Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Quote: Madeleine L'Engle



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Thank you for the wonderful book recommendations!  Thank you also to those of you who joined Good Reads and added me.  It really is so fun to look thru your books and to see what you loved and did not love so much.  I need a button for 'Read so long ago I don't remember a thing about it."


Like I said yesterday, Good Reads has been a very good place to find quotes.  But, a little warning about quotes on the internet, check them.  Even Good Reads can be wrong in the crediting.


Here is a beautiful quote I saw just this morning.  Perhaps I have posted it before. Perhaps not.
But those of you who love Madeleine L'Engle will know it, I am sure.


"I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly."
~Madeleine L'Engle


I have such a deep belief that God is real.  But I also can tell you that in my adult life, three times I have felt so abandoned by God.  They were times of great pain and suffering. Sometimes physical and sometimes emotional.  But in every time the spiritual suffering has been very great.  Going from that terrible place where you feel unloved and deserted to climbing that mountain of faith back to belief...I can only think of a mountain climber.  Slow, tired, heavy steps.
It must be the Holy Spirit that helps me stay the course.  Helps me hang on.  Keeps my heart from letting go.  Whispers to me, it is true.

I am still coming out of a questioning time.
This community of Saints (you guys) has prayed when I could not.
Advised  me with beautiful words and quotes and scriptures.

And patience.  I have not fretted that I wasn't moving toward 'reconcilation' fast enough.
I gave myself grace....or mercy...

Those of you with unwavering faith gave me hope.

In the past, I have learned about self-pity and suffering and God's character.
This time it was grief and loss and eternity.

I don't like the fire. Not one bit.
I'm still struggling with prayer.
I pretty much do not ask for anything.
Like Anne Lamott, I say Help and Thanks.

And that has to be okay for now.

God knows.


Thank you for the years of encouragement,
Donna

p.s.  the most perfect Scripture shared

Romans 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." 


68 comments:

  1. Thank you for being so honest. My husband had a stem cell transplant a year ago today. He is 42. (I'm especially thinking about this b/c he is in a PET scan right now...thoughts/prayers so appreciated).

    During (and especially after) the stem cell process...(and after 2 job losses, and 2 bouts of cancer for my husband)...I felt like God abandoned me. Totally. I didn't feel Him anymore. Because if God existed, why would he allow people to suffer so?

    I feel Him a bit more now. I'm trying. Trying to go to mass. Trying to pray. But I feel like such a "fair weather" God person...as in "I thank you when things are fine...I curse you when things aren't". I know He forgives me. I know he knows I am human. I know He watches over me. And of course, my husband's healing has been a true miracle. My son has always been my miracle. But we've been tested numerous times, and I'm not sure how I'll take another test when one comes.

    I pray for grace. I pray for understanding. I pray for those who are sick, and those who are suffering.

    Faith has always been hard for me...but I'm trying to have it...

    And you at QL have all helped so much. You are so embracing and so encouraging. Gosh, I'm pouring out my soul here...

    Know I have gratitude for all of you. Lovely posting. So sorry for such a long comment.

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    1. Gina - my husband had an MRI this morning, so it's that kind of day, I guess. You and your husband have been prayed for right this very moment.

      Donna - I feel so honored that you share your heart with us - in all of its doubtings and triumphs - and I feel extra blessed on the days when you come to little Trinity and walk with all of us on our Thursday morning journey.

      My heart is full. I love this little tribe. Bless you all, dear girls.

      Alison - any news yet? My family prayed for you at dinner last night. :)

      Love you - mean it!
      Stephie

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    2. Anonymous9:59 AM

      Prayer works and Help and Thanks are enough...

      Dear God Help us all here today with Your Holy Spirit of life and healing and Thank You that we are Your dear children always. Amen

      Big LIKE for Stephie and gina and you dear Donna!!! This is a sacred place for me.
      love and prayers, jep

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    3. {{Like}}

      my word for 2013 is Faith. I believe with all my heart, yet I know I need more. "Lord I believe, help my unbelief"

      Bless you Gina - and you too Steph - and thanks for the prayer jep!

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    4. Hello Gina and Steph,
      Gina, I have walked in your shoes about God and prayer often. I just said a prayer for you and your husband--a prayer for healing and hope.

