Shadows & Dust, Vol. IV, Issue 6

Earlier this month, I had two “Aha” moments. The first involved our yellow lab, Georgie. Every morning she wakes up and for some reason is really, really happy. I consider myself a morning person, but it takes me a little while longer than her to wake up. One day, instead of feeling annoyed that she happily jumped on our bed to tell us good morning, like normal, I saw her wiggly, waggly form with new eyes. She wasn’t thinking about all the stuff she had to do that day or the next day or the stuff she didn’t do the day before. She was just happy to be alive and awake and on our bed waking us up.

The second moment came when I visited a friend and her newborn baby girl in the hospital. I haven’t been around newborns or babies for a while, so I was surprised anew by her teeny, tiny hands and feet, her soft skin and her complete helplessness. And I wondered if that isn’t how God sees me.

Anyway, that’s enough introspection for now. With this month’s recommendations, I offer an alchemy of stories that reflect the human condition, high and low:

  • The Divine Milieu by Teilhard de Chardin — Just read this classic of Christian spirituality. Pick it up — it’s well worth the read, and it’s only 150 pages long.
  • Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly — A fictional retelling of a real-life nightmare, when women were subjected to Nazi experiments during World War II.
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance — The author, a former Marine and Yale Law School graduate, tells his story and the story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town in Ohio.
  • Episode 2 With Jennifer Herrick — Check out my latest podcast, an interview with local artist Jennifer Herrick, who shares her passion for creative expression.
  • Abbey of the Arts — This virtual monastery offers resources toward integrating spiritual practice and art, including an upcoming pilgrimage about the “Greening Power of God.”
  • Stown — A friend recommended this serial podcast to me, and like pretty much everything produced by This American Life, it’s very well done. And addictive. Meet John, an eccentric man from Alabama who hates his hometown. (Note: There is explicit language and adult content in this program.)
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