March marks the official end of our first winter in Alberta* ; we made it!
Apart from being hung-over with a bad flu for weeks too long mid-winter, the season has passed quickly. (Next year we will say ‘YES!’ to the flu shot.) We pushed weights in the gym, volunteered at the local thrift store, and got a lot more steady and a little more graceful on cross-country skis. Amazing what practice will do.
With the coming of March our last-launched fledgling, Rachel, flew in for a quick look around our new nest. It was wonderful to have her back so grown up (:
Incidentally, our nest is now up for sale and we wait hopeful that the new landlords will love us and want to keep us. Real estate and rentals are always a juggling match in this much-coveted mountain valley…
O Lord…’you know when I sit down and when I rise up’–David’s words in Psalm 139 took on fresh meaning this month when I thrashed my tailbone in a clumsy moment at the bottom of a slick ski hill and ceased to be able to slouch comfortably in any of my favorite cushy spots… I am learning better posture as we speak!
Bikes–a sure sign that spring is in the works. We got ours out this week! For short jaunts they work, like getting to and from the bus-stop ( : I’m discovering the convenience and inconvenience of taking the bus into town. It’s nice for saving gas and vehicle wear-and-tear. It’s not nice for having to hustle out the door on time only to stand idle at the bus stop watching ice melt into puddles… It’s good for a wee spot of reading time though…
The book I’m carrying around for such moments is a memoir by a writer who holed up in the dreary Falkland Islands in winter thinking she’d be able there to compose a novel without distraction. The novel never happened. Her humorous re-telling of the lonely experience did. It’s called Bleaker House**, a take-off on the Dickens’ novel by a similar name. And with it I’m realizing that Creative Non-fiction is the genre that most piques my interest…
Speaking of memoirs and books…I discovered post-modern writing and what is known as ‘metafiction’ this month in Dave Eggers’ memoir-of-sorts: The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius. His incredibly sad life story, which so easily might have been depressing, was re-told in a way that kept making me chuckle, even laugh out loud, and that is something to sit up and take notice of! The non-stop hyper-active self-conscious narration intrigued me, and kept me going past the irreverent, crass and language-laden content. Eggers’ brazen egotism and yet perceptive honesty caught me off-guard. Having said that, the novelty of this genre wore off before the 400+ pages ran out. Though I will not recommend it, if your curiosity does take you to the library to find this title, DO heed the extensive preface material and author’s own suggestion: ‘the first three of four chapters are all some of you might want to bother with…[they]stick to one general subject, something manageable, which is more that what can be said for the book thereafter.’
This was Egger’s first book, copyright 2000. But it is not Eggers at his best. Last month I happened upon a biographical novel (at the Thrift store!) which he wrote in 2006 called What is the What. I enjoyed it incredibly much! It revived my reading energy and I consumed all 535 pages in record time. His humorous and breathlessly engaging narrative style works superbly when the subject matter is not himself! In this later book he narrates the life of one of the “Lost Boys” of southern Sudan. It is not only fascinating but informative, a tender first-person account with a subtle humor and relentless optimism that offsets the stark tragedies of civil war and refugee life. Unforgettable and well worth finding a copy! I posted a review over at my occasionally updated book review site–A Few Good Books (thestackofdawn.blogspot.ca)
Before I leave my most memorable books of the month, I must mention the most profound of them all: Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. I meditated through this one just a couple chapters a week with discussion at a favorite blogger’s place. Wow. Mythology isn’t my favorite genre but when Lewis takes hold of a myth, in this case Cupid and Psyche, and molds it to show what words can hardly tell, well it is compelling, convicting, and such good soul-food. The principle character lives a lifetime with a hard-heart, assuming the worst about the gods, misinterpreting their every move and suffering behind a veil which hides her from being deeply known. Only in the end does she come to see the way things really are.
“All my life the god of the Mountain has been wooing me….
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing–to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from–“
But I will not give the storyline away. This one is worth a slow and thoughtful read. And if you want some hints and helps along the way, Michele, at Living Our Days, has done a beautiful job of introducing this book chapter by chapter starting here: Till We Have Faces: Welcome to the Discussion. Enjoy!
Well, enough of books (for now) except for the best one of all… For the last couple months I’ve taken a break from reading multiple chapters and genres throughout Scripture and have settled into the Gospels, into hearing Jesus’ words and watching Him deal with people like me. This is what I need for now. And on my desk is this quote:
O Lord God, Thou has commanded me to believe in Jesus; and I would flee to no other refuge, wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, rest in no other relief.
–from The Valley of Vision: a collection of Puritan Prayers by Arthur Bennett
The latest and greatest milestone of my month is this website. which has been quite the project, one I would not have gotten through without my husband Jim’s steady expertise. I have had nearly a year’s sabbatical from weekly posts but just can’t get away from what I perceive to be God’s calling to share His words and the way they speak into my life. So I am here, to recommence sharing what He’s teaching me and I’m so glad you’ve come by to join me. Welcome back!
*(We weathered several winters in Alberta way back when we were students at Prairie Bible Institute. But that was practically another life-time ago!)
**[4/10/17 a disclaimer re: Bleaker House, now that I’ve gotten through it. Though it belongs to a favorite genre of mine, creative non-fiction, it is NOT an example I recommend. The author has chosen to embellish the retelling of a bleak period in her life with sordid stories of her life prior to this point. The titillating details did nothing to improve the going-nowhere narrative and decreased my respect and interest in the author’s work. Perhaps Dickens’ Bleak House would be a preferable choice!]