Nuts and Fruit: August 2004

It was a place where love bloomed. Not the romantic streets of an exotic night, or the luxurious suite of a Hollywood set; rather the action took place in unexpected corners: sometimes dusty, often shabby; chipped Formica tables under glaring florescent lights, rickety park benches scarred with names crying out for recognition.
Sometimes you caught a scent of spring blossoms; a softness in the air, a gentle breeze of hope that brushed through the words, lifting the burdens carried. Other times harvest fruit abounded: laughter, peace, joy, patience held out ripe and juicy in an open palm. Occasionally a square package of seed passed from hand to hand; the hard work of plowing, sowing, weeding still ahead; faith expecting that the exchange would move mountains--that the seed would one day take root and come to fruition.
It was a place where love bloomed; a gathering of two or three or six or eight, where faces turned like sunflowers toward the light and the master gardner worked wonders in the dark soil. A feast for kings, a garland of beauty, a grassy knoll beneath the trees; a moment's rest, an hour's work...a place where love can bloom.

The Illustrated Journaling class, DRAWING NEAR, was fabulous. Sharing truth through words and images created a unique intimacy, as we prayed, listened to each other, and plumbed personal depths. The spectrum of experience from beginners to seasoned artists and writers added tremendously to the group's richness. I am so excited about the joys and challenges of Creating in Company; the potential of using creative components in any class, bible study, prayer group, support group, worship service, ministry...

KNITTING INTO THE MYSTERY; A Guide to the Shawl-Knitting Ministry, is a beautifully illustrated book by Susan Izard and Susan Jorgensen. Full of inspirational stories and quotes, the book demonstrates knitting as prayer, gives examples of how to use knitting to help people in crisis, and suggests ways to begin a knitting ministry. One Cursillo Fourth-day group used this book to begin their knitting prayer fellowship. KNITTING INTO THE MYSTERY is broad enough that people who prefer disorganized religion should be able to access it, too. $17.95

On Friday afternoon I left the store with three books in hand and a certain joy rising in my heart: No major commitments over the weekend, books to read, and time to read them. I remember a similar joy, pedaling home from the library as a child, with my bike basket filled with books.

I started with FINDING WHAT YOU DIDN'T LOSE by John Fox; an ARTIST'S WAY sort of book, that focuses on expressing truth and creativity through Poem-making, $15.95. I've never considered myself a poet, but line separation may be preferable to my current practice of littering the page with commas and semicolons. Every chapter of FINDING has great quotes and loads of exercises, some of which will undoubtedly find their way into a future class or writer's group.

WITH BURNING HEARTS is a repackaging of Henri Nouwen's meditation on the Eucharist, this time combined with art by Duccio Di Buoninsegna. It's always amusing how many books certain people write after they've died. (Another "new" book is ETERNAL SEASONS: which draws from Henri Nouwen's forty books for a liturgical journey through the church year. $18.95) However, the artwork makes WITH BURNING HEARTS a lovely $18 gift book. The text weaves the order of the Mass with the Emmaus walk story from Luke 24. I'm finding it quite nourishing.

The third book I brought home was George Barna's TURN AROUND CHURCHES, $3 used. I'm not sure why I read these things, 'Turn around Bookstores,' would be more to the point. But I seem unable to resist. What we need, according to Barna, is a hard working, gifted, visionary leader who loves the people, a core group of highly committed folk ready to do whatever it takes to reach out into the community, and Jesus. Duh!

By noon on Saturday I had finished skimming Barna, was halfway through Nouwen and several chapters into Fox. I paused to take my son to a Halo party. This sounds like an angelic youth group gathering, but in fact is eight kids, four TVs, two X-boxes and an afternoon shooting at each other on screen. On the way we passed the library. "Is it open?" I asked, since the library's hours seem to fluctuate with the economy.
"Don't you own a bookstore?" he answered.
I came home with five more books, two on drawing and three on sewing. Obviously I am in deep need of eternity.

The Saturday before last I read ALTARS IN THE STREET by Melody Davis. This recounted her years living in a poor section of Berkeley, as the neighborhood fought and lost the war with crack, drug lords and the attending violence. The book had been glimmering at me from our $2 steals shelf for several months. Stephanie came in and said, "That's a good book." So I took it home. She's right. It is. And I am left wondering what I am doing writing lovely newsletters and painting my bathroom orange, when hungry children are living in fearful war zones both near and far. Lord have mercy.

MAKING A MARK, will be the next Creating in Company class: artistic interaction with the second gospel. Food for the journey, strength for the battle. We will start in October and run for 8 weeks. Certain details like time and place, are still being kicked around. Let me know if you're interested.

Trees are not known by their leaves, nor even by their blossoms, but by their fruits. -Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204)

We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of strangers their own. -President George W. Bush

You can't divorce religious belief and public service. I've never detected any conflict between God's will and my political duty. If you violate one, you violate the other." -Jimmy Carter

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