Reflections on the memorial service of our friend Leslie Bustard // And a few books mentioned, of course…

It was just one week ago when we sat in a large sanctuary in Lancaster with other mourners, lamenting the loss of our friend Leslie Bustard. (For the record, it was called “A Service of Faith and Beauty in Honor of Leslie Anne Bustard.”) As I said in my adult Sunday School class the next day, it was one of the most memorable such services I’ve ever attended as it was grueling and at the same time deeply beautiful with a vivid sense of both loss and redemptive hope. I wept from the moment the good preacher of the Bustard’s church (Wheatland Presbyterian) greeted the guests saying that he was, and that we all may be, outraged by the awfulness of death. We are offended, he said, on behalf of the three strong, beautiful young women who will no longer have Leslie’s motherly guidance and friendship. Luke insisted that we are also offended on behalf of Ned, who lost his very dearly beloved. Death in the Bible is an enemy, and I felt that profoundly.

There would be no sweeping our pain under the chancel rug, it seemed, and while Reformed folks are often glad to rejoice even in suffering, knowing God has things under control, they resisted cheap sentiment or trite assurances. Pastor Luke said that this is not the way it is supposed to be — I am grateful for the book on sin and our fallen condition by that very name by Cornelius Plantinga — as he helped us all stare Death down, knowing of Christ’s victory. I don’t recall that he cited Hebrews 2:8, but he might have, strongly assuring us of Christ’s resurrection and reign, even if we don’t yet see all things made right quite yet.

(I am so glad for robust, generously orthodox theology that equips pastors and liturgists to lead us well in times such as these. There was no cheap talk about how spiffy it is that she is in heaven and certainly no pablum about God needing another angel, whatever the hell that means. I’ve heard some awfully dumb stuff at funerals — from fundamentalists and mainline liberals alike — and one is strengthened when solid gospel vocabulary is used, admitting pain with an eye to the new creation. Surprised by Hope, indeed!)

A few days before she died — she died on Good Friday if you counted by way of the Orthodox calendar — I posted this BookNotes column, naming a few good chapters Leslie had contributed to books, celebrated the one about children’s literature that she edited with two other women (Wild Things and Castles in the Sky, of which she was very proud and about which she was endlessly excited) and I recommended her recently published — and very good — poetry volume, The Goodness of God in the Land of the Living (Square Halo Books; $12.99.)

We are grateful that in response, some of the Bustard’s extended family of friends and Square Halo Books loyalists ordered her books. We are glad that some who never heard of Leslie (or even Square Halo) ordered some, to support them, and just to check out an author we had recommended. It was nice, and even a bit healing, getting to send her books out to you all even as she was in hospice care. Thank you.

Some readers, I have learned, didn’t realize that she has since died and I felt like I should mention it here.

Of course the funeral/memorial service bulletin had a linocut on the front done by husband Ned. It was an art piece named The Church and was “originally created to remind Leslie of a conversation she had with an older woman in the faith, in which the wise sister had impressed upon Leslie that in the midst of the storms of life Jesus was not looking down from heaven or even walking on the water beside her, but was actually in the boat with her.” Ned continues (in his note in the workshop booklet), “In Christian art a boat is often a symbol for the Church, and here Saint Peter (representing the Old Testament faithful) holds both the keys to the Kingdom and the symbol for Baptism while Leslie (representing the New Testament faithful) holds the Bread and the Wine.”

Opening the page, there were throughout the booklet tenderly chosen and expertly arranged poems and citations, prayers and song lyrics (including the lyrics to the very cool Innocence Mission song called “Bright as Yellow” which was, we were told, somewhat of a mantra for Leslie. Obviously.) It was performed live by her friend, the lead singer of that Lancaster-based band.

Ned, always the graphic designer, gave it his all, and I am weeping now even as I try to share with you, my friends and BookNotes readers, how beautiful this all was. From “Pied Beauty” by Hopkins to an essay by Luci Shaw to a paragraph by Henri Nouwen to “Whatever Is Foreseen in Joy” by Wendell Berry, the poems and reflections were remarkably helpful. That readers dear to the Bustard family (including the daughters) recited some of them was a great gift.

Of course some of Leslie’s own works were printed out, and some read. I can’t imagine how the readers handled themselves with such poise and recited so wonderfully. This — among other things, of course — is what poetry is for. We say “words cannot express…” and normal words sometimes cannot. But, creatively arranged in allusive, aesthetically-rich ways, the gift of well put words is a gift indeed.

