Stewardship of the Mind

DickensA  friend sent me a piece about the human mind that is well worth sharing. As is his custom, Fred selected this from among the undervalued archives of 19th-century letters. These writers, still largely unfettered by the dull despair of postmodernism to come, wrote in soaring, stately language out of hearts filled with reverence. Rather than being overcome by the contemptuous cynicism that has arisen in our secular world, they saw the possibility of permanence and the reality of hope in the provision of our Creator. They emphasized the responsibility of each individual to reach out of the morass of our fallen world to grasp life’s meaning from God’s hand.   

MaryWollstonecraftOf Ideas

Regarding the mind, heed well that this athlete, growing in your brain,
Becomes a wholesome Genius, and not a cursed Afrite, [Afrite are supernatural creatures in Arabic and Islamic cultures. They are noted for their strength and cunning. An enormous winged creature of fire, either male or female, who live underground and frequents ruins.]

And see that you discipline the mind’s strength, and point his aim discreetly;
Feed him on humility and holy things, weaned from covetous desires;
Hour by hour and day by day, supply him with ideas of excellence,
And win, by gradual Godly allurements, the still expanding soul,
To rise from observing the universe, to the Hand of God that made it.

A common mind doesn’t consider things beyond his eyes and ears:
The roebuck is captured and enthralled by his carnal senses:
And though fettered in the flesh, he doesn’t feel his chains,
Externals are the world to him, and circumstances his atmosphere.
Therefore tangible pleasures are enough for the animal-man;
He is swift to speak and slow to think, dreading his own dim conscience;
And solitude is terrible, and to be exiled alone, worse than death,
He cannot dwell apart, nor breathe at a distance from the crowd.

But minds of a nobler stamp, and especially those thoughts with the mint-mark of heaven and eternal value,
Walk independent, by themselves, free from the slavery of external circumstances;
They carry provisions with them, and need no refreshment along the way,
Nor to drink of other wells than their own inner fountain.
Strange shall it seem how little such a man will lean upon the circumstances of life,
He is winged and needs not a staff; if it break, — he shall not fall:
And lightly perchance does he dwell on the stale trivialities around him,
He lives in the realm of thought, beyond the world of merely things;
These are matter, a substance that briefly endures,
But he is made of enduring Spirit;
siloahNow the worldly man will laugh to scorn wisdom that transforms
Thought into something more noble and pure:
But His eyes may open on a prison-cell, but the bare walls glow with imagery;
His ears may be filled with the cursings, but he hears the music
Of sweet thoughts;
He may dwell in a hovel but with a hero’s heart, and canopy his poverty with peace,
For the mind is a kingdom to the man, who gathers his pleasure from Godly ideas.

–Martin F. Tucker

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme! My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.” Psalm 45:1

The inescapable conclusion from this was that the mind and the soul will grow into something resembling whatever is chiefly put into it. And the human soul is passionate. It has to feed on something and enlarge itself; it cannot lie fallow and static. The food—and the soul—will take on the substance of good or of evil. There is no neutral space. Even dormant minds will become bitter because some irrepressible part of it knows it is supposed to be breathing and growing. 

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About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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2 Responses to Stewardship of the Mind

  1. fcb3 says:

    “Stewardship of the mind,” I like that title and think it fits so well with this piece.

  2. Douglas Abbott says:

    I thought so too, Fred. Most of us in the West think of our minds as our own to do with as we please, but that isn’t the case. Furthermore, everyone in our lives are affected when we allow our thinking to become corrupted. And, of course, we ourselves lose.

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