La Princesse Insensible

It’s always so fun to unexpectedly find something beautiful. Last week my older sister was watching paper cut-out animation videos on youtube and came across this series of vignettes.

La Princesse Insensible is the story of many Princes seeking, by wondrous demonstrations, to bring the unmoveable princess to smile, and so win her hand.

There are thirteen 4 minute episodes, each representing a different prince, but I think it’s best to just watch a few (order doesn’t matter) and then the last one, WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO THE STORY. These are some of my favourites:

The first episode: The Tamer Prince.


My favourite – the Gardener Prince


The Meterological Prince


The Painter Prince


The Flying Prince


The final episode: The School Prince




Just before finding this, we had watched the un-american ending of Michel Ocelot’s Les Trois Inventeurs, and so were feeling distrustful of how he would end this one. We watched the first 12 on tenterhooks. Would it have a good conclusion? Would the last episode have any conclusion to it?

I think the simple end says something deep about love.



The Resurrection

It’s so hard to imagine the future. Sometimes I look at my hand and tell myself “This very hand will mold and rot.” But it’s hard to feel the truth of it.

But how wonderful by faith to look even further than that, and say ” because of Jesus, this very body – corruptible and mortal – will be clothed with incorruptible immortality.” (I Cor. 15:53) As Job saw in faith “Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold” (Job 19:26-27a)

I’ve been seeing  a lot of ads recently for the organic burial pods that “turn your loved ones into a tree”. For none of us is our best case scenario to turn our loved one into a tree; our loved ones are so much more wonderful as loving, laughing, listening, learning, living human beings!  But of course when death comes your beloved cannot continue in your life as before – that somehow he could continue as a tree might give a little comfort. The ad says – “No matter what your faith, or if you believe in an afterlife, these organic burial pods that turn loved ones into trees make the idea of death a little more comforting.”


This makes me think of how limited we are – how powerless before death. This is the best we can do? If Death gets my beloved, and I get a tree, this is a loss for me and a total loss for my beloved. Death won the battle.

How wonderful then when Jesus says ” I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

That’s not just a little comfort, that’s a complete turning of the tables! I think He’s talking about the end of time (another thing hard to imagine), and promising believers in Him that if they are dead they will then live, and if they are living they will never die.

Photo credit: Me. I’m a calligrapher.

I love being alive. Feeling life inside you is a feeling incomparable to any other feeling I know (obviously). That a real man named Jesus  (not a stained glass window or other-worldly icon) who walked the real earth, really said “I am the resurrection and the life” and promised resurrection and eternal life is shocking. But if I believe the words, they are immeasurably comforting. God give me grace to feel the truth of this  future day which  I can barely imagine.

Maybe to help us believe, right after saying this He did something even more astounding – He called His ‘loved one’ Lazarus out of his tomb, showing that he was not just another one of the mourners; He was a different kind of comforter than those who had already come to comfort Mary and Martha (Lazarus’s sisters). He is The Resurrection. The Life.

Is seeing beauty a matter of courage?

Yesterday I went to a presentation in which the speaker showed us this picture:

(Photo credit Malcolm Burrows)

Those are the gears that insure that the jumping legs of the Leafhopper extend at the exact same moment. Read more here: Here

Astounding! Marvelous!

This was just one of the examples of the speaker, a man named Bruce Malone, had supporting his thesis that the evolutionary views people are immersed in blind them to the simple obvious truth. In this case the obvious truth was that those gears did not slowly evolve.

During the break I walked outside of Greater Portland Bible Church where the talk was. It was a sunny day and the “trees were sweetly blooming”. I looked at the white blossoms, some windblown falling in the bright sunlight, and I thought. “There’s a part of me that holds back from looking at beauty because it reminds me of God the marvelous Creator and my responsibility to love Him, and the responsibility He gave me to love my neighbour. Just being aware of the colour of the grass makes me feel more sensitive to other people’s existence, which makes me feel the duties of compassion. I wonder if it’s because of this phenomena and trying to flee thinking of God and neighbour so, that wicked people in the last century surrounded themselves with modern architecture.”

House of the Soviets, Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg)

After the talk I took up the subject with my sister.

“Does looking at beauty arouse that awareness of duty in you?”

“It makes me sad sometimes – I think of death, as Keats said “beauty that must die”.

That sounds like a reason to be afeared of seeing beauty.When Keats said “Beauty that must die” he was ode-ing  Melancholy “She (Melancholy) dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die”. Who wants his soul to experience pain and melancholy and “taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung”? Who has no fear of this?

“But don’t you see the problem with my thesis?” I asked, “It doesn’t seem that those who have sought to see the beauty in nature have been more virtuous. Who were the romantics?” She listed off a few men mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But she wasn’t, for all their faults, just ready to concede that their romanticism had no good effect. “Goethe and those men’s ideas had a huge effect on people in the 19th century. And we can’t just think that none of the morality of the time was helped by them.”

Now, I’m not dismissive of the 19th century’s morality. I don’t think it was a moral time, but I think it was mostly a more moral time. It was more morally sophisticated than many other centuries. The moral dilemmas of the characters in an Anthony Trollope novel, for example, would certainly be incomprehensible to the revenge-bots from the old Icelandic sagas, and I think most modern television characters would be baffled by an Anthony Trollope hero or heroine in their midst.

How much were  Shelley, Byron and the more steady Wordsworth used to bring about this greater depth of consideration of duty and right and wrong in the 19th c., I don’t know.

Lastly, just to clarify – that picture of gears delights me. So does the colour of the grass, and the windblown flower petals.

~ Watchful



When You Are Old

Beautiful poem by Yeates.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

~ William Butler Yeates

Bringing hell into the conversation

Bringing  hell into the conversation for your own personal purposes is wrong.

The situation I’m imagining is when someone’s pride is hurt, and so in anger he wants to strike back with something cutting; “I don’t like you” “You’re not a nice person” “You’re selfish” or even, “You’re  going to hell”.

But I think that some people will only credit a warning of judgment to a social desire to hurt. For them, if somebody warns of hell, that person is doing it out of anger and spite. But not everything has to be part of a social coinage or currency. Jesus’ view was on eternity, not to strike back for some wounded pride in a social game, and he said to the Pharisees”[I]f ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

What is probably more common than warning people of damnation in anger, is comforting and assuring people of salvation and heaven for them (and their family) in a desire to please, which is kind of the same thing as the angry hell warning in that it’s commandeering something solemn and eternal for your momentary purpose in the relationship. I think such assurances, such widenings of the narrow way, are more common than the angry warning because it’s more enjoyable to tell people pleasing things. But it’s certainly not helpful or loving to tell someone they are healthy when they’re sick!

This brings up a conundrum; do sometimes those who have angry motivations say the more helpful thing (though it doesn’t come out of love) than those whom we would think of as friendly and loving?

(I can feel it in myself right now; there’s someone whom at present I am more displeased with [dare I say angry] than I was in the past, and I feel much more open [even eager] to tell her in stern terms that she is WRONG about something. And I really have always thought she is wrong about it, and of course believing the truth is better than not, so what was my loving regard for that person in the past if I wouldn’t in love risk that person’s displeasure to help her? But this eager attitude doesn’t seem loving either.)

I suppose the angry warning or correction can help insofar as the the words themselves are true, but the anger itself doesn’t seem  be helpful to the warning.

Paul wrote in II Timothy chapter 2, “[T]he servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

I like that line “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth”.  The loving instructor always has his eye on that. He never wants to block the doorway of repentance, and he knows that it’s God’s gift. Making it about you, making it a great battle of egos in which you are trying to overmaster the other person,  is certainly not the best way to help someone to repentance, especially if you’re angrily and spitefully trying to bring the other person down! If you tell someone that he’s going to hell out of personal anger, no wonder if he responds trying to vindicate himself before you, trying to appease you, forgetting God and the real judgment day. This is the exact opposite of what we desire – that we would fade away and Jesus would be great in their eyes.

I guess what I’m getting at is that great difficulty – how to speak the truth in love. The words of the Bible are a perfect example of the truth spoken in love. When Paul says pleasing men and serving Christ (Gal. 1:10) are mutually exclusive, and when he says “[A]s we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (I Thess. 2:4), notice that both times he doesn’t leave it at  “Don’t please men!” but goes on to “Serve Christ” “Please God”. Christ won’t lead you astray; we will be loving inasmuch as we follow Christ. Though  vile, profane imprecations, for example, might fit the bill of not pleasing men, they are excluded by the command to please God.

God’s word is perfect; it doesn’t seek to please men (though some rejoice at it), it doesn’t petulantly seek to poke people in the eye (though it does offend people). Inasmuch as God leads you, you won’t go wrong. And remember that you are seeking to please God “which trieth our hearts“. If you are pridefully condemning, He knows your proud heart. If you’re unlovingly speaking smooth, friendly words, He knows your heart. Don’t live to please easily deceived humans; their praise is vanity, and sometimes they willfully misconstrue your motives. So lastly, if you bring hell into the conversation humbly and lovingly, and people wrongfully judge that love as hate, take comfort that you are a servant of “God which trieth our hearts.”
~ Watchful