On this cold November Sunday morning, with the temperature down to 28 degrees, I feel a kinship with the Kentucky farmer poet, Wendell Berry, who imagines himself going out into the cold of his farm, opening a stall, and finding inside a family breathing.
There is the Child, bedded in straw, the mother kneeling over Him, the father standing in belief.
He imagines standing with one hand on the door, looking into another world and writes
we are here
as we have never been before
sighted as never before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.
He makes me wonder, what would it be like today, for me, to have my eyes opened to some unexpected, holy place?
“We must let our light shine, make our faith, our hope, our love, manifest – that men may praise, not us for shining, but the Father for creating the light.”
George Donald in The Hope of The Gospel.
This is October, my birthday month.
I wonder what my unwed 17 year old mother would have been thinking all those years ago, waiting for a son to be born and wondering what would happen then?
HURRICAN FLORENCE ON THE WAY
Gusts of wind this morning,
jabbing like fingers
of an army’s advance patrols
testing our defenses
then retreating for a time
but alerting us
that more is yet to come.
Two years ago I came across buried under a pile of books in my office, George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul. a collection of his daily prayer/poems. George MacDonald was a Scottish poet, author, and minister. He was well known as a pioneer in fantasy literature for children, like The Princess and the Goblin, andPhantastes.
C.S. Lewis, so I have heard, thought he was perhaps the most inspired writer since the Apostle Paul!
Less known perhaps was this collection of his daily prayer poems. The language is quaint, but I have found his prayers to be so totally honest, without cant or pretence. He opens his heart to God almost without reserve, never hiding his moods in the seasons of the year or of life.
I have no recollection of how this book came to me. But for many months I have read one of his prayers each morning, often finding they speak so directly to my own heart and state of faith or failing.
You can find a copy on Amazon. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think you may find as I do rich food and provocation for your own soul.
After reading Mary Oliver’s Mindful Movements
clouds embracing the hills
breeze playing on the chimes
green branches shifting on treetop
vibrations of music on air waves
deep pleasure in my heart
are these also movements of the Holy Spirit?
The pods are falling
The pods are falling! the pods are falling!
in tiny explosions
They lead me into a singing prayer:
I lift my coffee cup to the Lord, sying
This morning I picked up an old copy A Testament of Devotion by the Quaker philosopher and spiritual guide Thomas Kelly .
On the flyleaf I noted that my mother gave it to me on my birthday, October 22nd 1958! 60 years ago … as I was early in our ministry.
In his opening biographical introduction Douglas Steere wrote of Kelly:
“An adequate life might be described as a life which has grasped intuitively the whole nature of things, and has seen and felt and refocused itself to this whole. An inadequate life is one that lacks this adjustment to the whole nature of things – hence its twisted perspective. its partiality its confusion. The story of Thomas Kelly’s life is the story of a passionate and determined quest for adequacy.”
What a challenge to me again, to live the whole of life – mind, soul, body, spirit – wholly available to the Spirit of Christ.
I used to sit on the back porch on Thursday mornings with Irv and Jonathan and Nick. We would talk and pray together. Irv is in heaven now, Jonathan’s in Mexico, and NIck comes at other times.
I do have other friends though who still join me. Redbird. Mr. Squirrel and his playmate. Chipmunk who chews with his fast teeth. And sometimes Brer Rabbit passes through. So I do have feathered and furry friends.