Hanging On By A Thread

If you know anything about my story, you know my affection for amaryllis flowers – ever since I had one that bloomed in the shape of a beautiful, blazing cross in the middle of a shadowed season of doubt.

That same friend has continued to gift me with amaryllis bulbs every year, and even in spite of my brown thumb, I’ve learned to love tending to them and watching them grow. I don’t know what it is about these mysterious plants, but they always seem to whisper secrets as they quietly and unobtrusively unfold little by little over the passing days. Not in any weird pantheistic way; in the way any beautiful work of art whispers to us about the “More” that is brimming underneath the surface of everything.

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Speaking in Silence

Susan Sontag was born on this day, January 16th in 1933. In her book The Aesthetics of Silence she said

Every era has to reinvent the project of “spirituality” for itself (Spirituality = plans, terminologies, ideas of deportment aimed at the resolution of painful structural contradictions inherent in the human situation, at the completion of human consciousness, at transcendence.) In the modern era, one of the most active metaphors for the spiritual project is “art.” …The art of our time is noisy with appeals for silence. A coquettish, even cheerful nihilism. One recognizes the imperative of silence but goes on speaking anyway.

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Reading Chesterton

“I’m beginning to suspect that nobody understands G.K. Chesterton,” a friend recently remarked. “They just like quoting him when convenient.” I had to laugh at this for I am guilty as charged. Chesterton both confounds and delights me, and I am confident that I have quoted him on numerous occasions without really understanding his meaning. He had a way with words that makes the temptation to repeat him too hard to resist! It is when he confounds me that I enjoy his writing the most. He challenges me to slow down and think. Most of all, he teaches me about the joy of existence; that existence itself is good, something so quickly forgotten in the toils of daily life.

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we ourselves are incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real. It is the fundamental fact of being, as against not being; it is unthinkable, yet we cannot unthink it, though we may sometimes be unthinking about it; unthinking and especially unthanking.”[1]

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Back Into His Narrative

This morning, my 3-year-old daughter Eden and I were having a conversation about fire (she tried to turn on the stove) and somehow we got to the story of Moses and the burning bush. She said, “I wanna hear that story!” I asked where she had put her Jesus Storybook Bible and she replied, “No, I want to read it from Daddy’s Bible!” My heart melted knowing how she observes her Daddy starting his day with the Lord right in the spot where we were sitting at the table. So, we turned to Exodus 3 and she patiently listened as I read it word for word.

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To Time’s Analysis

F. Scott Fitzgerald died on this day, December 21st in 1940. Scott and his wife Zelda personified the manic depressive world of The Roaring Twenties which saw a zenith of monetary excess concluding with The Crash of Wall Street.  His beautiful prose is among the best of the twentieth century.  His friend Ernest Hemingway said, “His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings.”

Fitzgerald’s life ended in the tragedy he seemed to foresee.  In Tales of the Jazz Age, he wrote

At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That’s a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion.

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Booksickness

“This is a sickness.”

That’s what I often tell my friends when I take and post pictures of the books overflowing from my bedside table down onto the floor. Or when I vow to read fifteen of the not-yet-read books on my shelves before letting myself buy another new book. Or that time my suitcase opened itself just enough to leak paperbacks all down the airport escalator. (I know, I know, I need a Kindle, but I haven’t got there yet.)

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Wilberforce’s Hope: Abolition, Faith, and the Good Society

The United States Constitution – Amendment 13 | December 18, 1865
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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Some of you’ve seen Amazing Grace, the film about William Wilberforce. But for those who haven’t, here’s an introduction to him…

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