Archive - Beauty RSS Feed

Ghosts Upon the Earth

Sometimes it seems like the most real thing is what we can see and experience with our senses around us – this life, the tangible…Ideas like love, like God, these things sometimes feel more disconnected and ethereal, like that’s the ghostly real. This is turning it on its head, recognizing that God is real, love is real, and we are the ghosts walking upon the earth, wanting to become more real. 
~Michael Gungor

A tone poem, of sorts. An illumination…in sound…of the beauty and fragility of life. A musical experience you can stand inside. A fusion of lyric and sound that will crawl inside you. An artistically exquisite exploration of all that matters…..

Ghosts Upon the Earth, the new album by Gungor, drops one week from today. It is one of the most intriguing, provocative, and artful works I have encountered in a while. I can’t stop listening to it. These are my distinctly personal listening notes. I do not presume to voice their intent in crafting the music, only my reaction to it.

Let There Be  Ever since reading The Magician’s Nephew, I have always imagined God singing the world into being. Now I know what it sounds like… Atonal meanderings drift, meterless. A voice wandering, lost. Then a gentle summons: Let there be… Echoed. Joined by other ethereal voices. Beats push and pull against one another, as cosmos is wrested from chaos. Building to a glorious crescendo, Let there be light!!! The energy, the rightness of this moment throbbing, exultant, ecstatic!

Brother Moon  and Crags and Clay  Both are celebrations of the One who makes all things beautiful. The first is a playful nod to St. Francis; a frolic. The second is a meditation..quiet at first…growing in intensity. Lovely.

The Fall  A tender lament of innocence lost. Voices rise and fall together in a plea…winsome, persistent. How long will You wait? Make things right, O God. Turn your face to us.

When Death Dies  A dream without bounds…of a world made right. Barely a whisper at first. Then a riotous celebration of possibility. Hope. When death dies, ALL things live.

Church Bells  One of my very favorites. Very like a Venetian barcarolle. A gentle invitation to surrender cynicism, and remember joy. Unadulterated. Without agenda. Clean.

Let church bells ring. Let children sing.
Even if they don’t know why, let them sing.
Why drown their joy…stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours?

May our jaded hearts be healed. Amen.

Let old men dance, lift up their hands.
Even if they are naive, let them dance.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve watched them fall.
Wash off your face and dance.

May our weary hearts be filled with hope. Amen.

Amen.

Wake Up Sleeper  Discombobulation. Unconventional harmonies. Mixed meter, including an unsettling passage in 7/8. Instruments leaping back and forth between speakers. The world is being turned upside down. Or…then again…right side up. As it should be. The poor, the sick, the despised, inherit the Kingdom. And corrupt manipulators, users, exploiters, are exposed.  What a ride! Brilliant!

Ezekiel  This one is intensely personal for me. Excruciating. I have been so often faithless, selling myself to anyone who would promise to fill my empty places. I have broken the heart of my Lover. Over and over. He sings to me here. Of relentless love. Of eyes that see who I am. Inside. Beneath my horrible choices. And He calls me back….

Vous Etes Mon Coure (You Are My Heart)  Une chanson d’amour. Très beau. Avec la mandoline. Délicieux.

This is Not the End  Faith is, above all, a journey. The Way. This is not the end of this. We will open our eyes wide, wider...

You Are the Beauty  A rollicking celebration of the One who has made all things beautiful. Who did not abandon us, even when we abandoned Him. Who is turning the world upside down to redeem us and put all things right. And who pursues us relentlessly. Selah.

Every Breath  Finally, a love song back to Him. He who has loved extravagantly. A giving of myself. The very words I am looking for. Perhaps, the words you are looking for, too…

Buy the album. Then give yourself the gift of undivided attention for a listen all the way through. Take a walk in the woods. Sit on your porch in the moonlight. Light a candle. Pour a glass of wine. And let it wash over you. It is unlike anything you have experienced. Yet.

P.S. If you are lucky enough to live in (or near) Atlanta or Nashville, you can be part of an album release show next week. Click your city for more info. I will be at the Nashville show with my guys. Perhaps I’ll see you there. 🙂

A Home in the Trees…

It’s like staying at Grandma’s, I think, as I pad down the hall to the bathroom. Our rough timbered room with it’s windows thrown open to the cool mountain air has a washstand, but no toilet or tub. Just like when the Old Faithful Inn opened its doors in 1904. Except for the fact that water runs into my basin now from a faucet, whereas theirs would have been poured from a pitcher. Gone, too, is the chamber pot that once stood on the bottom shelf. Thank goodness for that.