      As for me, I received both good and bad news yesterday. The laser surgery helped, but I still face a potential risk of glaucoma problems because of the shape of my eyes. The doctor, a skilled surgeon, did all he could. I'm grateful. However, he also discovered I have the slightest beginnings of retinopathy. I must now make some very difficult changes to my life, but I have the chance to reverse the damage caused by retinopathy. Thank you so much for your prayers Steph and everyone else on QL. At no time did I feel alone during the procedure Tuesday or as I received the hard news yesterday.

      HMBalison

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    5. Dear Gina, I'm glad you shared your heart. We will all be praying for you today.

      Hebrews 12:1-2

      Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

      Run. Look to Jesus. Endure.

      I too am thankful for the Holy Spirit. I have sighed and I know He heard.

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    6. Gina and Steph - praying for both of you as you wait for test results.

      Alison - so glad the surgery resulted in some improvement and also glad that there are options (though challenging to implement) that offer hope to reverse the retinopathy. Keeping you in my prayers.

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    7. Anonymous11:17 AM

      Blessed be Dear Alison, praying God will give you the strength and hope that you need. love, jep

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  2. I don't comment very often, but I read every day. I look forward to your beautiful, funny, REAL thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing with us! One of the tenors in our choir at church always prays, "May you be blessed to be a blessing to others." Rest assured that, even in doubt, you are a blessing to others!

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    1. Anonymous10:01 AM

      "...to be a blessing to others." Yes, I do so LIKE this. jep

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    2. {{Like}} "Make Me a Blessing" is a hymn we used to sing in church when I was a little girl... Donna and the QL crew are definitely a blessing in my life. Thanks for being real too.

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  3. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Such a beautiful, honest and vulnerable post. Thank you for trusting us enough to share this, dear Donna. And thank YOU for the years of encouragement. It has been a blessing in my life for certain.

    Love you. Mean it.

    Mary Z

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  4. Thank you for your authenticity. It is beautiful, raw, and real.
    Your statement that you are allowing yourself to not fret over the speed, or lack thereof, of reconciliation resonated with me. Continue to give yourself grace and mercy through the journey. Sometimes wrestling with God is the only way...He's a big God and can take it.
    Anyway, this scripture came to mind:
    Romans 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

    You are beautiful inside and out, Donna.
    E.

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    1. Oh wow. Oh my. Thank you for sharing that scripture. It is perfect.

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    2. Thank you for sharing the scripture, Elizabeth. I believe He hears our prayers even though all we may be able to offer are the beating of our hearts and the falling of our tears.

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    3. Anonymous12:37 PM

      Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth. I have never heard that scripture before. I wrote it down!
      Sarah P. from Iowa

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    4. Am memorizing Romans 1, 8, and 12 with Ann voskamp this year. Love this part of chapter 8. More than conquerors!!

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    5. Love Ann Voskamp's writing and heart.

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  5. That is one of my favorite scriptures Elizabeth :-)

    And your right, he is a big LOVING God and he can handle all our questions. We just need to ask.

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  6. I love this post Donna - glad you are having grace with yourself. I pray that you will know how very much the Lord loves you - and how he is so close.

    Thank you for this place of encouragement - surely he works through you here - you are a blessing to me.

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  7. Donna,

    Your transparency is refreshing and uplifting. You're such an encourager. I think we all, from the saintiest saints to the struggling cliff-clingers, have those ups and downs.

    I have had my moments on the spiritual mountaintop, but also those long treks through the valley of darkness. Times when I've shaken my fist at heaven and soaked my pillow with tears; times when I looked at another sister in Christ and had the audacity to compare my situation to hers... "Why, God, did you intervene for her and you did not for me" and times when all I could pray is "I believe, help my unbelief."

    I agree - the climb out of the pit can be hard and slow. But deep down, I do know that I'm not forsaken. He's there, even when He's still and quiet. He has a plan and purpose for me that he put into place when he knit me together, and so my earnest desire is to stay that course and embrace my story; recognizing when He, like a conductor, gives me the nod to share the part He’s given me in the great orchestra.

    Ah, Donna, thanks for making Quiet Life a safe and warm respite. Lifting you and the others here up in prayer this very moment.

