Archive for July 15th, 2019


7.15.19 … “Evangelism is witness. It is one beggar telling another beg­gar where to get food.”- DT Niles

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, First Baptist Church- Ashville NC:

If you’ve never seen the First Baptist Church of Asheville, it very difficult to envision from a layman’s description: “large octagonal brick Baptist church.” Nothing about it fits with the usual description of a Southern Baptist Church. As my sister and I approached I told her she was going to really like this large red brick octagonal structure, but I gave her nothing to go on. Maybe she would have gotten a better idea if I had said “Beaux Arts influenced building that is based on the Florence’s Duomo.” Here is a great description from an architectural Asheville website

“The first of a series of Beaux Arts influenced buildings in Asheville beautifully conjured by Douglas Ellington, a North Carolina native who moved to the city in the mid- twenties from Pittsburgh. Earlier, in 1913, Ellington had received the Prix de Rougevin, the first American to achieve this competitive honor for design at the École des Beaux- Arts in Paris. Ellington based the church’s sanctuary on the cathedral and dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, generally known as the Duomo di Firenze, a world heritage site. He layered colored tiles on the dome, graduating from green to deep red (as in the change of seasons) while combining orange bricks, terra cotta moldings and pink marble in the walls of the church. Ellington’s striking sense of natural forms is represented in palm leaf detailing and other Art Deco relief work. First Baptist, finished in 1927, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Source: First Baptist Church | Asheville, NC’s Official Travel Site,

So smiling and laughing at ourselves as we used our rusty Roman Numeral skills to figure out the year the building was built, 1927, and then we walked into the Sacred Garden.

My sister’s first view of the labyrinth was through the opening of the brick wall enclosing the Sacred Garden. I think she said, “lovely!”

We immediately commented on the repetition of patterns and colors from the exterior of the Church to the wall and garden.

I was pleased that they were working on the two fountains because in my recent visits they both were not operational. Still not working, but the maintenance worker who did not speak English was at least attempting it. When working, they make a nice sound buffer to the nearby I 240. Not today.

The walk was in the full sun, but quite pleasant. Funny, the center, which replicates the Chartres rosette center, reminded me of a sun or a child’s drawing of a flower today. Maybe it was because I had just seen a beautiful Blencho sunflower bowl at the Folk Art Center on the blue ridge parkway.

I enjoyed the contrast in thoughts that the plantings brought to mind. Blue hydrangeas reminded me of my grandmother’s back door steps and the knock out roses of modern landscaping, my own Charlotte home included.

I’ve enjoyed the chimes many times, but today they were silent. Instead I noticed how enormous they were. Beautiful artistically, but comical in s way.

And finally the cairns, last time I was here there were at least 7, maybe more and today only 3. Who builds them and why? Do they bring their own stones?

First Baptist has an excellent labyrinth brochure. I loved learning about the source of the stone used:

“The Labyrinth design in our Sacred Garden is a based on the 11-circuit Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth found in France, which dates from around 1201 AD. The medieval design was used exclusively in cathedrals throughout Europe.

The labyrinth paths are made of a sandstone from Tennessee. The voids are Pennsylvania bluestone. The central design in the inlays in made of Etowah marble from northeast Georgia, which is the same stone that is featured throughout the church, including the steps at the entry to the sanctuary. It took about 2 1/2 months to fabricate the labyrinth and 2-3 weeks to install it.” See

And I enjoyed this email that I found today from Paul Hanneman. This one was dated June 8 and had been sent to Junk Mail. But serendipitously, I clicked on my junk mail today and found it. It was the only one from Paul that was in that mailbox. I was introduced to Paul through my church. He led a small group through studies of Richard Rohr’s “Divine Dance” and Cynthia Bourgeault’s “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene“ and “The Wisdom Jesus.” He also facilitated a class on enneagrams. All were excellent. I was disappointed, for me, when he and his wife Evelyn moved to New Mexico this spring.

Here’s what he said:

“DT Niles (1908–1970), noted Ceylonese pastor, evangelist and author in the mid-twentieth century, was quoted by the NY Times (5/11/86) as saying, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” (In one of his books he wrote, “Evangelism is witness. It is one beggar telling another beg­gar where to get food.”! (That They May Have Life). Details, details…

What’s most interesting to me in Niles’ thinking is the beggar-telling-another-beggar motif. When my ego is most restrained and (perhaps) who I really am in the eyes of God shines forth, the beggar image captures the essence of it. I need far more than I can ever get on my own. I am forever beholden to the love of God which sustains my very being. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” Mercy. Someone noted that “justice is getting what you deserve; mercy is getting what you don’t deserve.” Ah…the deeper dynamics of my own ego includes shame, a sense that I am utterly unworthy – it’s about my being, not my actions.

So here we are now living in New Mexico, the land of enchantment that has captured our imaginations and our hearts; both of us feel the land called us here, and we were privileged to be able to respond. We found (by chance – of course it wasn’t mere happenstance!) an elegant, beautiful house with extraordinary views of the Sandia Mountains and the Petroglyph Monument, and we’re worked together to make it our home, a place of spaciousness and intimacy both. Soon the bulk of that work will be finished, which is wonderful. And so my mind began to ruminate on the possibilities for involvement in this new location, of finding community in this new place, of wondering what will emerge for us to do, for us to be. We’ll be seeking spiritual community, of course, and ways to be of service. And for me, as you might suspect, waiting for teaching opportunities to emerge. And, perhaps, something completely new and unexpected.

Well and good for now and here (nowhere). But you remain an essential part of our hearts, you who have been our friends and colleagues over the last two decades. Which brought me back to DT Niles’ image. It occurred to me that I could offer you some of the fruit of my reading and study over the last 40+ years – quotes, reflections, articles that nourish and stretch and deepen me. I’m not an original thinker, but I recognize those voices who capture my mind and heart, and have stored away their writings. What if this beggar were simply to share with others where I found bread? Might that be something you would find interesting, perhaps even helpful?

I propose to send a weekly (or so) email with a provocative quotation or two and, when so inspired, add a response of my own. If this sounds intriguing, you don’t have to do a thing; you’re already on the list. And if you’d rather not receive these missives, simply email me and ask to be removed. If something in particular strikes a chord or nourishes your soul, I’d love to hear it.”

His first in a series email caught my attention. I struggle with the term “evangelical” and I, too, view myself as “not an original thinker.” I am intrigued …

Paul concluded his email with quotations. This was my favorite:

“The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God’s love; but if the soul cannot yet feel this longing, then it must long for the longing. To long for the longing is also from God.”- Meister Eckhart


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