond wisely concluded that the saddest commentary on life was to come to the end of it realizing that one has never really lived.  Theres a marvelous line from Auntie Mame:  Life is a banquet and most damned fools are starving to death.  Leo Buscaglia in one of his lectures told about a severe earthquake in Los Angeles when his living room fell in and the fireplace collapsed:  Suddenly it taught us the value of things; it showed us that things were stupid, that all we had was us.  I walked out of the house with everything falling around me.  It was just dawn and there was a streak of light coming over the sky.  I have a great big flowering peach in the back yard.  Well, there it was, flowering its head off.  And all of sudden, in a split second it occurred to me:  the beautiful world is going on, with or without you.You are all you have.  Therefore, make yourself the most beautiful, tender, wonderful, fantastic person in the worldYou can only give away what you have, and so you damned well better work at getting something.  You want to be the most educated, the most brilliant, the most exciting, the most versatile, the most creative individual in the world, because then you can give it away; and the only reason you have anything is to give it away.

            Leo Rosten gives me more inspiration for this new year:  In some way, however, small and secret, each of us is a little madEveryone is lonely at bottom and cries to be understood;  but we can never entirely understand someone else, and each of us remains part stranger even to those who love usYou can understand people better if you look at them no matter how old or impressive they may beas if they were children.  For most of us never mature; we simply grow tallerHappiness comes only when we push our brains, and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capableThe purpose of life is to matter to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we lived at all.

 LAbri @ Massanutten, Feb 3, 2002a page from my journalacg

Recent balmy mid-winter days were unseasonably warm but a sudden change to sharply frigid temperatures after yesterdays appearance of Punxatawney Phil, reminds me that six more weeks of winter remain.  I neither fret nor complain about the elements, remembering snows in May and near freezing weather in June.  I take whatever falls from heaven, and reflect that a wise Administrator of the Universe is fully in charge.  As in long-ago seasons of my memory, hardy daffodils have popped up their antennas to periscope our world.  These harbingers of Resurrection are provocative arbiters of hope and new beginnings, focusing my thoughts on where I have been and where I am going with my life.  Goethe whimsically wrote of Nature: We are surrounded and embraced by her: powerless to separate ourselves from her, and powerless to penetrate beyond her. Without asking, or warning, she snatches us up into her circling dance, and whirls us on until we are tired, and drop from her arms."

Simultaneously now reading:  John Steinbecks East of Eden; John Bunyans The Acceptable Sacrifice-- The Excellency of a Broken Heart; Paul Therouxs The Happy Isles of Oceania; and The Nature Reader, an anthology of essays by Thoreau, John Muir, Annie Dillard, and many others.  All are welcome companions, taking me on armchair adventures, recalling warm memories of my own travels and aiding in my constant quest for a life that matters.  On my nightstand also:  E. Stanley Jones Abundant Living.   I take notes and record quotes for brooding.  Paul Theroux:  There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail knowing that everything you need is on your back.  It is a confidence in having left all inessentials behind, and of entering a world of natural beauty which has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a deadweight.  The person with the fewest possessions is the freest:  Thoreau was right. 

Writing in Walden, Henry David Thoreau summed up our times more than a century ago: Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where their household echoes haunt, and their life pines because it breathes its own breath over again; their shadows, morning and evening, reach farther than their daily steps. We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.

John Bunyan: A man that has no pain or bodily distress cannot find or feel value or good in the cast applied to arm or leg Oh!  but apply this plaster cast to where there is need, and the patient will appreciate and taste, and savour the goodness to them.  He will prize and commend them to others.  Thus it is in spiritual things.  The world does not know what the anguish or pain of a broken heart means.  They say, Who will show us any good?  We are better off to find it in our sports, pleasures, estates and entertainments.But what say the distressed man?  Why, Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us and then adds, Thou hast put gladness in my heart, namely by the light of Thy countenance; for that is the plaster of a broken heart.

E. Stanley Jones: Life is not built for negative achievement it is made for positive contribution, for outgoing love.  He who loves not, lives not; and he who loves most, lives most. The creative love is the love that stimulates, helps, awakens others.  And as it stimulates, it is itself stimulated; as it awakens, it is awakened.  Love ever gives, Forgives, outlives, And ever stands with open hands;  And while it lives, it gives, For this is loves prerogative: To give, and give, and give.  And while it gives it lives, For this is loves prerogative: To live and live and live You can never get rid of your own troubles unless you take upon yourself the troubles of others.

LAbri, March 4, 2002,

 a page from my journal .acg

           Comes now March once more.  Classify it as you wish early spring or late winter.  Here today it looks like spring but feels very much like winter.  A sharp breeze pushed by a front that brought a blizzard to the Midwest must mystify the flock of migrating woodpeckers playing merry-go-round on the tall pines in front of my house.  This is my first spring at LAbri so Im reaping the benefit of someone elses planting; the daffodils out my study window are bringing me joy! 

The month is full of special days:  St. Patricks of course, after the Ides of March, followed by Palm Sunday and Easter at months end.  By the Equinox, my herb garden will be a patch of green. This month, too, marks the tenth anniversary of my move to the Shenandoah Valley.  Today the Blue Ridge is majestically etched on the Eastern horizon pure serendipity.

            Rain, blessed rain, came to our valley this past weekend and put out a fire in the Shenandoah National Park visible from my house.  In six days the fire consumed nearly 4000 acres of forest.  The first night I could see flames shooting angrily up the mountain just nine miles distant.  But the weekend rain also gave our Massanutten a benevolent soaking, so desperately needed.  I send up a Deo Gratis.

            I am absorbed for the moment with reading Colin Thubrons In Siberia.  Written in exquisitely elegant prose, Thubron finds a land of spectacular natural beauty.  In counterpoise to the horrors of Solzhenitzens well documented Gulag is the extraordinary compassion Thubron encounters, where people shower him with hospitality despite the pathetic meagerness of their resources.  One reviewer wrote that perhaps the core to Siberia turns out to be an unshakeable desire to believe, a quintessentially Russian hopefulness that is born of faith.  Thubron traces it from Dostoevsky through the wreckage of communism to present day Siberia.  There, too, in Siberias Vladivostok, I lived one unforgettable summer. 


Sometimes we hear of people who profess indifference to death.  But no man who himself comes close to death or who sees someone he loves leave this life is indifferent to death.  When we face the fact that cherished associations here are moving ever nearer an earthly end, we inevitably think deeply of death and the promise of eternal life.  And as we face the uncertainties of this world, we are grateful for faith and assurance for the future And those who have lost those they love and those who look to the end of this life may rely on the reality that life is limitless, that truth and intelligence and personality are perpetuated, and that the path was pointed and the way was opened by Him who returned from death to life on that first Easter day.      

Richard L. Evans, Tonic for Our Times

 ..for it really matters not in my relationship with you whether your concept of God takes the form of a person or a spirit or a symbol of mystic power or the source of light as long as we both know that we are a part of the stream that had its source at some level above the wisdom of man and even with our many differences of personality and temperament can yet reach out to touch each others heart when unexpected beauty lifts us for the moment above ourselves and gives wings to the soul---     Winston O. Abbott, Letters from Chickadee Hill

 On the web: Letters from Arbreux - (find on any search engine; or simply search for "A. C. Gray"). This website includes the log of my journey around the world on a modern containership and information about my books: Pondering My Passage and Pondering Another Passage. 

Email:  Arbreux@hotmail.com

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