"Ain't Gonna Bump No Big
Fat Black Ladies No More"
esoterica broadcast over National Public Radio often seizes my
attention, and I spend more time in parking lots waiting for interviews
to finish than I care to count. One Sunday morning I was almost late
for church because the songwriter of Ain't Gonna Bump No Big Fat Black
Ladies No More shared how the song originated in a music club where he
had bumped hips with a big fat black lady as part of the dance. Her
motion was actually so powerful it sent him sprawling, and he ended up
in the hospital. I loved it! I guess that was one lady who sure had the
We humans are wary of the situations (or the
people) that cause us harm, create damage—or send us to the ER. That
is why, during my very slow reading through Scripture, in which I have
been savoring the Old Testament stories, I was struck by the fact that,
through eight whole chapters of Exodus, Moses keeps going back to that
dangerous, capricious, hard-hearted Egyptian, the Pharaoh, and
proclaiming all kinds of disasters and calamities if this monarch
doesn't let the Israelites go into the desert to worship YAHWEH.
of all, I think it would be pretty hard just to go back to Egypt.
Wasn't there a warrant or something out for Moses' arrest? (Ain't gonna bump no big fat black ladies no more.)
in the world did Moses get the raw courage to face this mighty world
mogul again and again and again and again and again and again and again
and again and again and again--once for each of the plagues, once even
after Pharaoh had threatened his life if he 'showed his face around
here again'?" I wondered amazed. (Ain't gonna ... ain't gonna ...)
then I remembered that Moses had spent all those years in the
wilderness. In the wilderness there is time enough for
transformation—40 years to be exact. Forty years for the wasteland and
the vast expanse of space, for the thought-provoking arches of day and
night skies to challenge him with the majesty and wonder of creation.
Forty years and the thousands of empty miles traversed on foot are time
enough for the flaming sun to burn up, bleach out, blaze away the
Egyptian thinking that had subsumed Moses' mind. Forty years to learn
the terrain around the Gulf of Aqabah and to unlock the secrets of the
desert so that he can thrive and lead a slave nation (some 600,000 men
plus women and children) through another 40 years of nomadic
vagabondage in order for their subservient mentalities to be burned up,
bleached out, blazed away. Forty years for this half-prince of Egypt to
take on the identity of a wanderer who will become a wonder-worker.
In her book Praying the Hours,
Suzanne Guthrie makes a point that we humans are often subverted by
time. We consider it our enemy. We fight against it; we wrestle with
it; we attempt to conform it to our lists. But, she maintains, in
prayer we learn a different kind of time—a place where our souls meet
the divine and moments of eternity invade our human dimension. This is
accomplished by creating "mini-wildernesses" in our days. "For engaging
the sense of reality behind time in prayer does not require that we
learn to walk in two worlds at the same time, but rather that we learn
to walk in two times in the same world."
learned to walk in two times in the same world. A bush flamed and he
said, "Let us turn aside to see." He did not say, "Hmm, lightning
maybe. Little brush fire going on over there." This was a man who in
forty years had learned to live con-jointly in a time of action and a
time of contemplation. In the magazine, Conversations: A Forum for Authentic Transformation,
E. Glen Hinson quotes Thomas Merton: "When action and contemplation
dwell together, filling our whole life because we are moved in all
things by the Spirit of God, then we are spiritually mature."
me say something clearly. Without wilderness experiences in our lives,
we can never really know our God. E. Hermann writes, "In meditation God
grows upon us until we are saturated with the thought of Him. At first
the whole spiritual world seems a vague abstraction, but, gradually, as
we gaze with reverent, steadfast eyes into that infinite Life from
which we come, we come to discern its beauty and splendor."
am frankly puzzled by those who have never spent time in a spiritual
desert (the mini-ones they make themselves or the full-blown
wildernesses they do not choose). I do not trust the depth of
wilderness-less people. I am skeptical about their maturity. Give me a
wind-blasted, stuttering, sand-calloused nomad goat-herder who knows
how to see the burning bushes and how to pause because something holy
might be going on, and who is honest enough about himself to know that
he has a speech impediment and is not very effective on public
platforms. Build some mini-wildernesses into your days so when the real
wildernesses happen, you will be able to lean into them.
Some practical suggestions: Hungry Souls offers two learning experiences in silence.
The Advent Retreat for Women is a 24-hour guided experience in silence.
Please avail yourself of this opportunity. The Season of Advent is the
beginning of the church calendar year. Begin the church calendar year
by setting a time aside for God. There are few evangelical institutions
that provide retreats of silence for their people. Details are below.
The Three-Day Retreat of Silence is conducted in a working and living Benedictine Community of Sisters.
We will observe the daily offices with a community that has given
itself to the life of prayer. We will take our meals in silence and
spend the days in quiet. This is a rare opportunity and provides a
point of contrast to the kinds of lives most of us live. Details are
below. Last year's group felt we didn't stay long enough!
Hungry Souls recommends the magazine Conversations.
Its focus is spiritual transformation; consequently, its articles
emphasize much of what is near and dear to what we hold spiritually
important. Check out their Web site at www.ConversationsJournal.com.
One day there will be a burning bush that will flame in your path. What will your response be? Fear (ain't gonna let no big fat black lady bump me no more)?
Or will you let God speak to you from the bush? Have you developed the
inner fortitude to be obedient to His perilous commands? I agree with
Thomas Merton. Most of us live too much in our demanding, busy,
overscheduled worlds. Indeed, do action and contemplation live in
harmony in your life? If not, then you have not reached spiritual
Annual Advent Women's Retreat of Silence
Tuesday, December 4 - Wednesday, December 5, 2007.
Has anyone ever given you the gift of silence?
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. Cost is $95; make your check out to Hungry Souls
and mail it to our registrar Melodee Cook at 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.
Three-Day Retreat of Silence
Monday, February 11 - Thursday, February 14, 2008.
Karen Mains and Brenna Jones will be retreat directors. We have room
for 12 women at St. Mary's Monastery in Rock Island, Illinois. Cost for
three days and nights, including all meals, is $250. We need a $50
deposit upon registration; make your check out to Hungry Souls and mail it to our registrar Susan Hands at Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60189. To register, contact Susan Hands at
or 1-630-293-4500. The deadline for registration is January 15, 2008!
The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted each week on the Hungry Souls
Web site. 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.
"We humans are wary
of the situations
(or the people) that
cause us harm, create
damage—or send us
to the ER."
Holiday Prayer Cards
We respond to your invitation, O God. As we are, we come.
We offer to you the hostilities that shape us, the hostilities we
carry, the hostilities that carry us. In these matters, move us from
hostility to hospitality.
Be our guard, for we guard ourselves too much. Be our protector, that we
need not overprotect ourselves.
Create in us a space, a room, a place—free and friendly space where
the stranger may be welcomed
—that we may be at home in our own house
—that we may be healed of hurts we carry in the soul
—that we may know brother and sisterhood
—that we may know kindness
—that we may laugh easily
—that we may know beauty
Nudge, guide, entice, prod. Move us to live within your will. To the
end that within this flesh, within this house in which we live, we may
be at home with you, our neighbor, with ourselves.
Thus we pray, remembering Christ who says, "I stand at the door and knock."
Create in us a place of hospitality. Amen.
These Holiday Prayer Cards with John Stott Quote
are available in packets of 8 or 10. The image shown above is printed
on the left front side of the card and the prayer typed above is
printed on the right front side.
Packets of 8 are available for $10.00; packets of 10 are available for $12.00.
A check made out to Hungry Souls and mailed as soon as possible to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60189, will ensure that you receive the card packets before the holidays.