The first book I want to mention is The Word in the Wilderness by Malcolm Guite.
I started this book last week because it has a poem for each of Lent and Easter. It is a very do-able read in the best sense. I am able read it over lunch hours and I love that the poems he has selected (yes, some of his own verse) are understandable.
I want to include the poem for the First Sunday of Lent by R.S. Thomas.
The Bright Field
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
I love the gospel paradox in this. Losing to find, giving away to gain, giving everything up only to find it given back in a new and more beautiful form. The gospel and Lent is not about giving up and going without for its own sake; it is about making room for something wonderful. It is about clearing out the clutter, making space and time for the small seed that prove in time to be the great branching tree in whose canopy we will find a place.
If giving something up isn't something that you do (yes, our family gave up chocolate), I recommending picking up this gem and reading The Word in the Wilderness!
Another book I am slowly working on is The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith.
I have read more than a few memoirs or autobiographies over the years. There have been a handful of hits, but many, many misses and it's been interesting to read this in that she is writing to people who want to write memoirs and do it well. And it's not just a good book. It's brilliant.
Well, she is brilliant. This book is full of golden nuggets. They are not general nuggets. They are personal golden nuggets of how to tell a story, your story, well.
I cannot do the book justice with this minor review. If I had the time and money, I would take this woman's online memoir course. Alas, I will continue to teach and think and ponder of this one over the semester and summer break. Beautifully done!
Last, but not least, I am reading through the book of Luke in the Bible!
This is the gospel written by the doctor named Luke to Theophilus, his friend. They shared two loves. A love for Christ and a love for facts. They were interested in truth. The result is part letter and part research paper. Like many great pieces of literature, this was gospel is a labor of love. Luke studied carefully and wanted Theophilus to benefit from his study. With the skill of surgeon, Luke probes for truth.
Like all gospel writers, there are many beautiful themes that emerge. First, Luke portrays Jesus as fully man and fully God. Second, Jesus brings total physical and spiritual restoration to the body and soul through death on the cross and his resurrection. Another theme is Jesus experiencing the conflicts of life, yet performing miracles. Also, Jesus fulfilled God's mission and taught about God's kingdom.
Here are some others to ponder over.
Forgiveness at both human and divine levels are a beautiful theme woven throughout the whole book.
His death and resurrection open up the possibility of salvation and make possible a direct relationship with God.
Another thing I love about this gospel is theme of prayer. In addition to specific teaching on prayer, Jesus exemplifies a life of prayer by communicating with God the Father.
The compassion or heart of Christ is there. Jesus Christ is the friend of poor, list, brokenhearted, alienated, oppressed, and abandoned sinners.
I wonder if Luke had any inkling about the impact of this book that he wrote for a friend. It is for the person who is interested in facts but has come to realize that there are things cannot be rationally explained. It for those who are interested in Jesus, but do not necessarily believe.
This is my little trinity of reading material for March. I hope and pray something in this has made an impression and you are motivated to pick up and read any of these books!