Midlife Crisis in Morocco Travels on a Whim and a Prayer

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If there is a sign of the Spirit, it is unity-through-diversity. There is no challenge in uniformity, no need for the Spirit in homogeneity. There is no greater challenge, no greater need for the Spirit, than when people who live and look fundamentally different are baptized into one body.

We want to worship with you. The earliest Jewish church experienced a flood of Gentiles that was a lot like the experience of that small Baptist church. A very Jewish apostle Peter travelled to the home of Cornelius in Caesarea, where he saw the Spirit outpoured on — get this! In the earliest days of the church, just decades after Jesus died, a flood of Gentile believers into a Jewish church changed everything. Mission is not just church extension. It is something more costly and more revolutionary.

Mission prompts a revolution. While some people are lunging ahead, others are digging in their heels. This is the nub of lesson three — and where the Holy Spirit surfaces. For some early Jewish followers of Jesus who dug in their heels, the change was just too much. How did the early church find a way out of this?

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Well, to be honest, they argued. It was aggressive, vicious, even violent. This dissension joined with debate Acts , 7. This word, debate , tells us that the church was committed, even with explosive arguments, to intelligent investigation. The head honcho in Jerusalem, James, appeals to the Holy Spirit — it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us — when he sends word of a compromise: no circumcision for Gentiles but the need to follow a few Jewish rules nonetheless Acts The decision, James notes, seems good both to the Holy Spirit and to us.

The Holy Spirit and us. The Holy Spirit, James claims, is enmeshed in our brutal, bruising path to compromise. Where does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? In the tough, gritty work of conflict and compromise. Not in the revelation of a nifty solution. Not by zapping the church with a miraculous absence of malice. Certainly not in schisms and splits. In this gritty process, we discover a rich vein of the Holy Spirit. Compromise — the battle-scarred road that leads to it, too — can seem good both to the Holy Spirit and to us.

We know what it is until someone asks us to explain it, and then things get difficult. And beautiful words? Now, this magnifies the challenge. The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas explained beauty quite simply in this way: It is that which, when seen, pleases us id quod visum placet. But what pleases us, and how? Sometimes, this has to do with how they sound—with their musicality, as it were. We delight in words that rhyme, particularly when the rhyming startles us. We find ourselves smiling when reading or hearing a particular metaphor that awakens a kind of deep knowing in us.

Midlife Crisis in Morocco: Travels on a Whim and a Prayer Summary

We relish words that seem to dance on our tongues. How do we do this? Upon suggesting how life finds its spark and sparkle through the needed work of improvisation, he closes the poem with these lines:. Perhaps, though, there are hidden things before us and in them sorrow blends with enthusiasm, always, daily, like the birth of dawn on the seashore, or no, hold on, like the happy laughter of the two little altar boys in white surplices, on the corner of Jan and Mark, remember?

When does this happen? Like when we notice the sun creasing the farthest edge of the horizon above the morning sea. Or hear the trill of birdsong just before the first light breaks the hold of the long silent dark. Joy happens in the hidden things. Radiance cannot be stopped.

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Mark S. Tabor Books in the Arts. We gather under a few stunted trees at the center of the cemetery for the interment of beloved Auntie Cleone, who died at 99, just a few days ago. Even under the trees, I have to shade my eyes against the unrelenting sun to gaze at the short rows of headstones. Then she stored the captive peonies in the ice box until the night before Memorial Day.

Her three children scraped through the sun-baked earth, scooping out holes for the orange juice cans next to the headstones of great aunts and great uncles, grandparents, and the great grandparents who homesteaded the farm.

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And they carried bouquet after bouquet to these makeshift vases, filling them with scarlet and crimson and cream—and water, precious water, drawn bucketful by bucketful from the well beneath the windmill. Now as we move to sit under the shade of a sheltering tent at her graveside, my gaze shifts from the cemetery to the fields of dry-land wheat, rippling in the wind, on every side, on every side, of Silent Land. Feel the way that vast Kansas sky changes solitude into loneliness in a heartbeat the way loneliness morphs into sorrow. Ah — you can build a house out of this kind of sorrow.

You can line its walls with resentment. Paper over its doors and windows with bitterness. You can live in this sturdy, narrow house a long, long time. You can notice the way they stretch for miles to the horizon the horizon so far away the sky has to bend down to reach it. Andrew Apostoli:. Can any real art come from the suburbs? This question popped up on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. I immediately came to the defense of the writers, musicians, painters, and dancers who create their work on these leafy avenues. I grew up in southern California—first in Lakewood, the town D.

After spending adulthood bouncing around the Chicago area with my husband, we now live in a far-flung burb near the Wisconsin border. Our town adjoins a major amusement park and outlet mall. Suburbs have changed over the years. But they are still the suburbs. Communities planned by developers lack the heritage and charm of historical cities or rural towns. I know this. Suburbs have their flaws, most notably their legacies of conformity and exclusion. And even up in these dull parts the Spirit whips through me, batters me like a picket fence in a storm.

In my forthcoming poetry collection What Will Soon Take Place , I journey through the book of Revelation as a something suburban mother of three. If I am to believe that God speaks through scripture through all time, I must trust that even someone like me, far removed from wild-eyed John in the cave on Patmos two thousand years ago, has a way to respond. What is real to me?