Were it a bit colder, we would enjoy steam heat from the radiator. It’s new, part of a renovation done in the last decade, but poured in a vintage mold. It is beautiful. As it is, the blanket feels yummy at night and mornings are a bit nippy, inside as well as out. Just enough to invigorate. The bathrooms we share with others on our hall are clean and bright, with white tiles and lovely appointments. Open windows again provide ventilation.


The ceiling over the lobby vaults to a height of 76 feet. The lodge pole pine, so prevalent in Yellowstone, as well the primary building material for the inn, reaches a mature height of 75 feet. Architect Robert Reamer designed the building to complement it’s surroundings. To become an integral part of the landscape.

“I built it in keeping with the place where it stands. Nobody could improve upon that. To be at discord with the landscape would be almost a crime. To try to improve upon it would be an impertinence.”

It represented a new philosophy. The primary clientele, in the beginning, were the well-heeled and elite. They were accustomed to European style resorts, even in the Americas. So that, a great hotel in Maine would look precisely like a great hotel in Florida. The Old Faithful Inn would be in the vanguard of a movement within the National Parks to create lodging that brought the outdoor experience indoors. Gracious and elegant, to be sure, but organic…authentic.


The imposing fireplace is constructed of 500 tons of rhyolite, a volcanic stone quarried just a couple of miles from the building site. It provides structural support for the vaulted lobby. It is currently undergoing restoration to unclog 3 flues filled in during a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1959. Only the front flue has been operative since then. But, baby, she’s a beauty! For scale, look at the photo above. Now realize that the firescreen in front of the fireplace is taller than I am. A porter has to physically go inside the screen to tend the fire. Though no fire is burning in the photograph, it roared every evening and the chairs around it were always occupied.

The Inn is filled with whimsy. Reamer indulged his boyhood dream of having a treehouse by placing a crow’s nest in the rafters. Decks that hover several stories above the ground became landings for the chamber orchestra and for folks who wished to watch the dancing in the lobby below. Most of these upper areas, including an observation deck on the roof, are now closed to the public because of fire codes. But it’s still magical to imagine climbing along the stairways to a lofty perch in the “trees”.

To reinforce the illusion of a forested interior, a special crew was sent out into the woods to find trees and limbs that had been bended by snow, twisted by the wind, or swollen and gnarled by disease, to provide accent and interest. This is one of my favorite components. I can’t stop looking at them. So very intriguing.

The corner of the inn is 1/8th of a mile from Old Faithful. At the time of its construction, this was the federally mandated guideline. Twice, I watched the geyser erupt from the comfort of the deck. Marvelous!

Most of the appointments, and many of the furnishings, are original. Room numbers, hinges and chandeliers were crafted at an on-site forge. Even the light fixtures are original, as the inn had electricity from the beginning. Arts and crafts sofas, chairs, and writing desks are the same ones used by visitors a century ago. Sometimes it is difficult to remember just what year it is….

If you go (and you simply must go):

*Plan ahead! We booked our room almost a year in advance. And there was exactly one room available at the time of booking. There are cancellations sometimes, so if you get a late start its still worth a try.
*Book a room in the old section. There have been two additions. Though they are very nice and you will still have access to the common areas, your room will be an ordinary hotel room.
*There are a few rooms in the old section that have en-suite facilities if that is important to you. They have incorporated the original shared bathrooms with claw foot tubs. But don’t be put off by the shared bathroom. We Americans think this unusual, but most of the world considers this to be normal.
*If you do not stay here, do yourself a favor and pop in anyway, just to see it. Unlike the early days, you are permitted to pay a visit even if you are not a guest. 🙂
*The inn closes for the winter (and boards up all the ground floor windows to protect against the pressure of 5 feet or so of snow pack). So, plan accordingly.

Recommended resource:

Great Lodges of the National Parks, by Christine Barnes, introduces architectural wonders of the National Parks. I am putting both the book and the dvd on my Christmas list. Barnes has several related titles like Great Lodges of the West and Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies. I will use them for a little dreaming. And for planning…..

Only He Who Sees…

Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows like a countenance hallowed in eternal repose; and every one of its living creatures, clad in flesh and leaves, and every crystal of its rocks, whether on the surface shining in the sun or buried miles deep in what we call darkness, is throbbing and pulsing with the heartbeats of God. ~John Muir

Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand.
It is wide open. The sword is taken away, but we do not know it:
we are off “one to his farm and another to his merchandise.”
Lights on. Clocks ticking. Thermostats working. Stoves
cooking. Electric shavers filling radios with static.
“Wisdom,” cries the dawn deacon, but we do not attend.

~Thomas Merton

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

…And we pray, not
for new earth or or new heaven, but to be
quiet in heart and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

~Wendell Berry

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.  ~John Muir

I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. ~Annie Dillard

The Air was perfectly delicious, sweet enough for the breath of angels. Every drought of it gave a separate and distinct piece of pleasure. I do not believe that Adam and Eve tasted better in their balmiest nook.  ~John Muir

Supernatural grandeur expands our soul and helps us throughout the day to live not in glass-breaking tension but in tiptoe perspective. It’s the place where, in our “upward leap of the heart,” we see beyond the fray to the Father who does all things well.  ~Patsy Clairmont

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31 KJV

I am rich, rich beyond measure, not in rectangular blocks of sifted knowledge, or in thin sheets of beauty hung picture like about the “walls of memory,” but in unselected atmospheres of terrestrial glory diffused evenly throughout my whole substance….  ~John Muir

When I entered this sublime wilderness the day was nearly done, the trees with rosy, glowing countenances seemed to be hushed and thoughtful, as if waiting in conscious religious dependence on the sun, and one naturally walked softly and awe stricken among them. I wandered…as if in some vast hall pervaded by the deepest sanctities and solemnities that sway human souls. At sundown the trees seemed to cease their worship and breathe free.  ~John Muir

*All photographs taken in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks where the glory of God is a breathable reality: astonishing, elevating, nourishing….for the one who sees.

 

The Road Less Traveled

Dawn is painting the sky with a soft wash of rose as we begin. Laughter belies the fact that we have a daunting task ahead of us. Some will push ourselves to limits yet untried; finding answers to questions we never thought to ask. It will be a rigorous journey. And extraordinarily beautiful.

The path up Fred’s Mountain snakes back and forth amid alpine blossoms. Trees along the path appear as silhouettes against the warming sky. I stop here and there to attempt to capture the stark beauty of it in a photograph. I fail at this.

The lodge where we commenced becomes a child’s building block as we climb higher and higher. Beneath us lies a patchwork of fields stretching ever further into the distance. Suddenly we reach the eastern border of our mountain, and we get our first glimpse of them: The glorious Tetons. Just there. Almost close enough to touch. Almost. Now I know why the sun is so long in coming. She must climb over these. I feel her pain.

Columbine and wild geranium give way to stone fields as we near the crest. I feel like a mountain goat picking my way between stones as we climb along the spine. Light is playing in the valley below, spotlighting one thing at a time. I can’t stop looking at it. Except, I must stop looking at it. Every step matters along this treacherous precipice.

Summiting is exhilarating! I drink in the view while one of the generous volunteers refills my bottle. I grab a quick snack and am off. Just around the bend, I am astonished by another intimate view of the glorious Grand Teton, and his friends. Then the path carries us away from them and back to the base.

The next leg of our run meanders for a bit through grassy fields before plunging us into a fairy forest. Deep, dark and lush. And mythical. Only the most persistent shafts of light manage to penetrate. My feet are happy to be running on soft soil and pine needles. The burble of a creek flirts with us, until we finally reach the bottom of the valley and cross it. The forest occasionally yields to a clearing of wildflowers and sunlight, before pulling us back in.

What goes down must come up. We climb for 3 miles along the road before returning to the forest. I tell Mike I am glad we are doing this together; long doesn’t seem so long with him. We are now seventeen miles in, and fatigued legs protest the brutal, relentless uphill.

