Tuesday, 31 August 2010

(Picture: "The Presence in the Midst" - J. Doyle Penrose)

I found this article about the prayer cap by Francis Clare Fischer really helpful.

I am also blown away by these words from Kelly Joyce Neff's Fotheringhay blogspot, which express exactly what seems to be happening in my life with headcovering and Plain dress:
"The fundamental principle, for jumping timelines, involves the coordination of a few significant fields of intentionality.

1) You identify the timeline you wish to move into.
2) You shift your vibrational state to match the timeline.
3) You lock in the vibrational state so it does not waver.
4) You take an action that is an expression of the new timeline.
5) Persevere.

In this fifth stage, you must hold the vibrational state of the new timeline you have chosen, making choices coherent with the new timeline and persevering with this despite sensory information to the contrary."

The Quiet Way and the Quiet Place

In the holy gospels of the New Testament of the Holy Bible we meet the disciples of Jesus, His friends, the people who devote their lives to following Him in order to learn from Him. They didn’t learn only from His teaching but by being close to Him, looking at Him, noticing how He treated people, listening to His voice and noticing how He spoke to people. They loved Him, where He was they wanted to be, they wanted to stay with Him and be like Him.

I feel the same as those disciples. Just in the same way they ran away when Jesus was arrested and tortured and put to death, pretending they did not know Him, so I think I would not be brave enough to do as He asked and accept the cross if I want to be like Him and follow Him. I do not feel brave enough for that. Just in the same way the disciples often argued about trivial matters, squabbling among themselves, or like Martha irritated with Mary because she wouldn’t come and help out with the meal preparation when there was such a rush on to get everything ready, so I am little-minded and preoccupied with things that don’t really matter, focusing on the mundane and the everyday when I might have chosen instead to pay attention to the great things of the Spirit.

One time Jesus said to His disciples:
Come ye apart into a Quiet Place and rest awhile (Mark 6:31)

So they went with Him and made their way to a Quiet Place.

In the story, they need some space because they are so rushed and pressed by the demands of ministry, besieged continually by people in urgent need. The time out is necessary because they have no space to eat or pray or regroup their energies. It’s a practical measure.

Sometimes of course we need exactly that same thing: time out because the pace of life has become more frantic than anyone could handle without stepping off the treadmill every now and then.

But having acknowledged that Jesus was dealing with a practical issue, I would like to share some thoughts that came to mind from reading those words.

Come ye apart into a Quiet Place and rest awhile… (Mark 6:31)
…ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord… (1 Corinthians 6:16-17)

That quotation from 1 Corinthians comes from a section where Paul is advising people of faith, who aspire to a holy life, not to become entangled in the ways of the World.

I think the kingdom of Mammon has spread insidiously like a slime mould to create an astonishingly widespread infiltration of the fabric of society; and my heart witnesses with these words of Paul that we should consciously separate ourselves from that sprawling kingdom of Mammon, for, as Jesus said (Matthew 6:24), Ye cannot serve God and Mammon (and Mammon has no friends or acquaintances, only enemies and servants).

So I think that the call of Jesus to come apart to a Quiet Place can be a daily spiritual imperative as well as a practical respite.

In looking at His words in this way, I am not thinking at all that we should aim for a passive or complacent life: dull, unengaged, under-occupied and easy. That’s not what I mean. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard, nor that we should shun our neighbours and members of our family.

What I mean is this. Walking in the Quiet Way means taking another path than the mainstream, choosing a badger track through a field rather than the motorway. It means consciously choosing the way of unregarded littleness and humility, the path of gelassenheit in which we are content to be lowly and of no account, eschewing status and celebrity (not that most of us will have to make that particular choice since most of us aren’t considered that special in the first place!).

Walking in the Quiet Way means stepping aside from hierarchical systems and special privilege, accepting a low and unnoticed place. It means disengaging from all that dangles in front of us as temptation and titillation, distracting and disturbing us and dragging our attention hither and thither until we lose our focus on the beautiful things of Christ.

Walking in the Quiet Way means that we have made the choice to come apart from what most people run after (success, wealth, privilege, attention, status, achievement, dominance, affluence, luxury, kudos, admiration, being special and making others envious) and by following the Quiet Way are coming apart to a Quiet Place.

The Quiet Place is not a retreat house or a rural idyll, it is inside our own hearts. It is the condition of contentment with what life has offered us, the willingness to accept as God’s good gift whatever this day has presented.

