Bells across the snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain !
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
O Christmas, merry Christmas,
 ‘Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song !
Christmas bellsIf we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be,
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee.
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
Wit holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still,
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
———- Frances Ridley Havergal.   

All things work for good

Many people want power.  How is power produced ?  In huge factories, trolley engines are supplied with electricity.  There is a hum and roar of countless wheels.  How do they make power ?  That’s easy.  Power is made just by the revolution of those wheels and the friction they produce.  Thus, the friction creates the electric current.
And so, when God wants to bring more ‘power’ into your life, He brings more ‘pressure’.  He is generating spiritual force by friction.  Some of us do not like it and try to run away from the pressure, instead of getting the power and using it to rise above the painful causes.
Opposition is essential to a true equilibrium  forces.  The ‘centripetal’ and ‘centrifugal’ forces acting in opposition to each other keep our planet in her orbit.  The on propelling, and the other repelling, so act and re-act, that instead of sweeping off into space in a pathway of desolation, she pursues her even orbit around her solar centre.
Thus, God guides our lives.  It is not enough to have  an ‘impelling force’, we need just as much a ‘repelling force’, and so He holds us back by the testing ordeals of life, by the pressure of temptation and trial, by the things that seem against us, but really are furthering our way and establishing our goings.
Let us thank Him for both, let us take the ‘weights’ and the ‘wings’, and thus divinely impelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our lives.


 In a a factory building there are wheels and gearings
There are cranks and pulleys, belts tight or slack
Some are whirling swiftly, some are turning slowly
Some are thrusting forward, some are pulling back
Some are smooth and silent, some are rough and noisy
Pounding, rattling, clanking, moving with a jerk.
In a wild confusion in a seeming chaos
Lifting, pushing, driving —- but they o their work
From the mightiest lever to the tiniest pinion
All things move together for the purpose planned
And behind the working is a min controlling
And a force directing, and a guiding hand.
So all the things are working for the Lord’s beloved
Some things might be hurtful if alone they stood
Some might seem to hinder, some might draw us backward
But they work together, and they work for good
All the thwarted longings, all the stern denials
All the contradictions, hard to understand
And the force that holds them, speeds them and retards them
Stops and starts and guides them

Your Father knoweth

father knoweth
A visitor at a school for the deaf and dumb was writing questions on the blackboard for the children.  By and by he wrote this, Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you deaf and dumb ? (very insensitive of him ).
The awful question fell upon the little ones like a fierce slap in the face.  They sat stunned before that dreadful ” WHY ?”  And then, a little girl stood up and went to the blackboard.  Her lip was trembling,  her eyes were swimming with tears.  She picked up the chalk, wrote with a firm hand these precious words : “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight !”  What a reply !  It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth, upon which the most  mature as well as the youngest of children may securely rest —– the truth that God is your Father.
Do you mean that ?  Do you really and fully believe that ?  When you do, then your dove of faith will no longer wander in weary unrest, but will settle down forever in its eternal resting place of peace ——–Your Father.
I still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand, when these tragedies that now darken the very air for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight.
 No chance hath brought this ill to me
‘Tis God’s own hand, so let it be
He sees what I cannot see
There is a “need-be” for each pain
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly
But in the front, a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care
Proving his skill and patience rare
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name
Perfect Thy image on the same.
—— Selected. 

He will silently plan for thee

HE will silently plan for thee
Object thou of omniscient care
God Himself undertakes to be
Thy Pilot through each subtle snare.
He WILL silently plan for thee
So certainly, He cannot fail
Rest on the faithfulness of God
In Him thou surely shalt prevail.
He will SILENTLY plan for thee
Some wonderful surprise of love
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard
But it is kept for thee above.
He will silently PLAN for thee
His purposes shall all unfold
The tangled skein shall shine at last
A masterpiece of skill untold.
He will silently FOR THEE
Happy child of a father’s care
As though no other claimed His love
But thou alone o Him were dear.

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear.  Rather look at them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them.
He has looked after you till now, hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things, an when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.  Live in the NOW.  The same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day.  Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
Not WAS, not MAY BE, nor WILL BE.  He is there with you on Sunday, on Monday and every day of the week ; is in January, is in December and every month of the year ; is at home and abroad ; is in peace and in war, in abundance and in penury.

