Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dance of Hope (and a note on journaling)

Dear friends,

I went to the library last Thursday to pick up a copy of the classic novel Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, since we enjoyed the movie. I've decided, though, that I'm not even going to open it because it's way too thick for me to even hope to finish! However, on my way back to the children's section with Ben, I passed through the religion aisle, and paused for a moment to see if anything looked interesting. First I picked out The Eyes of the Heart, a memoir of Frederick Buechner, a noted novelist and retired Presbyterian minister. I have wanted to read Buechner's book because I like some of of his poignant quotes that I've collected over the years. Unfortunately, after reading it, I am keenly disappointed with his theological outlook, which is laced with both universalism and tinges of occultism. Sigh.

The other book I chose, and heartily enjoyed, was The Dance of Hope: Finding Ourselves in the Rhythm of God's Great Story by William Frey (a retired Episcopal bishop). Frey evidently has a dynamic relationship with God, and I easily related to his stories of crises of faith in realizing that his outward image did not match his inward reality. (People often tell me how I must be so organized or patient or whatever other noble character quality they are thinking of at the moment. I must come across as perfect when I try to share what works and what encourages me in life, whereas I am not at liberty to air much dirty laundry in public. I trust you can understand the need for reserve and discretion there!)

I thought you might appreciate some quotes from The Dance of Hope, which is a reminder of how Jesus brings about the new creation in history and in our lives. These are just snippets and snapshots of a very full book. I actually took 10 handwritten pages of notes in my journal, and I'm going to photocopy a few page spreads as well. A note about journals while I am on the subject... I have kept journals since I was a teenager, usually in a compact hardbound format. During my younger motherhood years, there would be months and months when I wrote nothing at all in them. About two years ago, that changed. I experienced my own midlife crisis of faith (and subsequent renewal), and suddenly I could not go more than a day or so without writing in it. If I received a letter or an e-mail, I would fold it up and tape it in. Several months ago, I hesitantly decided to switch my journal format. I now keep a scrapbook journal of sorts so I could just hole-punch my extra stuff. Yes, I print out and save just about everything that is meaningful to me! This has been such a "means of grace" in my life. My only problem is that my notebooks get really fat really fast. Such is life. I highly recommend journaling, especially in the notebook format!

On to the book quotes...

"They knew the words, but they hadn't heard the music." (This is speaking of the Sadducees questioning the reality of resurrection, but how many of us are like this? Do we know something mentally that hasn't yet hit our hearts?)

"Hope is the ability to hear the melody of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it today." (Author unknown)

"The grace of God does not rewrite history -- what's done is done. But that grace is able to begin to heal the wounds of our history and to offer us a foretaste of the promised future shalom, where all will be reconciled."

"Rebirth is not simply a change of religious parties, but a radical reordering of our whole understanding of life, the world, and our place in it."

"The Christian community is the new Ark, constantly expanding as more and more folk come aboard... And they'll discover that this Ark isn't a cruise ship, but a fishing boat."

Of conquering an addiction: "I attributed it to a quiet exercise of God's grace, an unexpected gift of strength, and for the first time in years, I was able to make a truly free decision about what I put into my body."

Quoting a woman speaking of God's presence: "I try to carry this tiny, smudged understanding with me, to polish it and make it a window, to focus the world in its frame."

"The fullness of the Christian life is not produced by information and learning alone, but by an infusion of power that converts the learning into glorious expectation."

"Story is the universal tongue. Everybody loves a story. All of us seem to be descended from that fabled king in The Thousand and One Nights, who night after night, begged Scheherazade to finish the story she'd begun the night beofre.... Stories not only entertain us, they have the power, for good or for ill, to shape our universe, to teach us our values, to tell us who we are, and to enable us to dream about who we might become."

"A sword that remains in its sheath is nothing more than an ornament or an artifact. Something to be appraised on Antiques Road Show. But released from its scabbard and placed in the hands of a skillful warrior, it has great power."

"If I can use a sports analogy, Jesus is like a player-coach who invites others to the big game, not by handing out tickets, but uniforms."

Quoting Peter Kreeft: "If life on earth is not a road to heaven, then it is a treadmill, a merry-go-round minus the merry."

"But we'll be careful to be peacemakers and not peacekeepers. Peacekeepers are likely to overlook the causes of pain and suffering, to avoid dealing with it in order to maintain some kind of equilibrium regardless of what it may be based on. Peacekeepers prefer the status quo and are apt to tell the hungry to quiet down lest they disturb the sleep of the overfed."

This last quote is not mere rhetoric for the author. When he was bishop of Guatemala in the early 1970s, he and a handful of other clerics sought to bring about peace in a nation during a bloody civil war. He was falsely accused of being a communist by the right-wing government and immediately expelled from the country. Bishop Frey's life is marked by a deep concern for both justice and peace, which he always refers to as "shalom."

That's all for now. I need to go do other things in my life today!


P.S. Christian Book Distributors does not carry this book, which was published in 2003 by Waterbrook Press. Here is the link to buy it used on Amazon! You can get it for as low as a penny plus shipping.

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