We are walking in the Quiet Way when we are finding the path to that Quiet Place where we can listen to others without clever responses jostling to the front of our minds waiting impatiently to make an appearance, when we can turn aside from the prurience and obscene grotesquerie (scenes of torture and terror, close-up images of wounds and butchered bodies, sudden close-ups animals copulating or of their genitalia, close-in footage of humans in sexual intercourse) that infests modern television, when we can be happy with the way we are and the things we have without feeling the need to stockpile kits and gadgets or to obsess over our facial hair, skin condition and flab.

We are walking in the Quiet Way when we know we have enough: when a glass of plain water is enough for our thirst, when vegetable soup and brown bread are enough for our supper, when friends chatting over a pot of tea is enough of a celebration, when knitting or gardening or reading or writing or walking in the country are enough for our leisure pursuits.

We are walking in the Quiet Way when the day starts and ends with a prayer, when we remember to give thanks for our food, when we take joy in the members of our families, when our hearts are big enough to spare a little love for our neighbour in need or lonely.

We are walking in the Quiet Way when others are safe with us, can be themselves with us, find encouragement in our company, when we are gentle and kind to those who are with us, and loyal to those who are not.

Walking in the Quiet Way we become people of quietness, who have found the eye of the storm, the Quiet Place at the centre of our turbulent being where we can rest in Christ in the midst of whatever is going on.

And sometimes we will lose our balance, fall off the tightrope and make a complete mess of things. Sometimes what we will do and be will make us absolutely ashamed of ourselves. And when that happens, God understands, and He forgives us, and we can simply start again.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Tiny Ant can start a Revolution

So here we are at Greenbelt, UK’s hippy Christian festival that speaks up with passion for social justice and re-imagining the world according to the principles of the Kingdom, having a groovy time. The photo is a view of the Alahambra Palace, a wonderful toyshop with a sign saying 'Miraculous Simplicity', raising money to restore a derelict watermill in Cumbria. Inside the Palace was like the interior of a gipsy caravan, woodstove and all. There was also a small windmill on top, with a Jolly Roger attached.

I have done (okay, a tad prematurely) a fair chunk of my Christmas shopping, rushing excitedly from stall to stall overflowing with beautiful colourful handcrafted fair-traded artefacts that are changing international society while solving my increasingly challenging gift dilemmas in one go. Hooray!

I can neither tell you nor show you what I have bought in case (ssssh!) Father Christmas is put in a compromised position by having his recipients early alerted to his intended surprises. I can tell you they are fab and groovy though, and the Elves will be feeling less tense than usual when Advent comes around.

In amongst this shopping spree I did make a valiant and semi-successful attempt at attending some seminars. I wanted to hear John Bell speaking on Imagination – really wanted to: last time I came to Greenbelt, back in about 1992, John Bell gave a whole series of talks and I went to every one, concluding that if he asked me to follow him to the ends of the earth I would go cheerfully, pram and all. Greenbelt has revved up since those days, and now if you want to go to a seminar you have to queue – and I do mean queue, though you won’t necessarily get in as everyone else is queuing right there ahead of you.

John Bell’s queue was not allowed to commence until three-quarters of an hour before his seminar, unlike one the previous day where queuing had commenced three and a half hours before the event! Half an hour before John Bell’s the queue was about a mile long and people were sitting there in camp chairs making an afternoon of it, with a burly Yorkshireman bearing a bright blue placard saying END OF THE QUEUE, Greenbelt’s variant on ‘Repent the End is nigh’. I gave up.

But I did get to Tom Sine’s seminar about re-imagining society. He talked about the New Monasticism; re-forming society along lines built on community living, as a way to affirm and celebrate life in the face of deepening recession and widening gaps between rich and poor. He described the New Monasticism as being delineated by Liturgy, Rhythm and Direction – which is to say I guess that it has a praying together element, a regular rhythm of shared life and work, and a common vision.

He spoke about new initiatives for communal living, and at one point he asked who of us gathered there lived in community. ‘We do!’ I said excitedly to the Badger who was there with me. ‘No we don’t:’ he disagreed, ‘we just live with our family.’

Later, talking about it together, I outlined again at some length (!) my utopian vision for re-modelling the world starting with the Wilcock family.