When next we enter base we are two thirds of the way through. But Mike’s stomach is betraying him. He decides to stay and rest, and sends me on ahead. We will finish the race alone…

Have you ever seen a rag quilt? My grandmother made them of tiny scraps of floral calico and feed sacking. There would be hundreds of strips; a marvelous cacophony of color! Imagine spreading that out over acres and acres of rolling hillside. Then imagine that you can step inside it, winding your way between the strips. A patchwork of wildflowers nodding and swaying all around you. This is Rick’s Basin.

Two or three miles in, the path winds into a grove of Aspens. Clean white trunks thrust their silver leaves against an azure sky. Birds play in the branches. Tiny animals rustle through the undergrowth, unseen.

Openings in the trees give me glimpses of Fred’s Mountain. Impossibly far away. And I keep moving further away. I wonder if I’m lost. But the trail markings tell me to keep going. Eventually the path bends back into the field of flowers, and before I know it I’m back to base.

I am now five and a half miles from finishing my first ultra marathon. But those five and a half miles will be a return trip to Fred’s Mountain. Alone. But not really alone. I cue up Gungor’s new album, Ghosts Upon the Earth. Good friends have put it into my hands for this trip. It sings the story of the people of God, from Creation all the way to God’s relentless pursuit of His wayward lover in the minor prophets. It will sing me up the mountain; intensifying…if that is possible…the glory around me.

Chris, a volunteer, meets me several yards below the aid station with the best Coke I have ever tasted. He tells me I am doing great and that it’s all down hill from here. I joke with the volunteers at the top, knowing at this point that I will finish. Even if I have to roll down the mountain. 🙂 I scarf down a turkey and cheese roll up, savoring each delectable bite. I drain my coke, grab my full water bottle, and begin the descent.

My heart is full. Full of beauty. Full of the glory of God, which is so very evident in this place. Full of gratitude, for life and health and strength.

This day has been prayer, from beginning to end. Sometimes with words. Sometimes with song. But mostly the walking, the breathing, the every moment. A ceaseless inward prayer of awareness, of Presence, of joy.

I run through the finish with my hands in the air. Jay, Lisa, and all the kind volunteers cheer me on. They have been gift this day. I am thrilled when Lisa puts the medal around my neck. And even more thrilled when, only a few minutes later, Mike follows me through the shoot. We did it! We did not get et up by the grizzlies. 😉 We finished alive.

Thanks be to God!!

Two roads diverged in a wood and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

*My profound gratitude goes to Jay and Lisa, and their fabulous team of volunteers for the most beautiful event I have ever been part of. The organization and support were extraordinary. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

**Particulars: Grand Teton Trail Ultra. We ran the 50k (31 miles). Roughly 8,000 feet vertical (gain and loss). Altitude: between 6,500 and 10,000 feet.

***All photos are from the first trip up Fred’s Mountain. I regret there are no photos of the rest, though they would have been inadequate (as are these). I had to put the phone away. Had I not, I would be there still……

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~Mary Oliver

 

Off paying attention…

…See you in a few days.

 

*Artwork at top of post by Andy Goldsworthy

The Voices in My Head

I am a big fan of Ansel Adams. Of all his images, this has always been one of my favorites. This time next week I will be somewhere up in those mountains. I can hardly believe it. As I have looked at photographs in preparation I have found myself in tears, imagining what it will be like to finally see them for the first time.

Last week I talked to you about gear I am taking to care for my body in the Grand Teton Ultra. This week, I acquaint you with those friends I am taking along to care for my soul. Unconventional to be sure. Of all the ultra sites I visited, nobody told me which prayers, poems, and music would travel with them mile after mile.

But I know myself.

I chose this event because it is BEAUTIFUL. And I will need words, as much as I need water and food. God will give me words of my own. This I know. But there will be times when I need to borrow the words of another. For a space. So I am filling my phone with prayers and poems and my ipod shuffle with music.

Here is a sampling of the voices who will be in my head as I run…

 

Poems:

Praying by Mary Oliver

O Land Alive With Miracles by Thomas Merton

Point Vierge by Thomas Merton

The Summer Morning by Mary Oliver

Wild Geese by Wendell Berry

 

Prayers:

O Lord, how lovely it is to be your guest:
Breeze full of scent; mountains reaching to the skies;
Waters like a boundless mirror,
Reflecting the sun’s golden rays and the scudding clouds.
All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing depths of tenderness,
Birds and beasts bear the imprint of your love,
Blessed are you, mother earth, in your fleeting loveliness,
Which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last for ever
In the land where, amid beauty that grows not old,
Rings out the cry: Alleluia!

