Markings are the best part about books. What I mean is that I can come back to books and find the markings — the underlines, circles, and highlights that bring me right back to significant words and thoughts again. Writers must hope for this, that we mark up their books, thereby making them our own. For a number of weeks now — who knows how long — I’ll find some wonderful words from marked up books and share them with you.

I’m starting with Joan Chittister’s The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage (2019, Convergent Books). Reflecting on Risk: “There is risk to every life.Those who risk nothing risk much more”, the Talmud teaches…It is to us in this place that the scripture calls us most clearly: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.” We must not fear the darkness; we must simply resolve to carry the light into wherever we are. The call to discern the difference between what is holy and what is simply popular, between what is and what should be, is the essence of the good life. The work of God is in our hands. To ignore that is to ignore the very fulness of life. Every prophet contemplated the price of the risk and went on regardless–calling the world to become its best self– and so must we.” (p. 31).

and this: “It has been said that every community needs at least one prophet…The prophet is the one who speaks the truth to a culture of lies…who lives with a spirituality of awareness, of choice, of risk, of transformation. It is about the embrace of life, the pursuit of wholeness, the acceptance of others, the call to co-creation. It is a call to live not only in praise of God but in union with God’s will for the world. In short, prophetic spirituality is about living out our faith on the streets of the world, rather than just talking about it.”The poet Mary Oliver may have written the best definition of what it means to be a prophet in contemporary spirituality. She writes, ‘Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” (p.41).

Poetic and beautiful words. Much to consider here in the realm of always current realities of risk and fear, and God’s call to engage both as they challenge us. I’ll never forget the ridicule that came my way at River Park in the summer of my ninth year as I went up and back down the steps of the high dive in front of my friends, who all felt free to launch. I remember it as an excruciating time. It reminds a metaphor for the journey of faith for me.

Yes, I did it one day! Yes, I belly flopped. And though I figured out how to conquer the high dive, new challenges, scary challenges much more daunting have emerged, always, and everywhere.

And have you ever thought about yourself as a prophet? Are you the one? Can you locate in your own restlessness about the way things are in the world the love of Jesus, the Spirit calling you to speak up, and act out? In this sense, maybe we’re all called –all us Pentecost, Holy Spirit people– to live a prophetic life.


Peter Hawkinson

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