Macrina Wiederkehr is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the author of many books including Gold in Your Memories and Behold Your Life. In this classic text on everyday spirituality, she teaches us the art of seeing the presence of God in the midst of our daily activities. "You live in a world of theophanies," she writes. "Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure."
Wiederkehr models for us Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) as a way of life. It is based on an incarnation spirituality which finds God fleshed out everywhere. One of our very favorite passages is about a moment of beauty spotted by the author in a bus station:
"Taking my head out of my book for a moment proved to be true nourishment. I witnessed a little girl helping her brother get a drink at the water fountain. Attempting to lift him to the proper height turned out to be impossible. I was just at the point of giving them some assistance when quick as lightning she darted over to a shoeshine man, pointed to a footstool he wasn't using, dragged it to the water fountain, and very gently lifted up her thirsty brother. It all happened so fast and it was so simple, yet it turned out to be a moment of beauty that became a prayer for me. So much to be learned from such a little moment. Perhaps what touched me most was her readiness to seek out a way to take care of the need without waiting to be rescued. It was a moment of beauty: a small child with a single heart."
Here putting another before oneself and serving with just the right touch is a sign of Presence.
We are tree lovers and share with Wiederkehr a special fondness for them. One of our editor’s comments on the first draft of Spiritual Literacy was scribbled in the margin: "Enough already on trees!" But for us they are spiritual teachers, and one of our favorite passages is from Wiederkehr on the time she used a tree as a spiritual director.
Wiederkehr also loves letters as "stories of our souls." She writes: "I treasure my letters like early morning sunrises. I see the rays between the lines. I hear the dreams and yearnings, the gratitude and the delight. I hear the questions and the musings, all coming from the heart of this newly published author. A letter bears its own copyright. Standing before my mailbox holding an original very limited edition in my hands is like standing before a feast."
Whether marveling over childhood spirituality, fasting, mistakes as friends, reading the newspaper, or dreaming about hurrying people in the mall; Wiederkehr keeps us focused on the abundant wonders in this life and the grace of God that is behind them all. A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary is the kind of incredible resource you want to shout about from the rooftops. But perhaps the best response is to give it as a gift to the ones you love. And take it from us, this timeless classic grows richer and deeper with each reading.