Powerless: March 2005

Some years ago I sat stuck in a parking lot, immobilized by the turbulence within. Trying get a handle on the swirling abyss, I sought a word, a name for the feelings. What came to mind was "powerless." I had been wounded at depths I barely knew existed, had lost the treasure wherein I had invested my heart, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt utterly powerless.

On my dashboard was a cross, a picture, or maybe an old family camp name tag. It occurred to me that Jesus also had been utterly powerless, nailed there on the cross, and this was supposed to make me feel better. It didn't. I tried to wrap my mind and the remaining shreds of my heart around the concept. Nothing. So now there were two of us mired in powerlessness. Big Deal. Of course being nailed to the cross was significantly worse than what had happened to me. But that didn't help either. Now along with powerless I felt guilty; guilty for fussing over my relatively insignificant pain.

Then into the morass drifted the thought that God had turned Jesus' powerlessness into the resurrection, into the wonder and life of the whole church. And if God did that with the crucifixion, there might...might, mind you...be something wonderful he could bring forth from the mess I was in. I frankly couldn't imagine what. But still, there was this little wisp of hope. I grabbed hold of it with an even smaller grain of faith. Hanging on tightly to the promise of I-knew-not-what, I opened the door of my car and stepped out again into my life.

Happy Easter!


My best read this month was TOUCHING THE INVISIBLE, a 60 page book/pamphlet by Norman Grubb, who also wrote REES HOWELLS; Intercessor. TOUCHING THE INVISIBLE is one of those little books I'd like to hand out to everyone. It has clear, succinct advice for getting God's guidance, for successfully navigating the joys and difficulties of Christian work, and for growing into the fullness of Christ. I particularly liked his understanding of the way of the cross. The chapter "The Key to a Released Personality" nicely outlines the idiocy of trying to crucify yourself, and then talks about the compendium of different paths toward sanctification: the table is spread, faith helps itself. First written in 1940, you can still order it new for $3.99. The well marked 1946 copy that is getting passed around The Word Shop may not survive many more readings, but you are welcome to put in your bid.

My companion book over this past month has been Thomas Merton's NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. Each chapter takes some aspect of the inner life and weighs out the various concepts held in balance. This is not a book to read in one greedy gulp. One chapter is enough for a day, or even a couple of days. The small 1955 paperback fit nicely in my purse, lovely to have at hand for those little gaps in life. Still in print; $14 new.

A college student talking Camus, dropped in to borrow an envelope, discovered LEVIATHAN by Huggins on the steals, deals, and heresies shelf and pointed out that it should be on the Christian fiction shelf. Then he recommended the SEVEN SLEEPERS SERIES by Gilbert Morris; Christian fantasy novels he had enjoyed in Jr. High. I ordered the first one, FLIGHT OF THE EAGLES $5.99 and found it a good, adventurous read. Obvious Christian parallels, but not overly thunky/be good/ or as one of my staff used to say "Too: no, no bunny." Why do I discover these things AFTER my boys pass thru the appropriate age?

"What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers." -Logan Pearsall Smith, essayist (1865-1946)

Madelyn, who used to supply us with beautiful hand made cards, wrote from Seattle that she was enjoying THE MOZART EFFECT by Don Campbell. "Fine," I wrote back. "How about sending us some more cards?" Meanwhile we got some new cards, prints from Deborah Stanley's paintings, and some from several other local artists. With email standard communication, cards become a special gift.

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS is the title of this summer's writing/drawing/creating with God class. I don't know what we're doing yet...but I can't resist the title.

After schmoozing with authors from the Mount Hermon's Writers Conference at Linda's Bible Bookstore, I bought DAUGHTERS OF HOPE by Kay Marshall Strom. It is a collection of women's stories of witness and courage in the face of persecution. The book is divided into five sections of the world where Christian persecution is rampant. It gives details about several specific countries in each section, and one or more stories of individual women in those countries. Action and prayer points follow. I've only read the first story. This is my read-in-bits book for the next while. Don't think I could read more than bits at a time; it interferes too much with feeling sorry for myself.

"Seven days without prayer makes one weak." -Bumpersticker

LOWER ROOM PRAYER Tuesdays at 11:00 from Easter to Pentecost. This has become a Word Shop tradition. Traditionally only one or two people join us. (Some traditions are made to be broken.) We will use a different form of prayer each week: conversational, praying scripture, liturgical, contemplative, theatrical....

"And Silence, like a poultice, comes
To heal the blows of sound." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)

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