Friday, March 29, 2013


Today is Good Friday, the Christian Holy Day that tells of the plan of salvation for all mankind.  Paul Sainsbury, my wonderful South African friend, posted this picture on his status today, along with this challenge:
We found a travel game called "Story Cubes" that seems kinda fun... Anyone wanna play? Make up a story that uses all the pictures on the "dice" and post a comment :-)
Paul Sainsbury's throw of "Story Dice" that this tale is based on.

In every person there lives the unfulfilled longing to be understood and to understand. The eternal questions exist in every language; in every heart: “Who am I?” “How do I fit in?” "Where do I belong?”

Judge Cant was no exception. Despite years of study, degrees and acceptance in his circle of Mensa mammoths, Judge Cant lived a life devoid of pleasure.  He led his family the same way he led his court: out of duty rather than passion. When he finally attained his last goal: becoming a pilot and buying his own plane, it gave him little pleasure.  Even flying did not make him noble.  

Judge Cant sunk into a  life he could not feel - existing but not living; seeking but not finding; sleeping but not dreaming. He knew that in the halls of justice, he was a phony.  He was a man whose scales were different everyday and whose decisions had less to do with the law than what bothered him in the season he decided.

One night, in the glow of a crescent moon, he rocked his baby grandson.  The Judge wondered if he mattered at all in the universe.  Would he ever be able to be an example of excellence to this little person?  What wisdom could he ever offer him? What was it like to be happy?  For the first time in his life he uttered a prayer: "God, if you're up there, come and find me."

The answer to his prayer came quickly and unexpectedly. 

The very next day (an example of the beauty and simplicity of a just God) Judge Cant found himself on the steps of the courthouse in front of a homeless man.  It was a man he had seen everyday, a man he had never ignored or acknowledged, but rather never crossed.  That particular day the courthouse garage was in renovation and the judge had to use a remote parking space reserved for court officials.  He hurried up the stairs, anxious to get a Kona roast before it went bitter.  It was then he nearly tripped over the indigent man.   

"Sorry, pal," Judge Cant gasped, surprised he had almost fallen.  

"Judge Cant," the homeless man said.  It made the judge consider him closely.  Was this a former defendant he had ruled on?  A derelict father he had decreed against?  How did the man know his name?

"Do I know you?" Judge Cant asked.  The man pointed to the large Sycamore in the center of the courtyard.  

"Did you know that Jesus is the tree of life?" the homeless man asked, smiling.  Judge Cant realized that the man was drunk and nodded, smiling.

"Yes," he said, bounding up the rest of the stairs.  He could hear the man shout at his back, now angrily.  

"You say you do," he said.  "But he was hung on that tree for you!"

Judge Cant looked around to see if anyone had seen the exchange.  It appeared that everyone was moving along well, as busy as they always were.  The courthouse steps were always busy...and then he saw the Sycamore again before opening the large wooden door.


The docket was full and Judge Cant couldn't get the homeless man's comment out of his mind: "You say you do - but he was hung on that tree for you!"

Hours ticked by and the clerk noticed his worried brow.  

"Would you like a recess, your honor?"  he whispered as he dropped another file in front of his eyes.  

"No, Marcel," Judge Cant said.  He tried to straighten his back, but it occurred to him that Marcel was a religious man.  

"Marcel," he whispered as the bar bustled with new counsel.  "What does it mean that 'he hung on that tree for you?'"

Marcel smiled carefully, his upper lip covered from his moustache.  "You mean Jesus?" he whispered.

Judge Cant nodded.  It was Jesus, wasn't it?  It was the first thing that man had said.  

Marcel cleared his throat.  "Today is Good Friday," he said.  "It is the day Jesus was crucified for the sins of all people.  He was nailed to a cross; a tree."

"Of course," Judge Cant knew the historical perspective.  Marcel was wasting his time with such detail.  "What does it mean that he hung there for me?"

Marcel had been smiling, but the corners of his mouth turned down.  He looked nervous now, and the Judge wondered why.

"The sins of all people, your honor," he whispered.  It was time to hear the next case.  "The sins of all people means... your sins, too."

