Everyday wisdom carries a lot of truth. For example, “a stitch in time saves nine” or “too little too late” or “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. These pithy little quips are rich, even though they become so banalized by common usage that they lose some of their meaning. One of the most banal, most hackneyed is, “If life gives you lemons, you gotta make lemonade.” Here is conveyed the truth that life’s difficulties give us an opportunity to grow. The human spirit seems to thrive…often…with adversity. John Masefield in one of his sonnets describes this adversity as “the spirit’s straitened possibility.” A “strait” is a tight place, as in the “Straits of Gibralter”. These “tight places”, though painful, can produce spiritual strength. Here is the whole of that Masefield sonnet in which he beautifully elaborates on this wisdom:

Man has his unseen friend, his unseen twin,
His straitened spirit’s possibility,
The palace unexplored he thinks an inn,
The glorious garden which he wanders by.
It is beside us while we clutch at clay
To daub ourselves that we may never see.
Like the lame donkey lured by moving hay
We chase the shade but let the real be.
Yet, when confusion in our heaven brings stress,
We thrust on that unseen, get stature from it,
Cast to the devil’s challenge the man’s yes,
And stream our fiery hour like a comet,
And know for that fierce hour a friend behind


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