Not By Chance

From The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis:
For a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances.  A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work.  Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.”  The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out.  It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.  They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them.  They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.  At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests.  It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside.  Let us not reckon without our Host.
                                     chap. 4.,  para. 61

Now That the Daylight Fills the Sky

A Latin hymn from the 7th or 8th Century, it has gone through several translations.  This one comes from the 1986 New English Hymnal.

Now that day light fills the sky,
We lift our hearts to God on high,
That He, in all we do or say,
Would keep us free from harm today;
Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife;
From anger’s din would shield our life;
From all ill sights would turn our eyes;
Would close our ears to vanities;
Would keep our inmost conscience pure;
Our souls from folly would secure;
Would bid us check the pride of sense
With due and holy abstinence.
So we, when this new day is gone,
And night in turn is drawing on,
With conscience by the world unstained
Shall praise His name for victory gained.
O God the Father, unto thee
Let everlasting glory be;
And glory to thine only Son,
With God the Spirit, ever one.

Ascension Day

Yesterday the Christian Church celebrated Ascension Day, forty days after Easter, the day our Lord ascended to Heaven.

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash’d, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

                                                         John Donne

Latin.png Latin text

Coelos ascendit hodie
Jesus Christus Rex Gloriae:
Sedet ad Patris dexteram,
Gubernat coelum et terram.
Iam finem habent omnia
Patris Davidis carmina.
Iam Dominus cum Domino
Sedet in Dei solio:
In hoc triumpho maximo
Benedicamus Domino.
Laudetur Sancta Trinitas,
Deo dicamus gratias,
Alleluia. Amen.

English.png English translation

Today into the heavens has ascended
Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, Alleluia!
He sits at the Father’s right hand,
and rules heaven and earth, Alleluia!
Now have been fulfilled all of
Father David’s songs,
Now God is with God, Alleluia!
He sits upon the royal throne of God,
in this his greatest triumph, Alleluia!
Let us bless the Lord:
Let the Holy Trinity be praised,
let us give thanks to the Lord,
Alleluia! Amen.

Wake Up

For a few years now I have regularly looked, with anticipation, for a new post on a blog titled First Known When Lost.  The latest one is no disappointment:

Present

I often feel that I have spent most of my life sleepwalking or daydreaming.  Asleep at the switch.  Nearly everything has escaped me.  But each moment offers the possibility of redemption:  a new opportunity to be awake and to be present.  “Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Fortunately for us, the beautiful particulars of the World are boundlessly and endlessly merciful.  Every day, without fail, they gently shake us by the shoulders and whisper in our ear:  “Wake up!  Look over here.  Listen to this.”  Not in so many words, of course.  The World is wordless.  Yet it is not reticent.  Nor is it impassive.  Hence, immanence.

It always takes me a while to get through it all because I go off to every link, like this one to immanence:
On a late afternoon this past week I walked between two meadows.  The meadow on my left, the parade ground of a former army post, was open and expansive.  It has been mown recently, and the winter rains have turned it deep green.  On my right, a broad field of brown and gray wild grasses sloped down to the bluffs above Puget Sound.
The afternoon was windless and quiet.  The declining sun was hidden behind a flat layer of motionless grey clouds out over the Sound, stretching away to the Olympic Mountains in the west.  Throughout my walk, my eyes kept returning to a glowing patch of pale yellow in the center of the cloud blanket, above, and dimly reflected in, the dark water below.
As I gazed at the patch yet again, I suddenly heard behind and above me a tiny creaking of wings.  A dozen or so sparrows soon flew over me with the sound of a soft rush of wind.  And those lovely creaking wings.  I lost sight of the sparrows as they disappeared into the woods up ahead.
                                   Beauty
What does it mean?  Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now.  And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph —
‘Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.’  Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied.  But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening while it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through the window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale,
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unswerving to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me.  Beauty is there.
The entry always has some interesting art interspersed throughout as well.
AE123B69-1581-48C0-807E-34E833E09AE2.jpg
It feels like fresh air to me.

The Melancholy Mississippi

I’ve been reading Early Days on the Western Slope of Colorado and came across this reference to the Mississippi River, which reminded me of a new Alison Krauss recording, River in the Rain, also about the Mississippi.

From the book:

…[E]ventually, we reached that broad expanse at the outlet of the Ohio and were rocking on the broad bosom of the Father of Waters, the Mississippi.  Melancholy has marked the Mississippi for her own.  Visit its shores anywhere and a weird mournful atmosphere mellows the scene.  One thinks of the myriads of mound builders and Indians who are dead, and of the many white people who ought to be.  For scores and scores of miles the unending low shores, just mere nothing covered with willows.  Soft maples so thick that none ever becomes a tree make monotonous mounds of foliage behind the willows.

I’ve seen the Mississippi and it is impressive, powerful, and almost epic in our American lore.  At the very least, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn come to mind, as well as gay steamboats, and loggers.  Although I wouldn’t have thought to portray the river that way, I agree, one does get a sense of melancholy when experiencing it, or at least I have.

Early Days On The Western Slope of Colorado (1913), is a first person account of the experiences of Sidney Jocknick between 1870 and 1883 when he migrated from Washington D.C. to Colorado.  It is the kind of history I like to read.

A Prayer for The President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

From the 1945 Prayer Book of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America:

O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favor to behold and bless thy servant The President of the United States, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way.  Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.