Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto XIII

Today, if not every day, Lord, help me to focus my gratitude on what You are, and not what You have given me. Not that there's anything wrong with that sort of gratitude, but let the Your gifts not be my biggest reason for loving You. Help me, today and all days, Elyon*, to love You for Yourself, and to know You ever better, so that You might be more than enough, for everything.

Today, I want to put into words the things You have been bringing my eyes too, through the words of other Saints and Your own Holy Spirit. I want to give thanks for all the ways You are Infinite.

{92} Infinitely sized: I am, far to often, guilty of limiting You to the best notion I have of You. I make You a God that fits into my pocketa God that I compare to the ocean, even though there's an opposite shore to those waters that I can comprehend.** But You have given me glimpses, dear Lord, of how Your universe reflects Youhow we never have nor, most likely, ever will see the edge of the starry heavens. Let me keep my eyes fixed on the endless You, so I may never see You as smaller than my troubles and dreams.

{93} Infinitely detailed: In the falling leaves or flurrying snowflakes, if I stop to look, I can get a glimpse of how You are. How this beautiful thing is even more breathtaking when you get close enough to see the veins of life or the crystallized patterns. And, in that, I can see the God that is not only sized bigger than our endless universe, but also more detailed than the atomic construction of our world. Not only will we never see the edge of You, but we can never, even with a microscope, know You well enough to know every detail. And that is why life, even the endless life hereafter, will never bore. Because You will be our everything, and there will always be something new to see and learn of You.

{94} Infinitely beautiful: What are the words to describe it? They're abundant, among Your creation. Those leaves and snowflakes, or the rolling turquoise waves of the oceans and the white dusted green peaks of mountains in the golden summer sunshine. And that is not even beginning to look at the less tangiblethe way of an artist with his paintbrush on canvas or the sway of a violinist on her strings. The laugh of a baby. The tears of a grandmother. All these, only mere reflections. Praise God for the hope of the day we aren't looking in mirrors any more, but straight into Your beauty: face to face.

{95} Infinitely gracious: In so many ways. Grace to forgive all of us, for every daily sin. Grace to hold us together, despite the tearing of temptation, sorrow, and human love. Grace to cuddle us, when we are crying in the pain of our own making. Grace to warm us from our woes with thoughts of You, Your gifts, and Your promises of what is to come. Grace to create this world You knew we would make a mess of. Grace to love us, always, and so wonderfully without condition.

{96} Infinitely generous: Always giving, even when You know it is a gift we shall turn up our nose at, in our human ignorance. Giving opportunities: places to run our races and reach our victories. Giving relations, always handing out chances to meet new people or grow closer to the familiar ones. Giving us senses, physical and non, and opening them by Your Spirit, so we might see all the reflections of You that You present every day. Giving trials or discipline, despite our protests, because You know betterknow the need in ways we cannot.

{97} Infinitely challenging: Sometimes by the giving of trials and discipline, and sometimes in other ways. It can be anything: a person who does not share our view, an obstacle that blocks our goals, or the ancient tussle of wrestling our will against Yours. Help us revel in the joy of that: a life that is never boring, and always challenging. Renew us daily, so we might have enough mind to see You are not a divine prankster, laughing at us, but a Mother weaning us from milk, and the Father putting us to task, making us push our boundaries and smiling at us when we do what we thought we could not. Give us grace to wrestle with genuine struggle and desire to understand, and protect us from the bitterness so readily supplied by the devil and our own sinful natures.

{98} Infinitely inspiring: Thank You, Elyon, for being unsatisfied in existing as the sole artist. Let us never forget You are the only Creator, but help us to be endlessly eager in our ability to imitate, to make things of what Your provide. Thank You for always giving me more to see, feel, and dream. Thank You for attaching the endless stream to my soul: the flow of images, feelings, and tales that cling to me. I will never not be grateful for this gift of Yoursprotect me from pride that might lose sight of how it is not mine. Even when it is heavy, it is always beautiful.

{99} Infinitely present: Praise God for never leaving us lonely. For provide Himself always, as protector, confidant, and family. Forgive me for when I lose sight and trick myself into thinking that I need more.

{100} Infinitely patient: After the past years, I'm not sure if there is anything I love more about You, Elyon. The greatest assurance of my life is the consistency of Your Cross, always there at the moments of needed confession, no matter what number of repetition it is. Help me to think always on that, on You, so that temptation may become something that loses power, utterly drowned out by the rain of You, surrounding me.

