The Abyss of Divine Love

I’m at my annual conference — Mountain Sky — in session in Billings, Montana. There is so much uncertainty, anxiety, and pain in this place. And yet there is such love and joy that comes from being together in the beloved community. Wherever we are, wherever we are going, we go with this community of beloveds.

These words from Tilden Edwards have spoken to me and to this time of uncertainty in the church. Prayers for all those who are working to try to help us find our way.

Edwards writes about the process of discernment. [From pp. 64-65 in Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Copyright © 2001 by Tilden Edwards.]

In approaching the Spirit’s movements … [we are called to] a habitual leaning into our souls in God, with a quality of trust in the abyss of divine love there, wanting to see our desires transformed in the light of God’s desire for us. We rest attentively in that abyss ultimately without knowing anything except our desires to embody those qualities of soul in our lives. …

Often we are not given … clear sight and [must] rest in our trust that we will be given enough of what we need to see as we go along. … Sometimes decisions need to be made without clear sight, but with just enough light to take a first step in one direction or another, trusting that the Spirit will shape our path with us as we go along. …

[The discernment process] may well not provide clear specific discernment, but over time … it can provide a way of approaching decisions that frees us from a focus on “getting it right,” that is, finding out just what God wants, or else we will be lost. Instead, we become free for a focus on an ongoing divine/human dance together … one that keeps us living out of our deep souls no matter how vague our sense of what decision to make. …

When we live out of our souls in trust, we become looser about knowing, and willing for a blind walk when that is what is given.

Let us trust in Divine Love to guide our steps in these days of struggle. May we allow our spirits to sink into the abyss of divine love, trusting that we will be given “enough of what we need to see as we go along.”

A Party for Jack’s Book!

My friends at The Upper Room are throwing a party to celebrate Jack’s new book of Blessings.

It’s Wednesday, May 22, 2-3 (CDT) at The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN. There will be refreshments for two and four-legged critters.

Come and join the party!!!

P.S. Come in the morning for the Taizé service (10:45 a.m. in the Chapel). We can all get lunch and then go to the party.

Holy Week at The Upper Room

Such an honor to be leading The Upper Room in worship during Holy Week. I hope you will consider joining me Wednesday or Thursday.

For Friends Far Away
An online gathering on Holy Wednesday: Prayer and Practice

9:00 a.m. (Central Time) – Prayer and practice using Zoom, an online tool for meeting with others. Join us: https://zoom.us/j/191740575. (That would be 10:00 a.m., Eastern; 8:00 a.m., Mountain; 7:00 a.m., Pacific)

For Nashville Area Friends
Services in the Chapel

Holy Wednesday:
10:45 a.m. — Morning prayer in the chapel

Maundy Thursday:
10:45 a.m. — Service of Eucharist in The Upper Room Chapel

1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN.

Jack’s New Book of Celtic Blessings

Get a copy from Amazon: Jack’s Book of Blessings: Celtic Poems by a Scottie Dog

When I was preparing for the release of Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings, I started writing a companion book with my Scottie dog, Jack, in which he would offer his own blessings. Now, three years later, Jack’s Book of Blessings is available! It was released on March 16th and, starting on the 17th, has been running #1 in Amazon New Releases in the category of Irish and British poetry. At least for now it is ranked above works by Seamus Heaney, Mary Robinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Blake, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. (I can see Jack’s smile from beyond the rainbow bridge and his questioning gaze, asking, “Can I have a Special Treat?”)

More about Jack’s Book:

Jack the Scottie tells you about his day with poems for every activity from breakfast to going to sleep. Jack’s Celtic-style blessings lead us through each moment of the day: the walk, the leash, the treats, the lap, the dog park (and even the not-so-enjoyable bath). The book features original drawings of Jack, drawn by his companion and co-author of the book, Beth A. Richardson.

Introduction by Roberta Bondi

The introduction of this special book is written Roberta Bondi and Curly, her white-haired Bichon Frisée. Dr. Roberta C. Bondi is professor emerita of church history and spirituality, Candler School of Theology. Roberta writes, “These are such great prayers, which the world always needs, especially in these hard times, but they were also written by a dog. Everybody knows that dogs are especially good at blessing others as well as asking others to bless them. Jack, of course, was always particularly articulate in his own canine way, and as a true lover of God, others, and the everyday world he lived in, he was perfectly suited to write this book.”

Praise from Cats and Dogs:

At last! A book that goes beyond affirming we non-humans bless God, to one that translates those blessings! Jack’s Scottish Celtic heritage proves ideal for framing this universal expression of praise. As a Norwegian Forest cat, my prayers are more reserved than Jack’s, and I certainly do not have his sort of co-dependent relationship with my humans (“Mom,” p. 3, really?!). But the nap, the bed, the treats, the lap, these are universal in relationships with domesticated humans, every one of whom should read this book to strengthen their often inconstant faith.
– Pepper Allen, Norwegian Forest cat

Jack has penned such lovely blessings for the life of us dogs. We treasure all the things that matter–our families, our food, the smells, the walks. Jack rocks!
– Graford and Fiona Earle, border collies

About the Authors

Beth A. Richardson, is a writer, photographer, editor, cartoonist, and lover of dogs. She is the author of a companion book to Jack’s Book of Blessings called Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.

Jack, a Scottish Terrier, was born in Indiana and lived with Beth and her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Jack the Scottie was a “real dog.” (Cartoon Jack, however, was much more cooperative than “real Jack.”) Jack passed away suddenly in October of 2018. He lives on in the hearts of many.

Get a copy from Amazon: Jack’s Book of Blessings: Celtic Poems by a Scottie Dog