They did not mention it, but for what it is worth, I think I’d recommend the recently acclaimed Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World edited and explored by Padraig O Tuama (Norton; $27.95) or, perhaps for better days, Joy: 100 Poems, edited by Christian Wiman (Yale University Press; $20.00.) For thinking nicely about how the imaginative arts can help Christian people in their Kingdom journey, you might appreciate the nice paperback (enhanced with art selected by Ned), Lifting the Veil: Imagination and the Kingdom of God by Leslie’s poet friend, Malcolm Guite (Square Halo Books; $18.99.) I am fond of the small Square Halo volume called Naming the Animals by Stephen Roach (Square Halo Books; $11.99) and the very impressive, recent release, Why We Create: Reflections on the Creator, the Creation, and Creating edited by Colorado culture-maker, Brian Brown (Square Halo Books; $18.99.)








The whole, long service was informed by this kind of theology with fruits of amazement and wonder, and it is notable how good liturgy and wise insights shaped our experience of saying goodbye to our sister and friend. Those who have immersed themselves in this kind of good thinking, using poetry and song and well-crafted prose are equipped, deep in their bones, it seems, to rise to the occasion of creating such a tragic/beautiful memorial service.








Many of you know how fond we are of (and how we were early adopters, for a while one of the only bookstores stocking) the Rabbit Room’s Every Moment Holy and Every Moment Holy Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope, both expertly crafted by Douglas McKelvey. I cannot here tell you how rich and remarkable these two prayer books are.

Ned, as you may know, did the artwork within and the layout and design of both volumes. Leslie and Ned’s good friend, Douglas McKelvey, who, as I’ve said, wrote the prayers and litanies and liturgies in both Every Moment Holy volumes, arrived from Tennessee to participate in the service. Most of us are not fortunate enough to have poets/prayer-writers at our funerals or memorials, but these books are of immense help in honoring the spirituality of the ordinary (the first volume) and the hardship of our days, for the dying as well as the grieving (the second.) The Bustards used some of the prayers in these two prayer books consistently, and were glad for specific prayers about medical examinations and for use before surgeries and such.

At Leslie’s service Doug prayed, carefully, slowly, at times (painfully so), the following:

O Christ Who Reclaims What We Have Lost, even here at the epicenter of our sorrow, kindle afresh our eternal hope. Remind us that this song of lament we sing today will not endure forever. At the last, its discordant strains will be unmade, and changed, and woven back into the perfect patterns of a greater melody of joy and praise. This story does not end where some would say it ends, upon this funeral day. Make of us, O God, a people shaped even now by these songs of your coming redemption. For today’s goodbye is like the pause that stalls a single line of poetry, and we feel for a time the tension of that phrase suspended, unresolved.

But you, O Christ, are the Poet King, who crafts, creates, and labors to bring all things right — so that even this briefly interrupted line will find its great, fulfilling rhyme in the time of that glad wedding feast, when you, our God and groom, receive your bride. And all the gains that death had ever made will be reclaimed in resurrected life. And so this one we love will rise again, alive, remade, complete and whole, and robed in those eternal glories. So will we all, who hold your love more precious than our lives.

Now, even as a sailor in the dark of night might chart a true course by the brightest star, so let us navigate the sadness of these hours with hearts fixed upon the light of the hope of that promised and pending resurrection. Amen.

There was more poetry scattered throughout the service (before words by Ned, sharing Leslie’s own pre-written comments to her three lovely daughter, and a stellar sermon by Rev. Luke LeDuc.) We read or heard poems by Seamus Heaney, by Luci Shaw, by Anne Bradstreet and more. There was a live rendition of a Charlie Peacock song (of course — it was used each year at the celebration/remembrance of the Bustard girl’s baptisms) and a very cool duo performing a great version of the great take-off on the 23rd Psalm (“The House of God Forever”) by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot fame) as done on an acoustic album of his. (Here is another version, live, shot in black and white.) Give it a view and say a prayer for all those who need this promise today.

Ned and Leslie loved the albums of Indelible Grace and Beth and I were glad to sing — hard as it was through our masks and tears — the upbeat, folkie version of “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”, which gets to me even on a good day. (Here’s a live version, also quite nice.)