*Just in case there's any reader who don't already know, Elyon is something I use like my own personal name for God. While based on one of the Hebrew ways of addressing God (EL ELYON [el-el-yohn]: “Most High"), it's something that I took on, at some point in my life, as my own version of "Abba," calling God in a way that is personal and meaningful to me.
**I want to give credit to where it is due for this thought. It's something I came across in a chapter of "I Don't Wait Anymore," a wonderful book by Grace Thornton. I would highly recommend it to anyone, though it is especially applicable to single women of God college age and (even more particularly) above.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto XII

{86} Thank God for tea. Green, black, herbal. For its warmth and subtlety. For the spirit of drinking it, sinking into a sofa and feeling it ooze out to my furthest extremities. Homey. Warm. Content.

{87} Thank You, Elyon, for Your graciousness in wrestling. Thank You for letting me thrash, saying what I mean. Thank You for never holding it against me. Thank You for being a God that is undefeatablethat will never short-change me by letting me settle on anything less than what is right. And thank You, so much, for bringing those fights to an end, no matter how long it takes. I am not entirely there, You know. But today I felt, for the first time, that we might be coming to a close, entering a final, much gentler round.

{88} Praise to the God who understands us enough to provide examples. Not to give us a book that is moral lessons, but one that gives us glimpses of what it is: being imperfect humans trying to serve a perfect God. And Thank You, for the perfect examplethe Christ we never have to question.

{89} For the endlessness of creativity: how there is always something else to imagine. I am occasionally daunted, by the number of written and painted art already in this world. But then I am comforted, relieved in that the ideas do not stophow there is always more to come.

{90} Thank You for baking: a place where I can do all I can and then sit back, watching the result grow into what I have made it, for better or worse.

{91} For conclusions: when things come to an end that is as satisfying as it is sad. Because the story was that good, and we do not want it to end. But the ending was good too, so we cannot help being happy about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto XI

{79} Thank You, God, for making man a storyteller. I love to see, peering back, how this has always beenhow it always will be. There is a bit of my soul that flutters in excitement, imagining Adam and his sons around a campfire, sharing stories and telling tales.

{80} Praise God for the greyness of morning. I am never not happy, when I take the time to notice the way the world looks when I wake: how everything is alight with a sort of dim glow. Soft. Elegant. Magical.

{81} Again I find myself grateful, endlessly, for music. But today, to be different, I shall say my gratitude, specifically, for the variety. Variety in instruments, in moods, in artists. I love how the same structure of vocal chords can make such different sounds. How I can recognize the artist the instant they open their mouth: how the fluctuations and tones of a voice can be as individual as a personality. And I love them all, from the deep, lucid tones of Yoann Lemoine to the high, soft fluttering of Regina Spektor.

{82} For chances. Chances to rise to the occasion, putting forth everything at my disposal. Chances to welcome others home. Chances to exert myself, throwing all my bodily strength in a way I did not, for so long, understand to be a joy.

{83} Thank You, Elyon, for sisters. Blood sisters: the ones that have always been and always will. They are such a warm, solid permanence to fall back upon, for all things. But also for acquired sisters: the ones that were given to me along the way and which it is such a joy to get to know, to revel in, to treasure.

{84} Praise God for survivorsthe people we can look to with hope. The ones that survived the illnesses that have taken others away from us. There is something soul-saving, in seeing the little girl on the road to healing from cancer. And the ones that survive the nonphysical: the loneliness, the trials. The ones that are a little older than you and have felt some of the things you feel. The world seems to alight from behind, making a warm breeze that you could rise upon, when the survivor smiles and you, holds out their arms to display, and says without saying: "See? I'm still here."

{85} For health. I say it with longing this time, sitting among the used tissues and still clogged sinuses. But I say it genuinely, feeling the strength come back and rising on that lifting, excited feeling. I am almost backalmost there.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto X

After too long yet again, but not so long as I have been guilty in the past, I find myself back here: in the discipline of gratitude.

And, truly, I have so much to be grateful for. The time since my last post has been a healthy reminder of that. Among other things, I was able to take some days away from life to enjoy some road-tripping with my family. It was warmly nostalgic, to pile into an RV and set out across the country again. And amidst the mountains and pines of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado I was reminded of so many things I love: so many things to be grateful for.