The next case took particularly long and the Judge kept looking at Marcel.  How dare he imply that he had sinned, ever!  Judge Cant had kept his nose clean his whole life, no easy feat attending Dartmouth in the seventies.  Maybe there was that one sleepover with the flower-power girl who didn't wear a bra.  Maybe he hadn't ever gone to church.  Maybe there was the .... 

One by one Judge Cant remembered sins.  What a terrible word: sin.  It left you with no defense, no justification.  It wasn't ...just.

"Your honor?" Defense counsel was waiting for his ruling.  The Judge looked perturbed   This particular Defense counsel was a little too vigorous - she defended every guilty man like he should be given a second chance.  It wasn't right... 

"Why such a vigorous defense, Miss Atley?" Judge Cant said, tired and frustrated.  She blinked without answering.

"This man," the judge said, loudly.  "Has admitted to the assault of an elderly woman!  An old lady hit by this man!  He deserves prison!  Why do you defend him in this minutia of loopholes?"

"Your honor..." she began, noticeably flustered.  

"No," Judge Cant said, "Motion denied."

There was a slippery silence and Judge Cant looked up at Marcel, who was regarding him with a pitiful look on his face.  The judge shook his head and banged the gavel.

"I'll hear nothing further today." 

There was a confused mumbling and the clerk announced that the case would be heard the following Tuesday, owing to the holiday that would take place for Easter.  Judge Cant threw him a disgusted look.

As the people filtered out of the courtroom doors, it seemed to Judge Cant that they were cattle, entering the gates of slaughter.  Sheep, in line to be killed; people threading through the gates of hell to face the woeful fire that would never die.  

That damn man! Judge Cant thought, resting his face in his hands.  Telling me of my sin... I had no sin before today.  I had no conflict before today.... I had no life before today.

Eventually, Marcel stepped up to collect the files on the Judges desk.  He approached carefully, and the Judge lifted his head.  He felt his eyes, sore and bloodshot look at Marcel carefully.

"How can I find a different way?" Judge Cant asked him, nearly in tears.  "How can I not go through those doors?" 

Marcel picked up the gavel, the magnifying glass and the files.  He had never seen the Judge like this before. 

It was his day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This week I got a new car – a Hyundai Elantra 2008 (new to me), 

a new phone (something called an Android – I’m used to a nokia that does nothing) that is smarter than I am; 

and we put a bid on a house. 

Two days ago, LeeAnne, our estate agent called to tell us that they accepted it.

If all goes well (in this hyper-competitive real estate market) we will sign papers this coming week.... 

I don’t know if this is too much change for most people, but it is for me.  

Monday, March 25, 2013


Today I woke up and remembered my friend, Monica -it would have been her birthday today.  She was one of the most complicated people I ever knew and I loved her.  She left so quickly and her death surprised us all.  This is a re-post - I wrote this only two days after she died.  

Today I remember Monica.  And celebrate eternal life....

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in.
Time, you thief! who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad;
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I'm growing old, but add-
Jenny kissed me!

Leigh Hunt wrote the poem “Jenny Kissed Me”, read to me aloud by my freshman English teacher who had to wipe away a tear when he was finished.  The reading had a profound effect on me and I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe because Jenny was so special that she bestowed on Mr. Hunt the blessing that only she could have: a kiss of acceptance in a cold world.

I woke up this morning and stared at the ceiling fan, a four-paddle affair that was in the shape of a cross.


Two days ago I found out that Monica died.  I have been out of focus since.  I feel disjointed... running from one harried activity to anther just to fill the space in my heart that can’t believe this.  Monica was in her thirties, leaving behind two kids under ten years old.  She was getting better.  What will Dumisani do?  What will their church do?

What will I do?

Monica, after all, was special.

She was a blessing. A delightful, funny, cheeky, brave, complicated friend. 

My friend.

When I came to South Africa, Monica accepted me.  Even though she was at first a little wary of me –new to this continent and full of reckless zeal to build Christ’s church any way I was allowed to.   Soon enough, though, I made her laugh and she relaxed into comfortable acceptance of who I was.

 I loved her.

She wore large bright earrings and had the most beautiful smile.  She talked in a deep voice and walked with a confident swagger that made you know she knew who she was.

One morning, as she walked toward the church in a flawless white dress, I snapped a z and said “Giiiirrrl!! You look smokin hot!”  She smiled, shyly.

I was  quickly corrected by a (very caring) friend who over heard me and took me aside. 

“You don’t know this, since you’re new,” my friend said.  “But ‘girl’ means that she is your permanent live-in servant.  It’s a little derogatory here.”  Things are so complicated because of the Apartheid hangover...

She could tell by my reaction that I was shocked. 

I went back to Monica, explaining the differences in our cultures – after all, “GIIIIIIRL!” was a greeting given to Gail by Oprah.  Given to your bestie when you were being playful.  Monica giggled as I explained nervously. 

“I knew what you meant,” she said, smiling.  “I knew what you meant because you’re different.”

She was married to Dumisani - a tall, statuesque guy that had the command of a room as soon as he walked in.  We were fast friends. 

“Timna means ‘ours,’” Dumi said, holding his baby daughter in his arms the first time we went out to lunch.  “It is a name we chose especially for this one.”  He looked at Monica who smiled back at him.  I was transfixed on them.  Their eyes sparkled at one another, very un-African like!  I loved the way they related to one another, as equals and as friends and romantic partners.

Dumi and Monica became sounding boards for us as far as the culture went.  They were a Xhosa couple, living in Diepsloot.  It surprised me, simply because Dumi seemed highly educated and greatly respected by the community. 

One day, after taking them home, they invited us in for tea.  There was a bed and a an area used to prepare food in a small room that they called their home.  They were the first Diepsloot family that ever invited us into their space. It was a high honor.

“Why do you live here in Diepsloot?” I asked, maybe a little too boldly for the first time I was in their house.

“We have no choice,” Dumi answered honestly.  A teacher, Dumisani was just short of his master’s credential, leaving his employment opportunities less than what he could make a decent living on. 

“Where we are from,” Monica said, answering the deeper question.  “There is the ocean right outside and our families all live nearby, but there is no work.”

The thought saddened me.  Still, as I got to know them better I was encouraged with the way that neither of them seemed bitter about it – and not defined by their address.  Instead, they reached out to their neighbors, bringing the gospel to the desperately poor - people who put our faith to shame. 

One night, our church had a celebration where all the different home groups were asked to host a table of ethnic food, prepare a dance or presentation to perform and dress in ethnic clothing.  While our home group became Mexican for the evening, Dumi and Monica’s became Xhosa.

 Monica was dressed beautifully, but when it came time for her dance, she broke free into a very bold dance and song that made everyone stop what they were doing and watch her.  She sang powerfully and loud. Her motions and movement were much like the Hawaiians when they did the hula, but imagine the hula with more power and determination.  Shortly afterward, the electricity went out, and we all went home.  We made a joke that Monica was so smokin' hot that she short-circuited the power. 

We hung out a lot.  We worked side by side, especially in the Diepsloot community. Everytime she saw me she said, "Hey, Giiiiirrrl!!"

Jo called me right after I made dinner on Thursday, and gave me the news.  Jo (short for Joanna) employs Monica’s sister, Apilele, and heard from her that Monica had succumbed to a short illness that had come at her hard and fast.  She had gone to the Eastern Cape the Tuesday before, yearning to be with her mother and her family there.  She checked into hospital and said she was feeling better the last time I talked with her (on Monday).  Now, I type this, less than a week later and have seen and felt the devastation that losing Monica has brought. 

Dumi (finally in a profession he loves) was interrupted Thursday night as he was teaching to meet Mario, his sister and his brother and me in the school courtyard to be told that his partner and friend had gone to heaven.  His sister delivered the news to him, and he broke into sobs that were loud and heart breaking... I couldn’t look at him.  I buried my face in my poncho and thought of their children, her sisters, her mother....all of her friends. 

This morning I woke up thinking of her.

I was drawn to the image of the cross above me, the rock I have shelter in.  Jesus’death and resurrection makes so many things possible, but most of all, it assures me of the eternal life that we will share. 

I know I’ll see her again. 

Still, the death is damn unfair.  It is a waste of a bright, warm woman who wasn’t afraid of life.  She glowed with excitement about the smallest of things.  She laughed with her whole body and loved with no boundaries.  She was a mother to orphans, to anyone who came in her front door.  The last detail seems so insignificant: she was my friend. 

It hurts to lose her.  It hurts to have death invade a life lived so out loud.

Still, Monica lives....

Monica thrilled me when we met,
Dancing Xhosa and singing along.
Death, you thief! You came and stole her-
Tore her from unfinished song.
Say she’s taken, say she’s gone;
Say her family will weep and gather;
Say our hearts will break, but add-
Monica lives – and you don’t have her!

Monica (in white hat) was the life of any party.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Stones and sorrow in the third part;
What used to be a heart
Now a den to keep the pieces-
Broken, rejected and spat upon.
These days you teach -
You preach a pyramid scheme of forgiveness-
Where you use the sacred book
To illustrate its need
All the while holding the razor
That sliced me open.
Oh yes, oh yes
And one day I will learn
To forgive.
Forgive the friend who sliced
And diced and laughed
And blamed
The blood on me.
And I’ll be free;
Ripped apart and free,
Like a tattered flag,
A standard of failed communication,
Knowing you to be too consumed
To ever hear my voice;
To ever acknowledge your choice.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In the last few days we have landed on our feet in the USA, after six years living in South Africa.  We have to find a car, a place to live...and ourselves soon.

Before we left there are some things I was supposed to get done. One of them was finish editing my manuscript for Treasures in Diepsloot – making it lose weight from 138,000 words to 120,000.  In true Janet fashion, I couldn't meet this "weight loss goal."  The manuscript came out at 123,500 words. 


Now, in the midst of all of this change I have to write a bio for my agent.  For those who have never had to write one, it is a description of myself and my experience with writing.  It is supposed to sum up who I am and show off my personality.  It is (for writers) the most annoying and challenging assignment that there is.

I don’t think she wants a synopsis of my full writing history.  It began in St. Bernard’s – the Catholic school that championed writing and demanded lots and lots of it from its students.  It also championed reading and required us to be proficient in both. 

My experience in St. Bernard’s was that I was good, but there was always someone better.  I wrote stories that were fun and funny and made me laugh as I wrote them, but when it came time to reading them aloud no one laughed at all; only me.

Donna’s stories, by comparison, were well thought out and free of the starts and stops that mine had.  The whole class was amused at her writings and so was I.  I had to admit it – she was better than me.

I eventually finished with St. Bernard’s and moved on to Tracy High, a school with many, many, many good writers   I took every English class that they had to offer and I loved each teacher – back in the day when teachers were allowed to teach.

Leo Schools, one of the teachers who influenced me, noticed my giftings. 

“Ryan,” he said (my last name was Ryan).  “You have a real gift, but you write too fast.”

“Yeah, I have that hyperactivity thing,” I answered. 

Leo looked at me seriously and shook his head.  “This is nothing to joke about,” he said.  I respected him a great deal so I slowed down ... and my writing improved.

From there came Stanislaus State, where I continued to kick ass and be surrounded by gifted writers; from there Consumnes River College where the same thing happened again.  So many good writers; how would I stand out?

Now that I have written my first novel, my agent will submit it (with my bio) to publishing companies.  Here are the guidelines:

  • Have several versions of your bio ready; the agent will chose one to submit (depending on the publishing house);
  • Show a bit of humor;
  • Reveal your personality;
  • Let your bio brand you (don’t be afraid to sell yourself)

Ansel Adams, one of my favorite photographers said “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”  Likewise a good bio is about knowing where to stand.  I am introducing myself, an unknown writer with no real writing credits, to an audience who doesn’t know me. How do I do this well?

Here are bios I have written about myself.  Want to vote to tell me which one you like best?

  • Janet Rodriguez has told stories as long as she can remember; it was only recently that she realized that was not such a bad thing.  She lives in California with her husband and best friend and two adoring dogs who love to be read to, thank God. 

  • Janet Rodriguez grew up in California where she learned no story is to impossible to be true.  She moved to South Africa in 2006 and spent six years there, primarily as a Christian missionary.  She now lives in California with her husband, Mario and family close by.

  • Janet Rodriguez was educated in California and later travelled to 19 African countries, living in Johannesburg for six years.  Her blog, Brazen Princess, is one of Google’s most easy to find and portrays the life of a woman who is a little too loud to be compared with Mother Theresa.  She lives in California with her husband, Mario.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


When I moved to South Africa we started really racking up frequent flyer miles.  With every airline we had an account; they all knew us as a number and treated us with the same mutual disdain they treated all their economy class clients. 

