Every morning I read a devotional from the Daily Guideposts. I’m going to miss them after this year. You see, I only have the book because a wonderful woman at the church where I used to be the office manager for so long bought it for me every year. I am certain that the gift will pass to the next office manager, as it should. There are many wonderful writers who share their thoughts in the Guideposts, some of whom are most certainly more “conservative” than I, for the writers hail from a variety of denominations. Nevertheless I love them all. Yet, there is one I love above all others. His name is Brian Doyle.
Mr. Doyle writes like a dream. His writing virtually breathes his Irish heritage. He writes about God, yet I don’t think I have ever read the word “God” in his writing. No, the Divine is, to Brian Doyle, The Cohent Mercy. God is The Lord of the Starfields. God is in Doyle’s children, in the woman he loves, in his father, in the memories he has of all those whom he has loved, in the very fact of his existence.
I was so enamored of his way with words that as soon as I had the chance, I read one of his books. Mink River, it’s called, and I couldn’t put it down. Such a gift he has been given! The Divine drips from the pages, yet there is most certainly hardly a word about “God.” The traditions of the storytellers of Ireland and of the Native American tribes of the Northwest wrap themselves together ino a new kind of tradition. The way Brian Doyle writes is a meditation, a breath, a wisp of a thought lost in the depth of the soul’s realization of eternity. This is the way I wish I could write, the way I wish I could worship, the way I wish I could simply be in the everlasting moment of now.
When I sit down to share my thoughts, which are many, I rarely find the sort of inspiration that lives in the tips of Brian Doyle’s fingers. Indeed, it is a rare gift to be able to bring the very depth of the River of Being to the surface with every written syllable. Doyle’s work reminds me that it is in the telling of the story that we are connected with its purpose. It is in the hearing of a tale that we find meaning in the words.
In a time when many are focused on the idea that the two existing “Testaments” of the Christian Bible are somehow the literal Word of God, there is something here to ponder. It is a joyous thing to be reminded that it is the relationship between the storyteller and the tale that gives a story life. It is in the hearing that the listener finds the gift of the tale. The Everlasting Delight that is God is more than the written word; more than the sacred texts of any religion alone; beyond all religions bundled together.
Today at St. Brigid we experienced Communion as a story, a short story with a long tradition; a story that binds together hearers of the tale across boundaries of culture, space, and time. I did not use the reading, but simply told the story, allowing Spirit to lead me where She would. As the teller of the tale, I was inspired. I hope that my partner in worship (we were a small congregation of two today) also experienced a gift of inspiration. Certainly, I cannot imagine anything less than the awareness of the bountiful blessing of relationship that is at the center of our remembering.
Brian Doyle does not write of how-to’s and wherefore’s of following Jesus. He does not write of correct ways of being or of believing. No, Mr. Doyle writes tales of healing. He writes tales of relationship. He writes tales of Being. He writes tales of The Lord of the Starfields; of The Coherent Mercy. I want to write like that.