I will try to find words for them: the many happinesses that found their home in my chest during those days and many days after.

Of course, those days and the ones after were not all happiness. No day on earth ever is. There were the moments of stress from being too crowded with people, even people you love. There are still, occasionally, the personal slip ups and moments of sadness that settle over my chest, with their companions of bitterness and ingratitude. But that makes saying these things that much more important. Because the happiness is that much more precious for them, and I shall never learn to cast of my bitternesses until I learn to be grateful.

So here's for trying, in the wake of His Grace.

{72} For familiar sleeping faces. Cramped or no, there is something delightful in rolling over and seeing the sleeping expression of a sibling or parent. I'm not sure how to put it in words: the expanding, happy feeling of "Ah, that's how they look asleep. I'd forgotten."

{73} Thank God for memory: the reminiscent mind-pictures, both blurry and clear. How those little round, white roofed sheds against the Montana skyline remind me of the gers of Mongolia. How I can still see her sleeping face: the little one who was all my responsibility that nightthat little, delightful weight of a child asleep on my chest. How I can still hear the creek, laughing at our antics as we played along it as children: picking flowers, hunting mushrooms, killing snakes, skipping stones.

{74} Thank you, Elyon, for mornings of being the first riser. There is something solidly satisfying in being awake before the restin sitting up in a house full of sleepers. Partially because it makes it sink in further that you are sitting in a house full of people, and, to a soul prone to loneliness, that is never not a delightful thing. And partially because there is some magic to it: a lightness of thought and feeling that seems to make you float out the cabin window and out into the horizon of stone and pine, where the sun is rising over the mountain tops.

{75} Praise God for the chance to stand in sight of wild beasts. I found myself a small thing again, watching the Moose mother and her little one walking slowly among the grass. Their long legs and heavy elegance begged to be watched, admired. One's own mind cannot be a heavy, huge thing in the face of that; it is reduced again to simply a single human mind in a massive universe where giants dwell. I have seen my Behemoth,* and how small I am. Thank God.

{76} For the fragrance of rain and pines: a mixture I can call nothing short of majestical.**

{77} Thank you, my God, to be able to be wrapped in a blanket, listening to the rain and feeling chilled in the brisk mountain air. And all this in July.

{78} You have all my thanks today, Elyon, for the way I can be surprised by how much love I have in me for someone. Not because this makes me a better person. But because all this love could never come from me; it is all Yours, from so long being poured into by Your endless grace. And while I must be careful of pride, there is something worth having pride in, when you find yourself seeing a face you have not seen in too long or talking about someone you don't talk about often, and all at once there is a flood of feeling in you: a rush of so much warmth. And it is not that you did not know you loved them; it's simply that you are caught off guard by how much of the feeling there isthat you love anyone to that extent. By God's grace, the love of man can become a thing of miraculous size: another Behemoth of His making.

*Job 40:15-24
**This reference is mostly just a little laugh for me, but to those bothered by the non-word, I'll just take a moment to put in a recommendation. The reference is to a wonderful movie called Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which I would recommend to almost anyone. It also has a rating that asks for some viewer discretion, but past the language and a few unfortunate conversations, this is a movie that can both make your heart ache with feeling and also make your sides ache with laughter. Five star recommendation ;)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto IX

{64} Thank You, Elyon, for work I can love. Much as all labor can satisfy, there is something very unlike anything else, when you set yourself to work, grinning, and think, "I am getting paid for this?"

{66} For stories that make me cry.* There is something so relieving in shedding tears for someone who is not myselffor someone who is not even real. To be able to just feel for them and with them and grieve, and then it is over and I do not have to be sad about it anymore, unless I want to be. And of course sometimes we do want to, because those characters meant just that much: enough that we don't mind continuing our sadness for them, from time to time.

{67} Amazingly, I have not done this one yet, so thank you, my dear God, for music. For good music: the kind that it doesn't even matter if the lyrics are absolute nonsense, because they are not trash and the sound of them as sweet and the melody is just that beautiful.

{68} For water, and the wonderful, satisfying feeling of re-hydrating.

{69}  And thank You, Creator, for the water I do not drink: the water that I get to watch go laughing by in brooksthe water that I get to sink into and embrace the feeling of being submerged. Because there is something magical about that water. Something that conjures deep rooted daydreams of Atlantis. Something that is never not exciting.

{70} Praise God for the ability to change: that, no matter how old of dogs we become (says the woman of twenty-three; I suppose I should not suppose too soon), we can in fact still change things. With your grace, always, of course, but that the change can happen. No matter how small and how step-by-step, it is still possible. Possible enough to find yourself grinning, looking up to God like a proud child.
"Look, Daddy, I did it."

{71} For cleaning. Not because I enjoy it (I will not kid myself). But because it is always, consistently, therapeutic. Good work that is good for the soul.

*For the curious, this particular time the story was a movie called About Time. While not for younger audiences, it is a story about every kind of love (romantic, familial, and friendly) that is entirely worth it, albeit with one or two scenes worth skipping. But I have a number of other movies and books that will almost always make me cry, and if you ever want a list, you can feel free to ask me. Because crying is good for the soul, and I don't mean that in a depressing way. Tears are actually scientifically proven to make you feel better. Look it up. ;)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto VIII {a new start}

I find myself facing the keyboard with much apprehension… something that is not entirely normal for me.
You see, I have been away from this place for too long. Not the keyboard, just this application of it. I have been less consistent toward writing in general, the past six months, but in this specifically I have come to a standstill: my list of Thank-you’s.
At first it was not with intention. It was simply me: inconsistent and forgetful. But it became something else, as the weeks dragged on. Every time I tried to put myself together for a blog post or to even touch the little notebook I write my first draft in, I stopped. I did not think about it too much. I simply passed it over, letting it slip as I began, piece by piece, to let so many things slide.
This week I’m here, but it’s a little different. God willing, we will get to seven gratitudes at the end. To the point. But, I find I cannot put them down alone—cannot restart this discipline without first being honest. I cannot be grateful until I face the thing fully: what has kept me from here.
At first it was because I was not happy. It is hard to be grateful when you are not happy. I tried and failed to think of things to add to the Canto's list, and after a while I just stopped thinking. Part of me doesn’t want to talk about it, but the rest of me knows God and I have been wrestling over it for too long. He has had to drag me too much on this road of teaching me to be honest.
You see, I lie a great deal; it’s a habit.
I lie to strangers all the time. I smile; I act respectful—composed. All that while inside my head I am an unhappy, fearful, clumsy mess. I think we all do that. We cannot say everything we think.
I also lie to acquaintances: people I don’t know well yet. I am slow to trust people with truth. So I laugh my way through all small talk, engaging in conversation while I struggle to listen fully past the buzzing in my head—all the thoughts that try to snag my attention. There are responses I cannot give to people I do not know, because I am not brave enough. If you ask that question I will smile and nod, because anything else would make the space between us an uncomfortable one. And I love, above far too many things, to be comfortable.
And then there are the lies I tell to the people I love. That circle is one I like to keep small, but God and the persistent presence of good people is always making bigger. But, yes, I lie to them. Because on those days, the dark, heavy days, I prefer to smile. Partially because I am afraid: I don’t want them to see because I really, really care what they think and I don’t want them to think less of me. Because we are all, always, less than what the people who love us think we are. God is demanding better of me in this area, forcing me step by step to tell the truth. I have told some of you different pieces: how it hurts, how I am helpless, how I am afraid. But progress is slow, and I am still so very, very afraid of talking about myself too much—of burdening my beloved friends and family past what they can bear. But all that makes me sound a little noble, doesn’t it?
*Insert a laugh here*
I’m not. Just scared, and lazy. Because I really, really hate uncomfortable conversations. We’ve been there before, you and I, but I don’t want to go there today, because it is so very, very exhausting. See? Here I am: little and lazy. Yes, I know it’s less than what you thought. I’m sorry. But at the same time I am not, because there is being born in me a very stubborn, angry streak that is so very sick of apologizing. But then, perhaps that was always there. I did consider myself a rather angry child.
But see, that is not all the lies I tell. I deceive deeper than that. I lie to myself, every day. Lots of ways. I tell myself I am fine. There is nothing wrong. I tell myself I am the worst off. Everything is messed up. Yes, I know that’s a contradiction. But self-pity is a warm, comfortable place, and I do so love to sink into it. I tell myself this whole mess is someone else’s fault. There’s something inside my head that is so very desperate to find someone else to blame. Perhaps it is the devil, inside my head telling lies. 
"Maybe it's not your fault."
"Maybe it was God, making you this weak, frightened, helpless thing."
"Or maybe there’s something you can’t remember: a repressed memory that explains everything wrong with you."
I want so bad for there the be a reason for everything—a reason that is not my fault. So I lie every day, feeding thoughts that don’t even speak directly, whispering so far back in my mind I cannot trace them. And then I lie again, telling myself I can sort out the truth of the matter if I walk the road of my mind with intention, adventuring into my thoughts until they become familiar and make sense.
If you have not guessed already, I have a gift for analyzing myself to death.
And I have started to feel the repercussions of it. There is a heavy sort of sadness that falls over me, sometimes, when I find myself in a room alone. I’ve tried to name that feeling, given it a lot of titles that are not quite right. But recently I found myself an image that made sense.

“When we believe that with enough effort, enough organization, 
or enough commitment, we can fix things that are broken, we set 
ourselves in God’s place. And when we do, we reap stress, restlessness, 
and anxiety. Instead of submitting to His yoke, we break it and run wild, 
trampling the very ground we are meant to cultivate.” 
-Hannah Anderson*

Now, that might sound a bit too energetic for a heavy feeling, but you have not seen what else it does to me: how I move just to move and push myself through half my days. How I sometimes feel mad, driven past sanity by pure self-loathing, confusion, and the need for everything to make sense. How I can clinch my fists so tightly I engrave pain into my palms with my fingernails because I am suddenly, without good reason, so very, very angry. In these I can see the image of trampling: of a temper tantrum.
And the heavy feeling comes when I grow still, when I look at the trampled earth and ask God why why why why, as if He had done it. As if He were not, constantly, begging me to let Him make it better. As if He were not already making it better. I think He is, but I do not always believe it. And I have always been terribly impatient.
You see, I think the Messiah complex Anderson was talking about may be my affliction. But I have a Self-Messiah Complex. I want so very much for my messes to be just my problem—to be something I can handle myself. I am prideful, in so many, many ways. Reading this book, I felt a clear image form in my mind: myself yoked to a bag of stones. Some of the rocks are heavier than others, and they all have different labels. Independence. Addiction. Sorrow. Perfectionism. Lonliness. Fear. Bitterness. Too-personal-to-talk-about. Etcetera, etcetera.
And I’m throwing myself against this yoke, comically digging trenches with my legs as the burden refuses to budge. I simultaneously do not understand and understand too well what Anderson is trying to tell me, when she talks about how Christ is standing right there, waiting with a new yoke.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden…”
And I am split down the middle, half too-tired-to-want-anything-else and half too-stupid-to-admit-I-can’t.

“It’s understandable that we fear the yoke. 
We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. 
Be we must also understand that without the 
protection of the good master, we are not safe. 
From the manipulation of other masters. From 
expectations of society. From ourselves.”**

And here I stand in the ruts of my making, looking up at my God with fear. But I have been here before. I know already, personally, what the hymnist meant.
“Was Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace my fears relieved.”
I know it—the terror of a righteous, beautiful God. And I have also tasted it intimately: the relief when you let Him have His way. I’m not sure why I keep coming back here, keep trying to take over. It is probably just human nature, or just who I am. But I know what happens here, when I hand my yoke to Him and take the one He offers.
“How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed.”
And when I touch this yoke I feel that: feel again what I felt when I was six years old, Forgiven and Accepted for the first time. At that time I felt something intangible fall off me, felt like my heart had been given wings. God willing, those wings have grown over the years, sprouted out my back and become the Spirit that shields me. I know I have battered them, along the way. I think those wings may be broken now, battered in gashes and fractured bones. I did that myself. Because I am a creature of habit, and I always crawl back to the way I was: creep away from God.
But I find I am less and less afraid of getting too far away, as the years go by and God pulls me right back to His chest with an embrace, time and time again. That is why I can sing and mean it, when I sing these words:
“Here’s my heart, Lord. Take it. Seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”
I am not sure what to call the yoke God gives in exchange for the mine. Perhaps it is ignorance, not having to know all the answers. Or maybe it is simply Grace, enough for a lifetime. I only know I want to hold on to it this time, and hope that I learn how to do that by the Spirit, not my weak self. And I pray that the bandages God has put on my wings do their work—that the wounds will heal in time, even if relapses tend to make me tear the wrappings off.
And I also pray He makes me grateful, even if I am not consistently happy.
So here they are: seven things I’m grateful for this week.

