"Send out Your light and Your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling." Psalm 43:3

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pilgrimage to Hillspeak

Hillspeak, Eureka Springs, AR
Perhaps to call it a pilgrimage is a bit much.  It was only slightly out of the way on our route to Petit Jean Mountain State Park, our destination for the spring break family vacation.  So, we decided to make an extended rest stop there on our way down (with four young children, we take frequent rest stops on our family road trips).  But if I may define a pilgrimage as simply an intentional journey to a holy place, then it is entirely appropriate to view our visit there as a pilgrimage.

Hillspeak, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is the headquarters of SPEAK, the Society for Promoting and Encouraging Arts and Knowledge (of the Church).  SPEAK publishes the Anglican Digest, a quarterly publication founded in 1960 with a mission "to reflect the words and work of the faithful throughout the Anglican Communion."  Hillspeak is also a research center, the home of the Howard Lane Foland Library, which houses over 15,000 volumes, including many out of print works.  Guest houses are available for those who wish to spend a retreat on the beautiful, secluded grounds.  The simple and peaceful St. Mark's Chapel offers a holy space for any traveller who wishes to stop in, rest, and pray.  And then there is Operation Pass Along.  This ministry provides used books (and vestments) at no charge to individuals and parishes.  Individuals may request books and have them shipped, paying only a modest shipping rate, or they may come any weekday and simply peruse the shelves; the staff even provides boxes for carting off the books.  I would estimate that Hillspeak has currently about 10,000 books on the Pass Along shelves.  I was told that, on average, they take in about 1,000 books in a month, and see around 700 go out.  It is an incredible ministry and gift to the Church.

St. Mark's Chapel

We arrived mid-afternoon.  After prayer in the chapel, we took coffee with the staff during their break, and learned more about Hillspeak.  The kids then wanted to go exploring, so we headed out to the short trail that circles the property.  By the time my wife and I turned our focus to the bookshelves, there was only about an hour until closing time.  The situation held the potential to be overwhelming; a book lover and Church history and theology nerd could get lost in those shelves for days, and I had only one hour!  In addition, because the books move in and out so frequently, they are in no particular order on the shelves.  Under the circumstances, I was fairly impressed with myself.  I came away with a score of welcome additions to my personal library.  Of course, I only scratched the surface of their inventory, and I'm sure I'll be returning again.

Hanging lamp and statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, in St. Mark's Chapel

The kids stop at the Hillspeak Memorial Cross before our hike

Finally, as an unapologetic bibliophile, I can't close this post without showing off my new acquisitions:

Biblical, liturgical, and educational: The New English Bible with Apocrypha, Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Luke by Fredrick Schmidt (from the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars), The Liturgy Explained by Thomas Howard, Enriching Our Worship 1, Christian Believing by Urban T. Holmes III and John H. Westerhoff III, part of The Church's Teaching Series, and a couple of volumes from The New Church's Teaching Series: The Practice of Prayer, by Margaret Guenther, and Ethics After Easter, by Stephen Holmgren.

More good resources and historical material: Documents of the Christian Church edited by Henry Bettenson, Creeds in the Making: A Short Introduction to the History of Christian Doctrine by Alan Richardson, A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction, by Urban T. Holmes, Three Anglican Divines on Prayer: Jewel, Andrewes, and Hooker by John Booty, and Stephen Neil's classic Anglicanism.

Theological miscellany, including some writings and analysis of "modern theologians", an area in which I and my library are deficient: Thinking About God by John Macquarrie, Christian Faith and Life by William Temple, What Christ Thinks of the Church by John R. W. Stott, H. Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture, and a couple of slim volumes from a series on modern theology, with selections from Karl Barth and Paul Tillich.

Lastly, in a more contemplative, devotional, and artistic vein: Faith and Doubt of John Betjeman: An Anthology of Betjeman's Religious Verse edited by Kevin J. Gardner, Worship by Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, and Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin by Rowan Williams.

Peace of Christ.


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