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Mothers & Sons

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My favourite depiction of mother & son relationship is Christ & His Mother in “The Passion of the Christ”

“I knew you’d come! O Marmar! I did want you so! For a moment they kissed and clung to one another, quite forgetting all the world; for no matter how lost and soiled and worn-out wandering sons may be, mothers can forgive and forget every thing as they fold them in their fostering arms. Happy the son whose faith in his mother remains unchanged, and who, through all his wanderings, has kept some filial token to repay her brave and tender love.”

~ Chapter 12, Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott

In this chapter, five year old Rob gets lost in the woods with Nan during a berry picking expedition, due to Nan’s mischievous prank. At first he does panic slightly, at the realization of being lost, and as night slowly closes in on them. But he calms right down when he remembers that his mother will come looking for him, for his confidence in her is unshakable – he knows she will find him. His confidence in his mother and calm demeanor, waiting patiently for her to find them, gives hope to Nan (who was responsible for little Rob’s care) that they will indeed be found before too long.

Little Rob’s confidence in his mother is exactly the confidence every son should have in his mother. There was no question in his mind whether or not Jo would find him, but rather a question of how long it would take, considering they had strayed from the path. But even the question of time didn’t bother Rob, because he knew his mother wouldn’t rest until she had found him, until she had him in her arms. What a virtue to possess – the complete confidence of your son in your love for him.

Jo stops her search partner, young Dan, from yelling to the others once they were on Rob’s trail: “No, let me find them; I let Rob go, and I want to give him back to his father all myself.” When Jo comes upon her little son, sound asleep in the darkness, with his head in the sleeping Nan’s lap, she “softly lifted away the apron, and saw the little ruddy face below. The berry-stained lips were half-opened as the breath came and went, the yellow hair lay damp on the hot forehead, and both the chubby hands held fast the little pail still full. 

The sight of the childish harvest, treasured through all the troubles of that night for her, seemed to touch Mrs. Jo to the heart, for suddenly she gathered up her boy, and began to cry over him, so tenderly, yet so heartily, that he woke up, and at first seemed bewildered. Then he remembered, and hugged her close, saying with a laugh of triumph, – I knew you’d come! O Marmar!…” 

 

 

 

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A lesson from Bilbo

treeofgondor“But this is terrible!” cried Frodo. “Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”

“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”

                                                                                                        – ch 2, The Followship of the Ring

Never had I pondered Bilbo’s relatively healthy mental state before upon the beginning of The Fellowship. Considering he had been in possession of The Ring for decades, there was little evil effect upon his soul by the time he does give up the ring to Frodo. The Ring had wielded such power over Isildur in times gone by, Sméagol in more recent times, and others, who had not even come into contact with The Ring. So why hadn’t it proved to be such a powerful evil once again, manipulating and affecting the mind of a content little hobbit after it had finally slipped away from the grubby Gollum and back into the world for its chance to reach Sauron once again?

As the wise Gandalf tells us – it’s because of pity. Pity can be translated into empathy, empathy to mercy, mercy to love. The pity Bilbo had in his heart for the pathetic existence of the creature Gollum is a character defining trait. Gollum was a trickster, an evil spirited being with no more moral compass then a snake. He was prepared, and even fastening a plan during their exchange, to kill Bilbo right then and there. And yet, when Bilbo had the upper hand, he showed this vile creature mercy. The first life and character altering decision Bilbo made when in possession of the ring was one of pity, of mercy, of love for a fellow creature. It is exactly as Gandalf says: Bilbo begins his ownership of The Ring with pity, with mercy, with love. Because of this very first decision he makes with such power within his grasp, evil is held at bay, it doesn’t consume him the way it did Sméagol – who, we know, made the opposite decision, and killed his cousin Deagol for the ring, which ultimately leads to the killing of any humanity within him. Instead of becoming an unrecognizable creature, Bilbo remains the same, save for his prolonged age, and definite desire to keep the ring in his possession.

The last decision Bilbo made with the ring – to leave it to Frodo – is connected to his very first decision. How, after so many years, was he able to (reluctantly, sure) able to leave it, to walk away from it? His very first decision regarding the ring was made out of love. Undoubtedly the decisions we make in life affect our later decisions. Selfish decisions encourage more selfish decisions, selfless decisions encourage further selfless decisions, giving into temptation once makes it harder to avoid the next time, just as standing strong against temptation makes it easier to stay strong the next time. His very first decision made out of love, against such an evil (an evil so strong it fills a pleasant hobbit mind with murder within minutes of touching it), would have given such strength to Bilbo’s soul. Despite decades of possessing the ring, he was still able to draw from that strength, courage, love, to leave the ring when he knew it was time.

