Heartsong: January 2005

There is an altar, round which a few are gathered week by week; an altar made of driftwood burnished bright. I would love to sit within the branches, a small feathered thing; a baby owl nestled in the woven wood, tucked in safe with treasure held above; surrounded by song and His wondrous love.


We went to the mountains for a week. I did The Word Shop accounts in the mornings and read novels in the afternoons....one a day like multiple vitamins. The best of the bunch was not a novel but a true story, DOVE, about a 16 year old boy who sailed around the world by himself. I get seasick looking at boats bobbing in the harbor, but I had already read a Grisham and an Art History Mystery, so I was ready for something different. DOVE is a compelling and interesting book from a whole range of psychological, spiritual and cultural perspectives. It now sits on our Biography shelf, cheaper than a Carmel Frappachino.

Currently I am a hundred pages into George Eliot's MIDDLEMARCH, one of those classic books that you keep bumping into in other books. It's a veritable tome: fatter than either the fourth or fifth fuzzy ceramic book which cannot be named. More dense too. If you've read MIDDLEMARCH, send me an encouraging note. I am in deep danger of bogging down.

Cleaning the livingroom is another sort of slithery bog. Pausing to admire the bookshelves Robert had sorted over the weekend, I noticed LAST CHANCE TO SEE, which Shawn had given to Michael for his birthday. I read a few pages, decided it was time for lunch and settled down to read a few chapters. Written by Douglas Adams of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, the book is a wonderfully sardonic romp through several continents in search of animals on the verge of extinction.

I did manage to get the livingroom vacuumed before I went to the store, but came eagerly home to finish the book--pausing only long enough to throw away the jumbo package of slightly chewed corn tortillas that had miraculously appeared in our front yard. (A certain black dog is also on the verge of extinction, but my threats in that direction were drowned out by the salsa music coming from the workers building a house next door.) The tone of LAST CHANCE TO SEE is similar to Bill Bryson (A WALK IN THE WOODS); full of snickers and at least once, laugh out loud funny. $13.95 new.

Meanwhile a fine flow of books swept into our corner of the kingdom: a box of art books, computer books, home improvement building & decorating books, and some old favorites like Neil Anderson's IN SEARCH OF THE SOURCE about translating the scriptures in Papua New Guinea, Paul Hawken's GROWING A BUSINESS (Smith and Hawken), Ignatius's SPIRITUAL EXERCISES, Richard Foster's CHRISTIAN CLASSICS and CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE, and a whole stack of Philip Yancey and Tony Compolo. Our mystery shelf is bursting at the seams and I keep wandering around with a new but slightly dented copy of KNITTING INTO THE MYSTERY trying to figure out where to put it. Maybe the Prayer shelf.

Lent is almost upon us. Already! I have Larry Hart's new book, ALLELUIA IS THE SONG OF THE DESERT on my footstool. Larry was the pastor of a local Mennonite church; one of the very few pastors who ordered a book every couple of months from us in our early years. He has since become an Episcopal priest, living in Colorado. (It's not our fault!) His book is "an exercise for Lent and other sacred times." The first chapter begins with a quote from Edward Abbey's DESERT SOLITAIRE and proceeds to lead the reader into the interior desert. An appendix gives instructions and detailed spiritual exercises for using the book in a small group setting during the 7 week Lent/Easter period. $12.95. Clearly the thrust of the book is entering into the love of God. (What else?)

Although I'm going to read SONG OF THE DESERT this season, my small group plan is to beta test USING THE WORD, the little book I wrote that describes five metaphors for accessing scripture in your daily life. We will meet Wednesday Evenings at 7:15 at The Word Shop, beginning February 9. If you are interested in joining this experiment, let me know so I can send you the Introduction to read before our first meeting.

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune
Without the words;
and never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

Alliee +