Susan's Thursday morning note August 26, 2021
Hope. Looking at ourselves in mirror. Analyzing self. "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" by Hannah Green
Good morning! Still. Hot. Dark. Early morning with purring and clicking of keys the sounds entering the scene. Curtains are ready to be drawn where I will have the opportunity to be greeted by my morning angel who is ready to encourage me to enter the gift of this morning. I have a cup of coffee ready for her assuming she will not be able to take a break from helping so many in her world enter their day with a hope that is given in words I’m reading this morning. I’m going to keep thoughts on hope from three sources, hoping you won’t think it’s too long & will understand how they all relate. I hope you find strength as I did in these words from others.
In all your life, you will never see your actual face. If you close one eye, you can gaze at the side of your nose, but that’s it. Is that why when looking at group photographs, it’s yourself you stare at the longest? Sometimes you’re mistaken for someone else, And you want to meet her, see for yourself yourself, but even if you met a gang of doppelgangers, you will continue searching in hubcaps, sauce pans, toasters, the backs of spoons, the bases of lamps, in sunglasses, in another person’s eyes, and if that person is standing in just the right light, there you are, trying to get closer. Susan Browne, Zephr
Why do we look at our own face? Are we looking into our own eyes and communicating with ourselves? Giving ourselves a dialogue of understanding? Of looking into the eyes of yourself and having complete understanding of the person we see, knowing no one else can possibly know all in our heads? What is behind our eyes? Are we finding faults with ourselves? I try to realize that only myself will be with myself for life (ha). The only one that fully will understand where I’ve been, what I’m thinking, why I’ve made decisions, what my desires and hopes are, what my goals are, what my deepest satisfactions are, what my prayers are, what my joys are. I don’t want to be my greatest critic. I want to be the one that understands me most. Is that possible looking into photographs, into spoons, into lamp bases, into sunglasses. I remember a Newfoundland’s eyes a few years ago…I looked in and saw myself because the eyes were so reflective. As Anne of Green Gables would state, “my looking-glass friend, Katie” about herself in the mirror. Do we look in the mirror and see a friend?
I just reread a fascinating book written in 1964 by Hannah Green. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. The book takes place in a sanatorium with the main character being a teenager dealing with painful psychological problems. Severe anxiety. This book concentrated on the word hope. The characters were all at different levels of pain and insanity. For some reason the book wasn’t depressing. Absolutely intriguing on looking beyond any circumstance and keeping hope alive no matter how hard the situation or mental state you’re in is at the moment…Here are the words of the counselor/doctor to the main character on hope.
Look here, I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice…and I never promised you peace or happiness. My help is so that you can be free to fight for all of these things. The only reality I offer is challenge, and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable. I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie…
Near the end of the book our main character (who has struggled for several years to come out of her darkness) makes this observation.…she looked out into the congregation of Sunday and wondered if they ever thanked God for the light in their minds, for friends, for cold and pain responsive to the laws of nature, for enough depth of sight into these laws to have expectation or friends, for the days and nights that follow one another in stately rhythm, for the sparks that fly upward, for friends….Did they know how beautiful and enviable their lives were?
Inside another book was the small gift of a note inside about a section of the short book called Denial, only 50 pages long, all one sentence…I have yet to read the mystery, but this is the paragraph my friend typed out for me…
I began my search for the sunlight as I came out of the womb, my search for sunlight and God, and found sunlight pretty quickly, and darkness too, but I have the feeling that someday I’ll go back into that womb and find that God had been there waiting for me the whole while and he’ll say, Where have you been, and I’ll say, Looking for you, and he’ll say, What for, to which I will tell him that I wanted to know why I had been plucked timely from the warm darkness and sent out to grow old, feel pain and doubt, love and be loved, laugh and be laughed at, doubt and be doubted, and old God will answer saying I had just answered my own question.
And one more book which discusses this same topic. The beauty of life regardless of our situations. Keeping hope. Keeping an eternal perspective. Knowing regardless of answers in this world, there is peace the moment we enter God’s presence. Testament of Trust by Faith Baldwin. Written in 1958. This entire book is written with each month of the year being a different room in a house…I’ll write more from it another week, but here are her thoughts that go with hope.
I love this world and all its beauty. I know that in many of its manifestations there is ugliness – in what people do, in the way millions must live, in the attitudes man expresses, which influence the world. But I am happy to be in the world now, privileged to live in it, to take what comes while learning to accept, and to look ahead. As one room leads to another, so does one month into the next. There is always a future, there is always hope.
…as for relaxing, I suppose it’s heresy, but I am tired of friends, strangers and the writers of books who harp on relaxing. We can’t become a nation of rag dolls. It is necessary for character growth to have, and meet, problems; even to worry; even, sometimes, to fear, as there are fears which are salutary – but never to worry or fear in excess. If, by working at it constantly, we can attain an inner source of refreshment and trust, putting our difficulties in God’s hand, but at the same time recognizing that He requires us to do something about them also, we have taken a long step ahead. It sounds inconsistent and perhaps impossible, but you can almost fly to pieces on the surface and still maintain your citadel of durable inner calm.
It has been said for hundreds of years that most of us squander Time’s good coin worrying about what might happen – and doesn’t – as well as about what has happened, which can’t be remedied….if you made a list of the things you believe are vital to you, and then sat and looked at it, I’m sure you’d cross off a number of items, leaving only a few necessities…Love, worship, work; a roof over your head, food on your table. Under love, come all the human relationships and your essential relationship with God; under worship, the need for prayer, which is a tuning in to strength and the security of the spirit; under work, I suppose the need is for tasks which give you joy. The necessities of life are a sort of subheading; for these you usually have to work. I haven’t listed happiness as a need by itself. If you have the rest, you have that, too…Look with me at the clouds. With our vision we can’t see the top side from here. But whatever shapes the clouds assume in our limited sight, let them not, for us, portend anxiety or storm, knowing as we do that topside there is beauty, order, and peace.
Life is so short. Eternal perspective. Such peace will be the moment we look into God’s eyes. All our desires fulfilled at that moment. In His presence. Our time today will fly. Our lives will continue to fly by. Can we slow them down? Set our goals. Follow our dreams? Know that we get to be with ourselves only our entire life. Trust ourselves. Not be too hard on ourselves when we are trying our best? What will we write on our epitaphs tonight for the moments we get to have today? Will our epitaph tonight be worth writing on the moments we’ll never get back? Let’s look up to the heavens today….the peace that passes all other’s understanding is only a glance away. Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday morning. Susan
Latin for this week:
spes, spei - hope
spem habere - to have hope or to entertain hope
perferre - to bear through to the end
obdurare - to remain firm, hold out, persist
Baldwin, Faith. Testament of Trust. 1958. New York. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston
Green, Hannah. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. 1964. New York. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston
Kaminsky, Stuart M. Denial. 2005. New York. Tom Doherty Associates.