"Listen. There is a light that includes our darkness, a day that shines down even on the clouds."

I finished Jayber Crow just now.

It was good. It feels good to finish a book. To finish something. I feel accomplishment and pride and joy. Most of all it feel good to have read this amazing piece of literature. If I began to type all the quotes and meaningful moments of that book it would become annoying quickly, because they are numerous and usually leave much for one to think about. I want to know Wendell Berry. I feel so blessed to know he is alive. It gives me hope that he can write more works that stir similiar sentiments in me, although there are several others out there I need to read anyways. He said not to read into the text, but I did and I would do it again, because it has moved me in many ways.

"Troubled or not, grieved or not, you have got to live. And the facts of the case are even harder than that, for however troubled and grieved you may be, you will often find, looking back, that you were not living without enjoyment." (pg. 358)

And so it is in our current situation, and being a man of blind faith I know this is true... and I still believe it... most days.... but I can't wait for the time of looking back to be present.

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I Write in Books

I write in books. I underline phrases and sentences that are significant or move me or even move the story, so that I can find them later. I put a star on my favorite pages to catch my eye. I put a line down both sides or the outside edge of beautiful or meaningful paragraphs. I write words or short phrases that will catch my attention if I am flipping through looking for a specific passage, or simply want to review my favorite parts.

Things like, "Community", "The Call", "University", "Death", "Water", "War"

I love books. I love how they look on big shelves or an end table or my desk. I love how their presence seems to draw you to them at times, reminding you that there is more than TV or video games. When I buy one, I buy it for a reason. I am not flippant and put a lot of consideration into my choices, because I know I will most likely keep it forever. I have no intention of selling my books or discarding them, so I see no reason to not write in them. In fact, I wish my grandfather and father and ancient relatives would have written in their books. I see it as a way of passing on our personalities, out thoughts, our reactions to others...whether that be a friend we hand the book to or our offspring.

When one of my close Point Loma friends (Jimmy) died his mother gave a couple of his books to one of our friends (Eric). Eric and I sat down one night and he showed me this gift Jimmy left behind. Jimmy didn't just underline, earmark or highlight... he WROTE. He wrote all over his books and I loved it. You could see his personality popping off the page. You could hear him saying the words. You could sense his excitement, or disdain with the author. It was one of the closest connections I have felt with him sense he died, and it changed the way I read, and wrote in books.

The awkward thing about writing my thoughts and insights about Jayber Crow in the book, or on here, is that I feel that I am somehow offending old Wendell Berry. In the front of the book, before the table of contents there is a page that says this:

Persons attempting to find a "text" in this book wil lbe
prosecuted; persons attempting to find a "subtext" it it
will be banished; persons attempting to explain, interpret,
explicate, analyze, deconstruct, or otherwise "understand"
it will be exiled to a desert island in the company only of
other explainers.


So, I will proceed in trepidation and fear, trusting he will never see my copy of the book or read this blog. I did not try to find a "text" in that book or interpret it. It has been interpreting me. I did not try to understand it. It has been helping me understand. If that gets me exiled to a desert island so be it, but I hope the other explainers there aren't the annoying ones.
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Fasting Reading - The End of an Era

I am almost finished with Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. I absolutely love this book. I am sure it is one of my favorites and will be one of my favorites for many years to come. It has opened my eyes to the idea that classics are still being written. As I read it, I feel that everyone else should, and that they will be missing something if they don't.

When I finish it sometime this week it will be the first book I have finished for pleasure in over 18 months. I realize that is ridiculous, but I have been fasting from reading. This fast of reading has been my way of justifying my disdain for reading after my three month immersion in reading and writing while finishing my Master's thesis in 2008. I have more accurately been fasting from reading and writing, and I sense this era must come to a close.

Reading opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities and truth and beauty and ways of living.
Writing completes the work that reading and living life begin. It helps me process and think and create and breathe deeply and reflect, and most importantly engage others in the process.

So, I am returning to both practices in some respect, although I don't know the extent yet. No goals, just a movement back toward a healthier balance of input and output.

In the past year I have read two books:
Tribes, by Seth Godin
I was asked to read this for the Big Picture Youth Ministry Training team I am a part of, and I read it all on my way to our meeting in Kansas City, and in my room the night before. It is good for what it is, which is a business book conveying how to spread your passion by finding a tribe who shares it and leading them (primarily through social media/internet outlets that are available today).

Be Out Guest, by The Disney Institute
Read this for the University. Learned a lot that we can apply to the university as a whole and the Admission office. The main thing I extracted was the value of story. I have been singing that song since I arrive, but the book and Disney World helped me understand how to take our story and find new ways to share it with those who visit us or don't visit us. Very good for any business to read as well.

BUT the best thing I have read about telling story is from Jayber Crow of course.
"Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told... there is also more than needs to be told, and more than anybody wants to hear". -Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, pg.29

That Wendell Berry. He is so stinkin' good! He seems to hit on everything at some point!

So, 2 books for business in 2009... typical of my past year.
We'll see how that balance swings in the new year.
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