Last week we spent a few days at a log cabin on the lake in Georgia’s lovely Mistletoe State Park. I’m typically up early, so I the joy of seeing this lovely sunrise over the lake one morning. The entire trip was peaceful, allowing us time to get away and breathe for just a few days, no agenda, nothing scheduled. It was refreshing.
I hoped to bring that peace and calm home with me; but the news of the day seemed to be trying to rip away all that serenity. It seems Covid is once again on the rise, with some truly horrifying possibilities such as the state of Utah perhaps having to select who will get treatment and who won’t because resources are being stretched so thin. In opposition or defiance of all that there are so many people congregating at college football games, political rallies, weddings and other events with little or no attempt to socially distance or wear masks. Maybe I’ve been a little too close to death over the years. Both my parents, my in-laws, my son and so many of his friends who were diagnosed with cancer have died. I can’t have a cavalier attitude toward all of this. When someone dies, they are gone from your sight for the rest of your days on earth, leaving you with an empty space in your world where they once were. It’s painful, no matter how much you believe in an eternal afterlife. I’m disturbed by the number of people who either don’t understand that or who are convinced they are so bulletproof they don’t need to worry about it.
Turning away from the medical/pandemic news of the day, the next thing I see is the overwhelming screaming and finger-pointing that’s taking place in the political arena. Politicians seem to have completely abandoned the idea they are there to speak for the people they supposedly represent and are concentrating on making sure the country is pushed in the direction that most closely aligns with their own beliefs regardless of the desires of their constituents.
There’s more. On top of those things, there’s the social injustice we see on a regular basis. People being threatened because of their race or their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs. If you don’t think like me, act like me, talk like me, look like me then you have no worth. I felt under attack from all sides. How could I find my equilibrium?
With this turmoil, I spent some time on NetGalley, perusing books that might be available for review. Sure, I have books that are in my to be read pile, books I’m looking forward to reading; but I was restless. Then I spied John Pavlovitz‘ book A Bigger Table, Expanded Edition. Maybe what I needed was to try something different. So, I requested a copy from Westminster John Knox Press and was so delighted to have my request granted. I haven’t even completed the book, but I wanted to share with you in case you were looking for something that you might find uplifting and encouraging. It’s certainly doing that for me.
I’ll do a complete review of the book once I’ve finished, but every time I pick it up, I find some quote or words of wisdom to hold onto for that moment in time. For example, there’s the definition of grace which “allows you to find quite tolerable, even enjoyable, what might otherwise kick the living snot out of you”. What a lovely thought…and a lovely partial definition of grace. I’ve experienced grace over the years in several different forms, but I loved having this definition to add to my experiences.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone who is wanting to add a little love, gentleness, kindness to their world as they read more of Pavlovitz’ personal stories. When I started it, I thought it might be a daily devotional kind of thing, or something of that sort. It’s not. It is, however, filled with gentle information, stories, encouragement to be your best person, little pearls you may want to highlight, or hold close or, better yet, share with someone along the way.
As I said, I haven’t gotten to the end; but I did take a quick look, and there are a couple of sections where he speaks to pastors as well as where he gives information to small groups that may want to use this as a guide for group discussion; possibly group action to create a warmer, more caring, welcoming world. I can see this as a book that would be excellent in that type of session, especially if those participating established the group as a “safe place” where ideas could be voiced and explored without fear of recrimination and belittling. One warning, I’m fairly certain there is no indication in this book that these readings or discussions will offer an easy path.
All these thoughts compelled me to write this partial review early, so if there are people out there who are looking for something uplifting, something kind, something caring in today’s world, they might find it here. I know it has already had the effect of being like an internal snapshot of sunrise over the lake, when things are calm and peaceful, before the noise and daily activities start to creep into my daily routine.
My thanks to Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley for providing me with this copy for review. It’s going a long way toward helping me restore my equilibrium. As always, I hope you find some time to spend with books, no matter what type. For right now, I’m taking some time out of my usual reading for enjoyment to add purposeful reading of A Bigger Table.