Thursday, July 4

Reading Geography

Gritting my teeth preparing five people for a two-week road trip.  But the end of the matter, the carrot I pace toward, is that for 3,300 miles I can open a book and give it all my attention.

I picked up Me Talk Pretty One Day as soon as we were out of Denver and placed my bookmark halfway in by Arches National Park.  On the road to Pocatello, after a stop at Bridal Veil Falls, I finished it.  Mostly.  I got the picture and passed over some of the end chapters. There wasn't anything new there.

After exploring caves and spatter cones at Craters of the Moon I finished writing a sermon and pushed through to the end of A Praying Life, something I'd started long ago and never finished, but it was applicable to my talk.  The next day I took notes in my journal as we moved into Oregon.  It's the kind of book you can put down for a while and come back to and find your place, because it can meet you where ever you are. It's the kind of book you underline.

When the rain began in Pendleton, I picked up The Writing Life and it was perfect for taking in a bit and looking away at the greening landscape, the breathtaking River Gorge, diving back in again, feeling my heart beat harder as the Columbia moved us closer to home.  Or where home once was -- those feelings are still there and writing is part of home.

When I finished it, we were driving through the dimness on Sunset Highway, evergreens holding us in on both sides.  And I knew I couldn't keep it.  I knew this one had to be passed on.  And when we arrived at Seaside, I wrapped it in a napkin topped with wildflowers and released it to it's rightful place in my aunt's library on the Sound.  Here's to a new life.

In Seaside I picked up The Spirit of the Disciplines and knew it would require all of me, so during the days of playing cards, and taking naps and walking back and forth to the beach more than once or twice, it stayed on the coffee table asking me when its time would come.  After the ocean, my friend, because the ocean is what the journey was all about.

When we drove away, bonfire and sunset behind us, new day dawning, we wandered back through the trees, into our old Vancouver hometown, drove by the house where my youngest was born, got my mother-in-law settled at home and visited with friends in Portland for the night.

But the next morning it was time.  Once we'd stopped at Multnomah Falls -- five years since we'd breathed her misty, mossy air -- the book and I spent some eight hours together on the way to Twin Falls.  And I dare say it changed my life.  Pencil notations where it spoke my heart, and shifting in my seat when it squeezed me.  We give up so easily to true and lasting change... the body matters... the kingdom is now.

Twin Falls to Grand Junction and I closed the last page.  This one needed to process.  And after a day of the longest family hike to date in the dust of Colorado National Monument we headed out on our last leg toward home. I made more notes and it was so rich I couldn't even bare to rewrite them all.  This one won't be sent away, this one will stay close.  Like blood.

July's List
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Traveling Mercies:  Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
When God is Silent by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Journals of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbigin
Kingdom Journeys: Rediscovering the Lost Spiritual Discipline by Seth Barnes