The secret behind the sound

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September 24, 2018

Early in the spring of 2016, Nancy Thomas visited my office. She had a three-ring binder – a collection of poems – and wondered if Barclay Press might make it into a book. I read those poems all the way through and agreed with Nancy that we should.

The book, Close to the Ground, came together quickly, and during the months between early spring and mid-summer, I read Nancy’s collection two or three more times. There are several poems that I especially loved – “Morning Watch,” “Why I Want to Own a Platypus,” “Prayerless among the Branches,” “All Things.” Over time, I have come to love other poems as well. One of these claims to be about a poet. But I think it must also be about God.

Nancy calls this poem “The Poet’s Gifts,” and she introduces these gifts – one at the start of each stanza: ambiguity, silence, indirection, subtlety, clarity, paradox, simplicity, specificity, mystery, and playfulness.

This morning, instead of reading Fruit of the Vine, I read Nancy’s poem. And then I read it again. And then I read it one more time. And another. I was looking for words that might help me to feel hopeful and grounded in God’s presence today. Here are some of the words I found:

the scent on the wind that beckons me enter the forest

the secret behind the sound

the minuscule wildflowers of an altiplano spring

blue skies and a straight path

homemade bread and truth

it’s OK to stomp through mud
puddles, track a grimy truth
into the house

Thank you, Nancy, for your words that spoke to me this morning. And to each of you who receive this newsletter from week to week, thank you for being part of my community. You give me hope.

Eric Muhr

P.S. Seeds of hope is the three-year campaign to fund the ministry of Barclay Press by developing new titles, supporting small churches, and balancing the budget. In order to stay on target to meet our goal of $162,000 by December 31, 2020, we need to get to $54,000 by the end of this year. As of this morning, we have raised $33,090 in gifts and pledges.


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