I’m not naturally a joyful person. (Just ask my wife: she says I’m more often broody and intense.) But there’s is great song of joy going on all around us, and sometimes, I just have to chime in.
(Sheet music for the hymn “The Stars Sing Out Your Song of Joy” is available from the Free Stuff page on this web site.)
I’ve been thinking about the deep connection between our physical longings and our spiritual longings — between our physical joys and our spiritual joys. In this issue of The Merry Mystic, I share a new hymn that rejoices in that connection. Then I talk about the missing verse: a verse I didn’t write that was begging to be written. As you listen to the song, can you guess what’s missing?
(Sheet music for the hymn “When I Hunger” is available from the Free Stuff page on this web site.)
This is a guided prayer practice using a happy food memory. Take ten minutes of quiet time and try it. I don’t appear in the video at all, but there’s a red-headed woodpecker that comes and goes.
What food memory did you use? How did that work for you?
There’s a funny story about the end of King David’s life—a story we don’t usually read aloud in church. This is from 1 Kings 1:1-4, in the King James Version:
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
Gat no heat? Ouch … I hate it when that happens …
So, on a more serious note: what does a healthy stance toward the Bible look like to you? Scroll down and tell us about it.
The Practice of the Presence of God
Apropos of my “Cloverleaf Rolls” segment, I recommend The Practice of the Presence of God: the collected sayings and writings of Brother Lawrence, a French monk of the seventeenth century. He was a lay brother, a man of modest education, who served for most of his life in the monastery kitchen. He said:
In the ways of God, thoughts amount to little whereas love counts for everything. And it is not necessary to have important things to do. I flip my little omelette in the frying pan for the love of God, and when it’s done, if I have nothing to do, I prostrate myself on the floor and adore my God who gave me the grace to do it, after which I get up happier than a king. When I can do nothing else, it is enough for me to pick up a straw from the ground for the love of God.
The sayings and writings of Brother Lawrence have been published in many languages and editions since his death in 1691; in English, they are usually entitled The Practice of the Presence of God. A good scholarly edition is Conrad De Meester, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, Salvatore Sciurba, tr. (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1994).
Here’s my favorite bread recipe: cloverleaf rolls.
Is there an activity like this in your life — something that might seem mundane, but that is (or could become) a spiritual practice for you? Please tell us about it!
P.S. For those who’d like to try it, here’s that recipe for cloverleaf rolls.
1. Stir a packet of yeast into half a cup of warm water, with an eighth of a teaspoon of sugar. Give it five minutes or so to show you it’s alive.
2. Mix together three and a half cups of flour (that’s about a pound), two tablespoons of butter (I grated it in, because I couldn’t find my pastry knife), two teaspoons of salt, half a cup of milk, a third of a cup of water, and one egg. Once it’s thoroughly mixed, let it rest for five minutes or so.
3. Knead it — roughly fifty times, but who’s counting? Then put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it, and leave it in a warm place to rise. Allow an hour or more for this — it should rise to at least one and a half times its original volume. (In the video, I let it go a bit too long — it more than doubled in volume — but that’s okay too.)
4. Punch it down and knead it briefly again. Cut and roll it into small balls, and put three balls in each cup of an oiled muffin pan. It takes two 3×4 muffin pans — I usually get 18-20 rolls. Cover the pans (I used oiled cling film) and let them rise again.
5. Brush each roll with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 16 minutes, until lightly browned.
Here’s a special holiday confection from The Merry Mystic.
Be the Light!
In this week’s installment of The Merry Mystic, I share a new hymn about the earth. Three weeks ago I shared an upbeat, celebratory one: “The Harmony of the Incredible Earth.” Today’s offering is more of a lament. It balances out my feelings about this wonderful earth we inhabit. Sometimes the earth is so overwhelmingly beautiful that I just have to join in its song; sometimes the harm we’re doing, the harm I’m doing, to the earth is so sad that I just have to lament.
Sheet music for “Compassion’s Sting” is now available in the Free Stuff area.
Please leave a comment below: are you celebrating the earth’s beauty today, or lamenting its abuse, or some combination of both?
In this week’s installment of The Merry Mystic, I share a story about a fascinating weekend I spent with a Wiccan group.
Do you have any experience with the modern faces of paganism? Please leave a comment and share it with your fellow merry mystics.
In this week’s installment of The Merry Mystic, I share a little song that celebrates the way my kids used to participate in our table grace.
Do you have a story about saying grace? Please leave a comment and share it with your fellow merry mystics.
With continued thanksgiving and best blessings,