Keeping Things Simple

From my favorite Elizabeth Goudge novel comes a set of simple prayers shared by an aged Anglican vicar to a young woman who struggled with a lifelong ailment that looks strikingly like bipolar depression.

“My dear, he said, love, your God, is a Trinity. There are three necessary prayers and they have three words each. They are these,

‘Lord, have mercy.

Thee I adore.

Into thy hands.’

Not difficult to remember. If in times of distress you hold to these you will do well.”

Later the young woman writes in her diary–which is being read half a century later by her niece and namesake Mary–who has taken early retirement in her mid-forties and come to live in her aunt’s home, The Laurels, that was bequeathed to her. Downshifting from her fast-paced London life to village life allows the modern Mary to explore her inner world and she is greatly helped by both the contents of the diaries and the unique residents of Appleshaw, each with their own cross to bear, as she faces her own demons and experiences spiritual awakening in the context of a disappearing way of English country village life.

“I shall live and die here. Perhaps I shall never be well but this place will give me periods of respite that I would not have found in any other, and though I am able to do nothing else in this life, except only seek, my life seeming to others a vie manquee, yet it will not be so, because what I seek is the goodness of God that waters the dry places. And water overflows from one dry patch to another, and so you cannot be selfish in digging for it. I did not know any of this when I began this diary and I don’t know how I know it now. Perhaps it has something to do with the old man.”

 For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.

Job 14:7-9

The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge

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