"Real happiness is not dependent on external things. The pond is fed from within. The kind of happiness that stays with you is the happiness that springs from inward thoughts and emotions. You must think of this now, while you are young. You must cultivate your mind if you wish to achieve enduring happiness. You must furnish your mind with interesting thoughts and ideas. For an empty mind grows bored and cannot endure itself. An empty mind seeks pleasure as a substitute for happiness."
--William L. Phelps
"The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts."
"Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege
Through all the years of this, our life, to leap
From joy to joy; for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings."
I have been pondering this passage from one of Orisen Swett Marden's writings:
"Fortunate is the person who has been educated to the perception of beauty; he possesses a heritage of which no reverses can rob him. Yet it is a heritage possible to all who will take the trouble to begin early in life to cultivate the finer qualities of the soul, the eye and the heart.
"'I am a lover of untainted and immortal beauty,' exclaims Emerson. 'Oh, world, what pictures and what harmony are thine!"
"A great scientists tells us that there is no natural object in the universe, which, if seen as the Master sees it, coupled with all its infinite meaning, its utility and purpose, is not beautiful. Just as the most disgusting object, if put under a magnifying glass of sufficient power, would reveal beauties undreamed of, so even the most unlovely environment, the most cruel conditions, will, when viewed through the glass of a trained and disciplines mind, show something of the beautiful and the hopeful.
"A life that has been rightly trained will extract sweetness from everything; it will see beauty everywhere."
The cultivation of the finer qualities of the soul, the eye and the heart is the work of WEH.
I'm now to the chapter on the trial in Farrar's Life of Christ. He talked about how sceptics (his spelling) use the discrepancies between the four gospels to raise doubt and I thought his response applies to our study of history.
He talks of "histories honest and faithful up to the full knowledge of the writers, but each, if taken alone, confessedly fragmentary and obviously incomplete.
"After repeated study, I declare, quite fearlessly, that though the slight variations are numerous--though the lesser particulars cannot in every instance be rigidly and minutely accurate--though no one of the narratives taken singly would give us an adequate impression--...it is perfectly possible to discover how one Evangelist supplements the details furnished by another, and perfectly possible to understand the true sequence of the incidents by combining into one whole the separate indications which they furnish."
My conclusion: Read widely and do not allow yourself ever to let one book of history be the final word. Truth will eventually emerge even though 'facts' seem contradictory. There is a danger in the single story.
This principle of learning is even woven into the Bible in the most important story ever told.
I copied this passage this morning from Farrar's Life of Christ. It is Jesus' last journey to Bethany.
"Jesus did not love cities, and scarcely ever slept within their precincts...and though the necessities of His work compelled Him to visit Jerusalem...He seems to have retired on every possible occasion beyond its gates--partly because He loved that sweet home of Bethany--and partly, too, because He felt the peaceful joy of treading the grass that groweth on the mountains rather than the city stones, and could hold gladder communion with His Father in heaven under the shadow of the olive trees, where, far from disturbing sights and sounds, He could watch the splendor of the sunset and the falling of the dew...
"The exquisite beauty of the Syrian evening, the tender colors of the spring grass and flowers...the distant hills bathed in the primrose light of sunset, the coolness and balm of the breeze after the burning glare--
"[W]hat must these have been to Him to whose eye the world of Nature was an open book, on every page of which He read His Father's name!"
My daughter texted me--at midnight--that I should go read Delphian Volume 4 pp. 40-43. It talks about Early Christianity in the days of Rome. This idea struck me:
Jesus left no writings. Nothing was written down until some time after his death. Yet, "we know much of his wonderful personality, which the greatest students of Christianity admit to be the essence of the faith. It was the striking personality which gave such a pulse of life to his teachings... Their religion was something to be felt rather than expressed in words."
We spend so much time worrying about teaching skills to our children, but what we are trying to accomplish here at WEH is to develop their personalities.
There is a section in the Restoring the Art of Storytelling book where the storytellers talk about warming your own heart first:
"The parent...should first enrich his own personality through an understanding of the essential values of literature and of life. The person whose life is colorless, whose emotions are pallid, whose experience is narrow, whose appreciation of beauty is undeveloped, whose knowledge of literature is limited, should face squarely the fact that he is not the one to guide the development of a child. He should kindle the flame in his own life before he attempts to pass on the torch." (Esenwein)
(P.S. Don't let that statement discourage you! You only have to be one step ahead of your kids. :) )
How to obtain a rich personality: "By loving the beautiful, by reading the worth-while, by filling the mind with those things that are worth passing on, by cultivation of a cheery disposition, by striving towards high ideals." (Eggleston)
"Love paints the pictures, writes the poems, sings the songs, bears the burdens and does all the great and abiding deeds." (Wyches)
"A deep and abiding soul life is more important than the mouthing of many words. The measure of our influence is not what we say but what we are..." (Wyches)
"The story which lacks an inner spiritual quality is...devoid of power to stir a soul." (Edward St. John)
Why do I not focus on academics? Because there is something deeper within all of us!