"Above all, Mr. Gilbert White is a man of system. Naturalist, physico-theologist. He lives in inches and ounces and hours and degrees. Matter flows in upon him. New information crowds in every day. He examines the forest sand through a microscope--smooth from collision, a yellow color. Watches the weather glass closely. Supine is the man who fails to put out his thermometer.
Weather on March 20, 1780, the day I was first set loose in Selborne? Dark, moist, and mild. Fifty degrees. Southwest wind. Full moon. Crocuses in high bloom. A matter of record.
Mr. Gilbert White chronicles rain and snow and barometric pressure. As if they were baptisms and burials and marriage s in the parish register--the death of Anne Wheeler, age twenty-four, last year, or the union of William Trimming and Elizabeth Bartholomew. The burial, just a few days ago of Mary Burbey, age sixteen, of this parish, "by me, Gil White curate." Sixteen years and gone. A mayfly's life.
The human year 1751, Mr. Gilbert White records, 'was one of the wettest Years in the memory of Man.' He is able to report that the 24th of August, 1764 was 'the fourth most beautiful harvest-day that ever was seen.' Glass very high.
'Those that had the most patience will have by much the best corn,' he declares, like the parson he is.
He identifies four hundred and thirty-nine local plants. Traveler's joy, twayblade, eye-bright cow wheat, go-to-bed-at-noon. Knee-holly, or butcher's broom. Knows the common tongue for plants and the learned one too. Which birds possess a local name--the sit-ye-down. And which don't--Regulus non cristatus. " Verlyn Klinkenborg
"So to us in wartime, cut off from mental distractions by restrictions and blackouts, and cowering in a cellar with a gas mask under threat of imminent death, comes in the stronger fear and sits down beside us.
'What,' he demands, rather disagreeably, 'do you make of all this? Is there anything you value more than life, or are you making a virtue of necessity? What do you believe?" Is your faith a comfort to you under the present circumstances?'
At this point, before he has time to sidetrack the argument and entangle us in irrelevancies, we shall do well to reply boldly that a faith is not primarily a comfort, but a truth about ourselves. What we in fact believe is not necessarily the theory we most desire or admire. It is the thing that, consciously or unconsciously, we take for granted and act on. Thus, it is useless to say that we believe in the friendly treatment of minorities if, in practice, we habitually bully the office clerk; our actions clearly show that we believe nothing of the sort. Only when we know what we truly believe can we decide whether it is comforting. If we are comforted by something we do not really believe, then we had better think again. " Dorothy Sayers
- Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
"It's enjoyable to sit with a big sheet of paper and map out what the best arrangement for a typical day or week would be for you. It's not a fantasy - you're not daydreaming about a roster of lovers or the ideal time for the butler to bring the cocktail tray. The ideal routine is closely aligned with your actual life: it tries to set out a good way of organizing the things you are already involved with." Small Pleasures
Listening to these ancient words for Advent Three
Of the Father's love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!
O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!
Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!
"Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours."
- swedish proverb
"In fact, attention is of value only insofar as it is paid in the proper discharge of an obligation. To pay attention is to come into the presence of a subject. In one of its root sense, it is to 'stretch toward' a subject, in a kind of aspiration. We speak of 'paying attention' because of a correct perception that attention is owed - that without our attention and attending, our subjects, including ourselves, are endangered." Wendell Berry
"You're turning the pages and a very strange - and very nice - thing dawns on you. This book gets you. Obviously the author (who might have died centuries back) never knew you at all. But they write as if they did. It's as if you'd confessed your secrets to them and then they'd gone off and written this work around what you'd told them -transformed, of course, into a story about people with different names or into an essay that doesn't cite your case explicitly, but might as well do so, because it's completely on target." The School of Life, Small Pleasures
May polar bears welcome you
to northern Manitoba, their lumbering grace
marking the ice. May there still be ice.
May giant trees lean over your path
in warm places, brush your brow.
So many details now disappeared...
tiny toads in deserts, fireflies.
Where are the open window screens,
whispers of breeze against a sleeping cheek?
If we stop poking holes in soil,
watching onions grow,
what will we know? If we no longer learn cursive,
will our hand muscles disintegrate?
You blink, beginning to focus.
Where will the lost loops of handwritten "g's"
and "y's" go?
We dream you will have so much to admire.
Naomi Shihab Nye Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners
Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent
BY JOHN MILTON
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
A wee explanation: this website was created as a way to amplify the daily surprise of seeing glory in one small life. The notebook entries represented here are all selected from things actually lived and noted on paper in an effort to live the full life British educator Charlotte Mason so ably championed.
Book Of Centuries
Book Of Firsts