Reading and writing are habits that help me negotiate life. Reading calms me, teaches me, diverts me, inspires me, reveals truth to me. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts, communicate with others, keep myself organized, and retain my emotional
balance. Even surrounding the marriage of my daughter this past month, I noticed myself relying on familiar strategies.
During the week leading up to Liz’s wedding, there wasn’t much time for reading…but I did finish a book she had passed on to me from her personal library. It had been an assignment for one of her college courses. “Friend, What is This?” might be a loose translation (from Portuguese) of the title, as well as a loose translation of the happy chaos surrounding the comings and goings of so many friends arrived from Brazil to join the celebration. Reading in my daughter’s adopted language, and thus learning about Brazilian culture and history, is something that helps me feel connected to her. Finishing that book just before the wedding reinforced the sense of a previous stage of life coming to conclusion and giving way to a new era.
Likewise, there wasn’t much time for writing…but in an effort to keep track of some of the last minute challenges to be met and overcome, I did find myself keeping a list of questions that puzzled various members of the wedding party, including me. The list may not mean much to anybody else, but to me the inquiries, “How come I can’t reach Liz?”; “Who is Julianna?”; “Where is my sweater/shoe/thumb drive/wireless speaker?” “Do you have military ID?’ “May I see your passports?”; “Why has a car seat been delivered here?”; and “Is the bathroom doorknob broken again?” trigger specific memories. At some point I also created a chart on the back of an envelope in which I tried to capture the special events and undertakings I shared with various people throughout the week. Those words, scribbled down in barely legible writing, also evoke much more than their minimalistic appearance might suggest. “With Christina, zipping Liz into her dress,” recalls a moment that brought fleeting tears of wonder to my eyes. I want to keep that memory always.
Because books, paper, and pens are such good companions to me, I look forward to sharing a couple of upcoming one-time gatherings with you! On Wednesday evening, November 15, Lorrie Tom and I will co- teach a workshop called, “Write Like a Psalmist.” We’ll learn about and practice some of the ways that writers of long ago shared their feelings, struggles, and joys with God. On Monday, November 27, at 7 pm, I’ll convene one of RHUMC periodic book discussions to talk about Madeleine Thien’s book, “Do Not Say We Have Nothing.” Please know that you are welcome to take part.
In gratitude for your partnership in life and ministry,