Tag Archive - Grace

Lonely…

Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures…
~Henri Nouwen

This has been a raw, cantankerous, no one will answer my emails, tired, overwhelmed, everybody needs something from me, tears in the dishwater kind of week. I am not sleeping. I have no talent for sleep anyway, so it is usually the first thing to go. That, of course, only makes matters worse. I am frenzied, withered, spent.

I have been here before. And I have come to understand that when it seems as though everyone is conspiring to make me insane, the problem is probably not with “everyone“.

And even though it never works, I begin by trying to eliminate the stresses in my life; by wishing everyone would just do what I need them to do.

It’s kind of like putting perfume on sweat. The first impression might be tolerable, but it doesn’t take long before the stink wins out.

I was awake last night. In the middle of the night. Again. This time, instead of repeatedly calculating exactly how much sleep I will get if I fall asleep right now, or fretting over everything in my life that needs to be done for the next 2 weeks years, or trying to escape by planning our next vacation… I picked up a book…one of the books I began reading at the beginning of Advent…and found the familiar, but forgotten, words above. And I began to understand…

I had made a worthy start to Advent. Finding time for stillness. For peace. Peace that I could carry with me into my days. And give to others, if need be. I’m not sure where things went wrong…

You cannot bring peace to others if you do not have it yourself.
~Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

Today, roughly half way through the season of expectation and longing, I begin again. Pursuing loneliness. For myself. For my family and friends. I will follow the One I love to the lonely place. I will sit with Him. And I will invite Him to set me aright so that I might love as He loves. So that the sweet aroma of Him might linger upon me…

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. ~Mark 1:35

Image of the Invisible

Starry-night-sky-615

Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?

Power.  Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing, unhearing, unknowing.  Slowly growing, as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough, and it is time for birth.

Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, the Maker of the universe or perhaps many universes, willingly and lovingly leaving all that power and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a a few years to show us what we ought to be and could be.  Christ came to us as Jesus of Nazareth, wholly human and wholly divine, to show us what it means to be made in God’s image.

~Madeleine L’Engle

Man Child

When I am a very old lady
and can’t remember my name,
or what I just ate for lunch…
I will remember
that once upon a time
you wanted to marry me.

I will think of the way
you put crayons
between your toes
til you needed them.
And how there was a place
in every outfit
for a sword.

I will see you
putting pictures on paper,
images emerging
from that mysterious
inside
place…
…while my heart
pounded
with wonder.

I will see you,
walking stick in hand,
pack of dogs at your feet.
Master of the farm.

Lego creations
of marvelous intricacy.
Do you remember those?

It is funny to me
how in old videos
you leap into the frame.
Ebullient.
Irrepressible.
Tumult of delight.

Cacophony of ideas
whirl round
in your head…
words
not
fast
enough…

And music…
what shall I say of that?
Of being paid to sing,
when you would have gladly
sung for free?
Of backyard operas?
Of piano pieces rendered
in a breathless
allegro molto vivace!

Did you know then…
that she was the muse
that would sing you?
Whose seduction
you could not escape?

There is a picture of you.
You hold a Bible
near your heart.
When did it sink
so deep
inside you?
That God grace…
that bit of glory
uniquely yours.

And of love…
You never have known how to love,
except wholly.
You never have been able to give,
but all.
It has been costly.
It has been redemptive.
It has been good.

How could I have known
that in you, my son,
I would find a
friend for my soul?
One whose heart
resounds…
words unspoken
but known.

I wonder…
in those later years
when memory is leaking away
like water
from so many holes
in a tired old pail,
will I remember this day
when my man-child
became man?
How my heart swelled with pride
and gratitude
and gladness?

I think it will be part
of the deep knowing
…that lingers
when words are gone.
I hope so.

Happy 18th Birthday, Jake! Being your mother is inexpressible gift. I could not be more proud of the man you are becoming. Thank you for loving extravagantly, for seeing deeply, for listening intently. Thank you for the unadulterated joy you bring to my life and to the lives of others. Thank you for curiosity and creativity. Thank you for all the times when I am doing ordinary things in our home and am serenaded by extraordinary music. Yours.

Life with you is always an adventure. And the adventure has only just barely begun. Godspeed! I love you!