Their Wheatland musicians led us well and when, near the end, they opened to the chords of a congregational favorite, the Sandra McCracken tune, “We Shall Feast in the House of Zion” from her Psalms album, and there was hardly a dry eye in the place, even as we rejoiced in the hope of the gospel.

We will feast in the house of Zion

We will sing with our hearts restored

He has done great things, we will say together

We will feast and weep no more


We will not be burned by the fire

He is the Lord, our God

We are not consumed by the flood

Upheld, protected, gathered up


We will feast in the house of Zion

We will sing with our hearts restored

He has done great things, we will say together

We will feast and weep no more


In the dark of night, before the dawn

My soul, be not afraid

For the promised morning, oh how long

Oh God of Jacob, be my strength


We will feast in the house of Zion

We will sing with our hearts restored

He has done great things, we will say together

We will feast and weep no more


Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed

You are the faithful One

And from the garden to the grave

Bind us together, bring shalom


We will feast in the house of Zion

We will sing with our hearts restored

He has done great things, we will say together

We will feast and weep no more

You may have heard the story of what happened with the extraordinary painter who used to teach at Gordon College, the good, good artist and friend, Bruce Herman. (There will be a new Square Halo volume, The Art of Bruce Herman: An Unguarded Gaze, showing his work, coming soon, we’ve heard.) He sensed one morning that he was to paint a portrait of Leslie. He knew she was sick and he had been praying for her, but had no idea how very special this painting would become. Amazingly rich and exquisitely artful, he finished it and sent it to the Bustard’s where it arrived during a discouraging time a bit before Leslie’s final turn for the worse. What a joy it was, and so very appropriate for an art-appreciating family like theirs. It was quickly photographed and shared on social media, becoming somewhat of a banner for the Bustard’s end-of-life missives and a rallying point for those of us who love them.

The world-class poet/priest from England, the Reverend Malcolm Guite, saw it and wrote a poem for her, recalling his time spent with them in Lancaster this past winter and inspired by Bruce’s portrait:

Out of the turbulence, out of the wild

Haphazardness of background strokes, the brush

Still finds its form and forms her face:

So full of life and, lovely, like a child

Still making her own mischief, with a rush

Of energy. And yet we also trace

A woman’s wisdom in her concentration

On the still point, the whole point of it all,

Which was and is and always will be love:

Creative love and love in all creation.

This painting finds the poet in her, all

The heighth and depth she bodies forth as form,

To find her balance on the point of love,

When lovers know there’s nothing left to prove.

This recent poem isn’t found in any of his many books, but we wanted to share it here. Thanks for reading along.

Most of us don’t know famous poets, of course — I don’t — but it might be wise for all of us to think well about the real things of this fallen but being redeemed world of wonder, and prepare ourselves with Kingdom imagination, about how to honor those who die and support those in grief There are very good books on dying well and thinking about funerals — send me an email and I’ll create a list for you. I think, at the very least, you should have that second Every Moment Holy Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope. Just to remind you, both of those handsome volumes come in two editions — the full sized leather hardbacks ($35.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00) and in soft, flexible leather in compact sized editions ($25.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00.) When sending us an order, please be sure to tell us which volume you want and which size/edition you prefer. Thanks.



It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer us to ship your orders.

The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a quick, general guide:

There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too. Just ask.

  • United States Postal Service has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but can be slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another option called “Priority Mail” which is $8.50,  if it fits in a flat rate envelope. Many children’s books and some Bibles are oversized so that might take the next size up which is $9.20. “Priority Mail” gets much more attention than does “Media Mail” and is often just a few days to anywhere in the US.
  • UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.

If you just want to say “cheapest” that is fine. If you are eager and don’t want the slowest method, do say so. It really helps us serve you well so let us know. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


Hearts & Minds logo


20% OFF



order here

this takes you to the secure Hearts & Minds order form page
just tell us what you want to order

inquire here

if you have questions or need more information
just ask us what you want to know

Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

Please, wherever you are, do your best to be sensitive to those who are most at risk. Many of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, congregants, and family members may need to be protected since more than half of Americans (it seems) have medical reasons to worry about longer hazards from even seemingly mild COVID infections. Thanks for understanding.

We are doing our famous curb-side and back yard customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic. We are very happy to help do if you are in the area, do stop by.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

We are here 10:00 – 6:00 EST /  Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.