“I would know you, I would know myself!” This is the second week of my gift to myself to read a book a week. I’m going again with a shorter book while I reawaken my reading skills, but shorter does not mean lesser or lighter! This week I read a classic from the late Trappist Monk Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer.
So many quotes I want to share, so many insights and amazing turns of phrase. It’s a book written primarily for those in the monastic vocation, but still accessible by all people. It is a book on prayer, really a collection of short essays on the practice and necessity of prayer: “…all Christians ought, theoretically at least, to have enough interest in prayer to be able to read and make use of what is here said for monks, adapting it to the circumstances of their own vocation. Certainly, in the pressures of modern urban life, many will face the need for a certain interior silence and discipline simply to keep themselves together, to maintain their human and Christian identity and their spiritual freedom.”
Merton reminds us that contemplative prayer will always be at its base simple. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a large measure of hope. I won’t bore you with a synopsis of all points throughout the book, I’m not the best reader or writer to do that. I would like to share however one particular desire kindled in me by the book: to learn some Latin! I so resonate with a simple prayer of the earliest monks: “Deus in adjutorium meum intende!” The opening line of Psalm 70, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me!” And the simplicity of this prayer snippet from St. Augustine of Hippo: “Noverim te noverim me” I would know you, I would know myself. Along with my weekly book reading stack I now have a fresh copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Latin. I’m already into the second chapter. *^_^*
It’s a blessing to have a book in this second week of my book-a-week gift to myself to remind me so pointedly that we are all pilgrims on a journey, no competition to arrive, just a need to keep moving. “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all of our life!”
On a lighter note, Teresa started rereading one of our favorite series of novels, and I followed suit. We’ve been fans of David & Leigh Eddings for a long time enjoying The Belgariad books and the same host of characters into The Mallorean books. We’ve often read his two related trilogies, The Ellinium and The Tamuli. He’s a masterful story teller, so much that we even read Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress, both retellings of each other and much the previous books. Can’t get enough! One scene in The Ellinium caused me to shout in surprise and almost throw the book the first time I read it. Good stuff.
Digging into the first book of The Belgariad I was struck by a re-introduction to one of the main characters, Durnik the Smith. I would have thought, being the tenth time I’ve read this series over the years, that I couldn’t be surprised by anything. But I had not thought of Durnik in so long, it was like reconnecting with an old friend. Sound silly? We are big re-readers at our house, Teresa and I both. Rereading beloved books series is a comfort. This time is was also a welcome reunion.
Have you reread anything lately? Do you operate with the kind of imagination that relates to the most beloved characters on a level close to friendship and deep affection? Jumping into these novels again has reaffirmed for me the gifting with which some novelists have blessed my life. Of course, the characters are fictional, but the blessing of sharing imagination and fantasy with the likes David & Leigh Eddings, R.A. Salvatore and Frank Herbert over the years has been a tangible, palpable joy.
I’ve had a couple of fun clergy moments this week, one somewhat in the line of what people think (or dont think) about clergy, and then one of those classic “you know you’re a clergy when” kind of things…
My character is a Cleric! I get a lot of solicitations at the church office, by phone and mail, every week. I’ve heard it called “preying on the pray’ers,” but for the most part it’s the usual benign inter-company marketing. But this week I got a letter from a company of lawyers who like to represent people disabled at work or in accidents and who need compensation. Their letterhead tagline? For reals, it was “Got disability?” Ugh. Sometimes people think I sit and work at Starbucks because I’m a hip dude, but I’m actually hiding from the marketing.
The funnest part of their letter was that they addressed me as a “Cleric” instead of clergy, hehehehe… and all my gamer friends giggle along. It may not mean much to you, but for a nerd like me to have some rationale for officially claiming myself a cleric is pretty exciting.
And I’m freaking addicted to books! I’ve also been thinking of all the extra books I’m lugging around every day. Is it a clergy thing? “My backpack overflows…” I know I won’t have time to read them all, most will go unopened… but I can’t not have them! Honestly, I’m a clergy, not a cleric… my books are the usual prayer books, missals and theological works, not tomes of spells or priestly runes… but they’re still magical! I love them!
So, I’m just sitting here having my third cup of coffee, waiting for my manna bar to regenerate. I don’t intend to cast many healing spells this morning but I’m reeling from the disappointment of not being able to find a book I wanted to carry. Worry not, I found three others to take it’s place.