Saturday, July 01, 2006


I gave a talk at a small parish, St. Francis of Assisi, in Cartersville, Georgia this morning. I drove there last yesterday afternoon and spent the night in the rectory, which is actually a nice house not far from the church. It took me over two and a half hours to get there – there was a lot of holiday traffic on Interstate 75. I did not mind – I inched along and listened to music and watched the sun go down ahead of me. The pastor, Daniel Stack, is a real nice guy and he was kind enough to make dinner for me when I arrived. He is a good cook – he made some pasta with cheese and pesto. It was good. He has a big dog named Beulah and she is a lot of fun.

The talk went well. I shared with the people some thoughts on spirituality and writing and some things about my life here at the monastery. I told them about a writer I have lately been reading – the late Irish writer John McGahern. His book, “A Memoir – All Will be Well” is a wonderful read. He writes so beautifully about his youth in Ireland. Dan had just returned from a trip to Ireland and I mentioned to him that he might really like the book. McGahern also wrote some novels, some of which I have here but have not gotten to them yet.

I returned here this morning. The talk was at eight – at a breakfast kind of thing. I enjoyed chatting with the people at the table. It reminded me of my years in parish life and how the church simply is people, in all their varieties, needs, gifts and goodness. I think that good spiritual writing is that which opens up the reader’s heart to the goodness that is his or hers in life – given by virtue of being alive and having a heart. Spiritual writing should not give on the illusion that spirituality is something to be “achieved” with right practice or proper virtue. The practice and virtue are tied up with taking a good look at one’s life with the help of words that enable you to see and love who you are and where you are at.

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