L'Abri Journals...ACGray

February 2002
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Punxatawney Phil & February

LAbri @ Massanutten, Feb 3, 2002....a page from my journal...acg

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.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  Deuteronomy 33:27