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Relating to Reading
praying booksby Lyle Penner

WINTER IS THE season, more than the others, when Anxiety seems pressed up against my skin. Perhaps reflecting the lack of external light, the season can feel “dark” as I fight off the droning pangs of depression. When I was hunting around for something lost one gray day in February, I came upon these printed words – written by none other than our editor Arthur Paul Patterson:

“Perhaps we can learn at this time to consciously take on a stance of dependence realizing that we are sustained by the providence of something greater than our egos."

I stopped, and read it again. It was strangely enlivening to be reminded that Something Greater sustains me, and by implication, I am not alone in my struggles in the shadows. I was also taken aback by the power of reading – even of the briefest of texts! When I allow inspired writing to seep through the cracks of my internal defenses, a deep thirst in myself begins to feel nurtured. Why is it that I don’t spend more time contemplating that which is Greater and that which is simultaneously buried within?

"When I allow inspired writing to seep through the cracks..."Reading for me is learning what others have meant by being human. What are the myriad of routes, the pitfalls as well as the celebrations, of human transformation? How is it possible, without pretense, to accept our natural gifts as well as our striking limitations during our brief time here? What do cautionary tales say about the tragedies that result when we fail to come to grips with what, or whom, we’ve been given?

Reading for me is also about discovering maps that help to chart and guide my life. By reading about how others have thought and lived, I start to make the translation to my own journey. Do their maps fit? Can I identify with others’ mistakes and triumphs, and understand others or myself better? Sadly, I admit that often I don’t take the active stance to make the translation consciously enough. I would rather race to another’s story, another perspective, without dealing adequately with the revelation in the one just read! Likewise, my skepticism sometimes makes me too easily dismissive of some books – those that would otherwise be instructive – because I can cleverly spot their flaws. I do know, however, that the process of writing book reviews (or Book Café recommendations) is a good way to understand the nuances of meaning that reading carries for me.

blue rule

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