Thursday, April 26, 2012

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith CrisisStill: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been a helpful book for me. Many of the author's descriptions of the symptoms of her mid-faith crisis resonate with me. Quoting a Hasidic rabbi, she says, "...until such time as I can pour out my heart like water before You, let me at least pour out my words," and then admitting that for her even the pouring out of words needs to begin again (p. 51). When she concludes at one point that prayers, "...when they come,... come from God," (p. 77), I wonder, if God is the author of my prayers, what does it mean, this prayer-less time in my life? Is it alright, or enough, for me to "be still and know", even if the being still extends into months, or maybe more? And then there are encouraging thoughts or quotations, like "you only need a tiny scrap of time to move toward God" (p. 108), and I feel comforted that my slight and imperfect momentary yearnings for God might be acceptable in some small way. "Maybe God has given some people belief like a pier, to stand on... and maybe God has given others something else..." (p. 167).

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The Careful Use of Compliments (Sunday Philosophy Club, #4)The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I so enjoyed it! Again containing a generous serving of profound observations:
"...At the end of every...exclusion,...ethnic cleansing,...heartlessness, there is a you and me." p. 11.
"We think the world is ours forever, but we are little more than squatters." p. 12.
"Do not act meanly, do not be unkind, because the time for setting things right may pass before your heart changes course." p. 134.
A humorous passage in the book has Isabel speculating on fictional characters, and then regarding her thoughts as irrelevant to her own situation.
I will look forward to reading the next in the Isabel Dalhousie series as soon as possible.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

My child, you played too wild.
The world bared its teeth, you thought it smiled.
Deep canyons a little wide
you stepped across in a single stride.
Lake beckoned, in you went,
you thought the moonlight was heaven-sent.
Eyes caught by a distant star
worth seeking but you reached too far.
Some fruit is not meant for taste.
Young death is such a waste.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Heretic's Apprentice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #16)The Heretic's Apprentice by Ellis Peters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another in a consistently superior series, filled with rich historical detail (in this story we are introduced to the craft of making vellum from sheepskin; in a previous book we learned the rudiments of coppicing trees), suspenseful story, and sound philosophical musings, and presented in the form of a real page-turner of a mystery.
"...Did you ever think what a waste it would be if you burned a man for what he believed at twenty, when what he might believe and write at forty would be hailed as the most blessed of holy writ?" "That is the kind of argument to which the most of men never listen," said Cadfael. "Otherwise they would balk at taking any life..."

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Rain patters on my door,
small nails sealing me in
with my large book and my small fire.
Held captive, but grateful for it,
in my welcome prison
(without is cold and wind)
I resign myself to a long afternoon
of silence and meditation
as I read.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

On the dark side of Easter,
three days before the new life,
a thorn-filled, pain-filled lying down day, of tears.
Waiting for the unexpected,
the unexplainable solution to all woes.
Three days, and they will tell us they saw
thorns turned to leaf shoots and flower buds,
a healed and raised up day, of tears of joy.
Then we will remember the words we heard:
abundantly surpassing is how much more
than we asked or imagined,
the accomplishment of the one
whose power has always worked in us.
Extravagant love, worthy of all glory.