If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily “ours” but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes.

Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

The most important thing for me about Oxford was not what I learnt there in terms of set texts and set books we had to read, but in terms of a respect for the best in human civilisation.

And the best in human civilisation comes from all parts of the world. It is not limited to Oxford; it is not limited to Burma; it is not limited to any other country. But the fact that in Oxford I had learned to respect all that is the best in human civilisation helped me to cope with what was not quite the best.

Because what is not yet quite the best may still, one day, become the best; it may be improved. It gave me a confidence in humankind. It gave me a confidence in the innate wisdom of human beings – not given to all of us, but given to enough of us for the rest of the world to share, and to make use of it for others.

[…]

And I think every Oxonian, or most every, knows that in Lost Horizon Shangri-La was described as “something a little like Oxford”.

Every Oxonian knows.

Medowlark

"I’ve gotten up early ever since I was a boy in West Texas," he told me. "You’d look out of the window at dawn, and the sky would stretch on forever. It was a special creamy colour at that hour, before the clouds came. It was the only time when it was cool. The morning was clean and blank and full of promise, like a piece of paper no one had written on yet, I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and invent something: a car, an airplane, a vacuum cleaner made from a spice can. By sunset, the day was used up, exhausted. Night was a time of disappointment, when you thought about all the things you’d hoped to do and hadn’t done. There’s nothing as sad and lonely as the bark of a coyote somewhere off in the West Texas night, and the moon hanging outside your window as bone-white as an old cow skull."

Campbell Geeslin to Anne Fadiman, ‘Night Owl’, At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays

Ponder, this Christmas.

To a world in need He did not send another.
God the Son became God our Brother.
He drew alongside, forever to dwell,
Our God in the flesh, Immanuel.

— Glen Scrivener