Wild(erness) at heart

I was away for a while and I missed my foraging through the part of the world were honesty is at home.

Living there is, among others, Harold Knight about whom I wrote some time ago. I (re)discovered his talent to bring out the peace and joy which only this (practicing of) honesty can wake up in one’s soul.

Here are some excerpts from Dwellers in time and space

Anglicans throughout the English speaking world know the hymn “Praise, my soul, the king of heaven” by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1857)—sung to a quintessentially Victorian tune by John Goss (1800-1880). This text is based on Psalm 103. The poem’s first stanza reads

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To his feet thy tribute bring:
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, his praise should sing?
Alleluia! Alleluia! Praise the everlasting King.

Other stanzas tell us that

Fatherlike, he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows,
In his hands he gently bears us
. . .


. . . sun and moon, bow down before him,
Dwellers all in time and space
. . .


Only in make-believe, however, is dwelling in time and space “a walk in the park.”

and then…

Many people I know who’ve had devastating illnesses have been transformed. They know something about dwelling in time and space. In that dangerous wilderness they have discovered themselves

. . . to be no longer alone. In the wilderness [they] meet other wizened souls who have weathered sun and heat, all of them healed of the same wound. There is a wildness in their eyes. They don’t give a damn for things they used to find so terribly important. Hardly fit for polite company, they nonetheless love with a fierceness echoing the land through which they have passed. The [wilderness] has taught them well. They are what [dwellers in time and space have] been summoned to be. . . broken people, painfully honest. . . rid of the pretense and suffocating niceness to which [we are prone]” (2).

There is life after singing hymns and praising the Lord. Only the life then is a walk in the wilderness with the bravery of a child.

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11 Responses to Wild(erness) at heart

  1. Pingback: Wild(erness) at heart | Blog « Persona

  2. Agnusstick says:

    ‘ts the first time I ever heard about Desert Mothers. And about “us” being prone to niceness. If it’s “them” who are suffocatingly nice, I tend to agree.

    • Agnusstick says:

      The quotation cited (’bout the suffocating niceness) comes from Lane, Belden C. “Desert attentiveness, desert indifference: Countercultural spirituality in the desert Fathers and Mothers.” Cross Currents 44.2 (1994): 193.

  3. sam says:

    Know nothing ’bout Mothers in the Desert.
    If you’re not compulsively nice you’re not one of “us”

  4. Camix says:

    So, if we are suffocatingly nice, we are not real dwellers in time and space, we are barely touching the ground we live on, aren’t we? Living on cloud 9. Hmmm…

    • sam says:

      Few thoughts provoked by yours.

      Ok, I took the expression “suffocating niceness to which we are prone” and I only retained the last part. I accepted that niceness can be (for some) inherited therefore not necessarily a quality obtained through personal choice. It is more like a tool for survival.
      I try to tell which one is present in the actions of people I meet.

      Your comment, although well-intended could be a trap for my self-righteousness to take over and temporarily blind me 🙂 Even though it feels good to live on cloud 9 better not to dwell on it.

      In other order, I liked the idea that NOT being nice can be a good thing especially when used for counterbalancing our neighbour fake niceness.

      Thanks for the visit.

      • Camix says:

        I’m sorry for the trapping impression. It might be due to the fact that I myself have some questions. It’s not that I didn’t understand the idea you liked about the positive side of not being nice, but for example, if niceness is obtained through personal choice, isn’t it rather false/ doubtful? Or at least prone to falseness? Because if it’s not in you, then it means you use some kind of exterior place to take it from and apply it to your own behaviour; but you have to force yourself to feel it: and you might succeed or not.
        I am open to any opinions.

        • sam says:

          Being nice is, like being polite, a good thing be it false or not. Or preffered if you think of the alternatives.
          When meeting or hearing someone I am trying to discern the natural niceness from the one obtained through his/her effort. I find both good, I still admire more the latter.
          It is a useful tool to evaluate people based on how much effort they put into their good deeds not only on the results.
          The widow and her two coins comes to my mind.

        • Camix says:

          I think I tend to do that too: discern whether it is natural or obtained through effort. And, if I sense it is obtained, I don’t feel “secure” in theirs “arms”; it’s like I expect them to burst into impulsiveness or their natural way the next minute; or at the moment when I least expect it. And it happens, unfortunately.
          But still, I get what you refer to: to strive for goodness is admirable indeed; maybe it can be admirable when their heart is in the right place.

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