Hey friends! I’m sorry I was absent this week. It was more or less intentional. I’ve been working really hard, and socializing really hard (cuz holidays), and I’ve been kinda sick on top of it, so I decided to let blogging go in order to catch up on writing posts in a leisurely fashion, and not burn myself out. On the bright side, there ought to be a post on Monday as well as today. So yeah.
As far as this post goes, I don’t really know how to explain what I’m about to do so I’m just going to do it. Okay? Okay. Let’s go.
Once again, I return home, exhausted.
And once again the Harpist is playing…and singing…
“The Lord into His Garden comes…”
Dear Harpist, your nimble fingers dance up and down those strings so quickly…so skillfully. To hear such beauty, one would expect the heart of its maker to be filled with beauty.
and it is.
The Harpist likes to joke about how she’s not, in fact, patient, or kind, or empathetic..
She likes to joke, but she really believes it, I think.
But I ask you, Harpist: what do you call kindness?
I call it taking in somebody who has nowhere to go on a few day’s notice.
What do you call empathy?
I call it making dinner for somebody when they’ve had a bad day.
What, in fact, is patience?
Patience is practicing and practicing until you can tease a beautiful, exact melody out of the strings of that harp.
Patience is cheerfully telling your young students the same thing every week, even though you know you will have to tell them the same thing again next week.
Patience is never giving up, and patience is waiting in silent content.
No doubt, Our Lady knew something of patience, in her days of expectation. Of silence, in contented contemplation of the Sacredness she had been given–in that moment.
Certainly, there must have been some holy expectation–some ‘looking forward to it’.
But I think Our Lady would have found her contentment in every moment of waiting.
I think that is truly patience.
Patience is contentment in every moment, even while you wait.
I know sometimes, Harpist, as you sit there and pluck your strings, you think you are impatient, or discontent…but you are not. You have faith, not only in what may be to come, but in what already is. In what is planted, in what is played.
‘Be worthy, love, and love will come’…
They say to wait for God’s time.
But the waiting itself is God’s time, for those who have the wisdom to see it.
Play on, Harpist.
In this moment of waiting, there is sacredness.
Patience is not the beauty you wait for, but the beauty of waiting.
And it’s well you know it.
It’s a funny nickname for you–the Admiral. But I find it hard to think of you as anything other than ‘The Admiral’…since we call you that so often.
‘Admiral’ makes me think overbearing dignity, and stolid mustaches, and pomp and circumstances.
Not a girl in great round glasses, who loves wearing yellow, and sings along even when she’s got a chest cold, and considers Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati her personal best friend.
I find it hard to imagine you in a state of dejection. Which is funny, because I’ve seen you in a state of dejection, for worthy reasons and unworthy. Not to judge you–all I mentioned is normal and human and healthy. You’re very young yet, Admiral.
It’s peculiar…I simultaneously feel decades older than you and decades younger.
Decades older, because I remember being your age, and I remember how differently I saw the world back then. How much more optimistically. I was not yet surprised by tragedy, and beaten down by disaster.
I would not wish that on you.
Not in a thousand years.
And yet I fear you will have it, because tragedy comes to all, in their own time.
When great Augustine wrote, ‘shield your joyous ones, O Lord,’ he was thinking of the ones like you.
and yet I feel decades younger.
Because, Admiral, I know you, and your large, astonished, wondering eyes. I know that one day, when you reach that bend in the road, round the corner, and find tragedy staring you in the face, you will have the same wonder-filled joy in your eyes that you always have.
Tragedy will not catch you off guard. Not in the same way it caught me. Because you are full of joy.
Tragedy may put a crack or two in your heart, but there is a sacred fountain within, and as much joy as leaves you will fill you back up again.
Tragedy may catch you off guard–but you will catch it off guard as well.
God’s greatest warriors are the joyful ones–the happy little ones. Like your favorite song, Admiral…that speaks of being ‘five foot three’. You’re a tiny bit taller than that, but you’re a little one all the same. One of God’s little flowers. And you’ll always be a hardy little wildflower, no matter what cold winds blow about you.
