We are back in Humble Roots today, discussing Chapters 1 and 2. Last week’s discussion on the shepherd’s voice and His love of his sheep paved the way for these two chapters. If we either (a) do not believe God loves us or (b) do not recognize our pride at needing to listen to his voice, we can easily end up where author Hannah Anderson found herself: withering on the vine.
I loved this paragraph early in: “As much as I wanted to create this idyllic version of a place where I could escape the difficulties of the world, it simply wasn’t possible. No place is immune to care or worry. No place untouched by the violence and burden of this life. Seeing the antitank gun reminded me of this and put Jesus’ call to consider the lilies into an entirely different perspective. If Jesus isn’t calling us to escape the cares of this world, what is He calling us to?”
This line also got a star in my notes: “Jesus understood this. He understood that small things can unsettle us more than large things; so when He called the people of Galilee to leave their anxiety—when He calls us to do the same—He does so in context of very mundane, very ordinary concerns.” As she went on to talk about the greatest sermon Jesus gave and the relationship to what we gain by worrying about daily things, I wrote this in the margin. “I just keep thinking Hannah needs a spiritual director.”
Maybe she has one. But I can testify that getting a spiritual director has done more for my spiritual life than I could have anticipated.
Anyone else smile that Chapter 2 began with a quote from The Secret Garden, our June 2014 book and our discussion of Mary, the main character who was also a TCK? Hannah’s dissatisfaction with Christian truisms, (i.e. “all things work together for good”) rings a chord. I think she would find herself at home here at Velvet Ashes because we tend to lean into the truth and the tension of the truisms.
I loved her discussion of Jesus’ yoke. “Again, Jesus directs their attention back to the natural world; but instead of pointing them to things that do not toil (like the birds or flowers), this time he points them to beasts of burden—the yoked ox.” I had never been able to verbalize my not really identifying with the lilies of the field. I know God takes care of them, and he takes care of me. But. The “but” just hung there, I didn’t know where to go with it, I just knew something was missing. Hannah filled in the “but” — but I am not so much like a flower as I am like an ox. Thankfully, Jesus loves the ox too!
What stood out to you in her discussion of being yoked to unjust masters, the relationship between stress and pride, and Jesus’ invitation to take his yoke?
This section reminded me of our discussion—albeit in November of 2015, so a while ago—of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Especially the chapter on “Enlarge your soul through grief and loss: surrendering to your limits.” (You can read the Book Club post on that chapter here.) It was Scazzero’s work on limits that radically influenced me in my late 30s and I believe made a significantly “lighter” next decade for me. These are not easy or “light” lessons, but as I have leaned more and more into them, they are liberating.
Next week will will read further in Humble Roots and discuss Chapters 3 and 4. I look forward to your thoughts and connections you have made with your life, ministry, and other readings!
Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:
March 6—The intros to the two books (Wonderment in SD, Sowing Seeds in HR)
March 13—Part 1 (The Good Shepherd) in SD
March 20— Chapters 1 and 2 in HR
March 27—Chapters 3 and 4 in HR
April 3—Part 3 (Land of Milk and Honey) in SD
April 10—Chapters 5 and 6 in HR
April 17—Part 4 (The Vine) in SD (Retreat this weekend!)
April 24—Last week was retreat so to have time to focus on the retreat, no extra reading his week. We will have a Get to Know and get back to reading this week. Also, I will announce the summer reading!
May 1—Chapter 7 in HR
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know