It was about a year ago when friends surprised me with a Grandparents Shower. Our daughter was expecting her first – and our first – in September. We know him now as Walt, and we’ve discovered that everything people told us about being grandparents is true. It’s a wonderful time in our lives.
Every box and gift bag at the surprise shower contained the same gift. A book. Each book was different from the other. Heavy-duty ones built to outlast baby destruction. Beautifully illustrated ones that will quickly become favorites like The Day You Were Born and God Created . Throwbacks from another time like Curious George and Velveteen Rabbit. Dr. Suess’s Green Eggs and Ham. Maya Angelou once said: any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. Just today, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first-ever policy statement calling for pediatricians to advise all parents about the many benefits of reading aloud, to promote literacy and social-emotional skills, saying: Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development. Walt has trouble settling down to a book now, because at 9 months old, he’d rather be on the move. But we hope he will develop a lifelong love of books. Like his mom. And his grandma.
Kristine Ellen, you always have your nose in a book, my mother would gently chide. You don’t have to dust the insides of books, she’d say when I was taking way too long to get my chores done. One of David’s and my first memories of knowing each other back when we were 10 years old was stopping in the library on our way home from 5th grade. I loved reading aloud to my kids when they were small and looked forward each year to those lazy summer days at the library getting their cards stamped for the Summer Reading Club. And since ministry arrived in my life, I’ve often wondered if God smiles that I found myself in a profession in which I’m supposed to be reading. Every day.
The stack of current reading on my desk at church includes: Claiming the Beatitudes: Nine Stories from a New Generation. The Non-Violent Life, an autographed copy from author John Dear. Lose, Love, Live: The Spiritual Gifts of Loss and Change by my preaching professor, Dan Moseley – a gift when my son died. A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter. The Bible of course – three different translations. On the table by my reading chair at home is a book I’m excited to start, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Prayer Shawl ladies provide great book recommendations) Books I’ve just finished include, Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah and yet another book of short stories by Alice Munro. I can always read Alice Munro.
Someone once told me that it’s important for preachers to read fiction as well as theology. It’s important to expose ourselves to life and possibilities outside the realm of our own experience. Stimulate imagination. Develop creativity. As if I needed justification to do something I love.
Summer seemed a long time coming this year. It has finally arrived. For me that means as many nights out on the deck at home until dark as possible. You’ll know me. I’ll be the one with my nose in a book.
Blessings and peace –