Sometimes the prayers of the people bump to a halt at the moment of offering thanks. It feels like running on stairs and expecting one more step: a moment's stumbling pause as we adjust to the flatland.
Perhaps the gasp of silence comes because our forward momentum is so driven by making things better, by keeping a constant eye on what needs improvement, what is lacking. To reorient towards what we already have is a major shift in perspective.
Or maybe it's because those things we are daily thankful for seem so small, so silly in the midst of the service's grandeur: a word of praise, freshly laundered sheets, a scripture quickened, the dog's head resting in your lap, a good book, a bowl of popcorn, a new notebook, a gentle touch, a real letter, See's candy, a sentence spoken under the anointing, glory gold leaves, rest at day's end, a clean kitchen, orange clouds, a story written, a new coat, a song well sung, a twinkling smile, a joke shared...the list is too long to begin, each item standing alone so small and silly, so personal.
Family, someone finally says. Friends, health, community, Jesus. Those big things that encompass all the minutia. The service bumps back in gear and continues on, leaving behind unspoken volumes.
A Good Book: The best book I've read since the last newsletter was Peter Beagle's THE INNKEEPER'S SONG. He's most known for THE LAST UNICORN. Fantasy. Michael found it too lyrical. I found it wonderful. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character. The fox was incredible. There are redemptive moments for most of the characters (something missing in the latest Harry Potter movie BTW) and of course good triumphs over evil.
More Fiction: John Grisham's THE PAINTED HOUSE came into the store and I read it in a one night blitz that left me staggering off to bed with a headache wondering why I do these things. I don't think it's one of his best, but he paints a nice picture of a young Baptist farm boy growing up in the South. I'll get it back to the store where someone can get it for cheap.
Frank Peretti's second book in the Veritas Project Series for the Jr. High/early High School bunch, NIGHTMARE ACADEMY, was read by Robert, who insisted that we read it too. It was too polemic for my taste, but definitely a heart pounding page turner. If you want to give a young (or almost) teen a heavy dose of why subjective truth doesn't work, get him this book for Christmas. $16.99 HB. A movie of the first book, THE HANGMAN'S CURSE, is currently in the making.
Words and Pictures: Picture books are good gifts for all ages. Here are a few old favorites: THE CLOWN OF GOD by Tomie de Paola--a juggler who gets a smile from the Lord ($16 hb, $7 pb); THE QUILTMAKER'S GIFT by Jeff Brumbeau & Gail De Marken--a greedy king learns the art of giving from a generous quiltmaker ($17.95 hb); THE TALE OF THREE TREES by Angela Hunt--three trees who dream of grand futures ($16.99 hb); CELTIC PRAYERS by Robert Van de Weyer--prayers with lovely illustrations ($11 hb). I've also recently discovered books put out by St. Vladimirs Seminary Press by an incredible Orthodox artist Niko Chocheli. I got in THE PRAISES--Psalm 148, and his newest, CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT a mix of icon and fabulous illustrations; a visual feast ($16.95 each, hb).
THE SACRED ROMANCE, one of my all time favorite popular theology type books, now has a workbook that goes along with it. ($15.99 For those who want to work on their relationship.) WILD AT HEART, also by John Eldredge, has been hanging out on the Christian best seller lists for a while. It's for men. Michael says that it's pretty good, and has been surviving the resulting ribbing with equanimity: "Is that a 'wild at heart' thing?"
A new friend brought in around 20 bibles of all sorts and sizes. There's a pristine purple leather, ultra-thin NIV with 'Mom' in gold on the cover; a Black and gold thin NKJV in perfect shape, a bunch of RSV NT's, and a host of other goodies from Ryie to F.W. Grant. Come by and check them out, or let me know if you're looking for anything in particular.
Special thanks for The Word Shop staff, that holds the doors open week by week; for those of you who buy books, bring stuff, share your heart; and for those near and far who further the Lord's kingdom in multitudinous ways. Multitudinous.
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." Mark Twain