Friday, March 29, 2013

The Path to Rome

I took the day off from my usual work to catch up on my unpaid work and just plain catch my breath... which thankfully turned out to be a breath of fresh air on this our first true spring-like day: 60+ degrees and sunny.   

So I've done a little work.  But just a little.  Mostly, I've spent the day being refreshed: taking a walk, soaking in some rays, and reading a book just for the pleasure of it.  And what a book!  It perfectly accommodates my desire to take a break from The Heavy, and so far, it is pure delight.  Enjoy this excerpt from the brilliant and endearing Hilaire Belloc: The Path to Rome.

There was a sturdy boy at my school who, when the master had carefully explained to us the nature of metaphor, said that so far as he could see a metaphor was nothing but a long Greek word for a lie.  And certainly men who know that the mere truth would be distasteful or tedious commonly have recourse to metaphor, and so do those false men who desire to acquire a subtle and unjust influence over their fellows, and chief among them, The Proverb-Maker.  For though his name is lost in the great space of time that has passed since he flourished, yet his character can be very clearly deduced from the many literary fragments he has left, and that is found to be the character of a pusillanimous  and ill-bred usurer, wholly lacking in foresight, in generous enterprise, and chivalrous enthusiasm -- in matters of the Faith a prig or a doubter, in matters of adventure a poltroon, in matters of Science an ignorant Parrot, and in Letters a wretchedly bad rhymester, with a vice for alliteration; a willful liar (as for instance, "The longest way round is the shortest way home"), a startling miser (as, "A penny saved is a penny earned"), one ignorant of largesse and human charity (as, "Waste not, want not"), and a shocking boor in the point of honour (as, "Hard words break no bones" --he never fought, I see, but with a cudgel.).  

But he has just that touch of slinking humor which the peasants have, and there is in all he said that exasperating quality for which we have no name, which certainly is not accuracy, and which is quite the opposite of judgment, yet which catches the mind as brambles do our clothes, causing us continually to pause and swear.  For he mixes up unanswerable things with false conclusions, he is perpetually letting the cat out of the bag and exposing our tricks, putting a colour to our actions, disturbing us with our own memory, indecently revealing corners of the soul. is perhaps for this abominable logicality of his and for his malicious cunning  that I chiefly hate him.

This is a portion from his introduction to what is, essentially, a travelogue.  A journey alone and on foot from Toul, France  to Rome.  Think "Bill Bryson meets G.K. Chesterton."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Music Monday: Rebelution

My 16-year-old introduced me to Rebelution a couple years ago via this song:

I love that my boys anticipate what I will like and share their stuff with me.  

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 22, 2013

After Steubenville

I try not to habitually link to other people's blogs, but I thought this article was a profound expression of one mother's heart for her sons.  

A tiny excerpt:

I held you when fever burned your forehead. And I stroked back your hair when your stomach churned and I cleaned us both up when you vomited all over everything. I opened books for you and stoked your mind and unpacked a world before you and I laid down me to make more of you and it wasn’t a sacrifice but the unexpected grace of motherhood.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Can't Help Myself

OK...this is just hilarious and I can't stop laughing.  I can't help but love this guy's sense of humor and his total lack of inhibition.  There may be no redemptive value in this, but it's just plain funny.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love Without Truth

"Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace." 

-Tim Keller, The Reason for God

Monday, March 18, 2013

Musical Monday: MHJR

It all started when I happened onto this video:

As I've mentioned previously, I love that even though these guys are decent musicians, they don't take themselves too seriously.  You can walk away and listen to these videos and enjoy them...but you'll miss out on their visual humor!  

That's What Makes You Beautiful

Man in the Mirror

Without You

Trashin' the Camp

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Come Down, O Love Divine

Come down, O love divine
Seek thou this soul of mine
And visit it with thine own ardor glowing
O, Comforter, draw near
Within my heart appear
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O, let it freely burn
Til earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight
And clothe me round the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be
And lowliness become mine inner clothing
True lowliness of heart
Which takes the humbler part
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the power of human telling
For none can guess it's grace
Til he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

Friday, March 8, 2013


This reading includes verses 1-9, 18-19, and 33...I have shown all 33 stanzas below, because if you have time, they're all worth the read.

Listening to good poetry can be infinitely more enriching than just reading it!  Alliteration, assonance, and consonance that I might not notice while reading, are inescapable when listening.  

