First, the story of how I came to hear the name Andrew Peterson. It started off small. I heard him singing on a Slugs and Bugs album. This is music made for kids and I was intrigued by his playful way. So, I looked him up on the internet.
Google told me he was the author of the Wingfeather Saga and a musician. I moved over to Youtube to hear a little bit of his music and realized I was listening to someone who went far beyond the usual be-boppy worship music that has been so popular. He was a singer/song-writer in the best sense of the word. So many of the cuts showed me he was a modern Paul Simon (Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints are two of Simon's solo albums) who just happened to be Christian. This is the Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel fame. Need I say more?
I also remembered that I had seen him talking to another author on a Read Aloud Revival segment. I went back and watched that again, digging for treasure.
This book is a treasure. It's a treasure for music makers, for writers, for artists. It's for anyone interested in doing anything creative. The subtitle says Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making.
He has personal stories woven through book. It's an autobiography of sorts that starts and ends with calling and has much to offer in the middle.
In the chapter entitled A Matter of Life or Death I marked this quote. "Tear your attention away from your shame, your self-loathing, your self-consciousness, your self. Now, rejoice. Become who you were meant to be, who you already are in Christ. Then get busy writing. Park the scooter in the field and write with abandon. Fight back. It's a matter of life and death" (p. 48).
In Longing to Belong, I found out that he keeps bees. He makes honey. He speaks of co-laboring in his little corner of creation and how sweet the experience is. "It speaks to me of its maker. And my Maker speaks to me through it. I love to watch people taste my honey. They always close their eyes and breathe deep, and they always proclaim it better by far than what they at the grocery store. I'm not sure it tastes all that different, but their enjoyment is heightened by the knowledge it came from the flowers underfoot and the long labor of the bees. Sweet alchemy. I think it reminds them of Eden ... The Kingdom is coming but the kingdom is here. That's why we are homesick, and it's also why we might as well get busy planting" (p. 60).
In The Integrated Imagination, he shares his love for fantasy and the myriad of fantasy series that he has read. His love shines through at the end when I read this quote. "Someone out there is building a bridge so we ca slip across to elf-land and smuggle back some of its light into this present darkness. I'm always looking for that bridge. I suppose you could call it a quest" (p. 73). The echoes of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are there for anyone to pick up on.
In Serving the Audience he writes about how people coming to a concert are not only giving their time but their attention. "... the more surprising thing is that they are giving you their attention - which is an act of profound generosity is a culture that clamors for every second of our attention already" (p. 98).
There were a number of gems in this chapter about writing that are worth noting.
"Write it like you would say it" (p. 101).
"That's what it means to serve to work and to serve the listener. Proceed with the utmost care. Whatever you do, don't let their glasses fall off. Don't break the spell" (p. 101).
"... a song can make you actually feel something, a tingle in a place you thought long dead. That's what the best songs - the best works of art - do for me" (p. 104).
"Just pretend you're talking. Pretend you are looking him in the eye and opening your heart to your little boy" (p. 104-105).
There is so much in his words and I still have two chapters to read.
This book, like all great books, is a feast of words.
Thoughtful, careful words crafted by someone who cares deeply about art in its many gloried forms.
Take it and read.