Sunday, August 20, 2006


It's raining. It's actually raining. After a couple of hours of hearing thunder and not daring to hope, I now hear rain falling steadily on the roof over my office.

I think of my ferns and hurry to put them out on the walk where they can soak up as much as comes down.

I think of the piano piece I used to play in junior high called "It's Raining," and I sit at the piano and realize I can only remember the first few measures. But I don't care. It's raining.

I see our doggies hunkering down because of the thunder, keeping their ears down and eyes alert. I'm sorry for their anxiety, but it's okay. It's raining.

I know I won't need to get up and water plants tomorrow morning, and I'm thankful. It's raining.

I think of the weeks and weeks of dryness, the heat, the dust that has invaded our house (via the dogs from the backyard), and I feel relief for just this night. I know it won't last, but that's okay. For now, it's raining.

I think of God. I think of Paul writing "my God will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus." It's raining.

I think of my friend last year saying "God may not often show up early, but He's always there on time." It's raining.

I think of the hardest, darkest, driest times of my life when I wondered how much further I could go on with a dry heart and dust in the teeth of my soul. And I remember how, just when I knew I couldn't go on any further or I'd wither away, God showed up. In the body of a person, or in a song, or in a scripture, or in some other way that He used to resuscitate, refresh, renew me.

And, like a tree, I find my roots have grown, deepened, after those times. Reminds me of Gerard Manley Hopkins' words. Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain. Even deep roots would eventually fail to sustain us without His life-giving rain.

It's raining. It's raining.

Thanks be to God. It's raining.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Tomorrow I am going with some friends to Eureka Springs, and I am living in eager anticipation.

The occasion is a centering prayer retreat led by Thomas Keating, author of the book Open Mind, Open Heart, and something of a crusader for the practice of centering prayer, a prayer discipline that has been a real blessing in my life over the past eight months.

I'm hoping to visit the lake pictured above, maybe do some drawing, do a little window shopping in the Victorian downtown area, but mostly just....retreat. Be quiet and pray. Get more centered.

Be. With God.

Oh, and hoping against hope to hear John Michael Talbot sing more than he did at the retreat I attended last year, when his doctor had ordered him not to sing too much!

If you want to see where I'll be staying, check out

If you want to learn more about the retreat hosts, check out

For JMT's music, check out

And if you want to know more about centering prayer, check out

And if you can teach me how to make those addresses turn into links, give me a call!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Croatian Chronicles: A Word from St. Francis

Ever since living in Italy and seeing Zeffirelli's film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, I have grown in admiration of Francis of Assisi. Not that the movie itself is wonderful, but it was my first look into anything more about Francis than the prayer that gets attributed to him. ("Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace," not actually proven to have any connection to Francis, probably written long after he died.)

If you want to learn more about his life (from a more historical than legendary source), I recommend Reluctant Saint, by Donald Spoto. Just don't read it unless you're willing to examine your own life and see room for growth!

Have I mentioned that Zadar has more churches than I've ever seen in as many square feet of land? It was amazing. Churches everywhere. We didn't even have time to learn the names of each of them.

But we did visit the Church of St. Francis. And there were two things I couldn't help but notice. First, there was actually a prayer group going on while we were there. You don't encounter that terribly often in Europe anymore, but Zadar seems to be different from much of Europe when it comes to churches.

The second thing was this little carving over the entrance to the church. The church itself, inside, was rather somber and serious. And then you have this jolly little figure out front. It kind of cracks me up.

As long as the heat wave in Memphis continues, I don't think I'll be blogging more than once a week. I have to spend my morning time watering plants, and that not only cuts down what I can get done in the morning (that I have to make up in the evening), it also zaps my energy. My body was not made for hot weather!

But being out with the flowers and foliage gives me lots to think about, fodder for another blog entry, perhaps. And that connection to nature also connects me to Francis, even though I'm far from Assisi these days.

If you're not familiar with it, below is a prayer we do know Francis authored, the Canticle of the Creatures. It would be a good one to memorize and think on while I'm out there watering, doing my little part to take care of God's amazing creation:

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
all praise is yours, all glory, all honor,
and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord,
through all you have made,
and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day;
and through whom you give us light.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor;
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars; in the heavens you have made them,
bright, and precious, and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord,
through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy,
all the weather's moods,
by which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful is he, how cheerful!
Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister
Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers
and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord,
through those who grant pardon for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy are those who endure in peace,
By You, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your will!
The second death can do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks
And serve him with great humility.