Beldon Lane's expanded edition of his great book Landscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality just caught my eye. At a time when we watch oil clinging to our shorelines in ways we haven't seen before, it may be good late summer reading if for no other reason than to remind us of our larger picture.
One essay caught my eye since I've driven through this "Garden of Eden" on the way to my husband's home in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. A 19th century Methodist preacher once called Galesville, Wisconsin "Garden of Eden" after he returned from an up close and personal encounter with carnage during the Civil War. He read his Bible and walked the bluffs along the Mississippi River. Then a pattern of place began to unfold for him. He thought he was in the "heart" of the New Word, there at the 90th meridian.
Lane concludes this particular essay with, "We wistfully seek an arcane cosmos through every leaf and branch, longing for the ordinary to be revealed as holy.
The book's three parts go like this:
Place in American Religious Life
The Geography of American Traditions
Method and Perspective in Studying American Spirituality and Place.
It's well worth a read. And because I collect quotations...