In The Face Of Tragedy, Beauty

Yesterday, a bright, vibrant young leader, who has been a part of our St. Stephen’s University community as a student and as a travel term leader, and is dearly loved by many, took his life in a nearby city.

Today, we gathered as a community, stumbling over how to have any kind of “chapel service” in the wake of this tragedy. Another worship leader and I were poised at the ready, with a few songs that created an honest, lamenting space with God, and that had a focus on that which is never changing – God’s character.

Instead, at a key moment, our violinist, Matt Frise, was asked to play Gow’s Lament in the middle of the tears and sharing. As his notes soared high, they lilted into the hearts of the mourning like red leaves from an autumn tree, bringing comfort, and permission, to the spilling wounds of the heart.

Then Holli Durost and I played as folks were leaving, and her rich voice and honest creative expression seemed to further to weave in and out of the souls of those mingling about, creating an intangible space of rest for the heavy heart.

Then, a friend just emailed me to say that in the middle of last night, in a moment of questing for clarity in the face of this young man’s death, a phrase from a song I wrote over the past month became a piece of beauty she found solace within.

Beauty is a place to which we can go. It is a sanctuary without walls, a resting place without windows, a comforting place without hands.

John Eldredge suggested once that when his good friend Brent died, no words or encouragements could console him. However, beauty could.

In the face of great tragedy, allow beauty to heal.

As a musician and creative leader, be on call to share your gift for the common good.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.