You brought me into this life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky, like a deep blue cup ringing with birds in the azure heights. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the sweet-sounding music of the waters. We have tasted fragrant fruit of fine flavour and sweet-scented honey. How pleasant is our stay with you on earth: it is a joy to be your guest.

~excerpted from the Akathist in Praise of Creation. I am taking the whole of it with me on the trip. I want to read it in the gorgeous places where we will find ourselves. I will only bring excerpts on the trail.

*Portions of Psalm 104 and Psalm 148.

 

Playlist:

Andrew Peterson  Audrey Assad  Beethoven  Bela Fleck  The Brilliance  Cara Dillon  Carl Orff (Carmina Burana)  The Civil Wars  David Teems  Delirious  The Doobie Brothers  Eddie Vader  Eric Clapton  Gateway Worship  Gungor  Herbie Hancock  Iron and Wine  James Taylor  Javier Navarrete  Joe Cocker  Kaki King  Lion King Broadway Cast  Loreena McKennitt  Michael Buble’  Mutefish  NeedToBreathe  Nickel Creek  Norah Jones  Nuns of St Paisos Monastery  Old Crow Medicine Show  Patti Griffin  Ray Charles/Count Basie  Rachmaninoff  Russian State Symphony Capella  Soggy Bottom Boys  St. Petersburg Chamber Choir  Sufjan Stevens  Vivaldi  Yo Yo Ma

 

P.S. My travel reading list (for the trip, not the run. :)):

A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire (re-read)
Thirst by Mary Oliver

Music Lesson

She sits on my lap–smooth, cool whiteness
under her fingers–tick of the clock barely pierces
the silence. She pushes against a cluster of notes
and is surprised. I watch her face reflected in the ebony.
Rapture.

I play figures against the keys. She lays
her hands on mine–following up and down.
And she sings. Ecstatic eruption–conversation
with the notes.

I do not say to her—This is G. Nothing could be
less important.

I press the pedal, letting all the notes jumble
together. We sit perfectly still as they hang
in the air–breathing the music–feeling the coolness
of it–listening as the notes separate to dance singly–then
drift away.

She pounds the keys and squeals with joy as they yield to her
their song. She slides her fingers over them–probing. What is it
about smooth, cool, white that makes this?

Clock ticking–silence–tiny hands–shared breath–singing–
warm babies in laps–leaning into one another–wonder–
cherubic face reflected in ebony–joy.

Music.

~sm

 

Postcards from Atlanta…

Words, phrases, stories and songs keep playing in my mind and heart. Every time I try to describe it to a friend, I feel like English needs more words.

This weekend I was nourished, wrecked, provoked, refreshed, and inspired at Women of Faith: Imagine. I took my husband, who loved it too. I wish I had taken everyone I know.

A few reasons why I implore you to find a Women of Faith event near you, and do whatever it takes to get there:

Mary Graham Mary is the person who makes sure this operation runs like a well-oiled machine. And baby it does! Every detail is flawlessly executed: decoration, production, creative introductions, and the friendliest please take your seats/silence your cell phone messages I have ever encountered. Sessions begin and end ON TIME. Lunch is provided for your convenience. And Mary’s gentle, winsome presence holds all together.

Luci Swindoll When I grow up, I want to be Luci Swindoll. 🙂 Apparently I am not alone in this. These words from Hermann Hesse, which she shared with us, could be her own. This is the life she leads. Adventurous, creative, and fully present in the NOW. She challenged and inspired us to do the same.

Life passes like a flash of lighting
Whose blaze barely lasts long enough to see.
While the earth and the sky stand still forever
How swiftly changing time flies across man’s face.
O you who sit over your full cup and do not drink,
Tell me, for whom are you still waiting?

Sheila Walsh In her first session, she spoke to us of the relentless love of God in such evocative terms I felt I could almost taste it. This session crescendoed into the most moving rendition of Amazing Grace I have ever experienced. Because it grew out of the beautiful truths she had given us. She is a funny, transparent, and enthralling storyteller. I will never forget about the Shepherd who knows where to find us and Who invites us to come as we are.

