dual personalities

Tag: Henry David THoreau

“In the long run, you hit only what you aim for.”*

Well, my hard week is almost over, but next week doesn’t look much better.😩

C’est la vie.

I  plan to have a restorative weekend. We all have our personal self-comforting techniques and I will utilize all of mine.Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 5.37.41 PM.png

T.G.I.F. Enjoy your weekend.

*Henry David Thoreau

 

This is the day

Good morning! There’s nothing like some Mandisa to start your day off right! And it is important to start your day off right.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

(Psalm 118:24)

My mother, who was not one to scold or correct, did tell me once, when I was grousing about something as an adolescent, that this is the day which the Lord has made, and you ought not to complain about it, but, indeed, rejoice about it. And for Pete’s sake, don’t waste it! That advice struck a cord in me and I never forgot it.

IT IS A MOMENT of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there will never be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.

“This is the day which the Lord has made,” says the 118th Psalm. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. The point is to see it for what it is because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing.

All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from them. Today is the only day there is.

– Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations 

I may have said all this before, but it bears repeating. Write it on your heart.

And here’s a little Stephen Stills on the subject:

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice…

Deep thoughts

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I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite — only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next 1000 years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! My extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it — for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

–Henry David Thoreau, Letter to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (December 1856), as published in The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau (1958)

Thankfulness is an essential guardian of the soul, and therefore we should guard ourselves with gratitude. Evidently we are fair game for the devil when we don’t abound with thanksgiving. Unless the song of thanksgiving is being sung in our hearts the enemy outside will deceive his way into the city of our soul, and the enemy sympathizers within will make his job easy. So for the sake of your own safety, strive to fill your heart with thanksgiving! Guard yourselves with gratitude!

–John Piper

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

–A General Thanksgiving, BCP

(The painting is J. Alden Weir, 1859-1919, American Impressionist painter)

A thrill of delight

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Books of natural history make the most cheerful winter reading. I read in Audubon with a thrill of delight, when the snow covers the ground, of the magnolia, and the Florida keys, and their warm sea breezes; of the fence-rail, and the cotton-tree, and the migrations of the rice-bird; of the breaking up of winter in Labrador, and the melting of the snow on the forks of the Missouri; and owe an accession of health to these reminiscences of luxuriant nature.

—Henry David Thoreau, “Natural History of Massachusetts”

Here’s to some cheerful winter reading!

The painting is “Vermont Valley Farm – Winter” by Aldro Thompson Hibbard (American, 1886-1972)

“See! the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love”*

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It’s tiger lily time in flyover country. They are everywhere! I do love these heat-loving beauties. And, boy, this weekend was a hot one!

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I went to three estate sales (no luck) and did a little shopping of the home-store variety.  I went to church. Other than that, it was strictly inside for me this weekend: I yakked on the phone and worked on some inside projects. It warmed my heart that daughter #1 in Mid-MO went estate-saleing and was more successful than I.

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I finished reading The Bondwoman’s Narrative, a 19th century novel by Hannah Craft and possibly the first novel written by an African-American woman. (Daughter #2 had left it at home for me.) In 2013 Crafts’ identity was documented as Hannah Bond, an enslaved African-American woman on the plantation of John Wheeler and his wife Ellen in Murfreeboro, North Carolina. Bond served there as a lady’s maid to Ellen Wheeler, and escaped about 1857, settling finally in New Jersey.  Here’s a review of this very interesting and well-written book by the great Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books.

I should mention that yesterday, besides being Father’s Day, was also Bunker Hill Day, which commemorates the battle of Bunker Hill on June 17. It is also the birthday of our maternal grandfather, who was always known as Bunker because he was born on Bunker Hill Day in 1900.

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Here’s an appropriate word from old Henry David Thoreau in honor of Bunker:

The fishermen sit by their damp fire of rotten pine wood, so wet and chilly that even smoke in their eyes is a kind of comfort. There they sit, ever and anon scanning their reels to see if any have fallen, and, if not catching many fish, still getting what they went for, though they may not be aware of it, i.e. a wilder experience than the town affords.

(December 26, 1856)

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Today is a busy day for me and I have to pick up the wee babes and their parents at the airport tonight at 9:00 pm–way past my bedtime!

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All in a day’s work.

Have a good one.

*Hymn 522, John Newton; the painting is by N.C. Wyeth, “Thoreau Fishing”

“Sit down, you’re rocking the boat”*

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Funny story: when I was returning from my trip east on Tuesday, my carryon bag was detained when it went through security at BWI. I had to wait while another TSA agent came over to check things out. He said, “It looks like you have a book in there.”

“Yes,” I said, thinking, is a book a problem?

