Art and religion, in their different ways, seek to find the center of things, the reality at the heart of the concrete. At times, they meet. Mark Salzman explores contemplative prayer in his brief, beautifully written third novel. It's the story of Sister John of the Cross, a member of a Carmelite monastery outside Los Angeles.
Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian haven in New Mexico, in 1968 welcomed its first Catholic speaker, Father Anthony Wilhelm, with whom I was to hold a public conversation. Tony began his days by saying mass in an upper room, before a congregation of Hispanic employees. Couldn’t some of the Protestant Ranch-folk drop in some day? he asked.
Ministry is befuddling, either in the way the people we serve are just so very strange, or in the way the grace of God catches us off guard—or both. Granted, some out there “get” the liturgy and sound theology we’re offering them, and in admittedly wobbly ways try to embody what the scriptures are about.
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