Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thoughts from Old Books

Wow, it is extra frigid outside this morning....10 degrees below zero! Weather report says tomorrow temps may reach 20 above, so I think I'll wait until then to go grocery shopping. The Schwan's truck stopped this morning......I should have asked the driver if he's able to shut off the refrigeration system in his truck in weather like this. There's no way that anything would thaw.

All yesterday afternoon Husband snored contentedly on the living room floor, so I had to find something quiet to do. I ended up digging into a cluttered corner of what we call the "computer room", AKA "toy room" when the kids were little. It's really just a catch-all room, home to many piles of items/junk that I have allowed to accumulate over the years. The corner I worked on contained things like old pads of paper, construction paper, sketch books, cardboard pieces.....things the kids would use to play "office", etc., and do artwork. I would save things like that for them. Maybe it had an influence, as my oldest child is now an art teacher. But there's no excuse for me to still have that stuff sitting around as dustcatchers. I rummaged through it, throwing quite a bit away, and keeping some of it in case I ever have little visitors, or future grandchildren. On a shelf I also found some old books, probably purchased at a rummage sales years ago.

One of the books is entitled The New Dictionary of Thoughts: A Cyclopedia of Quotations, published in 1957. I remember now that I bought it from a pastor. Since yesterday was Valentine's Day, I looked up "Valentine" in the book. There were just two entries for it. One was a quote from Noah Webster:

"The fourteenth of February is a day sacred to St. Valentine! It was a very odd notion, alluded to by Shakespeare, that on this day birds begin to couple; hence, perhaps, arose the custom of sending on this day letters containing professions of love and affection."

So maybe our Valentine customs don't come so much from St. Valentine, as from some other natural tradition, which happened to coincide with the yearly remembrance of Bishop Valentine.

Another old book I found in the cluttered corner was 1000 Inspirational Things, compiled by Audrey Stone Morris, 1948. The foreword page stated:

"Here is a collection of great stories of the human spirit, of soul-searching essays, of beautiful, inspired poems and of stirring thoughts by outstanding thinkers and doers.
Surely every home has need for such a volume--a volume to give us a lift when a lift is needed and to bring forth in all of us "diviner feelings kindred with the skies."

What a great thought!

Here is part of the first entry in the book, a poem called "Hold Fast Your Dreams" by Louise Driscoll:

Hold fast your dreams!
Within your heart
Keep one still, secret spot
Where dreams may go,
And, sheltered so,
May thrive and grow
Where doubt and fear are not.

O keep a place apart,
Within your heart,
For little dreams to go!

Sounds like a nice description of what a journal, diary, or blog could be to its owner.

The next poem in the book is entitled "The Common Tasks" by Grace Noll Crowell. There's wisdom and encouragement in the lines, especially for any person who at times questions the worth of her/his tasks. As a stay-at-home wife and mom, I've definitely been there and done that......

The common tasks are beautiful if we
Have eyes to see their shining ministry.
The plowman with his share deep in the loam;
The carpenter whose skilled hands build a home;
The gardener working with reluctant sod,
Faithful to his partnership with God--

These are the artisans of life. And, oh,
A woman with her eyes and cheeks aglow,
Watching a kettle, tending a scarlet flame,
Guarding a little child---there is no name
For this great ministry. But eyes are dull
That do not see that it is beautiful;
That do not see within the common tasks
The simple answer to the thing God asks
Of any child, a pride within His breast:
That at our given work we do our best.

I confess my eyes were often dull when I was a mother of young children. Especially when it came to that task of "guarding" the little ones. Here on a busy farm full of dangerous machininery and corn fields to get lost in it was a constant responsibility, and hardly was the beauty apparent. It just seemed very tiring. Anyway, I found the poem to be moving and relevant to life.

Well, I must get away from this keyboard, for there is a kitchen to sweep, a dishwasher to fill, and laundry to fold. And my high school daughter just phoned to tell me I need to show up at school this evening for an event. That means I will need to hurry through evening chores, hurry to get cleaned up, and hurry to get to school on time. Hurrying is not one of my favorite activities.


Robert said...

Well you've got a nice post here...and thanks for posting the small was really nice...and hey you can also drop by my blog on Inspirational quotes wishes and enjoy all that i've posted there!!!

Jeannelle said...

Thank you, Robert, for your comment. It was the first one my blog has received! I'm going to go visit your blog now.