Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Days of rest

Well, the Baby came safely again, as He does every year. Walking to my car after Midnight Mass, I looked at the stars and was overcome by a feeling of peace. Arriving back home, I sat up reading for awhile, reveling in the darkness and solitude (and, I must admit, waiting for the kids to turn up from their evening activities, none of which, I assure you, included church in any form!). This feeling persisted all through Christmas Day. We had a smallish Christmas this year -- a couple small gifts for each person to open, but mainly gift cards for the adult children. I thought this scaled-down gift-giving would occasion cries of protest, but the kids seem to appreciate that we can no longer predict their taste in anything, and that they will encounter huge sales on the day after Christmas. I particularly emphasized the huge sales aspect.

Working in academia means that, most years, I am off work between Christmas and New Year's Day. Yesterday and today, I have been capable of nothing creative -- I have watched movies, fed birds, played with my dogs, nibbled away at the leavings of the prime rib and spinach casserole, and continued to slog my way through that new biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer which has occupied me, off and on, for weeks. I am so relaxed that I can sit in my chair and nearly feel myself floating away. Good thing the window is closed! I woke up this morning feeling somewhat odd; then I realized I was feeling the sense of well-being that comes with getting adequate sleep!

I appreciate and thank God for this period of respite. In earlier years, I never appreciated rest. Now I see how vital it is, and I suspect that most Americans don't get nearly enough. I used to be one of those people who sacrificed vacation days at the end of the year, claiming that I had no time to be off. How silly I was! Now I claim every second I have coming to me. Why did I think rest was not important?

Thank you, Lord, for this post-Christmas rest, refreshing me for Your service in the new year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Slouching towards Bethlehem

Our service of Lessons and Carols took place last night at church -- a lovely event, even though it is unseasonably warm here, and I had perspiration running down between my shoulder blades as I was singing! Not very Christmassy. The firewood rack on my porch is completely filled, but we have not really had cold enough weather to suggest a fire. I feel really silly having a fire with all the windows open!

And so we creak along into the last week of Advent. All my women friends are practically dead on their feet. I accomplished nothing this weekend. Friday was the eleventh anniversary of my mother's death, which I tend to brood about more than I should after eleven years. And so this week I will have to make up for lost time.

Is it January yet?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Taking a breath ....

We're having unseasonably warm weather here in the East, and it does detract a bit from the season. Who feels like baking when it's 60 degrees and the windows are open? I don't feel much like baking under even the best of conditions ...

I'm doing a duet ("Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring") on Sunday with one of our sopranos, and my poor piano is so out of tune that I have had trouble plunking it out. One New Year's resolution will be to get the poor thing tuned. At least that's easier than losing weight!

Presents: bought but not wrapped. I cut back considerably from previous years. Gift cards are just fine, especially for adult children. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I actually got half a llama one Christmas, through the Heifer Project, and I loved knowing that what would have been a present was used to help someone in need -- but I doubt that the kids would really appreciate a flock of chickens, or a cow. I would never hear the end of it.

But right now I'm taking a break, and toddling off to say Evening Prayer (a little late).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The tree is up, but ...

We finished trimming the Christmas tree last night. The "theme" this year is red and gold (Why? I don't like warm colors, generally). The boxes of decorations are restowed in the basement. But I still don't have any Christmas spirit.

I have been known to say that I would love to sleep from the day after Thanksgiving until January 2! Hustle and bustle just wear me out. I went by our local mall last weekend, just to "put my toe in the water," saw that the parking lot was completely full, and decided to buy everything online. I hate crowds!

I wonder ... Would Jesus recognize the fact that we are celebrating His birthday? As we wallow in consumerism, do we just postpone Him for consideration only in the Midnight Mass? Reading an Advent book helps to keep me focused. But, at the bottom, it's largely emptiness that I feel in Advent.

But I suppose our emptiness is why He came, isn't it?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The season of bated breath

Well, we had Thanksgiving. The turkey is gone now, having provided a lot of nice sandwiches. The plastic container of leftover stuffing has been nibbled away to nothing. Before our daughter went back to college this afternoon, I bribed her to put together the Christmas tree (a job I hate but she enjoys, and I won't see her again till after her finals). So now in our living room, we are celebrating "Christoween": on the mantel are small pumpkins and gourds, and next to them the naked Christmas tree. Oh well. Things in our house never happen in a tidy fashion.

And so Advent is about to begin. Time rushes by so quickly at this time of year that it is no wonder our lives become disordered. And yet -- of course I never felt this when I was young -- is there not a profound stillness at the heart of Advent, almost as though the world is holding its breath? Can we pause to feel this stillness of expectation, or will we miss it again this year?

Andre Louf, writing in The Cistercian Way, describes a monk's night vigil in a way that suggests to me the hushed waiting of Advent:

"Every morning, even while it is still night, the monk rises joyfully
to await the wonders that the Lord will work that day. But he does
not keep watch only for himself. He watches indeed lest Jesus come
to visit him during the day which is dawning, but he watches also
on behalf of the Church and the whole world. As he waits for the dawn,
he is on the alert for the slightest signs which could announce the
imminent return of Jesus at the end of time. Jesus is always near
and always on the point of returning ... It is then in the name of
the whole world that the monk sets himself to wait in prayer."

I pray that I may find some time, during this busy season, in which to wait in silence and darkness for Jesus's coming, and to remember that I should greet every morning as if He will come ... today ... now.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chilly, with rain and exhaustion

Every year I have a tendency to forget (until abruptly reminded) that fall and spring here can be windy and rainy. Saturday was lovely, but yesterday and today we have had a drenching rain and wind. It's warmish, but the rain just chills you anyway.

And of course the rain and general gloom are exacerbated by the fact that it's Monday. Life is full, too full. By the time I get to Sunday night, I feel as though I have run a marathon. Last night I was beyond tired, and I still have no clean clothes. I wonder how many others feel this way?

Why are we living like this? What happened to the 4-day work week that the pundits promised us, back in the 60s or 70s? Perhaps now it is time for my diatribe on modern life, and my unfavorable comparison of my life with my mother's.

My mother was the person I didn't want to grow up to be. I felt particular horror at the idea of becoming a homemaker. So I worked like mad, getting two master's degrees, and letting a kindly day-care provider raise my children for ten years. And now I have a nice 403B(7) account for retirement, but the last thirty years have been a blur. Where did they go?

Now the contrast. My mother may have relied on my father to make the money, but she made the life. The house was clean. Food was cooked, and not eaten out of microwave containers. We had two cars. We had nice, two-week vacations every year. Money was never a problem. My mother had the time to change the drapes and bedspreads every spring and fall. She decorated lavishly for holidays. Birthdays were a big deal.

Was she fulfilled? I don't know. Thirty years ago, I'd have said no. Now I'm saying probably. She had been a banker prior to my birth, but never displayed any desire to go back to work. Not one iota.

Now there's my husband and I. The house is a disaster, even with a cleaning person every two weeks. The sink is piled with dishes. We can't keep our doctors' appointments straight. I cook a huge pot of something on a Sunday, and we nibble at it all week. Microwave pizza is the standard fallback when the leftovers are gone, or have grown green fuzz. Forget changing the drapes and bedspreads for spring and fall; the beds never get made, so there would be little point. The Christmas tree is so much trouble that I loathe it, and bribe my adult children to put it up. Christmas for me would be fine with a wreath on the door and a candle in the window. Birthdays? No one is ever home. When they turn up, they get their check.

Is this what I wanted? Did I really think I could have the gracious family life that I grew up with when I'm teetering on the edge of exhaustion all the time?

But I guess I brought it on myself, didn't I? Be careful what you wish for ....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just me and my "cell" ...

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., writing in Essential Monastic Wisdom, has this to say about the appeal of the study, den, or monastic cell:

"It is one thing to love one's room because one is so
stressed out by work, crowds, talking, rushing from
one appointment to the next, answering phone messages,
that one's room is a place where one can collapse in peace.
It is another thing to find somewhere a place of silence
and creativity, where one can listen for the voice of God
and think one's own thoughts and be one's own self."

