here we can see it for what it is

They’re content to make their way by planting seeds and raising beasts. Too poor to live in Torbourough, too honest to scrape by in Dugtown, not yet vile enough to through in with the Stranders, they live their lives with a mighty sorrow. As the company moved on, most of the mud-farmers as Podo called […]

the sight of monsters walking among them

Now the sight of monsters walking among them seemed as normal as the seagulls that swooped and chattered in the air above the city. From page 127 of Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree. The book spines looked richer […]

a person who cares about words and is honest with them

It is easy to say what either flatters or manipulates and so acquire power over others. In subtle ways, being a pastor subjects our words to corruption. That is why it is important to frequent the company of a poet friend – Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Luci Shaw are some of mine […]

the world of our passivities is a vast cosmos

Learning the art of willed passivity begins with appreciating the large and creative part passivity plays in our lives. By far the largest part of our life is experienced in the mode of passivity. Life is undergone. We receive. We enter into what is already there. Our genetic system, the atmosphere, the food chain, our […]

making friends with some ancestors long dead

I began to comprehend the obvious: that the central and shaping language of the church’s life has always been its prayer language. Out of that recognition a conviction grew: that my primary educational task as pastor was to teach people to pray. I did not abandon, and will not abandon, the task of teaching about […]

directing worship in the traffic

But “there are things,” wrote Marianne Moore, “that are important beyond all this fiddle.” The old-time guide of souls asserts the priority of the “beyond” over “this fiddle.” Who is available for this work other than pastors? A few poets, perhaps; and children, always. But children are not good guides, and most of our poets […]

how I loathe big issues

From The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene H. Peterson (in a section entitled “Small Talk: A Pastoral Art”): Most of us, most of the time, are engaged in simple routine tasks, and small talk is the natural language. If pastors belittle it, we belittle what most people are doing […]

facing the stream of light pouring down

Persons in the Middle Ages who withdrew from the traffic of the everyday to contemplate the ways of God and the mysteries of being, giving themselves to a life of sacrifice and prayer, were called anchorites (from the Greek, anachoreo, to withdraw to a place apart). They often lived in sheds fastened to the walls […]