I seldom read the introductions of books. They make me feel the way I do when I am reading a recipe—I know it is important to read the whole recipe before I start cooking, but I want to jump into the mixing and creating part. But this time as I read an advance copy of Kaitlin Curtice’s Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places, I was glad I took the time to do so.
In her introduction, Curtice shares a story about the beauty of an everyday event in her life: washing the dishes while her young sons wrestle on the floor, and her husband continues work on his PhD. It is an ordinary moment but also an extraordinary one, and it encapsulates the main theme of her book; the glory and beauty of God is all around us in such moments. There is a holiness to our everyday lives, but we seldom have eyes to see it. Her book is reminiscent of Barbara Brown Taylor’s assertion that we must practice the spiritual discipline of paying attention—of seeing with new eyes, so the sacredness of tending a garden or washing the dishes or driving in the car with those you love is an ever present reality.
The book does not tell one story but instead it tells a series of stories–it is made up of essays that are followed by prayers representative of each part. The eight parts of the book have titles like Creation, Light, Voice, Fire, and Worship. Through each essay and prayer, the reader gets a tiny glimpse into a glorious moment in Curtice’s life—not glorious in the sense of something grand or exciting but glorious in the way every moment of our lives is glorious because God is with us. Curtice’s writing is beautiful and lyrical—the reader will enjoy her carefully chosen words and the whimsy in her story-telling.
I have to confess that at first I was not sure that I would relate to many of the stories in the book—Curtice’s life is as different from mine as can be, starting with the fact that I do not and have never had young children to care for, nor do I enjoy gardening or the great outdoors. But the book speaks to our lives where they are. And as much as Curtice reflects on the glory of God in her family life, she sees it just as much in nature, the rhythm of Sabbath, in games of rummy, and even in getting sick or experiencing a disappointment, experiences common to all.
As I was reading the book, I was reminded of why I started watching baseball. I had just read Eugene Peterson’s book The Contemplative Pastor, a poetic reminder that, above all, pastors should be people of prayer. Aside from that important statement, the only other thing I remember from the book is Peterson’s discussion of his early years as a pastor when he would visit his congregants in their homes and try to engage them in conversations on his terms. He wanted to have important theological discussions, but his congregants just wanted to talk about baseball scores and the ordinary things in their lives. Peterson says he had to learn “conversational humility”—the ability to let others guide the conversation and talk about what most mattered to them.
I started watching baseball to connect with people in my life who did not care to talk about faith or eternity but really wanted to engage in debates about great pitching, blind umpires, and amazing bat flips. I mistakenly thought only theological conversations were sacred and holy but Peterson and, now, Curtice remind me and you that every conversation can be, and we can experience God in the most mundane moments.
I recommend this beautiful and contemplative book to all of those who want to start experiencing and recognizing the divine in the most ordinary things in their lives, which I can assume is all of us.
I saved all the prayers from the book and want to end my review with my favorite:
You give things to us that remind us of who you are.
You give us the wind so that we can remember
how the spirit moves and breathes always over
and around us.
You give us each other so that we remember what
once looked like when you walked among us.
You give us light to remember who you’ve always
And you give us tradition and togetherness
so that we can laugh and remember that while we’re
we can be human to and with
Image Credit: Kaitlin Curtice