Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Horses Speak of God: A Review

I am occasionally asked to review books by my peers.  I enjoy reading and reviewing books by my colleagues, but for some reason, when it came to the request to read and review Horses Speak of God by Laurie Brock, I was at first reluctant.  I’m not sure why.  I think the topic had me uncomfortable.  I am not a horse person.  Then, there is Laurie.  She’s an Alabama fan, I’m a Clemson fan.  She likes sweet tea, I like mine unsweet.  She’s a Distinguished Celebrity Blogger (DCB) with Lent Madness, and I’m just a celebrity blogger (cb) 😆.  She’s an incredibly well educated theologian, and I’m just a lay person muddling through my experience with God and life.  And did I mention I am not a horse person?  To say I felt out of my comfort zone is putting it mildly.

But much like the message in Horses Speak of God, you’ll see from all the tagged pages in this photo
that I got far more out of the experience of settling in to my saddle and enjoying this collection of essays than I thought.  Laurie’s tone and cadence reminds me of the style of Anne Morrow Lindburgh and her book Gifts from the Sea.  Her tenor comforts and calms.  I felt she was whispering knowledge and feelings and experience as she whispers in her horse’s ear.  Laurie’s writing reminds me that we have far more in common in the human experience than we have different.

Laurie may find her connection to God on her horse’s back, but it is no different that my desire to connect to God through my walk or run.  There is a restless energy involved in physical activity where God some how shows up and soothes and teaches.  What Laurie has found and communicates in her book, is what I find in pounding the pavement.  There are lessons to be learned about God through the body.

Each essay touches on critical steps in spiritual development.  Her raw honesty in the section on praying for your enemies struck a cord with me.  Not too long ago I started trying to pray for those that I really didn’t like in life.  It was refreshing to hear that a priest can feel the same.  More importantly, Laurie reflects on how God is working on us in this discipline of prayer.

Another chapter reflects on the presence of God.  Quite honestly, I’ve always thought that being a Christian was difficult.  It’s antithetic (in a way) to who we are as humans.  We are inherently selfish people and God calls us to something more.  The push-pull between what we want and what God wants for us often creates conflict in our lives.  Laurie reflects, “A truth of faith is that God is an uncomfortable presence.  Being in a relationship with God and others dislodges from our comfortable places, expanding our balance, teaching us newness…..God dislodges…Life gets unsettled and uncomfortable…there is wailing and blaming…God listens…People figure out God is in this.”  I may have shouted a verbal “yes” with a fist pump in the air as I read.  I wanted to reach out with a high five over the distance and say, “Yes, God makes me uncomfortable. Yes, God is in this. Yes, I whine and wail.”  God is calling us out of our comfortable understanding into something so much more.  It isn’t supposed to be easy.

Another chapter that gave me pause is when Laurie discussed being a leader of a church and looking out at her congregation following the death of a long term parishioner.  I had never thought of the many, many, many souls that a minister physically sees missing from the pews following death.  It is a rare vantage point that she has shared with her reader and is a glimpse of the depth of loss clergy experience by ministering to many and not just a few.

Finally, Laurie calls us to reflect on our Christian disciplines through things we do every day.  She may do this on the back of a horse, but the lessons are for all.  Laurie may sit on her porch with her sweet tea, and I may be there with my unsweet tea, but the important thing is that we would be there together, sharing in the experience of God and how God continues to weave through the human experience in ways that are both common and uncommon.  Through this shared experience we are participating in God’s larger idea of church.  As Laurie states, “Our relationship with God, and by extension, our community of other people, is one of moment.”

Come, be with Laurie and God in a moment and pick up a copy of Horses Speak of God.