Hmmm ... This made me think. I do have a room, up at the top of my house, where I go to read, think, and pray. It's pretty comfortable, probably too comfortable. In addition to my desk and laptop computer, there's a wall of built-in bookshelves (rapidly getting full), a comfy chair with an ottoman, good reading lights, and a window to look out. In addition, numerous tchotchkes: candles (who can function without candles?), pictures of the kids on two walls, the random icon or two. I am making the clutter sound minimal, but it really isn't. Almost every little thing that give me comfort is there.

I'm wondering now which of Fr. Feiss's statements really applies to me: am I hiding in my room, surrounded by comfortable, happy clutter, or am I listening for God and being more myself? Probably both -- it strikes me that they are not mutually exclusive. Certainly I do retreat up there from the din of sports on TV (and much of the year there is nothing on at our house but sports); but maybe retreat precedes listening. I really function altogether better in the quiet. I have been known to read Evening Prayer on the commuter train ... but it's not the same as my room.

So maybe I will try to be less cosy there, and more attentive.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints' Day

I got to the train late this morning, after dealing with my three dear dogs and their various medicinal needs. I hate being late, so I arrived winded and annoyed on the elevated platform, having just missed a commuter train, and plopped down on a bench. The neighborhood trees, dressed in the remnants of their fall colors, were right at my eye level, shades of dusty red and dull gold. A fine morning mist overlay them all. As I watched, however, the morning sun broke through, and the colors, which had been sullen before, suddenly burst into flame. Even the tattered leaves about to fall were shining like the sun.

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." We forget this at our peril. It's so easy for me to get caught up in the rat race, and in so doing, become my own personal rat, in my own little spinning wheel. People are not meant to live like this, and I must resolve to make more effort not to. More easily said than done, of course.

Tonight, at our All Saints' service, we will slow down for a time, and remember. The names of all our loved ones who have gone before us will be solemnly read out while candles are lighted. As a child, my favorite holiday (next to Christmas, of course, because of the presents!) was Halloween. As soon as school resumed in the fall, we started to draw pumpkins on orange construction paper, and to cut out colored leaves to put on the classroom window. All Saints' Day was not on my radar then. As an adult, however, I've discovered it to be one of my favorite days, and this service to be one of the best we do all year. In the spirit of Samhain (the Celtic precursor of Halloween, on which night the veil between this world and the next was said to be very thin), the saints will seem especially close tonight.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fat women shouldn't wear orange!

Well, there goes another precept of my mom's about proper dress for all body types. Last night I wore flip-flops, which, I guess, is another transgression, especially in October, as were white shoes before Memorial Day. Sorry, mom.

On this last day of October, I felt very Halloweeny, therefore the bright orange long-sleeved tee-shirt. I'm sure I look like a barrage balloon which has broken loose. Who cares? I am fortunate to have one of those jobs where you make decent money and they don't care how you dress, a situation I take increasing advantage of as I continue to slough off the fashion lessons of my youth.

Actually I feel very close to my mom today, though she's been gone for nearly 11 years. Tomorrow both parents' names will be read aloud at our church's All Saints' Day service, and I will sniffle as I always do. Some things never go completely away.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On spiritual warfare

I have just about finished a very challenging book recommended to me by someone at church: Holy Vulnerability, by Mike Flynn, an Episcopal priest. What an eye-opener! Fr. Flynn is part of the charismatic renewal movement within the Episcopal Church, and this book reflects that perspective. But what a different perspective from my own!

The matter arose at the Church on the Pike when a friend asked me to pray that our church's own renewal might be successful and not fall prey to the "Evil One." I guess I got a funny look on my face when she said this to me, because I was immediately handed Fr. Flynn's book.

Now, despite having seen The Exorcist 4 or 5 times when it first came out, and having read with great interest Malachi Martin's book Hostage to the Devil, I'm just not sure what I think about the objective reality of demons in this world, where so many problems can be attributed to man himself.

But maybe not all problems. I have a good deal of thinking about this to do yet.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A change in the weather

The mercury fell into the high 30s last night, so I guess I can say fall has arrived. Meanwhile, they have two feet of snow in Buffalo -- I'm happy not to be dealing with that yet!