Abide…

The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must be heard by the soul.
~St. John of the Cross

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Advent season in the Orthodox Church. For us it is a forty day affair, much like Lent. A season of preparation. Of expectation.

On Sunday, our priest encouraged us to approach the Nativity season with two thoughts: Rest and Abide, Search and Seek.

Rest and Abide: The Soul of the Shepherd  Distractions keep us from abiding in the field of our hearts and keeping watch, he said. We are to guard our hearts against distraction. To be still.

Search and Seek: The Mind of the Magi The Magi were seeking. They were looking for signs and knowledge. We are to seek Christ.

The two of these might seem antithetical. One implies stillness, the other journey. But perhaps this is a journey within.

There are two contemplative practices of fundamental importance in the Christian tradition: the practice of stillness…and the practice of watchfulness or awareness.
~Martin Laird

Parallel  messages of silence and awareness have come to me from three different sources over  the past three days. Even I am not dull enough to miss the significance of that. Thus, I am embracing this theme for my Nativity journey this year. A cultivation of stillness, and a practice of watchfulness.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. ~Matthew 5:8

Here are a few resources I will use to help me remember. To be still. To watch.

Into the Silent Land: A guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation by Martin Laird

The Inner Kingdom by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

The Winter Pascha: Readings for the Christmas-Epiphany Season by Father Thomas Hopko

Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

Daily Advent Readings from the Merton Institute

I will avail myself of the services of the Church. I will strive to keep the fast. I will, to the best of my ability, make room for silence. And in that silence, for the Light.

How are you preparing to receive the Christ? What will Advent look like for you?

11 Moments That Have Made My Heart Skip a Beat

Happy 11.11.11! This is the last of the 11 posts. It has been fun, but I am exhausted. Don’t expect to see anything new from me for a couple of days. Just read back through any of the 11’s you missed. And maybe leave a comment. 😉

Thanks to Bryan who suggested this topic. It was, I believe, the most fun to write. I find myself, at the end, very grateful.

Giving Birth to My Babies  I think it is safe to say I have never encountered anything so transcendent…so astonishing…so absolutely unbelievable as the miracle of life emerging from my own body. Sure I was working. But I felt no pride. Only the most profound sense of having…for a moment…touched the otherworldly. Of standing in a rift between time and eternity. Out of which came this remarkable little bundle of life. I saw it. I felt it. But I do not understand it. And why God allows us to be part of it…I do not know. It is an extravagance of grace.

Sunset, Florence, Summer 2007. (see above) We stood on the Ponte Vecchio and watched a Master artist at work; painting the sky in an ever evolving fury of color. It wrapped itself around us and we were inside it. How do you plan a moment like this? What would you do to attain it if you could? It is gift. Lavish. Reckless. Glorious.

Stepping into the upper chapel at Sainte Chapelle  We wound our way up a dimly lighted stone staircase. It was impossible to glimpse any hint of what awaited til we were spilled out into the room. And then, Oh My!! Three soaring walls of stained glass. Floor to ceiling. The room vibrated with color. It splashed onto the floor. It hummed in the air. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I could only stand there, helpless, tears running down my face. I was undone.

Long had I resented popes and priests who built such extravagances as these from the tithes of peasants who could hardly feed their families. Until that moment. At that moment, I knew I would gladly starve to be cloaked in the glory of God like this. Just once. To feel His Holiness rest on my face as a shaft of colored light.

The Invocation in the Eucharist to make the Bread and Wine, Body and Blood  We are supposed to be singing at this moment. But I frequently find myself unable. It startled me the first time. So weighty and profound, so marvelous and mysterious. I thought, perhaps, that over time it would lose some of this power. I was wrong. Three years later, my eyes fill with tears and my throat closes. My it always be so.

Watching my daughter give birth Don’t even begin to think it is the same thing as number 1. Not even close. Yes, there is the miracle of life begetting life. Of ten fingers and ten toes, and breath and blood. But there is something else. Seeing your daughter become something else. A life giver. She who brings forth. Brave. Strong. Determined. All love. All sacrifice. A miracle of a different sort.

