Grace Notes in the Desert

Grace Notes in the Desert is written for the saints of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community.

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Grace Notes acknowledges we need God's grace and forgivness as much as the desert water.


Christmas Reflections for the New Year

During these twelve days of Christmas, which end on Epiphany, January 6, I offer these bright words of Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky--some of which were quoted at Rio Grande's Christmas Eve Service. I share them with you who long for 'something more' taken from one of his greatest works, The Brothers Karamazov:

"Mitya had a strange dream, utterly out of keeping with the place and with the time.

He was driving somewhere in the mountains, where he had been stationed long ago, and a peasant was driving him in a cart with a pair of horses, through snow and sleet. He was cold, it was early in November, and the snow was falling in big wet flakes, melting as soon as it touched the earth.

...Not far off was a vilage, he could see the black huts, and half the huts were burned down... And as they drove in, there were peasant women drawn up along the road, a lot of women, a whole row, all thin and wan, with their faces a sort of brownish colour, especially one at the edge, a tall, bony woman, who looked forty, but might have been only twenty, with a long thin face.

In her arms was a little baby crying...The child cried and cried, and held out its little bare arms, with its little fists blue from cold.

"Why are they crying? Why are they crying?" Mitya asked, as they dashed gaily by.

"It's the babe," answered the driver, "the babe weeping."

And Mitya was struck by the saying, "the babe"...

"But why is it weeping?" Mitya persisted stupidly, "why are its little arms bare? Why don't they wrap it up?"

"The babe's cold, its little clothes are frozen and don't warm it."

"But why is it? Why?", foolish Mitay still persisted.

"Why, they're poor people, burnt out. They've no bread. They're begging because they've been burnt out."

"No, no," Mitya, as it were, still did not understand. "Tell me why it is these poor mothers stand there? Why are people poor? Why is the babe poor? Why is the mountain barren? Why don't they hug each other and kiss? Why don't they sing songs of joy? Why are they so dark from black misery?

Why don't they feed the babe?"

And he felt that, though his questions were unreasonable and senseless, yet he wanted to ask just that, and he had to ask it just that way. And he felt a passion of pity, such that he had never known before, was rising in his heart, and he wanted to cry, and he wanted to do something for them all, so that the babe would not weep anymore, so that the dark-faced mother should not weep, that no one should shed tears again from that moment, and he wanted to do it at once, at once, regardless of the obstacles, with all the recklessness of the Karamazovs."