The Word Shop staff is an odd conglomeration of folk; each of us wounded and weird in our own way, yet committed to His way--His light fractured and shadowed on the planes of our personalities, yet light shining forth nonetheless--a city on the hill.
Our regulars are equally weird, most of them highly opinionated in one way or another; smudged light also, shining determinedly in their various locales, brightening our days by their presence and the resources they provide.
Together, those who hold the door open and those who walk through, transform an insignificant 500 sq. feet (plus deck) into a vessel of light; smaller than a votive candle in the greatness of God's kingdom, but still of some use in moments of darkness.
"They may not need me, but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight.
A smile as small as mine may be
Precisely their necessity." -Emily Dickinson
A TURN IN THE NOVEL I am theoretically writing, got me reading my great-great-grandmother's brother's journals. "March 14, 1906- This is my birthday. I am now 71 years old and just the same old sinner I have been for these many years. It is snowing. The snow is about 12 inches deep. I have been painting the rooms upstairs. Paid Homes two dollars on the cistern."
An Indiana farmer, Jeremiah "goes to meeting" most Saturdays AND Sundays, collects money for lights for the church and does more work most days than I accomplish in a week. Funny how those journals are reaching out nearly a hundred years to bless me. How about writing a journal in 2002?
HYMNODY: I bought several picture books of hymns for a Faith Alive weekend. I SING A SONG OF THE SAINTS OF GOD is great for liturgical types as it shows kids robed, actively putting on a presentation of this beloved hymn in a small parish $12. I also have ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL, GOD AND THE SPARROW, and NOW THE DAY IS OVER; three charming picture books. I sang ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT with a glorious picture book to my babies, but alas, that one is now out of print.
SHORT TAKES: Despite a preference for primary works, I have greatly enjoyed CHOSEN VESSELS, a collection of ten biographies of Christian men, edited by Charles Turner. Each essay gives a taste of the biographer as well as the person being written about; a double whammy. Sproul on Aquinas, Colson on Wakefield, Philip Keller on his father...what awesome variety there is in the Christian family! How wonderful to read of the incredible work of God through these people. I already doubled the price of this used HB to $6.50, and have my eye on BRIGHT LEGACY, which is a companion volume on 10 Christian Women.
ANOTHER PEEK into History is EXTRAORDINARY GROUPS, a sociologist's view of unconventional lifestyles. (Used $4) I've finished the essays on the Old Order Amish, Onedia, Gypsies, and Shakers. Did you know the Shakers barked just like the Toronto Blessing Folk? The Amish one brought to mind THE SHUNNING, the first novel in a series by Beverly Lewis, which takes place among the Amish ($12). We also have a used copy of Daisy Newmans novel, INDIAN SUMMER OF THE HEART which is set among the Quakers ($4.50).
IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE COLORING PARTIES: I suggest the Christmas Ornaments put out by Morehouse. A package of 8 costs $10, each heavy stock card is based on a different Christmas Carol. The drawings are the highly detailed sort that are great fun with felt or bright gel pens. When you're done, you cut them out and fold together for a three-dimensional ornament. I bought a couple packs for the Faith Alive, and now have five urchins hard at work at the store. The idea is to get them done before Christmas. Halloween Tootsie Roll Pops help.
ADVENT is round the corner, and we have candles and rings along with mini-card advent calendars on display (Nativity advent cards, NOT Santas & Snowmen). I've also ordered WATCH FOR THE LIGHT, an Advent/Christmas devotional that includes readings from Merton, Nowen, Dillard, Norris, Luther, Aquinas, Bonehoffer, Yancy and others. $15.
I'M 100 PAGES into Dallas Willard's THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY--Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God. I know I mentioned this book last month, but I hadn't started reading it yet. If you think there is more to Christianity than the right's 'sinner's prayer' and are equally put off by the left's social justice take that renders God ephemerally nonexistent, delve into this one. So far it's the best 100 pages proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom that I've read all year. $22.
MY SECRET HOPE is that the 'movie that must not be named' will have a whole new generation going about saying, "the book was better."
You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive. -James Baldwin