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Chris Koelle, Johnny Cash, and Jesus

We in the Rabbit Room have long admired the art of Chris Koelle. This year he turned his attention to creating an incredible etching inspired by the great, apocalyptic Johnny Cash song, “The Man Comes Around.” Check it out.




Let Kids Fight Evil So They Can Be Heroes

In the early to mid ’80s, I was a boy in a family where I was allowed to have a He-Man action figure, but not Skeletor. I could play with Lion-O but not Mumm-Ra. I don’t know, maybe they could throw a costume party or set up a lemonade stand together—but those muscles and swords were NOT for fighting evil.

Actually, I can remember our church passing out a list around Christmas of what toys were and weren’t appropriate. For a few years, I had to choose Christmas gifts off of that list. Thankfully, I was allowed to have both G.I. Joe and Cobra, Luke and Vader, and even those little, pink M.U.S.C.L.E. guys on the no-no list.



Johnson Reel 100B

It’s a Johnson Century reel, model number 100B, made in the U.S.A. It used to be my Dad’s—the reel I used when I went fishing as a kid.

There’s a white release button with a smooth indent where your thumb fits, and it makes a delicious click when you push it down. Even sitting on a 5-gallon bucket in the garage, I can’t hear that click without hearing also what comes next, the whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of a line making hope’s arc to heaven, rising like the angel Gabriel leaving the Virgin Mary, then suddenly recognizing that he’d forgotten something. At its peak, that line is carried by gravity down to the earth, down into the dark, wet, green, down near the thick, red mud where the soul of a fish gets itself wooed.

“I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus said to those leathered few who already knew by trade how hard it was to fish for fish. Fish are fickle as women, and women are fickle as men, and I don’t know how to sink down into the shadows where I am called to go forth and woo, and to preach, and to mother, down in this cold, blind darkness.

The line wasn’t rolled up right the last time this reel was used, and somehow it’s got wound all around the rod handle. A big mess is hanging down in an irreverent tangle, looking like a pretty little blonde baby whose momma didn’t fix her hair before they went out to the I.G.A. to pick up a carton of cigarettes and a sack of light bread.



Creativity: Spiritual Battle and Spiritual Discipline, Part Two

[Read Part I here.]

One of the boundaries that has helped me integrate my creativity and my spirituality is the sister-discipline of solitude. I’m a true monastic at heart, but it has been extremely hard for me to come to a place where I’m not crippled by guilt in my efforts to live in a way that is, as Macrina Wiederkehr so lovingly put it, “kind to my own soul,” to make choices with my days—even small ones—that are not only good for me emotionally and creatively, but that keep my heart calibrated to its true north.

In a world that is whirling faster than ever, I long for soul anchors, rituals and ancient rhythms that connect me to my center. One of the things I do, in an effort to make my days more liturgical, more centered, is to try to keep the traditional monastic hours of prayer—I want to emphasize try. Some days it doesn’t happen at all, and there’s not a single day I have kept every one of them. But the “interruption” of a few moments of prayer in the midst of a busy day keeps me connected to the Source that makes my work meaningful, whether it’s doing the laundry or cooking a meal or writing a novel. Two practical helps have been Seven Sacred Pauses, a layperson’s guide to the monastic hours by the Benedictine sister Macrina Wiederkehr, and Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours, a series of prayerbooks divided into the seasons of the year.

Another anchor is the commitment I’ve made to show up at my desk for at least two hours a day. After years of struggling to justify the habit, it’s finally become a debt of honor—whether anything “productive” comes of it or not, I’m learning to accept this discipline as part and parcel of each day’s obedience.



Creating a Picture Book: Part I – The Beginning

Over the years people have encouraged me to do a picture book. I love to paint and I love to write, so why not put those things together? And I’ve wanted to, but I simply haven’t. Other projects have crowded it out, or I’ve started and then given up, overwhelmed by the enormity of it […]



Discussion: Favorite Music of 2015 (So Far)

Usually by the end of the year, the Internet floods with the best of everything lists. When the time comes to make said lists, I imagine I’m not the only one who feels like it’s a huge project to just remember everything I’ve heard in twelve months. So, since we are just over the halfway point in an exceptionally good year for music, I thought it would be fun to talk about our favorite albums so far.

It’s only scratching the surface of this year’s goodness, but I’ll get things started with five I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order. What would you add? What do you have on repeat until The Burning Edge of Dawn comes out?

Disclaimer: In the interest of fun / pointless self-imposed rules / sharing new things with friends, I decided to only include artists that haven’t been covered at The Rabbit Room yet. So yes, do go read Matt Conner’s post about Josh Garrels’ fantastic new record and buy everything Andrew Osenga releases, especially when it involves glorious ’90s rock riffs.



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