Secret Garden Sampler

A whimsical church and the wounded word


Last week, the Cottage community was treated to two amazing conversations with guests - one was a Secret Garden podcast with Patrick Henry, and the other a live ZOOM event with Libbie Schrader.

This Secret Garden Sampler includes short selections from those longer interviews so you can eavesdrop on what is happening behind the Cottage’s “picket fence” (I like that image better than paywall!). Together, these snippets speak to the hope for a whimsical church and the stunning truth of the wounded Word. I trust they will both inform and inspire you.

The Cottage includes two options: 1) an open, free email list with 3-4 posts a month; and 2) a community of those who support the Cottage financially and enjoy the full experience of the free email posts, the private Secret Garden podcast, and live online events with opportunities for you to participate.

I’m glad you are here, whichever option works best for you. But if you’ve been thinking about joining the supporting community and weren’t sure it was for you, I hope this sampler gives you a sense of what’s going on and how the Cottage is more than words on a screen. We’re cultivating a space for honest questions and life-giving faith - smart theology, edge-cutting scholarship, inspiring words, and heart-felt wisdom from authors you may or may not know.

If you are a free subscriber and want to upgrade to paid, just click the button below.

If you wish to stay on the free list, you needn’t do anything. If you can’t afford it for whatever reason, reply to this email as you would any email. No one is ever turned away for lack of funds. If you are already a supporting participant of the Cottage, thank you!

Upcoming events include Secret Garden podcasts about religion and higher education with Robert Wilson-Black, the CEO of Sojourners; and about practicing justice even when we die with Mallory McDuff, professor of environmental education at Warren Wilson College. The topic for our next live ZOOM hasn’t yet been set, but people have been pressing me for an open conversation about the new theologically rich Netflix series, Midnight Mass.

Join us on the other side of the picket fence.

Patrick’s two recent books are Benedictine Options and Flashes of Grace. Please buy them! Consider purchasing from your local bookseller.

Subscribe to Libbie’s newsletter for information on her work and upcoming events HERE. Before she was a New Testament scholar, Libbie was a singer-songwriter and wrote an entire album based on Mary Magdalene. You can listen to the title track from her album HERE.

Leave a comment



Some political inspiration for a change for your long weekend!
For the first time in American history, a president has issued a proclamation to mark Indigenous Peoples Day to be celebrated on October 11. President Biden’s formal statement includes these words:

Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to.  That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.  For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures.  Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.  We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.

Today’s inspirational poem comes from Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States. She was born in Oklahoma and is a mem­ber of the Mvskoke Nation.

Once the World Was Perfect
by Joy Harjo

Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
Jumped through—
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn't know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.

Also for Indigenous Peoples Day: Please sign up for Kaitlin Curtice’s The Liminality Journal, a newsletter written from a distinctly Indigenous and Christian perspective. Kaitlin, a citizen of the Potawatomi nation, is a friend, a graceful writer, and gifted poet.