Winter Reading List

2/8/18

Is there really any season more conducive to reading than winter? Even summer, with all it's free time and "best beach read" lists, fails to match it. (Aside: Why is every book you lay hands on in the warm months a "beach read? What kind of hours is everyone else clocking in the sand? How do I get in on that? So many questions.)

gratuitous baby pic

As I continue to narrow my focus on this blog to be "real writing"-centric, I'm going to transition these seasonal reading lists to my newsletter instead. So this will be the last installment you'll see here, but if you don't want to miss my book recs be sure to sign up for the newsletter- an email that comes every 1-2 months with original content not found on the blog.

(Click the image to view the book's description in Amazon. Links are affiliates.)

Just Finished Reading


The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma


This is a fascinating book about the effects of trauma (childhood and adulthood) on the brain and human person. It's heavy, often deeply sorrowful, and scientific- not the typical description of books I usually read or recommend- but is an important work for anyone affected by trauma, whether directly or indirectly. I would even say it's a helpful book for those who don't identify with trauma, as it births understanding and compassion for others whose choices and behavior might baffle you. Great book.


Psalms of a Laywoman


This book of poetry was loaned to me by my spiritual director and oh man, I fell for it and I fell hard. Gateley has a way with words that is powerful yet accessible. I like poetry but often forget to seek it out, so reading this watered my soul. I took this book into labor with me because one piece impacted me so deeply I had Eric read it aloud during contractions. Quite a recommendation, isn't it? ;)


Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth


I wanted to love this one, but it fell flat for me. Granted, I was already very familiar with the Enneagram (if you're not, you can learn about it here!) so it might be the perfect book for someone who is still new to the personality indicator. I was hoping it would delve more into what practical spiritual disciplines/spirituality might look like for each type, and I didn't get much out of it.


Currently Reading


Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life


My dad gave me this one thinking it would resonate after the disappointment of last summer's plan change. I've only just begun it but so far so good!


The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life


My friend and podcast co-host surprised me with this gem in the mail one day, and I don't think I've ever read anything like it. As I've tried to grow in taking writing more seriously I've read some good books on the craft, but this is really a lovely observation and guidance on the interconnectedness between creativity and spirituality. I would (and already have) recommend it to other writers.

When We Were Eve: Uncovering the Woman God Created 
You to Be


I had the honor of contributing a short personal essay for the end of one chapter in Colleen's book, and was thrilled when she sent me a bright, beautiful published copy a few weeks ago. I'm a huge fan of Colleen, both as a person and as a writer, and this puppy has been a frequent companion during nursing sessions lately. Her vulnerability and fearlessness is my favorite thing about her writing.


Will Be Reading


Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, and Consciousness


Does this put me squarely in the "fringe Catholic" club? If so, I'm happy to be there. My husband introduced me to Ilia Delio and I'm a total fangirl now. She's a scientist and a Franciscan nun, so her view of the world is absolutely fascinating and enlightening. I rarely reach for super heady works, but reading this book has evoked so much joy and hope within me. (for you non-Catholics: the "catholocity" in the subtitle is used in the "little c" way, meaning universal, so don't assume it's not for you!)

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit


One of the women I respect most in the world mailed me this the other day, saying she felt it had a message that parents of young children dearly need. My curiosity is raging from that recommendation because it is clearly not a parenting book. I am forcing myself to finish the other books I've started before I dig in. (Trying to start reading one book at a time! Trying.)

Kids Are Reading 


Because of Winn Dixie


Alyosha, age 7 at the time of reading, really enjoyed this book. Moses, age almost 4 at the time, sat in on a lot of our bedtime sessions and happily listened as well, though I don't know how much he was able to follow the plotline. I loved it because it was thoughtful and addressed some very real family themes while not being a total downer or too heavy. The ending was beautiful, and it was my favorite read-aloud we're shared in quite awhile.


Eric's Reading


The Holy Thursday Revolution


The hubs is gobbling up books at his usual rate, but this particular one stuck out to me to share with you. The premise is that domination has subtly but thoroughly infiltrated Christianity, a huge departure from its roots of humility and servanthood, and the need for us to reverse that. Eric is loving and recommending it, and it sounds like yet another one I need to steal from his bedside table.

//

Your turn! Share with us what you're reading and recommending, either in the comments here or on Instagram and Facebook! And read other book recs at Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit linkup!

Childbirth As Baptism and the Family of Things

1/9/18


This old neighborhood seems to shudder and groan under the weight of winter, our geriatric houses holding up generations of stories under beams that ache like knees when it snows. My own home has seen a hundred such winters, and I can't bring myself to trade the richness of its heritage for a shelter less drafty and with more than one toilet. I long to find my place in the family of things, as Mary Oliver wrote, and there's something about homes with creaking floors that make me feel one step closer.

Downstairs, a child belts his ABCs from the couch he's been restricted to. From the bedroom next to me hums the sound machine that has lulled a toddler down for another day's nap. I type from my bed as a two-week-old infant squeaks in his sleep, and I wonder how many babies this house has rocked. Where are they now? What are their stories? Who were those mothers who sat in this room leaking milk and tears in the middle of the long night?

