At Relief we’re always interested not just in great writing, but in getting that work into the hands of ordinary church-goers—no English degree required. But while plenty of people think of themselves as novel readers or even nonfiction readers, very few people think of themselves as poetry readers; the poetry people are always presumed to be in some sort of world of their own. But this summer I decided to try a little experiment and run a church small group on reading contemporary Christian poetry.
L’Abri Fellowship has the unpredictability, fragility, and sacredness of conversation —real conversation— at the heart of its day-to-day life. But every Monday, the L’Abri community pushes a pause button on its traditional daily “discussion lunch,” and we all eat in silence. Together, but in silence. Monday also happens to be the international L’Abri day of prayer. So from 1-2 p.m. in a Manor House in Greatham, England we try to still our racing minds and anxious movements in order to just “be.”
We go to wilderness places to be restored, to be instructed in the natural economies of fertility and healing, to admire what we cannot make. Sometimes, as we find to our surprise, we go to be chastened or corrected. And we go in order to return with renewed knowledge by which to judge the health of our human economy and our dwelling places.
In great deeds, something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and
pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls.
And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we
know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and
done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo!
the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom,
and the power of the vision pass into their souls.