My mother was an English teacher; my father a Philosophy professor. Add in three articulate, opinionated children, and you a lot of words flying around the house. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago while cruising Staples -- something I occassionally do when I have over-spent myself.
I walked through the aisles fondling notebooks and contemplating stickies. The great secret for re-organizing my life undoubtedly lurked somewhere in these hallowed halls. If not here, Palace Stationary and Office Max glimmered as future possibilities. Pausing somewhere between the index cards and the file folders, I remembered the drawers of unused office supplies in my brother's apartment. Had he bought them himself or were they inherited from a similar stash found when cleaning out my father's office?
I wondered at this familial penchant for office supplies. Once my husband sent my mother and me to some store for a great clothes sale. "Find anything?" I asked my mother after ten minutes of desultory poking through hangers.
"No," she answered. "What's that store across the street?"
It was Poor Richard's Almanac, a now defunct office supply store. We returned home a satisfying hour later, triumphantly waving bags -- the contents of which would not be a bit helpful next time we complained about having nothing to wear. We would, however, have more word catchers standing by, just in case.
"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write." -William Thackeray
Prayer on Paper: The nice thing about blank notebooks is that they ask to be filled, something all too rare in our word and image ladened lives. Everyone is talking. Is anybody listening? Sometimes it is necessary to pour words out of our hearts before we can hear ourselves, before we can hear God, before we can begin to figure out just what it is we need to say.
Fridays at noon, between Easter and Pentecost, you can join us for an hour of Lower Room Prayer at The Word Shop. We will begin each week with a topic from the traditional Prayers of the People, spend twenty minutes using journaling, writing, and/or art to focus and explore our inner terrain, and then offer it all to the Lord. Prayer on Paper. You can bring your own notebook (which eagerly awaits filling) or use supplies on hand. We start this Friday, April 13, 12:00.
"People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say." --Kurt Vonnegut
I plucked Eugene Peterson's WORKING THE ANGLES from the incoming flow. (Pause while I contemplate a book entitled "Working the Angels.") In WORKING THE ANGLES, Peterson laments the fact that Pastors have left their primary calling and are behaving more like "shopkeepers." (!) He says the three most important, and too often forgotten, things at the core of a Pastor's life and work are Prayer, Scripture and Spiritual Direction. I enjoyed the book tremendously, although of course I had to write Peterson and inform him that those three things are also at the core of certain shopkeepers. And not just shopkeepers, most Christians. Although not every child grows up to become a parent, most do. Although not every Christian matures into a Pastor, most do. They may not all be Pastors-of-a-church, but they usually are reproducing, leading, guiding and caring for some body or group. We all need prayer, scripture and spiritual direction at the core of our life in the risen Christ.
"Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all." — D.L. Moody
I dug through the eight boxes of books that I mentioned last month. Inside were a wealth of commentaries. Bob has already bought the six volumes of A.J. Simpson. We still have volume upon volume of NOTES from Ironside, GLEANINGS from Pink, EXPOSITORS BIBLE COMMENTARY from Gaebelein, N.T. COMMENTARY from Matthew Henry...
I brought home eight maroon and gold volumes of Spurgeon's TREASURY OF DAVID, which someone could talk me out of for a good price. I did, however, return three previously nabbed paperback volumes: 3, 5, & 7, which you could have for $10. Between Spurgeon's line by line commentary on each Palm and his "Explanatory notes and Quaint Sayings" collected from other luminaries, not to even mention "Hints for the Village Preacher" and a bibliography of "Other Works," you have an exhaustive -- if not exhausting -- study to peruse. I also have been reading a N.T. with notes by John Wesley. After reading the introduction, I decided I'm fond of John Wesley. It's nice to resonate with someone across a couple hundred years.
"Time is a live creek bearing changing lights." --Annie Dillard
The result of this intake is tightly crammed exegesis shelves and a loud groaning from the top shelf in our back room. Therefore I have hacked the price of the eight fat volumes of the 7th Day Adventists BIBLE COMMENTARY from $200 to $100. I also shaved $25 dollars off our black and blue 13 volume set of TWENTY CENTURIES OF GREAT PREACHING. I couldn't bring myself to make it less than $75, because I love the thought of reading sermons through the ages from Origen and Chrysostom through Fenelon, Newman, Moody, and Barth, to Shoemaker, Peale and King. When would I have time to do that? Maybe in heaven. "Well done," I will say, "How glad I am that someone caught your words."
"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased." Katherine Hepburn