When hard times hit us and we were scattered, at one point I asked the tribe to keep in mind that Hastings would eventually be Home. Those who wanted to keep the family together could converge on Hastings, and one day we would all make our way back: which we have. In moving back this last winter, we looked only at houses in a small nexus of roads, so as to be within walking distance of the other family members – and now we all live no more than fifteen minutes walk from one another, and each household can reach the other by Tricycle Routes (ie child friendly paths that go through the park or tiny quiet roads and alleys).

Living together as we do (whether in one house or shared proximity) has allowed our money to stretch the furthest possible. Money that has come to us from the generosity and frugality of the grandparent layer (mine and Badger’s) of the family, which would have been enough to finance one household living conventionally (ie, me and the Badger, and the younger generation can wait their turn to inherit) has contributed significantly to married households getting started in their own houses and to securing accommodation spacious enough both to allow unmarried family members to live alongside us and create an important bolt-hole for the remnants of the grand-parent generation. It’s been my observation that older people can continue the independence so precious to them provided they have such a bolt-hole to come and stay when they are tired or discouraged or unwell.

The price of accommodation has risen by ridiculous levels over the last decade. In 2000 I bought a 2-roomed apartment for £26,000.00. I sold it in 2007 for just shy of £100,000.00. Prices have come down again since then. Perhaps it would sell today for £75k or £80k?? But no way has the price gap between 26k and 80k been closed by increasing wages since 2000. Many people in our town earn between £7k and £12k a year. Anyone earning over £20k is among the well-off. Our family is, in the main, not among the well-off. Sharing a home makes the difference between the impossible and the possible, the terrifyingly unmanageable and security.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Living as we do keeps overheads down to an amazingly low level – especially as our household is frugal, simple and almost completely vegan. We grow our own veg, we make our own entertainment by being together, and we live a small precarious on-the-edge kind of life. This means that we are free to answer God’s call on our lives: a freelance stone mason, a stained-glass artist , a full-time Christian writer – and one of us working as the chief cook and bottle-washer in a log cabin on the shores of a lake teaching youngsters to live in and love the wilderness, a summer occupation only. You can see at a glance, none of us is going to get rich this way! Of the rest of us, one works for the town council with the midwifery school, one of us is a full-time mother and intends to home-school, one of us publishes Christian books, and two of us are musicians. One of the musicians and the stained glass artist also back up their vocational work with relatively undemanding day-jobs that leave a lot of creative space respected and free in the soul. So the way we have chose to live also allows a kind of minor tribal renaissance. Or so we like to think.

It's important that we have support systems in place, because a crucial aspect of this is that some of us have no intention of ever becoming rich. We have noticed that our government likes to spend a lot of money on guns and bombs, we were dismayed by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we do not like to think that we are helpng to finance such ventures. We prefer to stay within the law (though I admire those Quakers who withold in protest the proportion of their taxes that would be spent on war), so our strategy is to keep our earnings so low that we pay little or no tax, but by living together allow our earnings to cover what is necessary to provide for our daily needs and take care of one another. Council Tax we don't mind paying, because that goes directly to the local services like schools and roads and hospitals and police, which we feel a citizen's duty to share in supporting.

And it doesn’t just stop with the finances. Somewhere in my wide-ranging reading about the Amish (possibly in the book called ‘After the Fire’) I came across reference to the Stolzfuss family’s approach to church, which was that it melded seamlessly with their approach to life, and was based squarely on family. As family they farmed, traded, lived and worship: life without dislocation, joined-up living. The writer identified this as creating a very strong foundation on which to build; and I believe it to be so. When we live a family life of mutual support and trust, when we know that we can absolutely depend on the love and backing of the rest of tribe, so that their resources are our resources and they will never let us down, then as people we become strong: we become those who can contribute, build, and give.

I know that as an individual, in ministry I am weak: but in the context of my family, that capacity for ministry is strengthened beyond recognition – by ministry I mean teaching, worship, intercession, hospitality, and the healing and prophetic life.

After listening to Tom Sine today, it occurred to me that there are two aspects to bringing in the Kingdom, creating the Revolution, which might be classified as:
Public and Domestic, or
Masculine and Feminine, or
Structural/Strategic and Detailed Everyday Minutiae, or
Aspirational Dream and Mundane Nitty-Gritty or
Visionary and Earthed, or
Macro and Micro

Both aspects are political and theological, and essential for the thing to work. Tom spoke about how he loves to cook, and how he would rather be in the kitchen making supper for the grand-kids than a guest-speaker to a packed audience all the way across the Atlantic at the Greenbelt Festival. But whatever his personal preferences might have been, he was where he was. And it occurred to me that you do need a team. In order for any of us to be overseas igniting the vision, some of us have to stay and keep the home fires burning. Part of the revolution is about speaking and teaching and strategizing and platforms and speeches and publications: part of it is about watering the vegetable garden and reading bedtime stories and waiting for the right weather to do the laundry so it dries on the line in the wind.

