Get up, Jonah...

I am working my way - slowly - through a number of books that are heady with analysis of the world, Islam, peace-making and all the rest.  From time to time, however, I find I need more than information and hard-headed critical thinking - I need refreshment.  Soul food.  Music and inner renewal. As T.S. Eliot lamented:  Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

This morning, for example, Frederick Buechner reminded me of a love that runs deeper than all known love when he wrote:

There are times for all of us when life seems without purpose or meaning, when we wake to a sense of chaos like a great cat with its paws on our chests sucking our breath. What can we do? Where can we turn? Well, you can thank your luck stars, say many among us, that the world is full of specialists who are working on all these problems; and you can turn to them, men and women who have put behind them all the ancient myths and dreams and superstitions and have dedicated themselves to finding solutions to these problems in the only place where solutions or anything else can be found - which is in the midst of the vast complexities of the cosmos itself, which is all there is or ever was or ever will be.

The existence of the Church bears witness to the belief that there is only one thing you can say to such a view and that is that it is wrong. There is only one answer you can give to this terrible sanity, and that is that it is ultimately insane. The ancient myths and dreams of a power beyond power and love beyond love that hold the cosmos itself, hold all things, in existence reflect a reality which we can deny only to our great impoverishment; and the dream of a holiness and mystery at the heart of things that humankind with all its ingenuity and wisdom can neither explain away nor live fully without goes on being dreamed.

Moments continue to go up in flames like the bush in Midian to illumine, if only for a moment, a path that stretches before us like no other path. And such moments call out in a voice which, if we only had courage and heart enough, we would follow to the end of time.

Buechner regularly fills my heart with solace and soul with food for the journey. I only read him in snatches these days - morsels from a collection called Listening to Your Life - but it is enough.  Another book that I am finding good for what ails me in Philip Yancey collection called simply:  Grace.  Much like some of Rob Bell's books, this is a pastiche of images, poems, stories and insights with an edge.

Along side a black page with a shiny silver mirror on it - with the words "the one Jesus loves" below the mirror - is this story from the life of Brennan Manning:

Once an Irish priest who, on a walking tour of a rural parish, sees an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying says, "You must be very close to God."  The old man looks up from his prayers, thinks for a moment and then smiles, "Yes, he's very fond of me."

A colleague of mine, Belle Fox-Martin, recently preached and led worship for me while I was in Istanbul.  And when I returned she sent me a small collection of her photographs and poems and writings. One selection she calls, "I Wish That I Could Tell You," has also nourished the Spirit within:

I wish that I could tell you
that on the other side of your sorrow
there is a harvest.
I wish that I could tell you
that kindness is the only thing
worth breath or time in this world.
I wish that I could tell you
how the ocean saved my life.
I wish I cold tell you
(a thousand times over) thank you
and thank you again then watch
the shards of isolation - or is it fear -
pull out of your heart.
I wish that I could tell you
how much is carried on the wind.
I wish that I could tell you
that faith is already yours.

I need to be reminded from time to time, yes?  I need to stop and wait and listen, too.  These words and thoughts have fed me today - and I am grateful.

credits @ wisdom tree gallery


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