A Front Porch View

He sat on a rustic cabin’s front porch.
Mountain peaks in front for him to see.
Back and forth moved his old wooden rocker.
The view framed by pine and juniper trees.

Some dog’s bark echoed in the distance.
An engine wails, straining to climb the pass.
A western tanager lands on top of a telephone pole.
And a deer looks both ways before crossing at last.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
September 2, 2020
Written in Alto, New Mexico

Refined by Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace by Mary Potter Kenyon

I Have Experienced Grief and Still Am.

I bought and read the Kindle Edition of Refined by Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace by Mary Potter Kenyon. Having my mother pass away in December 2014, my father dies in June 2017, and cancer takes my wife of 43.5 years in April 2018, I have experienced grief and still am.

She Walks The Journey as Your Guide

The author has walked the grief highway and shares not only her experience and insights but helps the reader be aware of what they may encounter on the journey. One area I could relate to was my concern for how my children were handling grief and I felt the need to take their feeling into consideration when I made choices I knew would impact my family. Starting new traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas was a struggle for me.

I had my middle child, then 38, graduate from seminary earning a master’s degree just three weeks after my wife’s death. One of my wife’s goals had been to live to see him walk across the stage. Five weeks before the graduation while she was in hospice she said she wouldn’t make it and my heart broke realizing death was imminent.

I drove across the country in May 2020 to attend a writer’s conference. During the drive I started talking, forgetting my wife was deceased. I drove past a Cracker Barrel Restaurant between Birmingham and Huntsville Alabama I said we had stopped there to eat on several previous trips to see her sister that lives in eastern Tennessee. I had to pull over and cry for about fifteen minutes.

Experienced Comfort

Mary sharing similar events in her book had me realizing my experience was normal for me and needed Kleenex to get through the book which I found hard to read – not because of the writing, but because of the memories reading caused me to relive. I recommend the book. Read in August 2020.

Love One Another

Classic Spiritual Disciplines

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The faculty introduced me to the classic spiritual disciplines when I was a master’s degree candidate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ten years earlier during my university study, I encountered a statement made by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

If you’re not familiar with him, here’s a brief introduction — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, short story writer, and a political prisoner. Solzhenitsyn was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and Communism and helped to raise global awareness of the Soviet Gulag forced-labor camp system.

Solzhenitsyn’s statement was “The meaning of earthly existence is not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prosperity, but in the soul’s development.”

Richard J. Foster

I also encountered the writings of a Quaker, Richard J. Foster. His book Celebration of Discipline had a dramatic impact on my life. Only the Bible has had a bigger impact. As I read and studied, I found that throughout time, many philosophers, theologians, and writers have proposed several practices that might be spiritual disciplines. These include celebration, chastity, confession, contemplation, evangelism, fasting, fellowship, gratitude, journaling, meditation, prayer, self-examination, silence, simplicity, solitude, spiritual disciplines, stewardship, study, and submission/obedience.

In the early 1980s, I lived in southeastern Louisiana serving as Associate Pastor for Education and Outreach at the Superior Avenue Baptist Church in Bogalusa, Louisiana. On my day off, I found myself in New Orleans doing one of my favorite things. I was browsing through the bookstore at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I found and purchased “An Anthology of Devotional Literature” by the late Thomas S. Kepler. He was an ardent student of the Christian mystics and for many years a professor of religion at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Thomas S. Kepler

Dr. Kepler’s anthology brings you 140 classic articles on prayer, meditation, and other aspects of spirituality by Christian authors of two millennia. Delve into a rich library of… Essays by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, and others. Selections from every major tradition of Christianity. It includes a biographical sketch of each contributor. Author and topical indexes included for quick reference. They updated it from its 1947 original edition in 2001.

I’ve pulled the book off the shelf, blown the dust off of it, and am again using it to supplement my daily devotions. So far I’ve read Clement of Rome’s insights into Christian love from The First Epistle to the Corinthians (not to be confused with the book of First Corinthians in the Bible) and Justin Martyr’s “On The Sole of The Government.”

I’ll mention an idea or two from the book from time to time. It isn’t light reading, but it is interesting. It helps me walk with the Lord and keep my focus on God. It helps me grow in my Christian faith.

Establish the Work of Our Hands

The Glory of God

Your Labor Is Not In Vain

God Comforts Our Afflictions

God Is With You

The Lord’s Purpose