The secret of the buried seed is to accept the darkness as a gift, to trust the finger that presses us down into what we fear will be a grave.
We have always feared facing death. We have always feared being poured out of our colourful packaging with its sunny promises, and into that terrifying mystery called germination.
We fear the hiddenness. We fear the silence. We fear the change, perhaps, more than anything.
But perhaps it is a grace that this breaking of our protective shells takes place in concealment, and if we stop grasping so tightly to our fragile skins we may feel the embrace of the soil, and hear its comforting whispers that yes, yes, life comes from death, and this breaking is indeed a new beginning.
It is good to be small. It is grace to be buried.
In this we return to the earth from which we were formed. In this we are reminded we are earth – humus. We learn humility. We become human.
And all this is not an end, oh no. All this pressing and breaking is actually a movement of love, love that pours downward, love that has pierced this dark path before, love that invites us to follow past the fear and into the deepest mystery of existence:
What is broken is multiplied, What is dead is raised to life, What is surrendered may finally grow, And what love accomplishes, no other power can unmake.
It is just as human to be hidden and quiet. And all waiting is an invitation to trust, and these deaths are an opening to life bright and beautiful beyond –
This is the way of love, And love is the only way.
* It is Madeleine L’Engle to whom I owe the connection between humus, humility, and human, from her book Walking on Water (pg. 69).
There are two geese on the river, gliding through the fog, tenderly close to each other. A mallard and his mate hug the grassy riverbank while bobbing for food. All the while, mixed precipitation pelts from a grey sky. These birds are not ruffled by an unsettled April beginning.
The Blythes Are Quoted – L. M. Montgomery Who Has Seen The Wind – W. O. Mitchell Middlemarch – George Eliot Emma – Jane Austen Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy Marilla of Green Gables – Sarah McCoy Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery The Daughter of Time – Josephine Tey Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder The Snow Goose – Paul Gallico
Excerpts from: The Rule of Saint Benedict – St. Benedict Wars of Justinian – Procopius History of the Franks – Gregory of Tours Book of Pastoral Rule & The Dialogues – Gregory the Great Ecclesiastical History of the English People – Bede
The Confession of St. Patrick – St. Patrick The Life of St. Columba – Adomnan of Iona The Voyage of Brendan Beowulf – translated by Seamus Heany
Cartier Sails the St. Lawrence – Esther Averill Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl The Secret Garden – Fracnes Hodgson Burnett The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien Homer Price – Robert McCloskey The Family Under the Bridge – Natalie Savage Carlson & Many picture books!
Pocketful of Pinecones – Karen Andreola Parents and Children – Charlotte Mason (ongoing)
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – Margareta Magnusson The Alpine Path – L. M. Montgomery
You Set My Spirit Free – St. John of the Cross Reunion: The Good New of Jesus for Seekers, Saints and Sinners – Bruxy Cavey Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Pete Scazzero
Is This “One of Those Days” Daddy? (For Better or For Worse) – Lynn Johnston It Must Be Nice to Be Little (For Better of For Worse) – Lynn Johnston Strange Planet – Nathan W. Pyle
Thoughts . . .
Who Has Seen the Wind – This was a heart book for me, and an unexpected favourite. Mitchell drew me right into Saskatchewan and right into the small-town world of Brian. (I lived in Saskatchewan for a year as a child.) The part about the Christmas skates brought me to tears. I also loved that it is Canadian!
Beowulf – What can I say? This was epic. I understand now why this is foundational to English literature. And where Tolkien got Smaug from!
Emma – I just love Jane Austen. Though Emma is not my favourite of her heroines, I enjoyed the storytelling, wit, and insight into human nature which makes Austen such a beloved author.
Anything read with others – My book club and study group continue to be a highlight of my literary life! I’ve loved reading through some of the more challenging classic literature with friends, and learning more about the medieval mindset from the writings of that time.
Middlemarch – George Eliot was a genius. This book was a huge banquet of ideas from so many different streams of thought. Well drawn characters. Masterfully done. However, it didn’t resonate with me on a “kindred spirit” level, and I think this speaks to Eliot’s own worldview.
The Hobbit – I read this with the kids over the winter. I had fond memories of my dad reading it to us as kids, with Gollum’s voice and all, and reading aloud with my own children did not disappoint. They loved the story and the way it was told. There were lots of giggles over Tolkien’s language, and that was a joy to experience together. They are on the edge of their seats and now want more Middle Earth!
You Set My Spirit Free – This was a book God used to speak to my spirit in 2019. Thanks to a tip off from a friend as we discussed the idea of a “dark night of the soul,” I found it on my shelves and it became a kind of companion. I read it slowly. I read some passages over and over. I journaled them, prayed them. This helped give me a frame of reference for what I was experiencing in this season of life.
Reading Goals for 2020
I don’t usually like to plan too much of my reading in advance, preferring to make choices that are more in the moment. However, I do have a sizeable stack of books I started reading last year, or have been on my to-read list for awhile, that I would like to finish!
Consider This – Karen Glass Beauty in the Word – Stratford Caldecott Joy and Human Flourishing – essays edited by Miroslav Volf The Adventure of English – Melvyn Bragg Evangelical, Sacramental & Pentecostal – Gordon T. Smith
The Lake District
A fellow homeschool mom and I are headed to a conference in the Lake District this spring!! I am beyond excited. Here is what I am planning to read in preparation for the trip.
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome (current read-aloud with the kids) Lyrical Ballads – Wordsworth and Coleridge How the Heather Looks – Joan Badger In Vital Harmony – Karen Glass