My son had left for work and everyone else was still asleep when I left this morning. It was a perfect fall morning: the air was so cold I could see my breath, but there was no wind, so a little mist still hung in the trees, which have just started to turn to their fall colors. I stood still for a minute, just saying a prayer of thanks. If I'd had time, I would love to have made a cup of tea and sat on my front porch, all bundled up. The air was so clear it was like looking through crystal.

I hate having to leave the house in the mornings. I am definitely, at least in middle age, quite the homebody.

Tonight, if it stays chilly, I will definitely have a fire, and stay up late, reading. For some unknown reason, I have decided to try to learn a little biblical Greek (!), and got myself a textbook with a workbook and a CD-ROM. Naturally I am so intimidated that I have not yet really opened any of them! In fact, after peeking once at the alphabet I scurried upstairs and got out my Vulgate so I could stumble through a little of John's Gospel and feel a bit better. But it's really easy Latin, of course, and I already know what it says, don't I? But it felt good nonetheless.

So, tonight ... maybe a little Greek.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Grieving for the Amish

Like everyone else, I am horrified by school violence, a problem I never had to worry about when I was in school myself. My kids were in high school when the Columbine shootings took place, and I remember well the paradigm shift I underwent as I had to acknowledge that my kids might not be safe after I dropped them off in the morning, and that I had no control over what might happen at the school, beyond my sight and hearing. Before Columbine, school violence certainly existed -- but it was the simple scale of the Columbine violence that reordered everyone's thinking. What darkness might be lurking in the hearts and minds of my kids' classmates? What violent plans might be hatching in fecund teenaged brains?

And now it's a whole new ballgame, another paradigm shift, as I read somewhere the other day. Now we have to fear not only alienated, hate-filled teenagers, but alienated, hate-filled adults who have discovered in nearby schools an easy target for their rage. Adults who may be far better at planning and carrying out their murderous plans.

So tonight I'm grieving for the Amish, who now more than ever have become a symbol of innocence, and now of innocence lost. Growing up in northern Delaware, I was taught to admire and respect the Amish, and spent many a Sunday afternoon riding in the back of my parents' car as we drove through the "Amish country" of nearby southeastern Pennsylvania. That the Amish community, which has striven to avoid so many of the excesses of our culture, should have been the victim of such violence, seems to me unspeakably wrong. No one deserves to be the object of a murderous rampage, but that the peaceful Amish should have been the most recent victims of such an outrage is just another sad commentary on the sickness lurking just below our civilized surface, waiting for any opportunity to escape.

And tonight I'm thinking of ten little girls, shot execution-style in a place that was supposed to be safe, and I'm thinking of the five who have already died. And I wonder if I could forgive as the Amish have begun to do, and whether, if someone shot my daughter, my Christianity would be more than a Sunday veneer, or whether I would succumb to grief and loss, and, yes -- a rage of my own.

And I pray that I never have to find out the answer.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cooler weather and massive cleaning are forecast ...

A cold front has come through and we are enjoying a welcome break from early-fall warmth and humidity. The low tonight is predicted to be in the low 40s -- time to haul out a light blanket, at least. I'm too cheap to turn on the furnace for AT LEAST another two weeks!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the scents, the crisp air. And it always seems like a new beginning -- I guess because I am still somewhat in tune with the academic year, and with church programming, which follows largely the same pattern. And I need a new beginning very badly. I've been in a slump; you could call it a time of aridity. My house is a mess, my prayer life is laborious, and my "exercise program" has become a myth. Actually, it's usually a myth!

So this time is as good as any to try to get things in order. The whole weekend lies ahead, with nothing much planned (it's a miracle!). Time to get going.

Monday, September 25, 2006

OK, get a grip ...

At the end of last week it became clear to me, through items which arrived in the mail, that someone has been using my name to attempt to open credit card accounts! Yesterday morning, in examining my credit report, I learned with some bemusement that seven such attempts have been made in this month alone!! Someone has been very busy pretending to be me! (I wonder if he or she also wants to be middle-aged, short and plump? I'm a package deal.) Now that I have set up security alerts with all the credit reporting agencies, this type of attempt won't be successful (I hope). I tried not to lose much sleep over it all, in any case.

