Books, you ask a woman whose first job out of college was in a library about books in her study, books on the bedside table and books in the queue. Do we have enough time and text? We have books and bookshelves everywhere–in the kitchen, in the living room, in the man cave, in the bedrooms, in the halls, and in my study. Though we have moved three times since I decided to go to seminary and have given away and tossed out books each time, our house is still filled with books. We like it that way.
I love to be able to look up and see my old friends on the shelf. I like to remember how they moved me, how they comforted me, how they amused me. I like to remember the place, the moment in my life, and the view from the window when we first encountered one another.
Years ago, when the notion of seminary and priesthood was first stirring in my mind, I used to look over at the book shelf in our bedroom. There, against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, I saw the book
Though my husband bought (and read) the book, somehow the title spoke to me at that moment. I still visit the book in its new residence the guest room. The title still gives me comfort.
But I digress. The question was about the books I use for sermon prep. When I’m at my best (and most leisurely), I start with the Bible. I try to read the whole book before I zero in on the text. A confession is in order–not when the book is Isaiah or Jeremiah or Genesis. In those cases, I read through or thoroughly around the scripture assigned. Then I go to The Text This Week (where I first met Rev Gal Blog Pals).
“What’s in the queue?” you ask. On my bedside table are two scandinavian mysteries. Then there’s the “to do” shelf in my study where a stack of books on homelessness are waiting to be read. Closer to the center of action is Elizabeth Johnson’s She Who Is. On the horizon….A trip to Oakland, California, and a visit to Sagrada Bookstore. Soon it will be time to build some new bookshelves.
My all-time favorite. The book I return to time and again. The book that has so left its mark on me that I really don’t have to have it in my hands to remember the passages that speak most deeply to me. Hands down, without a doubt or second thought, With Head in Heart by Howard Thurman. Thurman was a mystical theologian, an activist pastor, a compassionate family man, and a gifted preacher. I find myself coming back to his story and his words time and again in my preaching and in my life.
Kindle, Nook, I-Pad or Print? Print of course. I like the look of books, the feel of books, the smell and touch of books. Besides–I’m a book addict. E-books would be the death of me.
Discards? Twice in the last ten years, we have discarded boxes of books. The first time, shortly after finishing seminary, I flew back to Albuquerque, went through our storage unit, and tossed out boxes of education books. When we moved back to Albuquerque and I was clear that I was not called to conventional parish ministry, it was with great pleasure that I donated all those Alban Institute books to a church book sale. Now I’m on hold. The books I have, I’ll have for life. We’ve taken a vow. We’re standing together.
Here’s the view of where I’m now sitting. To the left of my little desk is the chair Tex (the dog) and I share. In front of the chair are the books I turn to every morning–Howard Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart, The New Zealand Book of Common Prayer and a little pamphlet by the Jesuits. I’m turning to those now. Blessings on your day.