Both halves of the equation must be present to fulfil the prophetic life.

What encouraged me today, as I listened to Tom Sine who attracted an audience filling the tent to bursting and whose books are avidly read and widely respected, was the reflection that, yes, we are doing this. We, who have (most of us) written no books and spoken to no audience, who will never be remembered or celebrated because we haven’t been heard of in the first place, by making Kingdom choices and stewarding our time and resources in our lifetime the Kingdom way, can be the Revolution we dream of.

When my husband Bernard died and my daughter and I left his little cottage on the edge of the woods and returned to an urban existence, we realized as we drove into town that we’d unwittingly brought a stowaway with us. Sitting on the dashboard of the car was a wood-ant, still clutching the little piece of bark she’d been bringing home to contribute to the building of the Great City.

Here we have no abiding city, but we look for the city that is to come: and I firmly believe that however quiet our voice and however overlooked our lives, we will find a way to bring whatever small piece we have managed to hang on to, and together we will build the new Jerusalem.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


It seems to me that the simple message:
needs to fly round the world.

If that simple piece of information could get lodged into the common mind of the human race, then our experience of life on this earth would radically improve.

People think many different things about trees, and often people are afraid of trees. Even in England where trees are loved, I oftentimes hear people say: ‘That tree’s taking over! It’s growing bigger!’ about a tree in their yard.

Trees are often blamed for damaging house foundations, sometimes correctly, often incorrectly.

As we in the western world get ever more neurotic and anal about the way we like things done, trees are cut down because they are messy, because they drop leaves, or blossoms, or fruit, or drip sticky stuff.

It’s much like having your lungs amputated to stop that nasty green stuff that you cough up into your hanky when you have a cold.

Trees slow down the movement of water through the landscape.

Their root systems stabilize the topsoil.

Their canopy provides shade and also moisturizes the air.

Tree are the lungs of the earth.

There is no future hope for the human race on earth unless we plant and nurture trees.

I have looked at a lot of pictures of Amish farms, because I love the Plain people. I notice they are not planting trees as they should be. Field after field rolls across the landscape with hardly a tree to be seen.

In England, people are putting decking and patios and brick paths instead of plants in their garden.

All plants, but especially trees, protect and stabilize eco-systems, keeping safe the animals, insects and birds and the human race.

Please, if you love the Earth, if you love and honour the Creator of the Earth, if you love your neighbour, if you want to do something about the escalating problem of drought and flood and environmental pollution – PLANT AND PROTECT TREES.

Plain sisters reading this – you are the ones who exercise stewardship and plant gardens in your yards: you are the ones who read blogs online and can influence the men who make the decisions. Please use your influence to plant trees.

We need them. Trees sustain life.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Sister Moon... clear and serene...

...beautiful in quietness, peaceful, comfortable with the darkness.

And, today also, Friendly Wind came and tossed the washing all day, so that when the evening drew down the clothes were soft and pliable, ready to be folded and go directly into the drawers, all creases gone.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The words life speaks

Life speaks.

Doesn’t it?

That is not just my fancy?

This last week or two, I have been feeling so beleaguered. In this house, that we moved into last November and had builders in until the spring, the second wave of building works is commencing. We’d finally established a sense of the household working as a community, and begun to settle down. It had begun to feel like home, calm and normal.

But today Alice’s and Hebe’s studio is being ripped apart for necessary work to be done. The boiler must be changed and the bathroom and toilet upstairs altered, and a door to the garden made in the living room downstairs. Our builder is a quiet, courteous, gentle man, and a good craftsman – and he has come to feel like a friend. Even so… we are very shy, private people, and the thought of everything upheavalling again has been unbearable. The pains have come back in my arms and I haven’t been able to settle to anything, wandering round like a lost soul feeling guilty for not applying myself to my work. I go a bit out of orbit, lose myself, feel insecure in the world (plus writing has gone manic with two books that should have been put to bed come back with further work to be done and problems to solve, and new deadlines looming. Aaaagh).

