Aug 24 2012

Friday Florilegium

I’m hard at work on the next chapter of the dissertation, focusing on lectio divina (divine reading). Here are some highlights from my reading:

[Lectio divina] is, above all, a daily, personal, intimate contact with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a contact with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Brother, which takes place in Holy Scripture. As its name indicates, it is  “reading God.” [It is a] reading with faith–God speaks, God speaks to me here and now–and with great attention; a slow, meditative, savored reading; a reading that seeks primarily the literal and precise meaning of the text in order then to seek and discover what the Spirit of God deigns to manifest to the readers; a reading so active that it engages the entire person; yet at the same time, it is passive, that is to say, a reading in which we (the readers) permits ourselves to be influenced by the Word of God who speaks to us personally, who speaks intimately heart to heart; a reading made in the bosom of the Church, the body of Christ, “with the loving eyes of a spouse”; an assiduous reading made every day without exception; disinterested reading, [meaning] to read for the sake of reading and not for having read, reading in which we seek nothing else than the reading itself.—-Garcia M Colombas, Reading God

From the quality time with the Word required by lectio divina one learns “reading” as a way of life, not just an exercise for a set number of minutes each day. Becoming adept at lectio is like mastering a language. It opens up communication with an even larger world. Reading the Scriptures is a springboard to reading the larger world that surrounds us.  For while the scriptural texts are the first material of, or prime matter for, lectio, reading them trains people to read the other texts life provides. The God who speaks in the Scriptures speaks in human experience as well.  Lectio that begins with the Scriptures speaks in human experience as well.–Raymond Studzinski, Reading to Live: The Evolving Practice of Lectio Divina

[In practicing lectio divina,] we tend at the same time to rediscover the value of the otium (leisure) of the cloister, that is, the importance of “free time” to dedicate to God and affairs of the soul…We need to react valiantly against anxiety, against the inordinate urge to produce, against the habits which our consumer society imposes on us and which oblige us to devote extraordinary hours…to mental or physical labor. It seems indispensable that in the daily monastic horarium (a schedule of work, prayer, and free time), leisure must be allowed for slow… reading, penetrated by prayer.–Garcia M Colombas, Reading God

And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.

Photos: St John the Evangelist Monastery library, Cambridge; Proverbs 31; a Wordle of my dissertation prospectus

Aug 23 2012

Every Thursday, Thanksgiving

Counting thanks to 1000 and beyond…

813. The slight crisp scent in the air that makes me want to shop for school supplies. I’ve taken to using a #2 pencil. I’m especially relishing the memory of pencil boxes–you remember, the cardboard ones? Here is one I found on the web. What was your favorite design?

814. After my finger unhappily met with a fan blade two weeks ago, I’m so thankful it has fully healed.

815. More books read and quotes entered into the (massive) dissertation database. I’m over 1000 quotes now and with every book, page, and quote, I’m praising God more for the amazing gift he has given us in the practice of prayer.

816. Lovely words in a century-old book.

817. Sunshine!

818. Yummy Indian dinner with the sunset.

819. Craft fun with two young friends.

820. Women studying Proverbs and taking photos with the #shereadstruth tag on instagram or go here to see the journals.

821. A beautiful wedding that was a little taste of heaven: friends, flowers, pie, beauty, delicious food, trees, wild berries, leisurely conversation, more pie, kids playing, reconnecting with friends. Congrats, Becky and Jarad!

What are you thankful for this week? Might you share with us 1 or 2 gratitudes in the comments so we can rejoice with you?

Join my friend Kimberlee and I as we give thanks together.

