To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care,
On any shore, since God is there.
While place we seek or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none;
But with a God to guide our way,
‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.
Could I be cast where Thou art not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot;
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.
God Is Everywhere
Jeanne Marie Bouvier sat one day writing at her little oaken desk, when her father approached and, kissing her very gently on the forehead, told her that he had arranged for her marriage, and that her future husband was soon to arrive. Jeanne’s fingers lost their cunning, the pen dropped; she arose to her feet, but her tongue was dumb.
Jeanne Marie was only sixteen, but you would have thought her twenty, for she was tall and dignified–she was as tall as her father: she was five feet nine. She had a splendid length of limb, hips that gave only a suggestion of curve line, a slender waist, a shapely, well-poised neck, and a head that might have made a Juno envious. The face and brow were not those of Venus–rather they belonged to Minerva; for the nose was large, the chin full, and the mouth no pea’s blossom. The hair was light brown, but when the sun shone on it people said it was red. It was as generous in quantity and unruly in habits as the westerly wind. Her eyes were all colors, changing according to her mood. Withal, she had freckles, and no one was ever so rash as to call her pretty.
Now, Jeanne’s father had not kissed her for two years, for he was a very busy man: he had not time for soft demonstration. He was rich, he was religious, and he was looked upon as a model citizen in every way.
The daughter had grown like a sunflower, and her intellect had unfolded as a moss-rose turns from bud to blossom. This splendid girl had thought and studied and dreamed dreams. She had imagined she heard a voice speaking to her: “Arise, maiden, and prepare thee, for I have a work for thee to do!”
Her wish and prayer was to enter a convent, and after consecrating herself to God in a way that would allow of no turning back, to go forth and give to men and women the messages that had come to her. And these things filled the heart of the worthy bourgeois with alarm; so he said to his wife one day: “That girl will be a foot taller than I am in a year, and even now when I give her advice, she opens her big eyes and looks at me in a way that thins my words to whey. She will get us into trouble yet! She may disgrace us! I think–I think I’ll find her a husband.”
Yet that would not have been a difficult task. She was loved by a score of youths, but had never spoken to any of them. They stood at corners and sighed as she walked by; and others, with religious bent, timed her hours for mass and took positions in church from whence they could see her kneel. Still others patroled the narrow street that led to her home, with hopes that she might pass that way, so that they might touch the hem of her garment.
These things were as naught to Jeanne Marie. She had never yet seen a man for whose intellect she did not have both a pity and a contempt.
But Claude Bouvier did not pick a husband for his daughter from among the simple youths of the town. He wrote to a bachelor friend, Jacques Guyon by name, and told him he could have the girl if he wanted her–that is, after certain little preliminaries had been arranged.