I recently read a book called The Scent of Water. My sister had been telling for quite a while that I should read it, and finally she just gave up waiting on me to find it for myself and gave me her copy to borrow. It’s by an English author named Elizabeth Goudge, set in the mid-1900s, and oh! It’s so lovely! From the very first pages, it drew my heart in with loving compassion and hope.
It’s the kind of book that is beautiful and light-filled, even though the characters wrestle with darkness of all kinds: mental illness, physical deformity, soul bitterness. It’s the kind of story that makes the characters my friends, loving them for their frailty and their courage, and perhaps most of all for how I see myself and my loved ones in them.
The story celebrates craftsmanship, the writers and gardeners and woodworkers who often hide themselves away in this world. It taps into my great longing for solitude and quiet, and also my great longing for friendship and community and love of all kinds. It is an ode to “the little things,” to the delicate beauty that only those with eyes to see will love.
It’s the kind of book that makes me love my husband more generously, forgive others more quickly, and seek God more lovingly. It’s the kind of book that feeds my soul.
So much of the noise in this world brings death instead of life to us. What are the things that reach into my interior world, that shadowy place where sometimes light bursts forth in glorious harmony with love – and sometimes darkness overtakes my spirit and fills me with fear? It’s hard to say, because some days I need one thing, and other days I need something entirely different.
Yesterday, I needed solitude. A rainy day with few interruptions and big windows to see outside. A book that lifted my eyes from the hamster wheel of just running, running, running without even looking around. I needed quiet and space. I needed to read beautiful words and then to write, to give expression to loveliness once my soul had been filled again.
But tomorrow, I’ll need people, and good honest work, and sunshine. I’ll need to learn new things, and to rule my small domain – water my plants, answer emails, do the laundry.
At the end of the day, a day on which I’ve fed my soul, it’s the simple things of life that reach down into the depths of complexity and give light to my spirit: words, music, people. Making brownies. Seeking God.
I suppose this is why God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us such simple things to feed us. Bread and wine. Words of life. Harmonies. Creation.
So today – and each day – I say a simple prayer with Elizabeth Goudge and countless others through the ages:
Lord have mercy. Into Thy hands. Thee I adore.