Thursday, February 24, 2005

It isn't that I intend to plagiarize others' genius. I have revelations of my own, but little time to convert them to intelligible paragraphs. Thus, I resort to cataloguing the writings of more gifted individuals. These are the words that inspire, challenge, and provide fodder for my intellectual fires...
Culture takes leisure, elegance, wide margins of time, a pocketbook; drudgery means limitations, coarseness, crowded hours, chronic worry, old clothes, black hands, headaches. Our real and our ideal are not twins. Never were! I want the books, but the clothes basket wants me. I love nature and figures are my fate. My taste is books and I farm. My taste is art and I correct exercises. My taste is science and I measure tape.

Can it be that this drudgery, not to be escaped, gives "culture"? Yes, culture of the prime elements of life, of the very fundamentals of all fine manhood and fine womanhood, the fundamentals that underlie all fullness and without which no other culture worth the winning is even possible. Power of attention, power of industry, promptitude in beginnning work, method and accuracy and dispatch in doing it, perseverance, courage before difficulties, cheer, self-control and self-denial--they are worth more than Latin and Greek and French and German and music and art and painting and wax flowers and travels in Europe added together. The latter are the decorations of a man's life, those first things are the indispensables. They make one's sitfast strength and one's active momentum--they are the solid substance of one's self.

Father and mother and the ancestors before them have done much to bequeath those mental qualities to us, but that which scrubs them into us, the clinch which makes them actually ours and keeps them ours, and adds to them as the years go by--that depends on our own plod in the rut, our drill of habit; in a word, our "drudgery." It is because we have to go and go morning after morning, through rain, through shine, through toothach, headache, heartache to the appointed spot and do the appointed work, no matter what our work may be, because of the rut, plod, grind, humdrum in the the work, that we get our foundations.

Drudgery is the gray angel of success, for drudgery is the doing of one thing long after it ceases to be amusing, and it is "this one thing I do" (Phil 3:13) that gathers me together from my chaos, that concentrates me from possibilities to powers and turns powers into achievements. The aim in life is what the backbone is in the body, if we have no aim we have no meaning. Lose us and the earth has lost nothing, no niche is empty, no force has ceased to play, for we have no aim and therefore we are still--nobody. Our bodies are known and answer in this world to such or such a name, but , as to our inner selves, with real and awful meaning our walking bodies might be labeled, "An unknown man sleeps here"!

But we can be artists also in our daily task--artists not artisans. The artist is he who strives to perfect his work, the artisan strives to get through it. If I cannot realize my ideal I can at least idealize my real. How? By trying to be perfect in it. If I am but a raindrop in a shower, I will be at least a perfect drop. If but a leaf in a whole June, I will be a perfect leaf.

This is the beginning of all Gospels, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand just where we are.

--Author Unknown; quoted in A Beautiful Possibility, by Edith F. Black, reprinted from Foundation Truth magazine

Friday, February 18, 2005

My sister clipped this quote from Family Circle and had tacked it to her bulletin board. I think Ms. Hepburn's words are in danger of becoming cliches, but even so, they are true. It is interesting: when I read them through the first time, their deeper meaning escaped me. Now, as I type them, I hear them resonate inside me.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you'll never walk alone.

The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed and redeemed and redeemed.

Never throw out anybody.

And remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Your "good old days" are still ahead of you.

May you have many of them.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Further thoughts on the the topic of inner beauty:
Beauty and the Beastly Heart

(Where have I been all my life without Boundless? This is good stuff!)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Last Friday was interminable. Even though I wasn't physically chained to my desk, I felt that way, and all I could think of was escaping! Yesterday, though spent in my same cell on the third floor of the old courthouse, was far more pleasant. For one, I was learning a new procedure and had low expectations for myself. When I have learned it, then will come the pressure to perform my task quickly and efficiently; for now, learning is my only job.

One lady in our ward, that is, our department, stopped at my cell, ahem...desk and asked if she could tell me something. I said she could and to my astonishment, she told me I had a regal aura about me, like I was royalty. I nearly choked. I was flabbergasted. "Okay..." grinning like a Cheshire. "Thank you." All day, her words lingered in my ears. Sometimes chiding, sometimes inspiring. For I am of royal descent. More than a descendant of the royal Scots, I am a daughter of a King. Do I remember that when I am among commoners? Many times, no. And yet, people see that "regal aura" about me. It makes me want to walk worthy of my calling.

Do I spend as much time cultivating inner beauty as I do attending to daily grooming of my person? Sadly, no. I am a minimalist when it comes to both. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord: she shall be praised." If I am beautiful in looks, what good is it if my spirit stinks as mine does, much of the time? I need to cultivate a quiet spirit and learn more of my Father's ways. Too, what good is a beautiful spirit if hygiene is neglected? Along with my regime for inner-beauty, I need to improve my appearance with exercise and grooming. (I'm sure my chic friend A. would agree!)

Just now, I did a Google search to see what would come up on cultivating inner beauty. When I think of biblical beauty queens, my mind immediately turns to Esther. The King James version and every other translation of the Bible I've read speaks of Esther as a beauty, so this article on suggesting she might have been a plain-looking girl surprised me. (Needless to say, I do not agree this article entirely, though I thought it posed some interesting possibilities.) "Hadassah" (Esther's Hebrew name) is from the word "hadas", or myrtle. Myrtle is a humble plant, but when crushed it gives a beautiful fragrance.
Just as the hadas must be bruised and crushed in order to smell its sweetest, so often must each of us undergo suffering in order to fully develop. Our sweet smell is inherent, but it is not always manifest until brought forth through difficult times.

And the two names of Queen Esther work hand in hand in this message: Hashem's salvation lies waiting for us in secret. Somewhere, whatever trouble we may be going through, for whatever reason we may need to be "bruised and crushed," like the hadas, there is always an ester, a hidden salvation waiting for us, that Hashem has prepared for us long before the troubles began.

A Pair of Queens: The Dual Nature of Queen Esther

I feel like Esther, a captive in a strange land. I feel bruised and crushed by a society that couldn't seem to care less about my God. But I am here, and this, whether I like it or not, is my reality. What will be the "hidden salvation" the Lord brings to His people through my life?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

"Be like the bird
That, pausing in her flight
Awhile on boughs too slight,
Feels them give way
Beneath her and yet sings,
Knowing that she hath wings."

Victor Hugo