Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Forgiveness

I enjoyed reading this thoughtful article by our friend and our former pastor (Covenant Presbyterian Church, Short Hills, NJ) Donny Friederichsen. 

Nothing Like a Fish without a Bicycle

My retrospective on Elisabeth Elliot at The Gospel Coalition blog.

Elisabeth Elliot has died. I didn’t know her, but this feels personal. Her books were influential to me as a young single woman in the early 1990s, particularly Passion and Purity and Let Me Be a Woman. At a time in my life when I had become weary of worldly pursuits, aside from the example and words of my own mom, Elliot’s words most shaped for me a vision of what biblical womanhood could look like.

Vigorous, Gentle Womanhood 

I met her once as a single working girl about 20 years ago at a mission home where she was visiting and giving a talk. She was older even then, sitting in a chair, neatly dressed, hair carefully in place, wrinkly and rather still, with bright, intelligent eyes that betrayed an active sense of humor. 
 
The way she lived her life and spoke about her adventures and marriages displayed a type of womanhood that caught my imagination. She seemed to own a womanhood that was both vigorous—physically and intellectually—and gentle. 
 
The lives of female missionaries are a sort of bas relief against Western wranglings over things like gender quotas and free contraception. Elliot seemed to have a seasoned, sensible knowledge that came from rugged, basic pursuits—a sharp intellect and a sense of context and keen perspective born out of her edgy life experience as a missionary to unreached tribes. (The unentitled at work seeking the unreached.)

A Third Way Woman

Both the anti-feminist and the anti-delicate flower, she taught what I came to think of as a “third way” of womanhood that seemed like Ruth and that Proverbs 31 woman with her strong arms, shrewdness, and nurturing ways. 
 
I recall her description of life in the jungle. Most of the day was consumed with merely trying to live rather than translating Scripture. I recall her description of the focus, effort, and energy required to make sure water was found, hauled, kept, and boiled each day while keeping a toddler from falling into the fire or water. I also recall her frank humility about her failings and missteps. I learned from her books the profound value of the ministry of the mundane, and the efficiency of biblically training indigenous peoples where possible.
 
In her writing she was direct but not harsh, open but not coarse. In her vigorous femininity, and in her teamwork with and delight in the masculinity of her husbands, she seemed more like some sort of American pioneer woman and nothing like a fish without a bicycle. More like Phoebe or Dorcas and nothing like a Diva. 

A Nurtured Faith for the Next Generation

Elliot nurtured her faith with a disciplined mind fixed on selfless service to the world. She approached her marriages with a mind fixed on pursuing engaging, active partnership, and, yes, submission to a husband. And in her books she reached out to countless people with a simple, clear, direct style of writing.
 
I am thankful for her example, and as a 44-year-old mother of three, I want to commend her writings to the next generation of “third way women.”

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"The Two Uses"

Even the workaday and practical arm
Becomes all love for love's sake to the lover.

If this is nature's thrift, love thrives on it.

*The Two Uses

The eye is not more exquisitely designed
For seeing than it is for being loved.
The same lips curved to speak are curved to kiss.
Even the workaday and practical arm
Becomes all love for love's sake to the lover.

If this is nature's thrift, love thrives on it.
Love never asks the body different
Or ever wants it less ambiguous,
The eye being lovelier for what it sees,
The arm for all it does, the lips for speaking

-Robert Francis (American, born 1901)

Seeing Jesus Christ in Poetry

But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that's honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. 

*The Confirmation

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that's honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea,
Not beautiful or rare in every part,
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

-Edwin Muir (1887-1959)


*Everything Promised Him to Me

Everything promised him to me:
the fading amber edge of the sky,
and the sweet dreams of Christmas,
and the wind at Easter, loud with bells,

and the red shoots of the grapevine,
and waterfalls in the park,
and two large dragonflies
on the rusty iron fencepost.

And I could only believe
that he would be mine
as I walked along the high slopes,
the path of burning stones.

-Anna Akhmatova (Russian, 1889-1966)