Standing in front of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night  I am a great lover of art. It is not unusual for me to have strong feelings about works I see. But only a precious few have inspired a visceral reaction. This was one of them. The curious thing is that I knew very little about van Gogh when I encountered it over 20 years ago. It’s as though some of the immense passion van Gogh poured into his work was able to communicate itself to me directly, without translator. Gut to gut. Soul to soul. Understanding his story as I do now, I can give words to some of that. But all I had in that moment was the intense pang in my heart that told me there was far more here than swirls and stars and paint. And that bound me to the work, and to the artist, forever.

Watching Jake draw  It has fascinated me since he was a little boy. Art seems to pour out of him. Like water. He picks up a pencil and begins. No hesitations as he thinks long about what to draw. No draw erase, draw erase, til it’s right. The picture is already in his head (or in his heart?) and his hand knows precisely how to translate it to paper. It is a wonderment to me. I am in awe.

Being in Monet’s Garden at Giverney  Perhaps it all comes of having read too many fairy tales. The ones where someone gets swept up out of his day to day world and carried off into some fairy realm. When I was in Monet’s Garden, I felt that I had stepped into one of his paintings. As we meandered over the grounds, I kept finding myself facing a perspective that I knew only too well. But now the fronds of weeping willow swayed with the breeze. Bees hovered over blossoms. And there were ripples between the water lilies. And still, there was this sense that I must be dreaming. That this was too extraordinary to be believed.

Josh singing Amazing Grace at his school talent show  He was a quiet seventh grader. None of his friends or teachers suspected he was so talented. He stepped onto the stage, I gave him an introduction, and lyrical incense flowed from his mouth. Pristine, clear, sweet. Nobody moved. Everyone was completely silent. As though no one dared sully the sacredness of this moment. And I knew how much it would mean to him. And my mother’s heart swelled with gladness.

Up From the Grave…  When I was a little girl, Easter was a new dress, Sunrise service, and a song we only ever sang on that day. It began, appropriately, as a dirge. “Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.” The whole time we sang this my heart beat faster and faster because I knew what was coming. “Up from the Grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o’er His foes…” Even when I was too little to understand all that the song meant, something inside me knew that the whole world was turned upside down between verse and chorus. I sang the song many times as I grew older. Even as a cynical teenager. But it never lost its magic. Even now, just typing the words, I have butterflies in my stomach.

The Proposal  It’s not like it was a complete surprise. We had already talked about marriage. We had even looked at rings. Just in case. 😉 But when it happened, for real, I was giddy and scared and excited. And a little piece of me seemed to float over the whole thing and look down on it, like it was happening to someone else. And it took wearing the ring and telling people for a few days before that little piece of me crawled back into my skin. And I was able to believe. And it became true.

 I would love to hear about the moments that have left you breathless. Do tell….

 

11 Wonders Unseen by the Rest of the World

We all have them. Those little everyday miracles that sneak up on you. Today is a tribute to those.

A sleeping baby  This afternoon she fell asleep in my arms. I watched the rise and fall of her breath. Her face pure and peaceful. Her body curled against mine. It was so beautiful it made my heart hurt. And I knew she would sleep better in her bed. But it was everything I could do to let go of her. (By the way, the photo is of Kenzie sleeping in Kelsey’s arms. Also beautiful. :))

Tender shoots pushing up through the earth in spring

Ditches full of golden leaves

First steps, first words, discoveries

A kind word

Love notes

Pictures drawn by children

Hugs. Kisses. Freely given.

Family meals when everyone is there, and the conversation is rich and deep and good

When my kids help each other clean up toys. If you are a stay at home mom with small children, I heard that “amen”. Little unsolicited kindnesses to a sibling bring a great deal of joy to a mom’s heart, even if no one else sees.

This topic was suggested by my friend, Cassie, as was item number ten. Item number eleven is for Cassie, and for others like her, who every day give themselves away. They receive no glory for it. Most of their efforts are unseen. And they may not see the results of their investment for years. But they don’t do it for any of that. They do it for the glory of the One who made them. This song is for them…

11 Thoughts on the Fatherless

A special eleven post today on Orphan Sunday. For your consideration….

Our beautiful nieces, Keeli & Ellie, with big sister Alex & big brother David

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…
~James 1:27

At last night’s Show Hope fundraiser, Steven told a story about Stevie Joy. Stevie Joy is a talented gymnast. But one day she told her parents she wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. She was afraid of her new coach. This coach was pushing Stevie Joy and was more assertive than she was used to. She didn’t know what to do with this. So Steven offered to go talk with the coach. He explained Stevie’s fears to her. The coach was wonderful and very understanding.

