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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reading, Restoration, and Grief


There are stages of grief. I think I may be in them all simultaneously. Denbigh pointed out that we have lost 18 people in our family in 17 years of marriage. That seems unfathomable and could account for why I feel like I have been run over by a truck. It's been a hard road. Sometimes grief is a deep loss of a person. Sometimes it is the aftershocks of the mess a person caused with what they left behind. Sometimes we grieve the relationship that was never fully realized in life because of alcohol or drugs or mental illness. Sometimes we mourn the life we could have had without abuse. It's been a mixed bag of the torturous and the beautiful for me personally. I found myself 20 feet in the air asking God a simple question after my third brother passed away recently. What are we going to do with it all? Where are we going from right here?

Over a decade ago, I was reading Ron Hall's book The Same Kind of Different as Me. Ron had a gallery close to my grandparents in Ft. Worth. When my stepmom read his book, she was blown away by his transformation. During the reading of that book, I knew that my brother was going to die from that same thing that Ron's wife died from in the book. It's a fascinating read about a Ron's wife having a dream about a homeless man and their taking him in. God has used that story to help me have direction for my healing grief.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Ron had a new book out. Walking Our Way Home. It was about the 10 years of his and Denver's, the homeless man, friendship since his wife's death. I downloaded it on Chirp so that I could listen to it while I was scraping and painting. Then my brother Bart died. I am honestly still in shock. I am sad for my family and wondering how I am the last child left of both of my parents. Grief. I was surprised to hear that the book I was listening to was equally about navigating grief after his wife died. It helped me tremendously.

I started reading Sophie Hudson's new book Stand All the Way Up. I just love her. Her down to earth writing and depth of heart always make me feel at home. The thing that surprised me was the chapter on grief at losing her mama. I knew that this was for me right then. The rest of the book is funny and prophetic and wise. It was exactly what I needed right in that moment. As a side note, she even tackled racism and the church in a powerful way.

David Kessler, protege of Elizabeth Kubler Ross who wrote Five Stages of Grief, wrote a new book from some of their research entitled Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. This book is rich with hope and I cannot recommend it enough. We all go through the stages of grief in different areas of our life. This book helps us see what we can do with our pain. We can transform pain daily into more life. It's a choice we have to see our worst moments as seeds for some of our best. We can pray for post traumatic growth. We can get the help we need.

Reading through Dream Big by Bob Goff was a continuation of Finding Meaning for me. Bob has written a book about getting past all of our internal and external hurdles. It has helped me to continue forward motion through the long reaching effects of abuse as a child. It's giving me new words for myself. I have found meaning in loving the homeless and starting a non-profit for them, but the continual unraveling of God's work in me to give more is unending. I am thankful for the boost.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever finish this house, but I am always thankful for the picture that it offers me. Healing comes and washes over us. I have heard it said that angels talk to a man that is walking. I think Jesus talks to a girl that is restoring.

Other posts that might help you in grief:
Grief is a Gift
Trying: Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope










Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Neglected C.S. Lewis by Mark Neal & Jerry Root

The Neglected C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Riches of His Most Overlooked BooksThe Neglected C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Riches of His Most Overlooked Books by Mark Neal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that you read and feel like you have a mountain of homework in order to understand everything in it. Outside of Lewis' fiction and apologetic work, he has mounds of works that are largely overlooked. He is a man full of thoughtful opinions about the works of others. I have found some new books by other authors to read that he wrote about.

The thing that has stuck with me from this book is how important reading widely is. Reading takes us into the thought and hearts of others and gives a clear-eyed view into the plight of another. Given our current rioting, I can see how important it is to figuratively peer into the window of another man's house. We can see things and move on the behalf of others because we have developed a sense of care.

"Reading at the level Lewis advocates is a yearning for connection and clarity, to imagine oneself living many lives, seeing through many eyes the many ways the world can be apprehended. It is a way to engage in beneficial iconoclasm, in breaking down those barriers of blindness that keep our hearts and minds fettered. This kind of reading helps us to come awake from the lethargy of self- delusion. G. K. Chesterton noted that “If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe. If you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.”256 This is what the eyes of others can give us, where we finally see beyond ourselves, the windows are opened, the light streams in, and our view of the world clarifies and expands."

This also struck me and left me wondering how we get back to beauty and significance.
"The medievals saw the universe packed with beauty and significance. Our modern sensibility tends to see the universe in terms of fear: as an infinite, empty void."

Synopsis: Readers who can quote word for word from C.S. Lewis’s theological classic, Mere Christianity, or his science fiction novel, Perelandra, have often never read his work as a professional literary historian. They may not even recognize some of the neglected works discussed, here. Mark Neal and Jerry Root have done students of Lewis a great service, tracing the signature ideas in Lewis’s works of literary criticism and showing their relevance to Lewis’s more familiar books. Their thorough research and lucid prose will be welcome to all who would like to understand Lewis more fully, but who feel daunted by books of such evident scholarly erudition.

For example, when you read The Discarded Image on the ancients’ view of the heavens, you understand better why Ransom has such unpleasant sensations when first descending toward Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. And when you come across Lewis’s discussion in OHEL of a minor sixteenth-century poet who described the hellish River Styx as a “puddle glum,” you can’t help but chuckle at the name when you meet the famous Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair. These are just two examples of how reading the “Neglected Lewis” can help every reader understand Lewis more fully.

The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis is another great book by this duo.


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