Prof Karen Swallow is an amazing teacher. Once I can get all of the class members together I will post a group picture. The gentlemen sitting with Karen in the cafeteria are attendees of the Glen Workshop who aren't in her class this year. At lunch they had some questions about Flannery – which she was happy to answer.
Arrival at the Santa Fe airport was on time. The shuttle that took us from the airport (pictured left )to Saint John’s College, the site of the workshop, made several stops which allowed bus risers to get a glimpse of the city of Santa Fe — very enticing! Mountains are all around- what a gorgeous setting!
Tomorrow morning we will begin the workshop at 9am. Professor Karen Swallow Prior is the mastermind behind the class ( there are many other excellent classes offered as well, as you can discover when you go to the link) called Fun With Flannery, an in-depth look at the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. So, let the fun begin!
… At the B19 Gate in the Phoenix Airport- American Airlines. Waiting for the flight to Santa Fe to arrive, then from the Santa Fe airport to a shuttle for a ride to St John’s College and check-in for The Glen Workshop. Never expected to be here too early to get into the dorms 😳but it just might happen! (Hope to include pictures of the Glen Workshop experience, but the WordPress mobile platform just crashed! Maybe pics can be edited in later…)
Well, I finally bit and installed WordPress on my iPhone. Read online at WordPress Reader about the improvements in their editing tools, codenamed "Aztec," which sounded very encouraging, so decided to try it. Truly want to believe that this will make blogging by phone a reality. One hassle to start with – was unable to see what I was typing when in landscape mode. It seems to work fine in portrait, so there's that.
Big inducement to try this was to use the dictation feature, which is what I am trying right now. Hurrah!! Very cool!
Next up… Adding images 🙂OK! Adding images is pretty slick. This may be very handy at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, coming up in a few days. For now, though, there are a few chapters in Augustine's "City of God" to read. Better get at it…
Shirley Dobson told this story many years ago at a Women of Faith gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is how I remember it:
Shirley and her husband had been associated with a rural retreat center for many years. It was a breathtaking location with many wooded paths lacing through the hilly acreage. During one of their stays at the center, Shirley was struggling with a burden that was all consuming. She told us that she prayed about it constantly, but could not escape her worries. Eventually, she came upon on a plan: she decided to find a rock to represent her concerns then place it at the foot of a favorite tree along a trail at the center. In that way, she said, she could physically surrender her anxiety to God and be free of it. Shirley did this and a sense of relief filled her.
Time passed. When Shirley was next at the retreat center the news was announced that the property had been sold, and the grounds would soon be closed. Shirley immediately thought of her “burden” rock at the base of the tree and ran quickly to the site to collect it. When she arrived at the spot, she saw that the roots of the tree had grown over her rock. There was no possible way for her to take it back – to pick up her burden again. She had given it to God and he obviously intended to keep it.
Shirley explained how shocked and embarrassed she was when she saw the rock… and how thankful. She told us that she then realized a pattern in her life: she would give her burdens to God in prayer, but later take them back again, convinced that God was not up to the task of caring for her problems. Seeing the rock, her burden, embedded in the soil, surrounded by the roots of the tree taught her the truth of the matter – God is able and God is faithful.
My friend Jean once told me about the time that she had come home after a full day at the clinic, then an hour’s drive to a hospital in the city to visit her daughter and her ill, newly born grandchild. The preemie boy, her only daughter’s only child, born to Nancy and Greg who were in their forties, was a complete surprise, an unfathomable blessing… and now, would he live?
When Jean turned into her driveway late on that full-mooned, humid, summer night, she was tired and discouraged. She looked toward her long-time home and saw an oddly shaped form hanging from the doorknob of her old, brick, country house. “Oh, bother – what now? Kids pulling pranks?” She sighed and opened the car door. As she wearily walked down the shadowy stone path, a sweet fragrance filled the air. She recognized the scent: “Plums!” she thought with surprise. “Has someone brought me some plums, God bless them?” From the path, she looked carefully at her moonlit door. Yes! Someone had left a paper bag full of plums hanging on her door handle.
With this sudden understanding, Jean’s energy returned. She walked quickly to the door and eagerly reached into the bag of fruit. Her hand found the smooth skinned, soft, fragrant fruit, and she immediately popped a plum into her mouth, remembering only then that she had eaten nothing since lunch. Now she stood there on the mat in front of her locked door eating plums, the spurting juice staining her mouth, her hands, and dripping freely to her feet on the welcome mat.
With the sticky, fragrant, red plum juice clinging to her from chin to toe, Jean let herself into the house. Hope, viscous and sweetly scented, filled her heart.
If you ever get the opportunity to speak to a three-year-old, ask them this question: “How old are you?” Chances are they will look you in the eye, hold up three fingers and say, “Free.” Ginny Junttila, my sister Claudia’s mother-in-law, who was a kindergarten teacher for decades, told me she had asked this question of many three-year-old children over the years and almost all of them had responded the same way. And then Ginny added, “Isn’t that lovely? Everyone should have a year to be “free,” don’t you think?”
Yes, I do think everyone should have a year, or more, to be free. And a place to be free, also. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christian churches were thought of as places where one is free? places where one is free to ask questions about Jesus and other important subjects? places where one is free to discover what it means to be truly human?
Perhaps we need to change our adult thinking and regain the unselfconscious mind of a three-year-old in order to grasp what it means to be free, to live in freedom in Christ.
“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ ” (Matthew 18:2-4) NIV