Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Outside the Garden

The British intellectual James Pierrepont Greaves (d. 1842) once advised:

"Do not run to this and that for comfort when you are in trouble, but bear it. Be uncomfortably quiet—be uneasily silent—be patiently unhappy."
Since I seem to have reached the ripe age of knowing how scant are one's opportunities to fix anything, this strikes me as good advice. At 18, at 30, at 45, and even by 50, I was still pushed forward by a strong intent to Make Things Better. It might be a small thing like the need for a stop sign at a busy corner, or something much larger. And there have been small victories. 

But defeats, even after protracted struggle and dedication of precious resources, have reached a high number. So that at 60, I find that Mr. Greaves' statement may provide me the key to making it through the next 40 years or so. 

Still, I stay alert for those rare moments where something I could say or do might just help. These actions could be very small, but the key seems to lie in doing them with a simple boldness. A sentence uttered in calm conviction can prove more persuasive, over time, than any hour-long lecture. 

And a gentle word, a listening ear, and an unexpected smile have the power to redeem a person's entire day.

So while I see no point at present in chasing dragons or trying to move mountains, I can find no excuse for not speaking plainly, with charity, and persevering in small kindnesses. God will do with them as He will.