Monday, August 31, 2015

Sabbath's Day Rest

"And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life-- achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one's life as well, when one can feel that one's work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest."

~Oliver Sacks, Sabbath, August 14, 2015

The quotes this week and last both deal with death. I'm not sure why, exactly, except that I read them and they resonated with me, both for their literary qualities as well as for the sentiment.

Oliver Sacks, who made a name for himself studying the quirkier side of the brain and writing about it, died yesterday at the age of 82. I haven't read any of his books, but I found his articles for the New York Times to be thoughtful and insightful, and an interview with NPR earlier this year revealed a man who had seemingly spent his life exploring not only how the brain works, but how our thoughts and feelings tie us deeply to our own humanity. His reflections on life will be missed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Slow Quiet Attrition of Time

"When he had thought of death before, he had thought of it either as a literary event or as the slow, quiet attrition of time against imperfect flesh. He had not thought of it as the explosion of violence upon a battlefield, as the gush of blood from the ruptured throat. He wondered at the difference between the two kinds of dying, and what the difference meant; and he found growing in him some of the bitterness he had glimpsed once in the living heart of his friend David Masters."

~Stoner by John Williams, pg. 41. Originally published in 1965.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Look to Christ

It is ever the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan's work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. 
He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." 
All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." 
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee- it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument-it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. 
We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
"My hope is built on nothing less 
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness: 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
But wholly lean on Jesus' name." 
~Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

~Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost