Review Series: Essays of Rest and Restlessness

Each month I review a new book for ImageUpdate. Here’s the latest.


Essays of Rest and Restlessness
First Church of the Higher Elevations: Mountains, Prayer and Presence by Peter Anderson

Things that many of us hope for in prayer and pilgrimage, even if we don’t admit it: “quiet peaceful serenity,” “out-of-the-ordinary contemplative skill,” “great mystical insight.”  What we often get, instead: “strangeness,” “an experience of Presence that feels more like absence,” and the occasional attack by a charging sloth bear.

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La Vie en Rose (Song Series #10)

Fooling around with a song I’ve always loved. Breaking out the college French. Accompanied by cheeky guitarist Rob Hinst.



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Don’t Say Poetry Never Did Anything for You

I was pretty mad at my husband this morning. Details not important. Level of anger important. I was at that stage where you get out the blankets for that spare bed in the basement. I was at the stage where I regarded every flattering social media post we’ve ever made about each other as the height of hypocrisy, a sad 21st century updating of 1950s suburban social veneers. Like, who ARE these stupid happy people?


I was at the stage where (although I intellectually assented that we were still best friends) I kicked him out of the house and told him to go cool off at some coffee shop.

Then I furiously made French toast for the children. Yes, it is possible to do anything furiously.

It is Saturday–a domestic day. With the kiddos around, I could not write, or read, or crankily run down to the beach, or other things I might choose to do at moments of ire. So when my husband came home a few hours later, he found me on a housecleaning jag.

He began to pick up toys alongside me. Whatever our falling out, it remains true that he is mostly an upstanding marital citizen.

A while later, after I had scrubbed the bathtub and swept my office, he came and found me and hugged me for a while.

He told me some things. I respected those things. I thanked him.

And because we happened to be standing by the poetry section of my bookshelf,


I said, “I’d like to mark this moment by reading a poem that I carefully hand-selected for this occasion.”

I grabbed a completely random book off the shelf. (It turned out to be Ghost Girl by Amy Gerstler. It’s pretty fabulous.)



Then I opened this random book to a random poem. I looked at the title. I looked at my husband. I read him the title.

“Ode to Semen.”

He sat down, as one does at a poetry reading, and I read him the poem.


 We observed a moment of silence.

“Don’t say poetry never did anything for you,” I said.

I think we’re OK now.



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A New Crop of Quirky Sermons

I quit my church job this year. I was the Arts Director at an imperfect-but-wonderful, nondenominational church. My job involved dreaming up crazy creative environments and then bringing them to life.

Over time I realized this was indeed a dream job–but not mine. 

I loved, loved my coworkers. But life gives you only so many hours, and I have this compulsion to write stories. And I like to make music. And I’ve got two small sons who cling to me like caterpillars on a tree.  I am always having theological quarrels with myself. And I have, for better or for worse, incurable wanderlust, and I hate cubicles.

The one thing I loved was writing and delivering these quirky sermons, which our pastor generously calls “unconventional.” I never went to seminary, so nobody ever told me how to deliver a normal one.

Here’s a new crop of them…

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