And yet -- this event did bring home to me the fact that my reputation for reliability, reflected in my good credit record, is very important to me. Despite all we hear at the Church on the Pike about how infinitely precious we are to God, just as we are and with all our wrinkles unsmoothed, apparently I also care quite a bit about my "good name" and my financial reputation.

So much for humility, and leaving behind earthly things. Just the minute you think you may be making a little spiritual progress -- whack! Creatureliness smacks you right in the face. So I can talk all I want about Jesus being all I need, but I was certainly in a rush to prevent the identity thief from being sucessful (and I was quite vocal about what a creep he or she must be!).

Deep breath. I have a looooong way to go on this journey, haven't I?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Musings on The Genesee Diary

This past week I've been reading Henri Nouwen's The Genesee Diary, which he wrote during the period June-December, 1974, when he was on retreat in a Trappist abbey in New York State. This is something I would love to do, even if only for a month. Actually, a week would suffice! Now that I've been back at work for a few days, I can barely recall that I was on retreat at all. Clearly this is something I should do a few times a year.

What I like best about Nouwen's diary is the essential humanity of the man that is evident no matter where you open the book! He writes about his own, most human, foibles, which he has brought with him even into this holy place: hurt feelings, petty jealousies, aggravation when assigned unfulfilling work; and about the niggling worry, as the term of the retreat passes, about whether what he has learned about God and about himself can be taken back and demonstrated in his normal daily life.

One passage I find particularly appealing deals with the author's observation of birds' habits in relation to some of his own:

"Sometimes it seems that every bird has institutionalized one of
my defense mechanisms. The cowbird lays her eggs in some other birds'
nest to let them do the brooding job; the Baltimore oriole imitates
the sounds of more dangerous birds to keep the enemies away, and
the red-wing blackbird keeps screaming so loudly overhead that you
get tired of her noise and soon leave the area that she considers
hers. It does not take long to realize that I do all of that and
a lot more to protect myself or to get my own will done."

This passage speaks to me particularly because I thought of the cowbird every time I dropped my children off at daycare! And how often have I picked a fight with someone I love for no good reason? If only we didn't leave our good intentions (and our good behavior) inside the church when we come back home after the service ...

Friday, September 15, 2006

At last! I have a desk!

At 53, I finally have my own desk! Break out the camcorder!

OK, I guess it's not a big deal. But for years, I've been conducting household business, journaling, etc., on a cramped, narrow little table that we bought years ago for the kids to do their homework on (they never used it, of course; they preferred their bedroom floor, when they did homework at all). It has two tiny, shallow drawers, not nearly enough room for all the junk accumulated in running a household, and a little wooden chair that's painful to sit on if you have arthritic hips. So when my husband and I stumbled across the discontinued rolltop desk in an unfinished furniture store, we got it as my birthday present.

It's monstrous, and takes up a whole wall of my little study. It has every nook and cranny that I could possibly desire: little drawers for stamps and paper clips, little doors that open to reveal secret cubbies, and three big drawers down each side of the knee-hole ... it's heaven!

I know I said this blog was to be about my spiritual life, but getting my own desk has been a spiritual experience for me!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back from retreat ...

I've just returned home from our parish's first-ever retreat, held in Atlantic Canada on the shores of the Northumberland Strait. Some of us elected to fly there, some to drive; I was among the drivers, which probably accounts for the fact that I returned home somewhat worn down. Flying would have been a better option.

The spot was beautiful. We had 4 housekeeping cabins, among which were distributed 11 people. Right out our front door was the cliff-edge, and below it, at low tide, was a rock-strewn beach great for beachcombing. I love beach-glass and little, odd-looking rocks, and came home with so many that I haven't had time to sort them out yet.

So, what I learned: living in community is HARD WORK, not to be undertaken lightly. My two cabin-mates got into a (relatively minor, in retrospect) fracas the first full day of retreat, and there I was, stuck in the middle, eyes wide as a saucer, wishing to be invisible. Later on, we all got along just fine, but I found myself walking on eggs all the same. I can deal with conflict if I have to, but I prefer to stay away from it. This makes me a relative creampuff at work, and drives my boss, who is anything but a creampuff, crazy.

And then there's the fact that some of us did not know what to expect of a retreat, and clearly thought that social-and-sightseeing possibilities got short-changed. At the same time, others felt the pressure to be social when what they really wanted was a long, reflective rest (I fall into the latter camp).

