The second best thing...

to actually watching The Tree of Life is listening to it from two rooms over. This movie has one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever.


First Sunday of Advent


For we are fallen like the trees, our peace
Broken, and so we must
Love where we cannot trust, and
Trust where we cannot know
And must await the wayward-coming grace
That joins both the living and the dead,
Taking us where we would not go–
Into the boundless dark.
When what was made has been unmade
The Maker comes to His work.

(Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1999)

There's something about the boundless dark of the Advent season. It's not a dark that will stay, "for the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing" (TS Eliot). But it's not light yet.

And so we wait. Come, Lord Jesus.


Splashes of Color





"We will have nothing less than heaven."

"My prayer for all of you is that you prefer nothing else to Christ, that your hope of glory continually be Christ and Him crucified, and that you may daily take up your crosses, made lighter by the Word who carried the heavy load of our sins, and follow Him wheresoever he goes. I have no "warm fuzzies" to give you. I only have a cross, and the Eternal Word made flesh who was nailed to it. May you see in that a source of strength for the tough road we must all face, and may it inform your moments of joy and you moments of sorrow. Yes, it is ok to be sorrowful, but with this caveat: never give way to despair. There are sorrowful moments in life, and the proper response is sorrow. But when we sorrow, we sorrow not as the pagans do, without hope, but as people of faith, formed in hope, and with charity as our end. We will have nothing less than heaven."

I woke up to find this in my inbox. My Torrey mentor, the wonderful Dr. Llizo, sent this to all of his mentees.

Exactly what I needed to read today.


When words fail...

looking around and finding light helps.


It'll Pass

It'll pass, it'll pass
So, I say to myself and know it is true
But the truth doesn't help
You help and light helps and shadows that sway
And all those words I think and keep locked away
Till they splutter and fade
Like candles in the dark
And all that remains
Are small pieces of heart.


"For us, there is only the trying"

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

(TS Eliot - Four Quartets: East Coker)


I turned twenty today. And because school doesn't stop for birthdays, I woke up promptly at 6:30 am and didn't return home until 10. The day was both long and weary, but there were surprising moments of joy and pure beauty.

Sometime around 1, I was utterly exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I felt weak and lost. So, I went to the olive grove. It's quiet, removed from the busy-ness of classrooms and dorms. And green (for the most part). I sat there and forgot time for a bit. The light sifted through the trees, and the wind made me feel alive.

I know this isn't new to anyone who has read my blog - this cycle of pain, exhaustion, and then coming to rest in peace and even joy. It's not new to me, but something I have to continually learn and relearn. I'm realizing today how much gratitude plays a part in being alive, in banishing the weariness and apathy. I love that the words grace and gratitude have the same root. Gratitude is a way of seeing the beautiful grace that is all around us.

So I sat there in the olive grove, and decided to be part of the "trying" that Eliot talks about. I made lists of 20s in my journal: 20 people I love, 20 places that feel like home, 20 beautiful memories, 20 conversations that have changed me, 20 shades of blue. And with each list, I gained a deeper love for this strange and unusual place called earth.

Earlier, a friend had asked me if I was happy, and that was a hard question to answer honestly. But after that time of seeing and listing beauty, I honestly could say I was happy. Not in a bouncy sense, but in a grounded happiness that comes from seeing and experiencing grace and beauty.

There is a crushing joy that crackles in every corner of this world. I am tiny and yet I am here. I have been given sense, awareness, existence, and placed on a stage so crowded with the vast, so teeming with the tiny, that I can do nothing but laugh, and sometimes laugh and cry.

Living makes dying worth it.

(ND Wilson, Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl)


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