Barbara Brown Taylor, Spiritual Direction in the World
“People can learn as much about the ways of God from business deals gone bad or sparrows falling to the ground as they can from reciting the books of the Bible in order. They can learn as much from a love affair or a wildflower as they can from knowing the Ten Commandments by heart.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, HarperOne 2009
I received this quote from Barbara Brown Taylor today from Synthesis, A Weekly Resource for Preaching and Worship in the Episcopal Tradition http://www.synthesispub.com. I look to my right where my husband just bought a new bookcase today to house closer to me all the book I have read over the years that I want to share with you this year on this blog about spiritual direction. Then I look straight ahead out of a floor to ceiling window to the outside and watch a gentle July summer rain bathe the trees just outside between our house and our neighbors. I can also hear the rhythm of the rain on the roof above where there is very little insulation in our “modern” 1960’s home. We will soon have dinner with our children and grandchildren in their new home across the street. What a blessing just to walk across the road to be with grandchildren, our greatest gifts, our most important visitors we will entertain. I learn from them every time I see them about simple joy and unconditional love and wide-eyed excitement about life. All of these are learning experiences. I hope I can hold on to my gratitude for them that I have learned from Barbara Brown Taylor. She was a speaker this week at the Buechner Writing For Your Life Conference in Nashville at Belmont University that I attended. She is still the amazing writer, speaker, and teacher she was when I first read her over thirty years ago. If you have a chance to hear her, don’t miss it.
She has taught all of us so much about an awareness of the altars in the world that keep us constantly connected to the God of our understanding if only we have eyes and ears to see and hear and hands to touch and even noses to smell. Yes, the smell of a summer rain is not unlike the smell of a well-known costly incense from Smoky Mary’s in Manhattan (Church of St. Mary the Virgin). The altars in our churches are also thin places where we especially go to give thanks for our altars in the world.