And the inspiration for counting gratitudes:

Aug 17 2012

Friday Florilegium

God makes every common thing serve, if thou wilt, to enlarge that capacity of bliss in His love. Not a prayer, not an act of faithfulness in your calling, not a self-denying or kind word or deed, done out of love for Himself; not a weariness or painfulness endured patiently; not a duty performed; not a temptation resisted; but it enlarges the whole soul for the endless capacity of the love of God.
E. B. Pusey (1800-1882), Anglican priest and Oxford professor of Hebrew

A new day rose upon me. It was as if another sun had risen into the sky; the heavens were indescribably brighter, and the earth fairer; and that day has gone on brightening to the present hour. I have known the other joys of life, I suppose, as much as most men; I have known art and beauty, music and gladness; I have known friendship and love and family ties; but it is certain that till we see God in the world–God in the bright and boundless universe–we never know the highest joy. It is far more than if one were translated to a world a thousand times fairer than this; for that supreme and central Light of Infinite Love and Wisdom, shining over this world and all worlds, alone can show us how noble and beautiful, how fair and glorious they are.
Orville Dewey (1794-1882), pastor

When I look like this into the blue sky, it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious tenderness, that I could lie for centuries and wait for the dawning of the face of God out of the awful loving-kindness.
George MacDonald (1824-1905), Scottish poet, pastor, and author

And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.

Aug 16 2012

Every Thursday, Thanksgiving


Counting thanks to 1000 and beyond…

803. Pike Place and The Flying Fish

804. Yummy and colorful salad

805. The thoughtful discussion and prayerfulness of Session meetings.

806. An amazing stack of books for this chapter’s research. (And I need to say a little more about this…I’m excited and incredibly grateful to be pondering these books about reading and prayer, so grateful that I can say, it’s all been worth it.)

807. Lunch outside in the sunshine

808. Unexpected, serendipitous meetings

809. Listening to the birds coo and chatter as they bedded down for the night…and then, silence.

810. Pastries at Honoré

811. Giggles and swinging

812. Crushing on the Tiny House movement and the Tumbleweed Fencl design. (And this is on wheels and easily towed!)

812. Dinner with friends and hearing about the adventure of living mobile and minimalist.

What are you thankful for this week? Might you share with us 1 or 2 gratitudes in the comments so we can rejoice with you?

Join Kimberlee and I as we give thanks together.

And the inspiration for counting gratitudes:

Aug 15 2012

Lost and Found


For many followers of Jesus, today is the Feast of Mary. Rarely do I find stories that do her justice, but this one, a meditation on Jesus gone missing by Christin Lore Weber, never fails to constrict my throat, moisten my eyes, and open my heart.

It is not just for mothers, but for anyone who has lost what is most precious.


Our boy is gone. I looked in every tent, asked every child, pleaded with our kin. Old Phanuel was bedding down the beasts and told me not to fret. Jesus is a boy, he laughed, and boys will do what boys will do. I wept, hiding beyond my veil. He could be dead. What about the bandits of the hills? He could be captured, enslaved, like Joseph of the tale we tell on winter nights circled round the fire. He would not have run away. Not my child.

I have lost a lot of things. The first veil made by my mother’s mother when she was a girl. It was rough spun stuff and woven crooked just a bit. I left it in the sycamore outside the village where I played when I was young. My mother wept and sent me after it, but it was gone. A string of lapis beads from Joseph when we were betrothed. I wore them like a promise everywhere and always. It was in Egypt they were lost, somewhere along the road where we spent a night without a moon. I’ve lost much simpler things: my favorite needle made of bone, the clasp that Joseph carved to hold my cloak in place when it was cold and I am drawing water from the well, a pale blue cup, a clear carnelian stone. Tonight my hands hunger to touch these things. I would lay my head on the rough weave of my grandmother’s veil and again and again, through my tears, whisper the name of my child.

Tonight we can do nothing. We listen to the wind. We wait. Joseph paces past the fire. While I watch he stops; he turns his gaze to the invisible hills and his body bends against the fire’s light, like that of some abandoned God whose image stands broken where once the young men danced. He looks to be the ruin of a man. After this night he will never not be old.

