Monthly Archives: May 2008

Sun, and music, and books!

Oh my, there is sun out! Beautiful thought. A t-shirt is definitely (finally) in order. Good summer morning my friends! I have petite yellow roses preening in a tall glass on my window sill, classical violins streaming exultation through the radio and pearl colored air breathing energy in through the window. It is an altogether ideal set of an early summer morning from which to greet you and wish you a bit of the same brightness.

I’m feeling home of late, a strangely wondrous feeling. It’s so lovely to settle in, to look out the window and know, as Bebo Norman so achingly sings, that I’m back in the place where “the trees stand still”. In honor of that, I find myself embracing the small things that are a silent welcome back to the blessed confines of home. I love the little rituals that take me by my gypsy hand and tell me I have come to stay.

One of these I simply have to share with you. It is what I must call with due solemnity, “the re-stacking of the books”. I always have tottering stacks of books by my chair, bed, and in any available corner. They are an ever-changing mismash; classics I ought to read, novels I will read, poetry I want to remember, tomes on art, a few volumes of current interest or theology, and of course, my necessary novel and devotional. Oddly enough, one of the things that most keenly makes me feel fresh in thought and life is to start those stacks over. Yes, I know, strange pleasures. I get a fresh bunch of books that mesh with my current interests, expand my thought horizons, pique my imagination. I order in bunches of books from the library and then traipse down there as if I were on my way to a grand vacation and come home and stack them up in fresh, glowing towers. And then I feel radiantly happy.

I think it’s just this feeling of endlessly expanded horizons of imagination at my fingertips, and a celebration of my ability to finally delve into it all. I feel so free and sane. So, I just had to share my most recent finds – my summer excursions in thought. I’m going to be reading these throughout the summer, so you can definitely expect some reviews…good ones I hope!

1. Gilead by Marilyn Robinson (I’ve meant to read this for several years, all my creative writer friends love it.)

2. Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill (Halfway through and it might just change the way I think about spiritual life.)

3. Annie Dillard Reader and A Writer’s Life by Annie Dillard (My dad got me a whole collection of Annie Dillard books and I’m thrilled to finally delve into her classic works.)

4. The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis (I have always been a little fascinated by medieval literature and thought and this is Lewis’ classic series of lectures in book form on the subject.)

5. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (Another of my artistic friends favorites – I have needed to read this for awhile. I loved The Chosen.)

6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (I’m really interested in understanding more about the subjects she deals with – local eating, organic farming, etc.)

7. Beowulf by Seamus Heaney (One of those classics I really need to read, and actually am looking forward to.)

8. Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community by Wendell Berry (I read the first one – I LOVE the way he thinks! He’s going to make a revolutionary of me.)

9. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (My friend’s favorite Berry novel.)

10. I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquah Sheikh (Found this at a bookfair- the story of a Muslim woman who had dreams of a God who told her He was her father. Just reading the back gave me a shiver of joy.)

I want to add a few more good summer novels as well (I know, as if that wasn’t enough already), so if you have any recommendations, let me know. And while you’re at it, what’s glowing in your own stack of summer books? I want to know!

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Filed under Books, Musings

This evening

I went for a walk this night; my first in a good few days. I waited till the dark had pitched his tent in the valley and warmed his hands at the furnace of the western sky. I am a child of the the dusk, my storm blue eyes find their origin in the color of twilight and for me, there is a kindling in the strange half light of dying day. I’m sure I worry those who love me no end by my twilit rambles, but I can’t seem to help myself. That light is a mystery always begging me to solve it; it is so opposite to the flat, bright hours of modern day. So I set out again tonight in blue tinged air with a thump of heart and beat of blood.

I looked and looked and looked at my mountain world tonight. To the east, beyond the chained, plodding gangs of neighborhood houses, I saw the tide of spring rolling in upon the winter gold shores of dry fields; swift waves of green crashed up over the slopes. Above, there was the violent crash of another sea, rife with with dark, rogue waves of storm. The air, ah, mountain air my friends, had been stolen from the hills and flung into the valley, still redolent with the dim, chill spice of rain-drenched firs in dark, forgotten woods.

