This is impossible. So I will give you four stories about books.
Book Story One. Baptist Hymnal.
Today, Kyndall gave us a sermon at Covenant with the topic of All Saints Day. As a part of the service, we could go up and light a candle in honor of someone who has died that embodied Christ's presence for us. For Baptists, this is pretty unfamiliar territory. We aren't the standard brand of Baptists.
Just before and during the candle lighting, we sang a capella "Be Still My Soul." This is one of the old traditional high church hymns that I find particularly meaningful. I love the melody and hearing the congregation sing the various parts. Singing it makes my mouth, my heart, and my head feel in right relationship.
After lighting my candle for Granddaddy, I went to the back door to look out at the green growing things. All I know about the land and animals I learned from Jim Thompson, Sr. While the rest of the congregation sang the last verses, I just listened.
It occurred to me that I was hearing the song I want the ones I love to hear when I am remembered after I die. That is very appropriate for the day.
Book Story Two. Bible.
Specifically, 1 John 3:1-3. "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are."
And that is what we are. My granddaddy was a loving man. He would allow me to give him a manicure on his gnarled arthritic fingers. I could brush his lush white hair and put a bow in it. He could run a farm and keep everyone fed. He never made me afraid. Jim Thompson, Sr. is the reason that I can hear the word Father in connection with God without throwing up. Jimmy Junior did not ever give me one minute of the calm, ordered presence that Jim Senior did. That, my friends, is the embodied presence of God in a work shirt.
Book Story Three. The Book of My Life.
People show up in the scenes of my life for a while. I have lived a long time and moved a lot, living all over the world. Marriage to a military man has made my book of life one of short chapters, with characters popping up for too brief appearances.
Liz and Jason, and now little Sarah Rose, are two of those people. They came here because Liz was stationed with the Air Force as a Psychiatrist at Wilford Hall at Lackland Air Force Base. Liz is a Christian. Jason is Jewish. Sarah Rose has the religion of preciousness, and I hope she learns more of that as her life's story progresses. Covenant is one of the places that the family lived out their respective faith traditions while here in San Antonio.
Liz has completed her active duty. They are moving to Virginia to work and grow in that place. It is a great move for them, but it means that they are no longer going to be available for cameo appearances in my life. I was sad about that today. We all were.
We sang the song we always sing for them, putting hands on their shoulders, standing very close.
Traveling Mercies --
...take bread for the journey and strength for the fight
comfort to sleep through the night
the wisdom to choose at the fork in the road
and a heart that knows the way home
And for the faithful, and for the weary, and for the hopeless, here is our prayer:
go in peace live in grace
trust in the arms that will hold you
go in peace live in grace
trust God’s love.
Book Four. A Thousand Wonders.
I am writing a book. It has become something more than just the words I use to create sentences and move plot. It is becoming one of those things that defines a life. I don't have enough time to work on it and keep up with my work for grad school. I manage to combine the two in a fiction writing workshop this semester.
I am learning things from myself as I write the stories that make up the larger work. It is doing things for me that I am grateful to experience. I want to write in support of this work all the time.
You might wonder why I am writing about four books for a blog meme when I have papers to write and the book is calling me.
I wonder too. My only answer is that I promised I would do this every week. I have already fallen one week behind once in the ten assignments. I don't often miss a deadline. Hardly ever. And I find something in this writing too. It has opened me up to write publicly since 2007. It is part of the way I spend my life.
This is my Sunday. Remembering Saints. Singing songs for my own funeral. Saying farewell. Writing. Always writing.