Photograph by Jon Tyson via Unsplash
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
— Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Man in the Mirror
cf. photograph by Pixabay via Pexels
There is an amazing bird:
its beak an old umbrella
its body nothing but empty tins
of corned beef and sardines.
It sees with the eyes
of a doll now broken and forgotten.
Its nest is a dump all smelly and rotten.
When the moon rises like a cradle in the sky,
the bird flies and sings and cries:
Sleepytimes, little sleepy heads
of those who have no food.
I am the angel of your dreams.
I am the birdsong of your sighs.
Ugly as I am,
all rusted and torn,
my song is sweet,
my friendship even sweeter.
Sleepytime, sleepytime, o beloved children.
I watch over babies who know no pillows,
over the little sleepyheads who have no suppers.
— Ramón C. Sunico, “The Tin Bird” (Tr. by the poet)
Man in the Mirror
Photograph by Ståle Grut via Unsplash
Life is a crucible. We are thrown into it, and tried.
— Edwin Hubbell Chapin, “Living Words”
cf. photograph by rawpixel via Unsplash
“…and he prayed that God would strengthen us when the hard time comes on us; as it will come for all of us; as it came to Job — that we’d be strong in that hour…”
— Garrison Keillor, More News from Lake Wobegon — Hope: Let Us Pray
cf. photograph by Erik Witsoe via Unsplash (edited) and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay (edited)
J. S. Bach, Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein performed by Monica Chew
cf. photograph by Gabriel Laroche (edit) via Unsplash
Muse, tell me why, for what attaint of her deity, or in what vexation, did the Queen of heaven drive one so excellent in goodness to circle through so many afflictions, to face so many toils? Is anger so fierce in celestial spirits?
— Virgil, Aeneid
“Carry On My Wayward Son” by Samantha Loren
William Alexander Alcock, “A lonely Vigil” (detail) (ca. 1922);
August Krug, “The Portal” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Sophie L. Lauffer, “A Canaan Evening” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Edwin B. Collins, “Good Cheer Within” (detail) (ca. 1922)
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
–John Milton, Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent
J. S. Bach, “Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein” (“When we are in the greatest distress”)
D Coetzee, “Neurology waiting room…” (2008)
I watched my mother grow smaller and smaller until she disappeared into the door of Doctor Gordon’s office building. Then I watched her grow larger and larger as she came back to the car.
“Well?” I could tell she had been crying.
My mother didn’t look at me. She started the car.
Then she said, as we glided under the cool, deep-sea shade of the elms, “Doctor Gordon doesn’t think you’ve improved at all. He thinks you should have some shock treatments at his private hospital in Walton.”
I felt a sharp stab of curiosity, as if I had just read a terrible newspaper headline about somebody else.
“Does he mean live there?”
“No,” my mother said, and her chin quivered.
I thought she must be lying.
“You tell me the truth,” I said, “or I’ll never speak to you again.”
“Don’t I always tell you the truth?” my mother said, and burst into tears.
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You got to help me make a stand
You just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching
And my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way…
Fire And Rain by James Taylor