Said one oyster to a neighbouring oyster, “I have a very great pain within me. It is heavy and round and I am in distress.”
And the other oyster replied with haughty complacence, “Praise be to the heavens and to the sea, I have no pain within me. I am well and whole both within and without.”
At that moment a crab was passing by and heard the two oysters, and he said to the one who was well and whole both within and without, “Yes, you are well and whole; but the pain that your neighbour bears is a pearl of exceeding beauty.”
No, we don’t think about them much if at all anymore, and yes, it all worked out right that we are not together, and no, it would not have been a good idea at all to continue on in what became a murky emotional wilderness, but yes, we should be grateful that they came into our lives, or that we blundered into theirs; for in many ways they are how we came to be who we are, isn’t that so? And didn’t we learn how to love better by loving generally poorly and awkwardly in the opening chapters, before moving up to the current big leagues?… So thank You for the pain and confusion and thrill of first and second and third loves; thank You for letting us muddle along learning to be painfully honest and not try to be cool and not hold on desperately to that which is rightfully leaving the scene; thank YOU for the bruise of education, and the joy of the much deeper confusion of marriage. Deft work there, Friend. And so, amen.
And what, in fact, is dignity? In those Who have it pure, it is the soul’s repose, The base of character—no mere reserve That springs from pride, or want of mental nerve. The dignity that wealth, or station, breeds, Or in the breast on base emotion feeds, Is easy weighed, and easy to be sized—A bastard virtue, much to be despised.
True dignity is like a summer tree. Beneath whose shade both beast, and bird, and bee, When by the heated skies oppressed, may come, And feel, in its magnificence, at home; Or rather like a mountain which forgets Itself in its own greatness, and so lets Vast armies fuss and fight upon its sides, While high in clouds its peaceful summit hides, And from the voiceless crest of glistening snow, Pours trickling fatness on the fields below; Repellant force, that daunts obtrusive wrong, And woos the timid steps of right along; And hence a garb which magistrates prepare, When called to judge, and really seem to wear. In framing character on whate’er plan, ‘Tis always needed to complete the man, The job quite done, and Dignity without, Is like an apple pie, the fruit left out.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will, all that I have and possess. Everything I have is yours, for you have given it all to me; to you I return it. Take me, Lord, and do what you like with me, only give me your grace and your love, for that is enough for me. Amen.