I labored in this room for two hours a few weeks and a lifetime ago. We didn't turn on the lights as the sun went down at 5pm, flickering off the snow outside our windows. Eric lit candles and put music on while I lay in bed, reveling in the fact that the time had finally come to meet this son. He touched my arm when my stomach burned and I told him it comforted me. He did it again every time my body quaked for the next five hours, and I loved him more than I ever had.

The labor was longer than I would have liked and more intense than the one before it. By the end I was gasping for an epidural but there was no time for that; my uterus had done its work and a few breaths later I was pushing him out while the midwife came flying into the room, shoving gloves on late hands. My sister beheld her first childbirth experience and when nurses put him on my chest I looked over their heads to see her choking back tears.

He was perfect. (Aren't they all?)

Oscar Abraham. I'm glad he wasn't planned. It's better to feel this kind of surprised, in the end.

But we brought him home to a house that can be surprised by nothing. Surely she's seen it all. Maybe there were babies born within these walls. God forbid any died within them, but Midwest winters are hard and I can't help but wonder. So many stories that I will never know, yet mine is now entwined with theirs. And who will come after us? What groaning mothers and husbands who touch tenderness to their laboring limbs? What babies with stories of their own to unravel?

Childbirth is the closest I've come to touching death, and mine have all been healthy and without complication. The very nature of the process is a mirror of the life cycle: there can be no new life without suffering to bring it forth. Every mother must dip down under the waters before emerging, heaving, with a new child at her breast.

Every childbirth is a death, every childbirth is a baptism. Every childbirth "calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things."



(if birth stories are your thing you can find Moses' here and Taavi's here, as well as Alyosha's adoption story here.)

Weary and Waiting to Rejoice

12/15/17


Sometimes I can feel his fingers stretching against my insides, down by my left hip. At least I like to imagine them to be little fingers; It’s hard to be exactly sure what’s what and details have never been my strong suit. Knees and elbows jut out once in awhile like little drawer knobs. Push them and they’re gone. Poof.

But I always know where his back is.  Long and hard, its position doesn’t change much this late in the game. Head down, spine strong: almost ready. Any day now he will break me open. He will be red and wailing; I will be white from exhaustion. Any day now the world will change in a way most ordinary and yet most catastrophic. Any day now we will both know new life.

Everything groans within me: my back, my esophagus, my uterus, my bladder. I feel small contractions and resist the urge to time them; I know instinctively it’s not the real thing. They don’t hurt badly enough yet. For now, I wait. It is Advent, after all. 

Said Mary.

//

It wouldn't be right to have no wait during Advent. Part of me is relieved that this baby boy hasn't entered the world, even as part of me bemoans it. There have been years in the past when I have felt Advent. When I was pregnant with Moses those four weeks before Christmas I have blissful memories of lit fireplaces and quiet, meditative living room nights after Alyosha went to bed. It was dark and still, the air thick with meaning. We would fumble our way through mass, the rhythm of the ritual still not quite familiar to our bodies, and I would marvel at the good fortune of being in a position to meditate on the scandal that the son of God had a mother.

Theotokos. Mother of God. The abrasiveness of it is almost meant to alarm you, but I delighted in the shock of it. No naysayer can call the name inaccurate without calling into question Christian teaching. He was fully God. He was fully human. She was the mother of God. It was delightfully terrifying, and I lapped it up.

But this year, this Advent, this pregnancy, is different. I have three other children at home to tend to now. The post-bedtime nights are too short and not often contemplative. I don't glory in the wait the way I did four years ago. I just want the season to pass; I just want the baby to come. I just want Christmas without having to watch how slowly the purple and pink wax drips down the living room wreath. I just want to sing of how the weary world rejoices.

Instead, I must feel the weariness just a moment more.



He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

(excerpt from the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55)

Colorblind

12/11/17


My white parents were raised in Mississippi in the fifties and sixties. My siblings and I grew up hearing about how the Civil Rights Movement affected the young lives of our mom and dad; how Brenda Travis, a girl in my dad’s hometown not much older than he, had dared to participate in segregation protests and was subsequently taken from her family and banned from the state; how the Ku Klux Klan had threatened my parents in their early years of ministry; how my maternal grandfather was a champion for his black constituents as a local politician, even as a product of a deeply segregated system himself.

However, I grew up in central Texas in the nineties, when Americans were too sophisticated for that kind of drama. I grew up in a nation that hailed itself colorblind and would hear of nothing else. I grew up certain that racial injustice was a horrific part of history that no longer held any systematic or economic weight.

The first time I was confronted with the truth was when I drove through a sea of small towns with my college roommate, who was black. Her family lived further away than mine so her coming home for occasional weekends with me became part of our norm. But the first time we took the route, lazily rolling to a stop at an empty red light in a nondescript town, she shrank low in her passenger seat, eyes darting furtively around.

...

Read the rest at Sick Pilgrim!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS