Tuesday morning, October 291957

Dearest Family,

Everything is back to normal this week. …after the wedding cake broke into two pieces….This is about all for this time. Want to get the letter in this afternoon’s mail. Love to each of you. 

My Grandmother Parker typed her letters on onionskin paper using carbon paper so she would have three copies – one for each of her children and their families. We received a letter from Grandmother Parker almost every week for over 25 years.

Over the years her method of making copies changed from carbon paper to mimeograph machine to Zerox” copies but the tone of her letters never changed. Today our family keeps in touch through Instagram, Facetime and email. We still share the important moments in life with one another. And like Grandmother we share the good and difficult times as well as a delicious recipe or a gardening tip.

In 1930 and 1931, Frank Laubach wrote letters to his father from the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Frank Laubach shared the important moments of his life with his father. Excerpts from these letters were compiled into the little book Letters by a Modern Mystic. Laubach’s son tells us that his father wrote the letters at a time when his life was at its most discouraging depth.” What we see when we read the excerpts is how Frank Laubach learned to speak with God, listen as God spoke to him, and live responding to God as a violin responds to the bow of the master.” He learned all of this in the midst of his ordinary life. 

I do not know how Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith were able to choose what excerpts to include in Devotional Classics and what to let the reader discover later. The little book is a gift of grace. Through his letters Frank Laubach encourages us to experiment with confidence undeterred by failures as we live moment by moment with God.

Laubach found the beauty of the world around him filled with the presence of God as though God was writing letters in the sunset or clouds or waterspout. In some excerpts that were not included in Devotional Classics, let us share Laubach’s discovery of a world jam-packed with God.

January 261930

Is not this marvelous sky a parable! Open your soul and entertain the glory of God and after a while that glory will be reflected in the world about you and in the very clouds above your head.”

April 181930

As naturally as a preacher she replied, God is everywhere around us and in us if we only open our eyes. All the world is beautiful if we have eyes to see the beauty, for the world is packed with God.’”

September 21930

Far off in the middle of the lake, a long perfect waterspout stood like a colossal pillar from the clouds to the splashing water. It was the first perfect waterspout that I have seen from sea to sky. Above my head those angry black clouds turned into glorious gold, from the hidden sun. But it was not this that made the evening wonderful. God was speaking. …Then out of the skies there came a silent voice, Your black clouds give the sun its chance. It is surprise, it is escape from darkness to light that makes life so rich. Your prison is also your paint box from which all the beauty you know is pouring. Lanao, where you now sit, is one of the most beautiful creations in all the reaches of space. And here you have the privilege of opening eyes to see beauty, which otherwise would not see….The most beautiful thing in the universe for you is Lanao stretching around this lake at your feet, for it contains the beauty of immense need.”

September 211930

Our search for God through narrow straits has brought a sudden revelation, like an explorer who has just come out upon a limitless sea. It is not any particularly new idea but a new feeling, which came almost of itself. Today God seems to me to be just behind everything. I feel Him there. He is just under my hand, just under the typewriter, just behind this desk, just inside the file, just inside the camera. …It seemed so wonderfully true that just the privilege of fellowship with God is infinitely more than any thing that God could give. When He gives Himself He is giving more than anything else in the universe.”

October 111931

Knowing God better and better is an achievement of friendship. …How is it to be achieved by doing things together. The depth and intensity of the friendship will depend upon the variety and extent of the things we do and enjoy together.”

In her little book, Clinging, Emilie Griffin tells us that we must cling to the One who holds eternity in His hand, who will not perish in the end, and who has power to save us, too: the One who knew us before we existed, in whose thought and by whose hand we exist from moment to moment. He chose us and shaped us from our mother’s womb to be intimate with Him. This intimacy is what we were made for.”

This is a discovery we must make for ourselves. We are invited into an intimate fellowship with God. The whole universe speaks to the glory of God if only we will open our eyes to see. So the Psalmist sings, The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” We have only to open our souls and receive grace upon grace. And Emilie goes on to say, By clinging, then, we come to know that heaven is not only later on, but somehow already begun, and that the kingdom is at work in us with a silent greening, shooting up like spring while there is snow still on the ground.

I am grateful to my grandmother for spending hours typing letters to her family on her Underwood Electric Typewriter. I wonder if she sensed God just under her hand or under the typewriter in every keystroke. I imagine that she saw the glory of God in her beautiful camellia blooms and recognized how God cares deeply for beauty as the Creator. I imagine that she felt God with her as she pulled the little red wagon to the elementary school to deliver soup and homemade biscuits to the children without lunches. She taught me to see the world around me. She taught me to trust Jesus. As I look back through the bound volumes of family letters I see her friendship with Jesus through the things she did with Jesus. Through their letters Grandmother Parker and Frank Laubach encourage me to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?” (January 20, 1930 – Frank Laubach age 45; Grandmother Parker age 27)

Excerpts taken from Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank Laubach.

The photograph of the sunset was taken by Joe Davis, a member of the Renovaré Britain & Ireland Ministry Team.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Renovaré Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shaping journey features four books, old and new, prayerfully curated by Renovaré. Now underway and there’s still time to join.

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