Tag Archives: learning

Book Talk

13 Feb

I found this interesting article http://harvardmagazine.com/breaking-news/orhan-pamuk-norton-lectures-report

The writer concludes by saying a book can become a part of one’s soul. I agree.

But I have another proposition. Academics, like me on Sundays 😉 , are taught to read and re-read, to write and revise – and revise and revise and revise. To deconstruct, to compare, to contrast, to parallel, to liken. Still, I think – yes, even with the sentimentalisch side of me – that it is possible to ‘recognise’ a book. That even before a book becomes a part of one’s soul, one recognises a part of one’s soul in the book.

The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one…

That’s Oliver Goldsmith on books. When I was in school, I decided to write about reading as my favourite thing to do, for a composition. I remember writing then of what I still enjoy experiencing now in my reading rambles, of the joy in

… recognising the germ of your idea, having taken root and grown in someone else’s mind.

And there is that almost kinesthetic subsumption of the reading material. Like you have done that before, and you know the perceptions, the senses, the feelings that correspond to that thing you encounter in the book. More present than déjà vu.

Most often, for me, this is an idea, a worldview, a framework of analysis of a certain action, emotion, interaction – and I instinctively recognise where the author is coming from. I am tempted to say it is a comfortable feeling – but it isn’t, always. Sometimes it is distinctly uncomfortable. C.S. Lewis, for instance, can have that effect on me. An old, familiar ideal that I have forgotten to uphold. Or a new, yet-strangely-familiar ideal that I wonder why I have not thus far espoused. So I cannot relinquish this feeling to familiarity merely.

Bible study, Bible, the word of God, soul-searching, conversation, friendship, books, literary criticism, book, books, reading, read, favourite books, favorite books, God, Bible reading,

But in fact, C.S. Lewis acknowledged this hankering in us for books ‘on our side’. This kindred spirit process in our reading choice. He wrote that

We read to know we are not alone.

For in this ‘inside’ interaction that some books manage to have with you, there is that essence of true conversation. It is almost hard to pretend that the book with which you are having the conversation in your head is not present in the room. Some novels do this to me. I found this fantastic – and telling – quote that Anne Frank scribbled, in her diary:

If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.

It makes me laugh :D. It is so true… But then again, there are some books you do not want to ‘take yourself in hand’ about. You know the product of your conversation is not only a better you, but a more real you… a you that is more yourself, than any other. In that light, as books go, the Bible is my biggest source of ‘conversation’. I want it to be, and I wouldn’t change that. That is the best conversation I’ve had and it isn’t over yet. But hey, I think that book was designed to be.

Bible, quiet time, Bible reading, Bible study, conversation with God, conversation, God, hearing, faith, the word of God, the Word, Rhema, logos, Word, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Spirit, listening to God, taking time off,

I love this moment

Now – before you begin to think my mind is rather queer 😀 – go ahead! Go have some fantastic ‘conversations’ yourself 😉 – and I would be honoured if, some day, you tell me about them.

Crazy love (sorry, Mr Chan)

12 Feb

I wrote this a while ago. In 2009. It is seasonal 😉 But more importantly, it encapsulates my thoughts now – today, another of those times I’ve forgotten to love.

How does one explain without seeming insane that you’re utterly in love with someone? Love that makes you want to hug the person, hold them so long and hard. The kind that makes you stop in the heavy afternoon amidst work and play and intimate conversations with best friends and take a quick, sharp breath from this realisation: God, I love you!

And what makes it crazier is that no one ever sees him with his arm on your shoulder or holding you close or smiling down at you… And yet, if they don’t know him themselves, they don’t realise that nothing ever comes close to this kind of love anyway! The can’t-take-my-eyes-off-you love. While they don’t see him holding your hand on a ramble through town, you wonder if they’ve seen him give everything for you. Obsess about you constantly. Die on a cross for you. And you wonder what it takes.

