Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Candle Burns at Both Ends

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

"My duty is never measured by what I feel is within my power to do,
but by what God's grace enables me to do."

--Andrew Murray

"A Christian poet of a bygone generation wrote a rather long hymn around a single idea: You can, by three little words, turn every common act of your life into an offering acceptable to God. The words are 'For Thy sake'....."

--A.W. Tozer

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

--Luke 9:24

I am a slow-paced person and my desire for a meditative life has been strong enough to enable me say "no" to many extraneous activities. I stepped out of my career when I was in my late 20's and ordered my life in such a way as to keep afternoons free for Bible reading, writing, and prayer. My candle burned steady & slow.

My 4th decade found me with 4 children under the age of 6. The quiet, meditative life was a thing of the past but the habits of that life lingered. I dropped nearly all outside ministries and commitments and allowed my little light to burn at home. Period.

Now in my 50's, I am acutely aware that my candle is no longer a tall taper. I could spare the wax so as to make the flame last a little longer, but for the first time in my life I feel the strong urgency to do just the opposite: to burn the candle at both ends.

In my roles as wife, mother, teacher, and friend my energies are constantly being poured out. Once, I would have resented the lavishness of the expenditure. Now I see that the unreserved burning creates the vacuum into which God may whoosh! send the fresh oxygen of His Holy Spirit to renew the brightness of the burning.

Sunday is often the day that happens for me. I'm truly learning what it means to rest spiritually on that day.

Lord, keep me burning till the break of day.


Carmon Friedrich said...

Beautiful thoughts! I once wrote an article for Homeschooling Today magazine about Anne Bradstreet, whose life exemplified this idea, and encouraged me to pour myself out in God's service for my family, the realm He has given me to serve Him. I love the Jacques Barzun quote below, too!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you wish to be quoting Edna St Vincent Millay?

Millay had relationships with several other students during her time at Vassar, then a women's college.[1] In January 1921 she went to Paris, where she met sculptor Thelma Wood, with whom she had a romantic relationship.[3] During her years in Greenwich Village and Paris she also had many relationships with men, including the literary critic Edmund Wilson, who unsuccessfully proposed marriage to her in 1920.[4]

In 1923 she married Eugen Jan Boissevain (Amsterdam, 20 May 1880 – Boston, MA, 29 August 1949), then the 43-year-old widower of labor lawyer and war correspondent Inez Milholland. Boissevain greatly supported her career and took primary care of domestic responsibilities. They lived near Austerlitz, New York, at a farmhouse they named Steepletop.

Millay's marriage with Boissevain was an open one, with both taking other lovers. Millay's most significant other relationship during this time was with the poet George Dillon, fourteen years her junior, for whom a number of her sonnets were written. Millay also collaborated with Dillon on Flowers of Evil, a translation of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal.

Boissevain died in 1949 of lung cancer. Millay was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her house on 19 October 1950; it was clear she fell to her death, but the cause of the fall is unknown.[5]