L'Abri Journals...ACGray

May 2005
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Despite the shadows of death that darken our world, if you look carefully you see Easter resurrection breaking out everywhere….In the bright poppies, red azaleas, yellow daffodils, pink dogwoods, and white apple blossoms that paint the neighborhood in an extravaganza of spring-time color….In the human creativity of art and architecture, film and music, painting and photography.  In the self-sacrificial goodness of so many people the world over.  Magic is in the air.”

Dan Clendenin, in an essay, This Is The Message

Chalet L’Abri, May, 2005….Measuring My Days…acg        

            Although the calendar has already turned to May, my thoughts are still focused on Easter.   Preparing my Sunday school lesson for the sixth Sunday of Easter, I encountered Dan Clendenin’s provocative essay.  “And what exactly is the message (of Easter)?” he asks.  And responds:  “That God raised Jesus from the dead….”  That is still the greatest and most exceedingly good news ever these 2000 years hence.  The Resurrection message reigns supreme these spring days here on the eastern slopes of the Massanutten.  My  back woods are gloriously arrayed with pink redbuds floating in clouds of dogwood blossoms.  Now, too, mayapples are popped up umbrellas, shading their silky white flowers.  My world here is spring green once more, the forest alive and vibrant with a birdsong chorus, squirrel chatter, and bees buzzing their Gregorian chant.

          I have been reading Hal Borland, Edward Way Teale, Henry David Thoreau and other nature writers these days.  Thoreau, a life long mentor, to me seems to have lived the ideal life;  any effort to replicate him nowadays would be impossible.  Our century is too fast-paced, too filled with diversions, too worldly.  It is simply enough to bask in his nineteenth century idyllic words and appreciate his genius.  “If thou art a writer,” he penned, “write as if thy time were short, for it is indeed short at the longest.  Improve each occasion when thy soul is reached.  Drain the cup of inspiration to its last dregs.  Fear no intemperance in that, for the years will come when otherwise thou wilt regret opportunities unimproved.  The spring will not last forever.  These fertile and expanding seasons of thy life, when the rain reaches thy root, when thy vigor shoots, when thy flower is budding, shall be fewer and farther between.”(Jan 24, 1852) Such wisdom applies whatever one’s vocation or era.

     “I have no time to read newspapers.  If you chance to lie and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events which make the news transpire – thinner than the paper on which it is printed – then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or dive below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them.” (What would Thoreau think about 21st century television?, I ask myself.)….

      “My profession is to be always on the alert to find God in nature, to know His lurking places, to attend all the oratories, the operas, in Nature.  To watch for, describe, all the divine features which I detect in Nature.,,,,“I would keep some book of natural history always by me as a sort of elixir, the reading which would restore the tone of my system.  To him who contemplates a trait of natural beauty no harm nor disappointment can come.  The doctrines of despair, of spiritual or political tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as shared the serenity of nature.  The spruce, the hemlock, and the pine will not countenance despair.” Thoreau, On Man and Nature. 



“Every day do something that won't compute.  Love the Lord.  Love the world.  Work for nothing.  Love someone who doesn't deserve it.  Plant sequoias.  Be joyful even though you've considered the facts.  Practice resurrection."  Wendell Berry


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