Home

I was trying to sort out a silly little problem this morning—the sort of annoying problem that we only have because we live in a fallen world. The thought came to me afterwards, “How nice it would be to live in a world of just Christians” (where, one would hope, such issues as the one I was trying to sort out would be unnecessary). Then, the Ghost of Christians Past gave my shoulder a gentle tap and I had to smile ironically in response. Ha! Scratch that.

“How about a world of just Christians I like?” was my next thought.

That would, I grant, be an improvement. Me and just the people I like? Sign me up.

I didn’t take that train of thought much further, but I didn’t have to go all the way down the track to know that it, too, was fundamentally flawed. Even the people I love aren’t perfect. (And even if they were, the person I’m the closest to—me—isn’t.)

But, then the idea of home—our real home—longing for home—sprung to my mind. Where had I been reading something about that recently? I scanned the books in my room, and found a highly likely suspect: Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, which I read earlier this month.

Ah yes…. The chapter on “Our Longing for Home”.

“Home, then, is a powerful but elusive concept. The strong feelings that surround it reveal some deep longing within us for a place that absolutely fits and suits us, where we can be, or perhaps find, our true selves. Yet it seems that no real place or actual family ever satisfies these yearnings, though many situations arouse them.”

“There seems to be a sense, then, in which we are all like the younger brother. We are all exiles, always longing for home. We are always traveling, never arriving. The houses and families we actually inhabit are only inns along the way, but they aren’t home. Home continues to evade us.”

Because we “turned away” from God at the Fall, Keller goes on to say, we were exiled and “we have been wandering as spiritual exiles ever since. That is, we have been living in a world that no longer fits our deepest longings”.

At the end of time, however….

“Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.”

The frustrations of living in a fallen world will be no more—even the ones I’ve experienced in a pretty average week, such as this one. Things like worry, friction in relationships, the discouragement of having to re-work an assignment, the aches of a body that is liable to pain, the falling into and the jumping into sin.

All gone—and not just for me, but for everyone who is there. We will be Home.

I will get to live in a world just of Christians.

And—whatever the difficulties in the here and now—I’ll  like them all.

Of Lovely Things (5)

So many good things to give thanks for… yet so many times when I’m rushing on so eagerly to the next thing that I want that I don’t properly appreciate what I’ve just been given. I’m not very good at being thankful. For the first section of prayer time at our prayer meetings, my pastor has been asking us to simply give thanks—no asking for anything, just giving thanks. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

More practice is needed–for this girl anyway–in appreciating good gifts. So… here are some lovely things of assorted shapes and sizes that I can give thanks for:

Laughter, loud and long, with friends and family last night—the sort of laughter that makes me double over and leaves me wiping away tears.

Baby smiles.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s song Glorious Unfolding“There’s so much of this story that’s still yet to unfold. And this is going to be a glorious unfolding.”  The best really is yet to be.

Food… lettuce leaves, pesto sauce, caramel, berries, cream cheese, lemon curd… so many textures and colours and flavours in the course of a single week. Food is amazing, when you come to think of it. And we get opportunities to eat the stuff multiple times every day. As gifts go, this is a very good one.

Poetry. Poetry has been on my mind rather a lot recently because of a project I’m working on for my degree. While I enjoy reading poems, it’s not something I’d normally think to be thankful for. But now that I think of it, I should be—thankful for the delight of rhythm and rhyme, of new ways of seeing, of beauty crammed into a small space.

Speaking of poetry, let me finish up with a truly lovely poem of Hopkins’ which I read for the first time not long ago and which left me amazed and delighted.

I hope it does the same for you.

SOMETIMES a lantern moves along the night,    

  That interests our eyes. And who goes there?

  I think; where from and bound, I wonder, where,         

With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?

 

Men go by me whom either beauty bright                  

  In mould or mind or what not else makes rare:               

  They rain against our much-thick and marsh air               

Rich beams, till death or distance buys them quite.         

 

Death or distance soon consumes them: wind  

  What most I may eye after, be in at the end             

I cannot, and out of sight is out of mind.               

 

Christ minds: Christ’s interest, what to avow or amend 

  There, éyes them, heart wánts, care haúnts, foot fóllows kínd,               

Their ránsom, théir rescue, ánd first, fást, last friénd.

Linkyness: Writing

“Linkyness” is probably not a word, so I hereby define it as “a suitable heading for a blog post that provides a number of links to other sites”.

There, now we’ve got that cleared up–hello! I hope this August afternoon is as lovely in your neck of the woods as it is in mine.

I’ve come across some interesting writing-related articles recently, and I thought I would share a few with you. I realise that this may not be a fascinating topic for everyone, but I hope that some of you enjoy it—I know I do! And if you don’t, don’t feel obliged to…. After all, you doubtless get excited about lots of things which wouldn’t interest me (maths, if you’re SJ….). We’re all different and that’s not only okay, but is also good—although if I were to get on my soapbox, I would argue that writing is one of the most important subjects out there. But as I am satisfied to have merely nodded in the direction of my soapbox, I will now jump straight to some thought-provoking snippets for you on the wonderful theme of writing.

“Can writing be taught?

No it can’t. Yes it can. In a way, you might say so.”

If that intrigues you, read the rest here.

You have, no doubt, heard of Pixar. Even I have. But do you know their 22 Rules of Storytelling?  They include the following:

When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.”

“Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.”

“Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.”

(HT: Scribblepreach)

And then Suzannah wrote a challenging piece about the importance of technical excellence, which included this:

“Writers: you know, don’t you, that the Authorised Version of the Bible is one of the greatest works of prose literature in the English language? Have you read it? Memorised it? Studied it? Maybe you can sense its unusual beauty, but could you put your finger on the specific techniques employed by its translators to produce that effect? Have you attempted to use those techniques in your own writing? Have you gone on to identify, marinate in, and analyse the works of such other stylists as Jane Austen, CS Lewis, and PG Wodehouse?

If we haven’t truly apprenticed ourselves to the masters of our craft, how can we call ourselves diligent workmen?”

Ouch.

And, finally, to return from the big wide world of writers to the world of ordinary individuals which most of us inhabit most of the time, here is a blog post about journalling from Desiring God:

“Deep joy and satisfaction can come from getting our complicated and confusing thoughts and feelings into words on the page. Our heads and hearts carry around so many unfinished thoughts and emotions we’re only able to finish as we write them down. As praise is not just the expression of joy, but the consummation of it, so is writing to the soul. Writing doesn’t merely capture what’s already inside us, but in the very act of writing, we enable our heads and hearts to take the next step, then two, then ten. It has a crystalizing effect. Good writing is not just the expression of what we’re already experiencing, but the deepening of it.”

And herewith endeth my linkyness. Have a wonderful week! (And, perhaps, make some space to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Just a little?)