I want to introduce you to a guest poster, my buddy Craig who is a fellow member of my church community, a pastor type, a bright light, and my guitar teacher. Craig leads our adult teaching time called Definitely NOT Sunday School (you can see a link to the right under "my church community's blog") and this past Sunday we welcomed Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove into our circle for a little story telling and mutual equipping. It was a brilliant hour that I loved and it has already given birth to a couple other post ideas that I hope to run with down the road.
I know that the experience of sitting and listening to Jonathan during our DNSS time has caused me to want to go out and read his books. I plan to start with "The New Monasticism" before moving on to "God's Economy" and I expect that both are going to be great reads.
and now, here's Craig.
I have long believed in the power of story, I've always been a voracious reader, and eventually I became a writer. I think this happens a lot. What captures me in a book is the writer's voice - and I don't mean "tone" here, I mean the choice of words, the way the sentences flow, the cadence, all the things that allow me to disappear into the story. When I am reading a great book, I sort of forget that I am reading - rather, the events are just unfolding in front of me. It is like I am sitting on a porch and listening to a really good storyteller.
I've read some of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's work, and was captured by his gift of story. He could talk about Martin Luther King, the story of Mary and Martha or his mom's chocolate pies, and he had me... right there on the porch, engaged and leaning in. What a delight it was to actually hear him speak this Sunday. I love seeing someone using a gift with such joyful abandon. Some storytellers fall in love with their own stories, and it shows - they delight a little too much in the cleverness of the tale, or put a bit too much of themselves into the telling. It is difficult to articulate what I mean - but I think you have probably heard this sort of storyteller.
What I love about Jonathan's stories is that he might know he is a gifted storyteller, but he understands where that gift has come from. He speaks with a gentle ease, and you get the sense that he just came upon these stories, and said, wow, look at these... these are beautiful little morsels. I think I should share them. And that is the grace part. Jonathan's faith shines through his stories, and it's not a fairytale kind of pious faith where everything is beautiful and shiny. Listening to him at DNSS, and then later as he preached at St. Benedict's table, I knew that he struggled just like we do. He didn't have all the answers, and didn't pretend that he did. He was just a storyteller, going down the road, talking about the world, the things he's seen, the people he met, and the God he knows. He knew where he got his gift, and I am delighted that he shared some of those beautiful morsels.
Check out Jonathan's website at: