In 2011, God led our family to Toronto. We came, counting on two or three years of adventure. The kids would learn French. We’d live in the city. For a little while, we would more fully live into the vision of Psalm 67, which the pastor had read at our wedding: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” We left, not knowing what was ahead. Continue Reading
Keeping Place releases tomorrow! When asked how I’m feeling, I try for breezy nonchalance. Book, schmook! And truthfully, I do feel considerably less anxiety about this book than the last—not because I’m convinced that it’s better, but because at least this is recognizable terrain. Familiarity is a big consolation. Still, it’s also true that as time creeps closer to the actual release date, I can sometimes feel like a large animal has just curled up on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. He’s heaviest in the dark of the morning when fear comes calling. Continue Reading
When you write about home, both as longing and loss, you can’t help but bump into the story of Abraham. He is, of course, the man that God calls to leave home in order to find home. But as you read his story in Genesis, you can’t help but see that there’s no real permanent home that Abraham ever finds, at least not on this earth. In fact, reflecting on his story centuries later, the writer of Hebrew concludes that Abraham died “not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that [he was] a stranger and exile on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
The most troubling episode in Abraham’s life is the story of Genesis 22, which people call, “The Binding of Isaac.” God has asked Abraham to do something much harder than leave home. He’s asked him to take his son, his only son, the son he loves, and sacrifice him on an altar.
If you thought that the Bible only recorded sweet, saccharine stores, you have missed Genesis 22. It’s a hard story — and yet it’s a story that prefigures another Father and another Son, the God-Man Jesus Christ.
I’ve written about Genesis 22 in a poem, and I’d love to share it with you here.
Like tent stakes, I pull it up,
Load my beast with the longing to stay put.
They don’t know
Go is a hard word.
Three days he carries us;
I, with child, yielding mute yes.
Go is a hard word,
Take, harder still.
“Third days are for resurrection.”
I’d like to believe them, imagining myself
Come back again.
“Here I am,” I’ll shout, son in tow,
Laughing, with relief.
When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? This is the title of the wonderful midlife memoir by Jennifer Grant, who is a friend and veteran writer. I wanted to introduce you to this book – and to Jennifer – which is why I’m posting an interview with her. As I wrote in my endorsement, “I didn’t know how much I needed this book until I read it!” The book releases today and is available here as well as local bookstores.
Why write a book about middle age?
The short answer is that, in my early 40s, I found myself reading midlife memoirs, journaling, and talking to friends about what it felt like to enter midlife. The good, the bad, the ugly…and the mortifying. Writing this book helped me sort out my thoughts. Flannery O’Connor famously said that she was a writer: “because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Yes, that’s true for me.
A longer answer is that all of my books have, on some level, been attempts at untangling questions that kept me awake at night or that I’d turn over in my mind all day. Questions about whatever I was living through (adopting a child, raising kids, questioning my faith, and so on) at a particular moment.Continue Reading