Like Bilbo, we can also propagate strength through the good decisions we make, or propagate evil through the bad decisions we make. With every strong & good decision made against our human weaknesses, we gain graces, making it easier to choose good the next time. Likewise, every time we fail to make the good decision, we are pulled further down, making it that much more difficult to make the good decision next time. A seed can easily be dug up, drowned out, eventually lost and forgotten among a sea of weeds. Or, with tender and consistent fostering, it can grow into an oak tree, producing more fruits itself.

Burdens, Roads, and Longings

“Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City.” – Marmee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, chapter 1.

Such plain and simple terms Marmee puts life into. The March sisters’ burdens have been given to them. They know exactly what they need to do with the circumstances they find themselves in, as far as daily tasks and duties are concerned. Perhaps not all the minute details are obvious, but the general work needing to be done is plain as day. The road stretched out before them, one of monotonous war and sacrifice, is clear and straightforward.

We all know the daily duties we also must face. The monotonous tasks, the everyday grind before us. Even if the future is uncertain, we still have the duties right in front of us that need doing. So we just need to do them. Without complaining, without dragging our feet. Walk firmly and steadily over all the rocks and ruts, and we’ll get to our destination in good time.

“…The longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes…” We all long for goodness in our lives. We all long for happiness. We all long for dreams to come true. When we scamper across quick sand, wade through a murky pond, or get lost in a forest of tall trees, this longing in our souls for goodness and happiness is what pulls us out of the quicksand, gets us to the other side of the pond, directs us through that close, dark forest. It draws us back to a path of hope, life and love. Goodness and happiness are inherent desires in our human nature. So it is natural and right that we should strive for both. This desire, this longing for goodness and happiness is exactly what we need to stay on the path to heaven.

St. Bernadette – quick & humorous

Lourdes, Santa Bernadette
I am currently reading a very detailed biography of one of my patrons, Bernadette Soubirous. There are several things that have popped out at me as being oddly familiar and similar (disclaimer: not comparing her sainthood with my attempts at it), but her response to persons of authority behaving unreasonably has to be the most comical I’ve come across yet. While I do my best not to be disrespectful, the humour in me can’t help but have a quick and somewhat sassy tongue. It is sometimes a vice, but sometimes just an imperfection. I find many things in life humorous, and it sometimes jumps out of my mouth before I can check it. The more I read of saints, the more I learn how human they really were, and the more I realize I, too, can become a saint, despite my sassy quips. I had a good laugh at the following scene, condensed for the

reader’s benefit:

Between the 11th and 12th apparitions at Lourdes, Constable Latapie was sent by Monsieur Rives, the Examining Magistrate, to bring Bernadette in for questioning and intimidation. Constable Latapie waited after High Mass, and asked the Sister accompanying the class of school girls who Bernadette was. When Bernadette came out of the church, he took her gently by the arm.

 
“Why are you taking her away?” asked the Sister, quickly becoming upset.

 
“I have orders.” the Constable replied.

 
“What do you want me for?” Bernadette asked.

 
“Little girl, you must come with us.” Constable Latapie replied.

 
Bernadette started to laugh and replied, “Hold me tight or I shall escape.”

 
Constable Latapie took Bernadette to Monsieur Rives’ (the Magistrate’s) house, and when they entered, M. Rives called out “are you there, you little rascal?” To which Bernadette replied, “Yes, sir, I am here.”

 
Monsieur Rives tried to intimidate Bernadette into answering questions “truthfully” and keep her from continuing to go to the grotto. “We are going to lock you up. What are you after at the grotto? Why do you make everybody run after you like this? There is somebody behind you driving you on to act like this. We are going to put you in prison.”
Bernadette replied: “I’m ready. Put me in there and make it solid and well fastened, or else I shall escape.”

 
❤ ❤ ❤

 
I absolutely love how little she was concerned by what they said or how they treated her. She knew she was doing right, and that’s all that mattered. No form of imprisonment or unjust accusations affected her in the least. She remained so calm in this entire scene (which is longer then what I’ve given you). And, despite her peace, she keeps her quick tongue flying in a way that throws her antagonists off, with humour.

 

Thrift Store Thrills

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I mean look at them.. Could you have resisted these!?

Red and I were out to dinner in an unfamiliar area a ways from our ridge, and popped into a thrift store I spotted a few doors before the restaurant. “Thrift” is such an alluring signage word, one never knows what treasures lie amid the piles of discarded items. I can’t help myself. And I don’t try to. It’s an innocent and lovely thrill. I must enter, and browse the shelves of old items that each have an history and story to tell of their own.

This was a very small shop, and (fortunately, for my wallet) scanty on the gold findings. There was a very small book section on a very small shelf, and took a very small amount of time to scan through. But in very small crisp black font on a very small orange spine, I read the word “Tennyson”. Before I knew what was happening, my arm had reached out, and pulled the small book off the small shelf – my heart slightly fluttering as my fingers flipped through it’s small pages and my eyes lay hold of the dainty illustrations surrounding the very small pages of poetry. I turned to the back cover and saw a small price tag marked $1.00. So I didn’t put it back on the shelf.

