My friend Wendy has a blog called Bookgirl; I think i must be her twin from another mother because one of the major streams of that which gives me Life is reading. I am a book girl too! I learned to read when I was four years old, and have never stopped. Lately, however, I am musing on how my reading has and does shape my journey of Spirit, and whether or not the things I read are taking me deeper and farther in that journey.
A few days ago I received a longed for order of books from my regular on-line purveyor of books of all kinds, and as I opened one which I had ordered, my body sank into a place of comfort and joy. “This, this is where my soul will be fed,” I felt as I dived in head first. I was at home immediately, and began to be satisfied with nourishing comestibles, as if I had been starved for a long time. I know that my love for books, for reading, has been a life-line for my spirit, as well as my mind. I have been filled by poetry, by novels, by memoirs, by theological tomes, by op-ed articles, even by blogs. I have notebooks full of quotation and favorite lines, some of which I have been able to commit to memory. I dive for the Book Section of the Sunday newspapers as soon as they appear. I love to engage in dialogue about a book that I am reading at the same time as a soul friend.
However, recently I have found after reading some of the latest and greatest on the top sellers list, or even topping off a “must-read” from a friend, that my mouth is full of ashes, rather than good tastes, that my soul is more anxious than satisfied, and that I am still empty, rather than full of hope or challenge. I am not always sure what prompts me to pick up a book. Possibly it has become in some instances a way of staving off anxiety or delaying an unpleasant task; could I be trying to keep up with the Literary Joneses? At this stage of my life, the last half or third, do I want to invest in that which fills for a moment but does not satisfy?
I am musing on what criteria I need to bring to my reading; here are some which I have uncovered:
- does it bring me Life?
- does it deepen my understanding of the Holy One and of the chaotic world in which we live?
- is there a window to the world that needs opening in my soul that this reading can provide for me?
- does it buoy me with its beauty?
- does it challenge me to take what I read and use it energetically in the healing of creation and its creatures?
- is this the right season for my reading this book, or does it reflect an age and stage that I have passed already or one that lies far ahead of me?
I am starting here, knowing that I have more musing to do. What I long for is to let the stream of good things that come to me in my reading help me to glorify the Holy, and to enjoy the Holy forever! I remember these wise words from Philippians: Whatsoever is true, whatsoever is honorable, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is pleasing, whatsoever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise , think about these things. (Phil 4:8)
Spirit, direct my eyes, my mind and me heart!
The painting is “Young Girl Reading” by Jean-Honore Fragonard, located in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.