Barbara Brown Taylor: Spiritual Practices, Movies, Short Stories

Barbara Brown Taylor: Spiritual Practices, Movies, Short Stories

"Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way—once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are, and how near God can be when you have lost your way."

Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

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 I have been in groups that watched for the presence of God in movies, not necessarily religious movies. One of my favorites is Places in the Heart where Sally Fields as a recently widowed farmer’s wife in rural Texas during the depression takes in a blind boarder, John Malkovich, and with the help of an African American drifter, Danny Glover, raises and picks cotton to keep her farm.  Stop here if you do not want to know more, but the movie ends with all of the characters living and dead, black and white, murdered victim and murderer, kind and unkind, faithful and unfaithful passing communion and love to each other at their local rural church.

I am in another group that reads contemporary short stories to find the voice of God. We have used a four-volume series, Listening for God edited by an English professor from Yale University, Paula Carlson, and a professor of Religion, Peter Hawkins. One of my favorite stories is A Small Good Thing by Raymond Carver about a couple whose child dies and the baker who had made him a birthday cake. Spoiler alert! This story also ends with the three of them having a form of communion late at night at the baker’s shop.

We find communion, spiritual practices all around us in our daily life if we have eyes to see, hears to ear, when we can live in the present and reach out and see what is going on with our neighbor right in front of us.