The Clintons Signed My Petition!
To say that Elizabeth Gilbert's prose in her book Eat, Pray, Love is fueled by "colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible" (to quote the New York Times Book Review back-cover blurb) is to almost understate the quality of her writing.
I read Eat, Pray, Love for four reasons: (1) My friend Adele Calhoun, a consummate reader, recommended it to me four times! (2) I love to travel and to read good travel literature, (3) It has been on the bestseller lists, and I make sure I read some of the titles on those lists so I will be informed and able to enter into conversations, and (4) I am just dying to ask someone who loved the book, "So, how did you respond to Gilbert's spiritual journey? Would you like to spend time in an Indian ashram?" Hers certainly is not a Christian spiritual journey, but I suspect the writer does express the spiritual longings of many in our culture.
Without a doubt, Gilbert's writing voice is honest and rapturous. The subtitle is One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Please be advised that this was not published by a conservative, evangelical house. Her spirituality, if anything, is syncretic; the typical modern's choose-what-suits-me-best approach. These disclaimers having been made, I did enjoy much of the book.
One portion in particular has grasped my attention. Gilbert, whose trip around the world was propelled by the need to recover from a very bad divorce and an equally unfortunate love affair, tells about driving with a friend, Iva, and bemoaning the fact that the messy, messy divorce just would not come to an end. "I wish I could get some divine intervention here. I wish I could write a petition to God asking for this thing to end."
Iva challenges her to do just that, making the point that Elizabeth has a stupid idea that God would not be interested in her petition. She takes a pencil and writes,
Please intervene and help end this divorce. My husband and I have failed at our marriage and now we are failing at our divorce. This poisonous process is bringing suffering to us and to everyone who cares about us.
I recognize that you are busy with wars and tragedies and much larger conflicts than the ongoing dispute of one dysfunctional couple. But it is my understanding that the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on it. As long as even two souls are locked in conflict, the whole of the world is contaminated by it. Similarly, if even one or two souls can be free from discord, this will increase the general health of the whole world, the way a few healthy cells in a body can increase the general health of the body..."
Then follows an enchanting listing of all the people they can think of who would be glad to sign this petition to God — family and friends, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Saint Francis of Assisi, Abraham Lincoln, (the peacemakers) Gandhi and Mandela and Jimmy Carter. Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Bono, Muhammad Ali, and on and on and on.
Frankly, I have never thought of the verse from Philippians in quite this way! "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Verse 4:6.
So, here goes — my petition.
You know that we have learned the life of faith as best we can and with as willing spirits as possible. We cannot take credit for living out the vow of poverty — like many who have gone before us — since it was kind of superimposed upon us and without our acquiescence. However, we have chosen to live frugally, gratefully and joyfully under its impositions.
However, I wonder if it isn't time to give us some financial means with which to function. I can't speak for David, but I do know that I can't do what is on my heart to do regarding Hungry Souls without some economic resources. You understand that I'm not asking for reserves — goodness, a padded bank-account would take the adventure out of living!
I think you know us well enough to know that we won't spend this on ourselves, that we will share what we can with those who are also in need, and that we will not waste precious funds on pet ego projects.
Also, I believe there are many who love us who would also sign this petition.
In addition, I'm sure if Bill and Melissa Gates were approached, they would be happy to have you provide what we need rather than supply our budgetary requirements from their foundation. Count on their signatures! The Clintons are probably as good for us as for Elizabeth Gilbert. I've always liked Mel Gibson and know in your typical way that you weren't going to let him get by with alcoholism, even though he had faced down all Hollywood to make that film about Christ's Passion. I think Mel would sign — I'm sure Billy Graham would!
At any rate, please whisper to the hearts of our friends that checks made out for $30.00 and sent in an envelope to Hungry Souls, Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60189 are not expected but would be greatly appreciated. We not only pinch pennies around here, we roll them out thin like dough on a floured tabletop.
Thank you, Lord, for hearing my petition (I'm sure St. Paul would sign if some angel could just find him).
Annual Advent Women's Retreat of Silence
Tuesday, December 4 - Wednesday, December 5, 2007.
Has anyone ever given you the gift of silence?
Every year at the start of the new church calendar (at Advent, the four weeks before Christmas), we provide a guided experience in silence. This is a beginning in time; a time to be still, to quiet yourself, to turn your heart toward God, to receive the gift of being before the onrush of the holidays and of the New Year.
Have you ever given yourself the gift of silence?
Sibyl Towner and Valerie Bell will be retreat leaders. More details to follow. Cost is $95; checks can be made out to Hungry Souls and mailed to our registrar, Melodee Cook, 18N184 Hidden Hills Trail, West Dundee, IL 60118. To register, contact her via e-mail at . Or call Susan Hands at our office: 630-293-4500. I would like to have as many as possible registered by November 15!
Have you ever given the gift of silence to someone else?
If you would like to send an e-flyer about the Advent Retreat of Silence to a friend, just download this PDF flyer and forward it by e-mail attachment or print it to post on a bulletin board or hand out to friends.
The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted each week on the Hungry Souls website. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the weekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.hungrysouls.org.
Frankly, I have never thought of the verse from Philippians in quite this way! "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (chapter 4, verse 6)
The Begging Bowl
A symbol of humanity's finite emptiness and of God's infinite fullness.