Savoring My Passage - the monthly journal of A. C. Gray

March 2011

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Savoring Every Moment
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Moments of Reason
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Bridgewater, March 2011

Savoring My Passage…acg


Already intimations of Spring in our Shenandoah Valley are lifting spirits as gradually the days grow longer and the median temperatures rise.   Just as faithful and predictable as the rotation of the stars in our own Milky Way, green periscopes of daffodils and crocus are peeping up in the small garden that fronts my villa, evidence that life goes on after winter’s deepfreeze.  Migrating birds populate the fields hereabout.  Wild geese in V formations are once more a common daily delight in these precincts.  Snow caps on the distant Appalachians are quickly diminishing.  The Valley is magical at this time of year.  Even the rare sheep and goat herds seem to know that winter will soon be past.


John Walsh in his biography of Francis Thompson, Strange Harp, Strange Symphony, tells his life story parallel to the rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking “What can I do to inherit eternal life?” In the account of Mark’s gospel, Jesus responds that he should give his riches to the poor, take up his cross and follow Jesus.  “Jesus, looking at him, loved him”, writes Mark.  Mark is the only gospel writer of this story that interjects that sentence.  Could it be possible that Mark himself was that rich young ruler?  With some scholars of the Bible, I believe he was. 


    Francis Thompson was a derelict addicted to opium living on the streets of London trying to “find himself”

…searching for life’s meaning.  Through a series of remarkable experiences, Thompson felt a Presence loving and caring for him despite his addictions and living with guilt and depression, knowing that he was not using his remarkable intellect and living a wasted life. He knew innately that he was running from God.  Thompson began writing poetry and prose on scraps of paper found on the streets which he mailed to the editor of a magazine called Merry England.  The editor recognized his literary genius and encouraged him. 

In one of his more rational moments, Thompson conceived of God as The Hound of Heaven.  These lines began the poem that made him famous:

              “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

                        I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

                   I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

                        Of my own mind….”

                 Up vistaed hopes I sped   And shot precipitated

                           Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears

                    From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

                         But with unhurrying chase, And perturbed pace,

                    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

                         They beat –and a Voice beat

                         More instant than the Feet—

                  ‘All things betray thee who betrayest Me.’


In the gospel story of Jesus healing the blind man, we are told that after he was healed and questioned, even badgered repeatedly by the Pharisees about how he was healed, he asked them “Why are you questioning me like this about Jesus?  Do you want to become His disciples yourselves?”

Outraged, they cast him out of the synagogue and banned him from communion.  When he heard about this, John’s gospel tells us that Jesus went in search for and found him. 

Jesus found him.  --The gospel reduced to three words.


“We talk so much about finding God, finding the secret of life and of an authentic existence, finding an answer to the soul’s eternal quest – as though the search were all on our side, and if we did not take the initiative no one else would.  But the whole New Testament declares that this is utterly mistaken.  It tells that in the background all the time there is another quest going on, far surer than your quest for God or mine:  God’s quest for you and me.  And it is a wonderful thing to realize that, whatever your longing to find God may be, it is as nothing compared with the passionate longing in God’s heart to find you.  James S. Stewart in a sermon On Making Faith Explicit



 We look for visions from heaven and for earth-shaking events to see God’s power…..Yet we never realize that all the time God is at work in our everyday events and in the people around us.  If we will only obey, and do the task that He has placed closest to us, we will see Him.  One of the most amazing revelations of God comes to us when we learn that it is in the everyday things of life that we realize the magnificent deity of Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest