It was Valentine’s Day, and I had woken up early. I had thought Hubby was up too, so I made us some coffee, but he had gone back to bed. So I had a little time to myself, which is always sweet. I love having a quiet moment of solitude in the morning, to pray, to reach up and touch the Heart of The Father, and find in it some blessing and inspiration for my day. My prayers finished, I turned to matters at hand. Then out of nowhere, the song of a bird — cheering and lilting came trilling into the room. It was a surprise; I couldn’t remember when I had last heard a bird song, it’s been cold and wintery for a while now. It was the first sweet thing in my morning, and a lovely surprise — breaking in on the quiet of the new day like the rays of sun spilling over the horizon. It was the most purely perfect moment of that day. It was such a little thing, just a bird, singing. But to me it felt like a love song, a serenade sent special by someone dear. It lifted my heart, made me smile, and absolutely made my day. It was one more “little thing,” like one more “little” wave of the ocean; playful and gentle, yet constantly reaching out to touch me, pulling me out of myself and incessantly making me aware of its presence. Rather, His presence. He is so lovely I don’t deserve him. But I love him.
Later, while making a Valentine’s brunch, I was thinking about love, and about the times when love hurts, and how so often we find it hard to give love when we feel hurt. And I thought about the story of Beauty and the Beast, and the interesting situation Beauty found herself in, and what Chesterton had said about it. “There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” That one always makes me think. It reminded me of how often the Lord has been good to me, and so gentle when I didn’t deserve it, and how He always wins me with his love.
As we sat around the table, Hubby began to explain a little about one of the quotes he had written in the kids’ cards. (We had given them hearts full of chocolates, and sweet cards.) He was saying something he had read in Tolkien, about how the challenge in life is what makes it a story, and how if you were the protagonist of a great story, you might not “feel” like you were a part of a great story. Perhaps you would only be feeling the pain of the difficulty. But it wouldn’t change the fact that you were actually part of a great story, and that your life had great meaning; that what you were doing and going through mattered greatly in the end. I sat back in that golden moment, and thought, That’s why I married him. It was one of those shining moments that made everything good.
Sometimes we are in the quiet days, the “do-what-you-can” days; days when we pray and ask the Lord for strength and help in our tasks. Life can feel unfair sometimes – and our tasks can seem impossible. That’s when I face my reflection in the mirror. “Are you saying you can’t do the job?” The response comes easily. No – of course not. I just don’t always want to. “Are you saying the wrong person was asked to do the job?” Again, my answer comes in an instant. No, I can do it. I don’t always love it — But I know I am strong; I can make it through. And suddenly, my mind makes the connection: What kind of story I must be in, I wonder. Then another connection is made, and I close the door – that’s enough of that. I don’t want to give that little elf Pride half an inch to get his paws in. Focus. The important thing is to notice that some part of me feels I can do it, and I have been asked to do it; so, I must do it. Simple as that.
But it’s not all – there is also always that promise I heard somewhere. Isn’t there always? All shall be most well. That is something I can keep. I can put that one up in the corner of my room, even when everything feels dark, and let its soft light warm and comfort me. And it does. In this mood, Lewis’s practical tone suits me perfectly; he knows the pitfalls of self-pity, and how to steer clear from the jaws of the abyss that looking for comfort alone would plunge us into. He says,
I will not, if I can help it, shin up either the feathery or the prickly tree. Two widely different convictions press more and more on my mind. One is that the Eternal Vet is even more inexorable and the possible operations even more painful than our severest imaginings can forbode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.CS Lewis, A Grief Observed
He won’t cling to either tree, but perhaps he does sit in the light of both, as if they were lamp posts, each illuminating this paradoxical situation we find ourselves in. The Journey will be perhaps the most difficult and painful one we have ever experienced; “The Eternal Vet is… Inexorable.” Sobering thought. And yet, in that knowledge, we must not surrender all hope. We must not lose sight of the other – that all manner of things shall be most well. Sometimes we really do need the hope. And there is a sort of perfection in the one, matching stroke for stroke the difficulty of the other. Because to hear that “All manner of things shall be most well,” is about as perfect as it gets. It is the kind of thing that could make the heart swell and sing, if only we would let it. It is the promise that although things are truly and most tryingly difficult, they will turn out not only “well,” but most well. Not only will there be a good ending, but a happy ending, a joyful ending, an ending where all shall be so well, we will not have any tears left to cry over the pains anymore. That is an ending worthy of the level of difficulty. Isn’t it?
And so I sit, and am quiet. I know difficult tasks will come – “Today I shall meet cruel men” & etc., as Orual knows in Till We Have Faces. But not this moment. This moment is perfect, and I am at peace, and rest. And I give thanks for that. Next moment perhaps I shall have to fight, to give — even my life or my heart, or both. One hopes that the strength will come with the task. I had said “hopes,” but really one knows; we have done this before, a hundred, even a thousand times. Haven’t we? And here we still are, and our story going on & on. And the birds are singing. And the voice of hope whispering to our hearts, “All shall be most well, and all manner of things shall be well.“
“What is a story?” I asked. “It is a thing that has a beginning, and an end. And it is a thing worth telling.” 🐾♥️🐾
Just a little flower, turning her face to find the sun. I don’t always feel his rays on me, but when I do, the warmth and the feeling is simply wonderful, and I never want to be in the shadows again. Isn’t he lovely?