I am not stating that I just noticed that I am the only eighteen-year-old from my area that isn’t living in a college dormitory by now, (I anticipated this uniqueness long before graduation,) but that everyone has some place (be it dorm, apartment or house) that they call home, and very few actually live there. They may sleep there most nights, eat many meals there, store their belongings there, but do they live in that place? Is that where the tides of their lives come in and out? Is that where waves of events flow often enough to create tide pools and cultivate life? Do small creatures of daily details dwell there, multiplying over time, or merely at their school, workplace and Myspace page?
Eyrie Park is dear to me. Within the walls of this big, old house, many waters swirl. There are seasons when the water is pure and cool, other days when the tide brings in more seaweed than we know what to do with. But inevitably, the tide comes back to clean up after itself and, more often than not, leave us many treasures worth collecting and keeping.
But I have lived at home all my life. We moved to Eyrie Park when I was thirteen years old. Before that I lived in eight or so other houses and apartments (I lose count) and by that I mean that I truly lived in each of those places. I know that during periods when we were on the road for significant amounts of time, I felt a great deal “at home” simply due to the presence of my family, but sailing back into our familiar harbor always gave me a sense of completeness which the road and it’s ever-changing scenery could never supply.
It is for this reason that I know that my desires for independence, for a future effectuated on present time, for a home of my own, are both very real and quite imagined. In one sense, these virtues which I see in a home, these deep-rooted feelings that a house should truly belong to a family and a family to a house, make me sure that I will be contented and even delighted to settle into another home-life. I dream of painted dishes on fireplace mantles and soft-skinned babies in lacy bassinets and peaking between the curtains to see if he is-yes-he is! Walking up the drive to his house, our house, our home as the sun sets over our peaked rooftop. And these dreams I speak of are nothing new. I scarcely can remember a time when I was not anticipating this hope of a future which could be made complete with love and a place to keep it.
On the other hand, these beliefs about home make me second-guess my teenage desires of walking out of my parents’ house and into an adult life of so-called freedom. Whenever I get the inclination to walk out onto my balcony and fly away, or to walk down the road and-heaven forbid-turn onto the next street, I remind myself of my loyalty to Eyrie Park. It isn’t just Eyrie Park…no, I’d say it’s not truly Eyrie Park at all. As C. S. Lewis said, “the thing itself” is rarely where we’d look to find it.*
For as much as my heart is pinned here and there to the meadow and the creek, the scratched-up dining table and the very walls, Eyrie Park is not the thing itself. No, a building or piece of property can only be a mediator, a transmitter of longing. What then, is the thing for which we are truly longing? I think it is a couple of things which, when married together, are a wonderful recipe for happiness. They are belonging, community, security and beauty. If your house provides these things for someone, then I think you have gained a home. I’d suggest you live in it and furthermore, embrace your life in it.
I am still pecking my way through Psalm 119 and copying it into my journal as part of my daily Bible study. Psalm 119 is so long and somewhat repetitive that I knew I’d never take any of it to heart if I didn’t spend some time writing it out.
It has been very interesting though.
Some days I think, isn’t that just what the last verses said?
There is verse after verse that says, “teach me your statutes” or “I will meditate on your word” or “I delight in your testimonies” or “your precepts are my song.” Basically, Psalm 119 says “I love scripture” over and over and over again.
What could the point of all this be? I found myself asking.
And how can anyone be so passionate about the commands of the Lord?
This was a mystery to me. Yes, revel in His love. Thank Him for His grace. Find joy in His promises! But delight in His precepts? That’s just harder to picture.
In reference to Psalm 19:10, which states that the laws of the Lord are “more to be desired than gold,” and “sweeter than honey,” Lewis writes:
“What is being compared to gold and honey is those “statutes” (Latin version of “decrees”) which, we are told, “rejoice the heart” (verse 8). —This was to me at first very mysterious. “Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery”-I can understand that a man can, and must, respect these “statutes”, and try to obey them, and assent to them in his heart. But it is very hard to find how they could, so to speak, delicious, how they exhilarate.”
Reflections on the Psalms, Chapter 6.
At this point, I was a little worried. If C. S. Lewis didn’t understand this mystery, no one would ever be able to explain it! However, I read on (and am skipping a lot of great paragraphs, by the way, so read the book for yourself!):
“A fine Christian and a great scholar to whom I once put this question said he thought that poets were referring to the satisfaction men felt in knowing they had obeyed the Law; in other words, to the “pleasures of good conscience.” They would, on his view, be meaning something very like what Wordsworth meant when he said we know nothing more beautiful than the “smile” on Duty’s face-her smile when her orders have been carried out. It is rash for me to differ from such a man, and his view certainly makes excellent sense. The difficulty is that the Psalmists never seem to to say anything very like this.”
It is true…Psalm 1:2 tells us that the good man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night.” This does not seem to merely mean:
“…to obey it (though of course the good man will do that too) but to study it, as Dr. Moffat says to “pore over it.” Of course “the Law” does not here mean simply the ten commandments, it means the whole complex legislation contained in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. —This means, among other things, that the Law was a study or, as we should say, a “subject”; a thing on which there would be commentaries, lectures, and examinations. There were. Thus part of what an ancient Jew meant when he said he “delighted in the Law” was very like what one of us would mean if he said that somebody “loved” history, or physics or archaeology.” (page 56)
Now things are starting to make sense. I can understand a little better now, even with so little experience in “studying” particular “subjects”! But still, you can’t leave it at that. Scripture and “English literature” can hardly be seen as the same. I love what he writes next…
“It might be the delight in getting a thing “just so”-as in dancing a minuet. Of course, the poet is well aware that something incomparably more serious than a minuet is here in question. He is also aware that he is very unlikely, himself, to achieve this perfection of discipline: “O that my ways were made so straight that I might keep thy statutes!” At present they aren’t, and he can’t.”
As a conclusion:
“What should a man do but try to reproduce it, so far as possible, in his daily life? His “delight” is in those statutes, to study them is like finding treasure, they affect him like music, are his “songs,” they taste like honey, they are better than silver and gold. As one’s eyes are more and more opened, one sees more and more in them, and it excites wonder.”
So far, I really love this book.
Beautiful Girlhood (Hale)
Little Women / Good Wives (Alcott)
Eight Cousins / Rose In Bloom (Alcott)
Passion and Purity (Elliot)
Captivating: Unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul (Eldredge)
The Anne Series (Montgomery)
I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Harris)
The Weight of Glory (Lewis)
Sorry to be so scarce. Ever since the events of Tuesday, I have been a little distracted. “Pray without ceasing” has become a commandment less difficult the past few days. I can’t help but pray, think (and often worry, ashamedly) about Haiti and the people who live there. Any time there is a catastrophe of this sort, I am sad and moved, but this time it hit home. For me, this is very personal.
My friend Paul has made it to Haiti at last. He flew into Port-au-Prince yesterday evening and today is beginning work in a clinic of a Haitian doctor. He will likely be there roughly a week, doing whatever he can to help.
The McHouls are so good to us, giving us updates every day in the midst of the chaos. If you read their blog, they will you give you good ideas of what to pray for and other ways to help (primarily financially.) They were happy to receive a team yesterday with doctors, nurses, paramedics and emergency medical technicians and have set up a clinic in their neighborhood today. Please, please pray for this mission. They need every prayer they can get, and God is listening. He is also “on the move.” Help the effort.
On another note, I was a guest blogger over at Meditations of His Love on Friday! It was very dear of them to let me come in and sit a while there. :)
I’ve begun reading Letters to Children by C.S. Lewis. It is so enjoyable.
Eyrie Park has been having some major plumbing issues, so we have a team of plumbers working right now. Don’t you just love when strange men come to your house and track mud around, smoke in your yard, leave their shirts on the fence and generally give you the creeps? It’s my favorite! But seriously, as long as we have water again at the end of this, I’ll be thankful for their visit.
The weather today is very nice, but lately we’ve been freezing! It’s the coldest Winter my town has had in over twenty years! We anticipate Spring like the second-coming.
I’ve been writing letters, too. Pleasant words are indeed “like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24.)
Also, Sabrina bought a new bookcase and we’ve been in a bit of an organizing frenzy. This helped ease my mind immensely the day Paul left and we got a lot of bad reports from the news (involving Haiti.)
But we got some good news yesterday! Some very good, Praise-The-Lord news! Bunny’s aunt and uncle were found alive! The missionary who found them gave them some food and money. We were very happy to hear this for a few reasons. One is that their daughter, Bunny’s cousin, is Paul and Beth’s adopted sister. She was very worried about her parents since the earthquake (for good reason) and overjoyed to hear that they were safe. Also, her parents may be able to tell us if they’ve seen any of Bunny’s family.
Well, I must go make myself a sandwich. Comment please and tell me how you’ve all been!