Finding the Divine in the Everyday
by Molly Wolf
by Heidi Schlumpf
years now, numerous authors have been “Finding the Divine
in the Everyday” to varying degrees of success. Luckily, Molly
Wolf is one of the better ones. This, her fourth collection
of short essays, is thoughtful and thought-provoking, dealing not
only with her observances about the Canadian landscape, home, friends,
family and cats, but also with the hard questions of life and of
If the subtitle is a bit of a yawn, the cover will grab you. A large
white dinner and salad plate dominate, but plopped in the center
of the top plate is a small weed, roots and all. Life is messy,
the illustration seems to say, and Wolf makes the same point over
and over again in the book.
In the title essay, she contrasts her perfect white china nativity
set to the real, flesh-and-blood Mary and concludes:
comes to us not when we’re perfect white china figures,
but in all our messy, meaty humanity, our confusion and pain.
God didn’t choose Mary because she was a characterless
doll; he chose her for her courage, her boldness, her capacity
for vibrant love. He loves us for our humanity, not in spite
someone who has found community and comfort in the Anglican tradition,
Wolf also recognizes that religion, too, is messy.
my middle age, I have decided that virtually everything that
is spiritually right is messy, and that virtually everything
that is extremely neat and orderly probably hasn’t been
kicked hard enough yet to show how messy it really is.
Wolf, that need to question applies equally to rigid fundamentalists
and to those “spiritual but not religious” folks who
think they have organized religion all figured out.
the midst of all this messiness is God’s love, which for Wolf
is a constant source of hope. But her faith is not simplistic, and
she’s not afraid to tackle head-on the problem of suffering.
In essays about prayer, she is clear about her distaste for “magical
thinking” in which God heals some cancers but not others.
Wolf’s prayer becomes not “Save me from the time of
trial” but “save me in the time of trial.”
theologizing concludes that, given the reality of suffering, “We
can have a loving God, or we can have an all-powerful God, but we
can’t have both.” It’s clear from her stories
that she believes in the former.
writing about the milkweeds in the woods near her home, a favorite
teapot, a crying baby, the pain of her divorce, or the death of
a friend, Wolf reaches for a deeper truth than the pat ponderings
of some “spirituality of everyday” writers. About suffering,
she concludes: “It’s that with God’s grace and
the love of our fellow pilgrims—our angels who bear us up—we
have the ability to make something out of suffering. We have the
power to redeem it and give it meaning, and therefore to triumph
Wolf is the founder of the website sabbath-blessings.org
(the address is incorrect on the book cover) and co-author of the
Knitlit series. She has a tendency to tack on one-sentence conclusions
to her essays, which I think they would be better without. But her
writing is clear and honest, grounded both in the Christian tradition
and in the Canadian landscape that is her home. This is one writer
whose spiritual essays definitely go beyond the “everyday.”
an excerpt from White China
Molly Wolf on Hurricane Katrina
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CHINA: FINDING THE DIVINE IN THE EVERYDAY,
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