Next day, when Stevie very reluctantly returned to gymnastics, the coach pulled Stevie aside and talked with her. By the time Steven came to pick her up she was all smiles. She told him she and the coach were now best friends. Then she said, “That’s why little girls have daddies. So they don’t have to be afraid.”

Yes, Stevie Joy. Yes

Our friends, the Green family, Kaleb, Gatlin, Bennett, Cooper, Brian, Kali, & Wendi

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ~John 14:18

When Danielle Ballantyne was 5 years old, her parents took her to the market. They told her they were going to get some candy and that she should wait for them right there. They never came back. She wandered the streets for some time before being taken by a police officer to an orphanage. She would spend the next 8 years of her life here. She would listen to the jeers and taunts of school mates. She would steal to feed her hungry belly. And she would lock her heart up so that she would never be hurt again.

Then one day Dani came home from school to find a package waiting for her. A large package. Full of candy. And with pictures of a family. A family that was coming to get her. She blushed as she talked of diving into the candy. She had never seen abundance like this. She spoke candidly of the fear she felt in meeting this family. She had forgotten how to trust. She had been hurt so badly. But her parents were patient and kind, and she is learning to open herself more and more to people around her.

Today, 4 years after becoming part of a forever family, Dani is vivacious and strong. She believes God had His hand on her and that He has a purpose for her life. She talked about how she would help care for babies who were sick. Babies the orphanage staff had no time for. Do you know what this young woman wants to do with her life? She wants to go back to China and take care of other children like her. To tell her story. To give them hope. I am in awe of her. She is so brave.

Our godson, Jonah Miller

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! ~I John 3:1

Mike and I have not been called to adopt. But we have had the privilege of helping others financially, either directly or through Show Hope. And we have had the joy of being able to be part of their support team at home with encouragement, meals, etc… Not all of us are called to adopt. But all of us are called to love the fatherless. We ourselves have been chosen. We have not been left fatherless. We must share this with others.

Jovie, Jaydn and Jaxon Gaddis (chilren of our friends Nathan & Bethany) with Kenzie

If you are not sure where to start, may I commend to you the remarkable work of Show Hope. Steven and Mary Beth Chapman began this organization to assist families who had a heart for adoption but lacked the resources. This ministry is run with the utmost integrity and efficiency. And it is literally saving the world. One child at a time.

A final thought. From Andrew Peterson. On what matters. On what lasts.

11 People Who Have Made Me Me

Our utter dependence on others is so obvious and so complete that it is as invisible as oxygen and just as necessary…. Know whom you owe. Know that you owe. You’re fooling yourself if you think you made it or will ever make it on your own. ~Hugh Hewitt

My Mom I know this is a little like giving the answer “God” for any question at church. However, this is so very true that I am willing to risk allegations of sentimentality. It was my mom who sat at the piano day after day and birthed in me the dream of one day making music myself. My mom read me stories, despite my maddening tendency to ask for the same story over and over and over…  She filled my world with flowers and nourished my love for beauty before any of us even knew it was there. So very much of what is best in my life I knew first because of her.

Mrs. Lois Freels was my third grade teacher. She talked to my parents about the possibility of moving me ahead one grade in school. They elected not to, which I regretted at the time, but am glad of now. But something about her confidence in me helped me to see myself differently. As someone special. Someone smart. For a little girl…already way too tall…awkward…floundering for identity…this was an unspeakable gift!

Darryl Burgess created quite a ruckus in my little back woods Baptist church with his long hair, but he built into the lives of our little band of teenagers. He gave me my first opportunity to play in a real band. He taught us how to be part of an ensemble…what it means to compliment one another. To trade off lead and rhythm. How to be better together. Baby steps. But critical ones for the path that lay ahead of me.

Harry Fritts is a character. A most memorable personage. One of only a few teachers my parents and I had in common across generations. While Darryl was teaching me to play in a band, Mr. Fritts opened to me a different musical world. One of precision and restraint. Of elegant and exquisite harmonies. Of polish and control. This too prepared me for a future I did not even know was coming at the time.