Then two things happened. A Jehovah’s witness showed up on our doorstep wanting to talk to Alice (not home) who had been kind to her. She talked to me for a while, and left me with a Bible verse: ‘Jeremiah 29.11,’ she said: ‘look up Jeremiah 29:11 in whatever Bible you read.’

Then we had a call from Grace. Alice (who’d come home) took the call. I could tell it was really important, but couldn’t tell if it was good or bad. Alice gave a little gasp and went slightly pink and had an aura of intense quiet excitement. I thought either someone had died or won the lottery. But no. Grace had found a hedgehog in her conservatory. I agree that is at least as exciting as dying and a lot more exciting than winning the lottery: I haven’t seen a hedgehog since 1995. Not even a dead one.

So we raced over there with our cameras. It had found its way in through the open conservatory door and put itself to bed in a bag of bags. She’d heard it rustling, and was just a bit inexplicably afraid of its aliveness – and anyway thought we’d like to see.

We took it out of the bag and put it in a sheltered place in the garden with a plate of catfood and a bowl of water. We took lots of photos and Grace videoed it – I think she will put the clips up on Facebook.

Hmm. A hedgehog rolled up in a tight ball against a cold wind and a difficult world. But there are kindly people who mean well and provide rescue from the inadvisable shelter of plastic bags, and offer free catfood. Life is not always as dangerous or frightening as it seems.

And Jeremiah 29:11, it turns out, says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Today I have learned this new word. Gelassenheit.

Sometimes encountering a new word stirs up wonder as much as meeting a captivating new person who lingers in every corner of the psyche long after the time together is over.

Gelassenheit. It has given me so much to think about. Here follows what I have learned.

Lassen means to leave, so gelassen means to leave go or let go. ‘-heit’ as an ending is comparable to the English ‘-ness’ (eg fröhlichkeit and happiness – I guess the k comes about because you can’t really have fröhlichheit): so gelassenheit is letting-go-ness, the ability to let things be, to leave them as they are, to let them rest and not pursue them when it is not wise.

It isn’t only a passive thing though, a refraining from disturbing what was better left alone; gelassenheit, like ‘letting go’, can also be understood in active terms as releasing-ness – having in one’s heart the attitude that allows freedom. So this might be forgiveness, the ability to let go a grudge or a spiritual debt (or a financial debt for that matter), or having about oneself the kind of comfortableness that engenders release from tension and anxiety. It’s a peaceable, forgiving word. The Amish, who value gelassenheit, are known sometimes as Die Stille im Lande (maybe best translated as the Quiet People in our Midst), and gelassenheit is part of what underlies that quietness.

The German philosopher Heidegger liked the word. He described it as having the spirit or attitude of availability before What-Is that lets us be content to leave things in their inchoate or potential form of mystery and uncertainty. In the terminology of the Church, that would be like the contemplative prayer of the mystic tradition, that gazes upon God in adoration that forbears from analysis. And indeed Heidegger did come upon the word in the tradition of Christian mysticism, in the writings of Meister Eckhart.

Eckhart talked about the poverty of spirit (as in, ‘How blessed are the poor in spirit’ of the Sermon on the Mount) in terms of contentment: when desire and will and ambition are stilled because the soul has found her peace in God, wanting only what God wants, satisfied with what God gives, and therefore at peace with what is.
Eckhart says that the prerequisite for this condition is an empty spirit, immersed in the beloved will of God, having no desire for any thing of its own accord but only for what God in His good pleasure chooses to give. And indeed, what point could there be in desiring anything else? If God has not willed or given it, of what value could it be?

He (Eckhart not God) says that, when they hear about this gelassenheit, oftentimes people become all stirred up wanting to make changes in their circumstances – engage in a specific course of action, go and live in a hermitage or join a special community or something – but he says all of that is just about yourself really. He says that the way to find quietness and rest in God’s will is to leave/abandon yourself; as Jesus said, Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself… And Eckhart says the way to make a start with that is wherever you find yourself, deny yourself. He says that this should apply to how we direct our goodness, that we should not be fussy or choosy about how or where we are good, not select this or that course of action, not do good so much as just be good. And he says we should even apply gelassenheit to our ideas about God, letting go of preconceptions and theological constructs so as to leave ourselves unhindered and open to experience directly the mystery immanent and transcendent that lies beyond all our intellection pigeonholing of the Divine.

Gelassenheit, letting go of everything, is a primal state of simplicity allowing us directly to experience the reality of God (this is how Eckhart sees it).

