Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - A Calm and Gentle Spirit

Recently I was watching an episode of Lark Rise To Candleford when I was impressed by the way the women are portrayed, especially Emma (Laura's mother) and her neighbor Queenie.

While the women are obviously spunky and strong willed... both also find contentment in living their lives of simplicity in the small hamlet of Lark Rise.  Other women in the program (based on the real life of Flora Thompson) have many wonderful qualities we can admire but there is something about these two...

Of course there are the usual ups and down found in any good television program.  But we often find these two women portrayed as the rocks their neighbors depend upon... the calm in the middle of the hurricane strength winds of change happening around them. 

They have what the Word calls "a calm and gentle spirit".

They portray such contentment most of the time as they go about their day performing their tasks according to the day of the week and the seasons.  Both of these women will be found at times sitting in a field or under a tree, soaking in the beauty that surrounds them as they rest from their work.

How many of us take the time to stop and smell the roses... so to speak?

To truly rest our souls until they are quiet and gentle.  Whether in His Word or by admiring the nature He has created.  To taste a piece of freshly picked ripe fruit or snack on a cherry tomato while in the garden.  To watch the cardinal family residing in the snowy bush or breath in the aroma of autumn leaves as they crunch under our feet.

For somehow when we take the time to really look and listen... we not only find His strength but also His calm in a world which seems to spin out of control at times.  We then know the truth... that we cannot be a source of strength to others if He has not first given us the Calm and the Gentleness we need.

The above photo is of the inside flyleaf of my Bible.  The painting is the front of a greeting card from way (way) back in years, artwork by Joni Eareckson Tada.  It has been taped and untaped and taped again to every Bible I have carried with me since at least the 1980s... and I think it was actually the late 70s when I purchased those greeting cards.

That verse in I Peter is one of my life's verses... one I have tried to follow through the years.  It was much more difficult as a young corporate wife and mother... easier these years that life has left one battered and bruised.  For in the process of living, I have found it necessary to grab hold of God so often during that His gentleness has taken hold most of the time.

I still have days when I feel neither quiet nor gentle but they are far less than long ago.

But that is why I love seeing women portrayed on TV and in movies who inspire such quiet strength.  There aren't a lot these days and I shouldn't be surprised to find most of them in period pieces such as Lark Rise to Candleford.

I think of Maw on Little House on the Prairie and her Bible reading at evening time, how she could calm Paw with just a smile and use gentle words to put Mrs. Oleson in her place.

Then there is Olivia on The Waltons who would chide her husband about staying home from church each Sunday.   Since this program is also based on the writer's real family... one has to wonder if the father ever discovered the true Source of his wife's strength.  :)

While True Truth is found in Scripture, it can be beneficial to look at that Truth in books and movies and other media.  Not all find their truth in God, of course... but the way I filter it through my worldview then I know the Truth is His.

For instance, one would never call Last of the Summer Wine in the least bit Christian.  But I find in it a call to simpler times and of taking care of each other.  And it understands the importance of conversations at the corner diner and women enjoying afternoon tea together as they take a break from their housework.

I must admit I am still striving for that day when I will always respond with a quiet and gentle spirit.  It most likely will not happen this side of Eternity.  My husband can still drive me crazy and a broken water pipe can be the cause of knocking my head against the wall as I ask God.... WHY?

But life is lived one day at a time and we learn precept upon precept.  He knows that.  He also is fully aware... because He is the Creator and all... that the more life causes us to run to Him for any peace whatsoever... then we do take on more of His personality.  That of a quiet and gentle spirit.  :)

NOTE:  The pretty bouquet note card is one of the first cards my oldest grandchild sent me a few years ago, written in her very childish handwriting.  Elisabeth turns twelve years old today!


Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Happy Birthday to your granddaughter!! Beautiful post, especially on such a cold snowy winters day. Contentment is such a wonderful gift from God. As Paul tells us, he has learned to be content in whatever state he is in. Such sound advice! Happy Week End. Love and Hugs, Nana

Terra said...

I enjoyed your thoughts in this post and want to watch the Candleford tv show one day. I get a calm glow reading Jane Austen; country living long ago.

Rhonda said...

Brenda, you said this all beautifully. I will be pondering this in my heart, :)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love this!

So much of modern behavior by women is coarse and harsh. I am thankful for these characters that are such a good example of gentle strength!


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

This is something I hope to have more fully! I need to remind myself so often. A lovely post, Brenda.

Judy said...

My almost 17 year old daughter and I have watched seven episodes of Larkrise to Candelford in as many days this week! We are on our way to three times through the entire series, and dear Emma and Queenie are wonderful.

I recently read a lovely book you may enjoy - "For the Love of a Rose" by Antonia Ridge. It may be out of print but worth a library check, or second hand book search. It is the true story of three generations of two families (one French, one Italian) and how they become connected through a passion for rose growing, that eventually leads to the cultivation of the famous World War II Peace Rose. While at one level the story is about the men whose passion, dedication and skill led to such lovely creations, with only one exception (in which the daughter more than makes up for her mother's weakness), their wives are the backbone of each family - individually very different personalities but each one having dignity, grace, an acceptance of simplicity, a cheerful frugality, and just enough spunk. I found them such an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda, I just wanted to let you know how encouraging your Blog is to me. I am a an ordained Priest, but I have to say that your thoughts are better than some sermons I have heard over the years. I feel as if we share a lot in common as I have a husband with the same health issues as your husband. I am not battling Diabetes but I am in remission from cancer. We, just as you and your husband are also on Disability and also go through the same struggles of keeping things afloat in the household. I also enjoy your thoughts on "Deeping the Pantry" and are starting to use then in our house. And, I also love books. Sometimes, my children and husband make comments about how I hold onto books but I feel as if they are a part of me as I do re-read a lot of them. Anyhow, thank you so much for your encouraging words. May God continually Bless you and your family!! Linda

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely post. I have prayed the Proverbs 31 women's prayer that "the law of kindness will be in my mouth" especially to those in my household. It is easier to be polite to outsiders than sometimes to our own families to whom we feel free to "vent" out frustations. But we should have even as much quiet and gentle spirit (and words) to those we live with. Another scripture: "live in peace as much as possible. . ." Good words to live by. Blessings, Sharon D.

Deborah Montgomery said...

What a lovely post. I, too, have enjoyed the Lark Rise series, and the calm and gentle spirit portrayed. Was it easier when life was slower? Or is it not valued as much now? Many of my heroines come from the pages of books such as these. said...

Just wanted to say thank you again for all of your book recommendations. I have just finished reading "The Winter Solstice", I didn't check it out of the Library until after Christmas, but what a wonderful read...slow country living and a sense of people needing each other with different generations. For our weather is still snowy and cold and it was a treat to emerse myself in this book.