Monday, 27 February 2012

Rock of Ages

Over the course of the last two weeks I have been reading a book called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have always avoided reading her books (probably due to hype, which seems to be a trend with me), so this is the first time I have read one. And what an amazing book. There are two things that have really come out at me from this book, but I'm only going to discuss one of them in this post - I will reserve the other topic for another post.

A week ago I was reminded of an unhappy incident in my life from about fifteen years ago. Associated with this incident is a book by a South African author, Marguerite Poland, called Shades. This book, which I read as an English setwork novel in my final year of school, upset me and instilled me a very strong dislike for the hymn Rock of Ages. I couldn't see past the setting of the book, and the way in which the hymn was used, to the truth of the hymn.

I now find that I have read a second book that includes this hymn, but this time in a far more positive light that has in a sense, redeemed the hymn for me. It no longer leaves a sour taste in my mouth and a series of negative images. So I thought I'd just share this with you.

Rock of Ages is a Christian hymn that was written in 1763 by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady.

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the Water and the Blood,
From thy riven Side which flow'd,
Be of Sin the double Cure,
Cleanse me from its Guilt and Pow'r.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill thy Law's demands:
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for Sin could not atone:
Thou must save, and Thou alone!

Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to thy Cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for Dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly :
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

Whilst I draw this fleeting breath—
When my eye-strings break in death—
When I soar through tracts unknown—
See Thee on thy Judgment-Throne—
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

SFFS 25/02/2012

This will, contrary to previous promises, be my final excerpt from the formerly-titled Am I Dreaming? WIP. This is because I have now published it on Smashwords as Place of My Dreams, and it is available for free. You can download it here if you haven't done so already. Please do give me a review once you've read it :-)
So here is this week's snippet.
Except now I don’t see the light. I search through the trees, but it is nowhere. Then a tingle rises from the ground, a warmth that spreads through my feet, my legs, my torso, and soon my whole body is vibrating. I see everything around me through a green haze. Sounds like small voices, rising and falling like the babbling of a brook, reach my ears. I strain to make sense of them, but just as I detect a pattern, a possible word, then all becomes jumbled again.

My vision clouds, and just as I begin to panic that I’m turning blind, or worse, it clears to reveal the most beautiful scene I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Read some more great snippets from fantastic authors here.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

SFFS 18/02/2012

Welcome back! This week, as promised, I'm serving up another snippet from Am I Dreaming? Also as promised, it follows on from last week's instalment.
Curiosity stirs within me, a whorl of questions tugging at my mind. What questions they are, though, eludes me. The throb of my heartbeat takes over my body, bringing relaxation that is almost sensual, a protection from the cold. Where did that thought come from? As though on automatic, I cross the room, throwing on my dressing gown and slippers, head down the stairs and out through the front door. Sense barely registers, although I can confirm that I’m not freezing cold as I should be. The snow radiates warmth like the baking sand on a tropical beach, and I long to sink myself into it. But no, the tug of that green light is too strong and I make my robotic way down the path, across the road, over the fence and into the copse.

Do catch up on the snippets from my fellow writers, which you can find here at our home-blog.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
--Reinhold Niebuhr
I've had the first four lines of this Prayer (the most well-known) on my mind for the last day. I didn't even know there was more to it until I did a search for it just now!

I can't rightly say why this is the case, although at some point in the last week I've realised that, when we forgive others, we extend to them the grace that we have received from God. And what better to be doing than that?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

SFFS 11/02/2012

Greetings! It's good to have you all back again this week. And as I said, I'm sticking with one story for now, so here's the next instalment from Am I Dreaming?
Time passes, and as I watch the rain that was morphs into sleet, and after a while snow begins to fall, dragging the darkness away and overlaying it with a glare. Mesmerised, I lay my pen down on the pad and move to sit on the window seat, arms leaning on the sill, to gaze out as tentative white patches begin to form on the ground, the plants, the car, the trees. The flakes grow, and before long, there must be at least an inch of snow on the ground. Thicker, faster, and I’m unaware of anything but the rhythm of nature as the white blanket is laid, bringing the world to slumber.

A glint in the copse over the road catches the corner of my eye, and I adjust my head to focus. Not seeing anything there, my eyes drift away again, but another tug at my senses brings them snapping back to the trees. Not to be caught again, I watch, and am rewarded by a strange sight. A bright green light, encased in a hazy green halo, is drifting through the trees just below the bottom-most branches, which I know to be a little higher than I am tall. It darts from one tree to the next, only visible when moving, which is why I didn’t see it earlier.

As always, I'm not the only one taking part in the SFFS ring, so please do read some more great snippets here.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

SFFS 04/02/2012

I'm going to be really nice and horrible at the same time: I'm changing stories. Having said that, you'll get the whole story from beginning to end. So please don't complain. Reason: I'm never going to publish this one. It was just written on a whim one day - a day when I wanted to write but didn't have a clue what to write ... (note: NB info!)

So, I present to you a snippet from Am I Dreaming?, which I wrote on the 22nd December 2011.
I stare at the rivulets of water running down the window pane while I chew the back end of my pen, which is as frayed as a feather duster. Inspiration just will not come to me. The Muse has gone awol again, and I doubt she’s coming back anytime soon. And yet there is a yearning within me, a longing that tugs at drives me to frustration, to write something … anything … I don’t care what about, so much as I care about having something to show for my claim to be a writer. After all, what good is it to be a writer with nothing to show of one’s craft.

So I gaze through the window to the dreary day outside, wishing that an idea for a story would dawn on me, although more than the shade of the sun behind the clouds at the moment. As I watch, the clouds drift towards the west, driven by the winds of destiny, to be replaced by darker, more menacing clouds. At the same time, everything I see becomes shadowed as the sun’s light is eclipsed by moisture. Snow clouds? It is winter after all, and although the weather didn’t predict snow here, places around about are due a smattering.

Don't forget to go here to read other snippets from some top writers and authors.