I have just received the good word that InterVarsity Press, publishers of several of my books, will publish my new book sometime in the middle of next year. Following is a reflection on the writing!
AT WINDY RIDGE, AN AFTERWORD
Early on a July morning I was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of an old mountain house in the hills of Virginia, coffee in hand.
It is a perfectly clear July morning, and a place of calm and quiet.
Across the old road a few cattle are grazing. Otherwise there was no sign of life, not even a car passing.
It is a contented moment. And I have a sense of completeness.
And with good reason. I am at the very end of my book The Voice of Our Calling, and my publisher InterVarsity Press is set to publish next year! So this is a moment of completion.
And Windy Ridge is a fitting place to be.
It was at another Virginia spot, Bell’s Ridge, a couple of hours north, that I literally “got off the fence” and started to write this book.
I was at a writers retreat at the Bellfry, a retreat house built by friends. After lunch one day, I strolled into the woods and sat on an old wooden fence. Suddenly the fence began to shake – and so did the ground around. It felt like an earthquake – and it was! An earthquake centered eighty miles away was shaking the state. I quickly dismounted!
For several years I had been pondering about writing this book, and always got stuck or diverted. So it seemed that God was shaking me a bit, saying “Time to get off the fence and start writing.” I did!
Now, several years later, I sit in the quiet of Windy Ridge with this sense of completeness.
The words of one of my favorite poems – May Sarton’s Now I Become Myself – come to me as I muse.
Sarton wrote of the years in which she had run madly, wearing other people’s faces, with a sense of the shortness of life. At last she came to a time when everything seemed to fuse together – her work and loves, her times, her face – all becoming part of a poem, made and rooted in love.
Remembering her words, I also recalled Paul’s writing that we are God’s “workmanship” – literally, his poiema, his poetry – prepared beforehand to be “our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10).
As Charles William wrote, God is a poet, and the “lines of our lives” are the lines of his poetry.
It has been years since Sarton’s words first spoke to my own condition. I repeat them to myself with a sense of gratefulness.
For me they signal more than a sense of personal fulfillment. I add to them the other words of Paul, that we are “complete in Christ “ – receiving the gift of God’s fullness in him.
I think back to the years past – the times of being a storyteller (of His story), a friend (to His people), an artist (of His beauty) – and sense how they have fused together.
In these autumn years I discovered an affinity with the ancient Celts who had such a distinctive way of loving God and following Christ, through beauty and ballads, birds and other creatures, song and dance, water and hills. All of God’s gracious gifts were fused, pictured in the distinctive Celtic cords, where many strands were woven into one.
As I have written this I have also realized how the many voices I have heard have been gathered into One. The Voice of the Shepherd, who calls me by name.
For some weeks now we have not been active on the website, due to the unexpected and sudden passing of Todd Hahn, who managed our website.
Now we are ready to start posting again – with a new manager for our website: Chad Wallace. Chad manages digital communications and is an adjunct professor at Belhaven University, in Jackson, Mississippi, and was highly recommended to me by Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven, a member of our LFM board, and a long time friend.
Chad has long experience and talent in this area. Most importantly, he is committed to the Lord, and wants to be part of our LFM vision – to help leaders to lead to, like, and for Jesus!
As we start posting again be watching for My Journal Jottings – as from time to time I will share thoughts, insights, quotes, readings that speak to me day by day. And make suggestions for your own readings.
We will also restart a video series of Odd Places and Peculiar People (peculiar because memorable not weird!). These will feature unusual places of settings where I’ve spoken and ministered, and people who have left a lasting impression. And often lessons I have learned which may be helpful.
And we will also feature other articles, musings, writings from various sources, including those involved in leading our Mentoring Community.
So again: welcome back. And please stay in touch,
Your friend on the journey, Leighton
Canon J. John is a member of our LFM Point Group, and a gifted evangelist in the UK. Here are some of his thoughts about arriving at his 60th birthday.
There’s no point in denying that I’m about to reach a particular milestone on 2nd June. Now there are different views about reaching sixty. Some people see it as being no more than some insignificant crossing of which brings little change, while others see sixty as marking your entrance into some unfamiliar territory of the ‘senior years’.
Inevitably I have been reflecting on reaching sixty and have decided that my attitude can be summed up in terms of what I accept, reject and expect.
First, what do I accept? Well I accept that, although welcome, the cards, candles and celebrations are indeed reminders of my mortality. When we are young we all consider our lives to be unlimited; any end lies safely out of sight beyond the horizon. However, when you reach sixty you realise there are more years behind you than there are ahead. And although we have made progress (after all, a century ago you probably were dead!), being sixty does mean that you have to start thinking about mortality. Here, of course, one of the perks of being a Christian is that not only can I look at this life’s ending without flinching, I can see beyond it.
Last week, on the same day, we received word of the death of two friends, both of whom had a close relation to Leighton Ford Ministries.
Todd died suddenly at his parents home in Charlotte. He was close to his 50th birthday.
Leighton and the Ford family knew Todd from his student years at UNC Chapel Hill, and later as part of the Arrow Leadership Program.
He was the founding pastor of two churches, and a talented writer and speaker in many venues. He helped to catalog Leighton’s Hour of Decision sermons, and helped to revise several of Leighton’s books.
He was also he valued editor of our website for several years.
Leighton and Kevin Ford, who was a close friend of Todd’s, will both speak at his service on Sunday afternoon, May 20, at the Church at Charlotte.
Tom died at his home, surrounded by loving family, after several years of failing health. He was 83.
He was a well-known business leader, community philanthropist, and YMCA leader, respected and well known. He was also a widely known NFL referee, including officiating for the Super Bowl.
He served as a board member and as treasurer for Leighton Ford Ministries for a number of years, and he was a strong supporter of our ministry, as well as a great encourager.
He and his wife Nancy were close friends of Jean and Leighton, and they often hosted our mentoring groups at their mountain home in Blowing Rock.
Leighton led in the readings for the celebration service at Christ Episcopal Church, Charlotte, this week. An overflow crowd of leaders and friends packed out the church the Dooleys attended for many years.
We loved them both, miss them both, and thank God for their friendship.