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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #62

[Young Elizabeth finds herself unable to comfort her atheist grandfather in a moment of despair.]      I totally failed my grandfather but he did not fail me, though it was years before I realized what it was he had done for me in rooting my faith, that I believe grew out of his despair.  Children lucky enough to grow up in a Christian home are given a good start, since small children are copycats and believe what their parents believe and do as their parents do, and later they sail out from a harbor that has a lighthouse on the rocks and however far they travel it is difficult to forget the harbor with the green fields of childhood behind it, and the light always haunts them; it is a finger of light feeling for them.       But neither a copycat religion nor a haunting is faith.  Somewhere, if one is lucky enough to have faith, however wobbly and constantly tested it may be, there must have been a moment of conviction that fell like a seed to the earth and struck root.  When my grandfather said that all that he was, all that he knew, was going into nothingness I felt at first furious, and then incredulous.  What he said was a lie.  It was impossible.  His knowledge was a closed book to me but I knew what he was in himself, what sort of man his life of selfless love and struggle had made him.  Among living creatures man alone, it appears, is capable of making this deliberate choice, and my grandfather was only one among a great multitude of selfless lovers and seekers.  if all this love and struggle and knowledge was to go to waste then not only must God be so crazy that he could not exist but the universe also was crazy and pointless.  Yet it did not seem to be.  It seemed to bear witness to a marvelous provenance and order.  It seemed to bear witness to a God who is not crazy.  This is what I worked out later.  At the time I simply knew the thing was impossible, and I think faith roots more easily in these sudden convictions, coming like blinks of light from the lighthouse, than by any muddled reasoning of a thing as limited as the normal human mind.   Elizabeth Goudge, The Joy of the Snow (1974), pp. 186-187 Photo by Roslyn Taylor

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