My book, "A Breath of Fresh God," is the result of more than ten years of pondering, thinking, theorizing, and writing—and then pondering all over again. It will finally be ready for publication this fall, and I need help to get it into print.
“A Breath of Fresh God” is a written mosaic which explores the mystery of living with the Creator of all the universe who is far beyond our understanding or experience, and at the same time is as intimate and close as our next breath. It is made up of stories, essays, images, poems, letters, analogies and imaginings drawn from between the lines of scripture and of life. Some include common phrases and comfortable words, while others describe God and our connection with Him in ways that may seem unusual or awkward, even risky. I invite the reader to let each viewpoint, whether familiar or downright uncomfortable, serve as an opportunity to explore the wonder of Who He is more deeply. I hope that my observations will become inspirations that open the way for readers to engage in new ponderings of their own and discover a greater capacity to delight in the embrace of both the Sustainer of all we know and all we will never know and the Papa who gently lifts our faces to look into our eyes and gather our tears into His hand.
And perhaps, now and then, a particular phrase or idea will jump off the page and make the reader catch his or her breath as it suddenly brings a clearer awareness of His presence right there next to them--a breath of fresh God
Donors can help inspire such breaths in two ways:
1) Publishing and marketing this book will require money to hire an editor, cover designer, and copy editor, in addition to its actual printing, publicity, and distribution. Anyone who donates $50 or more toward its publication will be eligible to receive a signed copy and the title of “Patron.” A Patron’s Page at the beginning of the book will list the names of all of the Patrons who helped make the publication of the book possible.
2) After the book is published, I will need opportunities to introduce it to readers. While much of modern promotion is done by internet and social media, I prefer to do the majority of my marketing face-to-face, meeting readers, doing oral readings, and speaking to churches, home groups, community organizations, Sunday schools, and other gatherings. I don’t only want to sell books to readers, but also to shake their hands and even to pray with them. Anyone who is part of a group that might enjoy hearing my presentation can help promote the book by inviting me to come and speak. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Below you can find two samples from among the pieces that will appear in “A Breath of Fresh God.” The first is a creative piece—an imagining if you will; the second is an essay. I hope you enjoy them.
Thank you so much for your support.
In Christ’s Peace
Before the King
I have come here to pray before the High King of Heaven.
Panting from the exertion of climbing the steep stairs past flocks of huddled and dripping pigeons, I reach the immense front door and step out of the rain into the foyer of His great cathedral. I gaze about in deep awe. Paneled in rich, dark wood with creamy marble floors, this elegant narthex is stunning in every detail. I pause to breathe, listening to the quiet trickle of the ivy-covered fountain recessed into the far wall. Across from where I’ve entered two maple doors—great slabs of wood inlaid with delicate images from the life of Christ—stand at attention, guarding the passage into His sanctuary. My tiptoed steps echo a bit as I cross the marble toward them. The doors are heavy, extending three times my height, but perfectly balanced. I pull one of them open just a crack, enough to peer inside.
The sanctuary stretches the length of an airplane runway before me. It is paneled in the same rich wood, but the floors inside blaze with colors, a luminous marble pavement carefully arranged in elaborate mosaics. Shimmering stained glass windows run up each wall, and pillars soar to great heights, drawing my eyes into the ethereal. At the front of the cathedral, broad marble steps trimmed in gold lead up to an enormous throne where sits… my King.
He is dressed in silks the colors of jewels and around his shoulders hangs a radiant cape embroidered with gold and copper thread like no fabric I’ve ever seen before. It spills down the steps and seems to fill the sanctuary. Behind him, the golden pipes of an extraordinary organ reach toward the far-away ceiling. The King sits surrounded by angels and apostles, as well as those who have kept the faith and honored Him with their lives. His Son stands by his side; I recognize Him: my Lord and my Friend. His robe, seamless and made from the softest wool, also glows with power and warmth. The King and His Son converse quietly.
Though I try to remain unobtrusive and unnoticed, the King looks up and sees me peeking through the door. He motions for me to come in. My heart begins to beat faster. This is what I came for—to see Him—to speak with Him. Yet now that I’m here, I’m not so sure this was a good idea. How can I face Him? How can I presume to talk to Him?
I am not among those who have kept the faith. Often, I have turned aside, distracted by a myriad of earthly inventions. Because I have been concerned with myself, I have missed opportunities to listen to the cares of others. I have been defensive, sometimes striking out in anger or fear. I have forgotten to ask His advice and His direction, determinedly setting out on my own paths, then being surprised when they come to dead ends. I have known about Him, wondered at Him, worshipped Him…but not always followed. Now that I’m here, what can I say to Him?
Again, He beckons me to come in.
I look down at my ragged skirt. My blouse is in tatters with a coffee stain down the front. I fiddle with the one glove that I found lying in the street outside. My shabby shoes are rapidly causing a shallow pool to form on the marble at my feet. This is the best I have, but I am certainly not dressed for an audience with the King. Perhaps, I should change my mind. I consider turning to flee, but He beckons me a third time. Slowly, I slip through the narrow opening and turn toward the throne. Awkwardly, I walk down the center aisle. Silently, a million—no, more than a million—countless eyes watch my quiet progress.
