I am sitting in the sun on the back porch of an apartment at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, watching the fog lift from the hills, a parade of thunderclouds undecidedly meandering among the peaks, hummingbirds buzzing and zigzagging through the branches of the pear tree next to me, towhees scuttling through the shrubs, bees ecstatic among purple flowers, and my yellow legal pad full of first-draft fiction–the opening chapters to the sequel for Auralia’s Colors–on a blue, hand-painted bench beside me.

I love it here. The Glen Workshop is an oasis for artists and believers. We have already been richly blessed by ministers of grace such as Scott Cairns, who delivered a profound and truly transforming keynote address last night;

Scott Cairns

Pierce Pettis, who led us in hymns of worship;

Eugene Peterson, who is offering words of hope and wisdom every evening;

Janine Hathaway, whose poetry was provocative and scathingly honest, cutting deep to reveal humbling truths;

Paula Houston, who boldly testified to her exploration of spiritual disciplines;

and Thomas Lynch, whose meditations on death, funerals, and hope were candid and arresting.

Anne and I arrived here in Santa Fe on Monday after a delightful weekend in Alburquerque with her parents.

During our first 48 hours here, we’ve already had a wonderfully memorable time staying up late for conversation with Scott, his brother Steve, and their family who have gathered to enjoy the week together;

a warm reunion with our dear friends Luci Shaw and John Hoyte;

words of gratitude to Greg Wolfe and his partners in crime at Image and the Seattle Pacific MFA program (Mary Kenagy, Julie Mullins, Beth Bevis, and others), for organizing such a restorative, rejuvenating time;

Greg Wolfe

fellowship with our dear friend Latitia Montgomery-Rogers and her husband Lincoln (a meeting long overdue, as he just returned from duty in Afghanistan);

Anne and Latitia

…and moments of mutal amazement and discovery with Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. (We learned that Linford and Karin will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary falls on exactly the same day that Anne and I do! Unbelievable.) We’re looking forward to dinner with them tonight, and further exploration of this beautiful country later this week.

Over the Glen?

The Workshop got off to a bang quite literally, with a storm of blasting lightning, window-rattling thunder, and fat drops of splatting rain. We gathered in the cafeteria to choose from the typically scrumptious variety of meals—salads, pizza, salmon, wraps, sweet potatoes, and a salad bar—and enjoyed a marathon of joyful reunions with friends from last summer: like fiction writers Sara Zaar, Todd Truffin (from Tiffin!), and Mike Harris-Stone. Greg Wolfe welcomed everyone formally, acknowledging with amazement that this is the largest, most crowded Glen yet, and he promised that they were going to have to draw the line, because the auditorium is full… all the way to the back wall.

Then we joined the wine reception on the deck outside, to watch spectacular, ominous thunderheads and cloudscapes bursting with the rays of the sunset.

Walking back to the apartment on Monday night and making plans for adventures later this week, I realized that, in my personal frame of reference, this is how I imagine heaven: a progress of joyous reunions, a sky full of dramatic light, wine, cheese, stories, prayer, worship, great storytelling, resonant songs, astonishing visual art… everything we love, moving us to praise.

I’m making some resolutions… some regarding this blog, some regarding the novels, and some regarding the rest of my life. Perhaps I’ll share some of those with you soon, so you can hold me accountable.

In the meantime, order copies of Luci Shaw’s new book, What the Light was Like; Scott Cairns’ new book A Compass of Affection; and Eugene Peterson’s latest, Eat This Book. They will give you some of the sustenance we’re enjoying here.

More soon.


Linford carrying his guitar

Sally Clarkson, Anne, me, Joel Clarkson, Mike Harris-Stone, Todd Truffin

The U2 Concert Boys

Anne, Letitia, and Jeanine Hathaway

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