Monday, October 17, 2016

Holding fast to....

Yesterday, as the benediction, I used something I ran across in a little book of prayers/readings I had bought. It's based on something from 1 Thessalonians but this version of it specifically had been used in a service at the National Cathedral shortly after Sept. 11, 2001:
Go forth now, into the world in Peace; Be of good courage; Hold fast to that which is good, Render to no one evil for evil; Strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; Help the afflicted; honor everyone;
Love and serve the Lord. And the blessing of God Almighty, the God who created us, the God who liberates us, and the God who stays with us throughout eternity be with you this day and forever more. Amen.

(From here, but also, as I said, in the little book I have)

I've always loved that passage. It seems like the writer - most likely Paul, though it could have been Silas or Timothy who took it down - was cramming everything he could think of that was important right there. Almost like the speaker at a graduation who knows his or her time is running short but wants to give as many instructions as possible for the future lives of those graduating.

I also love it - and I KNOW I have said this before - because of the "hold fast to that which is good" part. I try to hang on to that as a motto in my life - and more generally, to look for the good instead of the bad. I try to see the good in people and things. It's hard sometimes, and I know when I'm at my worst and lowest is when I look around and I go "It's all crud. The human race was SUCH a mistake. We should be wiped out and the earth start over with some other sentient species" (Though perhaps sentience is as much the problem as humanity....)

Someone I now follow on Twitter (thanks to seeing this very comment quoted somewhere) said:

"I hate this election. I hate how we're all so stressed out and wound up we are that we're going after each other like this."

Yes. That. I have heard of things like people getting their cars "keyed" presumably because of whatever candidate's bumper sticker they had on their bumper. Or bigger, uglier things. I've heard of friendships becoming strained over politics. And I dunno, that seems kind of stupid to me. And that's also why I don't really talk politics that much - I get that I can have principled disagreements with people over things. But this is one of my happy places and I like to keep disagreement at bay.

Anyway. I was thinking of some of the "good things" to hold fast to. (And I admit - these days, my mental image of it is often as much me clinging to Harry the Bear's paw when I try to sleep after an upsetting day. Yes,, I know that's regressive, but whatever).

And sometime I should post my couple of little "family groupings" of the Pony figures I have developed (these are the earlier-gen ones, so not explicitly put into families so much as G4 already is). I have a Seashell and a Baby Ember (Baby Ember is blue, so I am thinking of him as one of the rare boy-ponies). Seashell is Ember's mother; they have the same eyes and they can even kind of cuddle together with Ember's head up under his mother's chin. And my Big Brother (Salty, renamed Boaty McBoatface) seems to be in love with a unicorn named Blackberry Pie, so I keep them together....It's a silly little thing but it makes me happy and in an odd way, gives me comfort. (And anyway, in the real world, horses are social animals and would stay in groups).

And the little kindnesses you see or hear about some times. Or the good stories, of which there are too few - I saw a news story the other day about a group in Rwanda that is using drones to fly essential medical equipment (stuff like blood, and, I presume, vaccines) in to remote areas where they are needed. It's a simple thing but you hear so many of the *annoying* uses of drones you forget that they could have life-saving uses.

And "Moonfleet," so far, is a good and interesting book - it takes you into the mind of a 15 year old boy in the late 1700s. He lives in a small village that is rather impoverished. He takes his lessons from the kindly minister of the church, he lives with his aunt (his parents being dead). Life is simple in the town; most people don't think of what happens beyond their own gardens. (Sometimes I wonder if we have got artificially "stretched" beyond our ken, and spend too much time thinking about and worrying about things that have little direct impact on us. I also find myself thinking of the old Yeats poem with the lines, " My country is Kiltartan Cross/ My countrymen Kiltartan's poor/ No likely end could bring them loss/ Or leave them happier than before"). And also the old ending line of Candide, about cultivating our own gardens.

And just simple things like tea. I have some new ones on order to try. It's one of those small things that makes my life more pleasant, especially as (if?) the weather gets cooler.

And seeing the monarch butterflies migrating. I've seen a *lot* these past few weeks (and I admit, when I get close enough to one, I look carefully to see if it's one someone has banded. Haven't seen any yet). But it amazes me- it's really one of those miracles of nature. These butterflies, which are so small as to weigh almost *nothing* (I know, I've held them in my hand, banding them) are able to fly over a thousand miles to their wintering grounds. And what's more, that "knowledge" of how to get there must be in-born; this generation of butterflies has never seen the wintering grounds - they were born sometime late this summer.

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