Tonight at dinner, the Sisters were talking and enjoying each other’s company.  We weren’t talking about anything of great import.  Nor were we solving the world’s problems.  We were just enjoying each other.  And laughing.

Sr. Marie Andre was sharing Winston Churchill’s famous quote (which sums up her whole being): “Keep calm and carry on.”  Sr. Marie St. Paul broke in with a twist on the saying which she recently saw when reading up on her newest hobby…knitting: “Keep calm and carry yarn.”  And the Sisters laughed – myself included (especially as a novice-Crocheter).  And the laughter seemed so beautiful to me.  I wanted to bottle it up!  
I was reminded of an excerpt from Tolkien’s The Return of the King (It’s particularly appropriate that I quote this as Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday is on September 22nd).  Sam awakes after the horrors of Mt. Doom and sees Gandalf, after thinking him dead.  I’ll let Tolkien take it from here:

But Sam lay back, and started with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last has gasped: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’

‘A great shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

‘How do I feel?’ he cried. ‘Well I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’ – he waved his arms in the air – ‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!’

I don’t know about you, but whenever I read this passage, I can’t just read it once.  I want to go back and read it again, letting it soak in.  And again, letting it penetrate any sadness that may be clinging to my heart.  And again, for the pure joy of it all!
As I type this blog, Fergus (one of our westies) is glued to Sr. Esther Marie’s lap (not literally, of course) – he is hoping that she will never want to get up.  Sometimes I think if Ferg could talk, he would say: “Just pet me, love me, feed me those yummy treats and never leave me…and I promise to be good!”
Like Ferg, when we experience joy, there is an undeniable yearning to hold on to it, to never want it to end.  More and more, I am convinced that this desire is borne from above – but it is not merely the desire for a passing joy, but for the joys that do not pass…it is a desire for the eternal, a desire for God.  It is the desire for the unending joy of Heaven, when there will be no more tears, or weeping, or separations, or suffering.  Tolkien’s dear friend, C.S. Lewis, takes this thought a step further saying: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” 
At the risk of ‘over-quoting’, I want to conclude this blog with an excerpt from “Poem of Hope” by Marietta Martin.  When I read these words, my thoughts turn to the ‘Grey Havens’, to Heaven, to Jesus and the fulfillment of all desire:
One day there will be no more unexpressed words of love,
There will be no more stifled desires,
There will be no more silent presences: all the voices will be heard,
The veil which the music lifts will never more be lowered,
There will be no more inaccessible space, and the spool of time will unwind in the present,
All the sister particles of souls will join together. 
The sunsets will be explained,
Beauty will lose its anguish,
Creation will be the clear word of divinity,
One day, like a beautiful voyage toward the beloved dead.
Our friend, Brittany Allen, snapped this awesome photo in July.  Isn’t it stunning!!!