I stop at the bottom of the steps, unable to move closer. I do not belong here, and yet here I stand, looking up into the face of the King. Out there, in the street, I felt confident and strong. I held my head up, ready to face with pride whatever came, but here I am undone. In the light of His glory, I view myself more truly. My inadequacies are obvious for all to see. I’ve come empty-handed, with nothing to offer my King. This cannot end well.
I cannot speak. I have no words to express my sorrow. Melting into a puddle of tears, I fall to my knees, keeping my eyes on the cold stones before me. Suddenly, I am engulfed in warmth. It flows over me, through me. Pouring through my matted hair and over my tired body, it splashes onto the floor around me. It leaves me clean and refreshed. My ashen hair turns blonde again. The filth is gone from my skin. Even my fingernails are no longer grimy. I look up. My Lord stands by my side with a quiet dove on his shoulder.
I am left kneeling, unclad before Him, my ragged clothes having been washed away in the deluge. I am clean, but naked and poor in spirit. Those rags were all I had; I have no virtue of my own with which to cover myself. I still have nothing to offer Him. I shiver.
But He does not leave me exposed for long. In an instant, my Lord has leaned down and swept His robe around my shoulders. I am completely covered. It feels soft and clean and warm--comfortable, as if this is what I was always meant to wear. My face shines above the soft wool as I look up once again into the eyes of the King. He smiles, no longer seeing the shamed and tattered girl who slipped through the door into His chamber, but rather, one He loves, richly arrayed in the finery of His Son and joyfully bearing His own image. Jesus takes my elbow and gently helps me to stand.
“Welcome, my child,” the King says. “You’ve come home. Come, sit with me.”
With His arm around my shoulder, my Lord walks with me up the steps. With a smile, He presents me to His Father. The King looks deeply into my soul and delights in the Truth He placed in my inward being (Ps. 51.6, paraphrase).
“Sit down with me,” the King repeats. “We have much to say to each other.” And He begins to teach His wisdom to my secret heart (Ps. 51.6, paraphrase).
The Augustinian Ant
When we pass by something, failing to see it because it is so small that it has slipped our notice, we say that we have “overlooked” it. If, on the other hand, we pass by something, failing to see it because it so completely fills our field of vision that it is without edges or parameters, could we say that we have “underlooked” it? I fear that often, this is how we see, or fail to see God. If He is indeed everywhere, then He is here, now, watching as we scurry around like unending lines of sugar ants, dutifully taking care of all the important and not-so-important details of our lives.
Or is He?
If I can pass through whole days without noticing Him, how can I know that He is here at all? Perhaps I am just a sugar ant, among many other sugar ants, busying myself with tasks that have little significance beyond the meaning I give them during my own short life. How can I know He is really listening when I pray?
Certainly, I’m not the first to puzzle over such a question. Even thinkers like Thomas Aquinas (Aquinas ), Anselm of Canterbury (Himma), Blaise Pascal (Pascal 149-154), and William Paley ("William Paley<br>.") have struggled in trying to demonstrate God’s presence. St. Augustine (Augustine), who had great faith that God was with him, wrestled with many words in his attempts to understand and explain the God in Whom he so passionately believed.
Their failures to confirm God’s existence should come as no surprise. Indeed, if God is as resplendent, as invincible, as omniscient, as pervasive as Christians presume, human intellectual tools and perceptions are wholly insufficient for the task of perceiving, much less proving Him. Even an intellect like Augustine’s would be like the sugar ant who, in the course of its daily routine of carrying supplies back to its nest, bumps up against the toe of a man standing in its path. The miniscule creature cranes its neck (if indeed, ants have necks) and strains its eyes toward great heights to catch a glimpse of the titanic human toenail. If that ant, with no more than its ground-level perspective and limited experience, were to attempt to convince the other ants that this toenail they thought they could just barely see when the light was right, was but the smallest appendage of a colossal and sentient being whose loftiness reached into the heavens, which of them would believe him?
If, however, this Augustinian ant was returning from the long and arduous climb up a near-by tree on which he had ascended to great height and looked this mythical human creature in the eye, perhaps his awe-filled account describing its sheer size and beauty and wisdom would prove more persuasive. If, in fact, many ants had taken such a journey in search of the human-beyond-the-toenail and returned with similar stories of its astounding presence, would their combined testimony convince their fellows to at least consider the possibility that this mystical Being did truly exist?
I can no more prove God than Augustine and Anselm could, but I can add my voice to theirs and join those who have told this legendary story for millennia, describing the God-beyond-the-toenail into Whose eyes we have peered, Whose voice we have heard, and Whose touch we have felt. But the Being we describe is not only a distant and colossal presence. Though He is every bit as comparatively large and indescribable as the owner of the toenail our Augustinian ant encountered, He is also nearby and familiar—as close as my next thought. If I am standing before my classroom teaching, He is among my students; if I am writing on my computer, He is proofreading the text with me; if I am having coffee with a friend, He laughs at my silly puns; if I am doing laundry or washing dishes, He is sharing in my chores.
Most of the time, I am busy thinking about my daily responsibilities and the common minutiae of my life, and I don’t notice that He is hanging around. He is so big and so constantly present that He continues to slip my notice, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there; only that I have underlooked Him.