    {{Hugs}} Pam

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  8. Donna,
    What makes QL special is the honesty you bring. You admit the hard truths at times.

    I read a quote today:

    "Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." -----Leonard Cohen

    May it help you as it helped me accept how imperfect I am.

    Thank you, Donna.

    HMBalison

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    1. Great quote, Alison! It's also how the light gets out, isn't it... how we share His love and joy with others.

      Donna has let His light within her seep out today! :-)

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    2. You are going to make me cry.

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    3. Love this - and all these comments. :)

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    4. Another great quote!

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  9. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Jep is right. Sacred. That is the perfect word for this place of Quiet Life. This is my place of comfort and peace and happiness and honesty.

    I absolutely believe in prayer. My aunt is going through an ugly divorce right now. We've spent a lot of time together this past year. She asked me how to pray. I said, "Just say, help me, God." That's all and enough. I don't think prayers have to be long and "just right". Sometimes the simple words are all you need or can say.
    Love to you all! My prayers to you as well.

    Sarah P. from Iowa

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  10. Thank you lovely friends.

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  11. Amen and Amen, Donna. Your comments on prayer echo mine. I don't trust myself to ask for specifics, and I am not sure I understand even the power of a specific request. What I do know is that God cares and He is working...and so I lift up my requests, give them to Him and let Him know I care, too. And I lean very heavily on my prayer book to give me words I just cannot come up with on my own any more.

    There was one very, very dark day for me, almost two years ago, when I had to go and get someone I love very much because they were in a serious crisis. My son drove me and I cried the entire 8 hour drive. At one point a friend called and she prayed through an Orthodox prayer for me. There was something very powerful about having a friend pray words with me that neither of us could be depended upon to think up at that moment, but that others throughout the ages had written down for us to have in the darkness. Those words, rote and scripted some would say critically, brought me back to what I truly believed, and they were a grace to me when I could only cry.

    I am still climbing back up that mountain, Donna, which is probably why I have been so silent on my own blog. It is such a vulnerable season when the things I love the most seem to be pulled out from under me. I so respect and appreciate how you are able to write right through the midst. You are honest, you are true to your own voice. You are the HUGE, Donna Elsie.

    Much love to you, your fellow pilgrim up the steep mountain. It is so good to climb together, and not alone.

    Always,
    Di

    p.s. I made a Word doc of all the book recommendations. I am so excited to get started on the list. Thanks everyone!

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    1. Thank you Di. We are climbers in spirit and in real life.
      We tackled Coit Tower Mountain together :o)

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  12. Donna - I've been there too; felt completely abandoned and twisting in the wind, wondering if I'd been duped and God wasn't really real. Before commenting, I said a prayer for both of us as we make this journey separately but together.

    I'm finding the road back to be a long one as well. Fake it until you make it works in so many situations, but I don't ever want to be fake with Him and I don't think He wants that either. The one thing I must hold close is that He meets us where we are (without rolling His eyes or stomping his feet as he bridges the distance).

    Thank you so much for sharing even when your heart is heavy, Donna. I love this community that gathers here in your comments and am so glad that the new commenting method is allowing me join in that conversation.

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  13. I am kind of speechless. Donna and everyone, you have all simply touched my heart today.
    Thank you.

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  14. "Those of you with unwavering faith gave me hope."

    Donna, I'm not sure some have "unwavering faith"....the body of Christ is designed to lift, encourage, build, love...thankfully we go through things at different times so while you may be weak, I may be strong and vice versa....

    I know my faith is not unwavering. I DO know that I will persevere and run this race with endurance. He will complete what He started.

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    1. LOVE this. So thankful for the family of God, the Body of Christ -- thankful that His strength is made perfect in my weekness.

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  15. being 23 i like to still pretend that life is meant to be happy (though my mind knows it is not) - and when i feel pain it makes me squirm, and it always will. but i guess the point is that we're sloooooooowly squirming and shifting closer to the heart of God. i like knowing i can be really slow and dense and God doesnt mind. i want to read that anne lamott book!

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    1. I so love reading your perspective here, Emma. Yes, we are continually shifting closer to the heart of God. When times are hard and my faith is weak, I remember the saying "one step forward, two steps back" but try to remember that even if I'm taking a step back, as long as I'm still facing forward while taking that step, my next step forward will bring me closer to Him again (I don't ever want to turn my back to Him).

