To Strive, To Seek, To Find

Tho’ much is taken, much abides, and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate,
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

My dear friend and fellow reading mother Jeanne sent me these lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses a few days ago. These good and beautiful words kept creeping into my thoughts, reminding me of this truth:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Oh my, as the cold weather approaches, do my bones ever remind me that I am made weak by time. Still, much abides. As I continue to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield, the promise is made sure: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isaiah 40:29). Once again the “admirable light of truth” in literature points me to the “fountain of truth.

These days, I have the pleasure of lingering over Homer’s Odyssey, one book per week, with a fabulous bunch of middle school students. In it, Odysseus is striving, seeking, finding, not yielding hearth and home through all his trials and temptations. Tennyson, on the other hand, imagines a restless older Ulysses striving, seeking, finding, not yielding as he pursues adventure away from hearth and home. These two visions do seem to be somewhat at odds.

But here’s a connection I do see. As mothers, much of our striving, seeking, and finding is directed towards hearth and home, as we do not yield in our daily routines and callings. At the same time, as reading mothers, we also strive and seek and find treasure in the “realms of gold” which supply great wealth spilling over into our lives and into the lives of those around us, enriching hearth and home. All the more reason not to yield the minutes and hours and even days that we spend immersed therein!

“The Prophet Hannah” by Rembrandt, 1631

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