There is perhaps a comparison that may be drawn between you and the child Jesus. I am reminded of the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the carol ‘The Infant King’.
The Child Jesus has had a vision of angels, carrying the instruments which will be the undoing of His Life, and the undoing of the Sin of Adam. He has run to His Mother for consolation–so hurriedly that His sandal has come off. He is afraid and upset and yet–
Look at that little smile, lingering.
The tragedy surprised Him, but He surprised it too, I think.
The Child Jesus knew–perhaps from His very conception–to round every corner, and surprise every tragedy with eyes alight with holy joy.
Like your astonished, joyful eyes Admiral.
Like your laughter and your singing.
Your drawings and your hugs and your innocent, yet powerful faith.
You are worlds wiser than me, in many ways.
Even if you are about five foot three.
‘Shield your joyous ones, O Lord’…
For it is they that shall shield and uphold the goodness in this world when nothing and no one else can.
Peace–The Doctor and the Carpenter
“What do you think?”
This from the Doctor.
I am sitting in the corner, as usual. The Harpist and the Doctor and the Carpenter are sipping from small amber filled glasses, as a reward for filling the air with music moments before. I do not feel I belong, for I have not earned this particular rest. I have made no music. But they always ask me, and so I come, and sit in the corner with my mug of tea, and watch and listen in silent delight.
And now here is the Doctor, turning to me, and asking what I think!
I should expect it by now. He always turns to me at some point in these evenings, with his slow, thoughtful smile, and his gentle voice, and asks what I think.
And I give some sort of lame response, and the Carpenter throws back his white head and laughs a kindly, delighted laugh–the same laugh of the Admiral, yet seasoned by years, fermented by many surprise tragedies, now so profound and rich a liquor that it inebriates the listener with the same joy as the laugher.
The Doctor grins, and shakes his own silvery head in response, as if to imply that I’ve surprised him. They both seem ever surprised by me. I’m not sure why. I do not think it is any value of mine. I think it is something in them, a streak of wonder forged into a strong, steady alloy with all the other streaks of virtue. The streak makes the Doctor call me a fantastic apple picker–his apple picker, to be precise– and the streak causes the Carpenter to ask if I’ll come to pray over his grave too, whenever he lands in Thornrose beside all the rest.
Wonder appreciates the good where it is found–wherever and whenever that might be. Amidst tragedy, whilst waiting. Even in the heart of a muddled, weary girl such as myself.
The Doctor may be silver haired, and the Carpenter white, but they will never truly be old with wonder like that forged into their hearts.
It is not just their wonder and their laughter that makes people love them, that Carpenter and that Doctor. They stand, straight and strong despite the years, fiddles on their backs and wives’ hands in their own, striding confidently down the Royal Road, come what may. They have raised dozens of souls, their own children and others, to follow along that same Royal Road, fearless, towards whatever may wait at the End.
And along the way, they’ve laughed and joked–they’ve seen the good in all. In the lively fiddle tunes, in the little country churches, in the trees laden with apples.
And of course, they’ve seen the bad for bad. You may not know I noticed it, Carpenter, but I’ve seen how your face twists in pain when you move, often and oftener. You may think I’ve forgotten, Doctor, but I remember how sorrowfully and brokenly you spoke of the Child who ran far ahead on that Road.
But in many ways, I believe wisdom-is-joy-is-patience.
and all three are peace.
You are getting farther and farther along the Road now. Your eyes see things ours cannot yet see, and you both have held out your hands and given and given and continue to give. One day, not too terribly far away, you will finally give all.
And yet, there is so much peace in you.
Joseph the Just saw the goodness in all as well. He too was wise. I like to think, even though his wife was heavy with Child, and they were summoned far away to a shepherd’s town, he rejoiced at the good of that moment. At the goodness of visiting his ancestral home–at the goodness of God, in arranging that His Son would indeed be born in that prophesied place of Bethlehem. At the goodness of the kind innkeeper who gave them straw to sleep on, at the goodness of the animals, who, it is said, kept God’s Son warm with their breath.