My Husband I know, another sentimental choice. But it’s not always true. In my case, it is. Mike loves me all the time no matter what. And sometimes I have made that very hard for him. He has created a safe place for me to become. He has provided for our family so that I could raise our children, and read wonderful books, and pursue topics and endeavors that have made me richer. I could not be me if there had not been him.

Dr. Nancy Boone I loved…and feared. She was my most influential college professor, and eventually my friend. She frequently put me in situations I didn’t think I could handle. Because she believed in me. Because she saw more in me than I saw in myself. I grew exponentially under her tutelage because she stretched and pushed me. I am forever in her debt.

My Children Being a mom has taught me more about love than anything else I have ever experienced. Here I learn what it looks like to do the hard thing, the unpopular thing, when it is best. Here I come to understand what it means to be willing to give your life away for another. And here, also, is joy. Joy unspeakable. Joy over discoveries, and achievements, and triumphs. Joy when hard things have been survived and lessons learned, and grace poured out. Joy in watching God mix the same gene pool with such extravagantly diverse result. Joy in those moments and experiences that bind us together. Always.

Rhonda Kemp has been conduit to many of the very best things in my life. She was my homeschooling mentor. She opened to me a world of beautiful books, unit studies, and field trips. Ever the great matchmaker, she has introduced me to countless people who have made my life richer and more interesting. Perhaps most notably, she provided my entroit to the remarkable Tuesday Bible study that has, in many ways, saved my life. And now, we walk life as friends. Ever weaving in and out of one another’s stories.

My Bandmates at The Peoples Church Yeah, I know bundling is cheating. But hey, it’s my list. These men and women were a pivotal part of my life for a season. They provoked me, both musically and spiritually. We grieved with and interceded for one another when things were hard. And we celebrated riotously when good things happened. We shared crack of dawn rehearsals and Christmas Eve services that ran into the night. We made some amazing music. We worshiped with our hands and our voices and our hearts. And it was good.

You know who you are. Thank you. You are ever in my heart.

Kari, Jen and Jen  These three young women and I have lived life very closely for the past 5 years. We have something of a mutual mentoring society. We read books together. But mostly we live life together. And when one of us is weak, the others are strong for her and stand in the gap, and pray, and remind her who she is. And when one of us wants to take the easy way out and do something cowardly and destructive, the others bar the door and refuse to let her quit. I am ashamed to say how often that someone has been me. But the giving and the receiving are all grace, all gift. And who we are together is far better than who we are alone.

Gail Hyatt  A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. ~Sirach 6:14 A friend who has the grace to forgive much, the courage to speak difficult truths, the vision to see in us what we cannot see in ourselves, such a friend is indeed a treasure. Such is Gail  to me. She has given me courage when mine was lacking. She has called forth from me that which I did not believe was in me. She is remarkably wise. She has been God’s provision for me in ways I am incapable of speaking. For such a time as this, to be sure. Hopefully until we are both of us old and toothless. 🙂

 

Your turn. Who has helped knit the fabric of who you are together? Tell us here. Better yet, tell them. Our lives really do matter more than we know. It is good to be reminded of that, sometimes.

 

*Second in a series of eleven posts of elevens; one for each of the first eleven days of the eleventh month of 2011.

**Special thanks to Chelsea and Bryan who inspired this post (with slight adaptation).

***Finally, my list, as you might have perceived, is in strictly chronological order based on our first meeting.

The Way

It is the last place he ever expected to find himself. He comes to St. Jean Pied de Port to claim the dead body of his only son. A son he hardly knew. Who refused to fit his mold. Who left his doctoral program in anthropology to travel the world and live among the people who were just faces in a book.

How many times had Daniel begged him to join him? To be part of his world?

It had seemed so reckless. So irresponsible.

He sifts through Daniel’s belongings. Bits and pieces of a life. Photographs from far flung places. Of a young man fully alive. A young man worth knowing.

Tom decides he will accompany Daniel on his final journey.  The one he had only just begun. A pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He will carry Daniel’s ashes, leaving them all along the way.

“I’m doing it for Daniel,” he says to the gendarme.

“You do not walk the Camino for another,” he replies. “You walk it for yourself.”

It will ask more of him than he can imagine. He will come to know his son. He will come to know himself. He will not be alone in this. There will be a motley assemblage of comrades. Who find one another. Who need one another. More than any of them realize.

