1. Progress

In either case our duty and our one hope is clear; that we have got somehow, at all costs and hazards, to find our way into the light of day. It is such as these, the anxious and the fearful on the one hand, the gross and sensual on the other, who need most of all a Joyous Gard of their own. Because we are coming to the light, as Walt Whitman so splendidly says;””The Lord advances and yet advances . . . always the shadow in front, always the reached hand bringing up the laggards.”

Our business, if we know that we are laggards, if we only dimly suspect it, is not to fear the shadow, but to seize the outstretched hands. We must grasp the smallest clue that leads out of the dark, the resolute fight with some slovenly and ugly habit, the telling of our mean troubles to some one whose energy we admire and whose disapproval we dread; we must try the experiment, make the plunge; all at once we realise that the foundations are laid, that the wall is beginning to rise above the rubbish and the debris; we must build a home for the new-found joy, even if as yet it only sings drowsily and faintly within our hearts, like the awaking bird in the dewy thicket, when the fingers of the dawn begin to raise the curtain of the night.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Progress

There’s a small green frog – no bigger than a quarter — that occasionally climbs up my office window. Through the glass I see his belly and his feet, and I’m fascinated to think that something so complex can also be so small. But even more amazing is his call. Louder than the sound of most animals even thousands of times his size, this little frog’s “bellow” fills the inside hall and makes a first time hearer turn immediately in the direction of the sound. I remember my response when I first heard him sing: “What in the hell was that?”

Days 1-3 Guide

Today is the last in the series of thoughts I call Higher Things. I’d like to close by emphasizing that each of us must choose to walk in the light of day. And as such, a great part of our course is well within our control. Yes, life will tend toward tedium; some days will get you down, and others may seem lifeless and routine. The progress that Benson speaks of is the improving ability to, once drawn from her light, find your way back to Joyous Gard. There are hundreds of reminders in daily life to help turn your attention to greater things. Pause and listen — listen for the green frogs.

©2005, Levi Hill

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