Tag Archives: trust

How to (not) write the best story.

The latest book I’ve been listening to if I can’t sleep is The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. I read it once before to my children long ago, and didn’t remember any details. I love it very much, this story of the adventures of three kind and resourceful children whose father was mysteriously called away, they don’t know why or how long. Because of this the family has suddenly become much poorer, and they have had to move to the country. Their new house is near the railroad, and their days become centered around trains, and the people they meet at the station or in the neighborhood..

Last night I was struck by a passage that portrays a poignant moment in which a parent passes on her faith in a very honest and personal way.

It is close to the end of the book, when the reader knows that the father must be going to return any day, because there aren’t many pages left. 10-year-old Peter interrupts his mother while she is writing and speaks wistfully about how hard it is being the only man in the house:

“I say,” said Peter musingly, “wouldn’t it be jolly if we all were in a book and you were writing it; then you could make all sorts of jolly things happen, and make Jim’s legs get well at once and be all right tomorrow, and Father would come home soon and….”

“Do you miss your father very much?” Mother asked….

“Awfully,” said Peter briefly… “You see,” Peter went on slowly, “you see, it’s not only him being Father, but now he’s away there’s no other man in the house but me…. Wouldn’t you like to be writing that book with us all in it, Mother, and make Daddy come home soon?”

Peter’s mother put her arm around him suddenly and hugged him in silence for a minute. Then she said, “Don’t you think it’s rather nice to think that we’re in a book that God’s writing? If I were writing the book I might make mistakes, but God knows how to make the story end just right, in the way that’s best for us.”

“Do you really believe that, Mother?” Peter asked quietly.

“Yes,” she said, “I do believe it, almost always — except when I’m so sad that I can’t believe anything. But even when I can’t believe it, I know it’s true, and I try to believe. You don’t know how I try, Peter. Now, take the letters to the post, and don’t let’s be sad anymore. Courage! Courage! That’s the finest of all the virtues…”

How faithfully your life is delivered.

The poem below expresses different aspects of my life of late. I’ve been reading David Bentley Hart’s book The Experience of God, and there is so much in there about how our life is a mysterious gift. We did not bring about our own existence, and we can’t keep ourselves alive, either. Why should we be here? Why is anything here? I’ve been meditating on that amazing everyday occurrence of waking up in the morning, even as I am coming out of my dreams into consciousness. Some days it takes longer than others for me to remember, “I am here, God was with me through the night and Dear Father, You are here with me in my bed this morning, and will be in me all day long.” Sometimes I lie there just being happy in His presence — especially when He wakes me up extra early.

Father Stephen Freeman spoke of the same reality in a podcast I listened to, saying, “If God did not immediately and relentlessly will good for us, then no one would even continue in existence. Being and existence are inherently good things. The very fact that we exist is itself a witness of God’s good will for us.”christ seeker of the lost-sheep-butryki-prison-chapel-moscow

I realize most people can’t be so slow and lazy about the start of their day. I am really really grateful, though, that most days I can take the time for this remembrance, because there is also this other attitude in me, of fear and unwillingness. I don’t like meetings with strangers about financial matters, or having to decide what work should be done on my car. It’s not a constant thing, but a feeling of vulnerability does distract me.

Once when we were on a camping trip in the mountains, four-year-old Soldier was looking out the window of the car at the curvy highway and the steep drop-off just to his left. He turned to Baby Kate and said brightly, “God is keeping us on the road, Kate!” He must have thought his father needed help driving. I need to remind myself in these morning meditations that this day I am not trusting strangers who might not be worthy of my confidence, but I am trusting the One Who gives me existence to give me whatever else I need.


It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

–Thomas R. Smith