Part two of my last post is in progress, but something else is itching to come out first. So while Adam has gently and repeatedly begged me to catch up on the business filing (bookkeeping has never been my forte) and I've got filing boxes and piles of paper surrounding me, I first have to clear my head. (I promise I'll be able to move faster this way, honey! :)
There is a part of Arm the Children by Arthur Henry King that I think of and reread often.
"Of all the moral qualities we look for in language, spoken or written, and do find in the scriptures, the most important are sincerity and strength. When I speak of sincerity and strength together, I speak of something that is rarely achieved on the grand scale... in modern literature, the sincerity often precludes the strength: it is characteristic of modern literature not to believe in a combination of sincerity and strength, but to believe in a combination of sincerity and weakness which leads to despair, self-pity, cynicism, solipsism, boredom. And, of course, when the combination is one of strength and insincerity, the strength itself is insincere.
A great deal of popular writing is of this kind, from trashy novel series to pep talks . . . There can be no real strength, no real edification, without sincerity. . . Sincerity is the preliminary criterion for goodness in literature as in our daily letter writing or speech: everything else is hypocrisy. . . each of us has a sincere style of language that is natural to us. The style differs from person to person. But any sincere style has something in common with any other, and that is the effort toward honesty. . . we are being sincere as long as we are adapting to our society naturally, out of human kindness. But if we adapt for self-regarding purpose, our adaptation is hypocrisy. . . the effort to impress others is a sin - it is a moving away from yourself. . . sincerity is being oneself without thinking of oneself.
When we come across authors who are just being themselves, what a relief! . . . If, in speaking, we express ourselves directly, there we are But if, on the other hand, we wish to make an impression, there we no longer are, or we are merely the we that wish to make an impression; and the we that wish to make an impression are inferior to the we that do not think of making an impression."
(From "Judgement in Literature and Life" p.140-142)Many things have struck me with the power of their sincerity just in the last two days.
One was the words of a dear friend written with such sincerity, honesty and courage that I have been reduced to a puddle of tears a few times in the last 24 hours reading them.
Another has been a surprising music discovery. At work, my husband had been given a CD of music by Rob Gardner called Lamb of God (follow the link for upcoming performance info). It had fallen in a crevice in his car and I'd found it the other day while cleaning the car. Seeing that the London Symphony Orchestra had recorded the music (and that one of my favorite pictures was on the cover) I was curious and put it in. The last two days whenever I'm in that car, I have found myself overcome with intense feelings of love from my Savior because of the experience of listening to this beautiful music.
Lastly, my daughter's sincere efforts to show love to her family on Valentine's day. I was told days before by my oldest daughter, Elise, "Mom, I'm putting this index card on your door so that you'll remember to sleep in on Valentine's day - that goes for everyone, too!" I've always had to smile when thinking of the divine design in God sending me Elise as my first child. She teaches me so many things - one of which is thoughtfulness and how holidays aren't only about commercialism and shouldn't be completely thrown out the window (as I would have it) :). So, we woke - er slept in - to find a clean kitchen, a neatly set table, french toast and individualized and hand-made cards for each one of us with original and creative inscriptions like:
"Flutes are silver, harps are gold, but the heart of a child holds treasures untold."
"This year you are turning nine, won't you be my valentine?"
Truly, nothing in life is as valuable as the relationships we enjoy, create, nurture, work at, mess up in, repair, invest in and witness of. I'm finding as these relationships grow in sincerity, they grow in their strengthening effect. And as our strength increases, our capacity to feel joy expands.
|Counterclockwise from center: Norah (4), Elizabeth (6), Nathan (8), Adam, Becky (cousin), Elise (11).|