Fret is closely akin to friction

calmDo not get into a perilous heat about things.  If ever heat were justified, it was surely justified in the circumstances outlined in the Psalm.  Evildoers were moving about clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day.  “Workers of iniquity” were climbing into the supreme places of power, and were tyrannizing their les fortunate brethren.  Sinful men and women were stalking through the land in the pride of life and basking in the light and comfort of great prosperity, and good men were becoming ‘heated and fretful’. 
(c) York Museums Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Do not get unduly heated !  Keep cool !  Even in a good cause, fretfulness is not a wise help-mate.  Fretting only heats the bearings, it does not generate the steam.  It is no help to a train for the axles to get hot ; their heat is only a hindrance.  When the axles get heated, it is because of unnecessary friction ——- dry surfaces are grinding together, which ought to be kept in smooth co-operation by a “delicate cushion of oil.”
And, is it not a suggestive fact that this word “FRET” is closely akin to the word “FRICTION”, and is an indication of absence of the anointing oil of the grace of God ? ——- In fretfulness, a little bit of grit gets into the bearings ——– some slight disappointment, some ingratitude, some discourtesy ——- and the smooth working of life is checked.  Friction begets heat, and, with the heat, most dangerous conditions are created.  Do not let thy bearings get hot.  Let the oil of God’s grace keep you cool, lest by reason of an unholy heat you be reckoned among the evil-doers.
Restless heart, be still, don’t fret and worry so
God has a thousand ways His love and help to show
Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.
Restless heart, be still, for peace is God’s own smile
His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile
Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.
Restless heart, be brave, don’t moan and sorrow so
He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow
Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.
Restless heart, repose upon His breast this hour
His grace is strength  and life, His love is bloom and flower
Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.
Restless heart, be still, don’t struggle to be free
God’s life is in your life, from Him you may not flee
Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.
—-Edith Willis Linn.

A world in a grain of sand

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
William_Blake_by_Thomas_PhillipsThese four lines could be a synthesis of what, nowadays, is called “the new consciousness”  ——– the ability to understand that everything is interlinked, that magical moments for part of everyday life, and that with just a little inner openness we can come to see that we are capable of completely changing our reality and eliminating most of the things that make us feel dissatisfied.  When these lines were written, however, they went almost unnoticed.  
Their author, William Blake (1757 — 1827), was born into a poor family and died despised by the intellectual circles of his time.  His critics alleged that he put too much mysticism into his work, that he behaved strangely (for example, he would sit naked with his wife in the garden of the country house lent to them by a friend), and that his poems were too naïve. –
Those critics died, and now, Blake is considered ——- not only for his writings, but also for his engravings, which I (Paulo Coelho) had the opportunity of seeing at the Tate Gallery in London —— as one of the most complete artists of the last millennium.  
grain of sandBlake describes how, as a child in a park near London, he saw angels in the trees and saw the prophet Ezekiel emerge from amongst creatures.  Later, when he was 30 years old, his younger brother died, and Blake maintained that his brother’s spirit appeared to him a few days later, clothed in light, in order to reveal to him a method of “publishing” books without recourse to a printer, that is, to hand-craft engravings of both texts and illustrations and sell them in very limited editions. 
Following his advice, Blake began developing an idea which he called “the contraries of the human soul”.  One of these states is “innocence”, when imagination leads us towards growth.  The other state is “experience”, when our imagination is confronted by rules, morality and repression.
Blake lived his life intensely and died poor, but he died having done everything he wanted to do.  In one of his most controversial works, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”, he claimed to have visited the realm of darkness and noted down the proverbs that the devils used to repeat to each other.  Here is a selection of those proverbs :      
In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom
The cistern contains ; the fountain overflows
Prudence is a rich, ugly old maid courted by incapacity
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence
No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings
Prisons are built with stones of law, Brothels with bricks of religion
What is now proved was once only imagined
Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth
The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction
Expect poison from the standing water
The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion
He who has suffered you to impose on him, knows you
Prayers plow not ! Praises reap not !
You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough. ————–Paulo Coelho. (translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa) 

Blessed is sorrow

“Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance ——– THE HEART IS MADE BETTER.” (Eccles. 7:3) 
When sorrow comes under the power of Divine Grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives.  Sorrow reveals unknown depths in our soul, and unknown capabilities of experience.  Happy, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meanness in their nature  Sorrow is God’s plough-share.  that turns up and sub-soils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests.
915sorrow5If we had never fallen, or were always in a glorified state, then the strong currents of Divine Joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls’ capacities, but in a fallen world, Sorrow, with despair taken out, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves.  Hence, it is Sorrow that makes us think deeply, long and soberly.
Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions.
Let us suppose a class of indolent people, living at the base of a great mountain range, who had never ventured to explore the valleys and cannons back in the mountains.  Some day, when a great thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains, it turns the hidden glens into echoing trumpets, and reveals the inner recesses of the valley, like the convolutions of a monster shell, the dwellers at the foot of the hills are astonished at the labyrinths and unexplored recesses of a region so near by, and yet so little known.  So, it is with many souls, who indolently live on the outer edge of their own natures, until great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within, that were never, hitherto, suspected.
The dark mould’s upturned
By the sharp-pointed plough
And I’ve a lesson learned.
My life is but a field
Stretched out beneath God’s sky
Some harvest rich to yield.
Where grows the golden grain ?
Where faith ? Where sympathy ?
In a furrow cut by pain.