Daily Prayer

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is the devil’s masterpiece.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.


November’s Literary Life

Literature isn’t kind to November.  As Tom Nissley reminds us in his Reader’s Book of Days when Ishmael leaves Manhattan for New Bedford and the sea in Moby-Dick, it may be December on the calendar, but he’s driven there, to the openness of oceans, by “a damp, drizzly November in my soul.” And where else could Dickens’s Bleak House begin but, bleakly, in “implacable November,” with dogs and horses mired in mud, pedestrians “jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper” (not unlike Ishmael “deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off”), and, of course, the English fog. Jane Eyre begins on a “drear November day,” with a “pale blank of mist and cloud” and “ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.” And it’s on a “dreary night in November,” as “rain pattered dismally against the panes,” that Victor Frankenstein, blindly engrossed in his profane labors as the seasons have passed by outside, first sees the spark of life in the watery eyes of his creation. Is it any wonder that Meg in Little Women thinks that “November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year”?

Here on Literary Life, we have a more cheerful view.  The month before Advent is a beautiful occasion to give thanks as we look forward to the annual gatherings of family and friends to commence the holiday season.  Literary Life is a nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria which poet and priest Malcolm Guite describes as “…an eclectic mix of autobiography, philosophical history, literary criticism, rambling anecdote, and radical new theology, all held together and threaded through with a constant witness to the power of the Logos, to the great analogy of language. At its heart is the idea that the cosmos is spoken into being by Mind, that nature is itself a kind of language, and that our own use of language is, therefore, a series of clues as to the meaning of both mind and cosmos. So the literary criticism and the theology are not separate and disparate parts of the book; they are the same thing.”

In this gathering of readers from around the world, thanks will indeed be given. In addition to this site, our closest friends from over 130 countries meet in our Facebook discussion group, which you can join by clicking HERE.

Come.  Read with us as you live your Literary Life.




Rick Wilcox | Editor in Chief


However little he may be fitted to teach others, he wishes to share his thoughts with those whom he feels congenial, but who are scattered far and wide in the world. By this means, he wishes to reestablish his relation with his old friends, to continue it with new ones, and to gain in the younger generation still others for the remainder of his life. He wishes to spare youth the circuitous paths upon which he himself went astray, and while observing and utilizing the advantages of the present, to maintain the memory of his praiseworthy earlier efforts.
With this serious view, a small society has been brought together; may cheerfulness attend our undertakings, and time may show whither we are bound.

Look With Compassion

In this portion of her prayer, Jane asks God to “look with compassion” on those who are “afflicted,” experiencing the “pangs of disease,” or who are “broken in spirit.” In Jane’s novels, when someone is ill or distressed, their friends and family provide tangible help and comfort. In the same way, Jane and Cassandra frequently nursed family members when they were ill.

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Open Our Eyes

When Elizabeth Bennet reads Mr. Darcy’s letter of explanation in Pride and Prejudice, she is ashamed of her own pride and vanity: “ ‘How despicably I have acted!’ she [cries]; ‘I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! . . . Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly.’ ” She ends with this: “Till this moment I never knew myself.”

Elizabeth Bennet feels especially humiliated by her misjudgment of Mr. Wickham. She, who prides herself on her ability to judge well, fails to discern his true character. She judges him by his outer appearance and his “person, countenance, air, and walk.” She is charmed by his “agreeable manner” and is a “happy woman” when he sits with her, after catching the attention of “almost every female eye.” Ultimately, Elizabeth’s own pride deceives her.

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Give Us Pure Hearts

When we think of a Jane Austen heroine in need of sincere repentance, Emma Woodhouse comes to mind. When Emma speaks cruelly to Miss Bates and says she’s dull in front of everyone at Box Hill, we cringe with pain and agony. Austen tells us that in Emma’s moment of irritation, she “could not resist.” She opens her mouth and lets it rip.

Mr. Knightley tells Emma later that it “was badly done . . . in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, [to] laugh at her” and “humble her.” In response, Emma feels “anger against herself, mortification, and deep concern.” On the ride home, she is “most forcibly struck. The truth of this representation there was no denying. She felt it at her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates!” Emma spends the evening in serious reflection and visits Miss Bates the next morning to make amends as best she can.

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