All this proves is that you can't please everybody! All in all, it was a good week, with many lessons to be learned, and much still remaining to be thought through ...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rejected, slain, and raised

I'm halfway through Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality, and I have to say it's been awhile since a book has affected me quite so much. There was no chance of falling asleep while reading this one!

The emphasis so far has been on the sequential facts of Jesus's life: that he was rejected, slain, and raised, in that order, and that Christians must not neglect that order. That there is always a crucifixion in our lives before a resurrection -- that we die to self in baptism, and are raised with Christ; that we must reject the values of the world before we can walk with Him.

Now that's powerful enough -- and Schaeffer is a very good writer -- but when he elaborates this theme, the reality comes pounding home. When we are baptized, we actually die, in God's view. So that, in living our lives, we are to live as if we have really died, have been to heaven, and have been raised again. We are to live resurrection lives.

The reason this blows me away is that this is exactly how I felt when I got my life in order, after a series of failures (my own, all my own) and came back to church. I felt as if I had been raised from the dead. And every time I have made a correction in my life's course (as I have had to do numerous times, having gone astray), always through a sudden gift of grace, I have felt newly alive, saved, resurrected. So I guess this is a pattern we can repeat, if we wander off, as I have so often done.

Hallelujah! This means it is never to late to die to the old self and be raised again!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A blog? Really?

Blogging is a scary idea for me.

I have kept a journal for several years -- it now runs to five of those little journal notebooks you get from Levenger's -- and I'm sure I'm an odd sight, pulling it out of my bag before work or at lunch, scribbling madly for a few minutes before tucking the journal away again and (reluctantly) going back to my normal activities. I have been known to "journal" almost anywhere: in the courtyard of the building where I work, on a plane, in a hotel room when I travel for business. The journal is never far from me. My family knows it exists, but has never read it.

I began the journal after thinking one day, just before I turned fifty, that my life was probably two-thirds done (cheerful thought!), and I should probably begin to sort myself out for the remaining third. I wanted to leave my children something besides a few shares of stock and a house crammed full of stuff that they'd have to auction off or give away. The journal seemed a fine idea.

A few years into journaling, however, I have realized I'm not writing about what's often uppermost in my mind, namely my faith journey. It's easy to find myself recording the first snowfall of the year, the first fire in the fireplace, the date the hostas first poked up their heads in March, details about my daughter's college search, and all the rest of the details that make up a (probably too full) daily life. And those things are worth noting! But the details of my spiritual journey don't often make it onto the page, for the simple reason that I am a lonely Christian in a completely secular household. I love my family dearly, but when I talk about Jesus they look at each other as though Mom really needs to go to the Mental Health Crisis Center. I'm not complaining -- I have been very blessed in my husband and kids. But my husband's faith lapsed years ago, and our kids ignored the good example I tried to set. Such is life.

So here in the blog I'll be talking about my faith journey. If I'm only talking to myself, that's OK!

For 23 years, I've been a devoted member of the Episcopal Church on the Pike. As the only child of two only children, I've welcomed the "family" feeling of my parish, where I've found the siblings I never had. I can't imagine being anywhere else.

I have certain views, however, that some in my parish disagree with. I'm a great admirer of John Shelby Spong, though I don't always agree with everything he says. I'm a member of Integrity. I think marriage is a wonderful sacrament, and should be available to any two adults. I think our church will be richer when we finally consent (as we will) to ordain the people God calls, without questioning His judgement.

I'm delighted to be an Associate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative order of monks and nuns in the Episcopal Church. OJN welcomes everyone and reaches out to them in love. I have made some wonderful friends among the other Affiliates, as we journey on together.

I believe the Holy spirit is feminine. I believe in the Communion of Saints; I believe the whole company of heaven is with us as we celebrate the Eucharist. I would not be surprised to see my late mother and father kneeling next to me at the rail (Yo, Mom! Give me some room here!).

I try to spend some time every evening in still prayer, after I finish the Office. I am not always successful! But I try. Lord, all we can do is try!

What I'm reading tonight: Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality. If I don't fall asleep.