When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up
Till it could come no more.
- Robert Lewis Stevenson
I woke up yesterday morning with this hymn by Charles Wesley on my lips. I really like this modern working of it by Indelible Grace.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high;
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none;
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head
with the shadow of thy wing.
Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
One of my most vivid memories from childhood is my mother pushing me on the swing and reciting Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem. We had a “little pink house on the corner” in Waveland, Mississippi. The house was on about an acre with tall pines. I remember watching my mother mow the lawn. I remember the smell of the pine needles and grass. I remember my mother telling me that it was good that the pine trees would bend and sway with the strong winds that scared me — the trees that bent in the wind wouldn’t break.
The playground was about a block from our house. I have memories of walking there alone, and sometimes stopping at the Tiger Mart across the street for a slushy. I remember hearing sounds carry through the warm, humid nights–the crackling speakers from the baseball diamond at that park in the distance and the cicadas nearby.
But the best times were when my mother came with me, and pushed me on the swing. Rhythmic pushing. Rhythmic recitation. Oh, how I love (push) to go up in a swing (push), up in the sky so blue (push). . .
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!