{57} For imagery, God’s way of placing pictures in the mind that make sense.

{58} For those writers You have already set to paper, Elyon***, and how those faithful saints have found ways to say the things we all struggle with. Thank You, for giving them the words.

{59} For birds. I hear one singing now, and it is painfully beautiful. Nostalgic. Heavenly.

{60} For flowers, and that those outside my door are finally blooming. God willing, I’ll become responsible enough to water them. I feel that must be a metaphor, for something.

{61} For a new roommate. That I am able to live side by side another human soul again.

{62} For health, no matter how hard it can be to find.

{63} For food, the wonders of Your creation that makes even simple survival act enjoyable, and tasty.

*Hannah Anderson is the author of Humble Roots, a book I've been reading with a reading group at my church recently, and I highly recommend it. It is all about how much of our day to day stress stems from pride, and it is an enjoyable and challenging read.
**Another quote from Hannah Anderson in the same book.
***I think I've already mentioned this, but just to clarify: Elyon is my personal name for God. I was introduced to it through a book series I love and later realized it is actually one of the Hebrew names for God, and over the years I have found myself calling Him that when I'm trying hardest to face Him honestly. It is something like my own version of "Abba."

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Thousand Reasons: Canto VII {Holiday Special}

Mornings are a great time to examine yourself. Today I find myself a procrastinator, from a mixture of not trying and not feeling. So I've buckled myself in and am putting up another Canto, after far too long an absence. This one is longer, a pile created over the holidays and too long letting myself lag.

{43} For the willingness of Heaven. I had a fairly obvious revelation, while singing a Christmas Hymn. It occurred to me what the angels must have known, to declare "Peace on earth, good will to men." The Incarnation itself doesn't merit "peace on earth." The angels must have known what came next: the sacrifice. The Beloved of Heaven had to die.
      They knew, and yet they sung praise.
      I can't help but wonder if any of them were crying.

{44} Thank You for hot mugs of teathe warmer of the hands, throat, and insides: gentle warrior against the winter chill.

{45} Thank You, Elyon, for embraces: the easiest language to speak and hear amidst darkness and thorns.
       "I'm here. You're not alone in this. And that, at least, is something."

{46} For strategy gamesa place to sit back and chance your minds against each other in the safe, merry realm of good sport.

{47} Thank God for His goodnessto be always the Deity sitting by our side. Not because He is small, but because He is good. The only God and terrifying in His Holy right, but right beside us all the same, with that smile none dare look upon.
       "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he's not safe, but he is good."*

{48} For Christmas lights, which twinkle in the tree branches like little advent fairies.

{49} Thank God for the ability of vicarious experience through readingthe gift of human imagination that can soak in a story and feel with its characters. There is nothing quite like the racing pulse, warm fuzzies, or ache of another's feelings. Real or fiction. Whether is is Mary mother of Christ or Orual**, they seep into our consciousness and never completely leave, even when the book is closed. And we are never quite the same.

{50} For Advent: the season to remind how waiting makes things all the sweeter.

{51} For giftsthe chance to give and receive them.

{52} Praise Him for the cozy fireside feel: an atmosphere that lulls anxieties to sleep with crackling flames. And how that calm is further soothed by stories, that ancient fireside tradition carried on through words on a page or read aloud.

{53} Thank God for Christmas stories. That particular genre plays so well in the air being read aloud, and has a tendency to contradict the condemnation of man which is our healthy medicine for pride the rest of the year. We might overdose on it, if not for such tales of reprieve.

{54} Thank You, Elyon, for childrenlittle bundles of opportunity. They are our chance to see again the world through eyes not yet grim or bitterly disillusioned. Through their excitement we can see the reminder of our own childhood ecstasies, back when presents under the tree were a sort of magic, regardless of whether parents or a fat old saint conjured them.

{55} Thank Heaven for New Yearsdays to start over and begin again.

{56} For promises to self: chances to dream with conviction.

*C.S. Lewis, speaking through Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

**Another C.S. Lewis reference :) Opual is the main character in his book Till We Have Faces, and since my first time through that particular book I have continued to find her one of the most relatable characters in all of literature.