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    2. I like that too Emma...closer to the heart of God we go.

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    3. Anonymous4:37 PM

      Only 23, but wise in so many ways. You inspire me, Emma.

      Mary Z

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  16. This was just in my email box. A post on prayer - how timely... certainly for me as much as anyone:
    http://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-school-of-prayer

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  17. Dear Donna- Before our children were born...Nat and I would pray and ask G-d not to send us Casper Milk Toast Children.... as our feisty crew began to arrive.... I found myself saying... "OK G-d you have a sense of humor! How about I leave this in your hands. Send us the children who were meant to live in our hearts and home." The older I get the more I realize... I don't know what to ask for. During my Dad's last illness, I prayed for healing.... he didn't have a terminal illness and certainly he had a few more good years ahead. But...Dad was tired and at peace with G-d. He didn't want the sleep study or the C-pap...he wanted to close his eyes. It was not lost on me that as we gathered, everyone was crying but Dad. It's much easier to be the one going home...than it is to be the ones left behind. I have to believe an all knowing G-d knows that. If he knows that...then certainly he knows what I need and that my heart is eternally thankful for all he has sent into my life. (Including you my dear friend!)

    BTW.. I LOVE the photo of yourself on your Good Reads page...Lovely!

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  18. Thank you, dear Donna. I know I haven't been very active here in the QLCS for the past few years but I have never stopped loving this place. I have been in several dark places in my life: one long time when I "tried" unbelief for several years, one time when my heart hurt deeply for months (years?), and other shorter times of struggle. I do believe each time of darkness changed me and helped me grow in ways I would never have grown. Still, I avoid that kind of suffering whenever possible and whine about it a lot when I cannot avoid it. I am almost embarrassed at the temper tantrum I threw over our recent move and having to give up my new teaching g job, when it is now apparent God had better things in store for me. But God is gracious and even my tantrums are used for growth. :)

    One wise confessor gave me this penance, to save seven times "Jesus, I love you. help me love you more." The final morning prayer at the Catholic school where I've been substitute teaching is "Jesus, I trust in you" repeated three times. Both these short prayers have become my heart cries when other words are too difficult.

    Blessings to you,

    Sandy

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    1. "Still, I avoid that kind of suffering whenever possible and whine about it a lot when I cannot avoid it."
      I love this sentence.

      I am glad you are here today.

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    2. That is an amazing quote. So true of me. ^^

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    3. Anonymous4:35 PM

      You are not alone, Janet. I'm sure that quote above applies to more than you and me!

      Mary Z

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    4. "Even my tantrums are used for growth" - love this -- God uses all things to teach us.

      I find when I am anxious and doubtful, it helps me to say outloud "Lord I trust You with my life, you are totally trustworthy"

      I think of the old hymn "what a friend we have in Jesus"

      "...Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer." And sometimes the prayer is so short: Help me, I trust you, or for me its often "show me the way "

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  19. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Thank you, Donna, for your post. God is so wonderful to coordinate things when he is trying to teach me something. Our 30-year-old adopted son who has bipolar disorder had to move back home with my husband and me last weekend, and I have been dealing with some hard physical problems as well. My aunt sent me a devotional book a while back titled Jesus Calling and the entry for today included, "The way just ahead of you is very steep. Slow down and cling tightly to my hand. I am teaching you a difficult lesson learned only by hardship." Then in your post you state, "I can only think of a mountain climber. Slow, tired, heavy steps." It helps so much so know that I am not the only one struggling up the slope. Jesus is beside you and beside me, giving us strength and carrying the weight for us.
    Debbie Z.

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    1. So many with burdens. Wish I could give you a hug. Each of you.

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    2. Debbie, I love Jesus Calling. It's amazing how it fits and blesses just when we need it.

      praying for you now

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    3. Anonymous2:13 PM

      Thank you so much, Donna and Susan. Hugs back to you as well.

      Debbie Z.

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  20. Such a wonderful, heartfelt post and comforting scripture with which to close. Thank you.
    amanda

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  21. That Scripture has pulled me through some horrible times where I just sat and cried and could not form word to pray. The awesome thing is that the Lord knows. He knows our heart's pain, our desires, our need, all of it. He is in it with us. I think we all have those times when we feel His absence, but in those times, I also know I grow the most. Thanks for sharing your heart today.

