Monthly Archives: January 2021

Beauty in the Ordinary: A New Way to Do Lent

Back in the day, I was deeply affected by a dynamic preacher and gifted pastor, the late Rev. Samuel Johnson Lindamood, Jr., often affectionately referred to as “Big Sam.” His ministry in Arizona and California churches nurtured and transformed generations of people.

Big Sam wrote a series of meditations in the late 1980s for those who needed a less conventional, more practical approach to Lenten reflection. Here’s what he said about it: In a culture consumed with consuming, it seems that more is never enough. The eyes search for new and exciting sights, the appetite longs for more and varied tastes…Lent offers a time to overcome our consumerism, to give up something as a discipline—not a popular idea, but an important one. Lent offers a time also of taking something on, some new and different commitment, perhaps. And, finally, Lent offers a time of meditation and reflection. This book is for meditation and reflection during the forty days of Lent, once per day. Perhaps someone ‘taking it on’ will be better able ‘to give up something’ or deepen their commitment.

I originally edited and distributed an unillustrated version of these reflections to Big Sam’s many friends and followers. But I’ve always been convinced that this way of engaging the Lenten season had a much wider potential audience—especially for those who wanted to take Lent seriously, but found existing resources alienating or irrelevant.

Beauty in the Ordinary is a thoughtfully illustrated version of Big Sam’s meditations. It’s my attempt to honor “Big Sam” as the 25th anniversary of his death approaches. Daily meditations blended with Bible passages and impactful readings from some of his favorite books—from The Velveteen Rabbit to The Confessions of Saint Augustine—will inspire you to engage Lent in a different way this year. And you can use the book any other time, too.

Lent presents an opportunity to take stock of one’s life. It’s a time of reflection and restructuring. Beauty in the Ordinary holds tremendous value for the 2021 season of Lent… and well beyond. The book’s stunning photography makes it perfect to rest on your coffee table after you’ve finished reading it.

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Praise for Beauty in the Ordinary

Beauty in the Ordinary is a gift you can give to others or yourself. If you invest even a few minutes to read a selection and savor the beauty of the photography, you will find your soul renewed, your eyes opened, and your heart enlarged. You’ll catch your breath, and the beauty you experience in the book will help you find more beauty around and within you. This book is a treasure: profound, delightful, insightful.

Brian D. McLaren, author of Faith After Doubt

For many Lent is the most depressing season of the church year. It seems mostly to consist of litanies of penitence and the sacrifice of chocolate, coffee, cheese, or, some other innocent pleasure. In this wonderful collection of Lenten reflections, the late Rev. Samuel Johnson Lindamood calls the reader from such misery to the possibility of self-knowledge, compassion, love and hope. Lent is not here a dreary series of chest beatings and cries of mea culpa, but an opportunity to learn to love oneself, one’s God, and God’s world. Through citations of spiritual writers, secular saints, and Holy Scriptures Lindamood locates our struggle to be human in humanity’s common quest for wholeness. Sit with these reflections, your pen and your journal, and be reborn.

— John E. Phelan, Jr., Emeritus President and Dean, North Park Theological Seminary

Beauty in the Ordinary opens doors into the colorful, complicated textures of human life – its sorrows, hardships, joys, and challenges. Light shines through these open doors to illumine beauty and to invite readers into deep thinking and joyful musing.

— Rev. Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore, Emeritus Professor and School of Theology Dean, Boston University

The reader of this creative and engaging collection will find a wealth of beauty, both visual and verbal, in its pages. It is the kind of material that entices and keeps the reader involved, on a daily basis—a great gift, particularly in our present moment.”

— Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill Dean, Marsh Chapel Professor, New Testament and Pastoral Theology, Boston University

Beauty in the Ordinary feels just like I remember Sam himself: loving, warm, beautiful, unconventional, thought-provoking, and steady as a rock.

— Gay Lane, Principal, Douglas C. Lane & Associates, New York, NY

I’ve never read anything quite like this book. Refreshingly contemporary yet rich in timeless wisdom, Beauty in the Ordinary addresses life’s most profound themes with Sam Lindamood’s characteristic wit, delightful sense of humor, childlike curiosity, and humility. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a fresh perspective on the spiritual life.

— Dr. Dave Rohr, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mind and Culture, Boston, MA