A discipline in pleasure.

I’m in a good mood, because I cleared the driveway of weeds this morning, and brought sunflowers into the house. My foot feels all better, which had been slightly gimpy merely from wearing sandals instead of boots while gardening last week.

The Monarch caterpillars are thriving on giant leaves of the showy milkweed that I bring to them in their mesh cage almost every day. If they had hatched out on the spindly narrowleaf variety where Mama Monarch had laid the eggs, they’d have run out of food fast. I bought a new tropical milkweed plant when I went shopping for begonias last Sunday, but they don’t seem to care for its leaves. (At the bottom of the page is a milkweed I encountered in the mountains some years ago.)

I’ve been too busy to write good sentences about All The Things. I am trying hard to learn to say NO to myself sometimes: “Remember, Dearest Self, you can’t do ALL the things ALL of the time!” Finally after four months, in the middle of which we think the city lost my application, we got the building permit for my remodeling project that I’ve been preparing for over the last year. It’s taking hours and hours to choose paint and cabinets and faucets and mirrors, and more time to watch caterpillars munch, so naturally there have been fewer hours with which to read, write, and cook.

I don’t know how to apply the principle that wise GKC is telling us about in this quote that I thought was simply lovely when I put it in a draft a while back. The word austerity doesn’t seem to fit with the way I behave, though pleasure and gratitude are the world I live in. I’d like to know what you all think about his twist on these qualities of our existence.



Purification and austerity are even more necessary for the appreciation of life and laughter than for anything else. To let no bird fly past unnoticed, to spell patiently the stones and weeds, to have in the mind a storehouse of sunsets, requires a discipline in pleasure, and an education in gratitude.

-G.K. Chesterton — Twelve Types (1903)



7 thoughts on “A discipline in pleasure.

  1. Grateful for your mood. All is well than we are hit with a hurricane type storm. 87 MPH winds. A peek out back has my beautiful 15+ft sunflowers down. Slow moving storm. Perhaps hours yet. Tough year in my garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always start with etymology when I’m confronted with something like that Chesterton statement. I thought this was very interesting: in the 14th century, ‘austere’ meant severe, or rigid. Then, around 1590, it took on the meaning of unadorned, simple in style, without luxuries. Finally, about 1660, it was understood to mean grave, or sober. The classical literal sense of sour or harsh, from the 1540s, never took hold in English.

    I think you can figure out which meaning I think Chesterton was using!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have some lovely flowers dear Gretchen.

    I liked the quote, and understood it for me. Having a time of being really poor and hungry I appreciate so much more now. Also, having the life I was living with my dear husband taken away, left me bereft of joy for awhile. Trusting in God for strength, peace and all that He blesses me with, to live each new day, has given me a greater appreciation for life and renewed joy. In this fallen world, we will have weeds and thorns with our roses.

    Thank you for this bit of time to reflect on this quote and to be thankful to our Great God, Creator and Savior, for all that He has done, for what He is doing, and for what He will do.

    Have a great week and enjoy your remodeling project and your lovely gardens ~ FlowerLady

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This made me think of my son, Josh. Having to stay close to home to care for his special needs family, and having to work from home so he can do that, does give his life a kind of austerity. He’s isolated from the world to some extent. Yet he gets great joy from nature. From identifying and enjoying trees, birds, insects and lots of things in nature. It feeds his soul in a special way. He might not have the capacity (or feel the need) to appreciate these things so much if his life was more taken up with the wider world. We share this interest in nature, and I’m grateful for that connection. I feel like my more solitary years without my husband have created a need in myself to really soak in the beauty around me and to fill that “storehouse” in my soul with beautiful scenes and memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still thinking about GK, but I had to say immediately: love the photographs! And the expression, ” too busy to write good sentences about All The Things.” I smiled reading that,

    Liked by 1 person

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