I walked with swift steps, as if I could match the rush and tumble of the wind and take part in the liveness knocking on every sense in my body. For the world was tinged with a wakefulness tonight that was more than mere nature, mere beauty. I think a lot lately about God’s real, actual presence, and the way it shatters the fragile structures of my normalcy. He broke in upon me tonight, his hands wet with the storm over my head and the loamy dirt of the newborn fields as he crafted them to bear the mark of his reality. And when I got home, breath lost and muscles spent, I collapsed in new grass to stare up through pine needles and think about it some more.

For I was awake tonight, jolted by God’s swift, gentle hands. I think I am often asleep; senseless to the real, pulsing life that exists outside of my headlong rush through cars, airports, errands and freeways. And in all honesty, I think it’s easier to be senseless, much less demanding to be blind. To see and be aware, to “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence has it, takes a lot of concentration. But sometimes, God conspires with his own beauty to make that wakefulness a little easier. I felt it tonight.

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Inmost spaces

“You desire truth in the inmost parts…”

That came to me as I prayed a couple of days ago in my narrow bit of airplane seat (on the way to Orlando for a bookfair.) It’s like a nod from God, an affirmation that all I am thinking of late is right. It’s an indescribable thing to progress spiritually; to think you are right on with spiritual diligence and all and then, by some new grace of study or thought or discipline, to find a small new universe blossoming up in your soul in which every corner of your spirit becomes more alive than you knew you could be.

It’s how I feel of late; I have loved God forever it seems, sometimes I can’t remember when I haven’t been trying to be good, to be Christian. But I have also struggled; with knowing I am loved, with a pervasive sense of guilt, with a sort of blindness that made Scripture sometimes beautiful and sometimes frightening. But I’ll just say with a simple honesty, I’m a little different now. I’m walking into this new land that has opened up within me as I have committed myself to study Scripture, to pray with a diligence heretofore untried. I am being remade by it so that I am vastly more alive to God’s life as the central point to every thought, every life, every being every conceived. I guess I finally get it. All those passionate proclamations in Scripture of love for God, all the willingness to suffer, all those effusive ecstasies that great Christians seem so prone to when they get going about the gospel about God – I get it. I feel it myself.

So here I sit in the militant grey humidity of a Florida morn, sopping with sweat, about to face a crazy, crazy day. I glance up, at pearled sky ridged with rain, down at damp green, I clasp hot little hands and close my eyes and feel happiness; a freedom as wild as fresh rain, a close comfort as sweet as home and it is God, with me, in me, and I, finally, with Him.

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This Good Day

This good day
It is a gift from you.
The world is turning in its place,
Because you made it to.
I lift my voice,
To sing a song of praise,
On this good day.
(Fernando Ortega)

Hello my friends! I guess I took a long, and rather unannounced hiatus from blogging. Sorry about that. I ended up driving up to Boston with my brother so he could catch an audition at a great school in Boston, and then got home to a determined last fling of effort into finishing books, proposals, and blog designs. But a lot has been put to rest now, and I’m in a space of very welcome stillness after the storm.

I’m full of this summer sun joy lately – a combination I think of days all dappled with thunder and growing light. Summer has almost come. I had my first picnic the other day, carefully carted out to the upper slopes of Mt. Herman (one of the foothills near my house) where we ate summery, vegetable and fruit sort of things with a pearl and gold sunset filling the bowl of the eastern horizon. Joy is setting out a garden, there are daffodils in the yard (they grow late here!). Long, long hikes after dinner. Open windows. Ah. A new set of pleasures is taking its place.

I think my favorite thing of late though, is the cool blue thrill of early summer mornings. I wake up at dawn these days, my window open to the birds and have more time than I have in forever to immerse my brain in Scripture. I am loving it, loving, loving it. I finished the first half of Isaiah the other day, and now am studying God’s covenant throughout the Bible.

I am sorry to admit that I had very much let my daily loving of God’s word slip away during the craziness of travel in the past months. I have a lot of thoughts to eventually think out here about that. But the result of a new devotion to devotions has been this sense of life; one I have almost never felt, welling up in me as the words become thought and the thought becomes life, and the life is inhabited by God’s love. I feel as if my heart is reflective of the summer world – there’s so much more light of late, I find it early and it stays late and it grows a smidgen more every day. I’m excited.

So I guess I’ll end this first entry back with a hearty wish that you will find light on this good day; a burgeoning gladness of summer and spirit.

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I’m back!

But this is where I’ve been. Can you guess? More tonight my friends.

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