Sometime now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o’re by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seem’d painted but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.

I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
Whose power and beauty by his works we know.
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,
That hath this under world so richly dight.
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.

Then on a stately Oak I cast mine Eye,
Whose ruffling top the Clouds seem’d to aspire;
How long since thou wast in thine Infancy?
Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire,
Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born?
Or thousand since thou brakest thy shell of horn,
If so, all these as nought, Eternity doth scorn.

Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz’d,
Whose beams was shaded by the leafy Tree.
The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d
And softly said, what glory’s like to thee?
Soul of this world, this Universe’s Eye,
No wonder some made thee a Deity:
Had I not better known (alas) the same had I.

Thou as a Bridegroom from thy Chamber rushes
And as a strong man joys to run a race.
The morn doth usher thee with smiles and blushes.
The Earth reflects her glances in thy face.
Birds, insects, Animals with Vegative,
Thy heat from death and dullness doth revive:
And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive.

Thy swift Annual and diurnal Course,
Thy daily straight and yearly oblique path,
Thy pleasing fervour, and thy scorching force,
All mortals here the feeling knowledge hath.
Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night,
Quaternal seasons caused by thy might:
Hail Creature, full of sweetness, beauty, and delight.

Art thou so full of glory that no Eye
Hath strength thy shining Rays once to behold?
And is thy splendid Throne erect so high?
As, to approach it, can no earthly mould.
How full of glory then must thy Creator be?
Who gave this bright light luster unto thee:
Admir’d, ador’d for ever be that Majesty.

Silent alone where none or saw, or heard,
In pathless paths I lead my wand’ring feet.
My humble Eyes to lofty Skies I rear’d
To sing some Song my mazed Muse thought meet.
My great Creator I would magnifie,
That nature had thus decked liberally:
But Ah and Ah again, my imbecility!

I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,
The black clad Cricket bear a second part.
They kept one tune and played on the same string,
Seeming to glory in their little Art.
Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise?
And in their kind resound their maker’s praise:
Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher layes.

When present times look back to Ages past
And men in being fancy those are dead,
It makes things gone perpetually to last
And calls back months and years that long since fled
It makes a man more aged in conceit,
Than was Methuselah or’s grand-sire great:
While of their persons and their acts his mind doth treat.

Sometimes in Eden fair he seems to be,
See glorious Adam there made Lord of all,
Fancies the Apple, dangle on the Tree,
That turn’d his Sovereign to a naked thrall,
Who like a miscreant’s driven from that place
To get his bread with pain and sweat of face:
A penalty impos’d on his backsliding Race.

Here sits our Grandame in retired place,
And in her lap her bloody Cain new born,
The weeping Imp oft looks her in the face,
Bewails his unknown hap and fate forlorn;
His Mother sighs to think of Paradise,
And how she lost her bliss, to be more wise,
Believing him that was, and is, Father of lyes.

Here Cain and Abel come to sacrifice,
Fruits of the Earth and Fatlings each do bring,
On Abels gift the fire descends from Skies,
But no such sign on false Cain’s offering;
With sullen hateful looks he goes his wayes.
Hath thousand thoughts to end his brothers dayes,
Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise.

There Abel keeps his sheep, no ill he thinks,
His brother comes, then acts his fratricide.
The Virgin Earth of blood her first draught drinks,
But since that time she often hath been cloy’d;
The wretch with ghastly face and dreadful mind,
Thinks each he sees will serve him in his kind,
Though none on Earth but kindred near then could he find.

Who fancies not his looks now at the Barr,
His face like death, his heart with horror fraught,
Nor Male-factor ever felt like warr,
When deep despair with wish of life hath fought,
Branded with guilt, and crusht with treble woes,
A Vagabond to Land of Nod he goes.
A City builds, that wals might him secure from foes.

Who thinks not oft upon the Fathers ages.
Their long descent, how nephews sons they saw,
The starry observations of those Sages,
And how their precepts to their sons were law,
How Adam sigh’d to see his Progeny,
Cloath’d all in his black, sinful Livery,
Who neither guilt not yet the punishment could fly.

Our Life compare we with their length of dayes
Who to the tenth of theirs doth now arrive?
And though thus short, we shorten many wayes,
Living so little while we are alive;
In eating, drinking, sleeping, vain delight
So unawares comes on perpetual night,
And puts all pleasures vain unto eternal flight.