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  • Dogs roaming the sidewalks. In these mundane patterns of suburbia, the voice of God still speaks. They will smolder under your skin as you wait for your chalupa in the drive-through or latch the dressing room door at Old Navy, wanting nothing more than to pull a preshrunk T over your head in peace. But you must steady yourself on the purse hook, nauseated by the spirit burying inside you like a tick. Soon you will see seraphim wings in the price tags, hear trumpets in the vents.

    Tania Runyan, author of four poetry collections, including Delicious Air , which was awarded Book of the Year by the Conference on Christianity and Literature. She lives and writes in suburban Chicago. It was a long flight from St. Louis to San Francisco. For me it was not just a question of the four-plus hours of travel but also managing the fear I have of flying and the constant anticipation of turbulence.

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    Seated next to me was a minister from rural Kentucky, Reverend Silas Wildes, both a southern gentleman and a man of God, who was headed to an evangelical conference in the San Francisco Bay area. Although we revealed pieces of our heart, I kept my fear of flying to myself. In a somber tone he asked the flight attendants to take their seats and the passengers to fasten their seat belts.

    My heart began to pound and sweat rolled down my face. Reverend Wildes just gazed peacefully out the window as the roller coaster ride began. Why then do you lose it when you are up in the air? Owning the Story, Opening to Grace When my life seems up in the air, I can strengthen my faith by… The times I need the outstretched, comforting hand of another are… I can renew my trust during turbulent times by …. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, You of little faith, why did you doubt?

    Bridget Haase; Paraclete Press. Alexis Kruza, buildfaith. The Holy Spirit comes in both quiet whispers and blazing fire, sparking our faith and inviting us onward. Adults and church groups alike will be inspired along a journey of knowing the Holy Spirit better. After each devotional passage, there is an empty half page in which to reflect and journal in the book itself.

    Lastly, a poetic prayer closes each devotional time. Levison chooses passages that are both well-known for the presence of the Holy Spirit Pentecost, for example , as well as passages in which it can be inferred that the Holy Spirit is at work. For me, this balance of passages was one of the most interesting aspects of the book: I came to faith in a more charismatic community and now worship in a more meditative community.

    This balance also provides an inspiring growth edge for people of either worship style. Make sure to get your hands on these two excellent books before Pentecost to add wind and fire to your journey with the Holy Spirit! At first, the reader sees men, women, children, and animals portrayed plainly in solid colors. The first inkling of the Holy Spirit comes visually with a bright blue spark, and the patterned orange flame of an ancient lamp. Blue swirls turn into drops of rain filled with words from a host of different languages, eliciting sounds like drumbeats and whispers.

    Young readers will love to interact with these pages as their imaginations, curiosity, and enthusiasm are engaged by a sense of wonder. Sometimes, too rarely, I walk at an urban nature area near my Baltimore home. The water is a little bit rancid; the well-loved dog park smells—well—like dogs. Commuter train tracks cut the tails in half. The trees are vine-choked. I am struck by how this idea transforms my poem. I am not the only one looking. Are caring for and questioning me? But Pope Francis takes it further.

    By too many smelly dogs. And even by all of what I cannot see. Sweeney, Jon M. Translated by Jon M. In the company of a man like Francis, it seems like a good. Confession is an element of the ancient church that has remained difficult for me to embrace, despite my developing awareness of its necessity. Cairns, I picked up this book when I saw you were going to be speaking at the Festival of Faith and Writing. I like to read as many authors as I can beforehand and this book was on a site I go to for books to review. Cairns, I enjoyed your book very much! Further, it was a delight to meet you in person.

    You taught me about the Jesus Prayer, which I found beautiful and calming and enough. My mom leaves soon for her first trip to Greece and she has explicit instructions to bring me home a prayer rope. They are, commonly, black wool, tied in strings of thirty-three, or fifty, or a hundred or more hard, square knots sometimes wooden beads , usually held together in a loop by a cross-shaped gathering of knots and tassels. The knots or beads are for focusing on repetitions of the prayer. The cross is kissed reverently at the beginning and the end of each cycle through the rope.

    I learned so much about the beauty of Greece, the holiness of venerating the icons, the dedication in choosing a monastic life, the wonder of Antidoron. Thank you. I realize now my misgivings about reading your works had more to with my own insecurities. I can see why Mount Athos has become a regular pilgrimage for you. One paragraph, though, touched me the most.

    It has not let me go. For I too left behind my Southern Baptist roots. Italicized quotes are the from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own. The date that entitles this brief quincentennial prologue may not be immediately recognizable, but it was momentous.

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    On it, Martin Luther posted 95 theses about Christian faith on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Saxony, and launched the Protestant Reformation. While directly prompted by the selling of indulgences, whereby the buyer reduced suffering for sins, the document was fundamentally about salvation through Christ. This volume is small but weighty and a solid addition for all modern Christianity collections.

    Marty, Martin E. May First published April 15, Booklist. Richard Mills Illustrator. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Richard Mills Photographer. Fergus O'Gorman Editor ,. Gerrit Van Gelderen lllustrator. Eamon De Buitlear Illustrator. Richard Mills. Rebecca Bustamante ,. Veronica Pulumbarit. Richard Mills Editor. Richard Mills ,. Burlington Fine Arts Club Creator. William Cosmo Monkhouse Creator. Richard Mills Editor ,.

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    Jean Mills Editor. Heinz Schepank ,. Richard Mills Translator. Strotzka Preface.