Glory Everyday: a book review

I am not sure how I came to follow Kaitlin Curtice on Twitter, but I did and my Twitter feed has been better for it. She is a speaker & worship leader and writer who has been featured in Sojourners. If you have followed her blog through the month of November, she has been blogging daily, her reflections on Native American Awareness Month her experience as a Potawatomi woman. Her blog, articles, and social media presence challenge white, eurocentric Christianity and remind us of the diversity of the Kingdom of God and Christ’s heartbeat for justice.

glory-happeningHer new book, Glory HappeningFinding the Divine in Everyday Places (Paraclete Press: 2017) explores  God’s glory in everyday life in ordinary life. Like Kathleen Norris’s Quotidian Mysteries, Curtice interrogates her daily life for glimpses of the divine. She explores the dimensions of  her life as a Native American Christian, a woman, a wife and mother of two, to see what it reveals of God’s glory. Each chapter of this book is a snapshot of her life, combined with a short, poetic prayer addressed to God or Jesus.

Curtice observes that in the Bible and Christian tradition, God’s glory is made manifest in various ways (introduction, xiii). The ways God’s glory are manifest provide the structure for the book, the 50 entries are arranged in seven sections: creation, light, weight, voice, fire, honor, worship, and kingdom.  There are 6 or 7 entries for each section (with the exception of fire, which only has 4). The brief entries and accompanying prayer make this a perfect daily devotional to awake our sense of God.

The chapters run the gambit of Curtice’s life experience. She describes her marriage and family life, pregnancy, the wonder in eyes of her two sons,  reflections on her native identity, remembrances of conversations and encounters with other people and cultures, and the wisdom of authors and teachers.

Pervading all this is a sense of celebration and gratitude for life, which I find really refreshing. Especially since Curtice is something of an activist with eyes-wide-open to the injustices of the dominant culture in the United States (e.g. against Native Americans, African Americans, Muslims, etc). It is easy for activist types to come across as cynical and jaded but I got none of that from this book. This isn’t to say she is overly rosy about our current cultural moment. Just that she trusts that God’s glory is made manifest and holds out a strong hope for the Kingdom coming.

The prayer that closes the book captures this sense of  trust, hope and gratitude:

Mystery of everything that we understand

and most certainly everything that we don’t,

teach us to rest in this unknowing.

Teach us to rest in each other,

to rest in the presence of a stranger,

in the kindness that is always unexpected,

that surprises us, that gives us a taste of you,

as much as we can bare[sic] to understand.

You are Creation,

you are Light,

you are Weight,

you are Voice.

You hold Fire,

you give Honor,

you gift Worship,

and you are Kingdom,

yesterday,

today,

tomorrow.

Hallelujah

for all the glory.

Amen.

If you are like me, it is too easy to get bogged down by the pressures of daily life and a soul-numbing news cycle filled with the misdeeds of powerful men, convenient deceptions, and partisan politicking. Curtice pulls back the curtain a little to reveal the ways God’s glory and kingdom are breaking into our present.  It also doesn’t hurt that Curtice is a great writer too!  I give this book 4 stars  – ★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review.

2015: a gratitude.

This year didn’t end the way I had hoped. Maybe it didn’t for you either.  We had high hopes for 2015. A year ago the African American community was still reeling from the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings and the failure to bring an indictment. Black Lives Matter but the violence and injustice continued. We hoped that a recognition of systematic injustice would bring sweeping changes but 2015 closed with the failure to indict the police officers that shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice for brandishing a toy-gun (in an open-carry state). Lord Have Mercy.  

And the rest of our world is as troubled as ever: Isis, Paris terror, dead children washed up on the beach, Syrian refugees and those that don’t want them, politicians on both sides of the aisle who trade principles for pragmatism. Lord Have Mercy. 

Personally, this has been one of the hardest years. It began with me settling into my first pastorate and ended with me in a vocational crisis.  I face 2016 with a great deal of uncertainty (and needing a job). Despite this, as I look back on this year, I see much to be thankful for:

  • My eight-year-old is excelling in  the third grade–reading and writing well,  great at math and making friends. Her teacher tells us that having her in her class is a gift. This makes me so proud, particularly since we had our struggles with her in kindergarten and first grade. Nice to see her find her stride.
  • My six-year-old is funny and smart. She reads well and does her homework without asking for help. She likes knock-knock jokes and long walks on the beach. She is a doting older sister, occaisionally helpful and always a pleasure.
  • My almost five-year-old is in preschool. What a fun kid–imaginative and kind. He is our ‘grumpy old man’ with his stubborn strong opinions and lecturing tone (which makes us laugh). He is also the most likely of our children to declare their love for us, “Dad, I really love you.” Melt my heart,  love this kid.
  • In February my youngest son was born. We named him Benedict Asher because he is a blessing (Benedict) and happy(Asher). He has proved to be both of these and I have enjoyed watching the wonder in his eyes as he gets into things he shouldn’t and takes his first faltering steps. I know parents aren’t supposed to have favorites but I have four favorites. For all of these I give thanks.
  • And I am thankful for Sarah. She has been my encouragement and strength in hard times. She is a good mom and wife and a great friend. I am so glad she is in my life.
  • I am thankful for family and friends far and near. In the past months I have had conversations with people, some I reconnected with after years apart. They have prayed for me and been a listening ear. They are a gift to me in the moments when I am discouraged.
  • I am grateful for ministry colleagues who affirmed me in my sense of call and keep me from giving up.
  • I am grateful for turning forty. I’m no longer a young man but one who can showcase a lifestyle of faithfulness by living more fully into the long obedience in the same direction.
  • I am thankful for grace–the gospel of Jesus Christ–which reminds me I am not my accomplishments and successes but God’s own beloved. Christ died for me, I live my life in and through him. This is the ground I stand on, my purpose and hope.
  • I am thankful that God is not done with me yet.
  • I am thankful that our King and his Kingdom is not like other kings. He is the King of kings, presiding over presidents and trumping all Trumps. He reigns with justice, with mercy and grace. He is not a fearmonger with hateful rhetoric but a God of love who reigns with justice and mercy.
  • I am grateful for my plot at the community garden and conversations with neighbors, coffee and good books, running trails, and Florida beaches.

My life is a gift. I live under God’s generous, providential care. I feel this more and more. I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I know the Bringer and my trust in Him is growing. In this moment that is enough. And I look to 2016 with renewed hope, wonder and expectation. God has been good. God is good. God will be good.

Are you ready to see what God will do in 2016?