Arthur: Literature for Pentecost

At the Stillpoint “is a journey of the imagination guided by poets and authors, both classic and contemporary, who have known the things of God but speak in metaphor.” —Sarah Arthur in At the Still Point (Paraclete Press, 2011), p. 7.

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At the Still Point by Sarah Arthur is a literary compilation of daily and weekly readings and prayers designed for the long green liturgical season between the Day of Pentecost and Advent. Arthur has also published similar guides for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany (Light Upon Light); and for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter (Between Midnight and Dawn).

In these twenty-nine weeks between the Day of Pentecost and the first Sunday in Advent, Arthur kindles our imagination as she exposes us to brief excerpts or short works of well-known writers—as well as offerings from authors we may not know but should! Arthur warns us that as we encounter some of the readings in this anthology, there should be an alert: “Warning: Powerful Spiritual Moment Ahead!” She suggests that we read these passages not as assignments for our English Literature class or for pleasure, but as liturgical pieces for worship and especially prayer.

Each week begins with an outline for the next seven days, consisting of an opening prayer, Scripture passages, readings from literature, a place for personal prayer and reflection, and a closing prayer. Arthur suggests applying the ancient principles of lectio divina or divine reading that many of us have used with Scripture, now applied to selected weekly poetry and fiction writings. We read the passage, meditate on it, pay attention to a word or phrase that connects to us, and finally rest in God’s presence with what we have experienced. It has been helpful to me to carry that word or phrase with me during the day, or perhaps the whole week. Since this process is now being used for literature and poetry rather than with Scripture, Arthur has christened it holy reading or lectio sacra.

I invite you to journey with me and with Sarah Arthur during this “Ordinary Season” with an extraordinary spiritual practice of daily worship and prayer.