“I didn’t want to put my church story in print because, the truth is, I still don’t know the ending. I am in the adolescence of my faith. There have been slammed doors and rolled eyes and defiant declarations of ‘I hate you!’ hurled at every person or organization that represents the institutionalized church…Church books are written by people with a plan and ten steps, not by Christians just hanging on by their fingernails...And yet I am writing. I am writing because I suspect the awkward teenager in the yearbook picture still has something to say about the world, some sort of hope to offer it, if nothing more than a few hundred pages of ‘me too.’ I am writing because sometimes we are closer to the truth in our vulnerability than in our safe certainties…” - from "Dawn," Searching for Sunday
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the release of Searching for Sunday. I poured into those pages my best writing and my best effort to tell a story about Church that is at once honest and hopeful, imaginative and dusted with the earth of everyday life. The response from readers confirmed what I’d only dared to hope—that I’m not alone, that there’s still a place for us misfits in the Church, that you can speak candidly about the struggles of faith without surrendering to naiveté on the one hand or cynicism on the other.
Arranging the book around seven sacraments, (baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage) gave shape to my story and connected it to the stories of all who have met God in those tangible, tactile ways. So one of the most rewarding elements of this particular creative experience was the way it inspired companion works from other artists.
My sister Amanda Opelt, a singer/songwriter out of Boone, North Carolina, created a companion album to Searching for Sunday entitled “Seven Songs.” Her songs are haunting, beautiful, and lyrically profound. Amanda and I have always been close in mind and spirit, but there were moments in listening to the first cuts of Seven Songs that I felt she had reached into my brain and put my best dreams into song.
Take a listen to the first track, “Snow (Baptism)”.
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Another artistic response to Searching for Sunday came from Ruth Meharg, who created a series of acrylic paintings connecting the sacraments to the symbolically-rich imagery of birds.
You can find Ruth’s amazing work at www.RuthMeharg.com.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the release of Searching for Sunday, I wanted to do a special giveaway to thank those of you who have read and shared the book.
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below this blog post with your favorite quote or chapter from the book, or just a general comment about why you want in on the giveaway, by Monday April 18th at 9 a.m. EST.
1. A personalized, signed copy of Searching for Sunday
2. A download code for Amanda Opelt’s album, “Seven Songs”
3. A print of Ruth Meharg’s “Baptism”
I’ll randomly select a winning comment and announce the winner's first name and last initial here on my blog soon after the April 18th deadline. Be sure to sign in to DISQUS (the comment system below) with your email so I can contact you if you win and get your mailing address to send you the book and art. I will email you the download code with redemption instructions for the album.
Thank you so much for all the feedback and encouragement you’ve offered through the years. It means more than you can know.
**CONTEST CLOSED** Congrats to winner Rachel S.!