It also manifests in such virtues as humility and mercy, for it is willing to let go of status, privilege and deserved place, and willing to let go of grievances and grudges and the right to punish and pass judgement.

Gelassenheit is a key concept in the Amish way of life, and underlies their aversion to individualistic self-expression. In Amish culture gelassenheit manifests as calmness and meekness, composure, stolidity, imperturbability, and also as submission – the willingness to relinquish self-interest or one’s own way and will.

Why I at the present moment find this word so illuminating is that I can immediately see its relevance to the practice of head-covering, for that arises out of the Christian tradition of submission. I personally dislike the word ‘submission’, because for me it imports association with sadism, power games, domination and life-stifling cruelty and selfishness – not attractive, then! But if I substitute for ‘submission’ the term ‘gelassenheit’, that imports for me an entirely new perspective – relinquishing self-image and agendas in favour of allowing the way things are to simply be, letting go of addiction to power and status, permitting the flow of grace, letting the sweetness of humility permeate relationships, allowing the freedom of detachment like taking off a constricting corset or cutting a sheep free from a strand of barbed wire fencing tangled tight in its fleece.

Headcovering as gelassenheit is a relaxing of the grasping fist, opening the hand in the stream of grace instead of vainly clutching at the living water, opening the cage door to let the imprisoned bird fly free.

It’s not a million miles from the wu-wei of the Tao – the art of non-doing – (see Chapter 37 of the Tao Te Ching) whereby without apparently doing anything, effortlessly the sage achieves everything.

Staying with the Tao for a minute, gelassenheit is also reminiscent of the Valley Spirit (see Chapter 6 & Chapter 28 of the Tao), the feminine principle which receives, which allows penetration by the other, taking the lowest place like the riverbed at the bottom of the valley, lying below what is above. This humility and passivity (in the true sense of the word passive; permitting, allowing) is recognized in the Tao as immensely powerful – ‘The sea is the king of a hundred streams because it lies below them’. ‘The greatest misfortune is the self,’ says Chapter 13: ‘If I have no self, what misfortune do I have?’

In Chapter 7 Lao Tsu points out that the reason Heaven and Earth continue without being exhausted is that they do not live for themselves – and immediately I can see that is true. The whole nature of sin, the whole ecological and environmental disaster that humanity is, comes about because of selfishness, self-aggrandisment, self-interest. Gelassenheit would permit the earth to heal.

And in Chapter 8 Lao Tsu says that wise people are like water, finding their way unassumingly to the lowest place.

Chapter 13 continues:
So one who values the self as the world
Can be given the world
One who loves the self as the world
Can be entrusted with the world

Thus gelassenheit makes the spirit as wide and kind as the sky, full of understanding, gentle and receptive.

Gelassenheit among the Amish is the refusal to be self-promoting, embracing insignificance, avoiding pushing oneself forward.

I guess it also accepts if need be the condition of finding oneself to be counter-culture, laughable and at odds with the mainstream, accepting that awkward and uncomfortable experience with the peace of the person who has built her nest in the will of God. At the top of this entry I have posted again a picture I’ve shown you before of a nest we saw and photographed up on Blubberhouses Moor in North Yorkshire, tucked down in a deep crevice within the rock formations there: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee’; ‘Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God’ (Psalm 84:3 KJV).

What I am finding is that the practice of headcovering has its own language, and is potent for this genre of spiritual experience. It speaks to me, in a way that I had never expected. The headcovering talks to me all day long without ever really saying anything, about gelassenheit and the principle of humility and the valley spirit, the way of peace. That seems like a jolly good thing to me.

New books - mine and hers

Donna Fletcher Crow, whose website is here, writes historical novels and is embarking on a murder mystery series, starting with A Very Private Grave.
She also runs a blog, Deeds of Darkness, Deeds of Light, and kindly invited me along as a guest blogger to write about my new novel, The Hardest Thing To Do, that will be out in early 2011 published by Crossway. You can see the article I wrote for her blog here.

This is what Amazon has to say about Donna's A Very Private Grave:

"Like a P. D. James novel A Very Private Grave occupies a learned territory. Also a beautifully described corner of England, that of the Northumbrian coast where St. Cuthbert's Christianity retains its powerful presence. Where myth and holiness, wild nature and tourism, art and prayer run in parallel, and capture the imagination still." (Review by Ronald Blythe )

Description of the story
"Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood. Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony-who is wanted for questioning by the police-flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert. Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle . . . and considerable danger."

Cor! Exciting!!