“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”
After nearly two weeks of planning and baking and decorating and cooking, Thanksgiving seemed to blow in and out like a summer storm. It was wonderful and ever so brief. Lingering around the table with coffee and dessert never lasts long enough for me. The rest of the weekend, I spent playing board/card games and reading. My weekend reads consisted of a few exceptional blog archives from Conversion Diary (and some of her links) and the book Uncharted by Angela Hunt, along with some excellent Advent readings. My mind is still reeling. I approached this book with a healthy degree of skepticism when I read this on the back cover:
“…A blend of the movies Castaway and The Big Chill, with a touch of the television series Lost, creatively thrown together with the biblical story of the beggar Lazarus and C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.”
I’m a huge fan of (have a serious literary crush on) C.S. Lewis….so when his name gets tossed around, I get defensive. I’ve read all but 3 of his books and most of them several times…..Mere Christianity maybe 6 or 7…..and he is in my estimation the most gifted christian writer of the 20th century….hands down. Steve and I plan to fight over who gets to have coffee with him first in heaven. The Great Divorce happens to be my 2nd favorite of his books. So I read….but with some skepticism.
I read the book in less than 2 days. It was compelling enough to keep me reading. I had to force myself to put it down…..to shower and such. I will give none of the plot away, but I will say that it is a book that will change me….that will change the way I think about the world…..that will cause me to ‘transcend myself’ and for that I am always grateful. It does not approach the genius of The Great Divorce but I can understand and appreciate the comparison. This book and the unrelated blog posts that I read this weekend have certainly ‘irrigated the deserts of my life’ and left me with the following observations that I want to share with you:
1. We often look/long for something to satisfy our souls that is unattainable. If we just had the right job/spouse/church /children/home/car/job/circumstances/camera….. then life would be what we have always hoped for. The perfect sublime will of God is right before our eyes and we miss it. Everyday. We long to do something important….. something that matters. His will…..his perfect will is exactly where you are….with exactly the people you are surrounded by….doing exactly your vocation….to the best of your ability and to the glory of God. Even if that means doing what I’m doing….playing a memory game with my girls while I fold a load of laundry and wonder aloud how this ghastly amount of dust by my fireplace escaped my swipe before Thanksgiving. The every-day, mundane, mind-numbing tasks of daily life were hardly the place I’d look to try to find this ethereal ideal of the will of God. But that’s His design of vocation. Help me to see where the mundane touches the divine, Lord and help me to ‘serve my neighbor’ (often my children) as I perform the tasks that my vocation requires.
2. We long to find a little time/space to ourselves. We hurry through our ‘chores’ and perhaps through the kids’ nighttime routine in hopes that we can secure a little something for ourselves…maybe a corner of our hearts where noone can invade. …or at least an hour on the computer….where the pull of impatient hands will not be felt. We hurry through a game of Sorry with the little ones to get to some ‘quiet’ time where we would surely suppress rage if they invade…..for another drink of water or another kiss goodnight. God says that I belong wholly to Him. All of my time is His. All of my heart is His. He entrusts me to be a good steward of this precious time He gives me to shepherd and nurture these little lives. Help me to not hurry them Lord. Help me to answer their questions with understanding. Give me wisdom to see that their ‘interruptions’ are Your divine will….that every circumstance that presents itself in my life……is a chance to serve You and teach them. And though I will certainly give thanks when the peaceful moments come, I will not seek those moments at the expense of my childrens’ discipleship.
3. Despite everything within our sinful nature that would like to take credit for any ‘good’ found in ourselves, we are in absolute and abject poverty without the grace of God at work in our lives. I cannot even take credit for the fact that I am a christian. It’s all His work. It is He that rescues and saves and redeems and loves. All good gifts come from Him and in Him we ‘live and move and have our being’. Why then do I find myself judging others and feeling ‘glad ‘I’m not like those people’? Lord, remind me of the complete and utter despair that exists outside You. Remind me that the very thing I could never earn…..You have freely given. Remind us of Luther’s words that, ‘We are beggars, all.’
4. This was a weekend of reaffirming why it is that I decided to homeschool. This
online article articulates what I’ve often wanted to tell those who are curious whether or not my children will turn out to be social misfits with little to no impact on their culture for Christ. I am more motivated than ever to create a culture in our home of learning and faith and serving my family. When I was an active volunteer at my childrens’ school in the past, I felt a certain ‘pouring out of myself’ to the multitudes with little to nothing left at times to ‘pour out’ on those I am called to serve the most……my own family. Sally Thomas said it marvelously:
“The challenge for homeschoolers, then, is not to embrace a kind of spiritual Marxism, in which a limited amount of parental nurture and Christian witness is redistributed, in diluted form, to the masses—or to feel guilty if they don’t—but rather to bear persistent witness to the worth of children, the rewards of family life, and the hope that lies in nurturing culture on a small but potent scale, soul by soul by soul.”
It has been a much needed ‘filling up’ of my tank and this rich reading….along with the Advent readings will take me a while to process.
And that’s why I can’t stop reading good books…and good blogs!
I’ve missed you this week girls!