Open Book: Finding God in Literature

BY: pradm2n

Lori

Imagine a book club built around your prayer life — with no reading required! Pray Maker and her friend Alice Shelton discuss spiritual themes and questions from literature and poetry, then top it off with a prayer from the Prayables collection.

Listen our journey to find God between the pages of our favorite books. This week, Lori and Alice will discuss a quote from the novel by Alice Walker.

 

 

 


 

Radio Transcript

Lori:
Hello and welcome to Open Book, a lively discussion of literature and spirituality. My name is Lori Strawn and I'm a praymaker of Prayables.com, an online prayere community of all faiths. I'm here with my good friend Alice Shelton. Hi Alice.

Alice:
Hi Lori!

Lori:
We would love to have you out there, our listeners, join our conversation. To join us in the chat room all you have to do is sign in at blog talk radio, provide a name and a password and then enter the chatroom. Alice and I met one another in college but we didn't exactly run in the same circles. I was an English major, what were you studying Alice?

Alice:
I was a biology major.

Lori:
Ah yes. We did get to know one another when we were invited to take a special honors English class together. How would you describe that class?

Alice:
Well Lori that class was a super stretch experience for me. It was a group of 5 or 6 of us and we met in one of our faculty members homes. It was a challenge. The literature we read was a lot harder than anything I had read to that point.

Lori:
Yeah, I remember that too. So one of the book we read in that class was The Color Purple by Alice Walker. What I'd like to do now is just read a little bit from the book. In this part Shook and Seally are talking about God and how God makes things for us to admire. Shook says "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about, but any fool living in the world can see its always trying to please us back." What do you think about that Alice, do you think God made squirrels for us to admire?

Alice:
I do, I think its very funny, I get a funny picture in my mind of God getting pissed. Because I don't think most of us, I don't know, we think of God as not getting pissed about things. But I think that God created a lot of things, all things that is really, for us and colors and things in nature especially are things that speak to me about God. What do you think Lori?

Lori:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I know as a Catholic, especially when I was a little girl they use to tell us all the time "oh this world is just a trap, think about the next life, don't get caught up in this life." But I just think that's a bunch of hooey, I think why did God make stuff so spectacular if he didn't want us to admire them? He's trying to please us all the time.

Alice:
I'm fortunate to live in a part of the country that has all 4 seasons really clearly defined as you would say, so as we are just leaving the fall season here in Indiana, I have been struck this fall with colors I have never seen before, it was really dry here this summer, I really, I just sneak out a lot in the fall. I walk in the morning really early in the day, and it's typically dark, and one of the things that particularly, I don't know, prayerful or thought provoking for me in the fall is just the sound of the leaves under my feat when I'm walking. It's so silent that early in the morning and I some how thinking God is speaking to me and I'm not really sure what it's saying but I always think that in the fall.

Lori:
Wow that's beautiful and I am here to testify that the leaves in Indiana are the most beautiful leaves in the world.

Alice:
We have a Gynko tree in our front yard and I don't know if you know much about Gynko trees but they drop all their leaves in one day. So my husband John always talks about that being really something of God because that is really the only tree that we know of that does that and I had the great joy this weekend of being outside and ranking the leaves and raking up all the yellow Gynko leaves.

Lori:
Where else in nature do you see God? Besides the seasons?

Alice:
Well trees for me is very much of God. I probably went through most of my life not ever noticing trees until I married my husband, John. He is a major tree efficianado and so just through knowing him and taking long walks and having him tell me endless details about trees, some details that I wanted to know and some that I didn't, I have really just come to see trees as things that, in particular, reach right up to where I believe God is in the heavens. I think the thought of spending an evening, sitting out on my front porch, when it's stormy and really really windy is when I really get a sense of God in trees and in nature. So trees are a big thing for me, water is a huge huge connection to God for me. Just the vastness of it and the strength of it is significant.

Lori:
Oh I agree, I'm a California girls so the Ocean always get me. Just the sound of it, even.

Alice:
Well I'm not a California girl and I tend to be a lake girl more than an Ocean girl, so maybe necessarily the depth of the water isn't much of a deal. But looking out on water that doesn't seem to end anywhere and you're really just looking out into the horizon is a real sense for me for what eternity will be like.

Lori:
Wow, where is the strangest place you'd say you found God? And for me, this is sort of a personal thing. I see God every year in the strangest places, just in our own backyard. We moved here and it was sort of a wilderness back there because the house was deserted for a few years. So we got it all tamed down and then that spring, all the sudden, we had daffodils. I had no idea we were going to have daffodils and there they were. And then the next year, irises. No clue that we were going to get them, they just suddenly appeared one day. It seems like everyday God has some surprise for me back there and it just blooms and it just colors.

Alice:
Interesting. Well I'll answer that, but I want to say something about irises, that is my absolute favorite favorite flower. I don't know if you remember Sister Denise Wilkonson from the woods, but Denise has always love iris. Those flowers are just so, I think of them as the trinity, I mean they're just so trinitarian because of the way their petals are so I love iris. When I thought of that passage in The Color Purple that you read I immediately assumed those flowers, the purple flowers that were being referred to, were iris. Because to me when I see iris I always see God. You know I do see God in strange places and I feel that I talk to God a lot and one of the things that I do that my friends think is very strange is that I often talk to certain types of insects, which I know does sound kind of nutty, but I love, are they fireflies? Not fireflies, not the things that come out at night but they're these things that are really popular now, you see them in all the stores, they have two long wings on either side and an elongated body. I can't think of the name.

Lori:
Dragonflies?

Alice:
Yes, dragonflies. I have a dragonfly that flies around the window of my office all the time and I just have come to believe that that is the Holy Spirit coming to see me, because I often notice it when I am angry at work or am having a rough day. So I don't know, maybe it's nutty, but I tend to talk to the dragonfly and it's sort of like prayer to me. So I think that probably one of the stranger places that I see God.

Lori:
No I think that makes perfect sense, anything I think that gets you thinking about the divine is from God. I mean whatever that is; a rock, a blade of grass or a dragonfly at your window, if it gets you praying then it's from God, it's of God. So I don't find that strange in the least.

Alice:
Interesting. Well I just spent part of the afternoon today visiting my husband's father who is in a nursing home. And I was just knowing that you and I would be talking this afternoon, I was trying to be reflective in thinking about what sort of things would be coming up in our conversation and trying in a real sort of tangible way to figure out how I was going to be finding God in a nursing home, which for me can be a really sad and hard place to be visiting my father in law, he has mid stages of alzheimer's disease, so wasn't completely present and I was really just trying to think about how people who are in that situation might find God and might be spoken to. And I was grateful that he has a beautiful window that looks out on an area that has a little pond and it's sort of raining here today but there's still a few flowers blooming and it was nice to think that maybe he gets to speak and feel God while he's there sometimes during the day. That's a hard place to be.

Lori:
Yeah that's beautiful, and I hate to interrupt our discussion but I need to do a prayer reading. This is from the Prayables Collection at . It's called "Small Wonders" and it was written by yours truly.



Amen.

Alice:
Amen, I like the word gallop.

Lori:
Well okay I guess that winds us up for the day. Thank you for listening. Please join us next week when we discuss a quote from Thomas Murton. Can you tell us something about that quote, Alice?

Alice:
Well it's actually a part of a prayer that I just love and it has to do with us not knowing where we're going but being involved in God makes that okay, so I'm looking forward to next week.

Lori:
Wonderful. So we hope to see you then or at least hear you then and until then happy reading.

Alice:
Happy Thanksgiving.

Lori:
Happy Thansgiving.

 

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