Thursday, September 06, 2007

climbing toward the shoulders of giants

I give the people in my office a hard time when they start bringing up Christmas... we're not even officially into autumn, and already the fever is hitting. However, my hypocritical nature has been shining through lately as I find my mind racing ahead to the New Year.

RESOLUTION: the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

Autumn is always a season of reflection for me, ushering in Advent - the Christian season of expectation and preparation. Christmas is about joy and the fulfillment of promise. Then comes the New Year, which leads us into the Lenten period of fasting and the celebration of Easter. New Years is a crux.

1. a vital, basic, decisive or pivotal point
2. a cross
3. something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty

We make resolutions as a desire toward discipline. Discipline is a good thing - vital, if you will. We generally make resolutions at specific life intersections - pivotal points. A life of discipline is not easy, but we are called to it - a cross to carry. And the ease with which our determination to practice discipline slips away may be puzzling to us a few months (weeks... days...) into the endeavor. Discipline must be held on to loosely, tight enough that we keep on persevering but if you cling too tightly, you're gonna lose control. Resolutions must be held in the perspective that we are humans in pursuit of holiness.

This year I want to weave a common thread through the seasons of the Church calendar. I want to approach Advent as a season of preparing my heart to celebrate the birth of Christ. I want the significance of that observance to pour into the season of sacrifice that is Lent and atonement that is Easter. And I want what the Spirit teaches me in that season to influence how I live out Ordinary Time - an ever flowing stream of discipline, growth and trust.

One thing that has been rekindled in my heart, in addition to my desire to write, has been my desire to read, to soak up ideas, to stretch my mind. I love music, but somehow it has overshadowed my love for words the last several years. I am looking over my bookshelves at volumes left unread (or half-read), with a lingering wish-list of books hanging overhead, and am feeling overwhelmed at all that I want to ingest.

I have already declared myself to be in a season of learning and listening, and have stepped back from most leadership and service roles. This is hard for someone who wants to be everything to everyone and, I have discovered, is quite a pride issue for me (if I'm not serving, people will think I don't care). Though my reading has been slow over the past few years, there have been several books that have profoundly influenced me:

  • A Circle of Quiet - Madeline L'engle
  • Amazing Grace: a Vocabulary of Faith - Kathleen Norris
  • Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
  • Girl Meets God - Lauren Winner
  • Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God - Marcia Ford
  • Irresistable Revolution - Shane Claiborne
  • Under the Overpass - Mike Yankoski
  • Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts and To Own a Dragon - Donald Miller
  • Redeeming Love - Francine Rivers
  • American Mania: When More is Not Enough - Peter C. Whybrow
  • Discipline: The Glad Surrender - Elisabeth Elliot

I feel like there should be more, but these are the only ones that pop into my head. Meanwhile, the books accumulating on my shelf call out to me to read them. And of those calling out to me, there seems to be a high volume of non-fiction works. I need to begin tackling my queue - those physically present in my home followed by those on a multitude of lists. I need to begin making way for more fiction - for novels of ideas, for historical fiction, for truth writ large.

I am declaring the coming year "the Year of the Book". I will warm-up over the next couple of months by finishing up the mound of books on my nightstand, and then I will delve into a currently-in-formation list of 50 books to complete by the end of 2008. My hope, in fact (and if I leave Tolstoy off the list), is that I will actually be able to squeeze in a few more than 50 by utilizing some well-placed Saturday afternoons.

Feel free to offer your suggestions as my list is being compiled, I welcome the feedback and want to keep my list well-balanced as I crave variety. Right now, common themes that are emerging are (surprisingly, I know) community, hospitality, ecclesiology, writing, creativity, simplicity, culture, missions and service.


Angelika said...

I'm all about re-reading "Redeeming Love". Did so during vacation in Croatia! Oh, what a treat it was! What was so cool was, that how certain passages this time around didn't speak to me at all and others that I had totally forgotten about - spoke so dearly to my hear!
Thanks for caps and sunglasses on the beach! :)

Kimberly said...

hmm... do caps and sunglasses trump my rule, as previously stated on Meredith's blog?:
every girl knows you should never read Redeeming Love in public... or when you have to be anywhere anytime soon... or if you might possibly have to interact with people in any way, shape or form in any conceivable close time period...

I'll leave it to the jury to decide.

Oh - and only out of Geli's mouth would you hear the words "re-reading Redeeming Love... during vacation in Croatia!"

Angelika said...

see, i thought the rule only applied to the first reading of redeeming love. :)