I found two similar quotes this week by two pastors. The Moody quote was written during the Civil War (shaping I think the battlefield reference) and I found it in the church newsletter from my husband’s former church. When I looked it up, I found the quote by Barnhouse which seemed to echo Moody’s phrases.
“Joy is love exalted; peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is love in training.” Dwight L. Moody 1837 – 1899 Massachusetts evangelist
“Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Patience is love enduring. Kindness is love’s truth. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness.” Donald Grey Barnhouse Presbyterian theologian 1895 – 1960
It is quiet at my house this week, peacefully quiet, too quiet. This week, I’ve lots of time for reading and reflection sitting on the back porch with coffee; smelling the first of the gardenia blooms, my mind can weave and spin thoughts into writing, listening to the restful sounds of the mourning doves.
What a contrast to last week! Then, it was the familiar chaos of a house filled with four adults, twin 10 year olds, and three fairly large dogs, tumbling over each other, this time amid rainy days and significant house repairs. As always when they visit, it was the laughter of children, sounds of video games, TV shows, dogs barking…family, this time with the addition of a circular saw and a sander!
I LOVE it when our family comes: Cooking for everyone, the leaves in the dining room table making it a spacious gathering place where we share meals and a prayer, the exuberance of grandkids running, swimming in the backyard pool, or reading a story with me, the joy of time together bringing memories of all the years we’ve shared.
Their visits mean watching my grandson play chess with Doug, listening to the latest installment of a story Ella is writing, sharing iced coffee and quiet discussions of loved ones with our daughter, showering blessings and kisses on the bald head of the man who grew into my heart (though not beneath it) as a genuine son, and life filling up with children’s kisses, cuddles and hugs, and the endless rubbing of puppy dog ears.
Our family days always fly and I spend them bustling about from one task to another. This time was exceptionally busy as Jay was contracted to do repairs to the manse. Of course, given the age of the house (build in the 1890s) and some work done poorly in the past, he discovered some unforeseen issues, and given the days of rain, this required some inventive strategies and several people’s help, especially our daughter pitching in.
So, Doug and I tried some entertaining for the kids, who were so good given the weather and the craziness around them. We made trips to the Dollar Store, out to lunch including a restaurant with an arcade, to the park, out for ice cream and a movie. Then, cozy as could be we had dinner, showers and settling in for the night for the kids, tired but happy. Afterwards, Gretchen and I would sit, before I fell into bed, companionably reading, talking over books and sharing our distress over politics.
Last week, amid all the craziness, was love exalted, the pure joy of being together. Yet, as always, before we knew it the dogs and family were packed, tumbling out of our everyday, and pulling out of the driveway heading home to work and school. I always cry as I wave and wave in farewell.
Then, back to being just Doug and me, we walk back inside our home, and the palpable silence sits on my ears. The house, which minutes before was small, crazy, cozy, crowded, and filled with busyness, spreads in front of me, large rooms peaceful but empty, echoing only distant ripples of the previous joy….but slowly filling up with an awareness of contentment seeping back into the cracks the family has left behind.
I think that is why finding the quotes I read struck me so. Joy is love exalted, so clear to me in the fullness of life last week. Peace is love in repose…love at rest, quiet like now, but still there. Yes, love really is the key and it is always present just in different expressions, peace and calm merely the flip-side of celebration, the steady presence underneath everything that supports the joyous energy of the exaltation. But, ever and always, the same love.
Today is our wedding anniversary. Doug and I have always spoken of our love as being like an ocean between us, the connection always there with ebbs and high tides, with storms and gentle waves washing over us. Our wedding was the first big, joyous celebration and the beginning of all this love, this huge ocean that started with a life-nourishing trickle of caring, built with streams of passion and shared beliefs, grew with our children, their spouses and their children, and became boundless…and eternal. Love never-failing.
And for now, a time for quiet, love in repose…time for reflection and the calls of mourning doves.