Saturday, August 3, 2013

Delight

The thread of delight weaves its way through our lives, oft-unnoticed but essential.


I've been realizing how important it is to delight in the good - often simple - things in life.  For how can we be truly thankful without delight?  Thankfulness itself is something the writers of scripture constantly encourage.  It postures us fittingly before God and others.  Just the other day I was reading:
"...And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:15-17)
Imagination helps open the doors of delight.  I have been unashamedly enjoying The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  It is full of good friends and warm hearts and leisurely descriptions, such as the following:


Drowsy animals, snug in their holes, while wind and rain were battering at their doors, recalled still keen mornings, an hour before sunrise, when the white mist, as yet undispersed, clung closely along the surface of the water; then the shock of the early plunge, the scamper along the bank, and the radiant transformation of earth, air, and water, when suddenly the sun was with them again, and the grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more.  They recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day, deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing of the afternoon, the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long, cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow. (ch III)


Reading passages such as these encourage me to notice and enjoy my own summer days, to delight, to give thanks.

* * *

This week I read a post on the storyline blog by Shauna Niequist about her personal blogging rules for writing about good rather than controversy.  Considering my last post, it was a timely reminder.  While I will continue to write about issues I feel passionately about on this blog, I want to tend more to the side of exploring good writing and theology (rather than critiquing bad).

* * *

Finally, let us not underestimate this delight, nor the power of thankfulness.  My friend and songwriter Catherine Prewitt has a song that begins,
If it shakes you, let it shake you; let love's heaviness o'ertake you.
Let it bring you to your knees.
I love these lines.  She speaks of love between two people, but does not the smallest love, the simplest gratitude, also have its own weight?

2 comments:

  1. Bethany - This post reminds me of Osprey Point, and how, day after day, we have to work to be thankful and notice the small beautiful things of life on the Bay.

    On the other hand, it reminds me of the end of George Orwell's HOMAGE TO CATALONIA. He is on a train returning from his time in the Spanish Civil War, and as he reflects on his experiences, he realizes how the deep comfort of pastoral England at peace, had lulled them to sleep and dulled their senses. How to hold both the thankfulness and contentment in tension with a readiness, alertness, and realistic perspective of a suffering world is the question! Here's Orwell:

    And then England--southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the
    world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are
    peacefully recovering from sea-sickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train
    carriage under your bum, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere.
    Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the
    milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out
    on Friday. The industrial towns were far away, a smudge of smoke and misery
    hidden by the curve of the earth's surface. Down here it was still the England I
    had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the
    deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving
    streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the
    cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the
    barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket
    matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar
    Square, the red buses, the blue policemen--all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of
    England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked
    out of it by the roar of bombs.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Grady. It is true that even in a beautiful place like Osprey Point, it is easy to forget to see and enjoy the beauty around - the ever-changing light on the water, the windswept grasses and trees, the birds... (can you tell I miss it?)

      You also raise an important point, showing the dangers of swinging too far on the side of delight. Like most tensions, I don't know an easy way to hold it, but you are right to remind us of it.

      Acknowledging the ugly parts of life and giving thanks aren't mutually exclusive, though. Likely the most powerful gratitude is not that which is found in pastural delights and comforts, but in the person who can give thanks even in the face of darkness and pain. This kind of bold thankfulness testifies to God in way that little else can.

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