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  22. Thank you for your post today, it was a blessing. Knowing that others are plodding up the mountain alongside me is a huge encouragement. Because I will not let go of the hand that holds my heart, I know I will see Him face to face and that is a blessing worth waiting for. Peace, love and hugs to all.

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  23. Dear Donna

    KNow this. Even when you cannot pray others are praying for those who cannot. Little nuns who vow never to speak, the Carmelites, are speaking directly to God for you. Isn't that comforting?
    There was a time when I could NOT pray......
    and my friend Eileen assured me that the nuns were praying for me.

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  24. Thank you for your honesty today, Donna. So many times in the past 4 months, I have prayed, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." I trust Him because I know he is sovereign. He knows what is best for us.

    Keep the faith, ladies. I can attest to the fact that it is worth it.

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  25. Oh, I love that last verse. It's one I wasn't familiar with, but it is so comforting. You have such a sweet spirit, I can almost feel it though my computer.

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  26. Donna, I had to tell you I belong to a Sunday school class and we call ourselves the Cracked Pots because none of us are perfect.

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  27. Thank you for sharing your heart, Donna, about the dark times of life. God often seems so so so quiet as we are going through them. And yet, the hindsight view often reveals His fingerprints all over the place. I think that is what gets me through the dark times of life now.......having the past proven experience of knowing He is faithful, knowing He is trustworthy, knowing that He will never leave me nor forsake me, knowing that He does love me abundantly and overwhelmingly.......

    Blessings,
    Tammy ~@~

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  28. Anonymous9:44 PM

    I so love the photograph of the fall trees through the church windows! So lovely.
    May I add my book recommendation today? "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irwin is the best.

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  29. Oh Donna, this post speaks to me in many ways. I have deep faith and love to encourage others to have faith and believe that He will be by you every step of the way. If you say Help, you are praying perfectly! If you say Thanks, you have faith! I love the imagery of mountains, climbing, calling back to others to keep going, and in life only knowing the joy of the mountaintop if you've experienced the low of the valley. What an encouraging place you've created here. I need to add Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman to your good reads list, a daily devotional I think you would like. Thank you.

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  30. YES to Streams in the Desert - a classic!

    I was trudging through the snow on an uphill hike yesterday to a sweet little settlement called Zmutt - and when I got back to our room I read this post. Naturally your illustration of climbing really resonated with me :) While walking I was happy to have walking poles and spikey treads on my hiking boots - to keep me from slipping ; to keep going in the right direction. I think Bible reading and simple prayer does the same. Keeps us going and gives us strength, support.

    ALSO - I had a sweet goal : lunch at a little mountain restaurant - refreshment and rest! the Lord gives these same sweet things to us, just when we need it :)

    I have loved reading all the comments - they are so encouraging.

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    1. Wonderful day you had, now I need to see where Zmutt is!

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    2. Auto correct wanted to change it to smutty - ha!!! Its in the Wallis region - an hour walk from Zermatt :-)

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  31. The verse Elizabeth posted is one of my Life verses. It has meant so much to me, and is often overlooked as it comes before such the oft quoted verse, Romans 8:28. I also love John 2:5. This speaks to me, as I feel I need to do whatever the Holy Spirit tells me to do, when I hear that small, still voice. As we all know, that is not always easy !! Prayers for all who are needing them. God Bless.

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  32. Donna, this is totally unrelated, but I don't know how to contact you personally. I'm looking into doing an Audrey Woulard workshop, and I know you've done one in the past. I trust your judgement on all things photography more than most people I know. :) Could you please email me to let me know what you honestly thought of it, and if it would be useful for a somewhat seasoned photographer? Please? :) Thank you so much! melindasmithphotography@gmail.com

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  33. This is a beautiful testimony, Donna. Life is just not all rose petals and bonbons, and you share that beautifully. Thank you for that, and I pray that God will bless you abundantly.

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  34. Beautiful, Donna. I feel like I am in a similar place, though I don't know what your circumstances are. Staying the course, having a quiet (living breathing YES it is still alive!) faith...pressing on.

    I can't remember if we are friends on Goodreads or not, so I'm off to check that :)

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