Year of Wonders

And now I tell you this: do not dwell any more on things in the past that you cannot change. Who made man frail of the flesh? Who made our lusts, our low ways and our high? Did not God? Is not He the author of it all? The appetites we have all come from Him; they have been with us since Eden. If we slip and fall, He understands our weakness. Did not mighty King David lust, and was he not driven through his lust to do great wrong? And yet God loved David, and gave us, through him, the glory of the Psalms. So, too,

Anys was so skilled with plants and balms that she knew how to extract their fragrant oils, and these she wore on her person so that a light, pleasant scent, like summer fruits and flowers, always preceded her.

Despair is a cavern beneath our feet and we teeter on its very brink.

Even the ordinary business of cleaning house seemed somehow to have become sacramental.

God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother's heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so.

Good yield does not come without suffering, it does not come without struggle, and toil, and yes, loss.

Here we are, alive, and you and I will have to make it what we can.

How little we know, I thought, of the people we live amongst.

How strange it is, Anna. Yesterday, I have filed in my mind as a good day, notwithstanding it was filled with mortal illness and the grieving of the recently bereft. Yet it is a good day, for the simple fact that no one died upon it. We are brought to a sorry state, that we measure what is good by such a shortened yardstick.

I bent my head and breathed the fresh new scent of her. I looked into her deep blue eyes and saw reflected there the dawn of my own new life. This little girl seemed to me, at that moment, answer enough to all my questions. To have saved this small, singular one—this alone seemed reason enough that I lived. I knew then that this was how I was meant to go on: away from death and toward life, from birth to birth, from seed to blossom, living my life amongst wonders.

I borrowed his brightness and used it to see my way, and then gradually, from the habit of looking at the world as he illuminated it, the light in my own mind rekindled.

I cannot say that I have faith anymore. Hope, perhaps. We have agreed that it will do for now.

I do not propose to go on as I have been, feeding on the gall of my own grief. For you grieve, and yet you live, and are useful, and bring life to others.

I fear the line between myself and madness is as fine these days as a cobweb, and I have seen what it means when a soul crosses over into that dim and wretched place.

If you are drowning in a sewer, your first concern might be that you are drowning, not how vile you smell.

I open the door to my cottage these evenings on a silence so thick it falls upon me like a blanket. Of all the lonely moments of my day, this is the loneliest. I confess I have sometimes been reduced to muttering my thoughts aloud like a madwoman when the need for a human voice becomes too strong.

It is a great thing to be young and to live without pain. And yet it is a blessing few of us count until we lose it.

It is natural to want to forget, Anna, when everyday is a brimful of sadness. But those souls also forgot those that they had loved. You do not want that, surely? I have heard some preach that God wants us to forget the dead, but I cannot believe so. I think He gives us precious recollections so that we may not be parted entirely from those He has given us to love. You must cherish your memories of your babes, Anna, until you see them again in Heaven.

It was a voice full of light and dark. Light not only as it glimmers, but also as it glares. Dark not only as it brings cold and fear, but also as it gives rest and shade.

I was like one who forgets all day to eat until the scent from some other's roasting pan reminds her she's ravenous.

I was not 15 anymore, and choices no longer had that same clear, bright edge to them.

My Tom died as babies do, gently and without complaint. Because they have been such a little time with us, they seem to hold to life but weakly. I used to wonder if it was so because the memory of Heaven still lived within them, so that in leaving here they do not fear death as we do, who no longer know with certainty where it is our spirits go. This, I thought, must be the kindness that God does for them and for us, since He gives so many infants such a little while to bide with us.

One does not have to be a priest to be a man!

She was loved by a man as a woman is meant to be loved.

She was quick of mind and swift of tongue, always ready to answer a set down with the kind of witty rebuke most of us can think of only long after the moment of insult has passed.

These memories of happiness are fleeting things, reflections in a stream, glimpsed all broken for a second and then swept away in the current of grief that is our life now. I can't say that I ever feel what it felt like then, when I was happy. But sometimes something will touch the place where that feeling was, a touch as slight and swift as the brush of a moth's wing in the dark.

This is how an owl must look to a mouse in that last second before the talons sink into the flesh.

Time turned into a rope that unraveled as a languid spiral.

When she had discovered that I hungered to learn, she commenced to shovel knowledge my way as vigorously as she spaded the cowpats into her beloved flower beds.

Why would I marry? I'm not made to be any man's chattel. I have my work, which I love. I have my home - it is not much,
I grant, yet sufficient for my shelter. But more than these, I have something very few women can claim: my freedom.

I will not lightly surrender it.