When I behold the heavens as in their prime,
And then the earth (though old) still clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible of time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen;
If winter come, and greenness then do fade,
A Spring returns, and they more youthfull made;
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he’s laid.

By birth more noble than those creatures all,
Yet seems by nature and by custom curs’d,
No sooner born, but grief and care makes fall
That state obliterate he had at first:
Nor youth, nor strength, nor wisdom spring again
Nor habitations long their names retain,
But in oblivion to the final day remain.

Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth
Because their beauty and their strength last longer
Shall I wish there, or never to had birth,
Because they’re bigger and their bodyes stronger?
Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade and dye,
And when unmade, so ever shall they lye,
But man was made for endless immortality.

Under the cooling shadow of a stately Elm
Close sate I by a goodly Rivers side,
Where gliding streams the Rocks did overwhelm;
A lonely place, with pleasures dignifi’d.
I once that lov’d the shady woods so well,
Now thought the rivers did the trees excel,
And if the sun would ever shine, there would I dwell.

While on the stealing stream I fixt mine eye,
Which to the long’d-for Ocean held its course,
I markt, nor crooks, nor rubs that there did lye
Could hinder ought but still augment its force:
O happy Flood, quoth I, that holds thy race
Till thou arrive at thy beloved place,
Nor is it rocks or shoals that can obstruct thy pace.

Nor is’t enough that thou alone may’st slide,
But hundred brooks in thy cleer waves do meet,
So hand in hand along with thee they glide
To Thetis house, where all imbrace and greet:
Thou Emblem true of what I count the best,
O could I lead my Rivolets to rest,
So may we press to that vast mansion, ever blest.

Ye Fish which in this liquid Region ’bide
That for each season have your habitation,
Now salt, now fresh where you think best to glide
To unknown coasts to give a visitation,
In Lakes and ponds, you leave your numerous fry,
So Nature taught, and yet you know not why,
You watry folk that know not your felicity.

Look how the wantons frisk to tast the air,
Then to the colder bottome streight they dive,
Eftsoon to Neptun’s glassy Hall repair
To see what trade they, great ones, there do drive,
Who forrage o’re the spacious sea-green field,
And take the trembling prey before it yield,
Whose armour is their scales, their spreading fins their shield.

While musing thus with contemplation fed,
And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain,
The sweet-tongu’d Philomel percht ore my head,
And chanted forth a most melodious strain
Which rapt me so with wonder and delight,
I judg’d my hearing better than my sight,
And wisht me wings with her a while to take my flight.

O merry Bird (said I) that fears no snares,
That neither toyles nor hoards up in thy barn,
Feels no sad thoughts, nor cruciating cares
To gain more good, or shun what might thee harm
Thy clothes ne’re wear, thy meat is every where,
Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water cleer,
Reminds not what is past, nor whats to come dost fear.

The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,
Sets hundred notes unto thy feathered crew,
So each one tunes his pretty instrument,
And warbling out the old, begin anew,
And thus they pass their youth in summer season,
Then follow thee into a better Region,
Where winter’s never felt by that sweet airy legion.

Man at the best a creature frail and vain,
In knowledge ignorant, in strength but weak,
Subject to sorrows, losses, sickness, pain,
Each storm his state, his mind, his body break,
From some of these he never finds cessation,
But day or night, within, without, vexation,
Troubles from foes, from friends, from dearest, near’st Relation.

And yet this sinfull creature, frail and vain,
This lump of wretchedness, of sin and sorrow,
This weather-beaten vessel wrackt with pain,
Joys not in hope of an eternal morrow;
Nor all his losses, crosses and vexation,
In weight, in frequency and long duration
Can make him deeply groan for that divine Translation.

The Mariner that on smooth waves doth glide,
Sings merrily and steers his Barque with ease,
As if he had command of wind and tide,
And now becomes great Master of the seas;
But suddenly a storm spoils all the sport,
And makes him long for a more quiet port,
Which ’gainst all adverse winds may serve for fort.

So he that faileth in this world of pleasure,
Feeding on sweets, that never bit of th’ sowre,
That’s full of friends, of honour and of treasure,
Fond fool, he takes this earth ev’n for heav’ns bower,
But sad affliction comes and makes him see
Here’s neither honour, wealth, nor safety;
Only above is found all with security.

O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,
That draws oblivions curtains over kings,
Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not,
Their names without a Record are forgot,
Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust.
Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings scape times rust;
But he whose name is grav’d in the white stone
Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.