Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From My Commonplace: Be Like the Bird (...and some other random thoughts on reading)

"Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Yet sings,
Knowing he hath wings."
~Victor Hugo

Not-at-all related to my quote for this week, but related to reading…so I'm putting it here anyway.  (It's my blog, right? ;)) 
A lot of you know that I was reading, and very much enjoying, Milton's Paradise Lost with a group of lovely ladies over on the AO Forum.   A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I needed to put it aside.   It wasn't because I didn't like it – I did!  Such beautiful language and imagery.  And reading a 'stiff' book like that is always better with a group.   I did feel a wee bit guilty about dropping out of the discussion.  But…here's the thing.   March was intense for our family.  My time and energy were at a minimum. I found myself not reading at all because I couldn't manage Paradise Lost, yet I was 'behind' in the discussion so I felt guilty about not reading it.  So I was watching Netflix instead.  Reading a book out of guilt – even a very worthy one like Paradise Lost – is not a good reason to read it.   Reading it out of obligation, or reading furiously to catch up with a group without taking the time to savor it just so I could say I finished and add it to my list….not good reasons either.   I struggle with the temptation to want to read All.the.Books.  Reading All.the.Books isn't a bad thing.  But I don't have to read All.the.Books today.  Paradise Lost has been there for 400 years already.  I think it'll be okay to save it for a couple more until I have the capacity to read and savor and enjoy and not just rush the rest of the way through it so I can say that I finished.
I re-read a Mitford book and finished Pride and Prejudice with my husband.  This kick-started me out of my Netflix habit, even in the midst of all the craziness of the past month.  I read a couple of scholarly articles linked to by various AO friends – these were short but made me feel accomplished because I could finish them fairly quickly.  Finally finished The Screwtape Letters, which had been sitting on my pile for quite a while.  And now I find my reading habit has come back. I'm looking forward to jumping back in with the AO discussion group when we start I Promessi Sposi next month.  I can't read All.the.Books right now, but I can read some.  Slowly.  Gently.  And always keeping a lighter read in there for those days when my brain-space isn't up for a challenge.
All this to say…don't feel guilty if you can't read it all today.   Read what you can and keep the habit alive.  Your mind and heart and soul will thank you. 

My Bookbag This Week:
Devotional: The Daily Office Lectionary Readings and Prayers from The Trinity Mission
 The Cloud of Witness (Gell)
 A Sacrifice of Praise (poetry anthology, edited by Trott)
 The Rising: Living the Mysteries of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost (Wright)
Theological: On The Incarnation (St. Athanasius, with introduction by CS Lewis)
AO Book Discussion Group: *Between Books*
Personal Choice: The Clockwork Universe (Dolnick)
With my Hubby: Emma (Austen)
Family Read-Aloud Literature: The Wouldbegoods (Nesbit)
*I am also reading Scouting the Divine (Feinburg) with a women's group at church and Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 for a local CM book club, but these meetings are infrequent and so I just read the brief section assigned as our meetings come up.  They aren't really part of my regular reading rotation as the rest of these are.

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  1. Oh, you tied this week's themes together ... sharing your gifts out of the comfort of God's promises. Love this, Jen!

  2. Excellent advice, dear friend. I just finished Pride & Prejudice myself. I love that your husband enjoyed it with you. Mine always teases me by saying, "The book was so much better" with respect to a movie - but only b/c he is, sadly, not a big reader himself and just wants to get my goat:).

    1. I still feel bad I had to drop out of the PL discussion though...this is like the first time since Scarlet Pimpernel that I haven't had at list one AO discussion book on my pile!!! Feels a little strange. But it was the right thing to do for this season. P and P is laugh out loud funny as a read aloud...I never realized that reading it to myself. He himself requested to read Emma next - not my favorite Austen, but you don't say no when your hubby wants to read Austen with you! I've made him watch those movies with me for years and so I think now he really wants to see if the book IS better than the movie or not. :P