Monday, August 25, 2003

Buying books

[Written Sunday, August 24, 2003, St Bartholomew's Day]

I was given a gift certificate (well, electronic credit-card type thing) to Borders in payment for playing at a wedding yesterday. A gift certificate that obligates me to buy books (or music) is much more exciting than a plain old check. . . .So this afternoon, in a bit of a downward spiraling state of mind, I went to Borders, partly as a salve for my mood and partly for the air conditioning.

First, I surveyed the knitting books, which were in a more orderly state than usual. Not seeing anything I'd not seen before that interested me much, I headed over to the Farming/Ecology/Nature shelves. I found a book and author I'd not heard of before, You Can Go Home Again: Adventures of a Contrary Life by Gene Logsdon, a story of living fairly self-sufficiently on a farm. The Wendell Berry endorsement on the back cover got me leafing through the book. The author's early training to become a monk intrigued me, as well as his attraction to Martin Luther's understanding of the Eucharist versus what he was being taught at a Catholic school.

Then I read these sentences at the beginning of Chapter 6:
More than anything else, the degree of satisfaction to be gained from a life rooted in home depends on the strength of one's conviction that there is nothing better down the road. Betterment comes from within a person, not from within geography. But I believe that had I not left home for a while, I would not have been completely convinced of that.
I tucked the book under my arm and headed upstairs to the Religion/Inspiration section. Browsing that section in Borders is quite different than browsing religious books at a Catholic or evangelical or New Age or Episcopal or Judaica bookstore. At Borders, the "Inspiration" books are all jumbled together—Rumi next to T. D. Jakes next to Henri J. M. Nouwen.

I zoomed in on Nouwen because an excerpt from his writings had been printed on the wedding program cover yesterday. I have some of Nouwen's books but none of his journals.

The blurb on the back of The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey begins:
When Henri Nouwen left the world of academe and headed for the village of Trosly in France, he sought a place that would lead him "closer to the heart of God." Arriving at the L'Arche community in Trosly, he felt as if he had finally "come home."
So I have some thinking to do on what it means to "come home." Even the paper I've been working on (forever) is about the experience of coming home after being in exile. (Also, both Logsdon and Nouwen left academia, Logsdon before he finished his Ph.D. but Nouwen after a long teaching career.)

Nouwen's journal entries begin in mid-August. I stopped at the entry for August 24 in which Nouwen muses on the Gospel reading for the feast of St Bartholomew. My pastor, too, chose the readings for St Bartholomew's Day rather than the option of the 11th Sunday after Pentecost readings. More on John 1:43-51 another time.

[Edit 8/24/03: I was just over at Lisa B-K's website and saw that she is reading The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon. Then I saw she has a picture of him, which I'd seen on her site before, in the right-hand column. So why didn't I recognize his name when I saw his book in the bookstore yesterday??]

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