Sunday, May 14, 2023

Reading Update

Book #22 of the year was Beauty, Robin McKinley's retelling of the fairy tale. This was a reread, but it had been a long time and I'd forgotten many of the details. It's as wonderful as ever.

Book #23 was Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng. I tried several times to stop reading this devastating and painful book, but I couldn't. It's so well written and harrowing and convincing. 

Book #24 was The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I enjoyed this book immensely and I recommend it. I heard about it on a podcast in which it was one of a group of books suggested for motivating people to go outside. Given its information on coyotes, raccoons, rats, etc, it might be more useful for motivating people to stay indoors, but it is filled with fascinating ideas on how the wild encroaches on urban spaces. Of course my favorite part was the section about birds, but there are gems in all parts of the book. Below you'll find some pages I photographed from it to send to a friend. They are about how soil has bacteria in it that works on human mood to make us happier. The book is referring to gardening, but it seems to me to work the same when I get splashed with Kampala mud while cycling and birding.

Book #25 was Absolute Truths, by Susan Howatch, part of my rereading of this series, which I love.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Poetry Friday: Flower Moon


(I found this graphic on Facebook, but you can buy it as a poster here.)

Edit: Looking again at the graphic on Saturday morning, I can see that it says the Flower Moon is in June. But when I looked it up on the internet on Thursday night (and again just now), I found that May's full moon is called the Flower Moon. I don't know which is correct, but I wrote about the Flower Moon!


Tonight is a full moon. I took the photo last night, when it looked full already, and enjoyed thinking about the Flower Moon. It's the end of our school day here in Uganda, and I have a student in my room making up a French listening test. As I sit here babysitting the recording that's playing for her, it's the first opportunity I've had today to write something about the photo.

Fresh from the garden,

Flower moon (dusted with dirt,

Dew-soaked) smells of life.


©Ruth Bowen Hersey


The lovely Linda has today's roundup here.


Thursday, May 04, 2023

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Shall We Dance?



Our host this month, Chris, has asked us to write about the theme "Shall we dance?" for our May SJT. At that link you can see what others have written on this topic.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there's a time to mourn and a time to dance. A few years ago I read Henri Nouwen's book Turn my Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times, and I've reread it several times since.


Nouwen writes about how we can learn to dance even in hard times. So often, the time for mourning and the time for dancing go together, both in the same day or even the same hour. Here's some of what Nouwen has to say:

"How can we learn to live this way? Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain. We want to flee it at all costs. But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently. We become willing to let it teach us. We even begin to see how God can use it for some larger end. Suffering becomes something other than a nuisance or curse to be evaded at all costs, but a way into deeper fulfillment. Ultimately mourning means facing what wounds us in the presence of One who can heal.

This is not easy, of course. This dance will not usually involve steps that require no effort. We may need to practice. With that in mind, this little book shows five movements of a life grounded in God. These will not make the pain disappear. They will not mean we can expect to avoid shadowed valleys and long nights. But these steps in the dance of God's healing choreography let us move gracefully amid what would harm us, and find healing as we endure what could make us despair."

The five movements, also the chapter titles, are:

1. From Our Little Selves to a Larger World

2. From Holding Tight to Letting Go

3. From Fatalism to Hope

4. From Manipulation to Love

5. From a Fearful Death to a Joyous Life

I really recommend this Nouwen book for anyone who is wanting to dance but finding that a time to mourn sometimes interferes.