He opened up my suitcase and rooted around until he found the 640-page Henry David Thoreau: A Life, which daughter #2 had given me in my welcome goodie bag of treats. He whiffled through the pages, but didn’t come up with anything, so he put it back inside and we closed up the bag.

Then he said, “Do you mind if I ask you what that book is about?”

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“It’s the new biography of Thoreau,” I said. “What do you think he’d make of all this?” I chuckled.

He chuckled too, but he had no idea what I was talking about.

“I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.” (Civil Disobedience)

That’s what I thought.

Well, this weekend will be a busy one. Carla and I are hosting a bridal shower at my house for our friend Becky’s future daughter-in-law. Daughter #1 is coming into town to make the champagne punch!

Can’t wait to see the wee babes–it’s been two weeks!

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And can you believe it, Sunday is Palm Sunday! Time for the Passion story and the Grace Church showcase of lay reader stars. It is also time to catch up with some Lenten movie fare. Indeed, it may be time to dust off Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and get down to business. Holy Week is upon us.

*Nicely-Nicely in Guys and Dolls

Love your life

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Tuesday when I was driving home it happened to be just the right time to experience those few moments known as “the Golden Hour” –when the sun is just at the point on the horizon that the light is redder and softer than usual. At this time of year, it hits the golden and orange leaves of the trees and turns them into molten gold.

Anyway, I was trying to stay on the road while looking east at the trees and not burst into tears. Does this happen to you? Happily I made it safely to the grocery store where I then got a look at an amazing sunset right there in the parking lot. The horizon was a blazing orange under a ceiling of clouds. Amazing!

Then I went in and bought my food. The most incredible stuff goes on around us all the time!

I have quoted this before, but it bears repeating:

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
―Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

Happy Thanksgiving!

(The painting is by Albert Bierstadt, 1886)

Deep thoughts for Wednesday

Today is St. Crispin’s Day and the 602nd anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt!

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It is also two months until Christmas! Have you started planning for Christmas?

I have–just barely. But I have been thinking about it. This year, in addition to daughter #2 visiting, we will have her husband staying with us. Zut alors! We will also have grandchildren present for the first time. (Last year they were in the NICU.) And daughter #1 will be driving in from central MO, not jetting in from NYC, praying for good weather. Times change faster than the blink of an eye.

This all got me thinking about the passing of time, which sometimes can be a bit depressing. So here are a few thoughts to get you thinking as well.

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
―Martin Luther

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
―Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.”
―Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

Do you see yourself as a leaf blown by the wind or someone on the road and growing in righteousness? Or are you fishing and gazing at the sandy bottom?

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Discuss among yourselves.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life

The fall season always brings me back to New England–not literally, but in my imagination–and a poem by Longfellow seems appropriate. It is good to read these old poems, so out of fashion these days, but full of good stuff!

I would like to join the throngs of leaf-peepers, but I will have to be satisfied with flyover landscapes this year.  Here are a few paintings of New England landscapes to whet the whistle, so to speak.

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Eric Sloane

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Winslow Homer

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Robert Wesson

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Alden Bryan, 1955

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Luigi Lucioni, Village of Stowe, 1931

And here’s a little Thoreau to wind things up:

Minott is, perhaps, the most poetical farmer–who most realizes to me the poetry of the farmer’s life–that I know. He does nothing with haste and drudgery, but as if he loved it. He makes the most of his labor, and takes infinite satisfaction in every part of it. He is not looking forward to the sale of his crops or any pecuniary profit, but he is paid by the constant satisfaction which his labor yields him.

A Writer’s Journal

And read this from the Big Surprise file…

“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”*

IMG_2749.JPGWell, I’m back from my whirlwind weekend in New York. We arrived on Friday around noon, and while the OM napped, daughter #1 and I hiked through Central Park and visited a few of our favorite UWS spots. Then we cleaned up and went to happy hour, dinner and the wonderful Morgan Library.

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IMG_2751.JPGwhere we saw the Thoreau exhibit.

IMG_2757.JPGThe next day we had breakfast with daughter #1 who then went off to work and we headed to the Guggenheim Museum.

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The building is quite amazing and the collections it houses are fun to see although not really my thing. But I did finally get to see some wonderful Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. (He has always fascinated me.)

IMG_2763.JPGThen we set off to Long Island for the Big Wedding at Oheka Castle.

1200x1200_1386870737947-ohekacastle130buildresizedwe.jpgYes, that Oheka Castle. I think Peta and Maks were married there…but believe you me, their wedding didn’t have anything on this one.

IMG_2769.JPGWell, we headed home on Sunday and it sure was nice to get back to our flyover home. I can only take so much of cab and Uber rides and busy, busy streets and all. those. people!

*H.D. Thoreau,Walden