Continueing my scanning, another title popped out: “The Secret Garden.” I pulled it down, flipped through the pages with one quick sweep. The forest green spine was mint, not a single crease – an indication of its unread life. Having been sitting on a bookshelf, untouched, since the 90s (yes, I recognized the publishing era of my childhood on a classic novel), it was only right that it be given the opportunity of a proper life. I already have a copy of The Secret Garden. Fairy also already has a copy.

Reader, I bought it anyways. For the cost of $1.00.

This copy will sit on one of my bookshelves, awaiting its new home comfortably between two other beloved novels, until the person comes along whom this book has been waiting for, to enjoy its tale of friendship, adventure, learning and love, and rest easy on said persons bookshelf, knowing it is finally fulfilling its purpose, and waiting eagerly to be read again and again and again by hearts it deserves to be loved by.

Ahh the thrills that only a thrift or antique store can provide…

A Mere Passing: on living life for death

Photos“…Don’t be afraid, Ruby.”

“I can’t help it,” said Ruby pitifully. “Even if what you say about heaven is true – and you can’t be sure – it may be only that imagination of yours – it won’t be just the same. It can’t be. I want to go on living here. I’m so young, Anne. I haven’t had my life. I’ve fought so hard to live – and it isn’t any use – I have to go – and leave everything I care for.”

“Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life – the things that pass – forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other – from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there – Anne believes – she would learn – but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.”

– on the death of Ruby, Chapter 14, Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery

We all certainly have our own vision and idea of heaven, no doubt to be put to shame upon arriving there. But those imaginings are something we really all should have, in helping us to make heaven more real and kept at the forefront of our mind and heart through this life. If we don’t live for the higher things, what is there when we die? Ruby “laid up her treasures on earth only”, she never gave a thought to what lies ahead after death, or put effort into cultivating prayer and virtue in the hope of moving closer to heaven while still on earth. Naturally she was terrified to leave the only thing she knew. By striving to put our hearts, minds, intentions and acts a little bit closer to Our Lord everyday, we bring ourselves a little bit closer to heaven, so when the time does come to die, it doesn’t seem like such a far off, unfamiliar place. If we pray, ponder, and live for what comes after death, surely death will come as a welcomed friend – like waking from a dream to finally enter the reality we were made for: heaven.

 

2017 Review & 2018 Goals

2017 was a good year. Looking over my goals…

  1. Write/keep track of every novel I read this year. Success, in part. I have written about 13 books I read this past year. I didn’t keep track of every novel, for shame, since now I can’t remember all of them. I have a habit of being side-tracked by beloved novels and re-reading them during times I am trying to get through novels I can’t seem to get into, or (in Tess of the D’Uberville’s case) when the novel is too dark and depressing to continue before I take a breath of fresh air. My excuse to myself was that I’d read the novels before, so no need to write about them. But in truth it was mostly because I was so eager to get to the next one, I didn’t make the time to sit down and write. This year I shall write about each and every book I read. And I will read more books then last year. 
  2. Write more faithfully in my journal, as I’ve lacked the past few months. Unsuccessful. It was sporadic, and mostly not done. But I miss this habit. 
  3. No binge-watching. There were no long shows I’ve binge watched this past year. I slowly made my way through one long series, and enjoyed it more because it was spread out over several months. I did, however, binge-watch BBC’s ‘The Muskateers’ with Library (because she’d never seen it, and it’s a very entertaining series!)  
  4. Attend more social events. Friday nights are sometimes so hard to be social on, after a long work week – and I’m a social, adventurous extrovert! (Introverts, you have my sympathies on this, truly). Mind over exhaustion and be social before becoming squirrely. This goal became more about knowing my ability & my limits. Pushing through when necessary, but also allowing myself down time when deemed necessary. Sometimes it’s ok to skip out on something after three or four weeks of a busy schedule without down-time, and no need to feel guilty for it, even if I have been lacking purely social times. 
  5. Hike more in hiking season. Put other things aside and go out in nature, because that’s where I am happiest. This definitely did not happen. I think I went on a short morning hike once, early in the year, because of a very busy work schedule and my spring/summer/fall weekends being so busy with commitments. 
  6. Go shooting more. Unsuccessful. See #5 above. 
  7. Travel somewhere I want to go to. Success! In fact, more then a success. This past summer I travelled to PEI & Nova Scotia (a dream trip since I was old enough to read & watch Anne of Green Gables), and I also went to Australia for a pilgrimage, which was very last minute and whirlwind but an amazing experience and worth it! 

 

2018 goals: 

  1. Read more novels then last year.
  2. Write about every novel I read this year, including beloved re-reads. Attempt to keep the re-reads at bay, since there are countless new novels I want to read.
  3. Follow my work out/nutrition/cheat routine.
  4. Build back my habit of journal writing.
  5. Keep weekends more free from commitments, for recreational/personal time.