-C. S. Lewis, taken from The Joyful Christian
As a side note, I'd like to add that the progress toward either rarely looks like much of an epic battle of decisions. 'The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.' It's an unremarkable line with remarkable consequences. Let no one fool you; the progress toward hellishness is a gently sloping downhill ride in the calm of mid-afternoon. The progress toward Heaven is narrow and riddled with innumerable annoyances and seemingly unnecessary sacrifices. It will seem irrational and inconsequential, but take the harder way.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind and death behind doth cast
Such terror and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it toward hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.
-John Donne, I. from Holy Sonnets
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
This is the season when we rescind everything we have acquired to discover what we were meant to keep all along. Whether it be something abstract (like confidence) or something concrete (like meat on Fridays), we know by the giving-up which are the things we have been given in the generosity of our Father and which are the things we have stolen from under his grace. Personally, I'm rather miserable about it all. But then, there has been an undercurrent of misery beneath all of my license for a while now, and I would trade much for a clean heart. I would trade all I have to know that there is nothing standing between me and my God.
And so I take this day, though I missed all the morning services and will miss all the evening ones as well, to pray this Psalm:
Have mercy on my, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity.
Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
...You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
like a rug at noon--
like a rug in the yard
against the sun hanging.
i would beat her with
racket or with rod
and, like the dust from a mummy,
all that is not-her
will fly like so much sand
into the forgiving air,
the breeze like balm
breathing the not-me away.
this is my mercy--
(what i really want to do is touch
her forehead with the gentle tip of
a finger, gently push, and from her
skin see blow these particles, as
though this small gesture were an
Okay, I'm sure I can come up with more intelligent commentary than that. ...maybe later.