Thursday, March 12, 2020

     Dearest mother, I know it’s hard. It’s hard to keep your eyes open and really see your child. Mothers so often see with their heart and this clouds reality. Your child desperately wants to know where the boundary lines are drawn and she looks hourly to you for the answer.

     You deceive yourself if you think your kindness is always goodness, or your sweet softness is always beneficial to your child. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt on his view of foreign policy, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The truly kind mother would never let naughtiness take root and blossom in the heart of her child. The truly loving mother would never allow her child to disobey a clear and thoughtful command thereby fortifying his will with the barbs of obstinancy.

     Gentleness mingled with firmness and consistency will safely guide you and your child in the way. Fearfully and wonderfully made are the children indeed. As you sit at the feet of Jesus you will see the wonders of His calling on your life as “Mother.” Into your hands is given the grand possibility of helping to nurture a life created to bring glory to God’s name. Training begins now. Your business this day is vital.

Ecclesiastes 8:11, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 Johann Sebastian Bach
October 25, 2019, 7:00pm
at Calvary Church 27 Church Street, Stonington, CT

          The organ’s notes descend from the lofty heights; cascading down in torrents of inspiration upon our blessed heads in a chapel of wood and white and light robin’s egg blue. A scant seventy souls have gathered on this Friday evening to partake in the splendor of live, fine music. The building could hold twice, maybe thrice our number. Twenty dollars has bought such accomplished mastery, the hearing of such a divine offering by Mr. Bach himself—a song of worship that has served as background music in the Great Conversation that has stretched across time.

The organ sings gloriously from its balcony perch. Skillfully the organist’s hands play the inspiration of an ancient sage. Nimbly his fingers pounce upon the keys and cause the notes to vibrate forth into the night air, forth into our very being. The lower notes rumble and roll their way into my chest. Forward blast the notes rushing forth in space and time; recalling to my listening ears the reality of the ever-flowing stream of time rushing forward; faster and faster the sound courses through the sturdy wooden building and into our feeble fleshly frame.

Time passes and carves lines upon our face and scars upon our heart; mercilessly rumbling and rolling forward ceasing not its somber tones. Back and forth rock the hands of the organist; up and down race the notes, race my breaths and the beating of my heart. Up and down fly the organist’s hands; fly up and down as quickly as move the moments of my days. Dear God, give me time, an extended measure, a lengthy bar! Let me not depart this house wherein I am so temporarily confined without a completed song of praise to Your blessed Name!

          Arching, falling, rising —streams of praise pour forth from moving though silent lips and beating vibrant hearts, from strings and wood, from metal pipes and channeled air. The chapel is filling as new wine in a cup and brimming over with noble thoughts and purest notes to deliver an appropriate sonnet of thanksgiving and humble adoration to the God for whom these meticulously carved wooden arches point upward.

Instruments harmoniously weave their utterances of glory, silent voices of mind and heart join in the creation of this tapestry of praise. Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing! As Bach dedicated all his music Ad Dei Glorium —To the Glory of God— so too will I dedicate the music of my life to Him who is worthy of all.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Because Thou Art a Wrestler

“This is a ground of consolation to the weak Christian, who disputes against the truth of his grace, for the inward conflicts and fightings he hath with his lusts, and is ready to say like Gideon, in regard of outward enemies, ‘If God be with me, why is all this befallen me?’ Why do I find such strugglings in me, provoking me to sin, pulling me back from that which is good?

"Why dost thou ask? The answer is soon given; because thou art a wrestler, not a conqueror. Thou mistakest the state of a Christian in this life.  When one is made a Christian, he is not presently called to triumph over his slain enemies, but carried into the field to meet and fight them.

"The state of grace is the commencing of a war against sin, not the ending of it; rather than thou shalt not have an enemy to wrestle with, God himself will come in a disguise into the field, and appear to be thine enemy. Thus when Jacob was alone, a man wrestled with hi until breaking of the day; and therefore set thy heart at rest if this be thy scruple.

"Thy soul may rather take comfort in this, that thou art a wrestler. This struggling within thee, if upon the right ground, and to the right end, doth evidence there are two nations within thee, two contrary natures, the one from earth, earthly, and the other from heaven, heavenly; yea, for thy further comfort, know that though thy corrupt nature be the elder, yet it shall serve the younger.”

William Gurnall, 17th century wrestler

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Four Important Rules For Children... and their parents

Ben and Emily, October 21, 2017

Matthew and Dyanna, October 24, 2015

1. Always say, "Please" and "Thank you".

2. Be on time.

3. Keep your promises.

4. Finish what you start.

Monday, December 31, 2018

In the thick of it (a humorous essay)

