Curled up in a comfortable old reading chair beside the morning fire in my cottage, I nudge the dogs off my lap, reach for a steaming cup of chai, and pick up Bruce and Katherine Epperly’s book, Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry.My morning lectio divina is a simple sentence that had caught my attention yesterday as I was reading their book: “Spiritual practices enable us to bring to conscious awareness the Spirit’s `sighs too deep for words’ (Rom. 8:26) that give both guidance and comfort.”
Yes, I think, closing my eyes to better hear those sighs moving lightly through body and soul. Inhaling slowly, I sink into their rhythm, open my heart, and listen deeply.
A prayer rises up within me, but it has no words. A part of me struggles to find them, but they’re not there. And I begin to wonder: Are they necessary? Are they ever necessary? Or is the deliberate, conscious deepening of my normal day-to-day awareness of God’s Presence the most glorious prayer of all?
The rains have stopped. The winds have stilled. And the clear prairie sunlight spreads over this small section of Indiana where God has sent me.
The Quaker Meetinghouse at Earlham School of Religion
My task is to help 10 highly intelligent and perceptive men and women–all graduate writing students at Earlham School of Religion–see with clarity the gifts that have been hidden within them, quietly growing, until ready for harvest.
They are such a joy. They are all men and women who care passionately about their faith and the readers they will serve. They are meant to question, to discover, to reveal, to unveil and to puzzle over everything from how many angels can fit on the head of a pin to how to comfort the smallest, the meanest, and the most hurting of those among us.
They are a blessing. And as I see the light in their eyes as they realize their gifts, the concentration as they take careful and cautious first steps forward, I realize: These are children who will illuminate the darkness.
A gentle rain. Indiana is parched—its grasses yellowed, its corn stunted, its people exhausted by the relentless heat.
a gentle rain
But, today, here in Richmond, we are nurtured by a sweet moisture that renews .
Now that my gardens are flourishing and the spinach harvest is in the freezer, I’ve been spending the summer curled up on the porch with a stack of books. Have been invited to be the writer-in-residence at Earlham School of Religion and am prepping for the graduate seminars I’ll be teaching this summer and fall.
My cup runneth over.
“Writing for God” is first up in a couple of weeks; “Writing Literary Nonfiction” begins at the end of August. So now I’m up to my ears reading and thinking about story theology, narrative nonfiction and how God sends writers—in all media, in all languages, in all countries throughout the world—to illuminate the subtlest movements of Spirit and provide accompaniment through the dark. Am I incredibly blessed or what? Double-click on the photo to see the titles of some of the books I’m reading.
The tulips are up, the late spring daffs in the rock garden are tumbling down the hill, and a sour cream lemon pound cake has just emerged, warm and moist, from the oven. Blessings flow!
Lemon Cream Cake
Daffs Tumbling through the Rock Garden
In the breath between winter and spring up here in the mountains, my Gardening Partner built three new raised beds in the upper garden, moved the Japanese silver grass to the wild border between lawn and woods, transplanted pachysandra, composted and turned over the zucchini bed, planted “Tina’s Ruby”–a new crab apple–by the woodshed, and carefully planted a weeping spruce in the front evergreen garden at the edge of the trees.
Spring Rains are a Blessing
His timing was perfect. No sooner had he put away his tools than the air warmed and down came days of soft rain. Now it’s time to sit indoors, catch up on house chores, and our spring reading. As for the hardworking West Highland White Terrier who approved every plant site, nosed the rocks out of every planting hole, accompanied us on every trip to the compost pile, and guarded us from marauding squirrels, grouse, and even a black bear, it’s time for a well-deserved spring nap.