Sunday, November 21, 2010

Extracurricular Reading

Snow, glorious snow! The first snow of the season is falling. It does peculiar things to the neighborhood, changing not only how it looks but how it sounds. Snowflakes are miniature acoustical tiles, absorbing the familiar noises, hushing everything. It's wonderful, especially on a Sunday afternoon.

Someday we shall have a window seat, a place with cushions and a comfy quilt, a place to watch the snow and read. (A window seat is my equivalent to "When I am old, I shall wear purple.") Until that window seat happens, I'll have to be content with reading near the bedroom window, dipping into the books on my nightstand. There are at least three books, always, and I read them concurrently. There's a mix of genre in there but you'll consistently find something historical and something humorous. I've been thinking a lot about faith lately and so my pile o' books has included titles like Walking a Literary Labyrinth and The Inner Life.

Ellis Peters, in her Brother Cadfael series, beautifully captures how 13th century society viewed God, their awareness of His influence in all things. It certainly helped that the hours of the day were marked by offices, or services, times designated to stop and consider God's awesomeness. Compline, the end-of-the-day office, is my favorite. (KING FM broadcasts Compline every Sunday evening from St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle.) These days, there are many distractions, a heightened feeling of hurriedness, and I get easily caught up in doing rather than being. Taking time out to listen to Compline on the radio is one of the things that helps me to regain some balance, to affirm God's presence in my life. Never mind that I also adore Gregorian chant.

The earliest Christian writings are intriguing. Most of them are unavailable in print but I can still read them online (huzzah for the Internet!). One of the best websites is Christian Classics Ethereal Library. I once joined a CCEL discussion group for the Christmas Hymns of Ephraim the Syriac. Whoa nelly - there were some serious scholars in the group, which intimidated the rest of us. The scholars finally backed off a bit and other members could participate, albeit a little sheepishly, but I was still way out of my league. Not the best experience, that. So I've stuck with reading CCEL on my own. I graze, browsing the titles and choosing those that catch my attention. A lot of the writing takes some getting used to. Early authors (like Ephraim the Syriac) wrote far more poetically than I'm used to reading, metaphor taken to the extreme.

CCEL. Sometimes it makes my head hurt, but it's where I'm going to hang out for awhile, my extracurricular reading.

And then I'll read Letters to Groucho.

Overheard on Twitter: Either the corner store overcharged me for these eyedrops or Tetrahydrozoline is a miracle compound utterly unmatched at relieving redness.

Next time: family feet. Stay tuned.