Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Spiritual and other reading This Lent I attempted to read (or in this case to finish) a spiritual book as an accompaniment to daily prayer. Henri Nouwen's Sabbatical Journey, a volume my wife picked up for me a few months ago was indeed an interesting read. Though the psalms we often more fruitful as prayer material, there was a lot of resonance for me in journeying with Nouwen. First, that journal took place during my first year in Iowa, when Anita and I were engaged and during the first eight months of our married life. I even paged back in my old journal to see what I was writing in those days. Looking back, it was a fruitful and happy time, though I was also dealing with the terminal illness of my father, and the final discernment stages of a renovation at a new parish. Strange how looking back on what seemed to be a difficult time made me think primarily of what I learned then and how God was indeed with me. I was very scared heading into marriage at age 36, but I see that even my doubts and fears were an opportunity for God's grace. I was struck in reading Sabbatical Journey of Nouwen's death just a few weeks after he completed this book. His reports of feeling tired struck me as almost creepy. Just as we can miss God close at hand in troubled times, how often (I thought) am I getting into trouble unknowingly because I'm not paying attention to the signs? Yesterday, I found a book by Basil Pennington on the floor of my den under a magazine rack. I had set it aside meaning to read it almost two years ago. So I'm going to maintain my Lenten practice of daily spiritual reading well into Easter, it seems. Good. I felt good about scheduling my annual retreat at Conception Abbey yesterday. Family vacation was set up earlier today, heading into some new territory this summer: the Ozarks. We'll be adding Arkansas, and perhaps Oklahoma to our family state list. On the science front, I've just finished Grinspoon's Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life which I found to be excellent. I'm now reading Peter Matthiessen's End of the Earth: Voyaging to Antarctica, which promises to be the best book on Antarctica since I read Sara Wheeler's outstanding Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica. The backdrop of all this is having Triduum relatively under control at this point. I only have two big Masses to worry about as a music leader, three to be the sacristan/mc, one morning prayer to preach and preside, Good Friday stations to songlead. Not much compared to previous years. Preparations are going pretty smoothly, so I should be in a calm and quieted way when Holy Thursday liturgy commences tomorrow night.