And at the goodness of His Wife–such goodness that she was chosen to be the Mother of God.
A lesser man may have felt some jealousy, or that he was being weighed down with a burden not his.
Joseph the Carpenter did not.
And you, dear Carpenter, would not have either, if you were in his place. Neither you, dear Doctor. I do not think I understood Saint Joseph fully till I knew you. His justice, his patience, his peace, even in the midst of great trials–
No matter how terrible the situation, there is some good to be found, some good to live for.
If all else fails, look up, be still–know that God is God, and God is good.
That’s the thing about the Carpenter, and the Doctor. They are imperfect humans, and yet, I and many others are drawn to them.
Because of their peace.
Because their eyes have seen the glory of the Lord–and unlike many, they acknowledge it–they know it, deeply. They remember it. They hold God and His Goodness as a jewel of serenity in their hearts, and a beacon of hope shining like the Star of the Magi, midst the pain of the Road, and midst the labor and the weariness, and the work–and the fiddle tunes, and the dances, the bitterness of grief and the richness of whiskey, the smiles of their wives and the laughter of their children–and the shy words of one girl in the corner of the Harpist’s living room.
They have seen all, and seen what is good.
They have looked into the offered cup and drank it fearlessly, vinegar with wine, down to the dregs.
And next time, when the Doctor turns to me and says, “what do you think?”–no matter the topic, same as every time, I will be tempted to say,
“I think God is with you.”
But same as every time, I will keep the words and the knowledge and the observations I’ve made as my own knowledge of goodness, my own gift from God, my own Emmanuel, God with us in those around us…
And I will say the same old lame things–just to hear the Carpenter laugh again, and to see wonder spark in the Doctor’s eyes.
One of the Doctor and Carpenters’ favorite fiddle tunes
(and one of their dance tunes, from the Doctor’s homeland)
Thank you for reading, friends. I really love writing about the beautiful people God has put into my life, and how His Goodness is illustrated uniquely in them–so I may do more posts like this in the future, if you all would like to see them.
Meanwhile, I will be back on Monday (most likely) with either a life update or part 3 of Christine Smith’s Know the Novel. Not sure which yet. 🙂
God bless you! And may you know patience like the Harpist, joy like the Admiral, and peace like the Doctor and Carpenter.
9 replies on “Some Advent Meditations–as sketched out by the hand of the Artist in those surrounding me”
Grim!!! First of, hello and blessed Advent!! These meditations were just beautiful. I loved them and I would be so happy to read more if you do write them in the future. They were not only cozy and warm but so reflective and profound. Isn’t it amazing how God places such wonderful people in our lives to show us His immense goodness?! ❤
Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you and your Advent season! ❤
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I’m so glad you liked them! I’m definitely going to post more like them in the future; I’ve already written several more, so I may as well share them. It is amazing!! Gosh I’m so grateful. I don’t even know how to begin to be grateful enough. ❤
God bless you too, Sarah! I hope your Advent and Christmas was holy and beautiful!
This was beautiful and I thank you for writing it, Grim.
Have a blessed Advent, my friend!
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I’m glad you found it beautiful, and I thank you for reading it. Merry Christmas, dear friend!
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Grim, this is really beautiful! I don’t have anything to add, really, that the Sarahs haven’t already said, but thank you for writing all of this. And I wish I could meet The Admiral. And “shield your joyous ones, O Lord” is such a beautiful and meditate-able sentiment.
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Oh I’m so glad you liked it, Sam! And I feel the exact same way about that statement. It’s from a beautiful prayer of St. Augustine’s (It’s sometimes known as a collect for night), and I learned that prayer from the Admiral’s family, and then felt quite certain I was seeing examples of it play out before me, so the whole thing is very special to me now. Thank you so much for stopping by! God bless!
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