The Divine Hours: Prayers for Spring by Phyllis Tickle
I have never read anything like this, nor was I raised, or am currently in a church tradition, where this would be commonplace. But, I’m really enjoying it! It’s a daily structured liturgy of prayers, psalms readings, and hymns, that are for fixed hours of each day in the 90-day calendar period. So, what is Fixed Hour prayer? According to the author’s website, “Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in the Judaism out of which Christianity came. When the Psalmist says, “Seven times a day do I praise You,” he is referring to fixed-hour prayer as it existed in ancient Judaism. We do not know the hours that were appointed in the Psalmist’s time for those prayers. By the turn of the era, however, the devout had come to punctuate their work day with prayers on a regimen that followed the flow of Roman commercial life.”
This has been a very refreshing, and helpful addition to personal prayer and Bible study time, and, something that I’ve introduced, and tried to incorporate, during evening bedtime with our kids. Excited to keep reading!
To Read: Keep Christianity Weird by Michael Frost
The Life of Teresa of Jesus: The Autobiography of Teresa of Ávila translated by E. Allison Peers
Growing up evangelical, I wasn’t exposed to many of the saints or their stories. But I have a lot to learn from the Christians that have come before me, even if their faith tradition looks different from what I’m used to. Teresa of Ávila is one of those saints. I was initially intimidated by the size of this volume (and by the warning from the friend who loaned it to me that it’s “heavy reading”), but I soon found Teresa’s writing to be down-to-earth, approachable, and at times humorous. While the subject matter—prayer and the spiritual life—can get very deep, it reads more like a letter to a friend than a theological treatise. I was even surprised to find that some of Teresa’s trials and triumphs spoke directly to my own struggles with prayer. Though separated by centuries and cultures, a shared desire to seek God in prayer makes Teresa of Ávila seem less like a saint of old and more like the sister in Christ that she is.
To Read: The Minister’s Wife by Karen Stiller
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
Since we usually associate the name “C. S. Lewis” with the classic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia, it may be surprising to some to learn that he also wrote a science fiction series! This month, I’m rereading his book Out of the Silent Planet, the first in C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, since I hope to remember the plot, explore the philosophical themes, and experience its unique elements of world-building. In this story, instead of being abducted by aliens, the main character is taken by two of his fellow earthlings to a mysterious planet “that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity.” The novel is especially majestic in how it immerses the reader in dream-like landscapes that test the limits of the imagination, all the while inspiring contemplation and a thrill for discovery.
Under the Magnolias by T.I. Lowe
Under the Magnolias is arguably T.I. Lowe’s best book to date. It’s a well-crafted story with characters that are so loveable, they feel real. Austin Foster, is a girl who is no stranger to hardship. She’s saddled with more responsibility than a girl her age should have to bear, and carries the weight of her family’s secret. Austin quickly became one of my favorite literary characters to date. I particularly love her proclivity for researching topics that interest and intrigue her. Her hardworking and compassionate spirit shines through this book; however, Under the Magnolias’ charm doesn’t end with Austin. T.I. Lowe introduces a dynamic, truly unique cast of characters. Through them all, she displays the power of community and the freedom in allowing our secrets to come to light. This one is a must-read!
To Read: Canary in the Coal Mine by William Cooke with Laura Ungar