The specifics of what transpires under the surface of the soil are largely unknown. When uprooted at the end of the growing season, my seven-foot-tall okra plants showed strong but at the most only twelve-inch roots. Perennials and other plants may truly look dead, yet the root lives and continues to prepare for the next season of fruitful beauty.

It is the same with our souls. We cannot see all that is being worked out below the surface. The strength of what lies beneath is able to sustain, support, and give life to great things.

Interview Series: MAKING — A Conversation with Bruce Herman

I dream of the world as sacred space — as a living cathedral. Man-made cathedrals merely echo the natural world with its soaring sequoias, canyons, oceans, mountain peaks. This world was made by a Maker who loves and enters the creation to know it from the inside. This Maker is not aggressive or possessive as we humans understand Him, but is rather hidden, loving, generous to a fault.

“Through beauty,” Fellows surmises, “we are led to a joy which belongs to another world.” Walking out of the theater after viewing Moonrise Kingdom, I carried with me the joy of a determined color story. Anderson’s choice of warm, desaturated colors intensified a feeling of nostalgia for childhood. Every shot is elaborately self-conscious recreating a childhood longing for fantasy worlds. The real genius of Wes Anderson, in my opinion, is his story of color.
I took a photo after all, of the one thing of hers that I have asked for: her pencil cup, made of rolled magazine pages, pencils included. It came out blurry. Once I pulled the car up the drive and loaded my bags, she was ready for the customary parting hug on the front stoop. But I had one more task, to be completed indoors, so we returned to the kitchen.
I train my eyes to rest on these beautiful things during work days, reminiscent of the time I discovered an open E chord on my guitar and played it for a solid half hour in as many ways I could, with my ear resting on the body of the instrument to soak up the resonance. There’s a stability I’m finding here that is good and right, that reminds me of the growing stability of my hands mastering those first basic chord shapes and transitions.

Interview Series: MAKING — A Conversation with Kim Thomas

I absolutely think that the history of frequent moves, adjusting, new people — all that affects my making today. It takes a lot of courage to be a maker of any kind. It requires many decisions, commitments, and lonely times in your head. The nomadic life built up my courage for new things and change, sort of immunized me to sameness, and made me invite the adventure of mystery and unknown.

Name is related to identity, and identity comes in part from story. When I learned more of our stories, I could see my family and myself in a new, larger context; I could enter into relationship — into community — with both the quick and the dead; I could inhabit a richer understanding of what community means. I could even “burst into poetry” and celebrate my heritage, my name.
Matt and I suddenly found ourselves writing songs we couldn’t play in church. Songs that would fit better in a bar or a club — venues we had started playing when we were too young to drink in them.

The songs we were writing weren’t necessarily risqué, but they were more about eros than agape — more focused on the divine in human love than the love of the Divine.
We were driving home to Nashville after visiting family in Chattanooga — a 2-hour drive that we do fairly often. The moon was out, the kids were asleep in the back, and all was silent except for the hum of traffic as I held my husband’s hand and laid my head against the window. I tried to count how many trips we’d made like this when suddenly, the sweetest thought dropped into my heart. This is what I’m going to remember when I die.
My work with words is anchored in a belief that an essential charity pervades a marred creation capable of lighting some small path of grace across the page. The world is beautiful and broken, and both need telling as we search for a wholeness in this life. There is a Hebrew phrase for what I’m describing: tikkun olam, which means to repair or fix the world — a call to humanity to collaborate with God in setting things right. Tikkun olam sums up the trajectory of the writer of faith’s vocation.
A wise and wonderful editor of mine once told me that she believes there are two types of children's book writers: those who study children and those who are children inside. I knew immediately which group I belong in! It just feels very natural for me to write for children. And I feel very fortunate: children are the best audience in the world. They will go with you anywhere, much further than adults. It is an honor and a privilege to write for children, and also, of course, a great responsibility.
Her note was written on an old index page of a ledger and she too adhered a bird sticker to the faded surface. She ripped the page right out of the book; I loved the spontaneous, rustic aesthetic. The postcard did in fact bear her greeting from four years ago as well as a dignified black cat on the glossy cover along with French writing — she went to Paris, too. Belated, yet thoughtful. I don’t know many people who’d realize they’d forgotten to send a postcard four years ago, then actually send it upon the moment of realization. My friends are a rare, whimsical, priceless bunch.
The mountain doesn’t look like the mountain when you’re on it. Often enough, it doesn’t look like much at all. Like standing only a few inches away from one of Georges Seurat’s pieces, all I see are points of color. It’s just dots, at least that’s true to some degree. Yet I’d venture a guess that Seurat was not primarily or initially moved by a vision of tiny marks on a canvas but that he took up the brush and diligently, meticulously made those millions of tiny marks because he was moved by a vision of sand and water or skin and eyes.
But what if things were just that simple? What if we insist on complicating things that really aren’t that complicated? What if this life was something where having a good horse, being able to tell right from wrong, and knowing where a man could find fresh water and how to handle yourself in a fight were among the most important things you could know, and you took everything else as it came? Is there such a story to tell anymore?
Van Gogh said something like this: “The highest form of art is fashioning human lives.” I’m not sure if that’s the exact quote, but it’s certainly true. You’re creating all the time — creating a mood, creating a meal, making a sick person comfortable, creating a celebration, nurturing compassion, creating a welcome — you’re always making. When our imaginations are captured by the idea of creating good stories in the lives of the people we’ve been given to love, a world of possibility opens up.
Nostalgia is not the new fad. Making things from scratch is not the new cool. Using your own elbow grease to scrub your baseboards the old-fashioned way is not just hip. It’s about living in a way that makes homes into places that care for the stranger and also the nearby friend. If in the process we rediscover the way they did things back then, it’s because no technology can ever replace what the time and trouble achieved. We will not stop hungering and thirsting for authenticity and presence.

What we believe about a child, and the person who that child is becoming, is significant. As Charlotte Mason says, "A child is a person." Children are not just babies becoming people, they are already people. In this way, we hold and relate to them with honor and respect. On one hand, we don't need to idolize them in preciousness. Nor do we need to belittle them for their weakness.

This reality is a great equalizer, and it makes me want to consider that honor even in the hope that the simple songs they sing and memorize should also be great songs.