Tag Archives: peace

Live and let live

The boys and I have now been almost one week in Minnesota.  The land is so beautiful, and the skies.  Homer spoke of the “wine-dark sea” – two evenings ago I saw wine-dark hills in the distance, blue and purple; and in the middle and foreground, a gently undulating sea of green.

My sister and her husband and their children live in a white many-gabled house with green shutters.  There are woods behind, and a grove and pond before, and sometimes the only sound is the wind in trees.

The effect on me of the benignity of my sister, her family, their home, and the land became clear to me a couple of days ago.  I plucked from my shirtfront the fifth of the six ticks my sons and I have collected together since we’ve arrived.  Instead of my usual reaction, which is to regard a tick something like this:

I don't like wood ticks very much.

I don’t like wood ticks very much.

I looked at it’s wiggling legs and considered that here was a creature just tryin’ to make livin’ and doin’ the best it can.

Don't take this wrong, but please feel free to ramble on sooner than later.

Don’t take this wrong, but please feel free to ramble on sooner than later.

Right now I am in the Twin Cities with my sister Bernadette and her husband Mike.  Their house is an island of peace of another kind.  I’ll write more on both places later.

Hope, hard thing!


Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.

These lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins, so kindly and calming, are like a balm for a tired soul – particularly the tired soul burdened with a fierce self-directed critical faculty. They come at the very close of his Sonnets of Desolation, or “Terrible Sonnets” – six sonnets which detail inner darkness and turmoil.   Altogether they seem to exemplify what a good friend in college once told me, that peace is sometimes hard-won.

“[W]e. . .exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

I was all ears as the lector read this on Sunday, for being of a melancholy turn of mind one virtue I notably lack is hope.  So, to get to hope we start with. . .tribulation?

I took the confirmation name of Joan, for Joan of Arc, because even at sixteen I knew there were battles to be fought and that I needed the courage of a soldier.  And there have been battles, sometimes difficult ones; but I have learned two things, and what a difference the knowledge has made.

One is, that I am not alone.  Across the street, at the park, on the freeway, I am surrounded by brothers and sisters each with their own battles.  I root for them, and it makes the struggle easier, to know that all around me are others who have come from the same beginning and are going to the same end – I hope – and who struggle, sometimes mightily, too.

The other is that we have a captain who has seen every kind of battle fray and over whom no enemy can triumph; and who moreover loves and watches over all of his soldiers and desires that not one should be lost.