Angie Smith Cute as a button and disarmingly self-deprecating, with a delivery so intimate I sometimes forgot there were several thousand other people in the room. This precious young woman has been called to walk on water through a devastating storm. And she knows the terror of waves slamming against you, threatening to destroy you. She also knows the ONLY way to keep from drowning.

“On those dark days when you can’t catch your breath, remember who you’re swimming towards. Kyrios: the Lord; the One to whom you belong.”

Nicole Johnson I’ve seen Nicole Johnson before. She has this way of making you laugh, and somewhere in the middle of the laughter you realize that important life-giving truths have wiggled their way into your heart. She did this again with one of my favorite of her sketches, The Invisible Woman. But, she also took the stage in a different role this time. This time she poured her heart out like water before us. Her own story of beauty from ashes. Glorious.

Lisa Harper Funny, honest, gutsy. I like this woman. She and I share a passion for mountain trails and for Thomas Merton. I loved this quote she used from him as she spoke to us about worth:

“God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous ideas of ‘worthiness.”

Amen.

Steve Aterburn Yes. You are right. Steve is, in fact, not a woman. And, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But he had so many good, good things to say. He talked to us about walls that separate us from the life God has for us. Walls like stubborn resistance, arrogant entitlement (ouch!), justifiable resentment and others. And he helped us see how choices like acceptance and gratitude can help us make a door through the wall.  P.S. Steve is actually the founder of Women of Faith. For that alone, I am deeply grateful.

Mary Mary Oh, Baby!! These grammy award winning artists know how to rock the gospel. Songs filled with truth will have you on your feet and the joy of the Lord will throb from the top of your head to the souls of your feet. *Incidentally, try to position yourself to see Lisa Harper and Sheila Walsh do their white girl interpretations of the choreography. Trust me on this. 😉

Laura Story Laura was a surprise guest. A hometown girl. I predict you will be seeing more of her. You probably know her song Indescribable even if you don’t know her name. But, her song that keeps singing itself in my head is Blessings. It beautifully articulates what I have come to understand about “mercies in disguise”. And after hearing Laura’s story, I know from whence the questions come.

Natalie Grant One of the sweetest moments of the weekend was when, at the end of her Friday evening set, Natalie Grant sang the old hymn, It Is Well. The whole hall was silent, except for her powerful voice. No instruments. Clean. Uncluttered. And when it was over, no one wanted to go anywhere. We just wanted to let the notes, the words, hang over and around us for a few moments longer.

Her musical benediction sums up the truths of the weekend about as well as anything. In this world we will have trouble, they all said to us. But there is a Shepherd, a Father, our Kyrios, Mender of that which is broken, Who has created all things for our enjoyment; and He will walk those hard places with us and lead us safely home.

Idle and Blessed

A Sabbath meditation. Of the prayer of attention. Glory in the humble.

The Summer Morning

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver

Interlude….

This I have always known–that if I did not live my life immersed in the one activity which suits me, and which, to tell the truth, keeps me utterly happy and intrigued, I would come someday to bitter and mortal regret.
~Mary Oliver

For my friend Anne, like the Pulitzer prize winning Oliver, that activity is writing. It always has been. She has a keen ability to take pieces of her heart, wrap them in words, and give them to us. And when we read them, we do not see Anne. We see ourselves. And truth that has been hidden in us finds a way out through her words.

In her most recent book, Permission to Speak Freely, she gave many of us the courage to do likewise. To say the hard things. To share our stories. Her courage became our courage. And as a result, we too have given others “the gift of going second”. A safe place to say the things that matter.

Anne is currently in an in-between space in her life, both personally and professionally. An interlude. She is using this threshold moment to gather together some of her most significant art from the past fifteen years into an e-book she is calling Interlude. There will be essays, poems, photographs, and stories. It is a book you will want to own. And share with those you love.

And here you have a unique opportunity. You can be a patron of the arts. Of redeeming, healing, life-giving art. You can help make sure Anne eats for the next few months while she is putting this project together. And, for a gift of as little as $13, you will secure your own copy of the book when it is finished.

Mike and I chose to contribute because we believe in Anne. We believe in who she is and in the marvelous art she creates. Spend a bit of time with her and you will too.

Get a taste of Anne’s writing by visiting her BLOG. You can read all the details about Interlude HERE. In the meantime, have a look at this…

Page 5 of9« First...«34567»...Last »