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Prayer

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil. 

He brought me out and made me climb into a garret (an attic). Through the open window one could see the whole city spread out, some wooden scaffoldings, and the river on which boats were being unloaded. He bade me be seated.

We were alone. He spoke. From time to time someone would enter,…

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Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Gutted by this morning’s tragic news about the death of David Bowie. His incredible new single “Lazarus” had actually been on repeat in our office the past couple weeks. By way of paltry tribute, here’s the reflection from the back of A Mess of Help, slightly embellished. The world will be a duller place without him:

Rumor has it that David Bowie lobbied for the role of grand elf Elrond in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of The Rings. As good as Hugo Weaving was, Bowie would have been better, and not just because he played more or less to type in…

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Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

From Prayers of Life. This section sounds like a modern mixture of Jesus calming the storm (Mt 8) and the psalmist’s cry in the night (Ps 6). Quoist then gives us God’s response.

I’m at the end of my rope, Lord.
I am shattered.
I am broken.
Since this morning I have been struggling to escape temptation, which, now wary, now persuasive, now tender, now sensuous, dances before me like a seductive girl at a fair.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know where to go.
It spies on me, follows me, engulfs me.
When I leave a room I find it seated and waiting for…

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A Sleep Poem by Wendell Berry

From the 1990 selection of Sabbath poems.

The body in the invisible
Familiar room accepts the gift
Of sleep, and for a while is still;
Instead of will, it lives by drift

In the great night that gathers up
The earth and sky. Slackened, unbent,
Unwanting, without fear or hope,
The body rests beyond intent.

Sleep is the prayer the body prays,
Breathing in unthought faith the Breath
That through our worry-wearied days
Preserves our rest, and is our truth.

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

September is always a great month for books and music, and this one is no exception. Among the many releases to be excited about is Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. In celebration, I had planned to reference her 2009 interview with The Paris Review in a weekender, but then I (re-)read it, and Bam. Simply too many sections jumped out, both one-liners and extended exchanges with Amanda Fortini, the interviewer. They talk about writing, family, memory, addiction, God – what more could you ask for? Since she was working on the new book when their conversation took place (not…

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The Power of Love – Michel Quoist

A new find for me, but this will not be the last Michel Quoist post. Quoist was a French priest and activist who wrote prayer books in much the same way the psalmists did. That is to say, his prayers are short vignettes and poems about everyday life. They also are not complete prayers–they do not try to “see the whole picture”–which seems to me to be an authentic prayer. One thing seems clear in Quoist’s work: for him there is little distinction between church life and human life, religious and secular. God in Christ moves through suffering and love, and so Christ is everywhere. This one comes from a new collection, Keeping Hope: Favourite Prayers for Modern Living. 

quoist-prayers-480I was called recently to the bedside of a dying man. He was very old and his face was ravaged and distorted by illness and suffering. I watched his wife. She was leaning over him, caressing him and whispering to him such tender words: ‘How beautiful you are, my love, how fine you look!’ I was embarrassed and thought: ‘How can anyone be so blind? Love is blind!’

Then an extraordinary thing happened. As she caressed him, the old man half-opened his eyes and a hesitant smile appeared on his face. He look at his wife a long time and she looked at him. There was a mysterious communion between them. And his smile spread. It was like the sun after a storm. I saw it. I know that I saw what she saw! She was right–the old man, made ugly by suffering, was beautiful. Love is not blind–love lets us see what others do not see.

That woman was guided by love to go beyond the deep wrinkles of her husband’s suffering face and had joined someone who was beyond, far beyond, the body, someone who could not die even if his body were to crumble away in her sight and finally disappear.

Frank Lake on Praying Badly

Frank Lake on Praying Badly

From Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, one of the original voices in clinical pastoral counseling, this passage talks about the purpose (and pitfalls) of prayer for the Christian wound up in his/her own neuroses.

One of the reasons why pastoral dialogue with men and women suffering from the common symptoms of psychoneurosis is necessary, is in order that prayer, which is their life-giving communication with God, may be re-established. When Christian people fall into despair, into bitter isolation, into depression, into separation-anxiety, or into dread of non-being, they have, to this extent, lost any clear sense of God as loving or personal, fatherly…

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Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Walking through an abandoned rent house and seeing the ruins of former tenants is an exercise in human connection—archaeology of life, or the privation of it. In nearly twenty years, I haven’t often found deep meaning in getting a house “rent ready,” but I find myself being taken in by the nihilistic futility of Rust Cohle as I traverse from one scene of archaeological ruin to the next. Nothing draws these connections as powerfully, though, as when the ruins are left in a tenant’s wake even though their earthly body still blocks the house’s front entrance. This just happened a…

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Devastating and Hopeful: Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent

Devastating and Hopeful: Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent

Looking through our archives the other day, I was surprised to discover that we’ve never posted an excerpt from The Collects of Thomas Cranmer by Paul Zahl and Fred Barbee. It’s a wonderful little book, really more of a devotional, and not just for those who are interested in Cranmer’s prayers or the Anglican tradition. Take for instance the meditation on the collect for the Second Sunday in Lent (this past Sunday):

The Collect: Almighty God, which doest see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; keep thou us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls;…

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“Into Great Silence”: Robert Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematographer

“Into Great Silence”: Robert Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematographer

This guest post comes from Mockingbird friend Michael Centore. This piece is a wonderful companion to his amazing Los Angeles Review of Books piece on the Evergetinos, which can be read here.

“The great difficulty for filmmakers is precisely not to show things,” Robert Bresson once declared during an interview for French television. “Ideally, nothing should be shown, but that’s impossible.” Reading Notes on the Cinematographer, his 1975 collection of memoranda, fragments, quotes, and aphorisms, one gathers he felt the same way about writing: that, in both media, a sense of reverence for the “secret laws” of life is best…

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An Exhausted Prayer: Get Me Out of {Into} the Woods

An Exhausted Prayer: Get Me Out of {Into} the Woods

One less-than-magical night, not so long ago, while afflicted by a monstrous spell of boredom cast upon me by the solitary confinement of the common cold, I ventured, alone, Into the Woods. Why not? I had a gift card… Honestly, as much as I jest, I wanted to see the cluster-cuss of historic fairy tales on the big screen, even though it meant sitting through over 2 hours of sing-a-long Disney tunes (…alright, I liked those too). It was electrifying; an out-of-the-blue good time; like seeing the neo-Gothic steeples of Cinderella’s Orlando castle in person for the first time all over again. More outstanding was the…

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PZ’s Podcast: Summer Rain

EPISODE 181: Summer Rain

It’s pathetic how little we know. And that’s not just some “secular” concession to the Uncertainty Principle. I’m talking about ourselves, about other people, and about what God is “up to” in our lives.

Not only do we not know a lot, but what we think we know is often wrong at root. At best it is partial.

I had an acute example of my colossal ignorance fall on my life recently — about ten days ago, in fact. Some old documents from college days dropped out of a book. They were primary sources about something that mattered to me. They revealed beyond a “Shadow of Doubt” (Alfred Hitchcock/Thornton Wilder) that I had mis-remembered something important, and mis-remembered it from stem to stern.

I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. (In fact I am typing this in a cave near Lake Tahoe. But you know that.) Yet I didn’t, and I won’t. Which is mainly because the 51st Psalm was also in that book. I’ve got a place to go, my knees for lack of a better term, with some damaging new info. If I didn’t have Psalm 51 (King James Version, please), well, then I really would die. I’m actually not expecting to.

This podcast is dedicated to Adrienne Parks Bowman.