God in the Yard: In the Beginning • Week 1


Tomorrow I meet with my writing friend to begin our collaboration. But today I thought I should begin somewhere. Here are a few thoughts on structuring Week 1 in the God in the Yard Devotional Companion book. I welcome your suggestions, insights, conversation. Someday I will put all this together into a coherent whole. But for now it seemed good to begin...

From God in the Yard, Week 1

When I was a child, I lived in the woods.

Not literally, of course. I wasn’t a pint-sized Paul Bunyan, wielding my axe, toddling around with a stuffed blue ox. The woods were a place I sought solace from a difficult life. There, I watched the creek change from silver-green ribbon, to amber, from ice-blue to spring’s rush and tumble of white. I floated sticks and made pine needle beds. Sometimes I raced my sister across the creek rocks, then knocked her into the reeds. In the woods I was free...

A Few Thoughts on Beginnings

"Tell me about when I was born." My youngest child loves to say this when I turn off the light and tuck her in bed. Maybe the story of her beginnings gives her solace for the darkness she will now face alone. Maybe it informs and comforts her dreams. Maybe it is simply about connection or the pleasure of remembrance. Stories of beginnings are rich and powerful.

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath note that remembering how we began, or how we came to a place, especially a place of difficulty, is often more valuable than thinking towards a vision of some hoped-for future. Unraveling the past, or following the trail from past to present, if you will, does more to propel us forward than trying to magically jump into an abstract tomorrow.

It was interesting to me to see that both Glynn and Laura chose to focus on the "When I was a child" option, in embarking on their first week with God in the Yard. Maybe they did other activities too, but this was the one they both chose to share. Stories of beginnings. Could it be that we instinctively know we move forward by first going back?

Beginnings in Scripture (all taken from the KJV)

Morning Reading • Genesis 1:1-31

Excerpt... "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'"

Afternoon Reading • Psalm 139:11-16

Excerpt... "My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."

Evening Reading • Luke 2:22-38

Excerpt... "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

Ways to Consider

In each of the passages above, it might be helpful to ponder...

1. Who are the characters present in the passage? (Don't shy from listing the animals as well :)

2. What is the setting like? What can we see, smell, hear?

3. What is happening in the passage?

4. Do you know more about any of these stories? About what happened before or after these particular moments? How do they relate (or not seem to relate) to the "beginnings" in these passages?

5. Can you relate one of your own "beginnings" stories to any of these passages?


In the beginning, you created, Lord. In this new moment of beginnings, create in me.

Art for Reflection

Anunciation, by L.L. Barkat (pictured above). Do you have other recommendations? Contributions? Let me know.

Musical selection

To be selected (this is not my forte :)

Notes to Myself (and anyone else who wants to listen :)...

Need to consider:

1. how well this captures the essence of Chapter 1
2. how to make the connection to spiritual practice (or not)
3. whether the questions are deep and wide enough, have the right focus
4. whether certain "natural" aspects can be played up (since GIY's setting is one of outdoor solitude), or whether they even need to be

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Anonymous Monica Sharman said...

Really love your "Ways to Consider"! And the passages you chose, such rich starting places...to go back from the here and now. They stimulate that head-nodding excitement -- yes, yes -- to think on those passages and what has gone before, what has come since. It seems that inherent in the #5 question is so much of that good *remembering* that is both protective and worshipful. This can certainly occupy more than one week! :)
A song? Perhaps one about the Incarnation? In reading this post I've thought of the beginning of John 1 the whole time. I have a song based directly from John 1 which I can email to you if you like.

A couple of "Christmas" hymns (though they should be sung year-round!): "A Communion Hymn for Christmas" (text: Margaret Clarkson; music: Tom Fettke) or "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

I can email you hymn lyrics, too. They would be too much for a comment box. :)

Your meeting went well?

Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Thank you for all these thoughts. I will hold on to them. And you needn't be shy about putting things in the comment box. It will keep everything in one place for me.

The meeting went well. She focused on some slightly different themes in the opening chapter. So we decided that the next step is for her to go through the whole book and suggest themes for each chapter. Then we'll weave our thoughts around those.

So, for instance, she thought more about the "invitation" aspect while I thought of "beginnings." I'm thinking maybe there's a way to modify this a little to pull out the invitation aspect. Or I just redo it!

Ah, the joys of writing a book. Again! :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

but if you think of it, for us the invitation is the beginning... God invites us in many ways, to begin new in creation.

they are two concepts, intimately intertwined! I wouldn't go to the rewrite just yet.

wish I could get your book right now, will need to wait a few weeks... but this is a fascinating conversation... I will be back.


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