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“Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: “I don’t know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down.” But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.”

“One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.” – Henri Nouwen.

In Aristotle’s Ethics, he asks: How should a human being live his life?

Robert McKee responds, “Traditionally humankind has sought the answer to Aristotle’s question from the four wisdoms–philosophy, science, religion, and art–taking insight from each to bolt together a livable meaning. But today who reads Hegel or Kant without an exam to pass? Science, once the great explicator, garbles life with complexity and perplexity. Who can listen without cynicism to economists, sociologists, politicians? Religion, for many, has become an empty ritual that masks hypocrisy. As our faith in traditional ideologies diminishes, we turn to the source we still believe in: the art of story” (Story, 11-12).

While his observations about religion may be true, Scripture has a story to tell. If we’ll pay attention to our life with God, we’ll have a story to tell too.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been one week. Last week I traveled to West Virginia to visit family and attend the Ohio Valley University Lectureship. Sunday night I received a voice mail from Traci saying that our oldest son was in the emergency room. My cell phone coverage is spotty in the area. The phone hadn’t rung and I only received the voicemail. Traci’s voice was breaking in the message and I was so far away. All I knew was he was in the emergency room following a bike accident. He had hit his head and had a seizure.

I tried calling Traci, but had trouble getting in touch with her. I did talk to her that night. The CT scans were looking good. I asked if I needed to return home. I was probably not in a good condition to drive, at least not that far on no sleep. She told me to stay and she’d update me when she knew more. I tried getting in touch with her throughout the night, but I was unsuccessful. I went on to teach my class at the lectureship.

I was able to talk to my son on Monday. I asked if he wanted me to come home. He thought that would be nice. I left the next day as soon as I could get away. I had planned to stay until Thursday and head back through Morgantown on my return. I had left clothes and other items in Morgantown. They’ll have to wait until a return trip.

He’s doing remarkably well in his recovery. He fractured his skull, but there’s no internal bleeding. He’s moving slowly and sleeping a lot, but at this point that’s a good thing. I am just so thankful that he will be okay.

This is the topic I spoke on at the OVU lectureship. I wish I had this quote a week earlier.

“Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.

“As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God’s voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.” (Henri Nouwen).

As a friend of mine says, “You’re unique . . . just like everyone else.”

John Ortberg shares the following:

“God works differently with each of us.

He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, Adam take the rap.

He gave Moses a 40-year timeout, He gave David a harp and a dance, He gave Paul a pen and a scroll.

He wrestled with Jacob, argued with Job, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain, and comforted Hagar.

He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle.

Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross.

God never grows two people the exact same way. God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer.”

“Trees that grow tall have deep roots. Great height without great depth is dangerous. The great leaders of this world – like St. Francis, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., – were all people who could live with public notoriety, influence, and power in a humble way because of their deep spiritual rootedness.

“Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are. But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self. Our clinging to the opinion of others reveals how superficial we are. We have little to stand on. We have to be kept alive by adulation and praise. Those who are deeply rooted in the love of God can enjoy human praise without being attached to it.” (Henri Nouwen)

I headed out of town for a few days for a personal retreat. I went to the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. I camped. I gave me some time to read and pray, think and exercise. I read half a dozen books and quite a few Psalms. I used a couple of “Book of Hours” as prayer guides. I hiked a few of the trails and explored different areas of the park. It was a good few days.

I’ll be teaching a couple of classes at OVU’s lectureship next week. This was a good opportunity to think about what I’ll be saying. I still have more to do to get ready, but I’m looking forward to the time in WV.