Well the books are stacking up beside my desk and it is obviously time to mention some of my favourite reads for the month.
I have just finished Nancy Ortberg’s Looking for God. A great collection of stories about her life and ministry with some real thought provoking comments. You might like to check out the discussion on the book on the Emerging Women’s blog. I particularly enjoyed some of her thoughts on how she encountered God while carrying out the ordinary mundane acts of life – sitting on a park bench looking after her children, eating a meal. driving along the highway. Her most compelling comment for me was “Nature holds more beauty than our eyes can bear.” It has revolved in my mind all week. It reminded me of a description I once heard of Celtic Christians as “God intoxicated people”. I wonder if the reason for this was that they were so in touch with the God revealed through creation that they were sometimes literally overflowing with the revelation of the glory of God and overwhelmed by God’s presence. I have always loved to look for the presence of God in creation but this comment has made me look deeper. The presence of God is all around us if only we will look, listen, feel, touch and smell and there is more of God around us in the ordinary everyday things of life than we can ever take in at one go – if we try to we are totally overwhelmed and can even become drunk with the heady experience of God’s love and faithfulness.
Another book I have just read is Soaring in the Spirit by Charles Conniry. Not as easy to read, a little more substantial content and less style but some good points and well worth the read – again the emphasis is on experiencing the presence of Christ in the moment by moment events of daily life. Conniry grew up Catholic and has journeyed through evangelicalism, Fuller seminary and now George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland Oregon, grappling with what it means to be a follower of Christ in our flawed and often disillusioning world. I love his final comments. What keeps us from bucking under the false notions of how things ought to be is the ever conitnuing fellowship of the One who promised never to leave or forsake us. Even when we are faithless he will remain faithful… The journey with Christ is neither painless nor perfect. We travel this road, after all, wearing cultural costumes…” p192 This is a quote that I plan to spend more time meditating on.
My third read this week was Chris Heurertz‘ book Simple Spirituality. Chris is the international director of Word Made Flesh. an organization in which people often live and work among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor. Chris shares some wonderful stories from his experiences around the world – from Mother Teresa in Kolkata (once Calcutta), Word Made Flesh in Lima Peru, and just life in the United States. He uses them as the basis for reflections on what he calls his 5 stones – humility, community, submission, brokenness and simplicity. I loved the stories and the compelling but challenging lessons Chris shares. I would recommend this book to anyone who is really serious about following Christ.