Yorick “from Amsterdam” is here to lose weight for a wedding. This, despite the fact that he seems to know the culinary specialty of every region through which they pass, and insists upon sampling it. But there is another hunger in Yorick. A sorrow. One that can only be shared with those who have walked long and lived deep with one another.

Deborah is bitter, belligerent, and guarded. She walks the Way to stop smoking. She says. But she too is fleeing dark demons. She has forgotten how to trust, to be safe with others…how to forgive…how to forgive herself.

Irish writer, James, is brash and loud. He has some serious problems with the Church, who has been the cause of much bloodshed in his homeland. He has writer’s block. He is here to find a story. The story will find him.

The Way is an artfully made film from Emilio Estevez. The story is compelling and rich, with characters who get inside your heart. The cinematography is stunning. And the invitation…to slow down, to breathe deep, to open ourselves to God and to others…is for all of us.

I implore you to see the film. It will be gift to you. You will laugh. You will cry. You might dare to dream big dreams. And with your ticket, you will cast a vote for the beautiful and the true.

Buen Camino!

To the Field of Stars

…if you have no interest in adventures of the spirit, or if you have no desire to ramble on foot across a fair piece of this earth’s lovely skin, then the story I am about to tell you will not matter to you. If, on the other hand, the very thought of seeing stars dance piques your curiosity at some deep level of your soul, then pay attention to what follows….

Thin places, they have been called. Geographic points on the earth where the space between God and man lessens, and the Presence is a breathable, touchable reality. Often these bear some connection to a holy person or persons who lived there once, or whose bones lie there still.

And so, the pilgrimage. One walks across one’s threshold and keeps walking…for weeks, even months…until he comes to the sacred place. Here he prays. But not here only. For every step along the way becomes prayer. And the journey is a shaping of the soul. A readying for the Presence. And perhaps, if there were no journey, the Presence would be indiscernible. It is the journey, the trouble and pain, the giving of oneself to others along the way, that prepares the soul to pray. To receive. Without demand. With only gladness. And humility. And joy.

In July 2003, Father Kevin Codd begins his own pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He tells the story of this journey artfully and vulnerably in To the Field of Stars. I am captivated from the first page. And I sob my way through the last couple of chapters, feeling almost as though I, myself, am entering Compostela with these dear friends who have loved well and shared so much of themselves along the way.

I leave you to discover the story of Compostela, the third most traversed pilgrimage in all Christendom (after only Jerusalem and Rome). Herein I propose, instead, to give you a taste of this marvelous story and why you want to read it. My choices are strictly subjective.

Of the commencement of a pilgrimage: The author confesses the motivation only reveals itself clearly along the way. However, most begin as a longing for something other. Something transcendent and bigger. Something that matters.

We want to see there one little sign that there is more to us than just us…We want to see there an extravagant God who does not count or measure but just pours and pours and pours, grace upon grace, stars upon stars, into our sky, into us.

Of walking as prayer and the earth as sanctuary: Father Codd begins the day with morning prayers. The rhythm of the prayer becomes the rhythm of his feet and he finds that walking becomes prayer. And the slowness, the earthiness of feet against soil makes him a citizen of earth, keenly aware of its mysteries. And God is there.

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. Bidden or unbidden, God is present…

The heat of the morning makes the pitch in those pine trees give off a strong scent; this is the stuff of which incense is made. I inhale its aroma and remember as I did the day before that out here, too, I am in church.

Of his journey with the Church: Not the least of Father Codd’s wrestlings along the way have to do with the Church. He answers the questions of intelligent young people who feel the Church has lost touch with them. He winces at liturgies perfunctorily performed in some of the tiny towns through which they pass. He also sits in the sweet coolness of a Romanesque chapel and contemplates the Savior. He meets hospitality poured out in Jesus’ name. He watches an old priest drop his briefcase to dance with young people around the zero kilometer marker in Compostela. He sees the Bride of Christ as she is…

…grace made flesh, but flesh it still is: soft and hard, young and old, new and worn, all at the same time. It is so close to God, yet so far from God, yet so close to God.

To the Field of Stars is a pilgrim story, told honestly, with humble grace and great good humor, and a fair measure of poetry. It is laughter. And silence. It is community. And solitude. It is invocation. Contemplation. And invitation….to a life that is…more.

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