I will not sleep. The nightbird calls;  a desert lion prowls the outer circle of the camp. The watchman listens for a child’s cry, but not as I listen. I have schooled my heart to Jesus’ every breath so that for thirteen years I have rested only in his breathing. His dreams awaken me so I am kneeling by his mat the moment that he starts from sleep and calls my name. How can he be lost? I would have felt him go. Such absence would have split my soul. I cannot sleep tonight; I will sit facing East listening for the breathing of my child. Wherever he may be I will surround him like a lullaby and he will sleep in peace.

When I lost the lapis beads we retraced our steps to where I last remembered wearing them. Each round pebble seemed a clue. Beads scatter from a broken cord. I searched in clumps of grass and broke my fingernails digging in the sand one place I thought I saw a glint of blue. We walked, zig-zagging back along the road, our eyes sweeping every inch of ground. If I could have found just one blue bead I would have treasured it like the midnight sky for all my life. As the sickle of the moon fell beneath the twilight we returned to where we began. Joseph looked at me as if to say, “The beads are gone but you will wear my promise always as earth wears the lapis sky.”

At dawn our kin spiraled outward from the camp calling Jesus’ name. Rebecca thought she heard him whimper from behind some rocks. She cried, “He’s here!” and we followed her, scrambling up a stone outcropping toward the sound. It was but a lamb caught in a bramble. Young Asher saw a speck of red appear and disappear across the plains and thought it must be Jesus’ coat. We found just a tattered blanket blown here and there by desert winds. I lost him more that twenty times today. Whenever I close my eyes tonight to rest from hope and fear I see him in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s towers and sprawling streets lie just below. It is the third day. I want to run to the temple. I want to cry his name. I know that he is here. He would be sheltered by the temple like a womb. But my heart is tight with unwept tears. If he is in the temple could God have wished it so? When Sarah lost her only son because his father heard the voice of God, she also must have wondered and wept. How she must have run across the burning sand to meet him when he stumbled down the mountain with old Abraham blinded by fire. That night she must have arisen from her sleep a hundred times to look at Isaac and she must have asked the darkness, “Why are mothers not consulted in these things?”

I saw him first as any mother might, simply safe. He looked at us and smiled as if we’d never been apart. “We’ve sought you, sorrowing,” said Joseph and his voice was weighted with the desert nights and millennia of desert sand. I saw my son. I had not seen him quite this way before. “Why did your seek me?” His inquiry was innocent and wise. He had expected us to know. I saw our future in him then, the truth of all our lives. We all live in one another’s love. No one can be lost. I turned within, listened to the voice of my heart and he was there as he had always been.

He came with us. I had looked into the eyes of my son and seen God. Now he came along like any other little boy.

All that was years ago. Our son returned to Nazareth to learn wisdom from simple things of earth. Joseph taught him how to work with wood, respect the natural grain, rub it with the wax of bees until it glowed. With our cousin, Nathaniel, Jesus learned the art of growing grain to yield a hundredfold of fruit. He reaped at harvest-time and brought home riches from the earth from which we made delicious bread. He carried the basket for me when we observed the Feast of Loaves, sharing our riches of food with those more needy than ourselves. We go to synagogue and he learns the wisdom of the law. He also listens to the birds and asks me, “Where is the beginning of the wind?”

His eyes are lapis, deeper than the night and clear. All my life when silence wraps me like a shawl I will close my eyes and wonder at these things. I will gather bright blue beads wherever they are scattered in my heart and join them on a cord.

What I have sought is in my heart. I wear it like a promise.

Glory to the One who loves us with a mother’s heart. Glory where our life begins and to the home from which we walk to seek our names. Glory that our lives are scattered beads around the world. Glory to the One in Whom nothing is lost.

(An edited repost from the archives)

Aug 10 2012

Friday Florilegium





The mezuzah speaks

of years finger touched

by faith,



depending on the day.


Painted over,

pried at, forgotten–

hidden scroll still and


like G-d’s voice to Elijah.


My fingers twitch

more doubt than hope,

reaching higher than any human door,

Are You still there?

An exhale, waiting

in between

and emptied


It answers simply

with breath–



And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.


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