What’s even crazier is how often you forget how in love you are. Crazy!

public love physical display affection God's love Valentine's valentine intimacy true real love

I cannot get over how much God loves you. Me. I know all the things I’ve done. Worse, the things I’ve thought. I know I have been cold and distant. I know the things that I have – deliberately – left undone, unsaid… gathering the dust of numbed guilt.

And yet. He. Loves. Me.

And I know the reality of his love.

It isn’t the least bit distant or theological or abstract or a logical conclusion. It’s pretty far from any logical conclusion I’ve ever made, that’s for certain. I remember praying, as an early teen, that I wouldn’t have to wait for the intimacy of a relationship to find out what God’d meant by the metaphor of a husband’s love… And he was faithful in answering that prayer as I needed it. Oh friend, how faithful. Even when I least deserved it.

There is a relationship waiting to be had that is all-sufficient, all-encompassing… It is never going to be equal except in that the Lord carries you and holds you up to him… With someone who isn’t limited or bounded by our boxes, who doesn’t need to wait on human experience to show us the depth of his love.

Sometimes someone is so beautiful that you want to cry simply looking at them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no freak. So I don’t simply blubber at the Hoff or Mr Firth… Honestly – you might find it hard to believe.

I do cry, however, when a child I love tells me he wants to be a policeman – so that no one else dies in his community from a knife-fight. Just a policeman, no more – but he won’t take bribes. I feel that familiar lump again when a child I love runs up to me from behind and awkwardly snuggles into me. I feel that lump when someone in my family is appreciated, or even when the Tass knows I’m crying…

I read a Father’s Day line somewhere that reminded me of God.

You have your Father’s eyes.

So you know what it feels like to have tears in them.

What makes you cry?

Lessons from a father

24 Jan

Today is for my dad. You might already know that my dad and I have a fraught relationship. I have learned so much from my heavenly Father, that I sometimes forget what I have learned from my father. Growing up, he did love me… and I have learned good things, beautiful things from him. I will not show this to my father because although he has talked about our relationship to others and to me, he would feel it presumptuous in me to do so. He has said this before. But too often, I have held on to the barbs that hurt, the little lines, the marks of childhood, teenage and womanhood… because it was hard to forgive, but it is so hard to forget. Today, I’m ignoring the thorns that came with the plucking. And I am opening a box of pressed petals… birthday cards, lessons, laughs.

“Always read a chapter of the Bible in the morning, before you do anything.” That has come to be translated in my life as beginning the day with God, so you’ll get through it with Him. Every morning, to this day, I try. And if I don’t, I know nothing feels right.

“Keep your eyes on the ball. Don’t move them anywhere else.” Philippians 3: 13-14

“Got to put a shirt on to pray.” OK, this one’s funny. It made me laugh and it annoyed him that it made me laugh :). But it reminds me to give God my best and on the other hand, it reminds me of why I smiled too. I want to be naked before God, open to Him, vulnerable to His probing my heart and my hurts. But I also want to make every effort to give Him everything, to give Him my messy best. I don’t want to reduce grace to an excuse, but honour it as God’s greatest gift.

Generosity. My father never liked to be caught out without being able to give to people who asked. It irked him if he couldn’t, like duty undone! It has taught me to not be proud of my giving and let my ego be hurt by having less, but to trust God to bless me to give more. It has taught me also that giving is important. I have learned that giving is for closed doors, and that need is more obvious than we want to know. That not all who ask need and not all who need ask. Would that we did all ask our heavenly Father! I have learned more from his actions than my father ever sat down to teach me, but I have learned it well.

One day, when I was 15, my father said he was sorry… to me. That was the only time. I asked him not to, and we both cried. That wasn’t the end of our fraught relationship – I’ve said ‘sorry’ too for unthinking, reactionary words but it wasn’t. Yet it is one of my most precious memories.

It has taught me to say sorry, even when it is such a bitter thing to do. It needs to be said, and if you were wrong or unloving, you need to love again and seek peace. It. IS. Necessary. Even after healing, sometimes not always, hearing someone say that they know you were hurting is comfort. And you could give that to someone.

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