Do you know how tired I am of people grouping me with those that don’t work? Yesterday, after a particularly trying incident, I imagined the scene as I would have liked to respond.
Says the stern-faced woman to me in a nasally tone over the brim of her glasses, “So, you don’t work, Mrs. Roy?”
Our eyes lock for a moment. My lips tighten as I adjust the fidgeting toddler on my lap. “No, ma’am, I can’t possibly work after I’ve planned for and prepared meals for six people at regular intervals throughout each and every day; maintained the never-ending laundry division of the home; supervised all sanitation aspects of our little haven of rest; sought clothing for the inmates; protected and reviewed the financial expenditures of the days, weeks, and months; looked after the health of the bodies that dwell together in these very quaint, close quarters; single-handedly tutored four little people that possess a whole kaleidoscope of learning styles; handled the disciplinary issues that arise multiple times during the course of the day while diligently and often quickly formulating the character deficiencies of each being (including my own), and having done so, contemplated the strengths and weaknesses of each all the while continuing to create an ever-changing plan to deal with them; and last but not least, prepare to discuss all of these happenings at the end of every day with my superior who, himself, is trying to maintain a business.  No—I couldn’t possibly add work to my life.” 

Elizabeth Roy, 2009

Friday, November 9, 2018

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and music in its roar:
I love not man the less,
But nature more."
Lord Byron

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ask and ye shall receive

"I go to books and to nature as a bee goes to the flower,
 for a nectar that I can make into my own honey." 
John Burroughs

   Morning. Ten thousands of tiny droplets gush forth from the belly of the sky and splash a thousand upturned leaves and grasses and budding things. The sun breaks through the clouds and the shadows of birds flit across the page of my journal laid open on my lap. The shadows of my own hand and pen dancing with the songbirds of the morning light. Sitting still here on the porch, I listen, and the birds' songs invade my thoughts and penetrate my heart. Such familiar sounds, yet the newness and enchantment of their call never fades. 

     A brazen Blue Jay lands nearby. His eye on me and mine on him. He speaks tersely to me in some dialect of the Blue Jay Tribe. Enough said and off he goes to assault other ears perhaps more keen than mine. The thrill of the close encounter induces a child-like smile across my face.

     Ah! suddenly, piercing the cacophony of Aves' notes there rises in clear tones above the others the beloved song of the Wood Thrush. A flute-like trill characterizes a portion of his blessed song. I close my eyes and praise the God of the song. I move to the other end of the porch as his song draws me closer, but, alas, like a phantom he moves on and I am left alone, yearning, gazing into the woods. 

     Oh, how I long to see this elusive creature of the deeper wood. "Lord, you know how I love the sound of the Wood Thrush and how I long to catch just a glimpse of him. I am content to hear him, yea, overjoyed to hear him, but, oh, how nice it would be to see him as well!" Indeed, I think that perhaps the unfulfilled longing is meant to teach me that my deepest longings can never be fulfilled here on earth.

     Next day. Same porch. With Bible open I am distracted by the scene of a Black-Capped Chickadee chasing and deftly catching a moth in mid-air. I regain control of my attention and return to the pages before me. It feels like rain. It smells like rain. The scent of the Lilacs is heavy and hanging in the dewy air. The pages of my journal have a damp weight to them this morning; even the ink of the pen feels heavier. I thank God for the impending shower and for the little bright green leaves that seem to have popped out overnight.

     Again, my eyes return to the open Book. Without warning, a loud thud to my direct left startles me. I know the sound immediately. I have heard it before but from the inside of our house, never from the outside, and certainly not 3 feet from where I sit. It is the sound of a bird flying into the clear glass of a window. I turn quickly enough to see its limp body fall to the porch floor with a stunned chirp. Amazed, I leap up from my seat and realize immediately that before me lays none other than a Wood Thrush. My hands rush to my face as I gasp and then to my heart. In that moment I felt as if the Lord had said, "You want to see a Wood Thrush? Here you go!" and with divine precision that poor Wood Thrush was hurled into our living room window. 

     Dazed and confused the bird lay on its side, beak open, eyes closed. I was completely in awe. Didn't I ask for this? But, oh, to see it like this? I immediately got down close to him and began to pray. "Oh, thank you, thank you God, for this rare opportunity but please, oh, please don't let him die! I wanted to see him and I thank you but, please let him live!" 

     The bird righted itself on its unbelievably skinny little legs. His beak remained open and his head was tipped all the way back and his eyes remained closed. For the next 15 minutes I stayed near him. I lay flat on my stomach on that porch floor looking at this wonder of song. Such a small creature yet out from it flows such a large song full of depth and beauty. Its cloak of brown feathers with its underbelly of speckled white is quite unremarkable. It belies the depth of beauty found within its breast.

     Eventually, his eyes opened and there we sat staring at one another. Me and a Wood Thrush, face to face, not 2 feet between us. I've enjoyed his song for years on this property but have never seen him. What a wonder, I mentioned it to my God yesterday and He arranged for a meeting today. My heart was filled, simply filled with the beauty and nearness of this creature and with the God who threw him into my window that morning. 

     All at once my winged visitor shook its head, gave one last look, and off he flew. My mouth closed with a sacred sense of awareness and my heart burst wide with gratitude.  "...For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." 

"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalm 37:4

Some people think God's voice booms like the roar of the ocean waves. I think it sounds like a Wood Thrush in the early, dewy morning just out of sight in a wooded glen.

The Wood Thrush