Why I Can’t Stop Reading Good Books……..

by Edie Wadsworth on November 30, 2008

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.”
~C.S. Lewis

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!
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Denise December 1, 2008 at 1:50 am

Would love to discuss Uncharted with you, honey! Sure makes you think, doesn’t it?

What are you reading for Advent? Any good suggestions? We have read Jotham’s Journey and Bartholomew’s Passage in the past. This year, it’s Tabitha’s Travels.

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2 Hi! I'm Kirsten... December 1, 2008 at 2:22 am

WOW! Edie, there is too much meat in here to even tackle all at once.

1. I will be reading this book too.
2. What a peaceful, restful weekend it sounds like you had and I am glad of that for you.
3. CS Lewis is my rock star author crush too. Can I be #3 to have coffee with him in heaven?!
4. Advent is something I want to start celebrating with my husband. I used to as a kid but then when I had to start finding rides to church with friends and the only churches I went to didn’t celebrate advent it just sort of fell by the wayside. I miss that dedication to a month of remembrance and consideration of Christmas not related to gifts and santa figurines.

Edie, your posts have become part of my new weekly routine [daily if I had even more available blog time]. I adore the thoughts you share and I am grateful that you take the time to bless all your readers.

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3 Dreams of a Country Girl December 1, 2008 at 3:09 am

Edie — Wanna do a guest post on my blog????

Seriously, let me know when and what…

love you…XXXOOO, cg

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4 Keli December 1, 2008 at 3:18 am

I totally love this post! xoxo Keli

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5 Jen December 1, 2008 at 4:01 am

Thanks for the wonderful post. I honestly can say I have never read any of C.S Lewis’s books. What would be your recomindation for my first one?

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6 Trying to Stay Calm! December 1, 2008 at 4:24 am

I am new here! What a great blog! ♥ Hugs!

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7 Sandy Toes December 1, 2008 at 12:49 pm

What a great Term…like a storm..mine was like that too!
This book seems good..I have been bad about reading…I have great intentions and then get in bed and fall asleep!
-sandy toes

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8 super tweaky mel December 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm

I love CS Lewis too! Total literary crush!!! Your weekend sounds dreamy!!!

I bought a fair trade advent calendar to celebrate the advent. I think I will follow your lead though and make my celebration BIGGER! Honestly, it has never been as big a deal in our family as it should have been. I’m here to change that.

I really love your blog. Your 4 points were very true. Very true.

I’m so glad you won over at Carissa’s! I love her whimsical creations.

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9 Jessica December 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm

So I check out The Great Divorce and Mere Christianity but never got the chance to read them. I guess I’ll have to just buy them. Everyone say’s C.S. Lewis is great, so it must be true. Glad you had a great weekend and I’ve missed my blogging friends too. I have a feeling with Christmas and homeschooling, blogging will be less frequent for me.

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10 Cathy Santarsiero, "The Christmas Corgi" December 2, 2008 at 5:06 am

From one homeschooling mom to another, this post speaks to my very soul. My lovely daughter is now 17 and when someone may have a question as to our choice to homeschool, all they need to do is to meet her. I spent many hours volunteering at her grammar school as well. We started homeschooling in high school! I was so torn, should we, shouldn’t we. I can tell you that I’m so glad we did. She is a complete book fiend. Adores books and I kid her that she seems to ‘twitch’ a little when we drive past Borders. :) Have a happy week. Warmly, Cathy ^..^

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11 carissa... brown eyed fox December 3, 2008 at 3:03 am

we are book freaks too! :)
my problem… i get five or six going at once… silly… just finish one carissa!

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12 Meme December 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Loved your post! I am also a huge fan of Lewis, as are my children. I have got to pick up this book – thanks for the recommendation.

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13 Japanese Katana Sword June 17, 2014 at 6:07 am

very cute vera shoe! thank u so much!!!

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