Emirates was the exception and quickly became my favorite airline.  Their planes were the and amenities were similar to all of the other airlines we travelled, but there was one special something about their service.  The food was better onboard; the flight attendants were wonderful and the greatest attraction - airport lounges – shone like diamonds, especially in Dubai.

I started booking Emirates flights each time, eventually becoming a “Silver Rewards Member”.  With Silver status I was awarded the Silver lounge on our Dubai layovers; food, cocktails and internet hook-ups included with the bathrooms and showers.  Ahhhh!!!

This is where I need to tell you that I have slowly fallen out of love with Emirates; the same way that one slowly falls out of love with a mate that is not the best match for them.  My main complaint, as I write tonight is they have too many times treated me badly in Dubai. 

It has been my experience that my Silver membership in the Skywards club (frequent flier) is not worth as much as it used to be.  The last three times I have flown Emirates their Silver lounge was “under construction” and I was “compensated” with miles in my account.  

This is not a fair trade at all; the points are miniscule in comparison with the airport lounge conveniences.

Tonight, Mario (sick with food poisoning) and I arrived in Dubai after spending quite a few frequent flier miles on an upgrade to business class.  We loved the flight, but when we tried to enter the Emirates Airport lounge a young receptionist denied us.  Our business class upgrade was a thing of the past and we were now “only economy passengers” (her words).  I was told I could use the lounge but Mario (not a Silver member) would have to wait outside in the airport. 

I asked politely (citing Mario’s weakened condition), even offered to pay for an upgrade but the girl stood firm, suggesting that we try the lounge above the Burger King – about a ten minute walk away.   We complied, realizing we were getting nowhere... she told us if I were a gold member I could bring Mario in with me.  As a lowly silver....not a chance.

At the next lounge the young man recited the same mantra: “You are only a Silver Member...If you were Gold he could come in with you.”

“What if he upgraded to business class?” I asked him.

“I can’t do that here,” he smiled.  Mario had to use the bathroom and so we went downstairs again to find one.  By now Mario was tired, but I was not giving up.

“Is there a way Mario can upgrade to Business class?” I asked.  The young man shook his head. 

“If you want to do that you must o to the next lounge that way,” he said, pointing us even further. 

“I called before we made the flight yesterday morning,” I told him.  “They told me I would have no problem bringing Mario into the Silver lounge.”

“Who said this?”  He asked, scrunching up his nose.

“This was Emirate customer service in South Africa,” I said.  Why does it matter?

“That’s not true,” he said.  He continued checking in the important business class members.

“You know what is sad?” I finally said.  “I have flown Emirates for years and lately it is not worth it.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said.  He didn’t seem too awfully sorry.  “You can’t stay here because you have an unusually long layover and it gets really busy.”

At the next Emirates airport lounge (another 10 minute walk away – schlepping luggage) could possibly help us upgrade, he said. 

When we got there Mario could not go any further; too weak.  The woman behind the counter at least knew what we were talking about and helped us into the right line.

“You can try over here,” she said, leading us to the Skywards counter.  “This is where they will see if this is possible.”

The woman behind the Skywards counter was as unsympathetic as all of the other receptionists...barely making eye contact with us.  While I was asking if Mario could use the lounge another man was asking if he could upgrade.  The girl helping him was giving rote answers in a condescending manner.

As we waited for the receptionist to upgrade Mario, it hit me: Emirates had become just like every other airline.  All of the normal cheap habits that airlines have, Emirates now adopted just to make a profit. 

What has happened to us, Emirates?  You once had a reputation with us as a wonderful, caring airline that took care of us; now you have lost that lovin feeling!

Tonight was the nail in the coffin- while customer service has been slowly slipping; the condescension is inexcusable.  They will us will lose us as customers. 

This was not the best way to leave out of South Africa... next time I’ll fly another airline.  

To see more customer complaints click here

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Our Cottage Last Year in the Snow
August 2012

My heart is so full today... I am watching our cottage be packed up.  I had to breathe deeply as I did, the contents of our small cottage hardly fit in the 20 foot container and we did have to leave a lot behind.

I looked over the surrounding fields, the soft beautiful place that has been our home for the last five and a half years...and I grieved.  I can't write much tonight, but I have revisited a dearly beloved poem - one that I share as a gift with you on my last evening in South Africa.

The poem was written by a man named William Wordsworth in a place in England overlooking a place he had visited five years before, Tintern Abbey.  Its full title, as given in Lyrical Ballads, is "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, July 13, 1798" - is as long as the thing - but I remembered it today for this reason:

Some places are the same as when we first saw them... We are the ones who have changed five years later.  Nature's beauty - the love, the hope and the unexplained lift we get viewing it will always be our inheritance.

I have loved South Africa.   

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
      Of five long winters! and again I hear
      These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
      With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
      Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
      That on a wild secluded scene impress
      Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
      The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
      The day is come when I again repose
      Here, under this dark sycamore, and view                        10
      These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
      Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
      Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
      'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
      These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
      Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
      Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
      Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
      With some uncertain notice, as might seem
      Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,                     20
      Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
      The Hermit sits alone.
                              These beauteous forms,
      Through a long absence, have not been to me
      As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
      But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
      Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
      In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
      Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
      And passing even into my purer mind,
      With tranquil restoration:--feelings too                        30
      Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
      As have no slight or trivial influence
      On that best portion of a good man's life,
      His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
      Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
      To them I may have owed another gift,
      Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
      In which the burthen of the mystery,
      In which the heavy and the weary weight
      Of all this unintelligible world,                               40
      Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
      In which the affections gently lead us on,--
      Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
      And even the motion of our human blood
      Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
      In body, and become a living soul:
      While with an eye made quiet by the power
      Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
      We see into the life of things.
                                       If this
      Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft--                        50
      In darkness and amid the many shapes
      Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
      Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
      Have hung upon the beatings of my heart--
      How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
      O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
      How often has my spirit turned to thee!
        And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
      With many recognitions dim and faint,
      And somewhat of a sad perplexity,                               60
      The picture of the mind revives again:
      While here I stand, not only with the sense
      Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
      That in this moment there is life and food
      For future years. And so I dare to hope,
      Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
      I came among these hills; when like a roe
      I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
      Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
      Wherever nature led: more like a man                            70
      Flying from something that he dreads, than one
      Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
      (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
      And their glad animal movements all gone by)
      To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
      What then I was. The sounding cataract
      Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
      The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
      Their colours and their forms, were then to me
      An appetite; a feeling and a love,                              80
      That had no need of a remoter charm,
      By thought supplied, nor any interest
      Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
      And all its aching joys are now no more,
      And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
      Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
      Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
      Abundant recompence. For I have learned
      To look on nature, not as in the hour
      Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes                    90
      The still, sad music of humanity,
      Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
      To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
      A presence that disturbs me with the joy
      Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
      Of something far more deeply interfused,
      Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
      And the round ocean and the living air,
      And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
      A motion and a spirit, that impels                             100
      All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
      And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
      A lover of the meadows and the woods,
      And mountains; and of all that we behold
      From this green earth; of all the mighty world
      Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
      And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
      In nature and the language of the sense,
      The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
      The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul                  110
      Of all my moral being.
                              Nor perchance,
      If I were not thus taught, should I the more
      Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
      For thou art with me here upon the banks
      Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
      My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
      The language of my former heart, and read
      My former pleasures in the shooting lights
      Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
      May I behold in thee what I was once,                          120
      My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
      Knowing that Nature never did betray
      The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
      Through all the years of this our life, to lead
      From joy to joy: for she can so inform
      The mind that is within us, so impress
      With quietness and beauty, and so feed
      With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
      Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
      Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all                    130
      The dreary intercourse of daily life,
      Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
      Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
      Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
      Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
      And let the misty mountain-winds be free
      To blow against thee: and, in after years,
      When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
      Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
      Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,                       140
      Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
      For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
      If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
      Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
      Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
      And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance--
      If I should be where I no more can hear
      Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
      Of past existence--wilt thou then forget
      That on the banks of this delightful stream                    150
      We stood together; and that I, so long
      A worshipper of Nature, hither came
      Unwearied in that service: rather say
      With warmer love--oh! with far deeper zeal
      Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
      That after many wanderings, many years
      Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
      And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
      More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

                                           William Wordsworth 1798